A Recap of the Year So Far

Everyone in the house has been sick in seemingly endless cycle for the past month or so, so I have been inordinately bad at posting regularly.  I’ve therefore decided to do a brief recap of the books I’ve read so far this year and what challenges they’re counting towards.

Pucked by Helen Hunting: Read Harder – about sports; PopSugar – genre not normally read

The Young Elites by Marie Lu: Read Harder – fantasy novel; PopSugar – 1st book in a new series, with eccentric character

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan: PopSugar – audiobook, season in title, about mythological creature, set in hotel, based on mythology

The Crown by Kiera Cass

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

The Rose Society by Marie Lu

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst: Read Harder – debut novel, YA novel by LGBTQ+ author; LHBTQ+ romance novel; Keyword – January (Of)

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon: Read Harder – by an immigrant/immigration narrative, all POV characters of col0r; PopSugar – by person of color, main character of color, about refugee/immigrant

Bossypants by Tina Fey: PopSugar – recommended by author (Amy Poehler), mentioned in another book (Yes, Please)

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler: PopSugar – by someone you admire

1984 by George Orwell: Read Harder – published between 1900-1950, banned (in Soviet Union); PopSugar – on TBR list, unreliable narrator, about difficult topic

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger: PopSugar – steampunk novel, from genre never heard of

Save Me by Jenny Elliott

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand: PopSugar – multiple authors, title of character’s name, about an interesting woman

And here is where I currently stand on the reading challenges so far:

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017:

  • Read a book about sports.
  • Read a debut novel.
  • Read a book about books.
  • Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author.
  • Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.
  • Read an all-ages comic.
  • Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.
  • Read a travel memoir.
  • Read a book you’ve read before.
  • Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location.
  • Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location.
  • Read a fantasy novel.
  • Read a nonfiction book about technology.
  • Read a book about war.
  • Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.
  • Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country.
  • Read a classic by an author of color.
  • Read a superhero comic with a female lead.
  • Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey.
  • Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel.
  • Read a book published by a micropress.
  • Read a collection of stories by a woman.
  • Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.
  • Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color.

Keyword Reading Challenge 2017:

  • January: Court, Fall, Of, Way, Deep, Thousand
  • February: And, Rose, Promise, Every, Deception, Blazing
  • March: Shall, Go, By, Silence, Her, Saga
  • April: From, Trigger, Tale, His, Crown, Mist
  • May: Four, Wind, All, Fury, Days, Shade
  • June: Without, Know, Good, Watch, One, Have
  • July: Before, Final, All, Freedom, Life, Dream
  • August: Sun, Infinite, Big, My, Wherever, Most
  • September: Sand, From, Between, Ever, Reasons, Clash
  • October: Darker, You, Ashes, Out, House, Sea
  • November: Place, War, Heart, Why, Give, Meet
  • December: Forget, Twilight, Only, Crystal, On, Will

Wheel of Time Read Along

  • New Spring (prequel)
  • The Eye of the World
  • The Great Hunt
  • The Dragon Reborn
  • The Shadow Rising
  • The Fires of Heaven
  • Lord of Chaos
  • A Crown of Swords
  • The Path of Daggers
  • Winter’s Heart
  • Crossroads of Twilight
  • Knife of Dreams
  • The Gathering Storm
  • Towers of Midnight
  • A Memory of Light

PopSugar Reading Challenge 2017:

  • A book recommended by a librarian
  • A book that’s been on your TBR list for way too long
  • A book of letters
  • An audiobook
  • A book by a person of color
  • A book with one of the four seasons in the title
  • A book that is a story within a story
  • A book with multiple authors
  • An espionage thriller
  • A book with a car on the cover
  • A book by an author who uses a pseudonym
  • A bestseller from a genre you don’t normally read
  • A book by or about a person who has a disability
  • A book involving travel
  • A book with a subtitle
  • A book that’s published in 2017
  • A book involving a mythical creature
  • A book you’ve read before that never fails to make you smile
  • A book about food
  • A book with career advice
  • A book from a nonhuman perspective
  • A steampunk novel
  • A book with a red spine
  • A book set in the wilderness
  • A book you loved as a child
  • A book by an author from a country you’ve never visited
  • A book with a title that’s a character’s name
  • A novel set during wartime
  • A book with an unreliable narrator
  • A book with pictures
  • A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you
  • A book about an interesting woman
  • A book set in two different time periods
  • A book with a month or day of the week in the title
  • A book set in a hotel
  • A book written by someone you admire
  • A book that’s becoming a movie in 2017
  • A book set around a holiday other than Christmas
  • The first book in a series you haven’t read before
  • A book you bought on a trip
  • A book recommended by an author you love
  • A bestseller from 2016
  • A book with a family member term in the title
  • A book that takes place over a character’s life span
  • A book about an immigrant or refugee
  • A book from a genre/subgenre that you’ve never heard of
  • A book with an eccentric character
  • A book that’s more than 800 pages
  • A book you got from a used book sale
  • A book that’s been mentioned in another book
  • A book about a difficult topic
  • A book based on mythology
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Picture Book Challenge Update

