Tag Archives: #popsugarreadingchallenge

PopSugar – April & May

I have not been actively reading PopSugar for the past several months. Between school and the YALSA Hub Challenge, my attention has been focused elsewhere. It also doesn’t help that I have now maxed out the number of audiobooks I’ve allowed myself to use (20 out of 40). I have seven books left in the basic challenge, and hope to finish them in either July or August. Once I’m finished with those, I will move onto the advanced challenge prompts.

The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn
#5 – Nordic noir
The Bird Tribunal wasn’t a slow burning story so much as it was dead in the water. I get that it was supposed to be an atmospheric build up to an explosive conclusion, but was frustrated for most of the book waiting for something to happen, or at least an increase in tension. There were glimpses of possibilities, but the only two things that kept me reading was that this book knocked out one of the tasks for PopSugar, and it was short.

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
#28 – Two authors
Illluminae was amazing (Hal 9000 and reavers, oh my!), and Gemina was almost as amazing, but…Obsidio was not. It was good, but it was too ambitious with too many POVs.  It was hard to keep track of what was happening in Obsidio, and there were times I tuned out what was going on because I couldn’t figure out how a scene related to the story as a whole. It really should have been split into two books. One for Asha and Rhys, and one to tie everything together bringing BeiTech down in the process.

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
#32 – Celebrity book club (Reese Witherspoon)
I didn’t know what to expect going into Erotic Stories. I assumed I would have to force myself to finish it because it was a celebrity selection, and I have a hard time reading/enjoying the majority of books chosen by celebrity book clubs. However, I was more than pleasantly surprised to find that I absolutely LOVED this book. Different subplots complimented or intertwined with each other, each one looking at community and/or a woman’s sense of self. There was also character growth all around! I enjoyed how Niki went in with a set perception, then had it drastically altered as her relationship with the widows grew. The widows were by far my favorite characters.

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
#40 – Favorite prompt from past PopSugar Reading Challenge
(2017 – #46 – Subgenre you’ve never heard of – afrofuturism)
This book was so very, very different, and weirdly wonderful. It’s speculative, magical realism, and science fiction rolled into one, though at the same time it felt like something more. Alien contact was the catalyst, and the impact of that event was seen from various perspectives – human, metahuman, animal, and mythological. Political, religious, and climatic implications of first contact were explored as well. It’s a character-driven story, with plot taking a backseat. Because of this, the story was a bit confusing at times, but I think it would have been more so had I read instead of listened to it.

PopSugar – March

I was hoping to read six books for PopSugar in March, but I only managed five. Not huge discrepancy, but because I’m now even closer to my self-imposed audiobook limit (17 out of 20), I have to focus more on my book-books, which is not always easy for reasons oft complained about.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale
#2 – True crime
I liked Summerscale’s book, The Wicked Boy, and decided to read another title by her (given that both Book Riot and PopSugar chose “true crime” to be a task). While Suspicions was not as enthralling as The Wicked Boy, it was still a fascinating look at the birth of both modern detective work and the modern detective novel (along with amateur armchair detectives). The case was sensational at the time because the detective, the titular Mr. Whicher, was a working class man who went against social norms and accused a young woman of the gentry of murder.

A Dragonlings’ Haunted Halloween by S.E. Smith
#19 – About / set on Halloween
This book has been on my TBR for a while because I enjoyed most of the other books in this series. This one was only meh. I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t read the other books in a while, or if I’m not in the right mental place for shape-shifting-alien-dragon-romance. It felt like the men were portrayed as doofuses (and not in a good way), and too much time was spent on their freakout on coming across what amounted to a Halloween theme park. The story would have been better served focusing on the children/dragonlings and the goddesses.

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
#35 – Past Good Choice Awards winner (paranormal fantasy, 2012)
I enjoyed this book much more than A Discovery of Witches. While the story itself only minimally moved forward, the lushness of Harkness’ description of Elizabethan London and all of the historical tidbits more than made up for it. It is a book to get lost in, just don’t have high expectations for plot progression.

Disappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage by Brian Castner
#30 – Local author
This is the second book by Castner I have read. He definitely has a conversation-while-drinking-beer style of narrative, i.e. it meanders, but is interesting to listen to (my husband’s interjection is that this style of  “speaking” is how both he and the other military guys he knows talks). The book is split between following Alexander Mackenzie’s exploration of Canada in search of the Northwest Passage, and Castner’s retracing of Mackenzie’s voyage on the Den Cho / Mackenzie River. I enjoyed both narratives – Mackenzie’s story because I love learning about lesser known aspects/persons in history; Castner’s story because I love reading the traveler’s perspective on situations they encounter and people they meet.

Mad Hatters and March Hares edited by Ellen Datlow
#38 – Ugly Cover
I have been a fan of Alice in Wonderland for as long as I can remember. The nonsense and weirdness was utterly fascinating to my young self, and it still is today. The stories/poems in this collection are varied and run the gamut of genres, some with more magic than others. That being said, I enjoyed only a few of them. “Sentence Like a Saturday” and “The Flame After the Candle” were my favorites. “A Comfort, One Way” was interesting in how it presented the concept of Alices and Mary Anns, and what made a girl become one or the other during her adventures in Wonderland. “Mercury” and “The Queen of Hats” were also enjoyable.

Sophia’s PopSugar 2018 – Halfway!

January was a power-reading month for sure.  I don’t think I’ve read that many books (38) in that short of a time span since I was young enough to have summers off.  That drive did wane quite a bit in February though – I only made it through 11 books, but at least I didn’t end up in a reading rut!  The first half of this year’s PopSugar got me reading some excellent books.  Here are three that stood out:

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You by Caroline Kepnes – This book was, for lack of a better term, an absolute mindfuck.  The pacing was excellent, and the first person present tense propelled you through the story at breakneck speed.  I was never bored or distracted.  And it was so well-written – even though you know going in that the narrator is an actual stalker, you can’t help but find yourself connecting with him in some ways, even empathizing with him.  The manipulation is so subtle at points, and at others, just when you’re thinking of him as smart or funny or charming, he says something truly disturbing and you have to wonder at yourself in horror.  Talk about an emotional roller coaster.

The Power by Naomi Alderman – When I first read an online review of this book, I thought it sounded interesting, but what really pushed me to read it was the comment section.  A surprising (not) number of people (men) were complaining about why it was suddenly okay for powerful women to abuse men (or, namely, for women to treat men the same way women have been treated by men since the advent of civilization).  This book certainly didn’t advocate for such a reversal, but Alderman did a fantastic job of imagining what it could look like.  On some levels, it was admittedly satisfying to see men in situations in which women are typically the victim, because it demonstrated how demoralizing it can be and that no human should have to experience that.  This is a book to read more than once, one to be pondered and discussed.  If only we could get everyone to read it, especially the people who need help recognizing the humanity in those who are different from them.

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant – After loving Rolling in the Deep, I was totally psyched to find out Grant was writing a full-length sequel – and it did not disappoint.  Seven years after the original doomed voyage, a larger, better-equipped ship is sent out containing scientists and professionals from various fields to find out exactly what happened.  The point of view moves seamlessly through a varied cast of characters and its brimming with tension, even during moments of lengthy exposition.  It was just as much fun as the first book, which packed quite the punch in less than 200 pages.  I loved being able to spend so much more time in the story, and I would absolutely read any subsequent books.  Hopefully she writes more.

Completed Tasks

1) A book made into a movie you’ve already seen – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
3) The next book in a series you started – Eternally Yours, Cate Tiernan
4) A book involving a heist – Invictus, Ryan Graudin
6) A novel based on a real person – Margaret the First, Danielle Dutton
9) A book about a villain or antihero – Genuine Fraud, E. Lockhart
11) A book with female author using a make pseudonym – The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith
13) A book that is also a play or musical – The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux
14) A book by an author of a different ethnicity than you – Such Small Hands, Andres Barba
15) A book about feminism – We Should All be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
25) A book set at sea – Into the Drowning Deep, Mira Grant
27) A book set on a different planet – Saga, Vol. 8, Brian K. Vaughan
28) A book with song lyrics in the title – Comfort & Joy, Kristin Hannah
29) A book about or set on Halloween – Hallowe’en Party, Agatha Christie
30) A book with twins – Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare
31) A book mentioned in another book – The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenides
32) A book from a celebrity book club – The Power, Naomi Alderman
33) A childhood classic you never read – The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
34) A book that’s published in 2018 – The Cruel Prince, Holly Black
36) A book set the decade you were born – 1984, George Orwell
38) A book with an ugly cover – Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff
39) A book that involves a bookstore/library – You, Caroline Kepnes
42) A cyberpunk book – Catharsis, Travis Bagwell
45) A book with a fruit or vegetable in the title – Bitter Greens, Kate Forsyth
46) An allegory – The Crucible, Arthur Miller
50) A book recommended by someone else taking the PopSugar challenge – Dear Fahrenheit 451, Annie Spence

