Challenge: 50 Books discussion

Finish Line 2018 > Sari's 2018 Book Challenge

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message 1: by S (last edited Dec 23, 2018 03:14PM) (new)

S | 359 comments Another Year. Another Goal of 50 Books.
Here's a list of my 2017 reads:

My goal this year is to read fewer comic books. (Seriously, less than half.) I'm also now an audiobook blogger, so I'll be listening to more audiobooks -- which I just started doing this year and have come to enjoy. [Predominantly nonfiction while I'm on the road (so I don't "zone out") and fiction while I'm in the house doing chores.] A book a week seems very doable.

message 2: by S (last edited Dec 23, 2018 03:16PM) (new)

S | 359 comments Wish List:
Iron Gold (1/18)

White Trash Zombie Unchained, Brom (author), Battle Angel Alita (series), The Rose and the Dagger, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Last Exit to Brooklyn, Parasite (series), Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, Becoming Nicole, The War the Saved My Life, The Appalachian Trail (ATC), Mess, The Girls, Fireman, Wool (series), Armada, Art of War, Things They Carried, Caraval, Between Shades of Grey, Walk in the Woods, Hate You Give, Elizabeth Warren/ Bernie Sanders, Little Taste of Poison, Knowing, Cavern of Secrets

New Additions:
Mirror Mirror. Comey Leadership.
Wolf hollow. Girls. Hate you give. Littlest Bigfoot. Forest of thousand lanterns. Out of my mind. Atlantia. Enchanted glass. City of saints & thieves. Challenger deep. Lifelik3. You'll miss me when I'm gone. Unfortunates. Kaleidoscope song. Last leaves falling. Summer reading program manual.
Audiobooks to finish: Scythe. Armada. Fem finance.
Movie: Victoria & Abdul.

message 3: by Tiffany, Administrator (new)

Tiffany | 1832 comments Mod
Good luck!

message 4: by Stefanie (new)

Stefanie (trippie) | 451 comments Good luck! I envy your ability to listen to audiobooks. I'm not a good auditory learner/processor, so I usually forget large swaths of what I've heard.

message 5: by S (last edited Dec 23, 2018 03:19PM) (new)

S | 359 comments This Fight Is Our Fight The Battle to Save America's Middle Class by Elizabeth Warren 1) This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America's Middle Class; Elizabeth Warren; Jan 3; 5* (Audiobook)
I found this inspiring, enlightening, and depressing... although usually not all at once. (Usually.) This book helped me understand how policy is being made, and manipulated, in our government. I like that the book provides a historical context to previous policy, and how changes have either positively or negatively affected the "middle-class." (I've always thought of myself as "upper-lower class, personally. AKA: "working poor.") Most of all, though, I like that there are suggested ideas, and discussions of proposals that Sen. Warren has tried presenting to improve the lives of Americans. If this book was nothing but complaining, I wouldn't like it much. But I think it gives its readers a good perspective on politics, and how we could work to improve the future.

message 6: by S (last edited Feb 08, 2018 04:52PM) (new)

S | 359 comments Unstuffed Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul by Ruth Soukup 2) Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul; Ruth Soukup; Jan 8; 1.4* (Audiobook)
If you're an upper-middle class Christian (preferably a stay-at-home mom with more money than common sense), then maybe this book is for you... because it sure wasn't for me. I quickly grew weary of listening to her a) plug her own products, b) bible scripture after bible scripture, c) complaints about her "too much" lifestyle (Oh no! So many gifts for Christmas! Better put them all in a truck and take them away!). Even just listening, I found myself silently correcting her grammar. This book was not written by anyone who had anything of value to say, or had the education to say such drivel eloquently enough to be enjoyable. At best, it's just a waste of time.

Audacity How Barack Obama Defied His Critics and Created a Legacy That Will Prevail by Jonathan Chait 2.1: DNF) Audacity: How Barack Obama Defied His Critics and Created a Legacy That Will Prevail; Jonathan Chait; Jan 8: DNF; 1* (Audiobook)
So disappointed. This just isn't quality writing. I was ok with the content, but the writing is just so, so bad... I couldn't force myself to finish. And that's saying something. I never DNF a book, but I DNF'd this one. (I just read "Giant of the Senate" and "This Fight is Our Fight," so I'm not bashing this book b/c I hate Democrats or Obama.) I can't imagine this information being presented in a worse way. I'll wait for someone with a better writing style to give it another try, because this was just... intolerable. I mean, how bad does a writer have to be to "turn-off" people who WANT to read this book? Turn a few pages and find out.

message 7: by S (last edited Feb 08, 2018 05:16PM) (new)