My littles and I have been reading a lot of books, many times over, in true toddler fashion.  I wanted to give a quick update on what books we’ve read towards our picture book challenge so far and also share our Goodreads page!  So far, we have read:

A book set on a farm or in the country: Farm Animals

A book with animal characters: No

A book about cars or trucks: Little Blue Truck

A book about a holiday: Little Blue Truck’s Christmas

A book by Eric Carle: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

A book by Laura Numeroff: The Best Mouse Cookie

A book about babies: Smile Baby Smile

A picture book biography: A Passion for Elephants

We’ve been having a blast reading together.  Nico was more interested in A Passion for Elephants than I would have expected of an almost three year old reading a biography of a scientist, and his excitement was contagious.  I worried in the past about Luca’s lack of interest in reading, even comparing how Nico was at one, but since he got his ear tubes on Wednesday, his interest has increased dramatically.  I guess it wasn’t as fun if he couldn’t hear us reading to him! I’m relieved for sure, and I’m looking forward to continuing to nurture a love of reading.  I hope they can find what I had growing up with my books.

The Rose Society by Marie Lu

This is the second book of The Young Elites trilogy, and man, was it dark!  I struggled a bit (read: a lot) to get through this one.  It was slow for most of the first half, and it finally started picking up again in the middle.

***SPOILER WARNING***

I don’t read many books from a villain’s perspective, but by the end of this one, it seems to be the way Adelina is going, or, arguably, has gone already.  At the beginning of this book, we meet her fairly alone, but with her sister Violetta’s support.  By the end, Adelina has managed to take the throne and succeed in her ambitious goals of power and revenge.  However, it costs her everything she loves and has loved.  Her character and personality has twisted even further, and by the time she gained her throne, she has killed many, tortured many, and taken joy in both.  She sits on her throne, friend to no one, loved by no one, and led by the voices in her head.  I can’t decide if I feel more anticipation or fear at seeing what she becomes in the third book.

I’m giving this one 3 stars.  I was really close to not finishing it, but once it picked up again, I was drawn back into the story.

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

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One of my reading groups picked this book for the month of January, and I was a little hesitant at first.  I hadn’t heard much about it, but I was anticipating it being a little too “teen” for me.  To my surprise, I really enjoyed it.  It was a light and entertaining read.  Despite the high school vibes, I could really identify with Jessie.  Sure, the ‘two hot guys fighting over me, the nerdy newcomer’ was a little cliche, but I found the mystery emailer intriguing.  I also liked that the hot male role is also understood to be intelligent.  I appreciated that his feelings were incorporated into the story line, rather than just the stereotypical high school male character with only one thing on his mind.  I felt like there was a genuine connection between Jessie and our mystery man that was strengthened both through text conversations and in person.  I felt that the way technology was used in this book mimics how it is actually used today, and it mirrors the reality of an online (or over the phone) relationship that we rarely see portrayed positively in media.

I give this book 4 stars.  While this book doesn’t cross off anything for my reading challenges, I would definitely recommend it.  It’s a light, funny, and sweet book that will tug at your heartstrings, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

I debated for a while on doing a post for this trilogy together instead of separately, but I’m struggling to get through The Rose Society, so I wanted to share my thoughts on the first book.

***SPOILER WARNING***

I have a lot of mixed feelings about Adelina. I find myself drawn to her struggle, and her loyalty to her sister and to Enzo were appealing.  Conversely, I was disturbed by the darkness in her character.  This darkness combined with her willingness to betray those around her makes me hesitant to see her character develop further.  I think this is why I’m struggling so much with the second book.

Violetta really surprised me.  I was not impressed with her character early in the book.  She seemed weak and naive.  I absolutely loved the twist at the end.  It completely changed my perception of her.  She demonstrated more intelligence and shrewdness than I gave her credit for, and I loved that. I also enjoyed how Lu developed the two sisters to balance how each other’s strengths and weakness.  Violetta became the reason I had hope for Adelina’s future in the series.

