2017 Reading Challenges in Review

I’m back! Sorry for about the long absence. Storytimes stopped for the winter session, I crammed in the last March book before flying out to the in-laws for Christmas, and then I went out of the country for 2ish weeks. So not a lot of time to blog (although I didn’t read anything aside from the March books anyway).

I did pretty well on my reading challenges this year (although I don’t think I was the greatest at blogging about them all). I had grand plans to read on the plane and in the car while on my trip, to finish up Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge, but that didn’t happen. In the end, I completed the PopSugar and Modern Mrs. Darcy challenges. I almost finished Book Riot, but did not read “A book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author,” “A travel memoir,” or “A classic by an author of color.”

Popsugar Reading Challenge:

A book recommended by a librarian After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
A book that’s been on your TBR list for way too long The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro
A book of letters I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin
An audiobook Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
A book by a person of color Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
A book with one of the four seasons in the title That Summer by Lauren Willig
A book that is a story within a story Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
A book with multiple authors The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig
An espionage thriller Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Ella MacNeal
A book with a cat on the cover Audacity Jones to the Rescue by Kirby Larson
A book by an author who uses a pseudonym Crowned and Dangerous by Rhys Bowen
A bestseller from a genre you don’t normally read Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins
A book by or about a person who has a disability The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
A book involving travel The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
A book with a subtitleA book with a subtitle Little Boxes: 12 Writers on Television edited by Caroline Casey
A book that’s published in 2017 On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service by Rhys Bowen
A book involving a mythical creature My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
A book you’ve read before that never fails to make you smile Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
A book about food The Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Standhal
A book with career advice Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
A book from a nonhuman perspective Appleblossom the Possum by Holly Goldberg Sloan
A steampunk novel Rebel Magisters by Shanna Swendson
A book with a red spine Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson
A book set in the wilderness The Poet’s Dog by Cynthia MacLachlan
A book you loved as a child Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
A book by an author from a country you’ve never visited Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
A book with a title that’s a character’s name George by Alex Gino
A novel set during wartime When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi
A book with an unreliable narrator Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
A book with pictures The Marvels by Brian Selznick
A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
A book about an interesting woman One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul
A book set in two different time periods The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
A book with a month or day of the week in the title The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
A book set in a hotel A True Home by Kallie George
A book written by someone you admire The English Wife by Lauren Willig
A book that’s becoming a movie in 2017 Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies by Greg Rucka
A book set around a holiday other than Christmas The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla by Lauren Willig
The first book in a series you haven’t read before Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
A book you bought on a trip I’ve Got your Number by Sophie Kinsella

Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge:

Put the Oomph Back in Your Reading Life
A book you chose for the cover Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson
A book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
A book set somewhere you’ve never been but would like to visit Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
A book you’ve already read I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
A juicy memoir Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
A book about books or reading Romance Reader’s Guide to Life by Sharon Pywell
A book in a genre you usually avoid Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies by Greg Rucka
A book you don’t want to admit you’re dying to read On her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service by Rhys Bowen
A book in the backlist of a new favorite author Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
A book recommended by someone with great taste The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro
A book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven’t read yet Crowned and Dangerous by Rhys Bowen
A book about a topic or subject you already love Rebel Magisters by Shanna Swendson
Stretch Yourself in 2017
A Newbery Award winner or Honor Book The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
A book in translation Load Poems Like Guns: : Women’s Poetry from Herat, Afghanistan edited by Farzana Marie
A book that’s more than 600 pages The Marvels by Brian Selznick
A book of poetry, a play or an essay collection Poisoned Apples: Poems for You My Pretty by Christine Heppermann
A book of any genre that addresses current events One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul
An immigrant story When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi
A book published before you were born Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Three books by the same author Maybe in Another Life, After I Do, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
A book by #ownvoices or #diversebooks author Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
A book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
A book nominated for an award in 2017 George by Alex Gino
A Pulitizer Prize or National Book Award winner March: Book 3 by John Lewis

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge:

A book about sports Spinning by Tillie Walden
A debut novel The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro
A book about books The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
A book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras (what I planned to read)
A book about an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi
An all ages comic Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
A book published between 1900 and 1950 Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
A travel memoir Paris in Love by Eloisa James (DNF in time)
A book you’ve read before I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
A book that is set within 100 miles of your location The Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Standhal
A book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
A fantasy novel My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
A nonfiction book about technology Dear Data by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec
A book about war The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
A YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ The Marvels by Brian Selznick
A book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country George by Alex Gino
A classic by an author of color Indigo by Beverly Jenkins (DNF in time)
A superhero comic with a female lead Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies by Greg Rucka
A book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey March: Book 1 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
An LGBTQ romance novel The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Reid Jenkis
A book published by a micropress Little Boxes edited by Caroline Casey
A collection of stories by a woman One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of this Will Matter by Saachi Koul
A collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love Load Poems Like Guns: Women’s Poetry from Herat, Afghanistan edited by Farzana Marie
A book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
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Best Books of 2017

