The 2021 AW Reading Challenge! New Year; New Hope; New List.

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mrsmig

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Finished my first book of the 2021 Challenge: Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteredge. I wasn't certain I was going to like it - it ended up not being so much about a love triangle as about the relationships between various people in a small Maine town - but I ended up really enjoying it, enough that I might read the sequel, Olive, Again, just for my own enjoyment.

1. Year of the Ox. The Children's Blizzard, by Melanie Benjamin.

8. Girls chase boys chase girls. Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout. FINISHED 1/11/21

10. 21st century, 21st year, 21st letter. Baba Yaga Laid An Egg, by Dubravka Ugresic.

22. Tag team. Ghostways, by Robert MacFarlane and Dan Richards

27. Succinct. Later, by Stephen King. (releases early March 2021)

30. I've met them! Warlock, by Oakley Hall. (I took a creative writing course with Mr. Hall back when I was in college, many moons ago.)

32. Verboten. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.

33. What your parents read. Dead Man's Folly, by Agatha Christie.

36. Bits and pieces. Best American Science and Nature Writing 2019.

37. Out of this world. Old Man's War, by John Scalzi.

38. Freebies. Vesper Flights, by Helen MacDonald.

42. LOL random. Uncle Wiggily's Story Book, by Howard Roger Garis.
 

Brightdreamer

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Finished The Caves of Steel last night.

On the plus side: Some nice ideas, and it wasn't quite so much of "men behind desks talking" as Foundation was.

On the minus side: The future was very dated and obviously distorted to Asimov's particular vision and the point he wanted to make, and to express his only ideal solution to the problems of society (which, again, can't help but feel a bit obsolete by today's standards.) The cop wasn't a particularly good investigator, especially at first, jumping to conclusions on little evidence and too blind to/defensive about his prejudices. And the ultimate culprit was way, way too obvious, even if some shades of the motive weren't quite clear.

Overall, not a bad book, and clearly a foundational work in the genre, but I am glad we've moved on...

Will be starting another book later today probably; don't know if it'll be a Challenge book or not yet. I'll know when I go to pick it up.

Updated List:
1 - Year of the Ox: Across the Green Grass Fields, by Seanan McGuire (may swap for Leviathan Falls, by James S. A. Corey)
2 - Freebies: Riot Baby, by Tochi Onyebuchi (may swap for Silver in the Wood, by Emily Tesh - both obtained through Tor's ebook-of-the-month club)
3 - The Other Side: The Girl in the Green Silk Gown, by Seanan McGuire
4 - Out of the park on first at-bat: Raybearer, by Jordan Ifueko
5 - Waxing lyrical: Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell
6 - I’ve met them!: Ashes of the Sun, by Django Wexler (may swap for A Deadly Education, by Naomi Novik)
7 - Out of Time: The Girl from Everywhere, by Heidi Heilig
8 - Dearly Departed: Paper and Fire, by Rachel Caine
9 - Keep up with the Joneses: Caves of Steel, by Isaac Asimov - STARTED 1/8, Finished 1/11
10 - Vast critical acclaim: The Forever War, by Joseph Haldeman (may swap for Dreamsnake, by Vonda McIntyre)
11 - Read it again, Sam: Moon Dreams, by Brad Strickland
12 - Bits and pieces: TBA (I want to read more shorts this year)
 

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I finished Crooked Kingdom the other day. It's the sequel to Six of Crows, which ended hanging off a pretty big cliff so I immediately had to pick this one up. I enjoyed both of them quite a lot. It's been a while since I went into some good fantasy and I had fun immersing myself in the magic of the world. It's based on magic users being adept in manipulating either organic matter (humans and their bodies), inorganic matter (metals and fabrics), or the elements (wind, water, fire). I liked the breakdown of these classifications, and the range of different capabilities possible within each. It feels very well thought out and established. Not all of the characters are magic users, but it affects everyone's life in some way, and that also sets up the opportunity to discuss various prejudices - i.e. can a character brought up to think magic users are all tainted, unnatural and evil change their mind? - that have bearing in our world. I like when a book subtly brings up real world issues rather than bashing me over the head with them.

I think Six of Crows had a better overall storyline, even if it did end abruptly; Crooked Kingdom was a bit less straight-forward in its plot and was more about conning people out of their money, which I find a little less exciting than breaking into a prison, as they did in the first one. But I was still very invested in the characters and had to see them through, and it did reach a satisfying conclusion. Overall I'd give them 5 and 4 stars, respectively.

I'm going to pick up Early Riser, or The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray next, depending on which is closer the next time I sit down to read.

1. It’s all fun and games: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo Finished 1/10
2. Laughing Matters: Animal Farm by George Orwell (or You’re Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day)
3. That old black magic: Soulless by Gail Carriger
4. Keep up with the Joneses: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
5. Succinct: Renegades by Marissa Meyer
6. I’ve met them: The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond (ALA 2016 in NOLA, briefly for a book signing)
7. After the Fall: Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade
8. Out of this world: The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel
9. Freebies: Early Riser by Jasper Fforde (Christmas present from my sister, from her book club last year)
10. Holy moly some authors like to use an awful lot of words: The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray by E. Latimer
11. Pixies and Dryads and Elves, oh my: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
12. How we got to where we are: A Promised Land by Barack Obama
 

Brightdreamer

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Started another one: Raybearer, by Jordan Ifueko. Young Tarisai was raised in a hidden fortress by a cold and distant mother known only as the Lady, for a cold purpose: to get close to, then murder, the imperial heir. But her task becomes complicated as she learns more of the world and her mother and the truth about who she is...

Three chapters in and I'm loving it so far. Interesting worldbuilding with a nicely non-European basis, nice magic so far (the MC can see the history of anything she touches, which is why the servants are forbidden from so much as holding her hand), and a decently determined protagonist.

