Category Archives: Reading Challenges

The Hub – May

May was my burn out month for reading challenges. This wouldn’t necessarily appear to be the case because of the number of books I read, but I had a run of books that were either unimpressive or DNFs. It feels like there was a better book selection last year, or I at least had a better connection with the selection. That being said, some of the best books I’ve read so far this year were Hub books – The Truth About Forever, Along For the Ride, and The Female of the Species.

The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst
This book was enjoyable enough, and the concept was unique and well-thought out. My problem was with the main character. I had a hard time with her bull-headed devotion to her special snowflake status – the dream that she could be the queen even though she failed miserably at all of the requirements necessary to even be considered as a candidate. Adapt and overcome, and sure enough she becomes a dark horse. I dislike the current belief that anyone can be anything, and to see it so bluntly in this book detracted from the imagination of the spirits and how humans co-existed with them.

 

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan
I liked this book. It was a fast read, and I liked the story, but it didn’t particularly grab me. It was lyrical, though the language was at times felt inauthentic for teens (more how adults daydreamed they would have talked when they were teens). I did like how positive and open it was for LGBT teens learning and accepting who they were.

 

 

Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune by Pamela S. Turner
Another fast read that was a basic overview of Minamoto Yoshitsune. It didn’t really go into a lot of details, feeling like it skimmed over a lot of the violence and destruction involved with toppling a regime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
I ended up liking the Sarah Dessen books more than I expected to. They all have similarities – parents who are absent (physically or emotionally), young teenage girls who are a little bit on the outside of things, still slightly awkward with themselves, and the journey from that awkwardness into self-confidence. They felt innocent and hopeful and it made me wistful for my high school days, learning about love for the first time. Of the four books, The Truth About Forever and Along for the Ride were my favorites. I felt a connection with Macy and Auden in regard to how their families disfunctioned. Keeping the Moon was alright, but I didn’t like how Colie was told she was a shallow person for not being attracted to Norman. It felt like she talked herself into liking him because of other people’s opinions. This Lullaby was my least favorite. I liked that Remy had some edges to her, but Dexter was annoying, and I didn’t care for how the story unfolded.

In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives by Kenneth C. Davis
Unfortunately, this book was only somewhat interesting, and only somewhat focused on what the title said the book was about. I was expecting, and hoping, for more information about the five people enslaved by four presidents, but instead of taking what we know of their lives and expanding on what we know of slavery in general from that era, he put the focus on the presidents. I would have liked to learn more about the hidden history of slavery, how it affected those who were enslaved, and the culture they created.

 

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Another book I’d heard about but wasn’t on my reading radar. I’m glad it was on the Hub list because it was wonderful. Both Theodore and Violet were interesting relatively well-fleshed out characters. I liked how they connected, even if the use of Virginia Woolf was a bit pretentious. I do have several complaints with the book. Theodore’s mental illness was  glossed over to the the point I had no clue what it was. A school guidance councilor mentioned that he thought Theodore might be bipolar, but it was speculation on the part of that character. The adults in the book were awful, ranging from ambivalent to neglectful to abusive – and none of them were called out for it. Their behaviors were treated as par for the course. And finally, it felt like suicide was treated in such a way as to make it appear tragically beautiful. Which it is most definitely not.

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
This is a fairly brutal tragedy of a book. It deals with some nasty topics, but at the same time is darkly funny. The humor is a good counterpoint to what happens, and keeps the story from being overwhelming. I like that the main characters, and even some of the secondary characters are complex while staying away from special snowflake-cliche end of the spectrum. I adore Alex, and even though some of her actions are outside of the law, she is still a relateable character who is aware of her flaws (and the flaws of society).

 

 

DNF – Every Sun a Star by Nicola Yoon
I like the concept of this book, but I couldn’t stand it. The writing style and instalove got on my nerves, but what kept me from making myself overlook those for the sake of an interesting story was how the immigration office was portrayed. I have first-hand experience working for the benefits side of immigration, and it is most definitely NOT like how it is written in the book. We’ll start with the fact that USCIS has absolutely nothing to do with removals/deportations. That’s all ICE. USCIS deals with benefits (green cards, becoming a citizen, etc…). It is not law enforcement. If you went to a USCIS office to talk about removal proceedings, you would be told that we can’t help you, please go talk to ICE. Also, if you’ve scheduled a walk-in appointment, you won’t know the name of the officer ahead of time. You will get whoever happens to be working the information counter on that day. The same goes for interview appointments. On top of that, an immigration officer isn’t going to give someone the name of a potentially skeezy lawyer/fixer who might be able to help a person stay in the US. Maybe it was different “back in the day”, but it was never my experience.

