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Archive for the ‘Reading Challenges’ Category

Time for another update! Here are some micro-reviews of the books I’ve read recently. Those listed as just titles were reviewed in my previous post

For the main list of book titles I’ve read for this challenge, see this post.

A

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo – So good! Such a hopeful story, and I love the audio version. The main character won me over early, and I loved cheering her successes throughout the book. Also, it made me so hungry and inspired me to cook, which to me is the ultimate mark of good foodie fiction. 

B

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke 

C

The Castlemaine Murders by Kerry Greenwood

The Postmistress of Paris by Meg Waite Clayton – It was OK. Disclaimer – I have read a lot of wartime historical fiction, due to one book club’s proclivity toward such things and the fascinating discussions they lead to. It’s not one of my favorite genres, though. But since I have read so many, I was disappointed that this one didn’t really stack up to the rest of them. There were good moments and some interesting elements, but overall? Meh. If historical WWII fiction is your jam, you’ll probably like it. If you just want to dabble, stick to things like The Nightingale and Code Name Verity

D

Dear Bob and Sue by Matt and Karen Smith – This memoir recounts the couple’s visits to all 58 (now 59, as they added in one of the last chapters) national parks, as told to their friends Bob and Sue through emails. If you enjoy visiting national parks or hiking or being outdoors a lot, I think you’d really enjoy this book. My favorite part was their humor and their relationship. Reading it reminded me of one of my all-time favorite books about running – My Life on the Run by Bart Yasso and Kathleen Parrish. Both books were full of a whole lot of entertaining stories I am content to hear someone else tell and never, ever personally experience. 

E

Excuse Me While I Disappear by Laurie Notaro – I mentioned in the January TBR post that I feel like I grew up with Laurie Notaro because I read and resonated with a lot of her books in my twenties. This one is no exception. I wheeze-laughed. There were a few parts that I could have done without (e.g., I often bristle at kids-these-days commentary, so those small sprinkles fell flat for me), but most of it? I howled in solidarity. Recommended for anyone whose body is starting to betray them or who is now or will ever go through perimenopause.

F

G

H

How To Be Perfect by Michael Schur – If you loved “The Good Place,” you’ll probably also enjoy this book, as it addresses the same general topic and is written by one of the show’s creators and thus employs a lot of the same type of humor. Added bonus? Some of the cast members read the audiobook. I was taking notes for book club through most of it, so I stuck with the ebook version. It also gives you a pretty decent overview of Philosophy 101 without having to slog through Aristotle and Kant and Sartre (no offense to those dudes, but Schur works in TV. It’s basically his job to be entertaining.). And it sparked a really lively book club discussion, so…solid read!

I

J

K

Writers & Lovers by Lily King 

L

Lucky Turtle by Bill Roorbach 

M

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire – Oh my gosh, the author reads the audiobook, which I usually don’t like, but it’s fantastic. I love the back story of these characters that we met in the first book of the series. Excellent character building, and I’m very excited to read the next one. 

N

O

The Opposite of You by Rachel Higginson 

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki – I actually started this one a few months ago. It took longer to finish because I savored it, which takes a little while to do when a book is 500+ pages. Perfect story for book lovers and mental health advocates with some charming magical realism elements. I gave it five stars on Goodreads.

P

Q

R

S

T

U

V

W

A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny

X

Y

Z

Welcome Home: A Guide to Building a Home for Your Soul by Najwa Zebian 

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February TBR

This is Day 3 of this year’s (hopefully only) Icepocalypse. So far this week, I’ve slept in, talked to my mom and dad on the phone, made biscuits, submitted several articles for my writing job, started cleaning out the coat closet, and done some strength training. Right now, I’m cozied up with a cup of tea in my most comfortable chair. We have already received notice that the university is closed tomorrow as well. 

I’m so glad I bought coffee on Sunday.

I have also finished three books and plan to finish two more by the end of tomorrow. So I’m making an early dent in this month’s list!

Book Clubs

An issue that I vaguely foresaw when I made my reading goals this year is where to categorize the ongoing massive overlap of titles. Technically, everything in my collection that I haven’t already read is on my to-be-read list. That’s why I own them – for reading. So really, they’re all TBR. And I’m never sure whether to include ebooks and audiobooks as part of my TBR or my collection. I mean, I have purchased them, but I still think of them as TBR, as they’re not physically in the limited space of my home, with their own spot on the shelf. 

I guess the deciding factor is “Can I loan it to you (without violating the stingy fine print I agreed to when I signed up for the subscription)?” Collection – yes. TBR – probably not. So there we go.