Enzo was an intriguing character for me.  I would have really like to see more of his story and character development.  It felt like there was a lot of untapped potential in both his tortured past and his prospective future.  It would have been fascinating to see how he went about gaining the throne, what he did once he had it, and how his relationship with Adelina was influenced by both of their pasts and then how it changed both of them.

I gave this book 4 stars.  It is fulfilling the following reading challenges: Popsugar’s 1st book in a series I haven’t read before; Popsugar’s book with an eccentric character (Adelina), and Read Harder’s fantasy novel.

Pucked by Helen Hunting

With a famous NHL player for a step-brother, Violet Hall is well acquainted with the playboy reputation many hockey stars come with. She’s smart enough to steer clear of those hot, well-built boys with unparalleled stamina. That is until she meets the legendary team captain—Alex Waters.

Violet isn’t interested in his pretty, beat-up face, or his rock-hard six-pack abs. But when Alex inadvertently obliterates Violet’s previous misapprehension regarding the inferior intellect of hockey players, he becomes more than just a hot body with a face to match.

In what can only be considered a complete lapse in judgment, Violet finds out just how good Alex is with the hockey stick in his pants. But what starts out as a one-night stand, quickly turns into something more. Post-night of orgasmic magic, Alex starts to call, and text, and e-mail and send extravagant—and quirky—gifts, making him difficult to ignore, and even more difficult not to like.

The problem is, the media portrays Alex as a total player, and Violet doesn’t want to be part of the game.

Goodreads synopsis

I rang in the New Year with this book from Helen Hunting.  Pucked is a sports romance – two genres that I rarely read.  Don’t get me wrong, I like romance, but I prefer it to be in addition to a great plot.  Pucked was light and funny; and if you’re into a lot of raunchy sex scenes, this book is for you.  There was not a lot of either plot or character development, and if it weren’t for my desire to avoid starting the year with a DNF, I wouldn’t have made it through the first two chapters.  That said, it did grow on me a bit, and it was a fast read, which I appreciated.  Alex was cute in a nerdy hot kind of way, and I even warmed up to Violet some by the end.  I’m giving this a 2 star rating, mostly because it was entertaining in its implausibility.

This book will be satisfying a requirement for two reading challenges:  Read Harder’s book about sports, and Popsugar’s book from a genre I don’t normally read.

A Last Minute Addition

I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew.  I know this about myself, but I am always unable to heed conventional wisdom and refrain from adding more to my plate.  And so, I have decided to add another reading challenge to my list.

PopSugar Reading Challenge 2017:

  • A book recommended by a librarian
  • A book that’s been on your TBR list for way too long
  • A book of letters
  • An audiobook
  • A book by a person of color
  • A book with one of the four seasons in the title
  • A book that is a story within a story
  • A book with multiple authors
  • An espionage thriller
  • A book with a car on the cover
  • A book by an author who uses a pseudonym
  • A bestseller from a genre you don’t normally read
  • A book by or about a person who has a disability
  • A book involving travel
  • A book with a subtitle
  • A book that’s published in 2017
  • A book involving a mythical creature
  • A book you’ve read before that never fails to make you smile
  • A book about food
  • A book with career advice
  • A book from a nonhuman perspective
  • A steampunk novel
  • A book with a red spine
  • A book set in the wilderness
  • A book you loved as a child
  • A book by an author from a country you’ve never visited
  • A book with a title that’s a character’s name
  • A novel set during wartime
  • A book with an unreliable narrator
  • A book with pictures
  • A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you
  • A book about an interesting woman
  • A book set in two different time periods
  • A book with a month or day of the week in the title
  • A book set in a hotel
  • A book written by someone you admire
  • A book that’s becoming a movie in 2017
  • A book set around a holiday other than Christmas
  • The first book in a series you haven’t read before
  • A book you bought on a trip
  • A book recommended by an author you love
  • A bestseller from 2016
  • A book with a family member term in the title
  • A book that takes place over a character’s life span
  • A book about an immigrant or refugee
  • A book from a genre/subgenre that you’ve never heard of
  • A book with an eccentric character
  • A book that’s more than 800 pages
  • A book you got from a used book sale
  • A book that’s been mentioned in another book
  • A book about a difficult topic
  • A book based on mythology

Now, I’m not completely crazy.  There are a lot of overlaps between the various challenges I’m attempting, and I will be cross-counting as applicable.  I’ve added this one because it complements the others I’ve chosen and will enable me to push my boundaries a bit further from my comfort zone.