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2018 challenges > July's challenge

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message 1: by Sheila (new)

Sheila | 157 comments Mod
Wow! Half the year is gone. I hope your enjoying your reading so far. I know I am. Now on to July's books.

1. Read a book whose author's surname begins with N.
2. July 1 is Canada Day. Read a book by a Canadian author.
3. July 4 is Independence Day. Read a book by an American author.
4. July 14 is Bastille Day. Read a book by a French author.
5. Since England figures in prominently in each of these countries, read a book by an English author.
6. Since the World Cup is being played now, read a book about soccer.
7. Since Wimbledon started, read a book about tennis.
8. Christmas in July so read about set during Christmas.
9. Your choice


message 2: by Sheila (last edited Jul 27, 2018 05:15PM) (new)

Sheila | 157 comments Mod
My reads for the month

4/9, 11 books

1. Read a book whose author's surname begins with N.
2. July 1 is Canada Day. Read a book by a Canadian author.
3. July 4 is Independence Day. Read a book by an American author. Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle--finished 7/2/18 Better Nate Than Ever (Better Nate Than Ever #1) by Tim Federle
4. July 14 is Bastille Day. Read a book by a French author.
5. Since England figures in prominently in each of these countries, read a book by an English author. The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson--finished 7/1/18 The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson
6. Since the World Cup is being played now, read a book about soccer.
7. Since Wimbledon started, read a book about tennis.
8. Christmas in July so read about set during Christmas--The Best Christmas Pageant Ever--Barbara Robinson--finished 7/24/18. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (The Herdmans #1) by Barbara Robinson
9. Your choice--The Power by Naomi Alderman--finished 7/11/18 The Power by Naomi Alderman

Bonus:
The Leavers by Lisa Ko--finished 7/18/18 The Leavers by Lisa Ko
A Curious Beginning--Deanna Raebourn--finished 7/21/18 A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell, #1) by Deanna Raybourn
My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris--finished 7/22/18 My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Vol. 1 (My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, #1) by Emil Ferris
The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy--finished 7/23/18 The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy
Beast by Sam Crescent/Jenika Snow--finished 7/24/18 Beast (The Soldiers of Wrath MC Grit Chapter, #1) by Sam Crescent
The Hating Game--Sally Thorne--finished 7/27/18 The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Maus I: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman--finished 7/27/18 Maus A Survivor's Tale My Father Bleeds History (Maus, #1) by Art Spiegelman


message 3: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Mertens | 37 comments Wow, it has been a while since I've checked in to group. Some of the better books that I've read have included Zora Neale Hurston's
"Barracoon: the Story of the Last Black Cargo". It tells the story of one of the men brought from Africa on the last slave ship before the Civil War. I also enjoyed "Sing, Unburied, Sing" by J. Ward. I also read "Peter Pan", which is nothing like I expected. It was much darker. So for July's challenges I'm reading "Being a Beast" by Charles Foster for my English author and "Blessings" by Anne Quindlen for my American author. Looking forward to reading as always. Happy 4th of July.


message 4: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Imperfect Chemistry (Imperfect, #1) by Mary Frame -Mary Frame 7-1-18
I randomly found this freebie on my Kindle looking for something new and fun to read. This lighthearted and well written "Chic Flic" fit the bill perfectly. I related a lot to the protagonist and found the other characters to be well portrayed even when they were unlikable. The plot was cute and funny, but the story also brought up some really thought-provoking points during Lucy's journey to understanding emotions and relationships better. It's not a clean romance novel, but it isn't highly graphic either. Anyway, I really enjoyed it and wish I could read the others in the series without having to pay for them.

Then Came You (A Bradford Sisters Romance, #0.5) by Becky Wade -Becky Wade 7-1-18
This was a sweet contemporary Christian romance novel. I enjoyed the characters and their development. I did find the writing style to be occasionally jarring, especially the phone conversations that read like a direct transcription of the exchanges. I will likely read the rest of the series sometime now that I am in love with this little family.

Waking Up Married (Waking Up, #1) by Mira Lyn Kelly -Mira Lyn Kelly 7-2-18
This was an amusing and sweet romance novel with several surprisingly well developed characters. It is a Harlequin romance though, so there's a lot of sex involved, but at least they were married the whole time.

