January Book Haul

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This month, I picked up 4 books I’m really excited about–one from B&N, and the other three from a really cool local used bookstore I found the other day. Seriously, it was amazing–I can’t resist any bookstores that have separate science fiction and fantasy sections. That always bodes well for a book-hunting trip. So here’s what I found:

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders — this is one of the books I’m most excited to read this year. The first B&N I went to hadn’t put it on the shelves yet, but I was able to find it at another location. I’m intrigued by the premise of two friends taking different paths to study science and magic, then reuniting to (possibly?) save the world.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood — Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite writers, and I’ve been wanting to reread this book ever since I checked it out from my high school library. It’s disturbing and engrossing, like all of her books, and has a profound feminist impact.

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank — dystopian/post-apocalyptic reads are one of my favorite genres, and this comes highly recommended from a friend. It focuses on small-town life after a nuclear holocaust and was written in the 1950’s.

When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro — I’m currently reading Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, and I love his writing style that focuses heavily on the unreliable nature of memory. This book’s plot revolves around a detective attempting to solve the mystery of the disappearance of his parents that occurred when he was a child.

2016 Reading Challenges

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Reading challenges are a relatively new thing for me, but they’re something I’ve gotten more and more interested in the past few years. Last year I participated in quite a few, and even finished one or two of them (Goodreads Challenge and Read Harder 2015). I also started a lot of others without finishing, but still had fun trying. Let’s see what I can accomplish this year!

Goodreads challenge: read 50 books. This is lower than last year, when I shot for 60, because I’m planning on tackling a bunch of very long books this year and don’t want to feel pressured.

Colorful Covers Challenge 2016: I love this challenge, mainly because it ends up looking really pretty. Basically, you challenge yourself to read between one and three books (I tend to shoot for three) with covers in every color of the rainbow and also black, white, gray, brown, and multicolored.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Challenge: from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club on Goodreads, my challenge this year is to read 12 science fiction and/or fantasy books that this group selects to place on its shelf. I’m in the middle of my first book for this challenge, The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss.

2016 Goodreads Choice Awards Reading Challenge: this one’s from a group I’m in on Goodreads–I’m trying to read 20 of this past year’s Goodreads Choice Awards winners and nominees between this year and last year. I’m already at 14!

Book Riot Read Harder 2016 Challenge: I participated in the Read Harder 2015 challenge this past year through Book Riot, a fantastic book blog that I’m addicted to, and found it a really fun way to branch out in my reading. This year’s challenge looks a little more challenging, but I’m still definitely planning on completing it.

1. Read a horror book
2. Read a nonfiction book about science
3. Read a collection of essays
4. Read a book out loud to someone else
5. Read a middle-grade novel
6. Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography)
✓ 7. Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel
Enclave (Razorland, #1) by Ann Aguirre Enclave by Ann Aguirre
8. Read a book originally published in the decade you were born (1980’s)
9. Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award
10. Read a book over 500 pages long
11. Read a book under 100 pages
12. Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender
13. Read a book set in the Middle East
14. Read a book by an author from Southeast Asia
✓ 15. Read an historical fiction book set before 1900
The Passion by Jeanette Winterson The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
16. Read the first book in a series by a person of color
17. Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the past three years
18. Read a book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie. Debate which is better.
✓ 19. Read a nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
20. Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction)
21. Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction)
22. Read a food memoir
23. Read a play
24. Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness

2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge: There is no way that I will accomplish this challenge. There just isn’t. But hey, I’m going to give it a shot anyways.

