Friday, March 9, 2018


Even though I'm no longer teaching, the YALSA Hub Reading Challenge is still one of my favorites. I read more adult literature these days, but I will always hold a special place in my heart for YA. 

Here's the lowdown: 
Pick 25 (or more if you're like me) award-winning 2017 YA reads from this sortable list
Add a comment here to sign up.
Share your progress on the monthly check-in posts. 
Use #hubchallenge on your social media posts.
Once you've read 25 titles, fill out the wrap-up form to be entered into a drawing for a bag of YA books. (I've never won, but there's always this year!)

Friday, January 26, 2018

24 in 48 Readathon - January 2018

Oh, hey. Hi there. It's me again. Just dropping another itsy, bitsy readathon right here.

This isn't my first 24 in 48 Readathon. I don't generally bother too much with the challenges or prizes because it interferes with the reading. 

The community is great, though. I enjoy tracking my reading time and challenging myself to squeeze in a few more pages, even if I don't post much. I'll be reading along with the official Eastern Time Zone schedule (midnight on Friday, January 26 - midnight on Sunday, January 28). 

Here's my little gray cat giving our tiny TBR her approval. 

I also just started using Libby, an app that makes it super easy to connect to your local library and download ebooks and audiobooks. I may dive into one of my holds if I get the urge. 

I didn't think I'd enjoy reading books on my phone, but it's actually quite convenient. Check out the free app here.

Ready, set, 

Saturday, January 27
Hour 6 Challenge: Oldest book on your shelves
The oldest book I have is Lad, A Dog by Albert Payson Terhune. Published in 1919. It's one of many books that have been passed down in my family. It's been in my collection since I was about ten years old.

Hour 12 Challenge: Best first line from your stack
"Eva Nine was dying." --from The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerrlizzi

Hour 18 Challenge: Favorite book-to-screen adaptation
This was hard to narrow down, so I did my top three.
1. The Princess Bride
2. Stardust
3. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

Books started:
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty 406 pages/9 hours, 38 minutes
The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerrlizzi 204 pages/1 hour, 55 minutes
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 84 pages/59 minutes
Pages read: 694
Time read:12 hours, 32 minutes

Sunday, January 28
 Hour 30 Challenge: Longest owned, but not read
Saving the World by Amy Tan

Hour 36 Challenge: Literal Bookends
Since I'm an alphabetical organizer, the first book on my fiction shelves is Laika by Nick Abadzis and the last is I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak

Books started: 
The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman 125 pages/2 hours, 25 minutes
Books finished:
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty 74 pages/1 hour, 27 minutes
The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi 308 pages/5 hours, 5 minutes
Pages Read: 507
Time Read: 8 hours, 57 minutes

Total books started: 4
Total books finished: 2
Total Pages: 1301
Total time: 21 hours, 29 minutes

Oh, well, maybe next time I'll get there.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

POPSUGAR 2018 Reading Challenge

POPSUGAR 2018 Reading Challenge

This one's just for fun. If you need a little motivation to jumpstart your reading routine, check out the 2018 Reading Challenge via POPSUGAR.

A book made into a movie you've already seen
The Martian by Andy Weir (Astronaut Mark Watney, presumed dead in a dust storm, is left on Mars when the rest of the crew evacuates. He fights to survive until (if) help arrives. His journal entries are hilarious. Great mix of humor and adventure.)

True crime
The next book in a series you started
A book involving a heist
Nordic noir
A novel based on a real person

A book set in a country that fascinates you
The Year of Living Danishly: My Twelve Months Unearthing the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country by Helen Russell (A light and breezy travel memoir about a couple that moves to a rural town in Denmark. Though it oozes privilege, there is some discussion about how critical a strong social safety net is to happiness.)

A book with a time of day in the title
A book about a villain or antihero
A book about death or grief
A book with your favorite color in the title

A book with alliteration in the title
Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff (Gossipy and snarky behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of a truly dysfunctional administration.)

A book about time travel
A book with a wether element in the title
A book set at sea

A book with an animal in the title
Lion by Saroo Brierly (An Indian boy gets lost, adopted, and finds his way home.)

A book set on a different planet
A book with song lyrics in the title
A book about or set on Halloween

A book with characters who are twins
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (Opens with a murder investigation and then jumps back to gradually reveal the murder, the victim, and how their paths collide.)

