Tag Archive | 2017 Book Challenge

2017 Book Challenge: A Book with Pictures

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

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Synopsis: Inspired by her old, forgotten journal, Fisher recollects her time filming Star Wars. More specifically, her diary is filled with pages of her 19 year-old self trying to figure out what her affair with and older, married man means, if anything. She also touches upon getting cast as Leia, how she dealt with “instant” fame, growing up in a Hollywood family, and the fans.

When I put my name on a super long waiting list for the book from the library, I didn’t know that this was the official confirmation of Fisher and Ford’s on-set affair. I’m a Star Wars fan, Fisher had died a couple of months before, I found her funny, and I knew she was a successful screen writer. I figured there was little to no chance that I wouldn’t enjoy this. However, I didn’t care about the affair and found myself enjoying the anecdotes about every other topic discussed. I think I’ll have to check out her other books in search of the fan girl “rush” I was looking for. Oh yeah, the pictures were great!

 Animate Me by Ruth Clampett


Synopsis: Shy animator Nathan knows exactly what he wants. He enjoys his job, he works on his comic books on the side, and he is in love with Brooke. The only problem is Brooke has no idea he exists. When Brooke suddenly realizes they work at the same animation studio, Nathan knows this is his chance to create the life he’s always envisioned for himself. But Brooke’s boyfriend isn’t going to let Nathan sweep his girlfriend off his feet.

This is a really sweet, funny, and surprisingly sexy romance novel. I met Ruth at an author signing event. In fact, I was recommended her book by Penny Reid, another author I love. Penny is great at recommending books and this one is no exception. The cartoons interspersed throughout the book are very sweet and add a lot to the storyline. I’m always a sucker for nerdy heroes and heroines, so this book is right up my alley. It’s free on Kindle Unlimited if you think it’s something you’d enjoy.

2017 Book Challenge: A Book that was Made into a Movie

A Book that was Turned Into a Movie

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Like Water for Chocolate

Synopsis: The subtitle is A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies. Tita loves Pedro, but because she’s the youngest daughter of Mama Elena, she must stay home to take care of Mama Elena when mama gets old. Instead, Pedro marries Tita’s sister to be close to her. The only way Tita can express her emotions is through the food she makes.

I remember seeing the trailer for this movie a long time ago and being intrigued by it. I’m really glad I read it. It’s some of the best magical realism I’ve read. I hated Mama Elena and felt so sad for Tita. But I loved reading about Tita’s journey as she grows up. The recipes are fascinating as they are a bit of realism to anchor the magic in the narrative. I was really surprised by the ending, since Tita makes a choice I wouldn’t have made had I been in her shoes, but it’s consistent with the novel.

 

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

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Synopsis: Thirty minutes after meeting a doctor for the first time, Susanna Kaysen finds herself on the way to McLean Hospital at the age of 18. There she is treated for her diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (what would be considered a case of depression by today’s standards) and remains at the institution for nearly two years. Kaysen describes her time, her health, and those she met while at McLean.

I saw this movie not to long after its 1999 release. I don’t remember much besides Angelina Jolie’s character was much more “messed up” than Wynona Rider. I wasn’t sure whether this book was going to be rhetoric on women’s healthcare or mental healthcare in the late 1960s, but I was surprised that it was neither. By Kaysen’s descriptions, she was definitely suffering and needing specialized assistance, but the reason she began having treatment was because she was found to be “promiscuous.” Girl, Interrupted was a quick read with short chapters and fascinating people (I mean, come on, mental institution); with her own insight on why she was there. It’s crazy (yes, I did choose to use that word) to think that today Kaysen would have been given Prozac and recommended weekly sessions with a medical professional not covered by insurance.

Have you read a book that was turned into a movie? What did you think? Is the movie better or the book? 

Our next book challenge is: A Book with Pictures. See what Fallon and I chose on July 14.

2017 Book Challenge: Lion, Witch, or a Wardrobe

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

By Romain Puertolas

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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

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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.

Book Challenge: A Great First Line

2017 Book Challenge

 

A book with a great first line

 

Shopping Series by Julia Kent

Shopping for a Billionaire (Book 1)

 

First line: “I am eating my ninth cinnamon raisin bagel with maple horseradish cream cheese and hazelnut chocolate spread. Don’t judge me.”

Shopping for a billionaire

Synopsis: Shannon Jacoby meets Declan McCormick in the men’s room. With her hand down a toilet. In clothes that belong on a homeless person or a college student. Somehow, they keep running into each other and sparks fly.

