Thursday, May 25, 2017

Reading Challenge Updates

Whew!  The time just flies, doesn't it?  I'm at 86 completed books for the year, and I think I'm well on track to have 100 done by the end of June...which would put me on track to do 200 by the end of the year!  Is it possible?  Maybe.  We'll see.  But in the meantime, I've managed to cross a few more categories off my reading challenge list, and I have a few more that came into the library this week, so I'm going through them at a pretty good rate!

-A book that is a story within a story.  I originally picked out Scott Westerfeld's Afterworlds for this category, but had been putting off reading it and was actually looking for an alternative because the library removed it from their system at some point.  BUT!  Fortune struck, and Riveted (Simon & Schuster's young adult website) had it as one of their free reads for part of April.  I liked both components of this book separately but felt like combining them into one work meant that neither of them got as fully fleshed-out as they might have, though pondering about how much Westerfeld was incorporating tossed-away ideas and quirks from fellow writers into the book was an interesting exercise in and of itself.

-A book written by someone you admire.  As planned for this, I read A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas, who is known for both the trilogy this book wraps up and her longer series, the Throne of Glass books.  I originally picked up on Maas when she was writing on Fictionpress--the story that became the Throne of Glass series, actually.  She managed to leverage that behemoth of a story into an extremely successful publishing career.  While not everything she's written has been a huge hit with me, I can only dream of doing so well for myself!

-A book that's more than 800 pages.  I always intended to read Voyager by Diana Gabaldon, the third book in her Outlander series for this, and I did.  God, it seemed utterly endless.  I feel like the story could be really strong here but she wastes some good characters and there is just soooo much bloat, which of course is what propels this over the 800-page mark.  The entire book read like filler, but some parts were more filler-like than others.  For example, the pages and pages scattered throughout the book about how the Scots like parritch and how it bubbles.

-A book involving travel.   I originally wanted to read SEAsoned, a memoir about traveling on a boat and cooking, for this category, but none of the library systems I have access to ultimately had it.  Serendipitously, I happened to read Alexandra Bracken's Passenger and it fit in here perfectly.  Passenger involves traveling not only between places but between times, featuring settings so rarely seen in a young adult book and a central interracial romance which was so refreshing to see.  A great read all around, and I really enjoyed the sequel, Wayfarer, as well.

-A book about food.  For this, I ended up swapping out my original pick with Gumbo Tales by Sara Roahen, about the food scene in New Orleans both pre- and post-Katrina and trying to fit into it as someone not native to the city.  There were so many absolutely delicious-sounding dishes in here...and imagine my amazement when I walked into a local sandwich shop here in DC and found that they were selling muffaletta sandwiches a few days after reading about them in this book!  I was so excited I ditched my other lunch plans and bought one.  It was delicious.

-A book that's published in 2017.  I picked out Given to the Sea, Mindy McGinnis' debut novel, pretty early for this one based on its striking cover.  Unfortunately, I think the story fell somewhat short.  There were too many main characters, not a lot actually happening, and what seemed like a lack of sense in the worldbuilding.  Some questions I think might be answered in the second book in the duet, but others felt like they were just left hanging without McGinnis actually having an answer in mind, which was a bit disappointing.  The constantly-shifting perspectives were also a turn-off for me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-A book based on mythology.  Olympos, Dan Simmons

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