Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Reading Challenge Wrap Up

-A book based on a fairy tale: Confessions of an Ugly StepsisterAn interesting take but overall not very fairy tale-like.  I wish the elements of the original tale had been a bit more prevalent though the historical fiction setting take was one I liked.

-A National Book Award winner: The Shipping News.  A book that was a strange mix of many different things, some good and some bad.  Overall I enjoyed it, but I don't see what made it an award winner.

-A YA bestseller: Clockwork Angel.  This was the first book of Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices trilogy.  I don't like Clare as a person but her books are basically the epitome of YA.  I liked this book's switch from a modern setting to a Regency/Victorian one but I haven't found it in me to read the other two in the trilogy yet.

-A book you haven't read since high school: The Ropemaker.  This a simple, wonderful fantasy story that reads just as well now as it did back when I was in high school.

-A book set in your home state: Perks of Being a Wallflower.  This was okay.  I think the ending was a little cloudy, shying away from what the point really was, and I wasn't a big of of the epistolary style.

-A book translated to English: The Little Paris Bookshop.  This had some beautiful writing and some quirky characters but I didn't find the central plot to be compelling, and I really disliked the woman at the center of it.

-A romance set in the future: Their Fractured Light.  I still think I liked the first book in this trilogy the best, but this book was a wonderful step up from the second one and a worthy conclusion.  It's sci-fi for young adults with a strong romance component, the main characters are wonderful, and this ties together the threads from the other books nicely.

-A book set in Europe: Lunch in Paris.  This is the sort of memoir I like: one about relationships and food.  It's sweet, and while I had read the second book first accidentally I didn't feel like either volume was re-hashing anything big.  This book also featured less about children (not my favorite) than the second, which was a plus.

-A book that's under 150 pages: Goldenhood.  I wanted to like this but found that the plot was a bit weak, particularly at the end.  It was a short book, true, but I still think it could have been wrapped up a little better.

-A New York Times bestseller: The Cuckoo's Calling.  This was written by J. K. Rowling under a pseudonym, and her mastery of characters and atmosphere continues here.  It's not fantasy, and is a mystery instead, but definitely turned me on to the series, and I devoured the other two in short order.  I can't wait until the fourth one comes out, though there's no release date in sight!

-A book that's becoming a movie this year: The Girl on the Train.  I'm normally not a big fan of unreliable narrators, but I really liked this.  It was one of those things that I could tell something was up, but I wasn't quite sure what that something was.  The movie adaptation of this was good, too, very loyal to the book!

-A book recommended by someone you just met: The Machinery.  I did not like this.  I think the world was well-built and had an interesting premise but nothing happens in this book.  It was so boring I kept putting it down to nap instead.

-A self-improvement book: An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth.  You can tell Chris Hadfield is a cool, likable guy from his Youtube videos about life in space, and this book is no different.  Light, readable, and yet with surprising insights about life.

-A book you can finish in a day: My American Duchess.  I love Eloisa James and I love her series, and I wish this book was the start of another one.  That said, this wasn't anything particularly new, and the amnesia incident was a bit worn.

-A book written by a celebrity: Elixir.  Coming from Hillary Duff I was skeptical

-A political memoir: I Am Malala.  What an extraordinary young woman!  This was written along with another person, who presumably did the background-information bits while Malala focused on her own experiences.  It's brilliant, but at the same time it does read like a teenager wrote it--though a very articulate teenager.

-A book at least 100 years older than you: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.  What another boring book!  If you like books listing all the fish the narrator has ever seen, this is the book for you.  And what a cop-out ending.  This has some cool concepts that have endured the test of time, but as a story I don't think it has.

-A book that's more than 600 pages: The Goldfinch.  A lot of people abandoned this book, and I can see why.  It's slow.  That said, I didn't find it a boring type of slow.  Watching Theo grow, change, and backslide was fascinating, though the end seemed a bit too neat.

