Author Archives: sophiasoandso

Sophia’s Bookish Monthly TBR – Halfway!

This year I decided to add yet another reading challenge to my list, because there’s no such thing as too many challenges, right?!  Bookish.com created a list of monthly categories intended to help you clean out your TBR pile.  I’m officially at the halfway point, and so far it’s been a lot of fun!  I like the relaxed pace, and the tasks are just specific enough to get you thinking but not so much so that you feel the need to do any shoehorning.  Here are my books for the first 6 months:

27161156January – Read a book that supports your New Year’s resolution.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

J.D. Vance

After the horror of our last presidential election, I decided I wanted to make more of an effort to understand how we as a nation arrived at this point.  To that end, I’ve been building a list of books focusing on regions, cultures, and experiences within the United States that are different from my own.  Hillbilly Elegy was the first step.  It’s an interesting memoir – Mamaw is by far the star of the narrative and I’d love to know more about her – but Vance’s social analysis was not as well-formed.  He was very fortunate to find himself on a path where his hard work did actually pay off, allowing him to boost himself out of the poverty that plagued his ancestors.  As a result, he can’t seem to help repeating that tired trope: the only people stuck in poverty are those who refuse to help themselves.  Poverty is far more complicated than that, and he comes across as condescending and judgmental towards anyone who doesn’t finish school or ‘settles’ for a lifetime of blue collar work.

18584855February – Read a love story.

Heartless

Marissa Meyer

In this engaging prequel to Lewis Carroll’s classic stories, Meyer imagines how the decapitation-happy Queen of Hearts came to be the scourge of Wonderland.  This book swept me off my feet – I tore through all 453 pages in a single weekend.  Her vision of Wonderland expands on Carroll’s, including the use of familiar nursery rhymes.  It’s also shot through with references to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, adding a sense of unease and lurking horror.  I really felt for Cath and her struggle with first love and trying to do right by her family’s expectations without sacrificing her dreams.  Knowing she ends up a raging, tyrannical monarch only compelled me to read faster so I could find out how she got there.

589071March – Read a book published the decade you were born.

Ironweed

William Kennedy

I was originally planning on using this book to fulfill a task on a different challenge, but I found a replacement and decided to use it for the TBR instead.  This is not an easy book, and I’m not sure I liked it all that much.  But I do appreciate the literary merit and the tragic intensity of the story.  Francis Phelan is an interesting character, his difficult life and personality flaws make you want to judge him and sympathize with him in equal measure.   Kennedy also captures that hollowed-out feeling of inevitable doom during the Great Depression.  I came away from the book feeling heavy and sad.

16059322April – Read a National Book Award winner.

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America

George Packer

The Unwinding is another on my list of books about the state of the U.S.  This one was a solid block of text – no charts, no graphs, no pictures.  The narrative is divided into sections by year, starting in the 1970s.  Packer follows three individuals from various backgrounds throughout the book, and features a notable public figure or event in each section.  Each year is introduced by a single page word collage, collecting headlines, song lyrics, and quotes from public figures and popular media into a hodgepodge of visual sound bites that set the tone for that moment in time.  This was a maddening, eye-opening, and fascinating read.  Packer masterfully weaves each thread together, creating a concerning and frustrating portrait of cultural upheaval.

30045683May – Read a book about mental health.

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living

Meik Wiking

I probably fudged the category a bit with this one, but it does pertain to mental health.  Hygge is the Danish concept of the sense of well-being you feel when you’re in a comfortable, cozy space, often with people you care for and/or delicious food.  I first saw the word on a friend’s Instagram post and upon finding several new books about it, I checked out the first one available at my library.  While I wasn’t necessarily expecting an analytical opus on the subject, this book was a little fluffier than I’d hoped.  It offered basic guidelines for what is essential to establishing hygge in your home, including recipes and lighting ideas.  Still, it’s a nice concept – I definitely feel at peace when snuggling under a blanket by a fire with a snowstorm billowing outside, or reading on a rainy afternoon while drinking a hot cup of tea.

21413846June – Read a book set outside of your home country.

