2017 Book Challenge: Lion, Witch, or a Wardrobe

The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir who got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe

By Romain Puertolas


A fakir by trade, Ajatashatru Oghash, takes an unexpected trip across Europe and into Africa in what should have only been a few hours in Paris. Aja travels by plane, taxi, wardrobe, trunk, hot air balloon, and merchant ship and meets a variety of individuals before he realizes his ultimate destination.

On the surface, this story is whimsical, fantastical, and even enjoyable. I found myself anticipating the protagonist’s next misadventure. But it was within the first two pages of the novel I found myself thinking some of the humor was racist. In a running joke that lasts throughout the novel and extends to several characters, the story offers multiple phonetic translations of certain names, for example: “Ajatashatru Oghash (pronounced A-jar-of-rat-stew-oh-gosh!)”. I know this doesn’t blatantly intend to harm or degrade a person of another race, but it’s that ever present racism that makes fun of anything different. And in this case, that difference is the inability for a Westerner to pronounce an Indian name. On the flip side, Puertolas’ novel touched upon the struggles of immigrants, so it made me go, “huh?” I also wish the other characters that Aja met were fleshed out beyond stereotypes (with the slight exception of Assefa). Any woman in the story, besides his mother-figure, was either beautiful or overtly sexual. Maybe some jokes were lost in translation (the original text is in French). I’m sad I couldn’t laugh more and feel good about it.

The Magician’s Nephew (The Chronicles of Narnia Book 1)

By C.S. Lewis

the magician's nephew

A boy and a girl become friends over a dreary summer. When the boy’s uncle manipulates them into a dangerous situation, the two must outsmart an evil witch and the boy’s hapless uncle. Through situations that test their character and their courage, the two friends play a hand in the future of Narnia.

So, most people have read this book when they were young. I missed it growing up. Too much time spent on the Boxcar Children series and not enough time reading the classics, I guess. But in any case, since this challenge was obviously inspired by the series, I decided to go to the original books and read them. Unfortunately, the wait for the ebooks is very long and this is the only book I’ve managed to borrow and read. The good news is that I found the second book in the series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, in hardback and so I’m reading it with my 5 year old and 2.5 year old now. It’s great to share in these books and have it be new to all of us.

Next challenge: A Book that was Made into a Movie

Read along with us by picking your own book that fits into the category and sharing it with us on June 30.

2017 Book Challenge Book Everyone but You has Read

*Note: Our last post had us reading books with a lion, witch or a wardrobe in it, but we pushed the back to do this challenge. We’ll do the lion, witch or wardrobe book on June 16.

A Book Everyone but You Has Read

Me Before You

by Jojo Moyes


Louisa Clark lives in a tourist town and accepts her hum-drum life. It isn’t until she loses her just-above minimum-wage job and starts working with Will Traynor that she begins to believe she deserves more. Will was involved in an accident two years prior and is now a quadriplegic, relying on Louisa and Nathan (his nurse) for everything. Both Louisa and Will soon realize that they can make life better for each other, though not how one would expect.

Disclaimer: I saw the movie adaptation before reading. I choose this book because I was surrounded by co-workers who had read and loved this book. They joyfully described how much it made them cry and anyone with feelings would do the same. Well, I must be a robot because the tears did not come. But please, don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed reading Moyes’ story. It only took me a few days (that’s good for my current work-life schedule); I think I was motivated by knowing what was going to happen next since I had seen the film. I liked Louisa and her understated strength. There were a multitude of times when I’m pretty sure I would have given up if I was in her shoes and I respect her so much. Will was beyond interesting and the author made me pause and reflect on life in general. So I felt like this was so much more than a sweet, love story or summer reading book; once I’m done with this book challenge I’ll read the sequel, After You.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

Fifty Shades of Grey

Synopsis: Anastasia Steele interviews billionaire Christian Grey as a favor to her roommate and best friend. When Christian pursues her, Ana is surprised. She’s even more surprised when Christian asks her to sign a non-disclosure agreement and a contract outlining the nature of their relationship. But Ana’s less than confident she can navigate the kind of relationship Christian wants when whips and canes are involved.

I know I’m about 5 years late in reading this series, especially since my blog is focused on romance novels, but they never appealed to me. I also started my master’s degree right around the height of the book’s popularity and there were so many negative reactions to it. Many people said it was poorly written. I found this to be false. It’s a fine book, I’ve read worse, although the author uses obscure adjectives that do little to add meaning to the story. Many people said there were issues with consent. I did not think this was an issue in the book. Christian is very clear about consent, going so far as to have his sexual partners sign a contract. Ana is the one who gets consent wrong and Christian goes about trying to prevent problems of consent in the future. What I did agree the book missed was what a BDSM relationship is about. I’m not an expert, but being involved in this kind of sexual relationship is not “wrong.” It’s a choice. The book also implies that people who enter these kinds of relationships are traumatized or damaged. I don’t think that’s true either, although I’m no expert. But I enjoyed the first and second books in the series. I even laughed at some points. I love Christian, but Ana really annoys me, which is why I didn’t read the last book in the series. And in case you’re curious, no I’m not going to watch the movies.

