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Reading Challenges 2018 > week 30 check in

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message 1: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 883 comments Mod
Hi everyone! I hope your reading is going well!

I had a headache all week which meant I didnt' do a whole lot aside from reading, since moving too much hurt.

The Waking Land - Read Harder book about nature. I really liked this! Main character is both a botanist and a nature magician, which is kind of cool.

A Man Called Ove - Popsugar book i meant to read last year. I don't really keep a proper TBR list, nor do I plan my challenges out strictly in advance. But I saw a lot of people read this last year for popsugar, and most seemed to really like it, so it was on my list to read eventually. So we'll call it I meant to read it last year.

The Turn: The Hollows Begins with Death - popsugar's local author. Kim Harrison lives in Ann Arbor, MI which is about 45 min away from me. I figure that's close enough to local! It was alright, I didn't like it as much as the main Hallows series. But it was interesting to see the earlier events referenced in the series.

A Princess in Theory - Read harder romance by/about a PoC. This was alright, a sort of fairytale ish romance, but set in modern era. I don't really love romance as a genre, and this didn't really make me change my mind. It had a lot of recurring tropes common to romances that annoy me, that i'm supposed to ignore because TRUE LOVEEEE. Also the plot was predictable, I knew what was going to happen within 10 pages. However it was a quick read, the writing wasn't bad, and it handled a lot of the social issues like being a woman of color in a STEM grad program pretty well.

This puts me at one book left for popsugar! Unfortunately i've been on a waiting list for it forever, and I'm still only #5. Not sure why everyone suddenly wants to read Catch me If You Can, unless it's all other popsugar/read harder participants who all are looking for a non murder based book to read.

Currently reading: The Three-Body Problem - Read Harder's book of genre fiction in translation. It's sci-fi from China. Not very far yet, so don't have much of an opinion yet.

How do you normally select books to read? Reviews? Recommendations? The cover?

I usually primarily base it off the description. Even highly recommended, if the blurb doesn't sound interesting I have a hard time feeling compelled to pick it up. However if a ton of people that I know and care about their opinions have read something and raved about it, I might check it out of curiosity, even if it doesn't sound like something I'd normally like. Interesting covers do help, but more in store than selecting digitally. Titles that catch my eyes also are a draw.

Happy reading everyone!

message 2: by Daniele (new)

Daniele Powell (danielepowell) | 165 comments Two more prompts filled in this week:

Together is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration - thank you to the random girl at Starbucks for the quick and easy read! It was a little trite for my taste, but I do know some executives still need to learn. This fills the "stranger reading in a public place" prompt and completes the Popsugar advanced challenge!

Sleeping Beauties, for the "by two authors" prompt. I hadn't read Stephen King in a while. It felt like home, although the messaging was heavy handed at times. That puts me at 31/40 for the main Popsugar challenge.

I don't read reviews or recommendations if I can avoid it. I completely agree with what you wrote. The cover might catch my eye, but it's the blurb that seals the deal.

Mind you, a lot of the books I've read this year have been stories I know and really should have read by now, and that was hit or miss. A few more were by authors I know I enjoy. But there are still several books I've picked up that were simply because they've fit the prompt, and there have been some nice surprises!

message 3: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Klinich | 141 comments This week took awhile to read Renegades, the latest by the Lunar Chronicles author. I enjoyed it more than Heartless but not as much as Lunar Chronicles. Happy the sequel will be out in November.

For years, I only read mysteries, because my initial forays into popular fiction led to too many books about feelings with no plot that didn't end in a satisfying manner. With mysteries, there has to be a plot and an ending. Before internet, there was a reference in my library called "What should I read next" and I found a lot of authors I liked there who were first starting out, and read their books as they came out.
I read Harry Potters as they came out, and as my kids hit middle school I've read more YA (like Percy Jackson). Reading fantasy and sci fi books with them, as well as recommendations from Jen Yates has encouraged me to read more science fiction and fantasy. I've done really well with about 90% of recommendations from Jen and FoE.

message 4: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 207 comments Mod
Hello All! I've been absent for the last few weeks due to a hectic work schedule and then taking two week vacation. I've managed to do some reading, but have slowed down a bit. Here's the update since the last time I posted:

For popsugar, I read Oil and Marble: A Novel of Leonardo and Michelangelo by Stephanie Storey as my book for an author with the same first or last name as you. It's was kind of meh. I appreciated the author's intent and the story was interesting enough to draw me in, but I didn't particularly care for the writing. I'm now at 27/40 + 5/10 (33/50) for the challenge.