Wolf Winter

Cecilia Eckback

I had high hopes for this book.  The summary on Goodreads hooked me right away – a brutal murder on a creepy mountain in 18th century Lapland?  Awesome.  It was intensely atmospheric, pulling the reader right into a sense of isolation and bitter winter weather.  There were some magical realism elements that added a surreal touch.  Ultimately though, there were too many threads, and by the end it felt like the author wanted to use all of these ideas but couldn’t decide which should take precedence.  As a result, the ending felt jumbled and confused.

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Sophia’s PopSugar Ultimate – Halfway!

Passed the halfway mark on the PopSugar Ultimate Reading Challenge a few days ago!  I also hit 50 books out of the 150 I pledged to read on goodreads.  My goal now is to finish both PopSugar and Book Riot Read Harder by the end of June, if not sooner.  I’m not so much keeping pace with my sister anymore – originally I was maintaining a gap of only 3 books, but she’s since pulled ahead by 8 books.  I’ve had a lot of new movies come in for me at the library, OKAY?

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So far this year, PopSugar has been a lot of fun.  They expanded their task list to include 12 bonus categories, which I had at first intended not to attempt until I finished the main list.  In the interest of efficiency, though, I’ve decided to just consider them part of the challenge as a whole.  A good number of the books I’ve read up to now ended up earning five star ratings from me.  Here are three of them:

23513349milk and honey by Rupi Kaur – I’ve mentioned it in other posts: poetry is not my thing.  It’s often too opaque for me, though I can appreciate the lyricism of it at times.  This volume, however, hit me right at home.  I loved the free verse, I loved the language, I loved the artwork that appeared on some of the pages.  This work is accessible without pandering to any one sensibility.  It was emotional and moving.  At some point, I intend on purchasing a copy.

30555488The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – This book was brutal and compelling.  It often gave me chills, made me cry, and had me on the edge of my seat.  I liked how he conceptualized the Underground Railroad as a literal subterranean train system – the descriptions of the different stations made me wonder about the people who protected them and the places they were hidden.  The book also contains what has become one of my all-time favorite quotes.

29358401Trainwreck: the Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear…and Why by Sady Doyle – Participating in reading challenges has really pushed me to read beyond my fantasy/sci-fi/lady classics comfort zone and start picking up more books like this one.  Social and cultural analysis has always fascinated me (anthropology major), and feminism is becoming more important to me – this book makes a great contribution to the discussion in both areas.  It’s well-researched, nicely balanced, and very readable.

Completed tasks:

2) On your TBR list for way too long – The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
3) A book of letters – Griffin & Sabine: an Extraordinary Correspondence, Nick Bantock
4) Audiobook – Gemina, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
8) Multiple authors – The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares, ed. Jason Blum
10) Cat on the cover – The Female of the Species, Mindy McGinnis
11) Author who uses pseudonym – The Bad Beginning, Lemony Snicket
12) Bestseller from genre you don’t normally read – milk and honey, Rupi Kaur
14) Involving travel – The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
15) With a subtitle – Trainwreck: the Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear…and Why, Sady Doyle
17) Involving a mythical creature – The Gentleman, Forrest Leo
18) Read before that never fails to make you smile – Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
20) Career advice – The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, Mark Manson
21) Nonhuman perspective – Hammers on Bone, Cassandra Khaw
22) Steampunk novel – Etiquette & Espionage, Gail Carriger
25) Loved as a child – From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg
26) Author from a country you’ve never visited – Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, Trevor Noah
27) Title is a character’s name – A Study in Charlotte, Brittany Cavallaro
28) Novel set during wartime – All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
30) With pictures – The Singing Bones, Shaun Tan
35) Set in a hotel – The Witches, Roald Dahl
36) Written by someone you admire – Scrappy Little Nobody, Anna Kendrick
37) Becoming a movie in 2017 – Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer
39) First book in a series you haven’t read before – These Broken Stars, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
42) Bestseller from 2016 – The Couple Next Door, Shari Lapena
47) Eccentric character – Trouble Makes a Comeback, Stephanie Tromly
51) Difficult topic – Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
52) Based on mythology – Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman

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Sophia’s Book Riot Read Harder – Halfway!

After successfully finishing both major reading challenges last year, I was feeling burnt out and overwhelmed by my ever-growing library pile.  Most of the books I had checked out weren’t applicable to the challenges and they just kept building up, so I decided this year I would take a break from challenges and focus on purging the backlog first.