The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern (Cat Who... #2) by Lilian Jackson Braun -Lilian Jackson Braun 7-3-18
Like the first book in the "Cat who..." series, this book was well written, and the characters were well drawn and interesting. In this second novel, the author has developed an intriguing and unique plot again, which is a trend that I hope continues throughout the rest of the series. I don't find Qwilleran to be the most likable protagonist, but I can't deny that he is an entertaining one. I have enjoyed getting to know him a little better in this novel. In any case, I enjoyed this novel and plan to read the rest of the series.

The Cat Who Turned On and Off (Cat Who..., #3) by Lilian Jackson Braun -Lilian Jackson Braun 7-4-18
Like the first two books in the "Cat who..." series, this book was well written, and the characters were well drawn and interesting. In this third novel, the author has developed an intriguing and unique plot yet again, which is a trend that I hope continues throughout the rest of the series. I don't find Qwilleran to be the most likable protagonist, but I can't deny that he is an entertaining one. I have enjoyed getting to know him even better in this novel. In any case, I enjoyed this novel and plan to read the rest of the series.

Technically, I read this book of the series in an omnibus with the first two The Cat Who... Could Read Backwards; Ate Danish Modern; Turned On and Off by Lilian Jackson Braun The Cat Who... Could Read Backwards; Ate Danish Modern; Turned On and Off, but since I only read the 3rd novel contained in it, I decided to just use a separate edition for my review, since it would throw off my page average at the end of the year. Yes, I'm a nerd and like looking at that information at the end of every year.

The Cat Who... Omnibus 02 (Books 4-6) The Cat Who Saw Red / The Cat Who Played Brahms / The Cat Who Played Post Office by Lilian Jackson Braun -Lilian Jackson Braun 7-7-18
As I actually did read all three of the books in this omnibus right in a row as published, I will review them collectively because that's how I read them. Like the first three books in the "Cat who..." series, these next three books were well written. As usual, I found the characters to be well drawn and interesting; plus, I am starting to like Qwilleran more and more as I get further in the series, but he won't ever be one of my favorite protagonists. In any case, I enjoyed reading this omnibus containing books four, five, and six of the "Cat who.." series.

Pardonable Lies (Maisie Dobbs, #3) by Jacqueline Winspear -Jacqueline Winspear 7-8-18
I really enjoyed this mystery novel. It is set in post World War England, but the mystery our sleuth is asked to resolve is unexpectedly quite deeply connected to events of the war. Is the son of Cecil Lawton really dead as has been presumed? Where did Maisie's friend Priscilla's brother die during the war? Why does one of the mediums Maisie visit during her investigation raise internal alarms for Maisie? Read the book and find out along with Maisie. I really enjoyed this novel and will continue reading the series.


message 5: by Rachel (new)

Rachel An Amish Gift by Cynthia Keller -Cynthia Keller 7-9-18
This was a well written novel with interesting characters. I enjoyed seeing the two families, one Englisch and one Amish, become friends and learn from each other in different ways. The main characters find freedom in various ways throughout their year of transitioning to living in the country as opposed to the city.

Accidentally Amish (Valley of Choice #1) by Olivia Newport -Olivia Newport 7-10-18
I first read this novel back in 2014 and for whatever reason, I never got around to reading the rest of the trilogy until this year. Me being me, I had to reread this first book of the "Valley of Choice" trilogy before moving on to the other two books, and I'm glad I did because there is so much detail provided by the author for both timelines that are explored in this novel that I had totally forgotten. I would have been totally lost had I simply started up the trilogy again with the send novel. Anyhow, as I said four years ago, this was a fun and rather unique Amish novel, and I really enjoyed the characters and the story.

In Plain View (Valley of Choice #2) by Olivia Newport -Olivia Newport 7-11-18
Just like the first novel in the "Valley of Choice" trilogy, this was a fun and rather unique Amish novel, and I really enjoyed the characters and the story. I liked the amount of detail the author provides for both of the timelines that she covers in the novel.