S | 359 comments The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl & the Great Lakes Avengers by Steve Ditko 3) The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl & the Great Lakes Avengers; Misc.; Feb 8; 4.5* rounded up.
*Warning: In spite of the cover, this book isn't for small children, or people who don't enjoy "dark" humor. The misleading cover for this book should never have been approved for this volume. Having said that, it is a cute cover, but the book doesn't involve "cute" stories. Thus, I feel, the misleading cover has resulted in so many disappointed readers hoping for their usual, upbeat dose of USG... and this isn't it.*
With that being said, I really enjoyed this. And probably for the reasons most of the "fan-girls" hate it: it's not the usual light, fluffy, parent-approved for 6-year-olds, let's save the world with friendly negotiation, style comic that USG has become. (To which, I still love USG, but I love this too.) These certainly weren't (all) 100% focused on USG, and that was kind of fun. Many different senses of humor, lots of new characters, and now I get the GLA references in the USG series. It's a win! As far as I'm concerned, let your younger kids read the first appearance, but after that... strap in for some stories about some very unlikely heroes written for teens & adults who enjoy a little dark humor.

message 8: by S (last edited Dec 23, 2018 03:33PM) (new)

S | 359 comments Artemis by Andy Weir 4) Artemis; Andy Weir; Feb 21; 3.3* (Audiobook)
I enjoyed reading/ listening to this, for the most part, although I did have a few issues with it. Weir continues to weave technical information with his fictional writing, and -- first and foremost -- I appreciate that. It's becoming his trademark., and I'm glad somebody's making the attempt at technical sci-fi.
The Story:
Since the protagonist was a middle-east/ Arabic descent character, I feel there should've been more crossover Arabic in the story for that to feel more authentic (Khaled Hosseini and Renee Ahdieh have done this well). (view spoiler)
The Audio:
The narrator's unique voices are nice. I appreciated that. The voices also seemed appropriate for the characters. (And there are few things worse than audiobook voices that don't match the characters.) However, the narrator seemed like she was whispering one minute (barely hear/ can't understand) to practically shouting very frequently. Certainly more than I was comfortable with... particularly since I listen while driving. Having to constantly move the volume up/down/up/down got really old, really fast.
The plot was kinda fun, although I might've gone a different direction with certain parts of the book. I was grateful it never felt too "teeny-bopper-ish." Although some people are putting this in their teen, and others in their adult, section. I'd lean towards teen. There's only occasional swearing, and the word "condom" is used. Otherwise, it's good, clean fun.

message 9: by S (last edited Mar 04, 2018 03:34PM) (new)

S | 359 comments Being Jazz by Jazz Jennings 5) Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen; Jazz Jennings; Mar 3; 4.4* (Audiobook)
This was an enjoyable listen/ read. I liked that it was narrated by the author, who read it with all the youth-inflections of someone that age telling their life-story. There were a few small bits I disagreed with (like assumptions of outsiders' motivations for their actions and whether it was completely unfounded), but 99% I'm all-in. Reading about her struggles, successes, and daily challenges was very interesting. She's a role-model for all youth -- trans or otherwise -- and I hope her story inspires others to be themselves, and have courage in the face of adversity.

On a personal note, I hope she writes more books. :-) I'd enjoy reading about how she navigates young adulthood (whether that's college, military, volunteer/ advocacy, etc.). I appreciate her honesty, fearlessness, and conversational style of writing.

message 10: by S (last edited Mar 11, 2018 12:38PM) (new)

S | 359 comments Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution by Bernie Sanders 6) Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution; Bernie Sanders; Mar 5; 3.5* rounded up. (Audiobook)
While I have a passing familiarity with Sanders, I didn't know his stances on various issues, which were presented in this book. While I don't necessarily agree with everything he says, I feel this book brings up many great talking points -- both for teens and adults -- and does so in a way that is accessible to those who aren't necessarily well-versed in politics.
For the audio portion, the vocals were clear and even, and I always appreciate that. I was however frustrated that the audiobook (so far as I can tell) isn't "unabridged," even though it clearly states that. The "mobilize"/ activist areas of the book (which seem to be a favorite area for many of the physical book readers, and include website references plus suggestions for what readers can do to be active in politics), are missing from the audiobook. On the one hand, it helps the book read smoothly, like a good narrative. On the other hand, that's pretty valuable information missing from the audio. Very disappointing.
Overall, this isn't even close to the best book on politics I've read within the last 6 months, but I feel it's a good overview to lots of ideas that deserve serious discussion. And, most of all, a great template. I want to see more leaders, political or otherwise, write books that include how to get involved and make a difference. For that alone, I fully applaud Bernie (and his staff). Great job! (Even if I do have to now hunt down the missing pages in a physical book to read-read what was missing from the audio.)

message 11: by S (last edited Mar 18, 2018 11:14AM) (new)

