75 Books...More or Less! discussion

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Archive (2018 GR Completed) > Joy’s 2018 Challenge

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message 1: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments In 2017, I didn’t think I could possibly read 75 books, so I set my goal at 60 and ended up reading 101, my best year since I started keeping track in 2006. For 2018, I’m going to go with the name of the group and set my goal at 75. Ready, Set, GO!


message 2: by Dawn Michelle (new)

Dawn Michelle | 2666 comments You can do it!! We have a plan! We have goals! We have LISTS!!!! We have....CARNEGIE!!! :-)


message 3: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7529 comments Mod
Woot! You killed your goal this year!


message 4: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 1. The Kingdom of This World by Alejo Carpentier
4 stars
I picked this one up at the Carnegie Library last month and just got to it around midnight of 1/1/18. It is a great shorter read (180 pages), although I think it might be better as a longer, more expanded novel. It is a story of one slave in Haiti as revolutions and military coups occur during his lifetime. The elements of magical realism make it uniquely Caribbean. I will be using this for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge (a work of colonial or post colonial literature) and for my ongoing Read the World challenge (an author from Cuba).


message 5: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 2. The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
4 stars
This was an ARC from NetGalley. Here is my review:
Lovers of Harold and Queenie should read this book. Lovers of vinyl music should read this book. Lovers of a feel-good romance should read this book. Joyce has a great sense of character and pacing, and I can see this one on the big screen.


message 6: by Joy (last edited Jan 06, 2018 09:39AM) (new)

Joy | 531 comments 3. Button Holed by Kylie Logan
4 stars
This author wrote the first cozy mystery I ever read, and I went on to devour the entire series (League of Literary Ladies). I am so sad that it is finished. I tried her Ethnic Eats series and wasn’t smitten, but this one is right on the money. The characters and premise are fun, and it has the lol moments, almost slapstick in nature, that I loved about the Literary Ladies. I will be back to Josie’s button shop, no doubt.


message 7: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 4. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
4 stars
A beautifully written and contemplative memoir. Macdonald conveys the raw depths of grief and the primal power of falconry. She also gives significant biographical commentary on T.H. White. These three elements seem as if they would be disjointed and strange bedfellows, but the core truths and Macdonald's present tense stream-of-consciousness style blend them effectively.


message 8: by Joy (last edited Jan 15, 2018 09:06PM) (new)

Joy | 531 comments 5. The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin
4.5 stars
This was an ARC from NetGalley. Here is my official review:
This one does what historical fiction is supposed to do. I was drawn into a world about which I knew little and, honestly, cared less. Kudos to Benjamin for winning me over with such amazing character development. A story of brilliant women who refuse to allow the chauvinistic subculture to stop them is inspirational, whether it is the Hollywood of 1918 or 2018. The Girls in the Picture is another winner for Melanie Benjamin.


message 9: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 6. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
5 stars
I should have read this years ago, but thanks to a Facebook classics group, I've finally done it. What a tense, heartbreaking coming of age story. The fact that Plath never did conquer her mental health issues and committed suicide the same year this one was published made it almost impossible for me to read in spots. Poetic and brilliant.


message 10: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 7. The Cat Who Could Read Backwards by Lilian Jackson Braun
4 stars
I enjoyed this one quite a bit. First published in the 1960s, it has a depth of development and an elevated writing voice that take me back to long, lazy summer afternoons with a book in my hands at my grandmother's house. The title cat is all kinds of sophisticated and quirky and perfectly designed to support an entire series. I look forward to reading the next one.


message 11: by Joy (last edited Jan 21, 2018 07:18PM) (new)

Joy | 531 comments 8. The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
2.5 stars
In a word, this book was meh. It was a book club read, and I never would have picked it otherwise; it is just not my cup of tea. Some of our group are over the moon about it. I can see the appeal, kind of. Survival stories have a built-in suspense factor, and there is action in this one all the way through. For romance lovers, there are some tender parts. I just didn’t care about the characters at all, there were sentence fragments in weird spots, and I think the ending was totally sappy and gratuitous. Glad to be finished with it.