Updated List:
1 - Year of the Ox: Across the Green Grass Fields, by Seanan McGuire (may swap for Leviathan Falls, by James S. A. Corey)
2 - Freebies: Riot Baby, by Tochi Onyebuchi (may swap for Silver in the Wood, by Emily Tesh - both obtained through Tor's ebook-of-the-month club)
3 - The Other Side: The Girl in the Green Silk Gown, by Seanan McGuire
4 - Out of the park on first at-bat: Raybearer, by Jordan Ifueko - STARTED 1/12
5 - Waxing lyrical: Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell
6 - I’ve met them!: Ashes of the Sun, by Django Wexler (may swap for A Deadly Education, by Naomi Novik)
7 - Out of Time: The Girl from Everywhere, by Heidi Heilig
8 - Dearly Departed: Paper and Fire, by Rachel Caine
9 - Keep up with the Joneses: Caves of Steel, by Isaac Asimov - STARTED 1/8, Finished 1/11
10 - Vast critical acclaim: The Forever War, by Joseph Haldeman (may swap for Dreamsnake, by Vonda McIntyre)
11 - Read it again, Sam: Moon Dreams, by Brad Strickland
12 - Bits and pieces: TBA (I want to read more shorts this year)
 

oneblindmouse

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I finished Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. This novel recounts the lives of four generations of a Korean family in 20[SUP]th[/SUP] Century Japan, struggling to survive and prosper against a backdrop of world war, misogyny and racism. Despite having been born in Japan, even third generation Korean Japanese are treated like undesirable immigrants. Though I found it slow to get into, I gradually warmed to it, and by halfway through I just couldn’t put it down.

UPDATED CHALLENGE:

1. East meets West: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee DONE
2. Bits and pieces: A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor IN PROGRESS
3. How we got to where we are: A Very English Scandal by John Preston IN PROGRESS
4. Succinct: Chance by Joseph Conrad
5. After the fall: Ashes of the Earth by Eliot Pattison
6. Freebies: Baudolino by Umberto Eco
7. Year of the Ox: Burmese Days by George Orwell
8. Alma Mater Matters: The Rebel Angels by Robertson Davies
9. Holy Moly, Some Authors Like to Use an Awful Lot of Words: The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer
10. Play it again Sam: The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh
11. Laughing matters: The Salterton Trilogy by Robertson Davies
12. Not available in stores: My father-in-law’s manuscript for a novel.
 

mrsmig

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Glad to hear your comments about Pachinko, oneblindmouse. It's a book that's drifted on and off my TBR list - maybe it's time to stick it more firmly in place.
 

PickledHorseradish

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So, last year's travel, health and moving chaos in my life truncated my attempt at the challenge, but this year, in my new (better) office, in my new (better) house, I'm going to make a run at it. Here's my list.

1. Let’s go clubbing!: A book in a celebrity’s book club - Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton from Reese Witherspoon's book club list.
2. No Cliff Notes this time: A book that’s required reading in most high schools or universities. Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger - We never had to read this in AP English, instead opting for other required reading, so I've never read it.
3. East meets West: A book taking place in Asia (Turkey to Japan, Siberia to Vietnam). The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
4. Keep up with the Joneses: A book everyone else seems to have read but you have not. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
5. I’ve met them!: A book by someone you have seen in person (either know, seen at a book fair, heard at a speaking engagement, in line at the ATM, whatever). Grab a Snake by the Tail by Leonardo Padura - I got to meet him at the Key West Literary Seminar in 2018. He's the main reason I attended the event, but I discovered several other authors I have grown to love.
6. Howdy, stranger: A book about immigrants or immigration, or with an immigrant main character. Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn - Another author I met at the KWLS. She's the main reason I'm attending the seminar next year. She's an amazing person.
7. What your parents read: Any novel from the year you were born. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut - My parents rarely read anything but a bible, but this will be a third read through for me.
8. Bits and pieces: An anthology (poetry, short stories, whatever). Best American Food Writing 2020 - I love these anthologies.
9. Namesakes: A book by an author who shares your first or last name. Something by Mary Kay Andrews. - I'm not sure which one. I'll just dig something out of my wife's collection.
10. Out of the park on first at-bat: A debut. Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn
11. Vast critical acclaim: A book that has won a prestigious award. Rabbit is Rich by John Updike
12. Best Friend: A book with a dog on the cover Killing Trail by Margaret Mizushima - I picked this book up in the Key West Airport gift shop years ago to have something to read on the trip home. My wife immediately confiscated it from me, devoured it in two days and has since read everything she writes. I'm going to liberate my book from her collection and put it back in my TBR pile.

I've already placed my order for several of the ones I don't have in my collection. Now to get to reading.
 
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Chris P

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oneblindmouse: Like mrsmig, Pachinko has been on my TBR list for a while. One of these days (although I've been saying that about White Oleander and Snow Falling on Cedars for 25 years now!)

Pickledhorseradish: Welcome back! There are several on your list I'm looking forward to hearing your input on. A couple are by my favorite authors who've had a huge influence on me, another repeatedly catches my interest, and one I read about half of amid repeated eye rolls before flying into a rage and deleting it. I won't say which books are which, so as not to bias you :)

I'm working through Cat Chaser by Elmore Leonard for my Feisty Feline Fiesta. It came out in the early 80s, and it's okay so far (lots of loose threads that I'm thinking will come together well). And no, no actual cats involved so far.
 

Chris P

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Well that ended . . . abruptly. Cat Chaser by Elmore Leonard, for Feisty Feline Fiesta (a book with a cat on the cover). George Moran, ex-Marine and now owner of a small hotel just north of Miami, falls in love with Mary de Boya, the wife of a deposed Dominican general-turned-Miami-condo-developer who has squirrelled away a fortune in cash--in case he needs to disappear again. Moran and Mary need to outwit a rogue's gallery of seedy characters to pull one over on the general and make off with the money before the others do.

I couldn't determine if this book was part of a series (despite being made into a movie it doesn't seem to have done very well so nobody's talking about it much), which would make a lot more sense if so. There were a lot of things going on that don't connect unless done so within another cover, and there was a major red herring that was less than satisfying unless, again, it connected to the plot of a different book. One of the biggest things about this book for me as a writer is I noticed how little of it depended on pop culture or the technology of the time. Sometimes on AW I see posts from folks writing period or historical works, and they seem overly obsessed on getting a feel for the time by inserting too many details. Written, published, and set in 1981, Leonard didn't see a need to blast in our faces how "now" Cat Chaser was, so reading it 40 years later I wasn't distracted by all the timely details. By backwards engineering a book written now to take place in 1981 might give some good clues on how to do it.