S | 359 comments Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson 7) Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?; Jeanette Winterson; March 12; 3* (Audiobook)
First of all, I read this book after it was recommended by my local library professional (several years ago). Whatever I thought this book might be, it wasn't. Occasionally slow, occasionally interesting, and often quotable, this is certainly my lead for "weirdest" book of the year. I empathized with the author's stories about growing up in an ultra-religious household. Her discussions about being adopted ranged from the initial heartfelt and genuine, which quickly descended into whiny, and then rose back into thought-provoking. Her stories about her (lesbian) relationships were probably the best parts of the book (for me), although brief, because it felt so tragic - yet honest. She seemed to drone on forever about historical randomness and English literature (and she talked about "Oranges" so much, it started to feel like a plug for her other book), but I suppose everyone needs a hobby. If I had to summarize this, I would say it's about love: being rejected, being accepted, learning to love but being incapable -- on some level -- of allowing yourself to receive love. (But you gotta read through a lot of fluff to get there.)
Note: the audio was generally clear and well-spoken, but done in an English accent -- and that took a little while for me to get used to.

message 12: by S (last edited Mar 18, 2018 11:14AM) (new)

S | 359 comments Tool of War (Ship Breaker, #3) by Paolo Bacigalupi 7.1: DNF) Tool Of War; Paolo Bacigalupi; March 14; DNF; ?* (Audiobook)
I don't feel it's fair to give this book a star rating at this time. It is apparently Book #3 in a series. I suppose that explains why I never really cared about any of the characters. It didn't seem necessarily badly written, but it definitely isn't a good stand-alone. (But it might not be as bad, if -- say -- I'd read the first two in the series, or was already emotionally invested in the characters... which I wasn't.) I hate that I wasted so many hours (2.5+1.5+1.5+1 = between 6 & 7 hours) trying to get into this book. I'm holding off judgement, because maybe if I read the first two, then the third will seem better -- with a little context. (So I can start at the beginning of the journey, instead of the end.) But as a stand-alone, it's definitely a dud.

message 13: by S (last edited Mar 25, 2018 05:33PM) (new)

S | 359 comments If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo 8) If I Was Your Girl; Meredith Russo; March 17; 4.5* rounded up (Audiobook)
The Bad: I didn't like casual drinking and smoking. (There's also cursing, but I'm fine with that.)
The Good: Most everything else.
I read this book as audio, and I didn't love the narrator's southern accent (possibly since I'm from the south, and it sounded forced and exaggerated to me -- like someone's versions of how they imagine a southern accent should sound), but it was clear so I learned to live with it.
I really liked the way this was told, with flashbacks about her transition & other important events, interwoven into the storyline. The book started with lots of cliche phrases, but that became less-worse as the story went on, so I'm glad I worked through it. Is this the most honest portrayal of a trans-gen experience? No. But, from my cis-gen perspective, I feel like it was written to be accessible to people not normally into LGBT books. (I love LGBT books, but -- for example -- my family doesn't. I feel like this book and its message is capable of being read and enjoyed by people who possibly aren't even pro-LGBT rights... and that's saying a lot about a book.) The big benefit to me about this book is that I see it as a conversation starter. Sure, Amanda is this unrealistically perfect ideal of a trans person (girl): she "passes," she's had "bottom" (confirmation) surgery, she is that gender by every definition except for not being first born that gender. Should society then say she can never truly be considered a girl just because of that detail? It's bull, & I think that's the point this book is trying to make. (It also highlights some of the struggles and fears of being trans, to aid in understanding for non-trans readers.) I realize that this book is an unrealistic ideal. But this book wasn't written for me. This book was written for people who don't understand. It explores some of the best and worst case scenarios of being trans, and I believe most people will read this and understand that Amanda IS a girl. And if Amanda -- the unrealistically ideal trans character -- deserves that, then everyone deserves the same: to be recognized, accepted and loved for who they are. End of story.
I appreciated that the author included notes about the writing liberties she took -- addressed separately, to both the cis and trans community. The inclusion of suicide hotline resources was, I felt, also a good call. (No pun intended.)
(view spoiler)
In spite of taking off 0.5 for style/ cliche phrase usage, this is my top contender for best fiction (that I've read this year -- since I do my own yearly awards). Also, I'd like to remind everyone that this is a book a) written by a trans woman, b) with a cover photo of a trans woman (Kira Conley), c) about a trans girl. That's rather spectacular, in its own right.

message 14: by S (last edited Mar 19, 2018 06:01PM) (new)

S | 359 comments Essential Finance Series Managing Credit by Marc Robinson 9) Essential Finance (DK) Series: Managing Credit; Marc Robinson; March 18; 3.5* rounded up.
This guide pretty much covered all the basics. I'd be lying if I said I understood all of it (and I consider myself pretty competent with these things, but that section on "Calculating Charges" was as clear as mud), but it's a great overview. At least now I have a better understanding of credit and reading statements, red flags, and what questions to ask. Very helpful, in that regard.

message 15: by S (last edited Mar 25, 2018 05:22PM) (new)

S | 359 comments The Gathering (Shadow House, #1) by Dan Poblocki 10) The Gathering (Shadow House #1); Dan Poblocki; March 20; 3.4* (Audiobook)
I hadn't read a ghost story in a while, and this book was a nice return to the genre. This book was fun, in a creepy-but-not-gory horror style. I'd feel comfortable recommending this to a middle-school kid. Some parts of the book dragged a little, but overall it kept me interested and entertained. I'm hoping to read others in the series. During the audiobook, the narrator's voice whistled (S-sounds) which occasionally bothered me, but otherwise it was a good listening experience.