A book with a female author who uses a male pseudonym 
A book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist
A book that is also a stage play or musical

A book by an author of a different ethnicity than you
The Vegetarian by Han Kang (If you’re up for a dark tale of violence, sexual obsession, and mental illness, this is for you.)

A book about feminism
A book about mental health

A book you borrowed or that was given to you as a gift
Human Acts by Han Kang (Historical fiction centered around atrocities committed during a student uprising-turned massacre in Gwangju, South Korea in 1980 and the ongoing trauma in the aftermath.)

A book by two authors
Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Erin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik (Conversational and informative introduction of a truly badass woman. RBG's incredible work ethic is matched only by her integrity and intellect.)

A book about or involving a sport
A book by a local author
A book mentioned in another book
A book from a celebrity book club
A childhood classic you've never read
A book that's published in 2018
A past Goodreads Choice Awards winner
A book set in the decade you were born

A book you meant to read in 2017 but didn't get to
Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (Unrelenting psychological horror that I read in a single, breathless rush. Weird and wonderful.)

A book with an ugly cover
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez (Billed as a love story, but I read it as an obsession story heavily steeped in rape culture. Absolutely gorgeous writing but not my cup of tea.)

A book that involves a bookstore or library
Your favorite prompt from the 2015, 2016, or 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenges


A bestseller from the year you graduated high school
A cyberpunk book

A book that was being read by a stranger in a public place
The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman (Lovely narrative nonfiction about Antonina Zabianski and her husband, Jan. They hid Jewish people in their zoo during the Nazi occupation of Poland.) 

A book tied to your ancestry
A book with a fruit or vegetable in the title
An allegory
A book by an author with the same first or last name as you
A microhistory
A book about a problem facing society today
A book recommended by someone else taking the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

Reading Women Challenge - 2018


As always, I'll be participating in a wide variety of readathons and reading challenges this year. The overarching theme of my reading in 2018 will be to buy and read books by women / POC / LGBTQ+ authors and do my small part of amplifying voices that have been marginalized for too long. The Reading Women Challenge provides an excellent framework for a year of empowering and informative reading. 

If you're on Twitter, tweet your progress at #WomenReadingChallenge.
Eyes need a break? Find links to the podcast here.

1. A book by a woman in translation (bonus if also translated by a woman) 
Human Acts by Han Kang (Historical fiction centered around atrocities committed during a student uprising-turned massacre in Gwangju, South Korea in 1980 and its aftermath. Not of the faint of heart.) ☆☆☆☆

2. A fantasy novel written by a woman of color 
The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana (Indian mythology and a lush, vibrant setting. ) ☆☆☆☆

3. A book set in the American South 
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (Lush, lyrical writing about a woman of color on a hero's journey of self-discovery.) ☆☆☆☆⭒

4. A short story collection
5. A graphic novel or memoir
6. A book published by an independent press
7. A book set in Russia or by a Russian author

8. A book with an immigrant or a refugee viewpoint character
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (A beautifully written love story from and immigrant perspective, filled with perceptive observations about race and culture.) ☆☆☆☆

9. A book by an Australian or a Canadian author 
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (An all-too-real dystopian future in which religious zealots have taken over the US.) ☆☆☆☆

10. An essay collection
11. A book about someone with a chronic illness

12. A true crime book
The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich (ALL THE TRIGGER WARNINGS. As an idealistic young lawyer, the author is forced to confront her own traumatic memories of childhood sexual abuse as she reviews the case of a child molester/murderer. I was riveted.) ☆☆☆☆

13. A book by an African American woman about Civil Rights
14. A classic novel written by a woman (bonus points if not Austen or a Brontë)
15. A poetry collection
16. A book where the characters are traveling somewhere

17. A book with a food item in the title 
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See (Well-researched historical fiction about an isolated tribe and China's tea trade.) ☆☆☆☆⭒

18. A book written by a female Nobel Prize winner
19. A book from the Reading Woman Award 2017 shortlists
20. A memoir by someone who lives in a country different from yours

21. A book inspired by a fairytale
Uprooted by Naomi Novik (A must-read for fantasy lovers. Dragon, the wizard tasked with protecting the kingdom from the malevolent and magical Wood, takes a village girl every ten years. Agnieszka is prepared for her best friend to be taken, but soon finds things getting way worse than she could have imagined. Inventive and magical.) ☆☆☆☆