  1. Laughing Matters: A humorous or satirical book. Nothing to see here – Kevin Wilson
  2. I spy: A book featuring spies or espionage. Need to know – Karen Cleveland
  3. Local hero: A book by a local author. First cosmic velocity – Zack Powers
  4. 21[SUP]st[/SUP] Year, 21[SUP]st[/SUP] Letter: A book by someone whose first or last name begins with the letter U House of Broken Angels – Luis Alberto Urrea
  5. Locked up: A book taking place in a prison, mental institution or treatment center. What She Left Behind – Ellen Marie Wiseman
  6. What your parents read: Any novel from the year you were born. Love in the Ruins – Walker Percy
  7. Out of this world: A book taking place in space or on another planet. Artemis – Andy Weir Done
  8. Keep up with the Joneses: A book everyone else seems to have read but you have not. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  9. Feisty feline fiesta: A book with a cat on the cover. Cat Chaser – Elmore Leonard Done
  10. Pixies and Dryads and Elves, oh my!: A high fantasy. Spinning Silver – Naomi Novik
  11. Run for the border: A book about or taking place in Central or South America. 100 years of solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  12. Vast critical acclaim: A book that has won a prestigious award. Discomfort of Evening – Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (Man Booker International award).
 

Tocotin

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Hello! @ChrisP – haha, I might be one of those detail-obsessed historical folks! Btw, I read Spinning Silver last year, and I’m really interested to see what both you and @Gatteau think of it.

@oneblindmouse: I read Pachinko last year! I also found it a bit slow-going at first, but I’m glad I persevered. It has a quite seamless, well-done omni narration, which is rare to see nowadays. Oh, and I loved Burmese Days!

AnYwaY, I skipped last year, but I’d love to participate again. This is my list.

1. Year of the Ox: Miss Mackenzie by Anthony Trollope
2. Laughing matters: Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne
3. That old black magic: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
4. East meets West: The Sing-song Girls of Shanghai by Han Bangqing started
5. Another mother’s tongue: Heat Source by Kawagoe Sōichi (熱源)
6. Alma mater matters: Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm
7. Ye olde booke shoppe: Evelina by Frances Burney
8. Locked up: The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson
9. Freebies: The Greedy Queen: Eating with Victoria by Annie Gray
10. Face your fears: Circe by Madeline Miller
11. Pixies and dryads and elves, oh my!: Illidan by Andrew King
12. Like a novel, only real: Memories of a Catholic Girlhood by Mary McCarthy

I started The Sing-song Girls of Shanghai, a 1892 novel about the lives of courtesans & their patrons in late 19th-century Shanghai. It had been on my TBR list for years, and I found it last year at the BookOff for only 170 yen! I’m loving it so much that I put it aside for a bit, because I don’t want it to end.

:troll
 

Brightdreamer

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Finished Raybearer last night, and very much enjoyed it! Interesting, engaging world with solid characters and a nice magic system.

May take a brief break before getting back to the challenge.

Updated List (finished 2/12):
1 - Year of the Ox: Across the Green Grass Fields, by Seanan McGuire (may swap for Leviathan Falls, by James S. A. Corey)
2 - Freebies: Riot Baby, by Tochi Onyebuchi (may swap for Silver in the Wood, by Emily Tesh - both obtained through Tor's ebook-of-the-month club)
3 - The Other Side: The Girl in the Green Silk Gown, by Seanan McGuire
4 - Out of the park on first at-bat: Raybearer, by Jordan Ifueko - STARTED 1/12, FINISHED 1/18
5 - Waxing lyrical: Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell
6 - I’ve met them!: Ashes of the Sun, by Django Wexler (may swap for A Deadly Education, by Naomi Novik)
7 - Out of Time: The Girl from Everywhere, by Heidi Heilig
8 - Dearly Departed: Paper and Fire, by Rachel Caine
9 - Keep up with the Joneses: Caves of Steel, by Isaac Asimov - STARTED 1/8, FINISHED 1/11
10 - Vast critical acclaim: The Forever War, by Joseph Haldeman (may swap for Dreamsnake, by Vonda McIntyre)
11 - Read it again, Sam: Moon Dreams, by Brad Strickland
12 - Bits and pieces: TBA (I want to read more shorts this year)
 

oneblindmouse

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Welcome back, Tocotin! I'm now looking forward to reading Burmese Days, as before I had no preconceptions about it, though I love Orwell's books.

I finished A Very English Scandal by John Preston. Gay sex, blackmail, attempted murder, lies, betrayal, politics, and a celebrity court case. And it’s all apparently true and well documented! This well-researched and entertaining account of the rise and fall of Jeremy Thorpe, leader of the British Liberal Party in the 1970s makes fascinating reading. I really enjoyed it. I remember seeing Thorpe on TV (in black and white) when I was a kid, but never knew any of the stuff that appears in the book. And I missed the scandal hitting the headlines as by then I’d left the UK.

Updated challenge:

1. East meets West: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee DONE
2. Bits and pieces: A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor IN PROGRESS
3. How we got to where we are: A Very English Scandal by John Preston DONE
4. Succinct: Chance by Joseph Conrad
5. After the fall: Ashes of the Earth by Eliot Pattison
6. Freebies: Baudolino by Umberto Eco
7. Year of the Ox: Burmese Days by George Orwell
8. Alma Mater Matters: The Rebel Angels by Robertson Davies
9. Holy Moly, Some Authors Like to Use an Awful Lot of Words: The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer
10. Play it again Sam: The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh
11. Laughing matters: The Salterton Trilogy by Robertson Davies
12. Not available in stores: My father-in-law’s manuscript for a novel.

May start Chance next.
 