The Teen Money Manual by Kara McGuire 11) The Teen Money Manual: A Guide to Cash, Credit, Spending, Saving, Work, Wealth, and More; Kara McGuire; March 22; 3.5* rounded up.
For what this is -- an overview of personal finance basics for a teen audience -- I felt it did a pretty good job. I'm not sure how I feel about the plethora of stock photos, but otherwise, the content is ok. I think the sample resume is sub-par (but at least it's a resume), and I question highlighting jobs that make at or below 20K just because of the growth rate (personal care & home health aids). There was a heavy emphasis on being an entrepreneur, and I've decided I feel optimistically neutral about that. I could dissect this into pros and cons, but that'd take forever. Overall, it's a good platform for young adults to jump into personal finance.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness 12) A Monster Calls; Patrick Ness; March 23; 4.3* (Audiobook)
This was a good book, by any definition, I just didn't *love* it. (But I can certainly see how others would.) It's hard to talk about this book without giving away much of the plot. It's a book about a child dealing with a difficult situation. So, the monster comes a'callin'. My favorite part(s) of this book were the first two "stories" within the story. Everything else was... there. I'm glad I read it, and I believe this book definitely has its place. But I'm also glad I didn't buy it.
For listeners, the narrator used a really faint voice for one character, and I had to constantly turn the volume up/down during those conversations. But, he did a fantastic voice for the monster. So, it evens out.

Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson 13) Landscape with Invisible Hand; M.T. Anderson; March 24; 4* (Audiobook)
This is as close to humor (satire) that I've read in teen/ YA fiction. I really enjoyed several of the original ideas in this story, while also highlighting class warfare and "selling out" for profit. If you're looking for humor + dystopian, this is your book.

message 16: by S (last edited Dec 23, 2018 02:53PM) (new)

S | 359 comments A Polar Bear in Love, Vol. 1 by Koromo 14) A Polar Bear in Love, Vol. 1; Koromo; March 25; 3.5*
Polar Bear falls in love with Seal. Seal is convinced Polar Bear is trying to eat him. Predator-Prey relationship humor ensues. It's a fun, easy read.

A Polar Bear in Love Vol. 2 by Koromo 15) A Polar Bear in Love, Vol. 2; Koromo; April 3; 3.2*
Polar Bear is still in love with Seal, but another character competes for Polar Bear's affection. And leaves Seal with even more confusing thoughts. Still fun, but I found the first more endearing.

Worth It Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms by Amanda Steinberg 16) Worth It: Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms; Amanda Steinberg; April 5; 4* (Audiobook)
This is a very pro/female-specific "take control of your finances" book. What I liked, specifically, about this book is that it touched more on investing -- it's importance and fears surrounding it -- than most books. (And general empowering statements about why and how females should take control of their own finances.) The audio was clear without volume issues, and I just did the "workbook" portion in my head. Not perfect, but a welcome change in perspective.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning How to Free Yourself and your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson 17) The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter; Margareta Magnusson; April 7; 3.3* (Audiobook)
I thought this was a general declutter book -- and I was wrong. But it was a good-wrong. This book discusses the importance (and a dash of how-to) of getting rid of stuff before you die so others don't have the burden. It's definitely a new way to look at all the things I surround myself with. (And my mother's/ father's/ grandmother's things.) I know I never really looked at my stuff thinking about my own death, and what a burden it will be for the survivors. Not that I really own that much... but still. A burden is a burden. And lessening the burden for yourself, is also lessening the burden for others. An enlightening listen/ read at any age.

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien 18) The Things They Carried; Tim O'Brien; April 20; 5* (Audiobook)
It's nice to finally read this book. I preferred the beginning to the other areas of the book, and I don't agree with everything he says, but there is "truth" in this story. Even if the truth isn't necessarily non-fiction. Bryan Cranston was an excellent choice as a narrator! His voice is clear, but gritty, and great inflection.

The Vietnam in Me by Tim O'Brien 19) The Vietnam in Me; Tim O'Brien; April 20; 5* (Audiobook)
This essay was at the end of "The Things They Carried," so I listened to it. It was read by the author, not Cranston, but was still good. Again, I don't agree with everything O'Brien says, but what he does say is so genuine that you have to appreciate its authenticity... regardless as to how authentic the story itself is. My favorite was his comments about eating "herring." I loved that. This essay was a nice way to end the "Carried" experience.

message 17: by S (last edited Dec 23, 2018 03:45PM) (new)

S | 359 comments Self Made Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every Way by Nely Galan 20) Self Made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every Way; Nely Galan; April 27; 2.4* (Audiobook)