-A book from Oprah's Book Club: Stolen Lives.  This was a fascinating book both because of its subject, a woman who was held prisoner for twenty years because her father led a coup against the King of Morocco, and because it was a portion of history I'd never even heard of before.

-A science-fiction novel: The Three-Body Problem.  Sci-fi isn't usually my thing, but The Three-Body Problem was an interesting book.  The actual conflict is somewhat removed from the timeline of the book, which makes its sense of urgency rather lacking, but the actual story was intriguing.

-A book recommended by a family member: The Killing Floor.  Did not like this.  It's poorly conceived and written and didn't make me interested in the other books in the series at all.

-A graphic novel: Bone, Vol 1: Out from Boneville.  This is a light, quick read with elements of adventure, mystery, and humor.

-A book that is published in 2016: The Mirror King.  While I loved the first book in this duology, The Orphan Queen, I found this one a bit lacking.  The romance that bolstered the first to such a lovely degree wasn't present here and it relied on politics more than adventure, taking some of the magic out.  But the ending was wonderful.

-A book with a protagonist who has your occupation: Blood, Bones, & Butter.  I did this as an occupation I would like to have, since books about college admins are both pretty much nonexistent and would be terribly boring.  While the food descriptions here were mouth-watering, the author was pretty much insufferable and I couldn't bring myself to like her one bit.

-A book that takes place during summer: The Sound of Glass.  This was my first Karen White book, though something about her covers has always intrigued me.  I really enjoyed it; she seems to have a knack for real, compelling characters, without feeling the need to drop them into insane circumstances to justify their specialness.  It has a wonderful sense of place, too.

-A book and its prequel: Wool and Shift.  Hugh Howey is basically the dream every self-publisher has, and these books make it clear why.  A post-apocalytpic dystopian series, Wool, Shift, and the third book, Dust, build a world that is both remote and menacingly close.  I think they don't have quite the magic of Sand, but I enjoyed them nonetheless.

-A murder mystery: Grave Beginnings.  This is a paranormal mystery and it is one that is without the romance plots that are so prevalent in the genre.  (I like the romance plots, but they're not for everyone.)  It was fun but I think the writing was a bit rough; it definitely shows as an indie author's first book.

-A book written by a comedian: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?  Mindy Kaling is adorable but I also had the reaction to this that I have with many "celebrity" books, in that the author isn't being real with us.  Like, no one can be this adorable and quirky and charming all the time.  It's just not possible.  So what is Mindy hiding?

-A dystopian novel: The Children of Darkness.  This was an indie book I received for free in exchange for a review, and while I ultimately did enjoy it, it was pretty slow.  There are also heavy pseudo-religious elements in this that are keeping me away from a bit.  I seem to have enjoyed it when I read it, but in retrospect I'm not compelled to keep reading.

-A book with a blue cover: Sea Glass.  This book and the rest of its series are trash that suggest that marrying your abuser is a totally healthy and good thing to do.  Terrible.  I love Snyder's Poison Study, but her other books seem to have seriously gone downhill and she has been scratched from my favorites list.

-A book of poetry: I Was the Jukebox.  I don't like poetry but if you have to read a book of poetry, this'll do.  "Cast of Thousands" is particularly moving.

-The first book you see in a bookstore: Every Anxious Wave.  I used this as "The first book you see in a library" because I didn't want to buy something I wasn't sure I would like.  It was okay, but it deals with time travel and that rarely goes well.

-A classic from the 20th century: One Hundred Years of Solitude.  The writing here is so wonderful and the town depicted is interesting, with elements of magical realism mixed in with a robust culture.  But there are definitely some icky moments here, too; incest is rampant, which made me shudder a bit.

-A book from the library: The Shadowed Sun.  I really like Jemisin, and this book was an improvement upon its predecessor, The Killing Moon.  The setting and characters are so complex and compelling, and Jemisin draws on the rich history of Egypt while making a world that is still entirely her own.

