Geekettes’ Book Challenge: July Updates

Welcome back to the Geekette’s Reading Challenge! Want to see how far we’ve come since last month? Need to get ideas for those last few tough categories, like “a book by someone under 30”? Read on below!

bookChalJulKaylaKayla’s Achievements

A funny book — Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling — I expected this book to be funny and cute, but nothing that stands out. I was wrong. This book of essays was hilarious and unbelievably relevant to things going on in my life.

A book of short stories — M is For Magic by Neil Gaiman — This little collection was awesome! It included a chapter from Graveyard Book, some poetry, and a noir about nursery rhyme creatures.

A book that made you cry — Fables vol. 20: Camelot by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham — I’m sure to most people, this was a really enjoyable volume of a great comic book series. However, my favorite character was murdered. I have been reading this series for almost ten years, so I am very attached to my favorite characters. When that character died, I cried myself to sleep. Twice. And then stopped reading the book for several months. The second half of the volume was pretty good.

A book you own but have never read — The Double Life of Incorporate Things by Leanna Renee Hieber — This is the third book in Ms. Hieber’s Magic Most Foul trilogy. It was everything I had hoped it would be.

A book written by an author with your same initials — The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler — This book is told from the perspective of the book club. For example, “we knew she…” It was bizarre. Once I got over the storytelling format, I enjoyed the book, but I didn’t love it. I am curious to see the movie though.

BookChalJulyMeganMegan’s Achievements

With 29 categories to go I’ve decided to count things for one or two categories (instead of double-counting everything) because otherwise my entire reading list would be proscribed by what categories I had left to fill. Plus I have so many books from BEA that I am desperate to read that for this month I chose to read what I wanted, and then find categories after the fact. I also read one book this month that didn’t fit any category but I wanted to mention because I enjoyed it so much: Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt. Set in Georgia, it’s a teen romance about an undocumented girl from Mexico who falls in love with a senator’s nephew, and I highly recommend it.

A book with magic — Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older — You can read my full review of Shadowshaper here but in a nutshell, it’s about a girl named Sierra who suddenly finds out that there was a lot more to her grandfather’s old group of friends than just old men sitting around and talking. There are spirits, art, and some creepy moments, set against the backdrop of New York City’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. If you want to know more, read the full review, but mostly know that I highly recommend this book.

A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet — all about love: new visions by bell hooks — I feel like I have now been on a multi-year slow binge of everything bell hooks, and I’m still not tired of it. The first book I read by her was remembered rapture, which was about writing, and I fell in love with hooks’ essays. all about love may fall on the more spiritual side of some of her writing, but if you’re not someone uncomfortable reading about others’ spirituality, I highly recommend all about love. She explores different kinds of love chapter by chapter, and challenges the notion that the family you’re born into must be the only kind of family you have.

A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit — All We Have Is Now by Lisa Schroeder — This falls into that strange YA niche of books about the impending apocalypse–and yes, I say niche because it’s not the first book of its type that I have read (Armageddon Summer, cowritten by Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville, is the one I always think of). All We Have Is Now takes an interesting approach to it though, with the protagonists being two kids who have run away from home and are living on the streets together when news of this impending apocalypse hits, and they have to choose how to spend their remaining time on earth. With hours left, they are gifted a wallet full of money, along with a request: make someone else’s wish come true. And the book is set in Portland, OR, which is why it fulfilled this category.

bookChalJulyCarlyCarly’s Achievements

A book by someone under 30 –– Poison Tree by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes — Born in 1984, Amelia published her first novel when she was fourteen years old. Poison Tree is her thirteenth novel, published in 2012, when she was 28. It’s part of the Den of Shadows universe, so if you haven’t read the other books you may be a little lost but it does stand alone with some new characters. I love Amelia’s work, and her young start makes her so inspiring.