This book was ok. It's definitely geared towards females (preferably minorities) who would like to start a business. Large chunks of the book were just... there. But there were some useful tidbits. The most useful thing I got out of it was that you need to be aware of your own circumstances, so that you're not allowing others to control your life. There were many things that were business-oriented which seemed semi-useful. And, disappointingly, it ended with her describing how real-estate investment was what allowed her to "retire early." All that just seemed like a plug for real-estate investing, not starting your own business, or female empowerment. There are many better books on female empowerment, financial independence, starting a business, and self-reliance.
I also didn't love the narrator's voice, but to each their own.

message 18: by S (last edited Dec 23, 2018 03:49PM) (new)

S | 359 comments I Hate Fairyland, Vol. 3 Good Girl by Skottie Young 21) I Hate Fairyland, Vol. 3: Good Girl; Skottie Young; May 9?; 3*
Same nice, bright colors and... same general plot point: Gert trying to get home. Her strategy and the outcome are still fun to read. I'm hoping the next ones have a little more variety, but I'm still enjoying the series.

message 19: by S (last edited Dec 23, 2018 02:54PM) (new)

S | 359 comments Clutter Busting Letting Go of What's Holding You Back by Brooks Palmer 22) Clutter Busting: Letting Go of What's Holding You Back; Brooks Palmer; May 23; 4.5* (Audiobook)
Probably the best declutter book I've read. (And that's saying something.) This definitely isn't a "how to declutter" book, it's a "how to realize that you need to let go" book. I think it touches on a variety of different reasons people keep (or acquire) stuff. I don't fall into the acquiring issues (I don't have a disposable income for engaging in "retail therapy"), but at least a couple of the keep issues (mostly related to aspirations and memories/ nostalgia). Some of the book was ridiculous, but overall I found it a refreshing perspective on decluttering.

message 20: by S (last edited Dec 23, 2018 02:54PM) (new)

S | 359 comments Refugee by Alan Gratz 23) Refugee; Alan Gratz; June 4; 4.5* (Audiobook)
I really enjoyed this, both the plot and execution. There are a few things I liked in particular: 1) it wasn't a romance-centric story, 2) America wasn't the "hero," 3) different time periods showing the plight of 3 different refugees from 3 different places -- all with the same goal -- finding a (safe) new place to call home from their present sub-par conditions living conditions. This book is an exercise in empathy -- and there are a lot of people who would be well-served reading this book, and the rest will appreciate the great story that's presented.

message 21: by S (last edited Dec 23, 2018 02:54PM) (new)

S | 359 comments Frogkisser! by Garth Nix 24) Frogkisser!; Garth Nix; June 15; 4.2* (Audiobook)
This was a good dose of lighthearted fun, and includes several nods to other fantasy tales. I would recommend this to middle school and advanced elementary readers. The content is appropriate younger audiences and readers who just don't enjoy emotionally-heavy content, and are simply looking for a good time with a book.

message 22: by S (last edited Dec 23, 2018 02:55PM) (new)

S | 359 comments Love Wins The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality by Debbie Cenziper 25) Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality; Debbie Cenziper and Jim Obergefell; June 19; 3.3* (Audiobook)

I liked the story itself and the narrator's voice. Unfortunately, I didn't like the style it was written in. I can only compare it to a favorite story being turned into the world's longest news article. No matter how much you enjoy the plot, if it's not written in a style you enjoy, then it feels like a burden to read. I'm glad this story was told -- because it's a great story and makes me appreciate how law works, particularly civil law -- but I really, really didn't like the writing style. (And I read a decent amount of nonfiction.)

message 23: by S (last edited Dec 23, 2018 02:55PM) (new)

S | 359 comments A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee 25.1: DNF) A Most Magical Girl; Karen Foxlee; June 25; DNF: 1* (Audiobook)

I had to DNF this book about halfway through -- even as a passive reader on audiobook. It made me hate reading so much, I had to wait over a month to start another book (just to get this travesty out of my system). I can't fathom how this book was even published. It was beyond disappointing. This is a one-star book for me just because it was so fundamentally bad. As a reader, I crossed into complete apathy about all of the characters... and that's never good. [Did I mention the so-unlikable-it's-painfully-annoying lead character? The only thing that (maybe) would've brought this book up to two-stars for me is if she died in the end.]

message 24: by S (last edited Dec 23, 2018 03:56PM) (new)

S | 359 comments The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding 26) The Summer of Jordi Perez (And The Best Burgers In Los Angeles); Amy Spalding; summer Jordi Perez; August 17 (?); 2.7* (Audiobook)
I generally enjoy LGBT fiction, but this one was disappointing. The good: a plus-sized, gay, female protagonist. Aaand that's about it. The bad: very juvenile language (coupled with just bad writing), and a disappointingly bland plot. Nothing offensive, but nothing interesting, either. Just bleh.

