Reading Challenges

Reading Challenge | 2020 Reading a Shortlist

Hello and welcome to the final installment of my Reading a Shortlist Challenge where I read the 2019 Booker Prize Shortlist. This is the second time I am challenging myself to this challenge, and wont be the last. This year I set a challenge to read the 6 books, but I will be honest at this point in time I decided not to read one in part because I don’t agree with the outcome of this award in 2019. I will explain this a bit more, but here are my thoughts on the 5 books I did read!


Ducks, NewburyportDucks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This is a book I would have never tried to read if it was not on the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize. Saying that, you can most likely see I ended up giving this book 1 star. While the idea of this book did sound very appealing as soon as I started to read it a red flag for my personal reading tastes went up. The first few pages was just a never ending list with commas, never a period. The book was being told by someone who is just rambling on and on, which I can see is most likely a choice to get the feel for how thee narrator is feeling about life.

For me, this was so stress inducing for a few reasons. I felt like I was reading the equivalent to Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder movie) taking the winners down the chocolate river through a tunnel. It was just getting more and more intense because I was reading faster and faster just trying to find a period. I. just wanted a natural stopping point to put the book down. The second being, I personally dislike stream of consciousness writing.

Mainly due to the formatting and how the author choose to write this book, I did not like it. But, thesee are mainly personal reasons and if any of these don’t bother you I say give it a go. Like I said the idea of this book is great, it was just ruined for me based upon the formatting.

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Girl, Woman, OtherGirl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another book on my quest to read all the 2019 shortlisted books! I am pleased to say that reading this book was a very different experience than reading the previous book I read in this challenge. I truly loved the writing style of this book and how it was set up. The is a collection of short stories where all of the characters are connected in one way or another. I personally have never read a collection like this, but it made all the difference for me.

Every voice in this book has a powerful story to tell, each perspective is of an individuals who is minority in the Britain. Each one of the authors story was wonderfully written, their writing talent is truly something of wonder, their voice is strong and confident, which I truly enjoyed. As I read I was invested in the characters even though we were not with them the entire book. I tend to have difficulty doing this in short stories since we spend so little time with characters. But, the quality of these stories really elevated my reading experience. Also, really liked how the author discussed huge topics such as feminism, racism, different forms of abuse, love, and many more. I am thankful that this book was on the shortlist, because sadly this book is not talked about otherwise and it truly is a shame. I honestly think she should have been the only winner as well.

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QuichotteQuichotte by Salman Rushdie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Overall, I really liked this book it addressed a lot of issues in our society when it comes to both race and mental illness. I recommended this to quote a few people after reading this retelling of sorts of Don Quixote. But, it is more than a retelling, as I mentioned it address quite a few topics, but does so as a magical realism novel mixed with a couple other genres.

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10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I want to start off by saying that this is one of the most inventive and unique books I have read based upon the idea alone. But, this book is penned by a very talented writing and it just makes the book that much better. The first part of this book follows the 10 min. after death of a woman named Leila, who lived a very interesting life. You learn about her life through various memories that come to her in her last moments of life. It really hits home the “life flashes before your eyes” idea.

The second part discusses humility, society, and just being a decent human and how a system takes that away. How some individuals in life and in death can be discriminated against. It was a very interesting book that not only showed you the life of the characters, but also talked about society and highlighted how friendship can be such a powerful thing. I feel like this is a book I will be rereading because I feel like I can get even more out of it.

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An Orchestra of MinoritiesAn Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So, this is a very imaginative story. I really loved the premise of the tale and I really enjoyed that it was narrated by a guardian spirit called a chi. The writing itself was really wonderful and I think the author has a gift for sure. I would really like to see what else they have written because the writing is that good.

Unfortunately there were a few things I personally could not get over. The use of a really inappropriate word that honestly has no business being in a book published in 2019, so many other words could have been used to get the point across with ease. Secondly, this was said to be an interpretation of the Oddesey and I did not pick up on it personally, but I am very open to being wrong about this. If you have read it and I just missed it, please let me know.

