Book Challenges- Week 23

Popsugar Challenge

(19/50)

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A childhood classic you’ve never read: Matilda, by Roald Dahl: Even though I’m not eight years old anymore, I still loved this book. It’s got everything that makes a great kid’s book: magic, a super-smart girl, bullies/ villains, and a sympathetic adult. It was great fun to read, and it makes me want to watch the movie sometime.

 

While I Was Reading Challenge

(4/12)- No progress this week… I did intend to make progress on this goal. I read Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, for the category of “a book that takes place in one day. I read online that this book takes place in a day, but it doesn’t; it’s two days. Being a stickler for rules, when it suits me, I’ll read something else for that category.

The Unread Shelf

Running Total: 16

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I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson (YA fiction): I LOVED this book. It’s told from the point of view of twins. Noah tells what happened when they were 13, and Jude tells what happened when they were 16. The twins used to be inseparable, and then they were completely separate. As I was reading this book, I laughed, I cried (well, teared up a bit), and I highlighted. There were so many great concepts in this book, and I liked that both twins did some things they shouldn’t have, but I cared about them anyway. I wanted to both hug them and give them a good shake throughout the book.

Incidentally, if you’re doing the Popsugar challenge, this would be a great book for either the category of a book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist or the one with a book about twins.

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Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom (fiction): This was a reread for me. Someone “borrowed” my copy at some point, so I’d re-purchased it when I saw it at Goodwill.

I remember liking this book a lot more the first time I read it. I didn’t remember anything about it, so it was like reading it for the first time. I didn’t hate it, but it didn’t move me. I didn’t have the urge to highlight anything or discuss it with anyone afterward. It was decent and enjoyable enough while reading, but now I understand why I forgot it the first time.

5 Classic Books

(1/5) Finally!

 

Miscellaneous Reading

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Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, by Matthew Quick (YA fiction): Leonard Peacock has five presents to give out, then he intends to kill his former best friend and himself. Throughout the day, he thinks things like, if anyone remembers his birthday, he won’t kill himself.

Leonard is a misfit, a little too strange and too interesting to really fit in. Still, he has people who care about him, and it shows.

What I liked (no spoilers): There were people throughout the day who noticed his odd behavior and expressed concern, and people who didn’t. That felt realistic to me.

What I didn’t like (no spoilers): The ending. It’s not a bad ending; I don’t want to give you that impression, but it felt unfinished, and I was unprepared. I read the Kindle version, and most books end around 97%. This book ended at 83% because (in my version, at least), there’s a bunch of stuff after, like an excerpt from a new book. So, just be warned.

If you want the full review with spoilers, click here to go to Goodreads.

 

Abandoned

None this week.

2018 Running Total: 70

Have you made any progress on your TBR or book challenges? What’s the longest book you’ve ever read?

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Book Challenges- Week 22

Popsugar Challenge

(18/50)

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A book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist: None of the Above, by IW Gregorio (YA LGBTQ+): Krissy is a popular girl, the homecoming queen, with a super hot boyfriend. When she finds out she’s intersex, her world changes.

Overall, I liked this book, but I didn’t love it, and I could have. I’m going to keep this review spoiler-free, so read on, if you’re interested.

What I liked: The book was written by a doctor and was inspired by what she imagined it would be like to find out you’re intersex, after meeting an intersex teen girl. That means that the doctor parts are probably accurate. I didn’t know anything about being intersex before reading this book, other than information I peripherally heard from the Olympian who was challenged as being female based on her chromosomes. I thought it was just about chromosomes and didn’t realize that there can also be internal male sex organs, which just complicates the issue more. I thought it was well done as far as imagining some of the emotions that someone, on finding out their diagnosis, would go through.

What I didn’t like: When Krissy’s secret gets out, she’s bullied. (That’s on the back cover, so it’s not a spoiler.) And that was fine. We all know kids bully anyone different. What I didn’t like was how some of her other relationships changed because of her diagnosis and reaction to it. It felt written just to create drama. I also thought her romantic relationship was way too convenient and predictible. I definitely wanted her to find love because I think that books should set a good example, and positive relationships are part of that. And her romantic interest was great. But it all came together too conveniently for me. (My full review with spoilers is on Goodreads, so if you’re curious about what I’m specifically talking about, feel free to check it out.)

What I’m not sure of: I read the reviews on Goodreads, and though I didn’t see a review from anyone identifying as intersex, many members of the LGBTQ+ community didn’t like it. In my mind, that’s not a reason to skip it. Some of their reasons didn’t resonate with me, but others did. I just wish that when the author talked about her expereience writing the book, she had mentioned if she had anyone who actually was intersex read the book. I wish I knew how close the experience is to the story of someone who’s been through it.