Bingo Love by Tee Franklin 27) Bingo Love; Tee Franklin (writer) & Jenn St-Onge (artist); August 23 (?); 3*
Great artwork, and general concept. I just dislike some major plot points in the comic itself. (Some were inconsistencies, and others were plot decisions that seemed to be rationalized by making other characters out to be "bad" guys... so their decisions don't seem (as) selfish and dishonorable. If this scenario was duplicated, except with an alt.-sex couple, and Facebook instead of Bingo, I think my point would be more obvious.) Worth reading once for the beginning, end, and artwork. Not worth re-reading because of the middle.

message 25: by S (last edited Dec 23, 2018 02:56PM) (new)

S | 359 comments Little Moments of Love by Catana Chetwynd 28) Little Moments Of Love; Catana Chetwynd; Sept 10; 4.8*
This is us (in more than a few of the comics). I’m not sure how comfortable I am admitting that. We both read and enjoyed.

message 26: by S (last edited Dec 23, 2018 03:12PM) (new)

S | 359 comments My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Kabi Nagata 29) My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness; Nagata Kabi; Sept 14 (?); 3*

This was... weird, but honest. Not incredibly relatable, though. (view spoiler) My suspension of disbelief apparently has a limit... and she found it. (Having said that, the artwork is still fun... and I appreciate the bravery it must have taken to be so candid about herself.)

message 27: by S (last edited Dec 23, 2018 02:56PM) (new)

S | 359 comments Looking for Alaska by John Green 30) Looking For Alaska; John Green; Sept. 17; 2.6* rounded up. (Reread)
Attended a high school book club where this was the "classics" selection for the month, and I wanted to reread this... just in case. Still just a "bleh" book to me. I felt like the "After" dragged on forever. There are still some good points in this book, but you really have to wade through a long, boring, pretentious sea of words to get there.

message 28: by S (last edited Dec 23, 2018 02:57PM) (new)

S | 359 comments Monsters You Should Know by Emma SanCartier 31) Monsters You Should Know; Emma Sancartier; Sept 28; 4*
This was a lot of fun. I give the artwork a 5* and the text a mid-3*, so it averages to a 4*. I liked that the monsters were from different cultures, although the timing with the writing felt hit-and-miss. Overall, though, fun and worth reading!

message 29: by S (last edited Dec 23, 2018 02:57PM) (new)

S | 359 comments My Solo Exchange Diary Vol. 1 by Kabi Nagata 32) My Solo Exchange Diary; Nagata Kabi; Sept 28; 4*
Most of this book was juvenile whining, which I did not enjoy. However, if you can make it to Entry No. 10, then there’s a very thought-provoking bit on having a “personal measuring stick.” (That entry is the only reason I'm not giving this book 2*, but I think you need to read it from the beginning to appreciate the context.)
(view spoiler)

message 30: by S (last edited Dec 23, 2018 02:57PM) (new)

S | 359 comments I'd Rather Be Reading A Library of Art for Book Lovers by Guinevere de la Mare 33) I'd Rather Be Reading: A Library of Art for Book Lovers; Guinevere de la Mare; Sept 29; 3.5*
I picked it up for the images, but I also enjoyed reading the passages. It's nice to listen to someone else talk about their love of "slow books," choosing their favorite books (in alphabetical order), and just a general love of reading. Nothing of real substance, but nothing offensive either. Just a nice, little book about, well, books -- with plenty of bibliophilic images to round-out the experience.

message 31: by S (last edited Dec 23, 2018 02:57PM) (new)

S | 359 comments Wuvable Oaf (Wuvable Oaf, Volume 1) by Ed Luce 34) Wuvable Oaf, Vol 1; Ed Luce; Oct 13; 3*
This was... different. I loved the San Furrancisco Special. The rest was a cute graphic novel about the romantic struggles of a feline-loving gay man. I liked the comic itself more than the character pages, although those were nice to have for background info.

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S | 359 comments October Mourning A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman 35) October Mourning: A Song For Matther Shepard; Oct 15; 3.8*
There’s a lot of anthropomorphic musings going on here. (My favorite is the one about the cat.) The notes on the back are worth reading, also. This book is more than poetry; it’s a brief summary of this atrocious event. I wish more history was presented in verse/ poetry.

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S | 359 comments Sweet Blue Flowers, Vol. 1 (Sweet Blue Flowers Omnibus, #1) by Takako Shimura 36) Sweet Blue Flowers, Vol 1; Oct 19; 1.7*
Disappointingly boring. One girl's defining characteristic is that she cries. (Really?) I feel like I can't tell all of the characters apart, and the plot just feels... pointless. A part of me wants to continue reading the series, for reasons even I can't identify. The other wanted to DNF this book at chapter 3/4, and is just happy I finished this book. How I proceed remains to be seen.

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S | 359 comments Moonstruck, Vol. 1 Magic to Brew (Moonstruck #1) by Grace Ellis 37) Moonstruck, Vol 1: Magic To Brew; Grace Ellis & Shae Beagle; Oct 21; 3*
I think the highlight of this comic was the diversity. Where else could you read about the adventures of a lesbian-werewolf-romance? (To clarify, that's two female werewolves who are romantically involved.) Also, they're portrayed as Hispanic/Latino and Black/African American girls, which I appreciated. There's also other same-sex relationships in the novel, enough so that it feels "normal," and not just a token-gay relationship in the book. (Almost abnormally normal -- but hey, whatever. Not complaining.) The plot and writing didn't blow me away, but it's great art with a great concept -- I'm just not really impressed with the execution. I expect to read more in this series, and see where it goes. [Also, between the chapters, there's a weird Q & A column. I really wish it didn't mention one person in a married couple trying to turn it into a polyamorous relationship. I get why it's in there, but I do not envy the parents who will have to explain what that word means to their children (tween and below). It just seems... inappropriate in an otherwise child-friendly comic.]