22. A book by a local author or recommended by your local bookstore
23. The book that has been on your TBR the longest

24. A book in a genre you have never read 
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (Speculative Fiction set in a future destroyed by out-of-control bioengineering and corporate greed.) ☆☆☆☆

25. A book by Virginia Woolf
26. A book by Flannery O'Connor

Book Riot's 2018 Read Harder Challenge


Upping my reading game for the 2018 Read Harder Challenge 

  1. A book published posthumously
  2. A book of true crime The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale ★★★ (Meticulously researched tale of a murder and its aftermath.)
  3. A classic of genre fiction (i.e. mystery, sci fi/fantasy, romance)
  4. A comic written and drawn by the same person
  5. A book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, or South Africa)
  6. A book about nature
  7. A western
  8. A comic written or illustrated by a person of color
  9. A book of colonial or postcolonial literature
  10. A romance novel by or about a person of color
  11. A children’s classic published before 1980
  12. A celebrity memoir
  13. An Oprah Book Club selection
  14. A book of social science
  15. A one-sitting book Frontier Grit: The Unlikely True Stories of Daring Pioneer Women by Marianne Monson ★★★★★ (Profiles of twelve women who made a difference in their pioneer communities.) 
  16. The first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerrlizzi ★★★★ (Eva Nine has been raised in an underground bunker, cared for by a robot she calls MUTHR. She finally gets her wish to explore the wider world, but that world is not at all what she's imagined.)
  17. A sci fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood ★★★★ (The God’s Gardeners have long predicted that a waterless flood will wash away all but the faithful. When that flood comes, Toby and Ren, former members, find a way to survive. Since this is Atwood, life is horrible for everyone in this post-apocalyptic future, but she also helpfully highlights the many ways in which women have it SO MUCH WORSE.)
  18. A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image
  19. A book of genre fiction in translation
  20. A book with a cover you hate MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood  ★★★★ (The final installment in a trilogy in which a ragtag group of survivors begin the work of rebuilding civilization after a man-made pandemic. The cartoony cover was not a good fit.)
  21. A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author
  22. An essay anthology The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman ★★★★ (A collection of nonfiction pieces including essays, introductions, album liner notes, and speeches covering a wide swath of topics. Especially good if you can listen to the audiobook, read by the author.)
  23. A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60
  24. An assigned book you hated (or never finished)

Bout of Books 21 (January 8-14)

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins at 12:01 am on Monday, January 8 and runs through Sunday, January 14 in your time zone. Participation is low pressure and challenges and giveaways are completely optional. Visit the Bout of Books blog for official info and updates.

Totally wingin' it on this one. Let's see how it goes!

Starting by switching between three books because each (for different reasons) is hard to handle all at once.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff

Monday, January 8
Introduce yourself #insixwords
Lavender farmer - loves books, cats, popcorn.

Tuesday, January 9
Share your 2018 reading goals #2018readinggoals
Read 200 books
Buy and read mostly books by women and POC authors

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Mainly dismissed when it was published in 1937, the book was rediscovered in the 1970s when Alice Walker wrote about her quest to find, and put a marker on, Hurston’s unmarked grave.

“Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches.”

There isn’t a whole lot of action, except for the last few chapters, as the story is focused on Janie’s inner life, on her quest for personal growth, on finding her own voice. 

Raised by Nanny, who wants to see her future safe and secure before she dies, Janie is hustled into marriage to a wealthy old man. She tries to make the marriage work, but feels nothing for her husband. Before long, a stylish man passes through town and catches her attention. He’s got big dreams and wants her to run away with him. Without bothering to divorce her first husband, she does. 

“The morning road air was like a new dress. That made her feel the apron tied around her waist. She untied it and flung it on a low bush beside the road and walked on, picking flowers and making a bouquet.” 

Jody insists on putting Janie on a pedestal, keeping her separate and protected from anyone but him. His jealousy and need to control her chafes at Janie. She wants to experience life, not sit in a glass display case, admired but unheard. 

“All dis bowin’ down, all dis obedience under yo’ voice—dat ain’t whut Ah rushed off down de road tuh find out about you.”