That plan…it didn’t last long.  Especially after my sister told me she was going to try to finish both Read Harder and PopSugar Ultimate as quickly as possible. I wanted to see if I could reasonably keep pace with her (I’m not cocky enough to attempt racing her – the woman is a reading machine), so here we are.

Fortunately, a lot of the books I had out DID fulfill this year’s challenge tasks – I’m over halfway through Book Riot’s Read Harder and only a few books shy of halfway on PopSugar Ultimate.  It’s been a good year so far too – lots of amazing books already.  Here are some of my favorites from Read Harder:

22318499How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I’ve Learned from Reading Too Much by Samantha Ellis – after experiencing a personal epiphany while visiting the farmhouse that inspired Wuthering Heights, Samantha Ellis decided to re-read some of her favorite books featuring influential heroines.  The result is a funny, fascinating, and often poignant analysis of several classic and popular works (most I’ve read, some I haven’t) that perfectly captures how it feels when we internalize and attempt to emulate beloved characters and narratives.

22295304Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older – this book is awesome.  A teenage girl living in Brooklyn discovers she’s part of a supernatural legacy, the Shadowshapers, people who can connect with spirits through art in all its forms.  The imagery is vivid: you really get a feel for the culture, the mythology, and summer in the city.  Sierra is thoughtful, creative, and smart, and the characters surrounding her are just as engaging.  I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.  Also, Anika Noni Rose’s narration on the audiobook was fantastic.

25935592Armada by Ernest Cline – this was my reread, but this time I went for the audiobook edition.  I enjoyed revisiting this story (Ready Player One still wins, though), and Wil Wheaton narrates it perfectly.  He brings the characters and the plot to life, using different tones and accents without sounding forced or awkward.  Basically, I’ll read anything Ernest Cline writes and listen to anything Wil Wheaton narrates.

 

Completed Tasks

2) Debut novel – IQ, Joe Ide
3) Book about books – How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I’ve Learned from Reading Too Much, Samantha Ellis
8) Travel memoir – Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed
9) Book you’ve read before – Armada, Ernest Cline
12) Fantasy novel – Three Dark Crowns, Kendare Blake
13) Nonfiction about technology – Tetris: the Games People Play, Box Brown
15) LGBTQ+ YA or middle grade novel – George, Alex Gino
17) Classic by author of color – Go Tell It on the Mountain, James Baldwin
18) Superhero comic with female lead – Ms. Marvel, Volume 1: No Normal, G. Willow Wilson
19) Character of color goes on a spiritual journey – Shadowshaper, Daniel Jose Older
22) Collection of stories by a woman – Where Am I Now?, Mara Wilson
23) Collection of poetry in translation, not about love – Duino Elegies, Rainer Maria Rilke

Sophia’s Read Harder 2016 – Complete!

Success!  I missed finishing Read Harder 2015 by just one book last year (which I still haven’t read…) and I was worried that would happen again this year.  The final book was a hefty non-fiction tome I started at the end of August – a great book, though dense and not really binge-able.  BUT I got it done.

I’ve already discussed what are arguably my three favorite reads from this challenge elsewhere on the blog, so I’ll list them here with links to the original posts:

  1.  A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
  2. Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsberg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
  3. Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

Among the other fantastic books from 2016:

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Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly – This one was an unexpected delight.  Recommended by one of my librarian friends, this fun YA novel features whip-smart dialogue and finely-tuned chemistry among the main characters.  The story is zany and somewhat improbable, but it’s nicely balanced against true intrigue and emotion.  Very much looking forward to the sequel.

She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth by Helen Castor – The book that almost kept me from finishing the challenge!  That fault is my own, however (nonfiction always slows me down).  Helen Castor is an excellent storyteller, and she captures the complex lives of these powerful women in fascinating detail without coming across as a dry textbook.

