Thursday, April 13, 2017

Reading Challenge Updates

-A novel set during wartime.  I used Atonement by Ian McEwan for this one.  It had been on my to-read list for a while, and I'm glad that I finally got to it, but I honestly can't really see what all the fuss is about.  It's a very meta book, but it's incredibly slow for the first 50% and almost had me walking away from it multiple times.  The latter half of the book was good, but the first part was so meh that I can't really bring myself to like it as a whole...even though I know the importance of that first part to the overall setup of the story.

-A book from a nonhuman perspective.  This was a really hard category to find a title for, but I finally went with The Tale of Despereaux.  It's a middle-grade story but simply and beautifully elegant, with a lovely central message and well-developed characters who prove sympathetic, even the bad guys.  There's some very poignant writing here, which surprised me, and I really enjoyed this, far more than I thought I would.

-An audiobook.  I ultimately went with Anna and the French Kiss for this, for various reasons.  I didn't like it.  This is a book that I loved in book form but it did not agree with me in audiobook format.  On the other hand, listening to it did bring to light several flaws and some questionable content that I hadn't noticed when I last read it, so I guess it was a learning experience!  I still like the book as a whole, but basically everything that I thought I wouldn't like about audiobooks--someone doing all the voices instead of having a cast, the weird pauses and inflections, etc.--were exactly true here.

-A book with pictures.  I originally intended to read Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations for this category because some reviewers said it had amazing pictures.  But I couldn't get my hands on it from any of the library systems around me (I'm trying to cut down on buying books that I haven't read and liked, and trying to use the library more) so I decided to use Krakatoa for this one--though I did read another of Bourdain's books!  Krakatoa has a lot of illustrations, photographs, and maps, though some are more interesting and informative than others.

-A book that's been mentioned in another book.  While I originally intended to read Gulliver's Travels for this, as it was mentioned in Heartless as Gullible's Travels, when I was listening to Anna and the French Kiss, they talk a lot about books in translation.  One of those was Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, which I already had on my shelf.  This was a simple story filled with a sense of nostalgia for the re-education period in China under Mao, which was a bit strange, but it was lovely.  I really enjoyed it, except for a trio of chapters that I felt didn't fit the book at all and really only muddled things up.

-A book by an author who uses a pseudonym.  For this, as planned, I read Seven Minutes in Heaven by Eloisa James, why is a pseudonym used by Mary Bly for her romance novels.  As with all of James' books, this one was delightful.  Despite a weak central miscommunication, I think James built the story well, even down to the use of child characters, who so often fall flat in books--which are, obviously, written by adults who most often don't remember what it's like to be a child by the time they get around to writing books including one.  This was so much better than Devil in Spring despite a central trope the two share: the woman with a career who doesn't want it ruined by marriage.  Seven Minutes in Heaven really was strong in all the places that Devil in Spring was weak.

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

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

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

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

-A book based on mythology.  Olympos, Dan Simmons

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