While I Was Reading Challenge

(4/12)- No progress this week

The Unread Shelf

Running Total: 14

5 Classic Books

(1/5) Finally!

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The Stand, by Stephen King (horror): I read the uncut version, which clocked in at 1153 pages. Though I enjoyed it, there were times I honestly started to wonder if I was ever going to get through it. Why is it that reading one 1200 page book takes so much longer than four 300 page books?

This book never got boring, to me, but it did drag on a bit in spots. It was great getting to know all the major characters in such a deep way, but I don’t know if I would have missed it if some of that had been cut out. I probably would have liked the original version better because for most of his books, I think Stephen King’s editor is asleep at the wheel. I still love his books, but I’d like them more if there were less of them.

Even though I knew good had to triumph over evil, this book still kept me on the edge of my seat, and I was desperate to know who’d live and who’d die, if Frannie’s baby would live, and what would happen to Tom. I can tell you that the ending was one of the most satisfying ones I’ve ever read.

I’m so glad I read this and irritated with myself for putting it off as long as I did, but it was an endeavor. It took me almost a month to get through, though I did take breaks and read other books in between. I love to read, so usually, when I’m done, I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished any particular thing. With this book though, I’m totally giving myself a pat on the back!

Miscellaneous Reading

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The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins (YA dystopia/ fantasy): I was traveling, and I needed a good audiobook. Since I do best with rereads, The Hunger Games seemed like the perfect travel book. It really was great to relive it on audio, though I didn’t love the narrator at first. She had an English accent, and I kept thinking, “Wasn’t Katniss from what used to be the US?” Eventually, the narrator grew on me because she differentiated voices so well. She slurred Haymitch just enough to show he was drunk, but not so much that I coudln’t understand him.

The only thing that annoyed me with The Hunger Games on audio is that I didn’t like the present tense narration. I never even noticed it when I was reading the books, but on audio, it stuck out in a bad way.

I did enjoy the reread though, so much that I came home and read the other two. The books are just as fun as I remembered.

Abandoned

None this week.

2018 Running Total: 66

Have you made any progress on your TBR or book challenges? What’s the longest book you’ve ever read?

#sorrynotsorry 5 Books I Love That Others (Claim To) Hate

I sometimes see people apologize for or defend their entertainment choices and I wonder… why? Unless it involves kicking puppies, why apologize for what entertains you?

You like stupid comedies? Right on. Trashy romance? Enjoy. Snooty literary fiction? Good for you. Books that cause other to become suicidally depressed? Have fun!

The thing is that there are lots of people out there who love to judge. They’ll judge you for what you eat, what you wear, what you watch, who you love, what you read. If someone wants to judge you, they’ll find a reason.

What others think of you is none of your business. Seriously.

As long as you aren’t hurting anyone or inciting violence, you shouldn’t have to defend your choices or explain. I’m tired of the ubiquitousness of judgemental attitudes these days.

One thing I’ll never apologize for is what I like to read.

There are lots of people out there who like to hate on popular books, as if hating something automatically makes you smart. Don’t get me wrong; there are some popular books I’m just not into. But I don’t think it’s because I have better taste or anything like that; it’s just personal taste.

Judging by the sales of these books and the ratings on Goodreads, others like these books too, even though it’s popular to hate on them. Oh well… I’ve never been a cool kid anyway.

The DaVinci Code, by Dan Brown (mystery/ thriller): No one ever claimed this was literature, but it’s great fun and a fast read.

The Host, by Stephanie Meyer (science fiction): I LOVE this book. It’s not hardcore science fiction and probably appeals more to readers of romance or YA, but I loved the characters and the relationships. Maybe she’s not the world’s best writer, but when I’m engaged enough in the story, I don’t even notice.

Divergent, by Veronica Roth (YA science fiction): People who criticize this one say things like, “It doesn’t make sense,” or that the world building was sloppy. Many people criticized the idea of breaking people into factions. Maybe I’m just more willing to suspend disbelief than most people, but none of it bothered me. I liked the characters and enjoyed the ride.

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (YA science fiction): Critics say the characters were blank, the plot was predictable, and that Peeta was creepy (not romantic). I liked Katniss. I thought the plot was fine… sometimes predictable is good. And the argument that Peeta should have declared himself before, and not doing so, but loving her from a distance all that time is stalkerish… I feel like being a stalker is about action, not inaction. Team Peeta 4-ever.