DNF – The Reader by Traci Chee
A book with an interesting concept, but it was just. so. freaking. boring. And highly implausible once I started to get into it – how was there no system of writing or some sort of equivalent? I had to force myself to get to page 50. Then I read the last few pages. And I realized I had no interesting in learning what happened in between.

DNF – Dryland by Sarah Jaffe
My third DNF for May was Dryland. Another book that seemed interesting, and one that would be a good fit because I lived through the flannel-wearing-teen-angst of the 90’s. But it was another boring book. I didn’t connect with Julie, and wasn’t able to push myself past around page 30.

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PopSugar – April

So…I didn’t manage to finish PopSugar in April, but I did get pretty darn close – two books left out of 40 for the regular list, and three more knocked out for the advanced list, putting me at four out of 12 completed. Most of the books I read skewed towards the side of disappointment, or at the very least a strong indifference. The only one that really hooked me (meaning that I will read it again) was Geekerella.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston
#1 – Recommended by a librarian
A librarian I know recommended this because of the mix of geekdom and fairy tales, and they work surprisingly well together. I loved how all the props from Cinderella fit into the modern world, i.e. magic pumpkin = vegan food truck. High form literature it’s not, but it is a solid beach read. I would listen to it again.

Bedknob and Broomstick by Mary Norton
#2 – Been on my TBR list way too long
The Disney movie, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, was one of my childhood favorites. I picked up the book a while ago with the intention of reading it to see how it compared to the movie. Unfortunately, it was awful. Book and movie are two completely separate entities. The movie used the book as source material, and then created an entirely new everything. The personalities and actions of the characters, and the adventures the children went on were completely different.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
#3 – Book of letters
I first read this in college for a Christian literature course, and I enjoyed it immensely. A lot of what Lewis writes about is still so very relevant to how people live their lives today; how easy it is to twist (supposedly) good actions into evil ones. I don’t recommend reading this if you are stressed out or are mentally being pulled in multiple directions as it makes it harder to process.

All By Myself, Alone by Mary Higgins Clark
#12 – Bestseller, not from usual genre (mystery thriller)
I have only read one other MHC book, Loves Music, Loves to Dance, and that was in middle school (bought it from a Scholastic bookclub order form – probably not a book that would be on there today). And while more than 20 years has passed since I read it, I could swear there was more going on, and that the murders and motives weren’t so transparent (need to reread to verify). All By Myself, Alone was mediocre at best. I liked it in that it was a moderately enjoyable fast read, but that’s about it. MHC pretty much gives away who the killer is before the book even gets started, and there were too many subplots with cliché characters.

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker
#15 – Book with a subtitle
This book falls into my ‘declutter my mental and physical space’ kick. Becker has some solid things to share, and it fits in with other lifestyle books I’ve listened to recently, but he lost me on the toxic relationships section. I know he’s coming at minimalism from a Christian perspective, but there are some relationships that just need to be let go.

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
#28 – Set during wartime
I have mixed feelings about this book, enough that I know I won’t read the sequel or any subsequent books. Bradley was too heavy-handed with pointing out the lack of education/life experience of Ada and Jamie. It also seemed like Ada was too quick to learn – you don’t go from zero experience riding horses to successfully jumping one over a hedge. On the positive side, I did like how Ada, Jamie, and Susan created a family.

One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde
#34 – Month/day of the week in the title
I have read three books in this series, and while the first one was clever and cute, it began to wear a bit in the second book, enough so that I didn’t want to read the third. One of Our Thursdays is Missing is the sixth book in the series, and the main character is book world Thursday, and not real world Thursday. RW Thursday was entertaining, BW Thursday was not.

Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie
#38 – Set around a non-Christmas holiday
Of the few Agatha Christie books I’ve read, Hallowe’en Party was my least favorite. The plot was interesting, but I didn’t always follow how Poirot came to the conclusions he did. I will read more AC, but I plan on sticking with her earlier works.