1) Horror book – Slade House, David Mitchell
2) Nonfiction about science – A is for Arsenic, Kathryn Harkup
3) Collection of essays – Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit
4) Out loud to someone else – Mother Bruce, Ryan T. Higgins and The Princess and the Pony, Kate Beaton
5) Middle grade novel – Echo, Pam Munoz Ryan
6) Biography (not memoir or auto) – Notorious RBG, Irin Carmon
7) Dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel – Ex-Heroes, Peter Clines
8) Originally published the decade you were born – The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
9) Audiobook that won an Audie Award – Life, Keith Richards
10) Over 500 pages long – A Court of Mist and Fury, Sarah J. Maas
11) Under 100 pages – A Late Verdict, Milo Bell
12) By or about a person who identifies as transgender – All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders
13) Set in the Middle East – The Complete Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
14) By an author from Southeast Asia – Trouble is a Friend of Mine, Stephanie Tromly
15) Historical fiction set before 1900 – Queen of the Night, Alexander Chee
16) First book in a series by a person of color – Devil in a Blue Dress, Walter Mosley
17) Non-superhero comic debuted in the last three years – Get Jiro! : Blood and Sushi, Anthony Bourdain
18) Adapted into a movie – The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
19) Nonfiction book about feminism or feminist themes – Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, Carrie Brownstein
20) About religion – Battling the Gods, Tim Whitmarsh
21) About politics – She-Wolves, Helen Castor
22) Food memoir – Voracious, Cara Nicoletti
23) A play – Hamlet, William Shakespeare
24) Main character has a mental illness – Furiously Happy, Jenny Lawson

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Sophia’s PopSugar 2016 – Complete!

I actually finished!  Last year I only made it about two-thirds of the way through the PopSugar challenge, so it’s exciting to get it done with time to spare.  This challenge led me to a lot of fantastic books this year, and there were a handful that stood above the rest in the second half of the year:

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Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman – This book was beautiful.  It addresses mental illness perfectly, without judgement or glorification.  The story unfolds in such a way that you really feel like you’re not just reading about Caden’s struggles but actually experiencing them with him.  It’s disorienting and tense, and it made me cry.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen – The last of Jane Austen’s novels that I somehow never read, despite taking a college course devoted solely to her work.  I listened to the audio version read by Donada Peters, which I think made it more entertaining.  It was the first novel she completed, and you can tell – her satire is sharp but less polished and the overall tone isn’t as well balanced as her primary novels.  But I will never not love Jane Austen.

The Colossus and Other Poems by Sylvia Plath – Poetry is not really within my comfort zone and is often hit or miss with me as a result.  However, I genuinely enjoyed this collection.  Not all of the poems caught my attention, but a great number of them had me still thinking about them after the fact.

Other favorites include The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, The Sellout by Paul Beatty, and The Troop by Nick Cutter.

Completed tasks:

1) Based on a fairy tale – Speak Easy, Catherynne M. Valente
2) National Book Award winner – Challenger Deep, Neal Shusterman
3) YA bestseller – A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J. Maas
4) Book you haven’t read since high school – Go Ask Alice, Anonymous
5) Set in your home state – The Road Through the Wall, Shirley Jackson
6) Translated into English – The Vegetarian, Han Kang
7) Romance set in the future – Cowboy from the Future, Cassandra Gannon
8) Set in Europe – The Core of the Sun, Johanna Sinisalo
9) Under 150 pages – The Visitor, Maeve Brennan
10) New York Times bestseller – The Woman in Cabin 10, Ruth Ware
11) Becoming a movie this year – A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness
12) Recommended by someone you just met – The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, Jenn Bennett
13) Self-improvement – You Are a Badass, Jen Sincero
14) Book you can finish in a day – Rolling in the Deep, Mira Grant
15) Written by a celebrity – The Bassoon King, Rainn Wilson
16) Political memoir – Trump and Me, Mark Singer
17) At least 100 years older than you – Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
18) More than 600 pages – Winter, Marissa Meyer
19) From Oprah’s Book Club – The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
20) Science fiction novel – Illuminae, Amie Kaufman
21) Recommended by family member – Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake
22) Graphic novel – Nimona, Noelle Stevenson
23) Published in 2016 – Travelers Rest, Keith Lee Morris
24) Protagonist has your occupation – Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs, Molly Harper
25) Takes place during summer – Burn Baby Burn, Meg Medina
26A) A book… – Glass Sword, Victoria Aveyard
26B) …and its prequel – Cruel Crown, Victoria Aveyard
27) Murder mystery – In a Dark, Dark Wood, Ruth Ware
28) Written by a comedian – The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy Schumer
29) Dystopian novel – Gold Fame Citrus, Claire Vaye Watkins
30) Book with a blue cover – The Clasp, Sloane Crosley
31) Book of poetry – The Colossus and Other Poems, Sylvia Plath
32) First book you see in a bookstore – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, J.K. Rowling
33) A classic from the 20th century – A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf
34) Book from the library – The Turner House, Angela Flournoy
35) An autobiography – Girl in a Band, Kim Gordon
36) Book about a road trip – The Road to Little Dribbling, Bill Bryson
37) Unfamiliar culture – The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, Joshua Hammer
38) A satirical book – The Sellout, Paul Beatty
39) Takes place on an island – The Troop, Nick Cutter
40) Guaranteed to bring you joy – As You Wish, Cary Elwes

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Reading Decathlon – Gold Medalist!