PopSugar – February

My reading challenge fervor has died down a bit. I’ve listened to 15 audiobooks for PopSugar so far (six of them in February), and I don’t want to listen to more than 20. I am trying to make sure that at least half of the books I read for this challenge are book books. This puts a severe limitation on my challenge reading because I don’t necessarily have the actual or mental time to sit down and curl up with a book.

Flight of the Sparrow by Amy Belding Brown
#6 – Novel based on a real person (Mary Rowlandson)
Inspired by the experience of Mary Rowlandson after she was captured by Native Americans during a raid on her village in 1676, the novel looked at how she survived. It was fascinating to see the stark differences between how Mary was treated by her Puritan community both before and after her captivity, and how she was treated by Weetamoo and the Narragansett. It was not an easy captivity by any means. Mary witnessed brutality, watched one of her children die, and was treated roughly, but at the same time, she had more freedom than was allowed her by Puritan society and was exposed to completely different gender and parent/child dynamics. I liked seeing how she grew as a person and gained an understanding of the complexity of the struggles of the Native Americans to maintain their sovereignty and way of life.

Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian
#8 – Time of day in the title
If I wasn’t reading this for a challenge, I would have DNF’d it. I probably should have anyway. Lucan was the emo asshole version of a Mary Sue. Gabrielle was an idiot. Their relationship went from zero to sex in no time at all, and there was nothing in that acceleration that made the relationship believable. The story itself was boring, the writing felt juvenile, and the lack of any kind of humor made listening a chore. In addition, Adrian pretty much lost me with the “vampires from space” origin story.

Time Salvager by Wesley Chu
#13 – Time travel
I liked this book enough that I want to read the sequel. It wasn’t so amazing that I couldn’t put it down, in fact, it took me several weeks to read it, but the pacing was fast and the story interesting. I would love to learn more about this history of this alternate future, but that doesn’t really fit in with the plot other than gaining needed supplies and allies. Grace is by far my favorite character. Levin also has potential. I’m curious as to how the plot develops.

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
#17 – Set on a different planet
I enjoy Jon Scalzi’s writing style in conjunction with Wil Wheaton’s narration. Scalzi’s ideas are always interesting, and his humor is up my alley. I love a space opera rife with political machinations, and I can’t wait to listen to the sequel. Kiva is by far my favorite character. She has an incredibly foul mouth, but she operates within her own set of standards and woe to anyone who doesn’t live up to them.

Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon
#18 – Song lyrics in title (“Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” by AC/DC)
I enjoyed the development of the friendship between Tourmaline and Virginia; that they took the negatives of their personal situations into their own hands instead of relying on the help of the (older) men in their lives. I liked that neither girl was perfect, each was grappling with her own past, and was trying to find a way to make it through as unharmed as possible. Most of the characters exist in the gray zone, though some were definitely beyond that and existed in the realm of reprehensible. There was some squickiness with several of the male/female relationships because of the age gap and/or the power dynamics.

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
#23 – Also a stage play/musical
Aspects of Peter Pan definitely don’t age well, specifically regarding the depiction of Native Americans. There were many, many negative stereotypes. I’ve never read the book before, but the various movies I’ve watched and reimaginings I’ve read reinforce my opinion that Peter is a selfish and insensitive git, that Tinker Bell is petty and vindictive, and that Wendy is a somewhat oblivious Mary Sue. My brain kept trying to compare and contrast the book to the Disney movie and the broadcast from 1960 starring Mary Martin. I shouldn’t be surprised that Disney changed a major plot point – Tinker Bell does not, in fact, betray Peter Pan by being lured in by sweet nothings from Hook. Instead, Hook sat on a chimney disguised as a mushroom, and thus discovered the Lost Boys’ lair.