 

Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal
#40 – Book bought on a trip (ALA Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, 2014)
I picked this book up after going to a speech McGonigal gave at ALA. I don’t remember the content anymore, but I do remember being fascinated with what she said. Both my sister and I bought her book, and had her sign it. I really like the idea of incorporating gaming into our everyday lives as a way to make reality more bearable and motivating, or as ways to crowdsource tackling large issues. But as she says in the book, our attention span for any one game only lasts for so long before it becomes boring and we move on to something new. It doesn’t necessarily feasible for socially-conscious MMORPG to go attract a significant population for a length of time.

ADVANCED LIST

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
#3 – Family member term in title
I like the idea of the book – two brothers on a mission to complete a hit in the Wild West, but it fell short. There was a lack of character development, and the plot felt rambling. This is not a bad thing in and of itself, but rambling plots need strong characters, and the characters all blended together. Admittedly, I am not a fan of westerns in any format, so this may have something to do with my lack of enjoyment. (My sister thinks this also could be because I listened to the book as opposed to read it.)

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
#6 – Genre/subgenre you’ve never heard of (mannerpunk)
Even though I’ve read mannerpunk books before, I was unaware that it was its own subgenre. Lies looked interesting with the concept of pulling off heists again the wealthy in a Venice-like city, and I liked how the multiple threads and players added complexity. However, the story felt like it went on forever – and that was listening to it at 2x speed. Losing words would have tightened it up and made the story immensely more engaging.

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
#11- Difficult topic
This book was mediocre at best. I hate that I have this opinion about such a dark and complex topic, but there was no gut-wrenching emotion.  The characters were two-dimensional and boring. They showed no signs of moral ambiguity or other flaws. They were written as such that it was blindingly obvious who were the victims – all were heartstring-pulling “special” in some way. and who was the villain – basically a guy who has a major temper tantrum because people are essentially not living life the way he wants them to in relation to him. I also had issues with how character diversity was handled. Too much time was spent pointing out what made the characters different/diverse, and it made the “diverse” characters feel like caricatures.

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The Hub – April

Signs of fatigue showed up during month number three of Hub reading. Not so much from this challenge as all reading challenges in general. Because of course, I’m being forced into participating and aren’t allowed to read other books. That being said, I read a good mix of books this month, with Every Heart a Doorway being my favorite (can’t wait to read the sequels as they come out). I did not have any DNF books in April, so that was also a plus.

March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
I had this book sitting on my shelf for more than a month before I sat down to read it. I knew it would be amazing (and it was), but I also knew it would be painful. It is unfathomable to me how people can be so cruel, and how we really haven’t progressed much. The graphic format makes it so much more powerful than words would alone.

 

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
This was a well-written and intriguing book, but it was not for me. I am not a fan of horror or the grotesque, and have a low threshold for both – the monsters were proper monsters. It was creepy, and at times, gory, but never gratuitously. The narrative was solid – as seen through the traumatized eyes of a young boy, who was the apprentice of the titular monstrumologist. Aspects of the plot brought up interesting philosophical questions regarding humanity and science.

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
McLemore is a fantastic storyteller, with aspects of her style reminding me of Neil Gaiman. Moon was lyrical with a dreamy cadence, and a dash magical realism. The focus was more on the characters and their individual struggles as opposed to a cohesive plot, so at times it could be hard to follow exactly what was going on. However, it was a beautiful story about both self-acceptance and loving others unconditionally.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
I think I would have liked this book more if I hadn’t skipped to the ending to see what happened. What I thought would be the plot trajectory turned out to be only a subplot. And I know I would have enjoyed the book more if Faith Sunderly’s father hadn’t been such a raving, abusive asshole. His behavior put such a pall on the rest of the book, that it was hard to appreciate the clash between changing scientific views and societal struggles, and the small dip into the magical.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
I love fairy tales, and I love Alice in Wonderland, and both are mashed up in Every Heart, looking at what happens when the children who stepped through the portal or went down the rabbit hole return to the normal world. It’s weird and painful because of the crushed dreams and unlikely hopes of such children, and the lengths some of them will go to in order to regain their alternate lives.