Finally, Janie finds a life partner in her third husband, Tea Cake. She tells her friend, Pheoby, “Dis ain’t no business proposition, and no race after property and titles. Dis is a love game. Ah done lived Grandma’s way, now Ah means tuh live mine.”

Though Janie never gets her happily-ever-after ending, her journey brings her full circle, where she finds herself.

Read it slowly. This is one to savor.

Wednesday, January 10
My rainbow consists of books by women. Some I've read and loved; some I hope to read and love this year.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
This is my favorite of Atwood's novels.  Set in a dystopian society where right wing religious fanatics have taken over the government, it provides a chilling reminder about why it is so necessary to separate church and state.  

In a time when fertility rates have dramatically fallen, young women who have previously had children are prized as breeders, but have absolutely no rights.  The story is told by Offred, a woman who has been separated from her husband and young daughter and given to a childless married couple.  The monthly babymaking ceremony is absolutely revolting, made even worse by the bible reading that accompanies a glorified rape.

The most frightening aspect of this novel is how easy it was for fundamentalists to take over the country.

Every time I reread this, Atwood’s chilling vision seems closer to current reality. 

“Better never means better for everyone. It always means worse, for some.”

Friday, January 12
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
4.5 stars. Gorgeous writing and comprehensive research. I learned quite a bit about the tea industry. 

Li-Yan is a member of the Akha, one of many Chinese minority tribes. Her tiny village is remote and the people eke out a living by picking tea leaves. A stranger arrives from the modern world, in search of the rare Pu’er tea made by her mother from the leaves of an ancient tree that has been cared for by the women of her family for generations. 

She falls in love with a boy of whom her parents do not approve and ends up pregnant and unmarried. According to the tribe’s traditions, her child should be killed immediately after birth. Instead, Li-Yan gives birth to a daughter in the secret grove. She leaves the baby in a cardboard box in front of an orphanage, a tea cake made from the leaves of the ancient mother tree tucked into the swaddling. 

By the time she returns to the orphanage, the baby (renamed Haley) has been adopted and sent to California with her new family. 

Tea plays a foundational role in the lives of both mother and daughter as they wonder about each other and search for a reconnection that may never come.

Saturday, January 13
Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam #1) by Margaret Atwood
MaddAddam trilogy, book one. 

In a world destroyed by bioengineering and corporate greed gone mad, Snowman appears to be the last man on Earth. He tells his story through a combination of flashbacks and his interactions with the Children of Crake. These genetically-engineered beings are the new humans, created by Snowman’s lifelong friend, Crake, in an attempt to usher in an era of peace. 

As in Atwood’s other speculative fiction, this is a world that is eerily close to the path we’re already on.

Sunday, January 14
Didn't finish anything today. Reading in progress included in final stats:
Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff (275 0f 336 pages read)
The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam #2) by Margaret Atwood (218 of 431 pages read)
The Vegetarian by Han Kang (125 of 188 pages read)

Books started:7
Books finished: 4
Pages read: 1,950

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Welcome to #ReadersCrossing, the latest reading challenge from Aentee over at one of my favorite bookish blogs, Read at Midnight. It's inspired by Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, a charming free app available on IOS and Android. Pick a path (Cute, Cool, Sporty, or Natural) and start reading your way around the board. The challenge runs from December 10, 2017-December 31, 2017. Head over to #ReadersCrossing Sign Up Post for full details and to sign up to join in the fun.

Though I tend not to stick to a TBR, here's my initial plan. I'll be starting on the CUTE path.



GRAPHIC NOVEL: Beowulf by Gareth Hinds
(2 EXP)
The artwork in this graphic novel adaptation is absolutely gorgeous. The story as a whole (words and pictures combined) was easy to follow and definitely makes the story more accessible to younger readers. 
I found the large blocks of exposition a bit disappointing. They felt more like the summaries you might find in CliffsNotes and lost much of the beauty of the poetry.

PINK COVER: Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina
(3 EXP)
In vignettes based on her jail diary and courtroom transcripts, peppered with song lyrics, Masha describes Pussy Riot’s two minute protest at Moscow’s central cathedral and the two years of prison time that followed. 

“Power built on totalitarian principles cannot admit its mistakes. To admit a mistake is to show weakness, to back down. To lose. This power sees conspiracy everywhere behind its back, so it lives with its head turned backwards, checking that no one is following it, that no one is dreaming up a revolution.”