I'm also currently reading Away, which is by one of my favourite Canadian authors. I had intended to finish this one before heading off to Ireland on vacation (it being my book prompt for a country that fascinates you and largely set in Ireland), but I ran out of time and didn't want to take a physical book with me. It's a re-read for me, though, so I didn't mind leaving it behind. I'll try to finish it up this week. The author is also an amazing poet, and I love reading her works because of the poetic structure of her writing. She always focuses on female characters with a touch of magical realism, set in well-researched historical contexts that are grounded in Canadian history. That's checking ALL my Can Lit-loving boxes, haha. In this case, it's the story of a woman immigrating from Western Ireland to Canada (very close to where I grew up, so lots of action happening in places I've experienced) during the potato famine in the 1800s.

For non-popsugar reading, I finished listening to the audio version of Dark Matter and I really, really, enjoyed it! Not just the book, but the narrator, as well. For a fairly standard "multiverse"/"what would happened if we made a different choice" type book, it had a few curveballs that kept me fully engaged. I would recommend this one for sure!

Finally, I finished the Binti trilogy of novellas this morning, reading The Night Masquerade. All I have to say about this trilogy is that if you haven't read them yet, what are you waiting for? :-) They're amazing and fairly quick reads, too.

QOTW: Like most of you, I'm a blurb reader, but I also tend to open the book (or read the preview) and get a flavour for the book by flipping through the fist few pages or chapter. If the content or writing style doesn't capture me, I'll likely move on and choose something else.

And to throw back to a QOTW, a few weeks ago, I finished reading Middlesex and was so sad that the story was over that I asked Sheri if we could have a question about characters that you really miss once the books done, and then I rudely didn't post anything that week! So, obviously, the narrator from Middlesex was one of them, but I also really wish I could keep talking to Frodo from LOTR: what happened to him after he sailed over the sea? And since she's fresh on my mind, what happened to Binti? Can't we be friends Binti? What are you up to these days?

message 5: by Susan (new)

Susan LoVerso | 304 comments Hello! The only book I finished this week (like an hour ago) is Still Me. It was my Feb Book of the Month selection that I finally got around to reading. I really enjoyed it. It is about a young woman who moves from England to NYC to be an assistant to a wealthy woman (present day). I enjoyed a lot of different aspects. First my company is HQ'ed in NYC although I work remotely and visit NYC about every other month. So many of the details thrown in I enjoyed because I knew them.

I have to look in my pile to see what I'll read next.

QOTW: I really get a lot of ideas from others, including a lot of you here. I keep adding them to my Want-To-Read list here and I'll check that when I'm at the library. I do read the inside-cover blurb to see if I think I'll like it. I've gotten a lot from Stephanie because I like the details she puts in and it gives me enough information to work with. I don't really read a lot of reviews in general on GoodReads. I also compile lists from FoE when the topic comes up as a place to start when I need ideas.

message 6: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 207 comments Mod
I’m glad you enjoy my “reviews,” Susan! And how have I not requested that we be GR friends yet? I’ve just rectified that situation :-). I should have added that I’ve gotten a few choice reads from this group, as well. In fact, belong to this group and the popsugar challenge has really revived my love of reading over the past 18 months, and I’m so grateful!

message 7: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 883 comments Mod
I’m glad this group is helping people to find new reads!

message 8: by Cara (new)

Cara | 4 comments Hi everyone!

It's been a while since I posted. I started a new job at the end of last month (and I think I may have accidentally been posting under a wrong username before).

I've read quite a bit since a bunch of books I had on hold at the library came up. I have read in the last month:

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness for my prompt of a book written by an author of a different race than me. I liked it quite a bit. It was a quick read, and it definitely made me think about my own interactions with people of other races.

Artemis. I loved the Martian so I was excited about this one and it didn't disappoint. I'm calling it my book set on another planet, though I know the moon isn't another planet. It is sort of heist/detective/adventure in space, which is super up my alley!

A Wrinkle in Time It took forever for this to come off hold, but I hadn't ever read it as a kid and really wanted to. I really liked it, but the subtle and ingrained sexism of the 1950s did come through in some places which took me out of it a bit. A very enjoyable story though and one I look forward reading to my kiddo! This one will be either a classic I didn't read as a child or the time travel prompt.