⌷ A book based on a fairy tale
⌷ A national book award winner
⌷ A YA best seller
⌷ A book you haven’t read since high school
⌷ A book set in your home state
⌷ A book translated to English
⌷ A romance set in the future
⌷ A book set in Europe
⌷ A book that’s under 150 pages
⌷ A New York Times best seller
⌷ A book that’s becoming a movie this year
⌷ A book recommended by someone you just met
⌷ A self improvement book
⌷ A book you can finish in one day
⌷ A book written by a celebrity
⌷ A political memoir
⌷ A book at least 100 years older than you
⌷ A book that’s more than 600 pages
⌷ A book from Oprah’s Book Club
⌷ A science fiction nover
⌷ A book recommended by a family member
⌷ A graphic novel
⌷ A book that is published in 2016
⌷ A book with a protagonist that has your occupation
⌷ A book that takes place during Summer
⌷ A book and its prequel
⌷ A murder mystery
⌷ A book written by a comedian
⌷ A dystopian novel
⌷ A book with a blue cover
⌷ A book of poetry
⌷ The first book you see in a bookstore
⌷ A classic from the 20th century
⌷ A book from the library
⌷ An autobiography
⌷ A book about a road trip
⌷ A book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with
⌷ A satirical book
⌷ A book that takes place on an island
⌷ A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy

#BustleReads Challenge 2016: I probably will not finish this challenge, although I’m noticing that this overlaps a lot with last year’s Book Riot challenge…and a bunch of other challenges…according to the list, they actually did this on purpose, but maybe that’ll make it easier to finish. Although it’s not a high priority for me compared to the other challenges.

1. Read a book written by a woman under 25.
2. Read a book on non-Western history.
3. Read a book of essays.
4. Read a book about an indigenous culture.
5. Read a book before you see the movie
6. Read a YA book by an author of color
7. Read a book set in the Middle East
8. Read a book about women in war
9. Read a graphic novel written by a woman
10. Read a book about an immigrant or refugee to the US
11. Read a children’s book out loud
12. Reread your favorite book from childhood
13. Read a memoir from someone who identifies as LGBTQIA
14. Read a work of post-apocalyptic fiction written by a woman
15. Read a feminist sci-fi novel
16. Read the first book in a series you’ve never read
17. Read a book set in Africa by an author from Africa
18. Read a book in translation
19. Read a contemporary collection of poetry
20. Read a book by a modernist woman writer

What reading challenges are you participating in this year?

24 in 48 Reading Challenge

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At the last minute, I decided to participate in the 24 in 48 Reading Challenge this weekend, which turned out to be perfect since it snowed all day Sunday. The 24 in 48 Challenge is to read for 24 hours within a 48-hour period…and I totally did not achieve that, but I had a great time trying!

I actually don’t know how many hours I read total, since I wasn’t attempting to keep track–I kept the challenge more personal and just used the reading time as cozy, stress-free time to escape into great books. I also loved seeing what all the other challenge participants were reading, although I didn’t participate in any mini-challenges like I did for Bout of Books.

Books I finished: The Just City by Jo Walton

This was actually the first book I started in 2016, but I took a break in the middle of reading it because the storyline hit a lull. The premise is that the Greek goddess Athena has decided to carry out an experiment–to found a city based on the teachings of Plato, with citizens picked from different points in time who have each prayed to her. The citizens become the city’s founders, then teachers when children are brought in to craft into “philosopher kings” who are able to “become their best selves” by living according to Plato’s theories. It’s such an interesting premise that it’s hard to pull off as a book; for me, the story meandered a bit before really picking up partway through when Socrates is brought to the “Just City” and starts to question all of its premises. In the end, I found it really fascinating and thought-provoking, and will absolutely be looking for the sequel.

I read a little bit of: This is a Book by Demetri Martin

Honestly, this book is not great so far. I picked it up for a funny read since I like Demetri Martin’s stand-up, but it’s not really working for me. I’ll probably finish it at some point?

Books I started: The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

I loooove this so far! Kvothe is back and being very Kvothe-ish by constantly getting into trouble at the University and never having enough money to pay his tuition. There are so many mysteries in this series that I can’t wait to uncover, but at the same time I want to savor it for as long as possible since no one knows when book 3 will come out. This will definitely be my longest read of 2016 (unless I decide to tackle War and Peace this year, which I doubt, but you never know!) and I was able to read 400 pages during the challenge.

Now that the challenge is over, I’m anxious for more reading challenges and readathons–I’ve found they’re such a great way to get myself to relax and spend time reading. Does anyone know of any fun, timed reading challenges similar to 24 in 48, Dewey’s, and Bout of Books? Would love some suggestions!