Of course, all of this is a moot point this month anyway, because except for three of the books listed above that I will own as soon as they arrive, I’m focusing solely on the TBR.

TBR

I have a lot of library books out, and they’re all just sitting there on my shelf, begging for attention. Reminding me that someone else could be reading them if only I wasn’t selfishly hoarding them (someone else could also put a hold on them if they really wanted to let me know they’re dying to read them right away, so it’s possible this is all just a problem I’ve made up in my head). When Rory Gilmore chastised herself for not taking a book back to the library on time because it robbed someone else of the pleasure of reading it that week? I felt that. Anyway, this month is going to be a heavier focus on reading through most of those and getting them back into circulation where they belong. Fortunately, they’re all on my TBR list (which is why I checked them out to begin with), so I can do this without it pausing my goals for the year.

I’m so excited about this month’s reading list. Never fear, library books – I’ll be with you shortly!

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The year is starting off pretty strong, and I’ve already enjoyed most of the books I’ve read. Here are some brief thoughts on my reading thus far.

For the main list of book titles I’ve read for this challenge, see this post.

A

B

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke – I do like a mystery novel. This was the first in a series, and the main character is interesting. I’ll probably read more of them, since it left a little teaser at the end. Well played, Locke.

C

The Castlemaine Murders by Kerry Greenwood – This is the 13th of the Phryne Fisher series, and it’s one of my favorites. It introduces Phryne’s sister, and I enjoyed their dynamic a lot. 

D

E

F

G

H

I

J

K

Writers & Lovers by Lily King – I enjoyed this whole book – the story of a struggling writer who also works at a restaurant, etc. – but it really picked up toward the end. So much that I almost gave it 5 stars. But I recognize that it probably appeals to me mostly because I am a (usually) struggling writer, so it doesn’t quite fit the “everyone should read and love this book” category. The writing is good, and the chapters are short (in case such a factor is as helpful to your attention span as it is to mine). 

L

Lucky Turtle by Bill Roorbach – I gave this one four stars on Goodreads because it kept my attention and was a decent story, but in my heart, it’s only 3.5 stars. I just wasn’t that invested in the characters until the very end. Solid audio selection, though – great reader!

M

N

O

The Opposite of You by Rachel Higginson – This was a quick read. Foodie romance. Slow burn. I wouldn’t quite call it open door – maybe…door slightly ajar? Maybe a little awkward to listen to on a road trip with people you don’t know that well (or maybe a good way to get to know them real quick)? Anyway. The main character occasionally got on my nerves and it was a little too knight-in-shining-armor in certain parts for my taste, but a fun romp overall.

P

Q

R

S

T

U

V

W

A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny – I adore this whole series, but this is easily one of the top five for me. It takes us back to the first case Gamache and Beauvoir worked together.

X

Y

Z

Welcome Home: A Guide to Building a Home for Your Soul by Najwa Zebian – I’ve been wanting to read/avoiding reading this one for a while because I knew I’d want to be in the right frame of mind to give the topic the appropriate attention. I really love Zebian’s Instagram account, so I generally knew what to expect from the book. A lot of things hit home for me, and I’m grateful for some of the tools I walked away with.

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This is the anchor post where I will keep track of my progress for the Girlxoxo Monthly Key Word Reading Challenge this year. Each month, I will list the word(s) that I chose from the list and the book that matches the prompt. 

I will keep track of them here, but my plan is to also post quarterly updates with small blurb reviews.

If you want to join the challenge, sign up with Girlxoxo on their site!

January – Keyword “all” – We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

February – Keyword “book” – People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

March – 

April – 

May – 

June – 

July – 

August – 

September –

October – 

November – 

December – 

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I want to explore my whole collection, not just the first couple of shelves, this year, and I think this challenge will help me do that. I’ll list books that match each letter (one author and one title for each) as I finish them. My anticipated goal is to update this post by listing the book (title and author) and occasionally (Monthly? Every other week? We’ll see.) post updates that include blurbs of the books I’ve completed since the previous update.

I’ve linked each book to the post where I wrote the review (either the challenge update where I listed it for the first time or, if I write a longer review elsewhere, to that page).

A

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

B

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

C

The Castlemaine Murders by Kerry Greenwood

The Postmistress of Paris by Meg Waite Clayton

D

Dear Bob and Sue by Matt and Karen Smith

E

Excuse Me While I Disappear by Laurie Notaro

F

G

H

How To Be Perfect by Michael Schur

I

J

K

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

L

Lucky Turtle by Bill Roorbach

M

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

N

O

The Opposite of You by Rachel Higginson

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

P

Q

R

S

T

U

V

W

A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny

X

Y

Z

Welcome Home by Najwa Zebian

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