During her time in two different women’s penal colonies, she continued to resist, standing up for basic human rights and shining a light on desperate conditions that she and her fellow prisoners faced every day. 

Now more than ever, citizens have the responsibility to pay attention and to speak out. “Freedom doesn’t exist unless you fight for it every day.”

MAIN ROMANTIC PLOT: Month of Sundays by Yolanda Wallace
(3 EXP)
I don’t read much romance, but I enjoyed this light, breezy read. 

After a bad break-up, Rachel’s friends fix her up on a blind date with sexy celebrity chef Griffin. Rachel isn’t sure she wants another relationship, but Griffin persuades Rachel to spend the next six months of Sundays exploring local New York restaurants in a sort of culinary trip around the world. (One of the benefits of living in a big city is having access to diverse food.)

I liked the way their relationship evolved. The most awkward part was trying to visualize the sex scenes when both characters were “she/her.” I kept having to go back and reread to keep track of who was on top!

MIDDLE GRADE: Doll Bones by Holly Black
(2 EXP)
Zach, Alice, and Poppy have grown up together playing imaginative role-playing games with their dolls. Now that they are 12, Zach feels pressure to act more like one of the guys. His dad escalates the situation by throwing away Zach’s action figures, characters in a long-running game between the three friends. Zach feels hurt and betrayed, sure that the only solution is to focus on sports and leave his friends behind. 

But before he realizes what is happening, he’s been dragged along on a quest to return a creepy china doll to her grave. The creepy-but-not-gory vibe will keep middle grade readers turning pages, wondering if the doll is really haunting the children, or if Poppy herself is behind the mysterious happenings. 

A perfect book for middle grade readers—lovely writing, atmospheric and creepy, but without being too scary.

CONTEMPORARY: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
(3 EXP)
Marin, a college freshman, is spending winter break alone in an empty dorm. No one from home has heard a word from her since she left at the end of summer. Now her best friend/former girlfriend is flying from California to New York to visit her and Marin knows they will have to talk about what happened the day her grandfather died. 

The writing is gorgeous and evocative. Marin’s grief and loneliness is palpable and reflected in the cold New York winter and her bare dorm room.

That's it for the cute path. Five books / 1079 pages / 13 EXP
I'll just keep going to see how far I can make it around the board.



CONTEMPORARY: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
(3 EXP)
See above (on the CUTE path) for review.

WRITTEN BY A CELEBRITY: You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson
(3 EXP)
I was familiar with Phoebe Robinson from her podcast, 2 Dope Queens, which she does with “werk wife” Jessica Williams. They’re hilarious, FYI. 

Some people will be turned off by this book in written form, as the tone is extremely casual and liberally peppered with hashtags and text message abbreviations. As I’m from the last generation to come of age before the Internet was a thing, I knew enough to pick this up in audiobook. 

A mix of personal and political, silly and serious, Robinson uses humor and lots of pop culture references to talk about the micro-aggressions she experiences every day as a black woman in America. Some of the book is about the politics of natural hair and why you shouldn’t touch it. She goes on to talk about serious topics like racism, privilege, and coded language. 

She ends with letters to her bi-racial niece about honoring both sides of her identity. Included in this section is a letter written and read by John Hodgeman, apparently the whitest white guy ever. To be honest, that bit about Mr. Rogers might have made me tear up just a little. 

This isn’t a perfect book, but Robinson adds to a timely and important conversation that more of us need to engage in. And if you’re the type of white person who would EVER walk up to a stranger and ask to touch her hair (or her pregnant belly), you NEED this book. And probably a more diverse circle of friends. Just sayin’.

BOOK AWARD WINNER (Nebula Award): Uprooted by Naomi Novik
RECOMMENDED BY A FRIEND: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
SET IN YOUR COUNTRY: Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary
Beatrice (aka Beezus), who’s nine, wishes she had more time to read, but is asked to spend what seems like every waking moment of her life being responsible for her four year old sister, Ramona. While I get that Ramona is the fun, imaginative wild-child, she’s also a naughty little shit who throws a tantrum on the rare occasions she doesn’t get her own way. Possibly because I have two younger sisters, I really felt for Beezus.