A Pulitzer Prize-winning book — Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri — This 2000 winner of the Pulitzer prize is a collection of short stories about Indian life. Whether the story takes place on the Asian sub-continent or in America, each one painstakingly brings to life its characters, detailing their emotions, mannerisms, and experiences. Some of the stories describe adapting to a new life in America, while others describe a feelings of malaise in a young married couple, a mistress to a rich Indian man, a tour bus driver guiding Americans through his country. I probably would have never picked it up if it weren’t for this challenge, but it is a very beautifully written piece of literature, if at times a little depressing. With this book, I complete my New Year’s pledge to read at least fifteen diverse books this year!

A book your mom loves — The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger — I remember seeing this book sitting on my mom’s desk years ago, and hearing her talk about how great it was. I made a mental note to check it out and added it to my goodreads shelf, forgetting it until the time came to download a new audio book. I found the plot very interesting at times, slow at others, and sometimes rather distressing (the whole last third of the book is quite depressing). It’s famous for it’s romance, but I’m most interested in the questions it raises and explores about time travel and the unique perspective or alternating between the one who travels and the one who is left behind.

A book based entirely on its cover — City of Fae by Pippa DaCosta — When I first saw a picture of this book on fliers at a BEA blogger and author meetup, I was immediately struck by its cover.  Vivid fuchsia and turquoise hues depict a young woman ensared in a spider’s web in front of a foggy London skyline. The word “fae” in the title sealed the deal, as I love all things faerie. Without even reading a description, I knew I wanted to read this book. In fact, I’m not the only one who found the cover so enticing; it won an e-book cover design award in May. You can read my full review of the book here.

A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t — Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury — This category kind of stumped me because I actually read every novel that was assigned in English class (there were, of course, scholarly articles I skipped in other subjects in college, but I don’t think those count). I decided instead to pick a book that I think should have been in our curriculum, but wasn’t. Fahrenheit 451 is a classic dystopian work that focuses on the themes of anti-censorship and the value of knowledge and learning. Both of these themes, I think, are very appropriate to discuss in a high-school English class.

BookChalJulySarahSarah’s Achievements

A book my mom loves — The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah — You can read the full review my mom and I co-wrote here, but the gist of it is this: GO AND READ THIS BOOK. RIGHT NOW.

A book based entirely on its cover — Nightfall by Jake Halpern — this book looked really interesting and spooky. There are eerie, dark trees almost engulfing a lit clearing that contains three bodies. I was ready for action and adventure. How could a tagline like “After fourteen years of day. Comes fourteen years of night. Don’t get left behind,” not be amazing. But I wasn’t gripping the edge of my seat as the back cover promised I would be.

A funny book — Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology by Cory O’Brien — If you’re at all interested in mythology, and have a slightly twisted sense of humor, you will love this book. O’Brien goes from the Greek to Juedo-Christian to The United States of America all in this short 300-page book. Written as if it were the myths themselves, O’Brien leaves no opportunity for sarcasm untouched. Obviously, there is a lot of sex involved in mythology, so this is not a book to recommend to the young. However, it is a book that I will probably find myself going back to time and time again for a good laugh and a sense of relief that someone wrote everyone’s feelings on myths in a book.

A book you can finish in a day — George by Alex Gino — This book. I read it in just over an hour and let me tell you I almost cried. I found it to be a tad too happy for my taste, but it’s for children, so I guess that comes with the territory. George is a girl, knows she’s a girl, refers to herself as “she” and “her” but everyone around her sees her as a boy, and the words “boy” and “man” are constantly thrown in her face. She feels scared and alone, and it’s only with time and secrets being discovered that she realizes who she is and what she’s capable of. It’s an incredibly uplifting story, and it is the beginning of a much larger conversation people of our generation need to have with the younger generation.

BookChalJulyDebbieDebbie’s Achievements

A book written by someone under 30 — The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey — As the author’s first first book, The Girl at Midnight is fresh and vibrant. The main character Echo is a badass human who quotes famous authors such as Tolkien and Frost.