Lowriders to the Center of the Earth by Cathy Camper and Raul the Third
I will start with the fact that I am not the demographic this graphic novel is geared towards. If I review it based purely on my connection to it, then my response would be negative. If I review it based upon the fact that if the right child/teen read this and found a connection to lowriders and tricking out cars, then it would be a great choice. From that standpoint, it’s accessible with a subculture that isn’t often represented in books.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman
I made the mistake of not writing my thoughts down when I finished Scythe,  so about all I remember is that I liked it enough that I will read the sequel when it comes out. I enjoy books that take the prevalent system in the story and then have the main character learn about and try to expose the rot and corruption of that system. Of Citra and Rowan, I prefer Rowan. He is more firmly placed in the moral gray zone than Citra, which makes him more interesting.

Emmas’ Read Harder 2017

This year, I managed to complete Read Harder in record time – early April instead of high summer. As with previous years, the prompts were diverse and interesting. Some were easy, such as task 12: Fantasy novel, and some were the bane of my book hunting, such as task 23: Poetry in translation, not about love. All in all though, the tasks promoted a good mix of books, many of which I would never have read otherwise.

Emma’s Read Harder 2016
Emma’s Read Harder 2015

Favorites

*The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows by Brian Castner
(task 14: About war)
My husband has been after me to read this book since it was first published, and I’m ashamed to say that it took me this long to get around to reading it. The whole book felt surreal. In part because it’s not written on a straight timeline – the narrative moves fluidly though past and present, fractured because Castner was fractured. And in part because I know some of the people mentioned in the book. My husband has worked with people mentioned in the book; he has been to some of their funerals. Castner brings a different perspective, but also reinforces, what I know of my husband’s experiences.

*Hunter by Mercedes Lackey
(task 12: Fantasy novel)
After 27 years of reading fantasy novels, this was the first Mercedes Lackey novel I have ever read. A bit shocking really, given how prolific a writer she is. I loved the intersection of post-apocalypse and magic; how old world technology and terminology have been repurposed and used in conjunction with magic. For all that it’s fantasy, it’s political as well with a huge government conspiracy. Joy is a strong character, and not hot-headed. I had to force myself to not listen to the sequel right away since I want to finish my book challenges first.

*Tetris: The Games People Play by Box Brown
(task 13: Nonfiction about technology)
I chose this book because it looked to be a fast read and because my sister recommended it. I’ve read another graphic nonfiction by Box Brown, and was unimpressed to say the least with both the writing and illustration style. However, my sister was right, and Tetris was an engrossing book. I ended up reading it in one session because it was fascinating – how Tetris was invented, how it made its way out of the USSR, the legal fight between competing game producers, and how Tetris finally became so ungodly popular. Be aware that the book starts with a history of Nintendo before moving on to focus on Tetris. I’m assuming this was to both set the stage for Tetris domination, and because Nintendo was the company that ended up victorious.

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
(task 19: Character of color goes on spiritual journey)
This is a book I heard about, read the description, and then told myself it looked interesting, but it wouldn’t be something I read. Thank you Book Riot for making this category, because without it, I would have never read it. Labyrinth Lost was rich and detailed, and the bruja religion was fully developed. The storytelling was beautiful. The only quibble I had had to do with the romance/love interest. It didn’t feel right, sort of like it was there because there should be a romance. It didn’t develop organically, and would have been better left in the friend zone, with the potential for it to grow in future books.

Tasks

  1. About sports: The Ultra Mindset: An Endurance Champion’s 8 Core Principles for Success in Business, Sports, and Life by Travis Macy
  2. Debut novel: Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmbert
  3. Book about books: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
  4. Set in/author from Central/South America: Death Going Down by Maria Angelica Bosco
  5. Written by immigrant/immigration as central narrative: In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero
  6. All-ages comic: Out from Boneville (Bone #1) by Jeff Smith
  7. Published between 1900-1950: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  8. Travel memoir: Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle
  9. Book you’ve read before: Hellhole by Gina Damico
  10. Set within 100 miles from your location: City of Light by Laruen Belfer
  11. Set more than 5000 miles from your location: A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
  12. Fantasy novel: Hunter by Mercedes Lackey
  13. Nonfiction about technology: Tetris: The Games People Play by Box Brown
  14. About war: The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows by Brian Castner
  15. LGBTQ+ MG/YA author: George by Alex Gino
  16. Banned/frequently challenged in your country: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  17. Classic by author of color: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  18. Superhero comic with female lead: Ms. Marvel, Vol 4: Last Days by Willow G. Wilson
  19. Character of color goes on spiritual journey: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
  20. LGBTQ+ romance novel: The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian
  21. Micropress publication: The Last Horror Novel in the History of the World by Brian Allen Carr
  22. Story collection by female author: Always Happy Hour: Stories by Mary Miller
  23. Poetry in translation (not about love): View with a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems by Wistawa Szymborska
  24. All POV characters are people of color: The Sellout by Paul Beatty