Chris P

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I’m 77 pages into Catcher in the Rye and I just want to pop Holden Caulfield in the mouth. It’s taking a while to get in the swing of things, but I’m intrigued enough to keep going.

I first read Catcher when I was about 12 (it was one of the first grown-up non-cozy whodunits I ever read), and I thought Holden was the coolest dude ever! I read it once a year for the next couple years, then again in high school, by which time my admiration for him had faded considerably, and I learned a lot more about the book. [Hint: you're supposed to want to pop Holden in the mouth]
 

Chris P

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I got some reading done during our break (great to be back, btw!!!)

House of Broken Angels – Luis Alberto Urrea. Terminally ill Big Angel, just days after burying his mother, looks forward to what he knows will be his last birthday, in just a few days. Little Angel, his half brother, is in town for the first time in years for the events. Big Angel reflects on his life, and the meaning of passing into the next, while Little Angel comes to terms with the life he thought he left behind. Overall a decent read, although none too memorable (I had to look at the Amazon blurb to remember some of this). I connected much more with Big Angel's musings, but couldn't get very interested in Little Angel's struggles.

  1. Laughing Matters: A humorous or satirical book. Nothing to see here – Kevin Wilson
  2. I spy: A book featuring spies or espionage. Need to know – Karen Cleveland
  3. Local hero: A book by a local author. First cosmic velocity – Zack Powers
  4. 21[SUP]st[/SUP] Year, 21[SUP]st[/SUP] Letter: A book by someone whose first or last name begins with the letter U House of Broken Angels – Luis Alberto Urrea Done
  5. Locked up: A book taking place in a prison, mental institution or treatment center. What She Left Behind – Ellen Marie Wiseman
  6. What your parents read: Any novel from the year you were born. Love in the Ruins – Walker Percy
  7. Out of this world: A book taking place in space or on another planet. Artemis – Andy Weir Done
  8. Keep up with the Joneses: A book everyone else seems to have read but you have not. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  9. Feisty feline fiesta: A book with a cat on the cover. Cat Chaser – Elmore Leonard Done
  10. Pixies and Dryads and Elves, oh my!: A high fantasy. Spinning Silver – Naomi Novik
  11. Run for the border: A book about or taking place in Central or South America. 100 years of solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  12. Vast critical acclaim: A book that has won a prestigious award. Discomfort of Evening – Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (Man Booker International award).
 

PickledHorseradish

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1. Let’s go clubbing!: A book in a celebrity’s book club - Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton from Reese Witherspoon's book club list.
2. No Cliff Notes this time: A book that’s required reading in most high schools or universities. Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger - We never had to read this in AP English, instead opting for other required reading, so I've never read it. - Done. I didn't love it. I didn't hate it.
3. East meets West: A book taking place in Asia (Turkey to Japan, Siberia to Vietnam). The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
4. Keep up with the Joneses: A book everyone else seems to have read but you have not. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
5. I’ve met them!: A book by someone you have seen in person (either know, seen at a book fair, heard at a speaking engagement, in line at the ATM, whatever). Grab a Snake by the Tail by Leonardo Padura - I got to meet him at the Key West Literary Seminar in 2018. He's the main reason I attended the event, but I discovered several other authors I have grown to love. - I've started this.
6. Howdy, stranger: A book about immigrants or immigration, or with an immigrant main character. Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn - Another author I met at the KWLS. She's the main reason I'm attending the seminar next year. She's an amazing person. - I've started this.
7. What your parents read: Any novel from the year you were born. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut - My parents rarely read anything but a bible, but this will be a third read through for me.
8. Bits and pieces: An anthology (poetry, short stories, whatever). Best American Food Writing 2020 - I love these anthologies. - Didn't finish. Won't finish. I put this one down. I got tired of the preachy nature of a lot of the articles/stories. Many of them veered from being food writing with only the thinnest of a premise attaching them to eating, cooking, preparing or anything else relating to food. This is the first time I've not finished one of these Best books once I've picked them up.
9. Namesakes: A book by an author who shares your first or last name. Something by Mary Kay Andrews. - I'm not sure which one. I'll just dig something out of my wife's collection.
10. Out of the park on first at-bat: A debut. Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn - Done. While I really enjoyed most of it I felt that it lost a bit of steam at times and found the climax to be somewhat disappointing. Overall I recommend it.
11. Vast critical acclaim: A book that has won a prestigious award. Rabbit is Rich by John Updike - Done. This was a slog. I just wanted to scream at Rabbit. I don't know that I'll ever pick up another Updike book. He did a fantastic job of describing the mundane and focusing on Rabbit's tiny little life and petty, lustful obsessions, but I was glad to get this one over with. I just wanted to punch both Rabbit and his son by the end.
12. Best Friend: A book with a dog on the cover Killing Trail by Margaret Mizushima - I picked this book up in the Key West Airport gift shop years ago to have something to read on the trip home. My wife immediately confiscated it from me, devoured it in two days and has since read everything she writes. I'm going to liberate my book from her collection and put it back in my TBR pile.

I've already placed my order for several of the ones I don't have in my collection. Now to get to reading.
 
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Good to be back! I read a little bit, but forgot to take a picture of my list, so I kind of forgot what I'd put down. However, I did finish some.

1. Verboten: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
2. Pixies and Dryads and Elves, oh my!: Wizards First Rule by Terry Goodkind - DONE
3. Face Your Fears:: Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
4. After The Fall: The Stand by Stephen King
5. What your parents read: A Scanner Darkly by Phillip K. Dick
6. Tag Team: Brimstone by Preston & Child - DONE
7. Out of the park on first at-bat: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
8. Freebies: Tombland by C.J. Sansom - MAKING PROGRESS
9. Holy moly some authors like to use an awful lot of words: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
10. Run for the border: House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
11.Out of this world: Dune by Frank Herbert
12. Creative nonfiction: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
 
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mrsmig

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Hello, everyone! It's so good to be back - I had no idea how much I'd miss logging my Challenge progress and seeing how everyone else is doing. I tracked my progress on Goodreads but it was a poor substitute.