message 12: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 9. The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan
4.5 stars
I love this series so much. It is the only YA writing that I enjoy without reservation. The way Riordan brings Norse mythology to life and relatable to 21st century readers is nothing short of brilliant. I really enjoyed the progression of the relationships in this installment, and a sea voyage is always a winner for me. I was on board (ha ha) with a five-star review until I read one episode that fell so much like a Hobbit-knockoff that I had to deduct half of a star. It is still a phenomenal read, and I'm not certain that this is the end of the series. It doesn't feel like it to me.


message 13: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 10. Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad by Krystal A. Sital
4 stars
I received an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
Sital shares an immigrant’s legacy, not an immigrant’s story. The strength of the Trinidadian women in the face of generations of culturally embedded abuse is both foreign and remarkable to an American reader.

The narrative passages sharing Rebecca and Arya’s memories and the depiction of Trinidadian funeral rituals are by far the most compelling. The descriptive sections, especially at the beginning, feel a bit stiff and heavy. Also, as the layers of the family stories continue, it becomes difficult at times to keep the different men and women clearly identified - it is too easy to get lost in references to “her mother” or “his brother.”

Overall, Secrets We Kept is a tribute to one writer’s heritage that puts faces and, more importantly, a heart onto the cultural history of the women of Trinidad.

(Dawn Michelle suggested that I lengthen my NetGalley reviews a bit, so I’m giving it a try.)


message 14: by Dawn Michelle (new)

Dawn Michelle | 2666 comments Joy wrote: "10. Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad by Krystal A. Sital
4 stars
I received an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
Sital shares an immigran..."


THIS was a very good review - I think that this will work for them. It sure makes me want to read the book, and I already am going to. If that makes sense. ;-)


message 15: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 11. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
5 stars
The Sherlock Holmes books have long been on my ”I really have to read that” list. Thinking it was the first Holmes book, I requested and received a version of The Hound of the Baskervilles from NetGalley. Then I realized that I needed to read this one first, and I’m glad I finally did it.

I can’t find a single thing to criticize in the writing, the pacing, or the way the characters and their individual situations and personalities come to life. My only issue was with the narration of the audiobook, which I would give 3/5 stars. I’d recommend that anyone who hasn’t already done so should read this book; just take a pass on the audio - it does a terrible injustice to a classic story.


message 16: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7529 comments Mod
Joy wrote: "11. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
5 stars
The Sherlock Holmes books have long been on my ”I really have to read that” list. Thinking it was the first Holmes ..."


I got the Audible pack narrated by Stephen Fry. So excited to start it! Is that the one you listened to?


message 17: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments Mine was narrated by Stephen Partridge. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. I enjoyed reading it myself much more.


message 18: by Dawn Michelle (new)

Dawn Michelle | 2666 comments Elyse wrote: "Joy wrote: "11. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
5 stars
The Sherlock Holmes books have long been on my ”I really have to read that” list. Thinking it was the f..."


THAT is the one I want Elyse. I need to get caught up on what I need for my challenges and then I will be using a credit to get that big bad beast. I ♥ Stephen Fry!!


message 19: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments Mine was narrated by DEREK Partridge, not Stephen. Oops, my bad.


message 20: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7529 comments Mod
Dawn Michelle wrote: "Elyse wrote: "Joy wrote: "11. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
5 stars
The Sherlock Holmes books have long been on my ”I really have to read that” list. Thinkin..."


Yes Stephen Fry reading Sherlock is a must! And like 60 hours of audio!


message 21: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments I am discovering that there are A LOT of Sherlock Holmes narrators. I’ll have to dig around to find Stephen Fry for my next one.


message 22: by Charleen (new)

Charleen (charleenlynette) | 1398 comments A Study in Scarlet and The Hound of the Baskervilles were my two favorite Holmes novels (and I did read THotB first; didn't make a difference to me) but I've never listened to them on audio... and I've only read a handful of the short stories. I would love to read through them all, but they're definitely a type of book I have to be in the mood for, or I know I won't appreciate them the way I could.


message 23: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 12. Crimson Stain by Jim Fisher
3 stars
I was terrified when this book was announced as our book club selection and was prepared to be unable to finish. I needed a book of true crime for the Book Riot Read Harder challenge, so if I could get through it, I’d at least have that off the list. I was so surprised.