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S | 359 comments You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon 38) You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone, Rachel Lynn Solomon, Nov 7, 3.3*
Didn't love it. Didn't hate it. The premise was better than the execution. Firmly in the "just ok" category. I liked that it gave a nice window into Jewish culture, which was a first for me. I liked the alternating perspectives -- that was a great way to explore the thoughts of both characters. I thought the beginning -- building to the first "reveal" about test results -- was done well.
After that, the book went downhill fast... and took forever to finish. It just wasn't exciting. Not like "slow burn" boring, which isn't too bad, but the other kind of boring. The one that made me wish I was reading something else. I think it should be noted that this book has more sex in it than most adult novels. So, if you're into that -- you've found a winner. If you're not, then this may not be the YA pick for you.

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S | 359 comments Wuvable Oaf Blood & Metal (Wuvable Oaf, #2) by Ed Luce 39) Wuvable Oaf: Blood & Metal; Ed Luce; Nov 25; 2.8* rounded up
This doesn’t have a narrative story, so it isn’t really a continuation of the first. However, the characters and clips are still fun. Always hilarious to read Oaf’s attempts at dating (still priceless). No San Furrancisco sequel, but still plenty enough weird to be entertaining.

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S | 359 comments City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1) by Cassandra Clare 40) City of Bones; Cassandra Clare; Dec 10; 1.5* (Audiobook)
I really didn't enjoy reading (or in my case, passively listening to) this book. I read it for a high school book club, and the teens were very love-it-or-hate-it with this book. Not a lot of middle ground. The writing and plot seemed very sub-par. (view spoiler) The only redeeming factor was (view spoiler) I wouldn't reread this, but I did like that one story. The rest is forgettable drivel.

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S | 359 comments On Loving Women by Diane Obomsawin 41) On Loving Women; Diane Obomsawin; Dec 12; 3.4*
I hated the artwork, but I enjoyed everything else. It's a series of several (lesbian) women's coming-of-age experiences ("first times" and such). It seemed very genuine, but never took itself too seriously -- just powerful in its simplicity.

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S | 359 comments Forward by Lisa Maas 42) Forward; Lisa Maas; Dec 12; 3.4*
On the one hand, I really didn't like the artwork. (I appreciate the author doing this in watercolor, but several of the characters looked alike and it was a struggle for me to keep track of everyone. Also -- maybe this is just me -- I felt like because the characters are older, they weren't drawn to be attractive. To each their own, and maybe it's just the fault of the medium, but I really feel like if the art had been improved I would've been significantly more emotionally invested in this story.)
On the other hand, the story was pretty good. I liked the choice of alternating perspectives. (view spoiler) I realize that this book was trying to explore love after loss, and maybe this is the right book for someone, but it was just "ok" for me. Having said that, the snippets of flashbacks and fantasies were done really well (artistically and otherwise -- great use of monotone). I'm glad this book exists, even if it has several minor flaws.

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S | 359 comments Big Mushy Happy Lump (Sarah's Scribbles, #2) by Sarah Andersen 43) Big Mushy Happy Lump; Sarah Andersen; Dec 14; 3.2*
This is still pretty cute, but it's not as good as the first one.
I prefer it when a comic stands alone, and several of these had paragraphs with them. I realize the paragraph was needed to provide perspective, but it just seemed like it was less-enjoyable because the comic wasn't a stand-alone statement. I feel like many of these comic-paragraph combos were trying to compensate for just not being very relatable. (view spoiler) I felt like she just had a handful of ideas and then tried to beat them to death, instead of embracing the variety and universal-relatable-ness of her first book. Or I'm just weird. Either way. Maybe both. Probably both.

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S | 359 comments The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang 44) The Prince and the Dressmaker; Jen Wang; Dec 14; 4.8*
This book is so close to perfect. The artwork is amazing. The plot twists and turns in all the right places. (view spoiler)
#Disney (or #Pixar), if you're out there, this needs to be your next film. Just sayin'.