I'm not going to give an in-depth review for each book, but I will say that THE CHILDREN'S BLIZZARD was disappointing, BABA YAGA LAID AN EGG was a mixed bag but surprising, THIRTEEN REASONS WHY was overblown to the point of being melodramatic (but it's YA about suicide, so I suppose that's a given), DEAD MAN'S FOLLY was light and diverting, OLD MAN'S WAR was delightful, and VESPER FLIGHTS was not up to the standard I expect from that author. I'm struggling with GHOSTWAYS - the first section is kind of woo-woo pseudo-poetry and not really my thing. I dip into the BA SCIENCE & NATURE WRITING between books and thus far the articles have been uniformly good.


1. Year of the Ox. The Children's Blizzard, by Melanie Benjamin. FINISHED 1/31/21

8. Girls chase boys chase girls. Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout. FINISHED 1/11/21

10. 21st century, 21st year, 21st letter. Baba Yaga Laid An Egg, by Dubravka Ugresic. FINISHED 3/28/21

22. Tag team. Ghostways, by Robert MacFarlane and Dan Richards. CURRENTLY READING

27. Succinct. Later, by Stephen King.

30. I've met them! Warlock, by Oakley Hall.

32. Verboten. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher. FINISHED 5/30/21

33. What your parents read. Dead Man's Folly, by Agatha Christie. FINISHED 3/9/21

36. Bits and pieces. Best American Science and Nature Writing 2019. CURRENTLY READING

37. Out of this world. Old Man's War, by John Scalzi. FINISHED 4/3/21

38. Freebies. Vesper Flights, by Helen MacDonald. FINISHED 2/20/21

42. LOL random. Uncle Wiggily's Story Book, by Howard Roger Garis.
 
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Brightdreamer

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I... completely forgot which books I had listed for my challenge, but managed to read a couple anyway

Across the Green Grass Fields, the latest Wayward Children installment from Seanan McGuire, features the intersex girl Regan, whose door leads her to the Hooflands, a world of centaurs and unicorns and fauns and other hoofed beings. It was a solid entry in the series, if slightly thinner than previous tales.

The Girl from Everywhere, by Heidi Heilig, stars 16-year-old Nixie Song is the daughter of a Navigator: a man who, with the right maps, can go anywhere and anywhen, even places that no longer exist (or never existed at all, if the mapmaker truly believed in them). Her father Slate is trying to get back to 19th century Hawaii, where Nix's mother died in childbirth while he was away... but if he succeeds, it may erase her own existence. Great concept, and some promise in the peripheral cast, but I just did not like the central relationship between Nix and Slate. He's emotionally abusive and manipulative in the manner of many addicts, stringing Nix along with vague promises to teach her the trick of Navigating and not seeming to care that his quest could end his daughter's life... and she just goes along with it, a helpless victim and object for men to fight over. Disappointing.

Updated List (finished 4/12):
1 - Year of the Ox: Across the Green Grass Fields, by Seanan McGuire - FINISHED 2/6
2 - Freebies: Riot Baby, by Tochi Onyebuchi (may swap for Silver in the Wood, by Emily Tesh - both obtained through Tor's ebook-of-the-month club)
3 - The Other Side: The Girl in the Green Silk Gown, by Seanan McGuire
4 - Out of the park on first at-bat: Raybearer, by Jordan Ifueko - STARTED 1/12, FINISHED 1/18
5 - Waxing lyrical: Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell
6 - I’ve met them!: Ashes of the Sun, by Django Wexler (may swap for A Deadly Education, by Naomi Novik)
7 - Out of Time: The Girl from Everywhere, by Heidi Heilig - FINISHED 5/30
8 - Dearly Departed: Paper and Fire, by Rachel Caine
9 - Keep up with the Joneses: Caves of Steel, by Isaac Asimov - STARTED 1/8, FINISHED 1/11
10 - Vast critical acclaim: The Forever War, by Joseph Haldeman (may swap for Dreamsnake, by Vonda McIntyre)
11 - Read it again, Sam: Moon Dreams, by Brad Strickland
12 - Bits and pieces: TBA (I want to read more shorts this year)
 
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Chris P

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Next up in my list of Done:

100 Year of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Nice! It follows 100 years in the life of the fictitious Colombian town Macondo, but is sort of about the character Ursula. I thought the magical realism was well done, just enough "Huh? What?" to keep things interesting without so many it came across as hokey.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Hooked from page one! Put up for adoption by her mother, Liesel learns to read from a select couple stolen books, the first a guide to gravedigging that falls from the undertaker's coatpocket at the burial of her brother. When Liesel's family takes in a Jewish man during the latter days of inter-war Germany, she befriends the wife of the chair of the local Nazi party.

Need to Know, by Karen Cleveland. A fun spy thriller. CIA analyst Vivian is on the cusp of cracking the identity of the local Russian spy cell. She knows who the handler is, and finds that one of the handler's five agents is. . . her husband. A circle of double-truths and half-lies only dig her deeper, as the agency learns there is a mole in their midst. Easy to digest, none too taxing, a fun read.

  1. Laughing Matters: A humorous or satirical book. Nothing to see here – Kevin Wilson
  2. I spy: A book featuring spies or espionage. Need to know – Karen Cleveland Done
  3. Local hero: A book by a local author. First cosmic velocity – Zack Powers
  4. 21[SUP]st[/SUP] Year, 21[SUP]st[/SUP] Letter: A book by someone whose first or last name begins with the letter U House of Broken Angels – Luis Alberto Urrea Done
  5. Locked up: A book taking place in a prison, mental institution or treatment center. What She Left Behind – Ellen Marie Wiseman
  6. What your parents read: Any novel from the year you were born. Love in the Ruins – Walker Percy
  7. Out of this world: A book taking place in space or on another planet. Artemis – Andy Weir Done
  8. Keep up with the Joneses: A book everyone else seems to have read but you have not. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak Done
  9. Feisty feline fiesta: A book with a cat on the cover. Cat Chaser – Elmore Leonard Done
  10. Pixies and Dryads and Elves, oh my!: A high fantasy. Spinning Silver – Naomi Novik
  11. Run for the border: A book about or taking place in Central or South America. 100 years of solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez Done
  12. Vast critical acclaim: A book that has won a prestigious award. Discomfort of Evening – Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (Man Booker International award).
 