Fearscape, by Nenia Campbell (YA horror): This is a three book series, and while I have numerous problems with it (more as the series went on), there are things I loved so much about it that I’m willing to deal with it. There’s a creepy stalker “romantic” interest who is actually a stalker. Yes, the main character is attracted to him, but she nopes out once she realizes that he’s crazy. Of course, that doesn’t help, but at least she tries. The book would have benefitted greatly from an editor (and even more as the books go on). But… even though I hate lazy writing, I can’t bring myself to hate this one. Please edit and republish, okay?

What books do you love that others (claim to) hate?

Book Challenges- Week 20- 21

So… apparently, I forgot to post this last week. I wrote it, but never hit the “post” button. Oops.

I’ve taken a break from The Stand. I was enjoying it, but life got stressful due to the health issue of a family member. I accidentally forgot it when I went to an appointment, and since I needed to read, I started something else.

I’m not considering it abandoned… I will get back to it.

I’m hoping next week will get back to normal. Or as “normal” as life ever is for me.

Popsugar Challenge

(17/50)- No progress this week.

While I Was Reading Challenge

(4/12)- No progress this week

The Unread Shelf

Running Total: 3 Um… is that really all? I’m not doing so well on this one.

5 Classic Books

(0/5) I’m at page 819 of 1135 of The Stand.

Miscellaneous Reading

Because You’ll Never Meet Me & Nowhere Near You, by Leah Thomas (YA science fiction): Because You’ll Never Meet Me was on my TBR forever. I don’t know how it got there, and I didn’t really know what it was about. From the description, it seems like it’s about two boys with illnesses that are within the realm of reality. I just figured they were exaggerated the way books (and movies) often do.

But that’s not the case at all! These books are science fiction, though if you don’t know, that’s not clear until close to the end of the first one. I can see how some people might not like the book because of it, but the surprise made it even better for me.

Ollie is a bit… much at first. The voice is perfect and exudes extraversion. Moritz is so glum that I thought I was going to hate him at first. But these two characters are fantastic together and have a lovely character arc. It didn’t take long before I loved them both.

The sequel, Nowhere Near You, is as good as the first one. I love Ollie and Moritz so much that I’d follow them anywhere.

The Suffering, by Rin Chupeco (YA horror): This is the sequel to The Girl From The Well, that I read in  April. I would have gotten to the sequel sooner, but I was trying to be good and work on book challenges.

It was great! It focuses more on Tark than the first one, but we still get to see plenty of Okiku. It’s also set in the suicide forest in Japan, a place I’m fascinated by, to no one’s shock. (Would it be too morbid to use this book for that Popsugar category, a place that fascinates me?)

If you liked the first one, the second is just as worth reading.

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Heart of Ash, by Kim Liggett (YA horror & romance): This is the sequel to Blood & Salt. It’s almost as good as the first one. There were some aspects of it that I found a bit confusing (like how the whole possession thing worked), but I enjoyed the story enough that I read past the confusing parts without thinking too much about it.

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Down The Rabbit Hole, by JD Robb and others (Mystery/ romance): This is an anthology of romance stories inspired by Alice in Wonderland, and includes Wonderment in Death, #41.5 in the series. All of the stories are pretty good; I like all things Alice. It’s a light, fast read.

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The Astonishing Adventures of Fan Boy and Goth Girl, by Barry Lyga (YA fiction): The title is a bit misleading. There are no astonishing adventures in this book, though it’s still really enjoyable. It’s contemporary fiction about two misfits who find one another. The title is made to sound like a comic book because they both enjoy comics, and Fan Boy is writing a comic. There’s a particular thing I enjoyed that most books don’t do. (Spoiler alert: At the end of the book, Fan Boy is so worried that Goth Girl will commit suicide that he calls her dad, and dad gets her help. Taking a step like that is one of the bravest things a kid can do, and I thought it was an amazing example.)

Abandoned

None this week.

2018 Running Total: 59

Have you made any progress on your TBR or book challenges? What’s the longest book you’ve ever read?

Book Challenges- Week 19

 

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My 75-pound lapdog…

 

I didn’t finish a single book last week! Weird, right? I’m halfway through The Stand, and while I’m enjoying it, it’s one of the longest books I’ve ever read. I’m over halfway through, but I’m starting to think I’m going to be reading it forever. So, tune in next week, because I hope I’ll have it done by then!

Popsugar Challenge

(17/50)- No progress this week.

While I Was Reading Challenge

(4/12)- No progress this week

The Unread Shelf

Running Total: 3 Um… is that really all? I’m not doing so well on this one.

5 Classic Books

(0/5) I’ve started reading The Stand.

Miscellaneous Reading

None this week

Abandoned

None this week.

2018 Running Total: 53

Have you made any progress on your TBR or book challenges? What’s the longest book you’ve ever read?