Yes, the event and its description are gruesome. Yes, those images are going to be hard to shake. The writing is mediocre. The reason I am giving it three stars is the complete captivation that I felt having actually lived in the area when I was a teenager and even knowing one of the key English players in the horrible series of events. Not living in the area at the time, this is the first I have heard of this event in any sort of detail. I am more heartbroken than horrified. I didn’t see that coming at all.


message 24: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 13. Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik
4 stars
This was an ARC from NetGalley. Here is my review; I had a lot to say about this one.

How do we not know about Forugh Farrokhzad and her art? I am adding her to my World Literature syllabus immediately.

The first half of Darznik’s book builds an incredible empathy with Farrokhzad as a little girl and young woman with a voice
that cannot be silenced, despite the consequences. It seems to pick up, and the writing becomes much more emotionally charged and lyrical in the second half. There are passages that are genuinely heartfelt and tragic.

I was a bit disappointed in the handling of the end of Forugh’s story. The first person narrative becomes awkward and almost contrived. Regardless, the turmoil of the times and the impact on her family come through.

I would have finished reading much more quickly if I hadn’t stopped all along the way to research the places and events that Darznik mentions. She does a fine job of combining these details with the very personal struggles and triumphs (bittersweet as they are) of an iconic voice in Iranian literary culture.


message 25: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 14. The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
4.5 stars
The crafting of this one is really top-notch, and I enjoyed it even more now than I did when I was a child. However, I was surprised by the clearly anti-Persian/Islamic content. Even allowing for the time period of its writing, I still had to deduct a half star.


message 26: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 15. Take the Monkey and RunLaura Morrigan

3.5 stars

Positive:

I very much appreciate a mystery that does NOT revolve around a murder.

Morrigan’s use of dialogue is awesome.

Great ending!

Negative:

The book seems to take a long time to get moving and drags in places compared to Books 1-3.

There isn’t enough animal interaction throughout most of the book, especially with the monkey, whom I’ve been waiting to meet for four books.


message 27: by Joy (last edited Feb 18, 2018 10:18AM) (new)

Joy | 531 comments 16. Dark Tales: The Hound of the Baskervilles: A Graphic Novel byArthur Conan Doyle
3 stars
This was an ARC from NetGalley.
I'm am so glad to see classic literature making its way into the world of the modern graphic novel. The balance of text and artwork is very good on this one. The artwork is also clean and engaging. My complaint is that I feel it is too short. The characters barely have time to be distinguished from one another, and the reveal is the only section that feels sufficiently covered. About another third in length and depth would make this one so much more substantive and memorable.


message 28: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 17. MIA Rescue: LRRPs In Cambodia by Kregg P.J. Jorgenson
4 stars
I read this one on the recommendation of a friend who did four tours in Vietnam and was actually a part of the events that it tells. I struggled a bit with the very technical military stuff, but the incredible heroism and the gut-wrenching realities that our very young men lived comes through loud and clear. The lack of support and the way we threw them away when they returned home is unforgivable. All I can do now is to say thank you and do my best to educate the generations that follow.


message 29: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 18. Murder on Opening Night by Elizabeth Spann Craig
4 stars
I’ve come to see this series and my “Gilligan’s Island” of the book world. It has fun characters and lol moments and ridiculousness that just makes me feel good. I hope I can be as feisty as Myrtle when I grow up - she’s the best!


message 30: by Joy (last edited Feb 25, 2018 10:44AM) (new)