-An autobiography: Papillon.  It turns out that this book is probably only semi-autobiographical at best, and parts of it may have been outright lifted from another author's works.  Awkward, but not surprising given the content.  It's good, but keep those things in mind if you decide to read it.

-A book about a road trip: Walk On Earth a Stranger.  Probably the most unusual pick for this category, because it's not a road trip in the traditional sense but rather a trip across the Oregon trail.  An interesting character and a good story, and the final book comes out next year!

-A book about a culture you're unfamiliar with: Shutting Out the Sun.  This book is half interesting and half pretty much trash, which completely ignores the roles of globalization and American imperialism in creating the current environment in Japan that has contributed so greatly to the phenomenon of hikikomori.  Read the first half, forget the second.

-A satirical book: What If?.  This is a compilation of entries from Randall Munroe's What If? blog, attached to the XKCD comic.  There are a few new scenarios thrown in, but if you've read the blog, then that's the majority of content of the book.  It's amazing how many ways the world can be destroyed, but it was also disappointing to not find much new in the book.

-A book that takes place on an island: Enchanted Islands.  This takes place partially in the Galapagos Islands, following two spies who have been dispatched there during World War II.  The relationship, or lack thereof, between Frances and Aisnslie was touching, but Frances' continual excuses for Rosalie and how terrible of a friend she was really dragged this down for me.

-A book that's guaranteed to bring you joy: A College of Magics.  I love this book.  It seems to have suffered in ratings due to an unfortunate cover quote comparing it to Harry Potter, which it is not like, at all.  But Greenlaw, Galazon, and Aravis, and Faris and Tyrian and Jane and the very proper magicness of it all... I love it.

I also took on these additional reading goals from Modern Mrs. Darcy:

-A book you've been meaning to read: Street Fair.  This is a fun YA series that deals with faeries, but it trends a little young for me.  I'll probably read the other two in the series at some point, but I think that Melissa Marr's Tattoo Faeries series and Holly Black's Tithe series are more up my alley in this department.

-A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller: Midnight's Children.  Ugh, this was a drag.  I believe people when they say this is an important book for Indian literature, but I found it incredibly boring and a struggle to get through.

-A book you should have read in school: The Odyssey.  This actually wasn't what I was expecting and had far less to do with Odysseus' journey home than with his revenge once he got there.  I find myself slightly disappointed in that, though it's a typical story of heroes, gods, and monsters in all other aspects.

-A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF: The Samurai's Tale.  If this book had been written in the past decade, it would have been YA.  As it wasn't, it falls into a weird category in between teen and adult that still manages to not be YA.  It was't entirely to my taste for various reasons but I can see how it could easily get younger readers interested in Japan and Japanese history.

-A book published before you were born: Wuthering Heights.  I actually liked this quite a bit.  It's a story of obsession and revenge, not love as some portray it, but it had a wonderful atmosphere and I can see why it has persevered as a classic.

-A book that was banned at some point: Sophie's Choice.  What a terrible book.  I can't stand how pretentious this author is, and I will most definitely not be reading anything else by him.  He manages to make the Holocaust into something that is entirely about himself.

-A book you previously abandoned: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.  This had some interesting elements, but it was so incredibly slow.  I think a good few hundred pages of this could have been trimmed and the story made overall better by it.

-A book you own but have never read: The Mapmakers.  This was interesting regarding mapmaking in antiquity, but it quickly devolved into a listing of technologies used to make maps now--and yet manages to be outdated at the same time.

-A book that intimidates you: The Count of Monte Cristo.  I picked this one because of its sheer length but managed to get through it rather quickly.  I didn't find it a great story of revenge, as many make it out to be.  In fact I found the logic sadly lacking and the story overall incredibly boring.

-A book that you've already read at least once: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.  Most people know of this.  It's an enjoyable read and everyone knows that Rowling's characters and world are her great strengths...but what was the point of opening the Chamber of Secrets, again?  Someone please tell me, because I seem to have missed it.

No comments:

Post a Comment