Category Archives: Reading Challenges

2017 Reading Goal: April

2017 Reading Goals Recap:

  • 170 books
  • 25 re-read books
  • Get my to-read list down from 960 to 900 (and keep it there!) 
  • Read some Greek classics and church fathers

 

How am I doing?

  • 63 books read (9 books ahead of schedule. Number includes re-reads)
  • 6 books re-read
  • To-read list: 924 (didn’t change from last month…which is something of an accomplishment) 
  • No Greek classics or church fathers, though I did buy a book by Augustine, so I’m practically there. 

Onward!


Marie Lu

Marie Lu is a popular Young Adult writer whose works always seem to be hovering about my to-read list never getting read. I finally decided to change that and over the past week or so read the first books in her two trilogies: The Young Elites and Legend. Unfortunately, neither overly impressed me. 

The Young Elites has an X-Men, fantasy feel. Certain survivors of a deadly fever start developing superhuman abilities. Society fears and alienates them. A few band together and become rebels, openly opposing and attacking the corrupt, inefficient government. I did not particularly care about any of the characters and this removed a lot of the emotional punch from the story. The writing style annoyed me. In the end, this book was more creative than Legend, but never enough to win me over.

With Legend, I liked the characters separately but was driven to distraction by their awkward insta-love. This is an unoriginal, dystopian novel that relies heavily on the usual trope but doesn’t particularly add anything. The writing style annoyed me so much I nearly gave up after the first two chapters. There is certainly some possibility here but it lacks the world-building necessary to be something really interesting. 

I might try her third series when it comes out but I probably won’t go out of my way to read it. 


Charles Dickens

It took over 30 hours, but I finished Bleak House on audio book. I had high hopes for this one but I didn’t like it as much as I expected. There were some really memorable characters, but also some mediocre ones. Esther, the main narrator, is perfect in every way. Her companions are equally wholesome, and if they aren’t, they get epic death scenes. The plot is typically convoluted with the usual absurdities. 

When it comes to Dickens, I tend to give his books either 5 stars or 3. I either really like his books, or feel unenthusiastic about them. Bleak House falls in the 3 star category. My favorites from the 5 star category are:
Our Mutual Friend
David Copperfield

A Tale of Two Cities
A Christmas Carol

Whereas the 3 stars include:
Oliver Twist
Great Expectations
Little Dorrit 

Still on my to-read list are:
Hard Times

Nicholas Nickleby
The Pickwick Papers
Pictures from Italy 

Any favorites I should add?

 


Whatcha Reading…? 4/22/2017 Book Update

“What are you currently reading?” asks the Get To Know You form. I look at the inch provided to respond in and don’t know whether to laugh or cry. What am I currently reading…??

I am in the middle of quite a few books right now. The problem is time. I’ve been in the midst of several books for weeks and there are twice as many unread in my library basket but I don’t seem to be finishing them at my usual pace. I think I need to take a reading day. However, for now, here is what I am currently reading:

Legend by Marie Lu, Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, Fierce Convictions by Karen Swallow Prior, Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, New Collected Poems by Wendell Berry, and The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. I’m still working on An Autobiography by Agatha Christie and Jack by George Sayer.  I am re-reading Manalive by G.K. Chesterton and listening to Bleak House by Charles Dickens on audio book. 

I don’t have much time today so I won’t go into the relative merits of each of these reads but there are some really interesting ones. And some less interesting ones. Hopefully you’ll see a few reviews with these names over the next week!


Books Vs. Time

I have barely read anything since the month of April began and I am seriously stressed out by that. I had a nice lead on my 2017 Reading Challenge and it is slowly dwindling away. To combat this, I have gone to the library several times and checked out a plethora of books. 

The thing is, that is not where the problem lies. It isn’t that I do not want to read, it is that I do not have time to read. While I know that, I don’t like acknowledging it. It is so much easier to think, ‘Oh, I just need to find the right book to get me reading,’ than it is to think, ‘I need to manage my time better if I want to read later.’

However, I have been very responsible and have not been reading. My overflowing library basket can attest to that! 

EDIT: Also, full disclosure, I’ve been watching more K Dramas than normal so that might also play a part in this.


#TBT Skulduggery Pleasant

In the spirit of re-reading more, I thought it might be fun to do a few #TBT (Throwback Thursday) posts with books I really enjoyed but never re-read. The first one I chose was Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy. Unfortunately, I think I hyped this one up too much to myself over the years. It wasn’t nearly as funny as I remember it being. I originally rated it 3 stars and I think that is fairly accurate. 

Plot: When 12-year-old Stephanie’s uncle dies, she inherits his entire estate and the friendship of the very strange Skulduggery Pleasant. Skulduggery is a skeleton. He should have died centuries ago but he never did so, instead he became a detective. When Stephanie’s new possessions put her in the path of her uncle’s killer, she teams up with the skeleton detective and enters a hidden world of magic to stop an evil maniac bent on destroying the world. 

My thoughts: This is a very creative story with lots of snappy dialogue and unique characters. The action starts right at the beginning and never lets up. Considering that hidden, magical worlds are not exactly new territory, this is book manages to stay fresh and fun even when handling occasionally old tropes.

However…I never found my care-factor fully engaged. Ultimately, I blame the constant action. Someone is always being kidnapped or betrayed or tortured or shot at. There is hardly a moment to catch your breath and actually process what is all going on. The characters are clever and snappy but experience very little character change. It isn’t that I would want this book to be longer, it is already too long, but it needs to be a bit more developed to appeal to a wider audience. Then again, perhaps it has no plans to appeal to a wider audience, and is simply aimed at the Middle School crowd. 

Originally I wanted to re-read this entire series but I don’t think I will. My former reviews and ratings of this series get lower as the books progress and there are other series better worth re-reading. It is a pity, really. I remember this book being so funny. However, I don’t think I laughed out loud once. It merely amused me. 


Listening to Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady

I’ve been listening to Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady on audiobook and it is slowwww going. Granted, the book is long (over 20 hours) but it seems to be more than that. I dislike all the characters! There is no plot. And James is so dang wordy. I’m finishing disc 16 of 18 and the only thing keeping me going is the thought that I’m almost done.

To celebrate nearly being done, here are a few of my status updates from the past few weeks: (SPOILERS – maybe?) 

2% in – “I believe I have discovered another ENFP! Unfortunately, at the moment I do not like her.”

20% in –  “List of things I hate so far:
The ENFP main character
British lords
American girls
Men
The word “interlocutor””

24% in – “I think I can blame this book for my reading slump, and I’m not even reading it! I’m listening to it on audio. I guess the bright side is that while avoiding it I have heard a lot more pop music on the radio… Actually, I take it back. That is not the bright side. That is the dark side. I’m slowly dying inside. SOMEONE HELP ME.”

50% – “You mean…I’m only halfway through? *sob*”

60% – “Ahhh yes, abrupt confessions and angsty lovers are CLEARLY not enough. Better add an unhappy marriage.”

70% – “That awkward moment when your main suitor is dating you for your stepmom…”

72% – “Did James just say Pansy lives in a “virginal bower”? Why yes, yes he did.”

80% – “Am I done yet? No? Please?”