2017 Book Challenge: Re-Read

2017 Book Challenge


A book you loved… read it again

Christine’s Book

The Elements of Chemistry


HEAT (Part 2)

CAPTURE (Part 3)

from the Hypothesis Series by Penny Reid

Elements of Chemistry

Synopsis: Kaitlyn Parker doesn’t like parties, doesn’t like attention, and certainly doesn’t like her chemistry lab partner Martin Sandeke. The jerk-face is a jerk, no matter how handsome he may be. Martin doesn’t care that he’s a jerk. All Martin cares about is that Parker has been driving him crazy for the past semester. Once Martin backs Parker into the proverbial corner, he’s not going to let her out. In fact, Martin goes so far as to get Parker onto an island so he can finally have her undivided attention. The problem, of course, is that Martin is still a jerk-face, and Parker is still a girl who doesn’t like attention.

I read this series in 2015 when they first came out. It was one of those situations where I bought the first book, not realizing it was a cliffhanger. After finishing book one, I bought the whole series bundled, essentially paying for book 1 twice, but not caring because the books were that good! It was time to re-read it because: 1) I was depressed about some real life drama and needed a pick me up; 2) Penny Reid has announced that she will be writing the second book in the Hypothesis Series, Laws of Physics, and so I needed to prep; 3) I love nerdy, geeky heroines who have a strong moral compass and are all-around awesome. If you’d like to read my original, full book review, you can find it here.


Fallon’s Book

Midnight in Austenland

By Shannon Hale


I absolutely love Jane Austen. And my love for her has caused many relationship problems between me and other authors; I hesitate to start a book by an author I don’t know and usually just end up re-reading a book I know I’ll enjoy. My love, however, does not extend to all Austen inspired spin-offs, sequels, or changed point-of-view novels. I had just finished re-reading Hale’s Austenland and immediately picked up the next in the series (is it still considered a series if there are only two books?). It was at that time Christine and I decided to do this book challenge.
Midnight in Austenland does a good job reinventing itself from its predecessor. The story is once again set at the Regency-era Pembroke Park with a few familiar secondary characters. This time, we follow new guest, Charlotte Kinder, who just wants some time to reset her life but ends up trying to navigate through what’s real and what’s not At the park. During parts of the story I questioned whether I liked Charlotte or not, or if I found her too silly. Although everything about the people in Austenland can be described as silly, I don’t want my thirty-something heroine comparable to the naïve Catherine Morland. Once finished though, I was happy with Charlotte and had all those lovely, warm feelings I like to have at a conclusion. Maybe I should take the words of Hale to heart, “Jane Austen had created six heroines, each quite different, and that gave Charlotte
courage. There wasn’t just one kind of woman to be.”

Did you join us in our book challenge? What book did you re-read and why?

Our next book challenge will be pick a book solely based on the cover… we’ll post our picks on April 14. Hope you’ll tell us about the book you read!

2017 Book Challenge: Join us!

2017 Book Challenge


My friend Fallon and I thought it would be fun to do a Book Challenge. I’m not sure why we started thinking about it, other than Pinterest. I swear Pinterest inspires you in the weirdest ways. In any case, specifically we thought it might be fun to do the same book challenge, but picking different books. So Fallon can pick any book the meets the challenge requirement, as can I, and then at the end of the month we compare notes.


Obviously, since there are 26 challenges, we’ll need to read more than one book a month to complete it by the end of 2017, but since we both have kids, and jobs, and spouses that we actually like to spend time with, it may be a two year project. But it doesn’t really matter, because I’m looking forward to seeing what books Fallon will pick to fulfill each month’s challenge and reading what she thinks about the book she selected. I’m not sure she’d say the same thing about me, since she’d probably read my opinion in this blog anyway, but it’s fun to share something with a friend, especially since my family and I just moved away from Fallon and her bunch after living near them for over a decade.


We settled on 26 Books with Bringing Up the Burns from burns-familyblog.blogspot. I immediately liked it because of the reference to C.S. Lewis, even though I’ve never read the Chronicles of Narnia. Plus, my son’s favorite color is blue so I figured I can’t go wrong picking a book with a blue cover. It’s from 2015, but these lists never go out of style. To see the full list, click here.


We’d like to invite you to join us in our challenge. We’ll announce the next month’s challenge at the end of each blog post so you have time to select your book and read. Our plan is to post on the last Friday of every month, at the very least. You can post your book in the comment section for that month, or you can send me an email and I’ll add you to our blog post (yes! You, too, can be a blogger like us!). These will be short little summaries and reviews, just meant to be fun and interesting with little to no pressure. We hope you’ll come along on our adventure.


Our first challenge? A book you loved… read it again! (post scheduled for March 31, 2017)