The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley
#25 – About feminism
This book has been added to the list of books my girls need to read when they’re older. It is an angry book, but one that makes you think about just how misogynistic and racist both the writing world and geek world can be. And in all honesty, how the rest of the world can be as well. Hurley uses her personal and professional experiences, examples from pop culture, and examples from her writing to frame her observations. Perspective is inherently linked to a given author’s/person’s identity, and the dominant perspective is that of a white, straight, male.

The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson
#39 – Involving a bookstore/library
I liked the concept and what Swanson was trying to do, but the execution was only alright. It’s so disappointing when a book could have been amazing, but wasn’t. The story was missing oomph. I don’t know what, but there no pop or tension, but maybe that lack of something was from the writing style. Some of the details were also confusing because the set up for them was little to non-existent, such as the random appearance of dream world Michael mid-way through the story.

PopSugar – January

Even though my focus in January was Read Harder, I still managed a decent showing for PopSugar. Both the books themselves and my thoughts on them crossed the spectrum, though I did lean towards sci-fi and fantasy.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman
#1 – Made into a movie you’ve already seen
I saw Coraline the movie years ago, and remember it being incredibly weird and like a scary fun house. The eye buttons were the creepiest part of it, and are the first things that come to mind when I think of Coraline. It is a fairy tale with all the dark bits left in. I like that Gaiman doesn’t condescend to children when he writes, and acknowledges that children accept the macabre (and often live in it as well).

Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones
#3 – Next book in a series you’ve already started
Charlie is in full Charlie mode throughout this book. I found myself snorting multiple times because of her snarky humor. And STUFF HAPPENED! Unlike some of the previous books in this series, Twelfth Grave, moved the overarching plot forward instead of getting bogged down with weak novel-length plot lines. I like those smaller plots, but not when they feel half-assed. The ending didn’t happen quite the way I was expecting it to, but it was still a good foundation for the final book.

The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton
#4 – Involving a heist
Even though this is a fictionalized account of the first train robbery in Great Britain, there is a lot of infodumped history included, with the narrative weaving between the two. It works in this case, helped along by the fact that is reads (or listens) like a deadpan British nature documentary. I enjoyed the story much more than one would expect given the various elements of fiction, infodumps, and deadpan delivery. I would listen to it again.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
#9 – About a villain/anti-hero
I absolutely loved The Cruel Prince. Black’s writing was on point and her world-/magical rule-building was amazing. The story was a good mix of adventure, tension, and nastiness. Black’s darker, and quite frankly more realistic (as such) characterizations of fairies was a joy to read – there is always a consequence or loophole or interesting interpretation when humans make deals with immortals.  The story gets you from the opening scene and steadily ramps up from there, kicking into high gear during the coronation scene. The characters are also well-written – not a single good or bad guy; all of them are vaguely unlikable shades of gray. I cannot wait until the next book comes out. I recommend reading this as opposed to listening to it. The narrator wasn’t bad by any means, but given the tone of this book, I’d rather read the words and hear them in my head.

Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin
#10 – About death
I attempted to read this book several years ago, but failed to finish because it didn’t hold my attention. As it works for a PS category, I decided to give it another go, this time on audio. I liked the idea of a world where everyone knows the date of their death, though not the reason or cause. It had potential to be interesting, especially given the ending. However, the characters and plot were bland and uninteresting. The only two things that kept me listening were the fact that it would fulfill a challenge requirement and that I wanted to know why Denton and company were turning purple. Things I did like: Paolo (my favorite character), and that Denton made an effort to tell his classmates at least one positive thing about themselves.

Lotus Blue by Cat Sparks
#11 – Favorite color in title
Lotus Blue got off to a bit of a rocky start, mainly because Sparks kept switching between eight-ish points of view. The only good thing was that even as POVs switched, the plot kept moving forward and each POV brought something to the table. The story would be tighter if some of the bit player POVs were done away with. The dynamics of characters and their world were fascinating, and I loved the idea of semi-sentient technology. I hope Sparks writes a sequel because I want to learn more about this world and its history, and the other Lotus generals.

