Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Reading Challenge Updates

Whew!  Progress!  What a ride it's been.  I'm working on a few more titles for this challenge, too, but I'm making pretty solid progress here.  Have you read anything good recently?

-A book you've read before that never fails to make you smile.  I was originally going to read Cress by Marissa Meyer for this one, because I really enjoyed it when I first read it through, but then I spotted a book on my shelves that fit this category even better: Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede.  This is a middle-grade book, but re-reading it as adult I found it just as charming as when I actually fit the target audience, though it certainly seemed a lot shorter this time around!

-A steampunk novel.  I've had Boneshaker on my shelf for a while, but never read it because while it was steampunk, something I like, it also had zombies, something I'm not big on.  Things like The Walking Dead have never really intrigued me.  But I read it as planned for this category, and I actually really enjoyed it!  I think the end left something to be desired, as it's not tied up and the next several books in the series don't appear to address the issues at all, but Cherie Priest's alternate universe, set in an extended Civil War-era, was a great direction to go with this.  It actually kind of reminded me of Walk On Earth a Stranger and Like a River Glorious, a bit, though those are YA-western-fantasy and this was adult-steampunk-zombie.  Still, they had some of the same historical flavor to them, and it worked.

-A book you got from a used book sale.  There's this bookstore in Sussex, New Jersey called Broad Street Books and which is owned by a family eerily similar to my boyfriend's.  We make a point of going whenever we're up in the area.  This time, one of the books I picked up was a collected works of Jane Austen.  I was originally going to read Sense and Sensibility from it for this category, but then The Deliberate Reader book club had Emma assigned for March, so I read that instead.  While Austen has a way of creating characters, I couldn't stand Emma herself here, and it really tainted the book for me.

-A book with career advice.  This seemed like it was going to be a terrible category, but then I realized it's actually very loosely-phrased.  First, it's a book with career advice, not a book of career advice--so the advice doesn't have to comprise the entirely of the book.  Also, it doesn't specify that the book has to have advice about my career, which would be terribly boring.  Semantics?  Yes, but useful ones, and it meant that this category didn't end up being a complete drag.  To fill it, I read Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl, a former restaurant critic for the New York Times and editor of the now-defunct Gourmet magazine, among other prestigious positions in the eating world.  I enjoyed the book, and the antics Reichl performed in an attempt to fool New York restaurants into thinking she wasn't herself, but kind of thought that her disguises were just an excuse for bad behavior that she ultimately recognized but never really owned up to.

-A book about an immigrant or refugee.  Stealing Buddha's Dinner, written by Bich Minh Nguyen who came to the United States as a Vietnamese refugee at the age of eight months old, has been on my to-read list for a while, and this was the perfect chance to get to it.  Nguyen manages to draw out the feelings of loneliness and otherness so well that even those who haven't been refugees or minorities can empathize with her situation, all while building up a very nostalgic and food-centered view of the late seventies and the eighties, and created a picture of a childhood that I saw paralleled my own in a lot of ways, making that connection and making seeing her own situation easier even though, in many ways, we are nothing alike.

-A book you loved as a child.  I was planning on finishing this category later, but I got really sick for a few days and so felt it was a good time to read something light and nostalgic--something just like Tamora Pierce's Squire.  Pierce writes such awesome heroines and while the book doesn't quite have the polish of her newer works, Keladry of Mindelan is an excellent role model and I pretty much still want to be her when I grow up, even all these years after first reading the book.

-A book with one of the four seasons in the title. As planned, I read Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas for this.  Unfortunately, like its predecessors in the same arc, this one just didn't do it for me.  That good ol' Kleypas magic isn't there, the hero is boring, and the plot is pretty much completely hokey.  Ah, well.  Hopefully after the final book in this series she'll move on to something that can recapture her former glow.

Still to Come
-A novel set during wartime.  Atonement, Ian McEwan

-A book of letters.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

-An audiobook.  Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins

-A book by a person of color.  The Stone Sky, N. K. Jemisin

-A book that is a story within a story.  Afterworlds, Scott Westerfeld

-A book with multiple authors.  Mutiny on the Bounty, Charles Nordhoff and James Hall

-A book by an author who uses a pseudonym.  Seven Minutes in Heaven, Eloisa James (Mary Bly)

-A bestseller from a genre you don't normally read.  Carrie, Steven King

-A book by or about a person who has a disability.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon

-A book involving travel.  SEAsoned, Victoria Allman

-A book that's published in 2017.  Given to the Sea, Mindy McGinnis

-A book involving a mythical creature.  Nice Dragons Finish Last, Rachel Aaron

-A book about food.  In the Devil's Garden, Stewart Lee Allen

-A book from a nonhuman perspective.  The Tale of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo

-A book set in the wilderness.  Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe

-A book by an author from a country you've never visited.  Mornings in Jenin, Susan Abulhawa (Palestine)

-A book with an unreliable narrator.  The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, Michelle Hodkin

-A book with pictures.  No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain

-A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you.  A Disobedient Girl, Ru Freeman

-A book with a month or day of the week in the title.  A June of Ordinary Murders, Conor Brady

-A book written by someone you admire.  A Court of Wings and Ruin, S. J. Maas

-A book that's becoming a movie in 2017Beauty and the Beast, Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont

-A book set around a holiday other than Christmas.  The Thanksgiving Target, Laura Scott

-The first book in a series you haven't read before.  Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo

-A book recommended by an author you love.  The Lace Reader, Brunonia Barry (rec'd by Tamora Pierce)

-A bestseller from 2016.  Magic, Danielle Steel

-A book with a family-member term in the title.  Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor

-A book that takes place over a character's life span.  The Kitchen God's Wife, Amy Tan

-A book from a genre/subgenre you've never heard of.  The Six-Gun Tarot, R. S. Belcher (Weird West)

-A book that's more than 800 pages.  Voyager, Diana Galbadon

-A book that's been mentioned in another book.  Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift (mentioned as Gullible's Travels in Marissa Meyer's Heartless)

-A book about a difficult topic.  Rape is Rape, Jody Raphael

-A book based on mythology.  Olympos, Dan Simmons

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