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S | 359 comments A Higher Loyalty Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey 45) A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership; James Comey; Dec 16; 4.5* (Audiobook)
In honesty, it took me 3 tries of "reading" (audio) this book to finally finish. I would get hooked, then something would happen -- my book would expire by the time I could get back to it -- and I'd have to start all over again. But I digress.
This book is dripping with... perspective. Instead of using this book as a platform to make himself look great, a fair amount of it highlights experiences he's had (particularly mistakes he's made) that have helped shape him in his career and develop as a leader. I've never read a memoir where the author threw themselves under the bus quite as much as Mr. Comey has during the first half of this book. But we also discover the good experiences and good leaders he's been able to learn from and work with, and the hard decisions he's had to make -- particularly the more recent ones. I found the part about the Clinton emails possibly the most boring section of the book -- which is saying something. (And his impression of Trump is... hilarious. It's so subtle, but so funny.) His experiences with the President are just... frightening. For all of us. The juxtaposition of honesty and dishonesty. I'm glad he wrote this book, and didn't let the only information about "what happened" be from what we got from the press. (I'm not anti-press, but I've worked as a photojournalist, and every company has a slant. Some more subtle than others. This way, we get the information from Comey himself, and not through a filter.) I appreciate the... illumination... his perspective of recent events has provided.

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S | 359 comments Herding Cats (Sarah's Scribbles, #3) by Sarah Andersen 44) Herding Cats; Sarah Anderson; Dec 22?; 2.7*
I cannot express how disappointed I am that this won the 2018 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Graphic Novel/ Comic. I have read several of the nominations, and this is the weakest so far. Fewer and fewer of these are (near) universally relatable. The concepts read like she's really struggling for ideas. (And what's up with the fuzzy filter that's in every 3rd comic?) Also, a significant portion is related to artist-struggles (and at least 1 political comic). A) That's not what I came here for & B) again, loss of universal humor (which I'm defining as comics without paragraphs, & not specifically appealing to a profession or political opinion). I really loved her first book, but this? Not so much. It isn't bad... it's just (really) disappointing.

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol 47) Be Prepared; Vera Brosgol; Dec 28(?); 4.0*
This reminded me of (almost) every (god-awful) time I went to summer (church) camp as a child (mixed with the ruggedness of going on weeks-long fishing trips with my grandparents -- which were awesome, albeit with no indoor plumbing). The loneliness, ostracism, childish/ petty behavior, some form of "becoming" (in this case -- more Russian), struggles against the wilderness/ rugged environment... it's all here. The art is done really well in monochromatic green. (This book has a lot to teach, regarding expressing light/day, dark/night, shade, character emphasis and expressions, etc. all with one color.) I admit, I had a "camp" nightmare right after I read this... that's how genuine this book felt to me. (Yes, I know, she took some artistic liberties, but I still feel like it accurately captures the "camp" experience.)

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Creekwood, #1) by Becky Albertalli 48) Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda; Becky Albertalli; Dec 30; 3.8* (Audiobook)
On the one hand, I grew weary of the constant "I can't even" throughout this book, and the entitlement of a certain character (that was obviously condoned by the narrative/ author, versus acknowledging personal responsibility).
On the other hand, I'm glad this book exists. This could obviously not have been written while I was growing up, when "coming out" was (almost universally) regarded as a mortal sin -- and you risked everything (your family, friends, career, life, etc.) telling anyone. But that was then, and this is now -- where it's much more accepted, as this book points out. But, knowing that, it is still "not the default," and can be awkward introducing people to that information. I felt this book handled the awkwardness well, and had several things going on at once, so I never felt bored reading (listening) to it. (view spoiler) Also, it's narrated well.

Maximizing Your Money Freeway Guide by Peter Bielagus 49) Maximizing Your Money Freeway Guide; Peter Bielagus; Dec 30; 4.2* (Audiobook)
Considering this was less than 90 minutes, I was impressed by how much crash-course information he put in here. Sure, a lot of it is stuff you already know, but for someone (me) that's still wary about investing, I thought this provided some really useful opinions and observations. (I'm considering re-listening to this with a pen & paper to make sure I've got everything down.) Admittedly, I didn't agree with everything he said, but there are enough good points in here that I feel it was 90 minutes well spent.

This Book Loves You by PewDiePie 50) This Book Loves You; PewDiePie; Jan 1 (2019); 1*
If demotivational posters were made by middle-schoolers. I admit, I picked this book up because a middle school student told me they enjoyed PewDiePie -- and I had no idea what she was talking about -- so I picked up this book. I'm sure it's loved internationally by 9-13 year olds, but there's nothing here for adults. (Or maybe there's just nothing here for me... and I love demotivational posters & witty sarcasm. This is a travesty of both. You've been warned.)
Note: I started a different book on 12/31, so I'm exchanging "read times" for today and tomorrow.

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S | 359 comments Now, it's time for the 2018 Year End Awards:

Best Non-Fic.: This Fight Is Our Fight
Best Graphic Novel: The Prince and the Dressmaker
-- Honorable Mention: Little Moments of Love
Best Memoir: A Higher Loyalty
-- Honorable Mention: Being Jazz
Best Adult Fic.: The Things They Carried
Best Teen Fic.: If I Was Your Girl
Best Tween Fic.: Refugee
Best Poetry: October Mourning
Most Disappointing: Sweet Blue Flowers
Worst Book of the Year: A Most Magical Girl (DNF'd)
-- Honorable Mention: This Book Loves You

Here's my 2019 Book Challenge list:

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