In late July, I was struck down by a reading rut, the result of struggling to finish a much anticipated book that left me almost totally disappointed.  When my sister sent me a link to Epic Reads’ Reading Decathlon a few weeks later, I realized it might be the perfect way to break free of the funk and clear out my library pile to boot.  I decided to go whole hog and attempt a gold medal by reading 10 novels in 10 days.  I chose my books strategically, taking into account length, readability, and due dates.  I also picked up 5 graphic novels as a contingency plan, so I could at least claim silver if the gold became unreachable.

It worked out perfectly – starting at approximately 7pm on August 14th and ending at 7pm August 24th, I made it through 10 books AND got my reading mojo back.  Here’s what I read:

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – This continuation of one of my all-time favorite series was fantastic.  Though a play script is obviously considerably bare bones compared to a prose novel, I had no trouble becoming immersed in Rowling’s magical universe again.  The new characters (offspring of the original kids) were fun to explore, and the story itself was compelling.

 

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Hot Milk – The plot outline of this short novel appealed to me on a personal level – a stagnating 20-something struggling with relationships old and new and not particularly healthy.  I appreciated some of the interactions between the main character and her hypochondriac mother and enjoyed the setting in coastal Spain.  It’s an odd, poetic book, but ultimately not wholly engrossing for me.

 

2571656713 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl – This book was rough.  I have seen it touted as darkly clever and funny.  Dark – very.  Clever – sometimes.  Funny – not nearly as much as it needed to be.  She makes some truly wry and concise observations, but there isn’t enough humor to balance out the negativity.  An intense book doesn’t have to be funny, but this one shouldn’t be recommended as a comedic look at the darker aspects of body image.

 

24832518The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love – This book was just plain sweet.  It’s a quick, easy read with utterly relatable characters and a refreshingly realistic take on relationships both platonic and romantic.  Also, the story is set mostly at NYC Comic Con so it’s chock full of nerdy fandom references from across the board.

 

5618698Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs – This is a highly entertaining read.  The main character is snarky and relatable, and the story is reasonably compelling.  It doesn’t provide anything revelatory in terms of vampire fiction or gothic mystery, but sometimes it’s nice to pick up a book that isn’t trying to be groundbreaking and just allows you to read for pure pleasure.

 

25663844Every Anxious Wave – High Fidelity + scifi-lite.  My coworker recommended this book to me, and I have since recommended it to a couple of friends.  It’s an imperfect story, but a fun ride.  I connected with all of the main characters and enjoyed the loving attention paid to music and music fans.  The time travel aspect and the associated rules (or lack thereof) was a neat tool, even if I found the characters’ interactions with it a little frustrating on occasion.

 

23019294A Head Full of Ghosts – I LOVED it.  This is one of those books that’s just brimming with that sense of creeping unease.  Can any of the characters be trusted?  Is there really something paranormal going on?  It called to mind (likely intentionally) Shirley Jackson, and her way of building suspense out of simplicity.  I had to put this book down to do other things more often than I wanted to, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for a long time after I finished.

 

23719481Mr. Splitfoot – I started this book and then put it down for weeks and weeks, unable to force myself to continue, but unwilling to DNF.  Ultimately I’m glad I pushed through – it’s a well-written character study touched with some magical realism.  It was a bit of a slow start, but it builds into a fascinating story involving cults and ghosts and questionable people.

 

21979832The Girl from Everywhere – The idea of traveling through time and space using a pirate ship and some maps is just awesome.  However, the execution wasn’t completely satisfying.  The mechanics of this method of travel are never really explained, which is supposed to be justified by the protagonist’s father withholding the secret of Navigation from her so she won’t leave him.  Also, there were many interesting characters whose backgrounds were only teased at.  But the setting in 1800s Hawaii was fun, and I liked the incorporation of the local mythology.