Progress on the COOL path. Three books / 726 pages / 8 EXP



SEASONALLY INSPIRED: Gather 'Round the Sound: Holiday Stories from Beloved Authors and Great Performers Across the Globe an Audible collection
A free collection of short stories from Audible. By far, my favorite was “Zip Code 12345,” a nonfiction piece about children’s letters to Santa. “An Aussie Night Before Christmas” by Yvonne Morrison was a fun take on the classic poem and “The Music Coming from the House” was a heartwarming tale by Paulo Coehlo.

FRUIT IN THE TITLE: Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
Sal and her mother go out to pick blueberries, and Little Bear and his mother come to the same patch to eat blueberries. The two little ones get mixed up and hilarity ensues. The parallels between Sal and Little Bear provide both structure and entertainment. 

Simple, expressive black and white drawings and charming, repetitive language makes this one a fun read-aloud. One of my childhood favorites!

TIMED (READ A BOOK IN 24 HOURS): Dancing Girls and Other Stories by Margaret Atwood
As a whole, this collection is not quite 5 stars for me, though many of the individual stories definitely are. 

I loved this collection when I read it years ago. As an angsty teenager, Atwood’s dark world view was right up my alley. Especially in the context of the world’s economic and political climate right now, her pessimism feels truer than ever. 

The women in these stories are mostly middle-aged and dissatisfied with the lives they are living. There is a pervasive sense of futility in their relationships and little sense that any significant change is possible. 
Anyone who’s ever been in a long-term relationship will recognize the miscommunications and words not spoken that pile up over the years.

This is not a happy collection, but I kind of like the way Atwood shines a light on the dark corners. 

My personal favorites:

“Betty” is almost a coming-of-age story, set against the backdrop of the neighbors’ imploding marriage. 

“The Grave of the Famous Poet” was hilariously dark. A couple bickers while exploring some ruins and later the woman muses that perhaps she could kill the man. “Instead I brush my teeth, wondering if he’ll ever know how close he came to being murdered....” Wrong? Perhaps, but I laughed out loud several times while reading this one. 

“A Travel Piece” features a travel writer, bored with being pleased, who finally finds herself in a situation she’s never encountered. 

“The Resplendent Quetzal” paints a depressing picture of regret, blame, and words not spoken. 

“Lives of the Poets” explores a woman’s rage. 

“Giving Birth” was the jewel in this collection, possibly because so much of it felt like TRUTH (yes, TRUTH in all caps). “She remembers the way women who had babies used to smile at one another, mysteriously, as if there was something they knew that she didn’t, the way they would casually exclude her from their frame of reference.”

INSECT ON THE COVER: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
I've been reading this one slowly, savoring the beautiful writing and Janie's journey to self-empowerment. So far, I have read to page 90. Will finish, but not in time for this challenge.

SHOVEL STRIKE (FRIEND PICK): Warcross by Marie Lu 

SET AT SEAS OR BEACH: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
(2 EXP)
In many ways, this was similar to Girl on the Train. The unreliable narrator witnesses a murder and no one will believe her story. 

Lo Blacklock is a travel writer who never gets the good assignments, mainly because of her history with anxiety and depression. One night, she wakes up in the dark to find a masked man standing in her apartment, stealing her purse. What is really terrifying is that he is wearing latex gloves and the thought spiral she goes down when she sees them had me terrified along with her. In the aftermath of the break-in, her anxiety gets ramped way up,  she stops sleeping, and ends up having a huge fight with her boyfriend, right before leaving on a luxury cruise assignment that dropped in her lap because her boss is pregnant. 

She is determined to prove herself on this assignment, the chance she’s been waiting for. The ship gets underway and things are not going all that well for her. When she is awakened by a scream and a big splash, things get worse. She calls security, convinced that she’s witnessed a murder. Of course, no one believes her once it comes out that she regularly combines anxiety meds with lots of booze, on top of her recent trauma. She keeps insisting that she’s telling the truth, which leads to some real danger. 

There were some suspenseful moments, but also some tedious and repetitive ones. I thought this one started out well, but I didn’t care for the ending.



Progress on SIDE QUESTS. Four books / 795 pages / two SM quests / 13 EXP

Twelve books / 2600 pages

While I had the motivation to read, I did get sidetracked by the combination of a more demanding work schedule than normal and the gaming aspect of the challenge. My husband just shook his head and snickered at me every time I got excited to catch my campers reading. I had a great time and will continue to follow Read at Midnight for more great book recommendations and (hopefully) more reading challenges.