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Reading Challenges 2018 > Week 22 check in

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message 1: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 895 comments Mod
Hi everyone!

Been a bit of a scorcher this week, looking forward to some temperature drops this weekend!

Got a good bit of reading in though, so there's that.


The Halloween Tree - book set on halloween. It was a kids book, so pretty short. Not my favorite Bradbury but it was alright.

The Wednesday Wars - book being read by a stranger in public. It took me a while to find someone reading a book in a fashion where i could actually see and make note of what it was. I didn't think I'd like this at all, but it ended up being surprisingly enjoyable.

Snotgirl, Vol. 1: Green Hair Don't Care - Picked this up at free comic book day (not actually free, but that's why I was there). It is co-created by the Scott Pilgrim guy. I liked it alright, but I think I need to read the next vol to form a proper opinion. It wasn't really getting into it's groove until the last segment of the book.

Heart Berries: A Memoir - Read this as part of Emma Watson's book club, was on hold for months. It was a bit of a disappointment. I expected it to be really moving, but I was mostly just kind of counting down pages until it was done, even though it was really short. Maybe I just wasn't in the right mood for it. Counted it as my short book for ATY.

The Price of Salt - Book with LGBTQ+ protagonist. I liked it ok, and I can see how it'd be pretty groundbreaking for when it was published. It was a little slow for my tastes.

Currently reading:
Lock In - I kept seeing stuff about head on, his newest novel so decided to pick up this, and that one. Not for a challenge, enjoying so far.

Mech Cadet Yu Vol. 1 - Reading bits of this here and there. It's my comic not published by DC/Image/Marvel for Read Harder.

The Gate to Women's Country - started this, but then a flood of library books came in so back on hold. it will be my book by an author with the same first or last name.

I'll steal a page from popsugar today,

Do you ever find yourself continuing to read a series, even after you stopped enjoying it?

I usually only do this if I started out liking it, and then they start degrading. It takes a while for me to accept that I either outgrew the author or they weren't going where I wanted it to go. I'd say the worst example was Anita Blake. I stopped enjoying the books at Narcissus In Chanes, for the most part, but I think I kept reading for another 8 books or something (although no longer buying them in hardcover, and then eventually only buying on sale, and then down to just getting from the library). I might occasionally pick them up at the library still if I'm in a reading lull and it's available, but that hasn't happened in a while.

message 2: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 207 comments Mod
Hello Everyone,

It's been terribly hot here this past week, too, but it's supposed to cool off this weekend. I can't wait. Doing anything outside is pretty unbearable these days!

I got a chunk of reading done this week, mostly because my books were short, were "popcorn reads," or children's book. I've also started an audiobook. Here goes:

I read Bear for the book set in the decade in which I was born. Hmmm, what to say about this book without making it seem too weird that I read it an am now talking about it in a public forum....When the first publisher the author gave it to failed to take it up, some of Canada's literary greats successfully rallied to have it published somewhere else. It then won the Governor General's award (Canada's Pulitzer) in 1976. It's a feminist story about a well-educated, professional 27 year old woman who is realizing that she's failed to become the person she wants to be, and is struggling with the fact that she's not married and done all the conventional things. She doesn't really want to do these things, but she is terribly lonely and reflecting on how her choices leave her regarded by society. The 1970s mocking of the idea of "an independent woman" is most definitely a strong theme in the book, and it takes the mickey out of Canadian literary cultural and colonialism, as well. I found an article from one of our National newspapers from 2014, when the book was reissued, calling it The Best Canadian Novel of All Time. All of this is to say, this is a serious bit of very cheeky literature, wherein, among other things, the main character performs sexual acts with a bear, and not in a metaphorical kind of way. And I really, really, enjoyed reading this short book and would recommend it to anyone who isn't put off by that. And if you don't want to read the book, I suggest you have a look at some of the reviews of this book by people on Goodreads who read it without realizing what the protagonist was going to get up to with the bear. They made me laugh so hard my abs hurt.