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The Hub – March

Month number two of Hub reading complete! Once again, my reading was split between the graphic format and audiobooks. None of the books have been outside my reading comfort zone, so I need to try to work on that. Both Salt to the Sea and Kill the Boy Band stand out as favorites, and I’m itching to listen to KBB again (I’ll probably force my step-mother to listen to it during her next visit. Just like I’m going to force her to watch Moana). The one drag for this month was Beast. It has been on my TBR list for a while, but it was utterly disappointing to listen to. I had to DNF it.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis was powerful. I couldn’t imagine going from a relatively free, westernized life to a strict Islamic life. Watching Marjane have to reconcile her free spirit with the restrictions and punishments of the new regime was crushing. There were enough details to get the horror of it across, but not so many as to be overly graphic. The last panel was the hardest to read.

 

We Stand On Guard by Brian K. Vaughan
This was one of Brian K. Vaughan’s weaker graphic novels, if only because it was so short and felt rushed toward the end. There wasn’t a lot of room for character development. It packed a powerful punch in terms of geopolitics and an imagined US invasion of Canada, but there should have been more. It offered a glimpse of the resistance, with most of it focused on bringing about the end of the conflict. The story would have been awesome if it had been stretched out into several volumes.

Orange: The Complete Collection, Vol. 1 by Ichigo Takano
A bittersweet story about a group of friends who send letters to their past selves in order to change the fate of their newest friend, Kakeru. I liked the sci-fi, romance, and the characters interactions felt believable, but it did not sweep me off my feet. The timeline jumps could be hard to follow, and I didn’t feel any real connection with any of the characters. It is possible that I was not in the right mindset to fall in love with the story.

Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky
I loved this book. A black satire for sure, and its humor is definitely not for everyone. KBB poked fun at the obsessive side of fandom (not fandom in general). It was awesome and horrible in an “I can’t believe they just did that” kind of way. The plot was ridiculous, and all four main characters were on the wrong side of sane, to varying degrees. I liked that the narrator wasn’t entirely reliable – how much of what she presented was the truth or was inside her own head? She would never give her actual name to people, only characters from ‘80’s teen movies, which I thought was a fun detail. The audiobook narrator did a fantastic job nailing the vocal nuances of this character.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
This book was absolutely beautiful; horrible, but beautiful. Not for the younger set, given the content and brutality. I always think of the Titanic as being the worst maritime disaster, and that is what I’ve always been taught. I didn’t know about the Wilhelm Gustloff, or about how absolutely horrific its sinking was. The characters were well-developed, and all of them existed on a scale of moral ambiguity, though Emilia was towards the good end of the spectrum, as she lied for the purpose of keeping her sanity.

The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) by Rick Riordan
I’ve read the Percy Jackson series and the Kane Chronicles, and while I enjoyed them, none of them stood out as being funny (of course it’s been years since I’ve read them, so it’s possible I don’t remember the funny). Magnus Chase however, was very cheeky. I listened to it while doing housework, and my kids kept asking why I was snorting so much. I liked that Norse mythology was finally getting some page-time with a younger audience. The only negative was the narrator. He was absolutely awful.

Ada Lovelace: The Poet of Science by Diane Stanley
I’m not exactly sure why a picture book geared towards younger children would be included in YALSA’s reading challenge, but nominees for the Amelia Bloomer Project Project don’t have to be YA books, so I assume it was included by default. That being said, it was a good book about Ada Lovelace. It was informative, and the illustrations were engaging. My 7-year old liked it, my almost 11-year did not (she felt it was too babyish).

DNF – Beast by Brie Spangler
Beast was one of the books I was excited to read. Then I started listening to it, and I just couldn’t. The mother was so obtusely positive that she essentially invalidated any negative emotions or feelings Dylan had. When he tried to talk her, she didn’t listen. Instead, she would shut him down and jump to her own conclusions. She wouldn’t allow him to express any negative feelings towards himself or how he was perceived by others because it didn’t fit into her perception of him. Dylan also bothered me. When he described his interactions with girls, he came off as a fedora-wearing Nice Guy. It seemed like he expected girls to be there for him, and when they rejected him, he assumed it was because of how he looked and not how he behaved.