Bout of Books Wrap-Up

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I’m so sad to be done with Bout of Books 15. I’m relatively new to reading challenges, but I absolutely love the extra reading motivation and sense of community. I was also SHOCKED at how much I was able to read for this challenge–even though it was a really crazy week for me, I don’t know if I’ve ever read this many books in a week.

Books completed during Bout of Books: 5

Books I read but didn’t finish: 2

Book Riot Read Harder 2016 Challenge tasks completed: 4

This was especially cool because I didn’t intend to blend Bout of Books with kicking off my 2016 Read Harder Challenge, but they fit together really well and got me off to a great start.

✓ 7. Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel – Enclave

✓ 15. Read an historical fiction book set before 1900 – The Passion

✓ 17. Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the past three years – Saga, Volume 5

✓ 19. Read a nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes – We Should All Be Feminists

Mini-Challenges entered: 3

Major Fail of the Challenge: I only read one book that is on my physical TBR shelf–the rest were library books, with one ebook. That was the total opposite of my goal for the challenge (and 2016 in general!). Now that the challenge is over, it’s time to hit that TBR shelf hard.

Favorite book I read during this challenge: The Passion by Jeanette Winterson. This was my first 5-star book of 2016, and I have a hard time imagining that I’ll read another book this year that can top it. Five-star reads are really rare for me–last year I only had 4 total. I’ll be posting my review soon, but the book’s been haunting me since I started it.

I’m really excited for the next Bout of Books, which goes down in May. Maybe I’ll try to beat my record from this round and read 6 books. Hope everyone is enjoying their reading!

 

 

Bout of Books Day 6: Updates and Mini-Challenge

My week has ended up being absolutely nuts, and I’m so glad that I’ve had such great books to look forward to to help keep me sane. On Saturday, I finally was able to make it to the library to restock on books for the weekend–I went into the challenge with too little preparation and didn’t expect to read as much as I have been. Next time, I’m definitely going to prepare better and make a stack of books ahead of time! At the library, I checked out:

I read Enclave by Ann Aguirre earlier in this challenge, and a dark, fast-paced YA dystopia was a really great genre to go with–so I got both sequels to check out. Enclave takes place mainly in the tunnels of the subway in post-apocalyptic New York City; it’s a closely written novel with a suffocating, immutable society of people at its heart that rapidly expands toward the end when the main character finally is expelled to the surface. I was skeptical of Outpost because it begins in a very different setting: a walled town that has reverted to pre-modern ways in order to protect itself from the damage done by the past, and where the characters I loved in Enclave have a hard time fitting in due to their violent ways. I read the first hundred pages of Outpost on Day 6, and was pleasantly surprised that the new premise is still working really well.

I also finished Saga: Volume 5 on Day 6! This brings the number of completed tasks for Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge up to 3, and it’s only the beginning of January. This next installment of Saga was absolutely fantastic–if you’re skeptical of graphic novels, like I used to be, I’d highly recommend this series as a starting point. It has humor, emotion, creativity, and beautiful artwork. I had actually really disliked the fourth volume, but Volume 5 brought it back to the amazingness I was used to, and now I’m anxious for Volume 6.

Mini-Challenge: The Comfy Reading Spot

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For this mini-challenge hosted by Once Upon a Chapter, here’s my comfy reading spot! When it’s not warm enough to read outside in the sunshine or on a beach, and not cold enough to read in a hot bath, I like to read curled up on my couch.

I’m loving this reading challenge and excited for Day 7.

Most Anticipated Books of 2016

I’m still going strong with Bout of Books (despite the fact that this week has been absolutely insane!), but I’m taking a brief pause with the updates for a very important post that I need to make before we get too far into the new year: my most anticipated books of 2016! I feel like there are fewer books that I genuinely can’t wait for this year compared to last year, but there are still a decent number of books that I am ridiculously excited for. Here they are!