So, bringing in some of my own cheeky sense of humour, I decided to follow up reading this landmark feminist text with something decidedly the opposite: Bridget Jones's Diary. Although, I did actually see some common threads between the two books, which are set almost exactly 20 years apart: Both protagonists are struggling with social norms around being a woman in their late 20s-early 30s and social expectations around marriage, baby-making, and careers. The difference being that in Bear, the protagonist is very much, "I'm cool with singledom" and Bridget Jones is the train wreck opposite of that. Also, the woman in Bear fixates on a bear when working through everything, and Bridget turns to her boss, David. An argument could be made that the bear was the far better choice. I have seen the movie, but this was my first time reading the book, and it was laugh out loud funny. I certainly recognized some of my own neuroses around finding a partner when I was her age and the terrible choices I made while seeking validation. I wish someone had given me this book to read then so that I could see how ridiculous I was being at times! Anyway, Bridget is hardly a feminist icon, but the book was eye-opening in many ways, and I loved reading it. This was my book with an ugly cover.

Finally, I read James and the Giant Peach as my book with a fruit or vegetable in the title. (I'm transitioning into a bit of lighter reading before I take on Middlesex as the challenge's monthly group read in June). This was a quick read as it's a children's book. The only other Ronald Dahl I've read are the Charlie and the Chocolate factory books--and that was back in elementary school. I enjoyed this tale, particularly as I'm a gardener and one of the morals of the story was that some insects are really beneficial and we should value them. :-) I did find myself wondering if JK Rowling drew inspiration from James' full name for Harry Potter: James Henry Trotter. Hmmmm

Oh, one last thing: I've been listening to the audio version of The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women on and off for the past week. I've started biking to work, so I don't get as much audiobook time in as I did when I was walking. The book is fascinating and reminds me a lot of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, with its emphasis on lack of rights and voice for poor women and the idea that powerful white men know best. But, the narrator is terrible! She's so bad that I'm almost convinced they used a digital reader to produce the narration. It's so halting and unintuitive. I tend to not notice after I've been listening for a while, but every time I start listening anew, I think, "How did they ever let this get published in this state?" At any rate, I'm really enjoying the book, sad though it may be. I'm hoping to finish it this weekend while I'm cleaning and gardening, and then I can post something to our group chat on it.

Sheri, for the QOTW: I used to do this, but I don't anymore. There are just too many other good things to read! The last series I can think of that I did this with was The Mortal Instruments series, and that was because I had downloaded all the books on an eReader before going on a long vacation, so that was all I had with me to read. But I didn't enjoy them past the first 1.5 books. Since then, I've abandoned a few different series, with no regrets. Some include the Kushiel's Dart series, the Six of Crows series, and The Clockwork Century series.

message 3: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Andersen (jessmary) | 19 comments Hi everyone,

This week I finished Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil as my bestseller for the year I graduated high school. I had never read it or seen the movie. I enjoyed the book, it was a pretty quick read for me.

I also had been listening to the audiobook of The Return of Martin Guerre for my microhistory. This one was a little dry, I think it was written more for scholars than for laymen, although the basic story it told was interesting, about a man who had disappeared, and then "returned" almost a decade later. A few years after his return, he was taken to court for impersonating the real Martin Guerre. In the 3 or 4 years after the return, the man had lived with Martin's wife and the family had accepted him. It all takes place in the 1500s so there were no photographs or any way really of proving other than people's testimony.

I also read Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood for a comic written and illustrated by the same person. It was very good and I would highly recommend. I immediately bought the second volume also so I could finish the story.

As for Question of the week:
I have given up on a series, probably several books after I should have. Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series comes to mind. I think I made it through book 17 or 18 before I threw in the towel. And I still skim reviews with spoilers to see if I can go back to the series yet. The love triangle and the fact that really every book is the same drives me crazy.
I finished the Sookie Stackhouse series even though I thought it really trailed off with the last few books. My opinion is that she was done with the series by book 9 or so, but was pressured into continuing because of the TV series. And, I think you felt it a bit in the last books that she was just dragging it out. I loved the first 7 or 8 books so much.
I read all four books in the Twilight series even though I thought the first book was terrible. I thought they must get better because everyone was loving them so much. They did not. But, there were only four books, so I was hoping at least the end would be redeeming. For me, it was not.
There are other series that I haven't stayed up to date with, but plan to finish eventually. It's just you miss one new release in the series and get behind and then there are so many other books to read. But I didn't necessarily purposely stop reading because I felt like I had outgrown it or didn't like the direction.