Joy | 531 comments 19. Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín
5 stars
I was wondering why my numbers were off, and then I found that I forgot to add this one when I finished it on Feb. 8. It’s entirely possible that I had such a book hangover that I couldn’t write a review. I have one now:

Com Toibin is one of my favorite contemporary authors, and this one didn’t disappoint. His quiet, nuanced character development and depth of emotion is perfectly suited to an exploration of the grieving process. It was even more heartbreaking to know that he based Nora’s character on his own mother who was widowed young and raised Colm and his brother on her own. Brilliance.


message 31: by Joy (last edited Mar 03, 2018 12:02AM) (new)

Joy | 531 comments 20. Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
4 stars
I think this is the 5th or 6th book by Allende for me. Her combination of in-depth historical detail and amazing character development keep me coming back. This one follows a young slave girl as she grows up during the bloody revolution in Haiti in the late 18th century. A very satisfying read that I would highly recommend.


message 32: by Andrea, Moderator (new)

Andrea | 4073 comments Mod
Joy wrote: "19. Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín
5 stars
I was wondering why my numbers were off, and then I found that I forgot to add this one when I finished it on Feb. 8. It’s e..."


This was so good! Nora was such a great character!


message 33: by Dawn Michelle (new)

Dawn Michelle | 2666 comments Andrea wrote: "Joy wrote: "19. Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín
5 stars
I was wondering why my numbers were off, and then I found that I forgot to add this one when I finished it on Fe..."


I LOVED this book. And the narrator made Nora come completely alive for me. So fantastic.


message 34: by Joy (last edited Mar 04, 2018 11:51AM) (new)

Joy | 531 comments Toibin is so great at character development. It's been years since I read Brooklyn, and that main character is still with me. I'm really looking forward to reading The Testament of Mary.


message 35: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 21. Beat the Story-Drum, Pum-Pum by Ashley Bryan
5 stars
I stumbled on this one in a book store and thought it may be useful for my World Lit. class. It is a collection of five Nigerian folktales with gorgeous wood-cut drawings. I also needed a one-sitting book for the Book Riot read harder challenge. The lyricism, rhythm, and illustrations are amazing. I'm so glad I found it.


message 36: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 22. The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan
4 stars
I was extremely happy with this one right up to the reveal. The premise (death of the son of an underprivileged family being swept aside for “more important” cases), the setting (Mumbai), and the characters (detective forced into retirement, force-of-nature wife in constant battle with the apartment building manager, and a BABY ELEPHANT) are really engaging.

The reveal, in two parts, was just sloppy. It was the classic “ok, you caught me, so I will spill everything in a nice clear timeline now. You’re welcome.” I will still read the second one. After all, BABY ELEPHANT!


message 37: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 23. The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard
4 stars

This book has been on my TBR for a long time, so I decided to use it for my pick in our local book club. It has turned out to be nothing like I expected. I thought it would be like some of the memoirs such S Elie Wiesel’s Night or The Diary of Anne Frank. This one is a novel, and it has a very unique voice. The horrors of the Polish ghetto are presented in a direct, stark, poetic way the just burns a hole in the heart.

There is also an introduction to the historical figure of Janus Korczak, and the incredible amount of research done my the author. It’s almost too much to take in, which I suppose is an appropriate response.


message 38: by Joy (last edited Mar 16, 2018 09:50PM) (new)

Joy | 531 comments 24. We Few: U.S. Special Forces in Vietnam by Nick Brokhausen
4 stars
This was an ARC from NetGalley. It is a memoir of the Vietnam war that conveys, as much as possible, a full experience. There is a masterful balance between horrific scenes/events and less intense, sometimes even humorous episodes.