Brightdreamer

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And I did a bit of a swap-out on the Freebies with another Tor ebook-of-the-month giveaway, When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo. A cleric traveling the land to collect tales and histories is trapped at a remote outpost, along with a mammoth riding guide, by three tiger sisters who are looking for dinner. If they can hold out until dawn, help may arrive, but the tigers are only getting hungrier. The cleric stalls for time by telling a story from long ago, about a tigress and a young woman - but the tigers know the tale, and insist on adding corrections. This is technically the second in a series, but works fine as a standalone, with an imaginative Asian-inspired world and a folktale feel. The cleric's story is more than just a frame device, with rising tension as the tigers grow impatient and dawn seems too far away. A quick and enjoyable read.

I also started Haldeman's The Forever War, a SF classic inspired by the author's experiences in Vietnam, about the human cost of a future perpetual war across the stars. And I picked my probable short collection, the compilation of shorts and novellas set in Seanan McGuire's/("Mira Grant's") zombie apocalypse Newsflesh world. (I recently read the second installment, and was again blown away by both the story and the prescience of life in a pandemic... and those who would manipulate human misery, fear, and illness for power.)

EDIT: And I finished The Forever War. A truly timeless commentary on the ultimately pointless human addiction to combat, and one man who, thanks to time dilation from space travel, sees centuries slip by as he fights the same, pointless interstellar war, Earth becoming nearly as alien to him as the enemy he's fighting.

Updated List (finished 6/12):
-1 - Year of the Ox: Across the Green Grass Fields, by Seanan McGuire - FINISHED 2/6
-2 - Freebies: When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain, by Nghi Vo - FINISHED 6/11
3 - The Other Side: The Girl in the Green Silk Gown, by Seanan McGuire
-4 - Out of the park on first at-bat: Raybearer, by Jordan Ifueko - STARTED 1/12, FINISHED 1/18
5 - Waxing lyrical: Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell
6 - I’ve met them!: Ashes of the Sun, by Django Wexler (may swap for A Deadly Education, by Naomi Novik)
-7 - Out of Time: The Girl from Everywhere, by Heidi Heilig - FINISHED 5/30
8 - Dearly Departed: Paper and Fire, by Rachel Caine
-9 - Keep up with the Joneses: Caves of Steel, by Isaac Asimov - STARTED 1/8, FINISHED 1/11
-10 - Vast critical acclaim: The Forever War, by Joseph Haldeman - STARTED 6/11, FINISHED 6/14
11 - Read it again, Sam: Moon Dreams, by Brad Strickland
12 - Bits and pieces: Rise: The Complete Newsflesh Collection, by Seanan McGuire
 
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Chris P

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I'm swapping out my "Locked Up" title. What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman after five chapters is not turning out to be the book I was hoping it would be. The premise is cool enough: museum workers collect the abandoned personal belongings of the patients of a long-shuttered mental hospital to reconstruct the lives of the patients--what they brought with them, and what they left behind. Although the book was not billed as a YA title, it instantly devolves into a parade of stereotypical and poorly executed YA tropes centering around the 1990s Izzy main character and the 1930s patient Clara. Neither character has any depth beyond either trying to fit in at their new school or being with their "wrong type of family" beau.

I'm not sure what I'll replace it with yet. ETA: I chose Girl, Interrupted by Suzanna Kaysen. It's rare that I want to read a book after seeing the movie, but I watched it with my daughter while she was going through a bad time (not as bad as the movie's MC, but bad enough) years and years ago, and it really meant a lot to her. I've wanted to read it since (daughter is doing fine nowadays btw :))

  1. Laughing Matters: A humorous or satirical book. Nothing to see here – Kevin Wilson
  2. I spy: A book featuring spies or espionage. Need to know – Karen Cleveland Done
  3. Local hero: A book by a local author. First cosmic velocity – Zack Powers
  4. 21st Century, 21st Year, 21st Letter: A book by someone whose first or last name begins with the letter U House of Broken Angels – Luis Alberto Urrea Done
  5. Locked up: A book taking place in a prison, mental institution or treatment center. Girl, Interrupted -- Suzanna Kaysen
  6. What your parents read: Any novel from the year you were born. Love in the Ruins – Walker Percy
  7. Out of this world: A book taking place in space or on another planet. Artemis – Andy Weir Done
  8. Keep up with the Joneses: A book everyone else seems to have read but you have not. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak Done
  9. Feisty feline fiesta: A book with a cat on the cover. Cat Chaser – Elmore Leonard Done
  10. Pixies and Dryads and Elves, oh my!: A high fantasy. Spinning Silver – Naomi Novik
  11. Run for the border: A book about or taking place in Central or South America. 100 years of solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez Done
  12. Vast critical acclaim: A book that has won a prestigious award. Discomfort of Evening – Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (Man Booker International award).
 
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Siri Kirpal

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Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

PickledHorseradish: I haven't read anything by John Irving since I read The World According to Garp back in the millenium, more than 40 years ago. I got another of his books by mistake, but I'm in no hurry to read it.

Here's my list for the first half of the year. You'll note that 8 of them are Challenge Books and three aren't. My game plan was to read 18 books this year, of which 12 would be Challenge Books. I've revised that: Game plan is now to read 20-24 or more books this year, with at least 12 or more Challenge Books. I'll post reviews in the next post.