It’s that time of year again. When I realize I’ve read one, maybe two, of the year’s “Best Books,” as decided by those lofty taste makers. It doesn’t help my cause that I’m notoriously bad at reading new books (although last year wasn’t too bad). Remember those lists I made last year of the new books I couldn’t wait to read? Well, I think I read one of them. Oops.

I do own the Goodreads book of the year, The Hate U Give, and I’m hoping to read that by the end of the year. Other winners include:

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee which I’ve heard great things about. My former mother daughter book club (which is just the mothers now, and sometimes me), is reading it for their next book, so I might tag along. (NYT)

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood which Jeff and Rebecca mention at least once a month on the Book Riot podcast. So now I’m really intrigued. (NYT)

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When Dimple Met Rishi  by Sandhya Menon, which I was really excited about and I tried reading, but just couldn’t do it. I tried at least three times. (NPR)

For your own reading pleasure, I’m going to provide some links below to Best Books of 2017 lists.

New York Times Ten Best Books of 2017

School Library Journal Best Books of 2017

Goodreads Best Books of 2017

Publishers Weekly Best Books 2017

 

Max the Cat

I’m a bit behind on posting, but I had to share. I first heard about the cat who wanted to enter the library, and the cute sign posted on the door on Thursday. But it wasn’t until I read the Washington Post article that I realized all of this is happening right in my backyard!

While I totally get why he’s not allowed in the library, and why some people are annoyed at the Twitter universe’s “outrage” and demands that Max be let inside, I think it’s cute. It certainly is a lot more fun to read about this than some of the other things I see on Twitter!

#Foundinabook

Look up the hashtag #foundinabook sometime, and you’ll find some interesting things! These are much more inspiring than what others have found.

One reader thought Amina’s Voice was so good, she (I’m assuming she) had to let everyone know just how good it is.

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This lovely bookmark was found in a book a while ago and I love looking at it at the desk, so I decided I had to share. IMG_5935

The Princess in Black

I mentioned previously that I like to dress up as characters from children’s books for Halloween. This year I was Princess Magnolia, or better known as The Princess in Black.

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The only thing I had to do was cut a piece of black felt to an appropriate cape size (I don’t recommend felt though, it was very heavy. But it was all I had on hand) and draw a flower, cut it out and pin it to my shirt. Easy Peasy.

Bookish Halloween

Since becoming a librarian I’ve rediscovered a love of Halloween. I love dressing SELRES_f3d44d3f-4bd0-4388-8a7e-2ba8fd04891bup like some of mySELRES_f3d44d3f-4bd0-4388-8a7e-2ba8fd04891b favorite books and book characters. Of course, they’re pretty much all kids books since I work with children. But, really, they’re more fun anyway!

So without further ado, I present the last couple of years worth of bookish Halloween. I linked patterns and printables where I could, but some of these are quite old. This year, the plan is to dress up as Princess Magnolia from The Princess in Black series by Shannon and Dean Hale.

Luna Lovegood

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

As you can tell, I majorly copied the look from the movies as there is not a lot to go off in the books. I found a printable for the specterspecs online and a cover for the Quibbler. I also found a pattern for making radish earrings out of beads and made my own design for the wand and butterbeer cork necklace. For the Ravenclaw crest I printed the copy I liked best, “laminated” it with packing tape and then used a safety pin to pin it on my sweater.
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circa 2010

Alice

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by C.S. Lewis

This was probably the easiest costume. I already had the blue dress and black bow headband and black shoes. The only thing to make was the apron and all I did was cut up an old white tshirt in a half-circle shape and tie it around my waist. I did write in puffy paint “we’re all made here” on the pocket I made out of the tshirt’s sleeve. I hot glued the pocket onto the apron.
Bookish Halloween

circa 2013

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Tree

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.