Taken for English (Valley of Choice #3) by Olivia Newport -Olivia Newport 7-12-18
Just like the first two novels in the "Valley of Choice" trilogy, this was a fun and rather unique Amish novel, and I really enjoyed the characters and the story. I liked the amount of detail the author provides for both of the timelines that she covers in the novel. However, in this one novel, I felt that the historical timeline was a bit of a stretch, meaning that since the author still needed to conclude her contemporary story line, she felt compelled to add a third historical section dealing with more of the"Byler/Beiler" family tree because she had done so in the first two novels. While the strategy worked well in the first two novels and the two timelines were truly connected to each other, in this novel, it just didn't gel together too well. It felt like two separate books this time, so even though both stories were good, I have dropped this novel down to three stars from the four I gave the others.

Stealing the Preacher (Archer Brothers, #2) by Karen Witemeyer -Karen Witemeyer 7-12-18
This was a fun and entertaining Christian historical romance novel with a well written plot and a fair amount of action. I liked the characters, and I loved learning more about the second Archer brother, Crockett, and seeing the unique way he met his match.

A Match Made in Texas (Archer Brothers, #2.5) by Karen Witemeyer -Karen Witemeyer et al 7-13-18
This was a fun collection of four connected novellas; for the sake of convenience, I'll just repost the book description and add my impressions of each:

"In the small town of Dry Gulch, Texas, a good-hearted busybody just can't keep herself from surreptitiously trying to match up women in dire straits with men of good character she hopes can help them. How is she to know she's also giving each couple a little nudge toward love?

A Cowboy Unmatched (-Karen Witemeyer)
Neill isn't sure who hired him to repair Clara's roof--he only knows Clara desperately needs his help. Can he convince this stubborn widow to let down her guard and take another chance on love?"--This novella is the last of the Archer brothers series, and even though I wished the story had been a full length novel instead, I really loved the story of how the youngest (and fourth) Archer brother finds a ready made family while trying to earn money to start his own homestead/ranch. (Incidentally, only 3 of the Archer brothers got their own full stories; the two oldest brothers both found their brides in the first novel of the series, Short-Straw Bride, but I felt that poor Jim got shorted by being a secondary character in his brothers' stories, first in Travis' story and then in Neill's; just his name was mentioned in Crockett's story.)

"An Unforeseen Match (-Regina Jennings)
Hoping to earn an honest wage on his way to the land rush, Clayton ends up on Grace's doorstep, lured by a classified ad. He may have signed on for more than he expected though--and he may have found the one woman who can keep him from moving on."--This was a sweet Christian historical romance novella with well drawn characters. I liked the story, but I did wish it was longer.

"No Match for Love (-Carol Cox)
Andrew can't fathom how refined Lucy ended up as the caretaker to his dotty aunt, and somehow her arrival has prompted even more bizarre occurrences around the ranch. When they join forces to unearth the truth, will the attraction between Andrew and Lucy develop into more?"--Okay, this is the second story I have read by Carol Cox, and while I did like it better than the full length novel I had read by her, it was the novella that I liked the least in the collection. It wasn't that it was poorly written per se, it just didn't feel as worthy of my time as the other novellas. I didn't like Lucy either, which I'm sure affected my perception of the story as a whole.

"Meeting Her Match (-Mary Connealy)
When the tables are turned and a tenderhearted meddler becomes the beneficiary of a matchmaking scheme, her world is turned upside down. As her entire life changes, will she finally be able to tell the banker's son how much she cares for him?"--Now, this was a fun and sweet conclusion to this collection of novellas. I loved the characters, and I thought the way Hannah and Matt were manipulated into getting married was hysterical. The only drawback was that it ended far earlier than I wish it had.

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin -Lynn Austin 7-15-18
This was one of the funniest books I have read this year. Set during the Great Depression, the plot had action, suspense, and surprising twists throughout its length. The novel was well written, and the characters were well drawn. I especially loved Alice and how she grew as a person through her experiences in Kentucky.

The Heart's Frontier (The Amish of Apple Grove, #1) by Lori Copeland -Lori Copeland 7-16-18
This was certainly a unique historical Christian romance novel. Set in 1880's Texas, the book features an Amish family and a group of cowboys on a cattle drive who end up traveling and working together for days due to various encounters with a group of bandits/rustlers. While I liked the story and its unexpected conclusion, the whole scenario felt unlikely, and the characters were a little flat. I am unlikely to read more of the series.