2021 Book Challenge: Completed Books Part I

Nonfiction:


Like a Novel, Only Real (also Freebies—a hand-me-down from my mother): The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman Done

Tag Team: Warrior: Navaho Code Talkers Done

The Navaho Code Talkers by Doris A. Paul Done

Classics:


Lol Random (Also Bits and Pieces): Twice-Told Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne Done

Girls Chase Boys Chase Girls (also Matryoshka Books): The Annotated Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, annotated and edited by David M. Shapard Done

No Cliff Notes This Time: Silas Marner by George Eliot Done

Fiction:


The Worm and the Bird by Coralie Bickford-Smith Done

The Prince and the Pilgrim by Mary Stewart Done

Holy Moly (Also Run for the Border): Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart by Alice Walker Done

Holiday Cheer: Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire Done

Mysteries:

Freebies (Also Out of the Park on First At-Bat and Vast Acclaim):
Spider Woman's Daughter by Anne Hillerman Done

The Herring-Seller's Apprentice by L.C. Tyler Done

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 
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Siri Kirpal

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Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

And here are the reviews:

The Worm and the Bird by Coralie Bickford-Smith: A picture book for adults and sophisticated older children. The illustrations are in a limited palate of black, white, assorted golden browns and yellow and integrate the text extremely well. The worm is looking for more space, and the bird is looking for...well, the author never says, but you can guess. I'm taking it as an allegory of what striving ultimately comes to and of how life needs life. Not bad.



Holiday Cheer: Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire: The subtitle is A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker, but it's really more about the Nutcracker's maker, a foundling named Dirk who becomes a toymaker and Klara's godfather. It's a very rich, multi-layered, beautifully written and somewhat weird take on myths and fairytales, including Hansel and Gretel, plus Athena as the basis for the wise fairy godmothers. I found it a rewarding book when I took the time to read it carefully. I wouldn't recommend it for a quick fun beach read. But I recommend it highly as a book that pushes the mind and psyche in interesting directions. I'm kinda sorry it's over.

But it wasn't perfect. Notably, as someone of Middle-Eastern heritage, I can tell you that some facets of the Nastaran -- Dirk's inamorata who is Persian -- are somewhat off. She wouldn't have objected to other women in the house, she would have objected to extraneous men. She also wouldn't have used the word baklava when mentioning favorite childhood foods; that word is Greek; it's not the word used in Arabic, and wouldn't be the word used in Farsi. But I understand that Maguire used it for clarity. One caveat for people who have read Maguire's Wicked: I have not read Wicked, but understand it is a snarky remake of OZ. Not much if any snark in this one. Fine with me, but maybe not with people who are Wicked fans.



Tag Team: Warrior: Navaho Code Talkers with Photos by Kenji Kawano, Forward by Carl Gorman, Code Talker, & Intro by Benis M. Frank, USMC: Basically a photo album of 75 surviving code talkers with some of their quotes, plus other info. The photos are good quality black & white. Some quotes are too short to be interesting, but some detail amusing incidents, such as hearing a thump in a foxhole, looking around for the intruder or the grenade and discovering instead that a frog had landed on a fellow Code Talker's back. Other code talker quotes aren't so funny: at least two mention getting arrested by members of the US army as Japanese. The code talkers, it turns out, only served in the Marines...and only in the Pacific.

Gorman provides an inspiring story of how he met Kawano and how Kawano became the official photographer of the code talkers. Kawano is Japanese.

Frank provides some interesting info about the how the code talkers were started and how they were trained. Turns out there was a son of a missionary who was raised on the reservation and spoke fluent Navajo. When he learned that the Marines were looking for an unbreakable code, he essentially said Have I got a unbreakable code for you!

I have another, hopefully more thorough, book on the code talkers which I hope to read sometime later this year. But this was a good warm up and I enjoyed it as an introduction.

The Prince and the Pilgrim by Mary Stewart: Mr. Siri and I watched a lecture series on Arthurian history and legends early this year. I read the Stewart's Merlin trilogy decades ago and liked them a lot; her writing brings early early Medieval Britain to life. So I decided to give this book a shot as it featured one of the less well known Arthurian sideshow stories.

Stewart makes the valiant attempt to push the story out of its High Medieval/Late Medieval guise and back into the early post-classical era (where Arthur's legend began), and does so reasonably well. There were a few slow passages, but not many, and her descriptive abilities are in full play, as is her ability at characterization.

Like a Novel, Only Real (also Freebies—a hand-me-down from my mother): The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman: The first chapter or two of this book are slow, giving us the starting point before the WWII storm, but they are so filled with the sensual imagery for which Ackerman is renowned that they are well worth reading. And as the daughter of a zoophile, who has spent much time in San Diego's Zoo, I can attest that Ackerman's imagery is highly accurate. The rest of the book moves at breathtaking speed, very much like a novel.

Antonina and her husband Jan, the zookeeper and a leader in the Resistance, hid at least three hundred Jews in the Warsaw Zoo at various times during the Holocaust. Many (those who looked least Semitic) were hidden in plain sight, mingling with zoo visitors and/or appearing to be family servants. Others developed a nocturnal lifestyle, hiding in the zoo's empty cages or the "attic" (a storage room on the second floor of the zookeeper's villa) during the day and coming out at night. It's about as inspirational as stories get, and gorgeously written.

Girls Chase Boys Chase Girls (also Matryoshka Books): The Annotated Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, annotated and edited by David M. Shapard: I could put Mansfield Park in Matryoshka Books, since I have read The Jane Austen Book Club, a novel in which all of her mature novels are embodied and discussed by one or other of the characters. Thing is, while I remember the embodiments of Persuasion, Northanger Abbey and Emma, I don't remember much at all about the discussions or the embodiment of this one. But oh boy, does this Cinderella story have a bunch of love triangles, really a love triangle chain. Mr. Rushworth takes a shine to Maria Bertram, the cousin of our heroine. She isn't real thrilled with him, but likes his wealth and becomes engaged to him before she meets and falls in love with Henry Crawford. Mr. Crawford flirts with her mercilessly, as well as her sister Julia, but he doesn't propose to either of them, He in turn falls in love with Fanny Price, our heroine, to whom he does propose. She refuses because she dislikes him intensely, she disapproves of the way he's treated her cousins...and besides, she's hopelessly (and because of her poverty, it really is apparently hopeless) in love with Edmund Bertram, her cousin. Edmund in turn falls in love with Mary Crawford, Henry's sister, a VERY wealthy woman, who isn't really sure she wants to marry a younger son destined for the clergy. In the end (and if you don't want to know the ending, don't finish this paragraph), Henry runs off with Maria who had married Mr. Rushworth after Henry emotionally jilts her, and the scandal of that affair effectively bars Edmund from marrying Mary, and Fanny from marrying Henry, and since Edmund and Fanny have been friends since they first met, you can guess the happy ending from there.