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
#12 – Alliteration in the title
This was quick read. I liked the story, and there were no major character flaws in either the hero or heroine (this can be hit or miss in with romances). As a whole, the story was fairly breezy with no real conflict or drama, only minor blips on the road to the main characters’ acknowledging their love for each other.

Sandstorm by James Rollins
#14 – Weather element in the title
I ended up enjoying Sandstorm more than I thought I would. It is not a genre I read at all – I think the closest thing was The Da Vinci Code when it came out in 2003. Sandstorm was a fairly straight forward adventure/espionage story with enough magic to make the plot work. I was somewhat surprised by the inclusion of magic because it didn’t seem to fit with the basic elements of adventure/espionage stories that use (slightly beyond) cutting edge technology. But I guess if the characters are tracking ancient relics and secrets, some suspension of reality is required to make it work.

The Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Parks
#15 – Set at sea
The best reaction I can come up with is “eh”. The Lifeboat Clique was marginal at best. The tone of the writing felt judgemental and not tongue in cheek. Consequently, I did not particularly care for Denver, the main character, as it was written from her perspective. All of the characters felt stereotyped/clichéd, and I didn’t like any of them. Abigail’s accent was overly affected and annoying, and I don’t think I have ever heard any of the Texans I know use the slang she employed. Plot-wise, I would have liked more of it to have been spent on the teens’ survival and less on the drama-filled backstory between Denver and Abigail. I could have also done without the moralizing at the end. The closing pages of the book started pushing it into hackneyed territory.

Shark Drunk: The Art of Catching a Large Shark from a Tiny Rubber Dinghy in a Big Ocean by Morton Strøksnes
#16 – An animal in the title
Shark Drunk is not a cohesive narrative, but rather multiple threads of related anecdotes, social and physical history, and science centered around the author’s attempt to catch a Greenland shark. I’ve read many books where this style of writing fails miserably, but in this case, it works well. The threads play off of each other and make sense within the context. All of this is done with a toned down Bill Bryson-eseque sense of humor.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
#20 – Characters who are twins
This book was a chore to get through. It was not a fandom book as the title suggests. It would have been better if it had been billed a coming of age story/grappling with mental illness, using fandom as a tool to help Cath overcome and/or accept. I didn’t mind the Simon Snow interludes, but they didn’t necessarily mesh with the main narrative of Cath trying to overcome her social anxiety. If the interludes had mirrored or shed some insight into Cath and her situation, they would have been more relevant and less of a distraction. I also didn’t like that Cath’s social anxiety and ineptitude was blamed on her fangirlness, when it really stemmed from issues with her mother’s abandonment and her father’s mental illness. Rowell gave only superficial lip service to this, and in doing so did both the story and the characters a huge disservice.

The Time Traders by Andre Norton
#21 – Female author / male pseudonym
Espionage, time travel, and aliens. I didn’t have high expectations because of some of the reviews, but was pleasantly surprised to find the story was interesting. It’s not without its flaws for sure – the plot was a bit messy, acting as a set up for the sequels. I don’t have any interest in reading the sequels because they are about the aliens and less about the time travel. It’s almost like the history and time travel in The Time Traders was a one-off. Norton isn’t an author I would seek out again unless one of her books fit into a reading challenge requirement.

Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly
#22 – LGBTQ+ protagonist
I was somewhat confused at the beginning of this book because it felt like too much world building and character introduction was going on with not enough context. This went on periodically throughout the novel where something would happen, and I had absolutely no clue how we got there. There was a lot of good stuff in Amberlough, but it didn’t come together as well as it could have. I didn’t really care about the characters because we never really learn anything about them. I know I’ve yet to say anything really positive, but even with the hot mess this novel kind of was, once I figured out what was going on, I found it interesting and enjoyed the use of language.

The Tempest by William Shakespeare
#31 – Mentioned in another book (A Brave New World)
The Tempest is not one of my favorite plays by Shakespeare. The story was too short, weak and somewhat muddled, and at times a bit confusing. I’m sure part of this was because I audiobooked it, and there wasn’t an easy way to determine when a scene/characters had shifted.


Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
#33 – Childhood classic you’ve never read
I grew up watching the Megan Follows television version of Anne of Green Gables, and absolutely loved it; watching whenever it aired on PBS.  However, I never had an interest in reading the books, especially when I read descriptions of later books and found they didn’t focus on Anne and seemed to have extraneous characters (bear in mind I was a child). As with the show, I loved the audiobook, and Rachel McAdams did a good job as narrator. There were definitely some differences between show and book, and as a parent, there were times that Anne drove me bonkers, but I still love the magic of it.

Beneath a Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire
#34 – Published in 2018
Of the three Wayward Children books, Beneath a Sugar Sky is the weakest. I still enjoyed McGuire’s writing style, her world building, and her descriptions, but the plot suffered from the question of who was the main character? Cora or Rini? The story opened with Cora, but she felt like she was only a vehicle for Rini’s appearance and Rini’s quest. It would have been better if either Cora didn’t exist and the focus was solely on Rini and her quest, or if Rini didn’t exist, and the story focused on Cora, her self-acceptance, and her desire to return to her portal world.

Sophia’s PopSugar 2017 – COMPLETE!

Like this year’s Read Harder, the PopSugar challenge was a good one – lots of fun categories that led me to many new and amazing books.  However, I will admit to fudging my own rules for the last book of the challenge by reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to fulfill the 800+ page task.  I prefer not to use re-reads for these challenges, but I’ve been working my way through Harry Potter again as a nod to the 20th(!) anniversary of the first book being published, so I decided to let it count.

Here are three awesome new-to-me books from the second half of the challenge:


Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky – This is a fun story all on its own – crazed fangirls take increasingly drastic steps to get their hands on their beloved boy band – but listening to the audiobook brought it to life.  It’s narrated by Barrett Wilbert Weed with that slow, slightly marble-mouthed valley girl vocal fry, which just elevates the already dark, dry humor to another level.  The plot moves in unexpected ways, making it feel fresh and surprising.  This is one I plan on reading more than once.


Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple – Another fun book that truly deserves to be described as quirky, but without the implication of being overly twee or saccharine.  There’s plenty of bite here.  It’s solid social satire, touching on mental health, PTA moms, and the unique sensibilities of the Pacific Northwest.  I’m a sucker for books that use ‘found documents’ to tell a story, and this one does just that to great effect.  The plot never sagged or waned, and I felt compelled to read just one more chapter, I swear! so I could get to the bottom of the mystery.


Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – Gorgeous, painful, and moving.  This book had me full-on crying by the end of it.  I had been listening to the audiobook during a long day of mindless data entry, and I was so engrossed I kept listening on my drive home.  And when I got home, I took off my coat and sat down to listen to the rest of it.  TEARS.  It’s beautifully written from multiple perspectives and captures a World War II event I’d never even heard of – the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship filled with refugees fleeing war-torn Europe.  It’s an amazing story.

Completed Tasks

1) Recommended by a librarian – Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Maria Semple
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
5) By a person of color – When Dimple Met Rishi, Sandhya Menon
6) One of the four seasons in the title – Summerlong, Dean Bakopoulos
7) Story within a story – Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book, Jennifer Donnelly
8) Multiple authors – The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares, ed. Jason Blum
9) Espionage thriller – The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, John Le Carre
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
13) By or about a person who has a disability – The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
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
16) Published in 2017 – King’s Cage, Victoria Aveyard
17) Involving a mythical creature – The Gentleman, Forrest Leo
18) Read before that never fails to make you smile – Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
19) Book about food – Cinnamon and Gunpowder, Eli Brown
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
23) Book with a red spine – Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld
24) Set in the wilderness – Beauty Queens, Libba Bray
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
29) Unreliable narrator – Kill the Boy Band, Goldy Moldavsky
30) With pictures – The Singing Bones, Shaun Tan
31) Main character is different ethnicity than you – The Gauntlet, Karuna Riazi
32) Book about an interesting woman – Shirley Jackson: a Rather Haunted Life, Ruth Franklin
33) Set in two different time periods – Shadowbahn, Steve Erickson
34) Month or day of the week in title – The Last of August, Brittany Cavallaro
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
38) Set around a holiday other than Christmas – The Accident Season, Moira Fowley-Doyle
39) First book in a series you haven’t read before – These Broken Stars, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
40) Book bought on a trip – Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, Alexandra Fuller
41) Recommended by an author you love – Unmentionable: the Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners, Therese Oneill
42) Bestseller from 2016 – The Couple Next Door, Shari Lapena
43) Family-member term in title – Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Laini Taylor
44) Takes place over a character’s life span – Perfume: the Story of a Murderer, Patrick Suskind
45) Book about an immigrant or refugee – Salt to the Sea, Ruta Sepetys
46) Genre/subgenre you’ve never heard of before – Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders
47) Eccentric character – Trouble Makes a Comeback, Stephanie Tromly
48) More than 800 pages – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling
49) Got from a used book sale – Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
50) Mentioned in another book – The Tales of Beedle the Bard, J.K. Rowling
51) Difficult topic – Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
52) Based on mythology – Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman

PopSugar – May

My PopSugar goal for May was to finish the first 40 tasks of the challenge. I had only two books left, so it was doable even with both books being nonfiction. Though I’ve been suffering from challenge reading burnout, it beats finishing the challenge at 11:30 pm on December 31st like last year.

I also managed to read four books from the advanced list, leaving me with four books remaining. Though I’m mostly finished, PS is going to go on the back burner for a bit because I’m itching to start reading down my Amazon list. Also because I pushed myself with challenges and am now dragging my heels for challenge books, even if they’re books I want to read.

Bum Voyage by David Greer
#18 – A reread that never fails to make me smile
Bum Voyage was one of my mother’s favorite childhood books, and she introduced it to me when I was kid. A 10-year-old boy is dragged to Europe by his mother on a multi-week, multi-country tour. It’s an interesting look at post-war Europe as it rebuilds itself. The biggest thing I clung to as a child was how hamburgers in England were essentially sausage patties in a bun, and not what Americans would consider hamburgers. And when I visited England in 1998, I confirmed this (at a regular restaurant, not a fast food chain). As a child, I absolutely adored David and how he perceived the world around him. Fast forward to the present day, and while I still find David’s view entertaining, as an adult I am now aware of how misogynistic the book was at times (keeping in mind it was written in 1960).

The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
#20 – Has career advice
This book was mostly irrelevant to me because I will never be an entrepreneur, and the nature of my current job precludes regular telework. That being said, I did have some useful take away, mainly in regard to travel and mini-retirements (I love the concept of mini-retirements). I also liked his reinforcement of not letting work consume your life.




The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
#4 – Takes place over character’s lifespan
Be warned – this is a very slow book. I recommend listening to it in an audio format that allows you to change the listening speed. 2x kept it from being too draggy. Plodding pace aside, it was a really fascinating read. I loved the concept of Harry reliving his life over and over again (he’s a kalachakra – an immortal being continually reborn). I loved how the kalachakra communicated with each other across the centuries, and how the threat of the rogue kalachakra was handled. Harry himself was a bit bland and emotionally divorced from what was going on around him, but at the same time, I can understand this could be a defense mechanism to living the same life on repeat.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
#9 – Bought at a used book sale
This was the first of the two books that fell well below my childhood expectations. The Phantom Tollbooth was one of my favorite movies as a child; the book definitely translates well to film. And while l adore nonsensical stories, I did not like this one in book format – the book spent too much time moralizing. I don’t like being moralized at when reading.



The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
#10 – Mentioned in another book (View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman)
The second of the two books of crushed childhood expectations was this one – Wonderworks mini-series all the way! Maybe it’s because I listened to it instead of reading it (not a fan of Michael York except in the movie, The Taming of the Shrew). The inflections used when describing the interactions of the children with Aslan, felt a bit pedophilic. Those scenes themselves bothered me, but I’m coming at this from the angle of a modern mother, and not a child from the 1950’s. I could very well be reading too much into it.


Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
#12 – Based on mythology
Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, and Norse Mythology doesn’t disappoint. I love how he uses words and sly asides. I love the cadence of both his writing and narration. I love how he takes Norse gods and their stories and makes them his own, while staying true to the nature of the beings. My only complaint was that the book wasn’t longer.