The Siege of Macindaw I continued the Ranger's Apprentice series with this book. Another very fun book in the series. This doesn't tick any boxes, but it was a fun plane read.

I'm reading The Final Empire right now and am loving it. I also have Radium Girls and The Way of Kings waiting for me!

I mostly choose books off recommendations from people I trust (like FoE, which is how I found Brandon Sanderson!) or the description. I used to choose off cover art a lot, but since I'm almost entirely Kindle now, I often don't even really see the cover art anymore.

message 9: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (midwinter) | 54 comments Hi everyone :)
I can't remember when I last checked in, so a couple of these might be repeats, but here's my recent reading:
Come Hell or Highball. I *thoroughly* enjoyed this book! It's kind of like a Stephanie Plum story set in the roaring twenties. You have your sassy flapper heroine, her matronly Swedish maid/assistant, and the rumpled but endearing private detective/budding love interest...oh, and an adorable pomeranian who everyone agrees should "be in the pictures." There's at least one sequel, so YAY! More madcap fun on the way.

Body Check. This one was part "I need something light and fluffy to read" and part research. One of my NaNoWriMo novels is a comedic romance about a sports broadcaster who falls for a pro hockey player. I don't really like romances (and this did nothing to change that opinion), but it was very interesting to deconstruct the book and learn from someone who did it well enough to get it published. It was both intimidating and inspiring, and now I'm eager to get back to work on my own story!

I polished off Yet Another Janet Evanovich book, too. Once you've read the first 10 or so, there's not much more to add. If you like the series, you'll like it. If you're burnt out on Ms. Plum's life and loves, pass up Takedown Twenty.

It took a herculean effort (because of a looming library due date and no chance to renew it), but I plowed through Brandon Sanderson's The Final Empire in a little over a week. (I see Cara is also reading it - always fun when our book choices intersect here!). I don't read a lot of epic fantasy these days, but I like to keep up with the blockbuster titles. Of the two I've read recently, I like The Name of the Wind better. I enjoyed Mistborn, but I didn't get drawn into it like I did with Wind. I've heard so many raves about the magic system and this unique world Sanderson constructed. I tried to be impressed, but it didn't blow me away. That said, as an author trying to learn from other authors, I definitely appreciated Sanderson's storycraft, and I think I had more fun analysing things than reading the actual story.

Currently reading:
Mockingjay. Does anyone else feel like maybe this series should have stopped with the first book? Each successive book seems to have less spark, less oomph keeping it going. I'm about 3/4 of the way through and so far it's just been Katniss and her PTSD. Great premise, but the execution is tedious. I keep waiting for something to happen, but no, I have to slog through another 10 pages of Kat's wishy washy inner monologue. I want to see Catching Fire as told by Haymitch, or Cinna, or the Gamemaster. Mockingjay should be...I don't know...maybe Prim's telling? So far she seems like the character who's grown the most and might have the most interesting things to say. Heck, at this point I'd rather read Buttercup's tale.

Ah well. Maybe the last quarter of the book will pick up steam.

Finally, The Princess Diarist on audiobook, because hearing it in Carrie's voice is the only way to go :) I'm loving her wry take on the Star Wars universe. The diary entries are a little cringeworthy, but only because they remind me far too much of my own 19-year-old scribblings. I much prefer the elder Carrie's voice.

I get most of my recommendations from mentions on blogs I follow (Scalzi, Wendig, Boing Boing, Tor). After that, it's seeing a pretty cover and checking out what the first few Goodreads reviews have to say. I skim cover blurbs, but I try not to pay close attention. I'm strongly averse to spoilers, so as soon as a book goes on my to-be-read pile, I make a point of avoiding the back cover blurb. I trust that I picked the book for a reason, and beyond that, I want to be 100% surprised. I have heaps of books waiting to be read, so I'm not actively seeking out recommendations, but they still pour in. This is a good problem to have :)

message 10: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (midwinter) | 54 comments Oh! I just remembered a Question of the Week I wanted to suggest for the future.

What book released (or coming soon) in 2018 are you most looking forward to reading?

I'll hold off on an answer until it's an official QoTW :)

message 11: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 883 comments Mod
Thanks Kristi! I'll use that this week :) If anyone else has questions they'd like to ask, feel free to either post them or message me! I have trouble figuring them out sometimes!

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