Also, this book was filled with female objectification and I can only hope that the authors purpose in this is to bring light to this. The main character cannot take any responsibility and is pig headed. He commits a horrible act who hurts someone he is meant to “love”. I put it into quotes because it isn’t love. The women in this novel are nothing more than their use to the main character. I had such high hopes for this novel, while I did not like this tale at all I will be checking out the authors other work because their writing itself was done very well. I plan on picking up The Fishermen in the next few months and very much look forward to it.

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Now, for the book I decided I did not want to read, The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. I decided not to read this for a few reasons, but the most propionate being I really think Bernardine Evaristo should have been the only winner. The second being I have tried multiple times to try and read The Handmaid’s Tale and I could not get into it at all, the writing bored me.

Overall, I am really happy with this years challenge, I ended up liking a majority of the books. Plus an authors whose writing I liked and will give another try since the book itself, plot wise, was not something I enjoyed. In previous years I was not so lucky. I have also recommended quite a few of these to friends and family and loaned them out, which is a huge complement to any book in my eyes.

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Wrap Up

Wrap Up | July 2020

Wrap Up

Hello and welcome to my monthly wrap up! I missed out on my middle mark post for the month so be prepared for quite a few mini reviews and well as my monthly stats overall. I think I did good overall this month, I even found a few books I love. The main driving force in my reading amount was The Reading Rush that book place between July 20th-26th. In that readathon alone I ended up reading ___ books that week alone. Anyway, on to the books, the reason you clicked onto this post.


Read 2

LGBTQ Stats: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer People by the NumbersLGBTQ Stats: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer People by the Numbers by Bennett Singer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very interesting, the name is very accurate, this book is a lot of questions being answers via data collected via census and polls. It is best read in chunks a little at a time because it reads like a textbook.

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The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the RipperThe Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed learning more about these women instead of just hearing about how they died. It was a very interesting read that I just flew through. I feel like you should give this a try if non-fiction is not really your thing because it does not read like a textbook, which in my eyes is a huge compliment to the author when it comes to non-fiction.

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Civil War Wives: The Lives & Times of Angelina Grimke Weld, Varina Howell Davis & Julia Dent GrantCivil War Wives: The Lives & Times of Angelina Grimke Weld, Varina Howell Davis & Julia Dent Grant by Carol Berkin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very interesting and good look into the wives of a couple of the most known individuals during the civil war. It was interesting to have a peak into their lives before, during, and after the war and see if and how they supported their partners, but also if they felt the same as their husbands. In addition, you can learn about the efforts made by some of these women on their own. The writing itself is done very well and the extent of sources is encouraging.

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The TempestThe Tempest by William Shakespeare

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are a few things I really liked about this play in particular the first being a ship wreck that reminded me of Odyssey in a way. I am not sure if this was the purpose, but I enjoyed the connection I made. I also liked that in this play there was also magic and magical creatures. As I said about Twelfth Night, I am always a sucker for it. I ended up giving this play 4 stars because I was a bit more into actually reading this and it kept my attention for than Twelfth Night did. It is one of the Shakespeare plays that I actually would not mind reading for a second time, I think Macbeth is the only other one on that list.

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10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I want to start off by saying that this is one of the most inventive and unique books I have read based upon the idea alone. But, this book is penned by a very talented writing and it just makes the book that much better. The first part of this book follows the 10 min. after death of a woman named Leila, who lived a very interesting life. You learn about her life through various memories that come to her in her last moments of life. It really hits home the “life flashes before your eyes” idea.

The second part discusses humility, society, and just being a decent human and how a system takes that away. How some individuals in life and in death can be discriminated against. It was a very interesting book that not only showed you the life of the characters, but also talked about society and highlighted how friendship can be such a powerful thing. I feel like this is a book I will be rereading because I feel like I can get even more out of it.

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Mexican GothicMexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is just amazing and I really think it is going to be one of my favorites for this year. It was a wonderfully written horror that had me flipping pages faster than I have in a bit. It reminded me of a few movies and novels, but even with that it was unique and all its own. If you enjoy horror I really think that this is something you might enjoy.

The writing was amazing, the main character was wonderfully written as well as the side characters. Usually side characters are just there, but Moreno-Garcia establishes them so well and they truly are part of the story. On top of the characters the atmosphere was spot on. It reminded me of crimson peak, haunting of hill house, and others. But, like I said, this is truly unique to is all the authors own.