 

25489012The Road to Little Dribbling – I enjoy reading Bill Bryson’s books.  A Walk in the Woods, In a Sunburned Country, and of course the first I ever read, Notes from a Small Island, are all included on my list of favorites.  I was excited to read his latest, and it was generally pleasing.  He still has his dry humor and his ability to relate interesting facts without making them boring, but man, is he grumpy.  As often as I laughed out loud (which happened frequently), I also found myself rolling my eyes a bit whenever he went off on one of his many self-righteously indignant tangents.  Still, it was nice to revisit England from his perspective.

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PopSugar Halfway – Sophia

It’s that time of year again – I’m over halfway through the 2016 PopSugar Reading Challenge! Like last year, I’ve made a point not to use any book for more than one category, which brings me up to 23 books at this point.  There’s a nice blend of tasks, and a few of them will be truly challenging for me, such as reading a political memoir (politics make my brain explode) and the first book you see in a bookstore (I rely on the library and also I don’t want to get stuck with a terrible one).  But I’ll get through those too.  For now, here’s what I have so far.

This year’s unofficial theme is science fiction – here are my top three favorites:

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  • Rolling in the Deep, by Mira Grant – This book was just plain fun.  In only 128 pages, Grant delivers an intriguing premise, varied characters, and well-calibrated suspense.  It brought to mind the movie ‘Incident at Loch Ness’ (watch it!) and of course the countless “documentaries” about any number of legendary creatures that regularly make the rounds on SyFy, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, et al. It’s nothing groundbreaking and it puts forward no particular message, but as pure entertainment, it’s fantastic.
  • Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – At my sister’s recommendation, I listened to the audiobook version, which features a full cast and sound effects.  For my own reference and to experience the unique formatting, I also followed along in a physical copy.  I LOVED IT.  Listening to it in my car, it was easy to pretend I was hurtling across the universe in my Civic-turned-spaceship.  I got completely sucked into the story – it was funny and spooky and so full of WTF moments, I made up errands and took detours just to keep listening.  The physical book was fascinating to explore, but I’m glad I opted for the audiobook.  It brought the story to life so perfectly.  DON’T LOOK AT ME.
  • The Core of the Sun, by Johanna Sinisalo – I love weird books and I love dystopian stories.  This one is the best of both.  The thematic elements are terrifyingly relevant, especially given the current social and political climate, and the more bizarre aspects stand out but still make sense in context.  The storytelling format was a sort of mixed media deal, offering straight narrative interspersed with excerpts from scientific articles, government edicts, and other similar snippets.  It was a good way to offer up background information without weighing down the tension of the plot with too much exposition.

Other notable favorites include A Court of Thorns and Roses, Gold Fame Citrus, As You Wish, and The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu.

Completed tasks:

1) Based on a fairy tale – Speak Easy, Catherynne M. Valente
3) YA bestseller – A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J. Maas
4) Book you haven’t read since high school – Go Ask Alice, Anonymous
5) Set in your home state – The Road Through the Wall, Shirley Jackson
6) Translated into English – The Vegetarian, Han Kang
7) Romance set in the future – Cowboy from the Future, Cassandra Gannon
8) Set in Europe – The Core of the Sun, Johanna Sinisalo
9) Under 150 pages – The Visitor, Maeve Brennan
14) Book you can finish in a day – Rolling in the Deep, Mira Grant
15) Written by a celebrity – The Bassoon King, Rainn Wilson
18) More than 600 pages – Winter, Marissa Meyer
20) Science fiction novel – Illuminae, Amie Kaufman
21) Recommended by family member – Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake
22) Graphic novel – Nimona, Noelle Stevenson
23) Published in 2016 – Travelers Rest, Keith Lee Morris
26A) A book… – Glass Sword, Victoria Aveyard
26B) …and its prequel – Cruel Crown, Victoria Aveyard
27) Murder mystery – In a Dark, Dark Wood, Ruth Ware
29) Dystopian novel – Gold Fame Citrus, Claire Vaye Watkins
30) Book with a blue cover – The Clasp, Sloane Crosley
34) Book from the library – The Turner House, Angela Flournoy
37) Unfamiliar culture – The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, Joshua Hammer
40) Guaranteed to bring you joy – As You Wish, Cary Elwes