Book Challenges- Week 18

I’ve gotten a bit off track with book challenges. It’s because when life is stressful, I basically stress consume books in the way other people might go for pizza. (Though, truthfully, I do that too.) But starting next week, I’m getting back on track. Actually, I’ve already started The Stand. Hopefully it won’t take me much longer than a week, but we’ll see. It’s an interesting book, but so loooonnnngg.

Popsugar Challenge

(17/50)

While I Was Reading Challenge

(4/12)- No progress this week

The Unread Shelf

Running Total: 3 Um… is that really all? I’m not doing so well on this one.

5 Classic Books

(0/5) No progress… I think I’d better get started.

Miscellaneous Reading

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Mr. Darcy’s Diary, by Amanda Grange (romance): This book is one of my secret pleasures. It’s like watching a bad movie while eating an entire bag of M&Ms. Not to say the book is bad; it isn’t. But it’s obviously a rip-off of Pride and Predjudice, focusing on the “good parts” with Elizabeth and Darcy but skipping over all the fluff in between. I usually end up reading this book when I need something mindless and enjoyable.

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I Hunt Killers, Game, Blood of My Blood, by Barry Lyga (YA mystery/ thriller): These books are a trilogy about Jasper Dent, the son of the world’s most prolific serial killer. He killed a known 126 before he was caught, and he was teaching his son everything he knew. Jasper didn’t want the legacy; he just wants to get through high school and not kill anyone. But when a series of murders happen in his small town, he believes he’s the only one who can catch the killer.

The first book started off slow. Not slow enough to stop, but I did think about it. I liked the characters enough to keep going, and once I hit a certain point, it was a thrill ride. Each of the three books is better than the last (which is rare for a trilogy). The second one required a bit more suspension of disbelief than the other two (one of the characters does some “too stupid to live” stuff), but I went with it. I loved the conclusion to the books, and if there was ever a book where grown up Jasper Dent becomes an FBI agent or something, I’d be all in.

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Lucky Day, Career Day, Neutral Mask, by Barry Lyga (YA): I included these separately becuase they’re short prequels to the I Hunt Killers trilogy. They’re not essential to the series, but if you’re like me and can’t get enough of characters you like, they’re worth reading. I got Lucky Day from the library (it’s a novella), but I had to join Wattpad to get the other two (they’re short stories). Of the three, I especially liked Neutral Mask, which is from Connie’s point of view.

Abandoned

None this week.

2018 Running Total: 53

Have you made any progress on your TBR or book challenges?

Do Happy Endings Exist?

 

IMG_1486For the most part, I prefer books with happy endings. I’m not opposed to a sad ending, but it has to be the right one.

I recently had a friend say to me that they prefer “hopeful” endings, and that makes a lot of sense. What’s the point if we don’t have hope?

A while ago, I read A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara. It is an amazing book, but it’s also horrifically sad. That’s not to say that it’s unrelentingly sad, but the ending is not a happy one.

It got me to thinking that where authors end the book makes the difference between a happy, hopeful ending, or a sad one.

A Little Life ebbs and flows with happiness and hope, where it seems like Jude will finally get the life he wanted, and devestatingly sad parts, the kind of sticky sad that stays with you and makes you question your own life.

If Yanagihara had ended the book during one of those upbeat, hopeful moments, it would be an entirely different book with a whole different meaning.

Books only tell the story of a slice of time. They don’t tell you what happens after, if the character suffered a tragedy. Romance novels often end with a marriage or proposal, but they don’t tell you if someone got cancer after they were married for a few years or if someone had an affair with an ex. Mystery novels end with the detective finding the criminal, but they don’t talk about the detective descending into alcoholism  or having a car accident which causes them never-ending back pain.

My point is that anything can happen when a story continues, and it won’t exclusively be happy or sad. Life is about the whole spectrum of emotional experience. My life is just a series of stories I tell myself (and others). Sometimes I don’t get to pick what happens in the story because sometimes life happens to me, but I get to pick the frame.

For example, I was recently supposed to go to a Taylor Swift concert in Arizona (I live in Texas). I didn’t get to go because I had a sick 17-year-old cat, and I was worried what would happen if I left. So I stayed, and my friends went to the concert without me. I looked at their pictures on Facebook and imagined what a great time I would have had with them. 😥

If the story ends there, it’s kind of a downer, right? But what if the end of the story has the sick cat making a full recovery? And knowing that my elderly cat is healthy today because I missed a concert? And that my husband agreed to go see Taylor Swift with me when she comes to Texas? Does it change the story?

I think it does. I like happy endings in fiction; I prefer them in real life too. Life has its ups and downs, just like fiction does. And just like in fiction, I can usually choose where to end that particular short story.

Related post: 10 Reasons I Love Happy Endings