Crowning Design by Leila Meacham -Leila Meacham 7-16=18
This was a well written romance novel with a thread of mystery/intrigue in it. The characters were both interesting and fully portrayed. I enjoyed reading this novel a lot although I was disappointed that full justice wasn't unleashed against the villain in the story.

Unlocked A Love Story by Karen Kingsbury -Karen Kingsbury 7-17-18
So far, I have truly enjoyed every one of Karen Kingsbury's novels that I have read, and that is true of this novel as well. It is well written and has wonderful characters, and the plot was sweet. However, I have a few complaints about the novel because of how she portrays autism in it. First, it is unlikely that all of the stims an autistic person does can be so easily explained, but this is exactly what happens in the novel with Holden's (he also only has two stims, which is somewhat unlikely as well). Second, if an autistic person does begin speaking verbally at a later point in life and had been nonverbal to that point, it is unlikely that they would have been fully verbal prior to the age of 3 and then become completely nonverbal until age 18. Third, I disliked how much Holden's being autistic was seen as a problem in need of a miracle; he was portrayed so well as intelligent, pleasant, and patient the whole book, and he was quite good at using his communication cards, but because the lack of verbal communication bothered his parents and his friend Ella, they wanted him to be "unlocked." They wanted him to change for their benefit and enjoyment, which I consider an unfair perspective to have. However, even with my reservations about how the author approached autism, I did enjoy the novel a great deal and found it well worth reading, and I especially liked that she based Holden's miracle unlocking through music on a real autistic person who did go from being nonverbal as a child to being a success in theater musicals as an adult.

Walker's Wedding (The Western Sky Series, #3) by Lori Copeland -Lori Copeland 7-18-18
I didn't realize this was the third book in a series when I picked it up at the library, and so, it must be a series where the order of the books doesn't truly matter because I had no inkling that I wasn't reading a stand-alone novel until I looked it up on Goodreads. Anyway, the book was well written, and the characters were interesting and fully portrayed. It was a fun Christian historical romance novel to read even if I did want to knock those spouses' heads together several times before the end of it.

True to You (A Bradford Sisters Romance, #1) by Becky Wade -Becky Wade 7-19-18
This was a delightful contemporary Christian romance novel. Having read and loved the prequel to this book, Then Came You, I was looking forward to reading this one a lot. The only downside to this novel and its sequel Falling for You for me is that Garner and Kathleen aren't present at all being out of the country the whole time serving as missionaries, a good thing for them of course, but I loved them and wanted to see more of them even as secondary characters. So, rant aside, I really loved this novel; it was well written, the plot was entertaining, and the characters were brilliantly drawn. I truly related to Nora as a fellow introverted bookworm even if her period drama of choice was one I'd never heard of, and I loved seeing her journey towards a more healthy confidence in herself and towards a deeper faith in God. Then, of course, the icing on the cake was how she found true love with a good man.

Falling for You (A Bradford Sisters Romance, #2) by Becky Wade -Becky Wade 7-20-18
This was a delightful contemporary Christian romance novel. Having read and loved both Then Came You (series prequel #0.5) and True to You (series #1), I was looking forward to reading this novel as well. I really loved it; it was well written, the plot was entertaining, and the characters were brilliantly drawn. I enjoyed the unique plot that brought Willow and her ex-boyfriend back into each other's lives on a consistent basis in order to help Corbin's niece solve a family mystery, which ends up the corrupt character of a local politician. While I liked Nora from True to You better as a character, I also became quite fond of Willow during the course of this novel, enjoying her journey towards forgiving herself and trusting in God's love, as her love for Corbin is rekindled in a healthier dating relationship.