A mystery or thriller — The Mask by Taylor Stevens –Stevens is a master at the thriller genre. Unlike others of this type, his stories stand out and are truly memorable. The Mask is the sixth in this series and even if you’ve never read the other books, Stevens gives enough background to allow the newbies to the series to pick right up on the story, but also without boring the people like me who have read her since the beginning. She has created a very strong female character who’s also one hell of a detective. It’s a great series; give it a try.

A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit — Half Wild by Sally Green — The sequel to Half Bad, this book takes place all over Europe, but the better part of the story takes place in Scotland, a place I would truly love to visit. Half Wild took some surprising turns. This story is gritty and violent, but it’s also deeply emotional. The characters are round, they have a depth of emotions that makes them feel realistic. The dialogue has a realism that’s very surprising in a fantasy novel. I wasn’t too sure when I read Half Bad, but after reading Half Wild I am completely sold.

A popular author’s first book — Shadow and Bone  by Leigh Bardugo — This book is the first in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy. I couldn’t put this one down. The story moved along building with each new discovery. Shadow and Bone is high fantasy set in the middle of a war. The war has left many orphans and two of them are Mal and Alina. Their story begins in an orphanage where they become inseparable friends. Shadow and Bone reminded me of the Graceling series, with the magic and the world building. I appreciated the explanation of “The Science” in the story, it really helped to know what was going on in the book. I’m looking forward to reading Siege and Storm and to what happens next to Alina and Mal.

A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t — The Pearl by John Steinbeck –Beautifully written, but extremely sad.

A Memoir — Night written by Eli Wiesel — Eli Wiesel was saved from a concentration camp unlike his mother, father, and younger sister. He has written many books and made many appearances in his life since, but this one perspective is that of a young, scared young man, facing death every minute of every day to the extent that he would even abandon his ailing father. Night reminds us of the circumstances that began the Holocaust and the atrocities that happened and in doing so Wiesel hopes this is a way of ensuring that it will never happen again. May we never forget.

A book you can finish in a day — You’ll Understand When You’re Dead by Michele Bardsley –This book was a really quick read. You’ll Understand is simply adorable. It was fun and funny and definitely a great summer read.

A trilogy — Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo — I’ve mentioned two of this trilogy’s books earlier, now it’s time for the final book. This third book is everything you would want out of the series finale. Alina, Mal, Nikolai, The Darkling, and all the rest of the Grisha are characters crafted so well, that you forgive their flaws or maybe you don’t but, it’s not because they’re outlandish or so evil they never could exist . This is a fantasy, with characters you can fall in love with, even the “villain.” The Darkling has depths that can make him a sympathetic character while still remaining a murderous monster. Ruin and Rising has all the action and romance of the first two books, but provides the backstory you really need to bring this story to its conclusion.

A book with a love triangle — Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica — This book is a fun-filled seafaring adventure, set in an unknown time. The story begins present time in San Francisco with Sophie a 24 year old woman who has been stalking her birth mother for about a month, when one night she sees a woman she’s believes may be her aunt and she follows the woman down a dark alley where she is attacked. Sophie jumps in to help the woman, but is somehow swept up into another time and place. Her adventure begins here where no one speaks any recognizable languages, and she finds her Aunt Gale whom she has never met. You see Sophie was given up for adoption as an infant and since it was a closed adoption she had no knowledge of her natural parents. She’s a very determined and curious person, and she was defiantly determined to find her birth mother and possibly her birth father. What she gets is so much more than what she bargained for when she started her search.

A book set in the future — Fairest by Marissa Meyer — This book is a back story for Queen Levana in the Lunar Chronicles. Okay, Levana is officially a horror. It might have been a family trait, something she came by honestly, because her parents weren’t necessarily evil, but certainly neglectful, but her sister was truly evil. You’ll find out what passed between the sisters for Levana to finally murder her niece Selene, also known as Cinder.

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