message 4: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (midwinter) | 54 comments Hi guys :)
I'm trying to be better about checking in. I love adding to my TBR from what everyone else is reading, and hopefully some of my choices might inspire you, too!
This week has been pretty slow for reading. I usually get in most of my reading time before bed, but circumstances have conspired to keep me busy until I'm falling-down exhausted and too tired to read at night. I did cross a few off my list, though. The first set was a batch of Green Arrow and Arrow comics that I stumbled upon at the library. I love the Arrow TV series, and figured it was time I read some of the comics. These were from "The new 52" series, or whatever the most recent reboot is called. They were fun, but I'm glad they were free from the library and not purchases.
I also finished The Golem and the Jinni. This is the first book in ages that I've read compulsively. I ended up reading until almost 2am over the weekend to finish it. I'll end just shy of saying I loved it, but I definitely strongly liked the book. The era, the concept, the characters, the writing - everything was wonderfully crafted. I think the author intends to spin this into a series, and I hope the expanded story won't dilute the magic of the first novel.

I'm listening to the Armada audiobook and if it weren't for Wil Wheaton's narration, I would have quit after the first couple of chapters. I'm a child of the '80s, and I LOVE wink and nod references to pop culture, but this book bashes you over the head. A sly nod to pop culture is fun; a litany of direct quotes and name dropping is tedious at best, exhausting at worst. Armada takes it far beyond exhausting. Also, the only thing more boring than watching someone play a video game is reading a description of someone playing a video game. Ugh. I think I would have enjoyed this a lot more if I was a teenage gamer boy. As-is, it's formulaic and transparent. But darn Cline for hooking me with the occasional zinger of a pop culture reference. (The main character's friend uses Rush's Vital Signs as his soundtrack - that totally redeemed the painfully obvious Rush references in Ready Player One). Score one point for Cline. I'll now push through another chapter :)

I also finished Christopher Moore's Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d'Art. I love Chris Moore. His books are always a little too over the top, but I devour them anyway. This one was a peek at a bunch of famous late-1800s painters in Paris, and of the mysterious Colorman who provided them with their ultramarine "bleu" pigment. Not my favorite Moore book, but always a fun way to pass the time.

Finally, I just started Passing Strange. I saw "1920s" and "San Francisco" in the blurb, so it was a must-read for me, and I think it just won a Nebula, so now it's an award-winning novella. I'm only ~40 pages in, but it's intriguing so far. I like the author's style, and I have no idea where the story is going from here.

QOTW: I used to be a self-declared "completist," and once I started a series, I'd see it through to the bitter end. The worst example I can remember is Philip Jose Farmer's "The Dungeon" series. Six books. I disliked ALL of them, and don't even remember them now, but I somehow pushed through all six. Twilight, too (at least they were YA and went quickly). On the other hand, I read all the Dune books, and although I was completely lost and confused after book 3, I still felt like they were a worthwhile use of my time. I felt like I had accomplished something after putting down Chapterhouse: Dune, and bits and pieces of the books still flit through my mind. These days I have no problem stopping. I only made it through 3 Anita Blake books, and 2 of "The Hollows" series. No regrets!

I have a corollary question to this: Is there any series you've read and loved where you put off (or avoided completely) reading the last book(s) because you didn't want it to end? (Or because you heard about a plot twist that would ruin your idea of the series)?

message 5: by Sara (new)

Sara | 55 comments Hello! In the last couple weeks I've finished a few books, bringing my finished total to 16/26.

A couple weeks ago I finished Mrs. Sherlock Holmes. This book showed up in a list on my Overdrive account and I'm a Sherlock fan, so figured I'd try. It was a true story following one of New York's first female lawyers. She did quite a lot of detective work and was nicknamed Mrs. Sherlock Holmes. The book started off strong, but got drier and drier as it went on. It was an interesting read, but won't be revisiting it.