Okay, so it’s a great first two lines, but still, who wouldn’t want to continue reading, if only to figure out what the heck is going on?! I happened upon this book by chance. I received it for free from the author. I think I may have won it on Facebook… maybe… I can’t remember. In any case, it was really fun to read. So funny and interesting! One of those books that you can just relax into. However, I’m sad to learn this is just the intro to a 10 book series. Yes, you read that correctly—10 BOOKS!! Now, I’m not afraid of a long series; I did read all of the Sookie Stackhouse books, after all, but still. I’ll have to figure out how I can fit 10 more books into my schedule because these light-hearted, sassy stories need to be in my life.

 

1984 by George Orwell

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First line: It was a bright day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

Winston Smith (party member #6079), knows that there was a time when Oceania was at war with neither Eurasia nor Eastasia. Unfortunately, he can’t find anyone old enough to confirm and he doesn’t want to risk Big Brother overhearing. Winston knows that the past/his memories don’t lie, he only needs to find evidence that the Party hasn’t already destroyed.

I thought 1984 was required school reading for anyone who went through the American school system. Somehow I was never assigned either of Orwell’s most famous novels, and having read Animal Farm on my own, it was time.

The idea of the clock striking thirteen was eerie and mystical to me; the reality that the line merely refers to a society that goes by military time, written in an era before digital clocks was disappointing. There is no question that the themes in this novel are impactful and may serve as an introduction in critical-thinking towards government, but I couldn’t help myself from thinking Orwell wrote this novel as an excuse to have his 30-page essay on socialism and totalitarianism (Goldstein’s The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism) read on a mass scale. However, I hope that my sons are required to read it in school so they understand the importance of questioning those in a position of power (except my authority, which is unquestionable). How else are they going to understand why the reality show is called Big Brother?

Did you join us in this book challenge? Have you ever picked up a book simply based on the first sentence? Tell us about it!

Up Next: A book with a lion, a witch or a wardrobe. We’ll let you know what book we chose and how we liked it on May 26. Pick your own book so you can read along with us!

2017 Book Challenge Book by Its Cover

2017 Book Challenge

A book you pick solely because of the cover

Fit Trilogy by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Sated (Book 3)

Synopsis: Keira Kenney knows she’s an odd duck. While she teaches kickboxing during the day, she geeks out at night and that can be something of a turn off in the romance department. All Keira wants is to find someone who loves her for her. When her friend sets her up with Daniel Song during a science fiction conference, she’s not expecting anything but a fun day geeking out. So she’s surprised when she’s not only attracted to the sexy Korean-American pyrotechnics expert, but he seems interested back. But Daniel has a life behind closed doors and Keira’s not sure she can keep up, or keep Daniel interested when all she knows and likes is vanilla.

I actually was gifted this book from the Ripped Bodice Bookstore on Twitter. I can’t believe I won it! What happened was they tweeted a picture of some books they were giving away and all I had to do was reply with the title of the book I wanted. Obviously I picked Rebekah Weatherspoon’s book because of the cover. And I am really glad I did. Rebekah was so sweet, she even signed it!! I enjoyed this book so much! It made me laugh and giggle and swoon. I also really love that Keira has mocha skin and Daniel is Korean. It is erotica, so be forewarned about that, but it was some of the lightest and sweetest erotica I’ve ever read.

Fallon’s Book

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

By Aimee Bender
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Rosie was able to uncover her mom’s secret, her brother’s dispassion for everything, and a one-sided friendship all by taking a few bites of food. Pre-pubescent Rosie discovers she can taste the feelings and emotions of whoever makes or prepares the food she eats. She finds this, well, distasteful and is caught praying to the vending machine and its heavily processed, unsentimental, machine made meals. She never eats anything she makes herself.

I love lemon cake, though I’ve never tried it with chocolate frosting. This cover was very appetizing and that is the simple truth on why I chose Bender’s novel. (Hey, did you notice that the shadow looks like a person’s, because I didn’t until right now.) The narrative took me to a very different place than where I expected Rosie’s special talents would go. I was about 75% of the way through the novel (thank you Kindle app) before the Rosie I wanted to read about finally appeared. Then at around 90% complete, the timeline jumped and literally left me saying, “Huh?” Not two pages after that, the story ended because I wasn’t taking into consideration the eight pages of book club questions. In-depth discussion about character relationships would probably improve my opinion of the book (no, please just explain Joseph!), but as it was just me and my thoughts, I’m left with a sour taste, tinged with my own thoughtlessness.

Did you join us in our challenge? What book did you pick based on the cover? Did you enjoy it?

Our next book challenge is a book with a great first line… we’ll be revealing our picks on April 28. You should read along with us!

2017 Book Challenge: Re-Read

2017 Book Challenge

 

A book you loved… read it again

Christine’s Book

The Elements of Chemistry

ATTRACTION (Part 1)

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

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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!