Emma’s PopSugar 2017

I managed to finish the PopSugar Ultimate Reading Challenge faster than I did in 2016. Instead of waiting until after 11pm on December 31st to finish my final book (Why Women Should Rule the World by Dee Dee Myers), I finished my final book in September (The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern). I read all but four books in the first five months of the year, picking at the remainder because reading challenge burnout.

2017 was another year of expanded horizons, though I don’t feel as if I expanded them as much this year as last year because many of the books fell into my comfort zone. That being said, there were still categories that caused anxiety, such as bestseller, not from your usual genre, has career advice, and 800+ pages. Those ones were particularly hard because 1.) many bestsellers are written by authors I have no interest in reading, 2.) I don’t really need career advice because I am exactly where I want to be professionally, and 3.) I didn’t have the mental patience to read an 800 page book that wasn’t Outlander, and I didn’t want to do a reread. I debated reading Sarum (read when I was around 13 years old), but by that point in the year, I was burned out and didn’t want an in-depth book to keep track of.

Favorites

Kindred by Octavia Butler
(task #5 – Person of color author)
I loved Butler’s Xenogenesis/Lillith’s Brood trilogy, so I thought I would give another one of her books a try. Time travel is one of my preferred genres, and the concept of Kindred seemed interesting – a modern African American woman traveling back to antebellum Maryland multiple times for the purpose of keeping her white, slaveholding ancestor alive. Dana’s journeys were always a mix fascinating and horrifying. She had to learn to navigate the reality of being a slave while attempting to keep herself psychologically separate from it. Almost 11 months have passed since I read Kindred, and it is still with me. I plan on reading it again, and have been trying to get my husband to read it.

Awaken Online: Catharsis by Travis Bagwell
(task #10 – Cat on the cover)
This is the best book I’ve read in the RPG sub-genre. It takes the concept and twists it a bit, placing the main character, Jason, as the villain of the newly launched MMORPG, Awaken Online. He has to grapple with what real life has thrown at him, and with his growing realization that he has been cast as the villain online by the AI that runs the game. Both Jason and his adversaries exist in a gray zone, which adds to the interest level when aspects of  real life and online life collide. I’ve since listened to the sequel, which was almost as good as Catharsis.

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown
(task #19 – About food)
The basic premise of this book: private chef is kidnapped by pirate and forced to serve her an elegant dinner every Sunday. Food played a central roll, of course, and Owen, the chef, must get creative in coming up with a worthy meal while at sea on a minimally equipped pirate ship. However, my favorite aspect was watching Owen grow as a character. He started out with a very rigid and narrow worldview, but even with the brutality he saw and dealt with, he ended up accepting and embracing the fact that nothing is strictly black and white. People who might seem good on the surface are really cruel, and vice versa. It turned out to be a really lovely book.

Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant
(#17 – Involving a mythical creature)
My sister has been after me for a long while to read this, and I finally broke down because I realized it fit a needed category. I’ve read books by Seanan McGuire, but couldn’t get into her writing style. However, I absolutely loved Rolling in the Deep. Yes, you already know how the book is going to end before it even starts – that’s kind of the point. What makes the story fun and exciting is how it gets there. She did a fantastic job with her mermaids. No buxom beauties here, but instead, highly evolved deep sea predators.

Honorable Mentions:  My Holiday in North Korea, The Bees, Slaughterhouse Five, Norse Mythology, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, Hotel Ruby, Pines

Completed Tasks

1. Library recommendation – Geekerella by Ashley Poston
2. Been on my TBR list way too long – Bed-Knob and Broomstick by Mary Norton
3. Book of letters – The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
4. Audiobook – Pines by Blake Crouch
5) Person of color author – Kindred by Octavia Butler
6. One of four seasons in title – Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
7.) Story within a story – The Marvels by Brian Selznick
8.) Multiple authors – My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
9.) Espionage thriller – Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
10.) Cat on the cover – Awaken Online: Catharsis by Travis Bagwell
11.) Author uses a pseudonym – Feed by Mira Grant
12.) Bestseller, not from usual genre – All By Myself, Alone by Mary Higgins Clark
13.) Author/main character has disability – El Deafo by Cece Bell
14.) Involving travel – My Holiday in North Korea by Wendy E. Simmons
15.) Book with a subtitle – The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker
16.) Published in 2017 – Eleventh Grave in Moonlight by Darynda Jones
17.) Involving mythical creature – Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant
18.) Reread never fails to make me smile – Bum Voyage by David Greer
19.) About food – Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown
20.) Has career advice – The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
21.) Book from nonhuman perspective – The Bees by Laline Paull
22.) Steampunk – The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr
23.) Has a red spine – Fatherland: A Family History by Nina Bunjavec
24.) Set in the wilderness – The Revenant by Michael Punke
25.) Loved as a child – Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
26.) Author from a country you’ve never visited – Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff
27.) Title as character’s name – Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton
28.) Set during wartime – The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
29.) Unreliable narrator – Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
30.) Book with pictures – The Singing Bones by Shawn Tan
31.) Main character different ethnicity than me – Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev
32.) About an interesting woman – Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell by Janet Wallach
33.) Set in two different time periods – Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
34.) Month/day of week in title – One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde
35.) Set in a hotel – Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young (also known as Hotel for the Lost)
36.) Written by someone I admire – Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
37.) Becoming a movie in 2017 – Ten by Gretchen McNeil
38.) Set around non-Christmas holiday – Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie
39.) First book in new to you series – Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
40.) Book bought on a trip – Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal

Completed Tasks (Advanced)

1.) Book recommendation by loved author – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
2.) 2016 bestseller – Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill
3.) Family member term in title – The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
4.) Takes place over character’s life span – The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
5.) About immigrant/refugee – The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
6.) Genre/sub-genre you’ve never heard of – The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
7.) Eccentric character – Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace
8.) 800+ pages – Winter by Marissa Meyer
9.) Bought at used book sale – The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
10.) Book mentioned in another book – The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
11.) About a difficult topic – This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
12.) Based on mythology – Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

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