message 6: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar -Tessa Afshar 7-21-18
This was a truly insightful work of Biblical fiction. The novel was well written, and I thought the character development of both Rahab and Salmone were excellent. Even though the story had to be told in a serious manner for the most part due to its content, I was still entertained and interested throughout the whole novel, and, in fact, at one point I had to stop reading briefly due to being unable to see through the honest-to-goodness tears rolling down my face. I have never had that strong of a reaction while reading before; as I'm not a crier, the most that would happen in the past if I became emotional due to something I've read is that my eyes would tear up--that is, feel damp at the corners but not spill over--and that my throat would have a corresponding lump, but this time, to my amazement, I was literally crying for a few minutes due to this book. I will definitely be reading more novels by this author.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie -Agatha Christie 7-22-18
So, the only other Agatha Christie novel I read before now was Murder on the Orient Express. I have no excuse. It's just a fact. Anyway, now that I have read the first novel featuring Hercule Poirot and liked it, I shall read more of them. As I had expected, this mystery novel was well written and entertaining with interesting characters. I would have liked to know Hastings' first name though; the lack of it got on my nerves a little bit.


message 7: by Sheila (new)

Sheila | 157 comments Mod
Rachel wrote: "Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar-Tessa Afshar 7-21-18
This was a truly insightful work of Biblical fiction. The novel was well written, and I thought the character development of both Rahab an..."


I know I forget how good a mystery writer Agatha Christie is. And I always wonder why I don't read more of her every time I finish one of her books.


message 8: by Sheila (new)

Sheila | 157 comments Mod
Rachel wrote: "Imperfect Chemistry (Imperfect, #1) by Mary Frame-Mary Frame 7-1-18
I randomly found this freebie on my Kindle looking for something new and fun to read. This lighthearted and well written "Chic Flic" fit t..."


I love the Maisie Dobbs series.


message 9: by Rachel (new)

Rachel The Map of Lost Memories by Kim Fay -Kim Fay 7-25-18
The pace of this archaeological mystery novel was just to slow for my preference, but it was well written with great descriptions of the geography, climate, people groups, and political feelings of southeast Asia during the 1920's. In addition, the characters were decently drawn, and the plot's conclusion was satisfying.


Sworn to Silence (Kate Burkholder, #1) by Linda Castillo -Linda Castillo 7-26-18
This was a fast-paced murder mystery that was entertaining and thrilling. It was written well and had several interesting characters. I think it was a good start to what will likely be a good series. However, because of how graphic the descriptions of the corpses are, it isn't to everyone's comfort level.

Christmas at Carnton (Carnton, #0.5) by Tamera Alexander -Tamera Alexander 7-27-18
In this novella, Tamera Alexander has written a delightful start to her new series set in Carnton, another Southern mansion. Novellas like this with fully developed main characters and a satisfying plot are few, but I am not surprised that this is one of them because every book I have read by this author has been an example of masterful storytelling. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series as it becomes available.

Shadow on the Crown (The Emma of Normandy Trilogy #1) by Patricia Bracewell -Patricia Bracewell 7-29-18
This was a well written novel based on the life of Emma of Normandy who becomes queen of England when she marries King Aethelred II covering the years of 1000-1005 when she is a young bride; the author chose to set her age to marry as 14, and so, she is 19 at the book's end. While the story does end at an acceptable point, it is obvious that it is just the beginning of a trilogy. Since it is set in the Middle Ages, there are some elements of paganism and darkness that I'm not a fan of that appear periodically throughout the book; for example, one of the characters is plagued by visions of his brother's ghost. Also, because it was an extremely patriarchal society at the time, there is a constant thread of misogynism throughout the novel, and there is even an account of spousal rape. However, all personal discomfort and disgust at particular points of the story aside, I thought it was an excellent novel; it was apparent that the author had done a large amount of research and that she had done a good job of interpreting history as well as inventing possibilities for her characters where there were gaps or confusion in her timeline.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone? The Diary of Molly MacKenzie Flaherty (Dear America) by Ellen Emerson White -Ellen Emerson White 7-30-18
This fictional diary provides an easy-to-follow view into what 1968 looked like for Boston teenager Molly Flaherty. She is an intriguing and fun character, and overall, I found the book to be an interesting and thought-provoking window into the confusion and animosity to be found in the late 1960's as we read about her hopes and fears for the safety of her brother in Vietnam as well as her firefighter father during the escalating race riots; about her experiences volunteering in the veterans hospital; about her interests in the Beautiful People (Hippies), the protesters and rioters, and the presidential race; and about her questions regarding communism and the Vietnam War.


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