As the book progressed, I got the sense of really knowing these guys in all of their rebellious, troublemaking, heroic ways. They did what they had to do to stay alive and keep themselves sane in the process. Brokhausen minces no words; the book is raw and irreverent, and is a fitting tribute to the men who did jobs that mere mortals cannot fathom.


message 39: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 25. Knot What It Seams by Elizabeth Spann Craig
4 stars
A fun, if a bit predictable, cozy mystery. I love this author, and I am getting attached to the characters in this series as well.


message 40: by Misty (new)

Misty Mount | 106 comments I love how neat and tidy your challenge page is!! I enjoy your brief reviews too :D


message 41: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments Thanks, Misty!


message 42: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 26. True Death of Billy the Kid by Rick Geary
4 stars
I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley. It was a fun, quick read, and informative as well. I would have loved this series when I was a kid. The balance of caption to image is perfect, and the depiction of the title character is spot-on. The only disappointment was that it wasn't in color.


message 43: by Joy (last edited Mar 20, 2018 11:35PM) (new)

Joy | 531 comments 27. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
3.5 stars
This is a very well-done postmodern look at displacement and globalism. It is one that I will remember and continue to analyze for some time. I just can’t say that I was terribly captivated by it. I don’t think I ever got over the expectation that I had of a more traditional piece of historical fiction. I will be seeing the author soon, so my thoughts on it will most definitely change, and I know I will be using it in my classes.


message 44: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 28. Manga Classics: Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
4 stars
This was an ARC from NetGalley.
I truly enjoyed this manga adaptation. I can see it bridging the gap for young people who are not yet ready for the full version of Hugo’s classic and also familiarizing an entirely separate audience with the story. Devoted fans of Les Miserables will want to add this one to their collection alongside other adaptations. Seriously good work.


message 45: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7529 comments Mod
Joy wrote: "28. Manga Classics: Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
4 stars
This was an ARC from NetGalley.
I truly enjoyed this manga adaptation. I can see it bridging the gap for you..."


haha this was one of my first NetGalley approvals and the epub version expired. I was *just* getting around to reading it. lol


message 46: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 29. The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
4 stars
I read this for Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, the first book in a new-to-you teen or YA series. I just finished the Magnus Chase series by the same author and am so sad that they are finished, so this seemed like a logical next step. I enjoyed the brother and sister aspect of this one instead of a “fellowship” of adventurers. Egyptian mythology is so confusing; I appreciate the opportunity to become a bit more knowledgeable about it and enjoy some great writing at the same time.


message 47: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7529 comments Mod
Joy wrote: "29. The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
4 stars
I read this for Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, the first book in a new-to-you teen or YA series. I just finished the Ma..."


Riordan is in my TBR, I haven't read any of him but want to soon! I own a couple of Percy Jackson books.


message 48: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 30. Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
5 stars
I love Lisa See’s books so much. This was part 2 of the story begun in Shanghai Girls, which I read a long time ago. I bought Dreams of Joy and then got so buried in life and other books that it remained on my shelf reprimanding me until finally, in this year of focusing on reading what we own (Dawn Michelle and I), I finally got to it.

The combination of superbly researched historical fiction (set in the days of the Chinese cultural revolution/chairman Mao) and a completely relatable and emotionally rich (read that as tears, tears, tears!) story of mothers and daughters made it a definite 5-Star read for me.


message 49: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7529 comments Mod
Joy wrote: "30. Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
5 stars
I love Lisa See’s books so much. This was part 2 of the story begun in Shanghai Girls, which I read a long time ago. I bought Dream..."


I haven't read any Lisa See but I own Peony in Love and have Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane from NetGalley. May have to bump up my list! But I have no more room in my "To Read Soon" list. lol


message 50: by Joy (new)

Joy | 531 comments 31. The tale of Kieu by Nguyễn Du
4 stars
I am really struggling with my rating on this one. It is a classic verse narrative from Vietnam about a young girl who is unknowingly sold into prostitution, and her journey to find happiness and peace. It is an amazingly readable translation with notes for Vietnamese and Chinese references. I will be using it in my World Lit. class, no doubt. The reading experience was more academic that personally enjoyable, tempting me to lower my rating to 3.5, but I don’t think that’s fair, as it can’t be faulted for my lack of cultural familiarity. Last thoughts - it’s a solid classic that I’m very glad to have put into my repertoire.


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