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (out on Jan 26th)- I discovered io9.com a few years ago, and it’s become a major source of science fiction and fantasy book recommendations for me, thanks to editor-in-chief Charlie Jane Anders. I haven’t read any of her fiction yet, but this book sounds like an intriguing and relevant hybrid of genres centered on best friends whose paths have been divided into magic and technology and who have to reunite to help alter their world.

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin (out on Aug 16) – N.K. Jemisin is one of my absolute favorite fantasy authors. She’s unique, and her books have immense emotional power as well as unfathomably impressive worldbuilding. Her book The Fifth Season was one of my favorites of 2015, and since its first sentence announced the end of the world, I’m anxious to see how its sequel will explain and expand on the apocalypse. It’s hard to discuss this one without revealing spoilers, but I’m especially excited to see how she handles what will hopefully be an expanded role for the rock/human beings we met in the first volume of the trilogy.

Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt (published January 5th) – Samantha Hunt is being compared to Kelly Link, one of my favorite writers, for her new novel, which sounds like a combination of ghost story and family saga with dual narratives. I’m a huge sucker for genre-benders, and can’t wait to see if this is as unique as I hope it will be.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (out on May 3rd) – this is the sequel to last year’s A Court of Thorns and Roses, a mishmash of fairy-tale retelling and fae lore that I had no idea I would enjoy so much. To summarize (SPOILER ALERT) Feyre, a huntress who detests the fae for what they’ve done to the human lands, falls for Tamlin, a fae lord, without meaning to, and then ends up rescuing him from an evil queen. In doing so, she strikes a bargain with the mysterious fae lord Rhysand, who was probably the most entertaining part of the first book–and who, it seems, is going to feature heavily in book 2. I’m thinking love triangle? I love a good YA love triangle…I know a lot of people are tired of them, but when they’re done well, it’s a huge guilty pleasure for me.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (out on September 22nd, no cover yet) – why isn’t this book out sooner??? Six of Crows was one of the most ridiculously fun YA books I’ve read in years, and it ended on a huge cliffhanger. While I love each of the six central characters, I really can’t wait to hear more from emotionally damaged, brilliant Kaz, leader of their criminal team.

Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews (out on September 27th, no cover  yet) – apparently September is going to be an awesome reading month! Kate Daniels is one of my favorite series, and this ninth volume is going to be the crescendo leading up to what I can only anticipate will be a monumental showdown in book 10 between Kate and her godlike father, Roland. Andrews’ characters are realistic and likable in the face of a hostile world torn between magic and technology, and Kate and Curran have become one of my all-time favorite book couples for their unwavering support of each other.

I’m sure there are more amazing books coming out this  year, but these are the ones I’m currently obsessing over. What are you most excited to read in 2016?

Bout of Books Day 3 Update and Mini-Challenge

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It’s Day 3 of Bout of Books and, even though in my last post I mentioned that I was attempting to avoid the library and knock books off of my TBR pile instead, I did hit the library today. (Oops.) I was looking for Volume 5 of Saga, and was extremely disappointed that it wasn’t there even though the library web site promised me it was–I hate it when that happens! So I requested it and hopefully it’ll be in before the challenge ends.
To help cope with my disappointment in not finding Saga, I checked out this YA book that was recommended to me by an author I follow on Goodreads:
Enclave (Razorland, #1)
It’s a dark, post-apocalyptic type of read, which I haven’t read in awhile and definitely fits my reading mood. So far I really like the gritty tone and the protagonist, although I hate that her name is Deuce. Seriously? Deuce? The author couldn’t have picked literally any other name at all?
Mini-Challenge 3: Rainbows!
For this challenge, I made a book rainbow with a few of my more colorful book covers:
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For part 2 of the challenge, here’s an acrostic of ROYGBIV with some of my favorite authors (except for Banana Yoshimoto–I haven’t read anything by her yet, but I’m really interested in her book The Lake, which sounds intriguing.).
R – Rowell, Rainbow
O – Orwell, George
Y – Yoshimoto, Banana
G – Gaiman, Neil
B – Byrne, Monica
I – Ishiguro, Kazuo
V – Vandermeer, Jeff
Happy reading to everyone!