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House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, #1)House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I am going to be honest, I really went into this book thinking I was going to enjoy it quite a bit. The idea sounded interesting and the world created sounded very interesting, but I was kind of bored reading this… okay very bored. The weird thing is, things were happening, some pretty intense stuff. So, I am not sure how or why I was bored, but I was. I might go back in the future and give this book another go, I might not have been in the right mood for it.

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The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air, #3)The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a wonderful ending to the series, did not disappoint! Holly Black as always does a great job of writing about fae and does wondering with writing in riddles and such. I give her a lot of credit in doing this because sometimes I can’t figure out the loopholes myself. In other books where there are fae characters I usually can figure it out easily.

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Celtic Mythology: Tales of Gods, Goddesses, and HeroesCeltic Mythology: Tales of Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes by Philip Freeman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I never thought that some Celtic Myths would make Greek Mythology seem boring. This was a really well done collection of myths that cover a good deal of time and area. I felt that the author framed them very well with giving some historical context as well as organized them well. I enjoyed reading these tails and chances are I will read them again in the future.

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The Night Country (The Hazel Wood, #2)The Night Country by Melissa Albert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great story by Melissa Albert. This was a really enjoyable continuation in this series. A lot was going on and it still held the same magic for me as the first one did. The only downside was there were a few pacing issues for me personally. I am excited to see what happens in the next book!

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Don't Touch My HairDon’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just finished reading Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri, it is a nonfiction that discusses racism and prejudice against blanks historically. The main vein that this particular book follows is based upon hair. I found it to be really interesting and it was a general history of racism touching on three different continents (North America, Europe, and Africa), but it was also a memoir of the author as well. I really annotated this book, I wrote on nearly every page.

The blurb said it best, ” intellectual investigation into black women and the very serious business of our hair, as it pertains to race, gender, social codes, tradition, culture, cosmology, maths, politics, philosophy and history”

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Teen Titans: RavenTeen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a really great graphic novel, I really enjoyed seeing this side of Raven. The plot was great, the art work and color scheme was wonderful. I am really glad that the author is adding to this series in September with Beast Boy!

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FirestarterFirestarter by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At first I was not into this story in the slightest, but I decided to try for a little bit longer. I am glad I stayed with it because I ended up enjoying this quite a bit. It is almost like a different version of The Institute or a precursor to it. It is very different, but has a similar vibe to it if that makes sense. Charlie was a great character and her dad is amazing.

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Home Before DarkHome Before Dark by Riley Sager

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very interesting thriller and ghost story. There was a real eerie feeling to this novel, which a horror lover like myself really enjoyed. On top of that the writing was great, you can tell the author really planned this novel out. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future

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The Girl from Widow HillsThe Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is such an amazing thriller, I could not put it down once I picked it up. The writing is top notch, they methods used to tell the story and build the world were wonderful. I recommend anyone who enjoys thrillers.

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The Tale of Mrs WestawayThe Tale of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a wild ride of a short story, it was really interesting to learn more about Mrs. Westaway.

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Beat the Backlist 2

Start of 2020: 51

Current: 2


Reading Stats


What was your favorite book this month?

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To Be Read

To Be Read | July 2020

To Be Read

Hello and welcome to my monthly TBR, where I name some books and chances are I wiill end up reading others ones because I am a total mood reader. Anyway, there are two that I must read for a few challenges, but the other three that are listed here I really want to read. But, as I said I am a mood reader, so let’s see what happens. Here are the books I plan on reading!


The Books

The Tempest by William Shakespeare, this play is my July pick for my 2020 Shakespeare Challenge. I really have no idea what it is about, so I don’t have an opinion on how I am going to feel or a prediction.

March by Geraldine Brooks, I picked this up on vacation in December and lately I have really wanted to read it. I have high hopes because it is Little Women inspired, it is meant to be following the father of that story during the Civil War. Plus, I feel like it will remind me of my vacation and I really miss traveling at this point, even day trips.

The Five by Halle Rubenhold, this was a gift from Reg for my birthday and I am really excited to learn about Jack the Rippers victims because I honestly have no idea who they were, but I know a lot about the crime.

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas, this was picked for me to read for my Someone Picks My Books series on my blog. I have read books by this author in the past, but I have not read her last one or two. So, we shall see how this one fairs!


What are you planning to reading this month?

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