The intricacies of this chain make this Austen's longest and most complex work. It may also be her most profound, because she's dealing with a main character who observes and thinks deeply. It's the only Austen novel to which Nabokov gave the time of day. Most (maybe all) Austen novels talk about the poverty potential for ladies who don't marry or who marry beneath them, but this is the only one to actually show that downward mobility in detail, with a good look at Fanny's impoverished genteel-gone-bad biological family. Some people dislike Fanny Price as passive or prudish, but I don't find her so. Her refusal to marry a seductive-rejective jerk is not the act of a man-hating woman, as at least one editor I've read has claimed, but a very relevant act for this era of MeToo.

My main quibble concerns only one paragraph, the fourth-wall-breaking opening to the final chapter. Usually I don't mind breaks in the fourth wall, but this one wasn't done all that well IMHO. Otherwise, it was a wonderful book, much faster than expected. I'm glad to have read it.

Despite the added length, I'm glad I got this annotated edition. Sure, there were times something was easy enough to figure out, but there were a number of cases where a word didn't mean what it means to us. And there are some very interesting historical notes. My favorite: when Fanny's girl cousins marvel that she doesn't know how to put together a map, I was impressed that children were taught to make maps...but that's not what it means; it means they learned geography by putting together jigsaw puzzle maps, and that, dear readers, is the probable origin of jigsaw puzzles.

Laughing Matters: The Herring-Seller's Apprentice by L.C. Tyler: So, after reading a lengthy classic, I figured I should treat myself to an amusing mystery. Take one part The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and put it in the pot with one part Bertie Wooster and Jeeves (Wooster played by hack writer Ethelred Tressider and Jeeves played by his literary agent Elsie Thirkettle, a foul-mouthed nightmare of an agent...but legit). Oh, and add a treatise on writing, plus a few essays on Ethelred's father into the mix.

Does the mishmash work? Yes and no. The yes is that the plot is interesting, even if parts of it were easy to guess early on. The ending zipped along.

But the no is problematic. The humor hid a great many clues. That meant that I had a choice between reading the thing slowly with an eye to the clues or quickly with an eye to the humor. Couldn't do both at once. And the essays on Ethelred's father, while funny and ultimately necessary to the plot, also stopped the action.

But I liked it well enough that I may tackle it's sequel sometime.

The Navaho Code Talkers by Doris A. Paul: Informative, but not well written.

Freebies (Also Out of the Park on First At-Bat and Vast Acclaim): Spider Woman's Daughter by Anne Hillerman: Mr. Siri, knowing that I like Tony Hillerman's mysteries, picked up this one by his daughter at our then-local little free library. It's her first novel – though not her first book—and it won the Spur Award.

It's wonderful. Enough chewy mixed in with the action for my tastes. You can tell that the Hillermans treat Navaho culture, religion, practice and thought with considerable respect. At the same time, they don't whitewash the problems. If you're going to use material based on a group of people to which you don't belong, this is the way to do it.

No Cliff Notes This Time: Silas Marner by George Eliot: A few years ago, while researching a historical novel that I'm just getting back into (maybe), I discovered the required reading list from 1909 (the year of my protag's first year of high school) for Oregon high schools. Silas Marner was one of the books required for the that first year. So I read it for research.

It's the story of a weaver who's betrayed in the worst possible way(s) by his apparent best friend...and apparently also by God. He moves to a new village, develops a miserly streak, loses his money, and soon thereafter discovers and takes into his life an abandoned toddler, a golden-haired little girl. And therein lies his salvation and his reintegration back into society.

It's not the world's fastest read. As I read the first part, I could think of all sorts of ways of rewriting the thing and making it interesting by contemporary standards. The end of the Part I made the beginning of Part II look like this was going to be an overly long epilogue, but after a chapter or two, Part II turns out to be what the book is ultimately about. Here's the quote: "When a man turns a blessing from his door, it falls to them as take it in."

I found it refreshing. Found the slowness useful, both for finding the useful research bits, and for developing a deeper understanding of what Mary Ann Evan (AKA George Eliot) was saying with her long and complex sentences. I would have liked annotations. But I'm not sorry I read this.

Holy Moly (Also Run for the Border): Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart by Alice Walker: I'd picked two books to (hopefully) read this year that are set in the partly Amazon Basin. Little did I know that this book is also partially set there.

It's a trippy book about a spiritual journey, which is my kind of thing. Unfortunately, it's also deeply flawed. Rather than a novel, it's more like a frame story providing a venue for a series of folks telling tales around the campfire (sometimes literally). Now, that's okay. It made some of the horror of some of those stories easier to read. But the way the main protagonist is presented throughout the book, acts to undercut some of the more cogent parts of the underlying message. Also the plot is flimsy and obvious from miles away. Nonetheless, I'm not sorry I read it.

Lol Random (Also Bits and Pieces): Twice-Told Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne: Back when I started doing the AW Book Challenges in 2017, I opened up the Gutenberg Project site and came up with this book. I didn't have a copy then, and don't care much for e-books, but I decided to read it the next time Lol Random came up after I'd gotten a copy. So here we are.

I'm not sorry I read it. There are bits I can potentially use for the book I'm researching. It also gives me a strong feeling of how much younger we are now that we're a chronologically older nation full of elders like myself. (He describes many old ladies as "withered," and withered I'm not!)

But I'm not sorry to be done with it either. The use of racial slurs was appalling (even when he was showing how the word "Savage" might be better employed describing Puritans than Native Americans). It was also deeply gloomy. How weird that Longfellow described the book as breathing of May! (Makes me wonder how terrible the literature of the period actually was,) The stories were written before Hawthorne became successful, and the sense that he's had his hopes smashed time and again pervades the piece. I came close to scrapping it several times. But I persevered, both for the research and so that I could type this up. :)

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 
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Hanukkah sameach!

Gold menorah and on a gradiated purple background