Last week I finished Fifty Shades of Grey. It also showed up on my Overdrive account as "Popular in 2017" and available. I thought I'd try it to see what the hype was about, but I didn't get this book at all. It seemed creepy and predatory - his stalker tendencies, her age, his jealousy, the power difference... it all weirded me out. Perhaps if her character had been set-up differently... although by the end I couldn't handle Ana's first person narration anymore and set-up would not have helped that.

Then I read Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen. This was a re-telling of Snow White from the point of view of the evil queen. It focused on how the queen met and fell in love with Snow White's dad and follows her as she raises Snow White. It was a fun, quick read.

Next up for me is The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women.

QOTW: No. I'm not sure I ever felt compelled to finish a series - a book, yes, but not a series. There are too many things I want to read to force my way through an entire series that I'm not enjoying. I might take a break through a series if I feel it's becoming too repetitive and revisit it later. Or, as in the case of Fifty Shades, I'll move on and not look back.

message 6: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 895 comments Mod

I loved the Golem and the Jinni, i just read it a couple weeks ago! I really hope the next ones is good, too. I also love Christopher Moore, Sacre Bleu was actually one of my favorites :) But I am an artist, so I really liked seeing all the artists in the different context.

As for your question, generally not. If I LOVE a series, I just need to keep reading. Although I'll qualify that in that I've not read the next two Phedre books because they don't fit in my challenges and they are long. I don't want to feel like I have to rush through them, so I'm saving them for when I finish at least one challenge. Then I can read them and not feel like I "should" be reading something else.

message 7: by Susie (last edited Jun 06, 2018 11:57AM) (new)

Susie Steadman (suessy88) | 18 comments This is a great question!
I have completest tendencies, but I'm motivated by the author's writing, so if the 1st book in the series doesn't capture my imagination I can stop. Sometimes though, I will struggle thru a series hoping for a payoff in the end... Robin Hobb, I'm looking at your Fool series.
Generally though, if I love a series, I have a hard time not finishing it. And if I really love it, I'll revisit it.
Also, thank you to everyone for posting what you are reading. I find the best leads on new books reading thru your posts.
I should most likely return the favor, so, I am currently reading Hunted by Meagan Spooner, (fun retelling of Beauty and the Beast in which Beauty is a hunter) and listening to Radium Girls on audio (I do not enjoy the reader, specifically the places she choose to put emphasis or to pause in a sentence throw me off, but I needed something to listen to during my commute.)

message 8: by Cara (new)

Cara (thinkc) | 10 comments Not much to report this week. I finished Shadow of Night, which I had been planning to use as my Time of Day in the Title book, but I think will switch to my Prior Goodreads Winner book. I didn't have anything else lined up, and I had started re-reading Cinder when I wanted something on Kindle for a train ride (I had checked out a hard-cover of Shadow of Night from the library) so I am finishing that.

Now I need to decide what to read on my vacation starting Sunday! I went through and put a lot of books on my Amazon book wishlist, and library wishlist, so I need to pick a few. I am really in the mood for a true adventure story, so I may do a mountaineering book.

QOTW: I am like Sheri, sometimes it takes me a while to accept that a series has been going downhill and end it. But in general, I will stop reading a series. A good example is Song of Edmon. That is a series that I would normally read all of, but it just got too dark. I know they say that writers should make their main characters suffer, but it got to a point where I just didn't want to read anymore. I finished Book 1, but won't go on from there. I'm also really on the fence about reading Book 3 of Red Rising.

message 9: by Susan (new)

Susan LoVerso | 321 comments I just responded in the Week 23 on my books but I thought I'd chime in on the QOTW. I am probably similar to Sheri. My first series that I ever read, in middle/high school was the Bicentennial Series by John Jakes: The Bastard, The Rebels, etc. There were 8 books and I had to read them all. I even found a hardcover set at my library on the free shelf many, many years later and snatched them up.

I am more apt to give up if there are a lot of books in the series. When I was a late teen/early 20s, my sister got me onto the Wagons West series. But that one, at 24 books, my interest waned and I never bothered to finish. Same with the Stephanie Plum books from Janet Evanovich.

I definitely feel more compelled to finish trilogies and quartets such as Nora Roberts many sets, even if they're only okay.

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