A bit of advice, should you want to recreate this costume- don’t use a stretchy knit tunic. The letters would not stay on and I spent most of the day trying to tape, staple, and sew them on my sweater. To make the letters I typed the alphabet into word using a simple font and then cut them all out to use as a pattern. Full disclosure, my mom made the leaf collar. I have no idea how she did that- it’s far beyond my talents.
Bookish Halloween

circa 2014

Astrid

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

If I remember correctly, Astrid is not in the books, just the movie. But it counts because the movie is based off a book. And obviously I based my costume and my husband’s off the movie (he’s Toothless if you can’t tell). I found a bat costume intended for kids using a black zip up sweatshirt and modified it for Toothless. The ears were the hardest part (although you can’t really see the ears in this pic). You can’t tell, but I had skirt made out of brown felt strips (worn over shorts of course). I then drew with skull like shapes on with Sharpie to emulate Astrid’s skirt in the movie. The Viking helmet is left over from a previous costume, and since we live in MN the snow boots were no problem.

Bookish Halloween

circa 2015

Olivia the Pig

Olivia series by Ian Falconer

All the books are checked out at the moment, but I’m not 100% sure the version of the outfit I wore is ever seen in Falconer’s Olivia, or if it’s only seen in the TV show and the books based off the show. The only thing I had to make were the ears, which were a lot harder than I expected! I attached pipe cleaners to a stretchy workout style headband then tried to hot glue felt along the shape of the pipe cleaner, to give the ears the distinctly Olivia shape. That didn’t work so well, The felt ears kept detaching themselves from the pipe cleaner, and the pipe cleaner on the headband was really scratchy.
Bookish Halloween

circa 2016

A Royal Spyness Rundown

For the last month I’ve been living in the aristocratic world of England between the wars.

Once I finished On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service I realized I couldn’t really remember how Darcy and Georgie began. So I started listening to the first book again, and next thing I know, I’ve listened to the whole series (On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service twice) from September 1st through September 26. It helps that my husband was out of town one weekend and I spent the whole weekend working on his awesome custom (not biased at all here) cornhole and kubb set. Now when I talk to myself in my head I sound British (I know you probably all think I’m nuts now) and I really wish we could use phrases like “you’re a brick” and “old bean” today.

royal spynes

Listening to all the books again, I have a few, not very well formed thoughts, that I’m mostly going to copy and paste from my Goodreads “reviews.”

  1. Katherine Kellgren is an amazing audio narrator. Reading the books without Darcy’s Irish accent in my ears or the aristocratic drawl of the supporting characters when they say things like “Old bean” and “what ho, (insert name)” is not nearly as much fun.
  2. I love Georgie. She does some really stupid things, but overall I think she’s a very realistic character.
  3. The attention to detail, whether it’s fashion, description of the architecture, or manners of the day is wonderful.
  4. Darcy vacillates between being overly bossy, not involved, and too perfect. Yet, I still love him. He is definitely one of my favorite book heroes.
  5. The consistent interactions with Wallis Simpson are great. She is a fascinating, if unlikable, person.
  6. Queenie’s character, who is introduced to us in Royal Blood is both a welcome inclusion in the world (she’s brave and funny and comic relief sometimes) but in some installments the character falls flat and the comedy can seem mean spirited.
  7. Bowen flirts with the supernatural a bit in a few of the installments. Heirs and Graces and Malice at the Palace mostly. I don’t necessarily mind ghosts etc, but it can seem like an odd inclusion at times.
  8. Until the last three books Belinda’s character is very flat and underdeveloped. Still a delightful character, but seeing her growth in later installments is nice.
  9. Overall, Georgie becomes more confident and her character does grow. However, her continual distrust of Darcy and his intentions with other women gets old by the 11th book. Some installments play up that insecurity, while it’s ignored in others, depending on the story. While I get it, Darcy was a bit of a player and she’s constantly hearing that he’ll never settle down, but trust has got to be in the relationship too.
  10. Despite all the flaws (I tend to nitpick more when I like something), I still love the series and will continue to listen. I just hope it has an ending in sight(ish) and isn’t one of those never ending series that needs to die. Although, I will be sad when that happens.

If you’ve made it this far, I’m impressed. My last comments deal with favorites. I’m biased since I listen to The Twelve Clues of Christmas every Christmas since I started the series, but it’s still my favorite. Otherwise, Her Royal Spyness, Royal Pain and Royal Flush are tied for next best with Crowned and Dangerous. At first listen I did not like Crowned and Dangerous, but now I appreciate it for the conflict and growth it gives Darcy and Georgie. Meeting his family and seeing him in his natural space is also important for both Georgie and the readers. On the flip side, Heirs and Graces is the worst, followed closely by Queen of Hearts. For me, neither felt true to the series, either in mystery or in character development/actions.