PopSugar – March

My wish to complete PopSugar by the end of April is not to be (maybe by June?). I only managed three books from the regular list, and one from the advanced list. While I have only eleven books left on the regular list, and while I can definitely read more than eleven books in one month, some of the books I thought I would read turned out to be duds and I DNF them.

Maresi by Maria Turtschanioff
#26 – Author from a country you’ve never visited (Finland)
Maresi moved at a slow pace, but I loved the descriptions of the abbey, and the maiden/mother/crone mythology. Magic was only brought out as necessary, and its scarcity gave the story a feel of magical realism. It was definitely a dark book, both with character histories (specifically Jai) and what happened when the island is invaded. However, there was a lack of character development, and Maresi felt somewhat two-dimensional. She would have benefited if the maiden/mother/crone mythology had been given more page time.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
#29 – Unreliable narrator
My husband read this years ago, and recommended that I read it as well. It is an existential novel about a man who has become unstuck in time, who bounces around on his life timeline, splitting his existence between living on Earth and living on an alien planet as an exhibit. Was this his actual physical experience or was it a psychological experience caused by the trauma of war? It definitely felt like Vonnegut was trying to work though his survival as a WWII POW and the bombing of Dresden. Death and destruction are universal. So it goes.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Geir
#33 – Set in two different time periods
This book gets some flak for the characters acting younger than their age, time travel mechanics holes, and the effects of interacting with people from different eras, but I really enjoyed it. The audiobook sucked me in, and none of the flaws really stood out to me. I was more absorbed in how Gwyneth coped with the bombshell that she was her generation’s time traveler, when she had spent a good chunk of her life being shunted off to the side and ignored by the majority of her family.

ADVANCED LIST

Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill
#42 – 2016 bestseller
This book was cheeky and sarcastic, but the tone became incredibly obnoxious. I don’t need to be hit on the head with a hammer, and trying to make it witty does not lessen the redundancy of repeating information. Most of the information presented wasn’t new to me – I’ve read multiple books about the Victorian era – but for someone who has read a lot of romance or fiction set during that time, and hasn’t delved into the actual history, it would be both fascinating and a bit shocking.

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Read Harder – March

I had five books left for Read Harder, but I only finished…four. I was really hoping to complete the entire challenge, but #13 – Nonfiction about technology, was my sticking point. Reality is Broken is fascinating, but nonfiction is always slow going for me. It didn’t help that my reading challenge focus was weak, and that I spent a decent chunk of time marathoning two non-challenge series.

Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle
#8 – Travel memoir
This is the second book about NoKo I’ve read this year, and it was interesting to see the different perspectives between the authors. There was about a ten year difference between the two trips, but there was the same general feel of oppressiveness and craziness with both accounts. A big difference though was that Delisle was less inclined to empathize with the people, focusing more on deficiencies (as compared to the Western world) and how they affected him.

A Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life that Follows by Brian Castner
#14 – Book about war
My husband has been after me to read this book since it was first published, and I’m ashamed to say that it took me this long to get around to reading it. The whole book felt surreal. In part because it’s not written on a straight timeline – the narrative moves fluidly though past and present; fractured because Castner was fractured. And in part because I know some of the people mentioned in the book. My husband has worked with people mentioned in the book; he has been to some of their funerals. Castner brings a different perspective, but also reinforces, what I know of my husband’s experiences.

View with a Grain of Sand by Wislawa Szymborska
#23 – Translated poetry, not about love
After looking at reviews online, I seem to be in a definite minority of not liking this book. Her poems were not accessible and most made no sense at all. It was like a lot of obscure and/or complex words were barfed onto the page without regard for how well they expressed a concept. Out of the entire collection, I enjoyed less than 10 poems. I had to force myself to read this because I didn’t want to hunt down another book for this task.

The Sellout by Paul Beatty
#24 – All POV characters are POC
I really enjoyed this book. It was an scathing satire filled with dark humor and absolutely ludicrous. Beatty twisted and used stereotypes to highlight that no matter how much we think we live in a post-racial America, we really don’t.

 

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