Book Challenge by Erin 8.0

Book Challenge by Erin 8.0

I’m a little late getting this post up (by a month considering the latest installment of Book Challenge by Erin started in January, but, oh well).

As you probably know, the challenge consists of ten categories with one book for each followed by a bonus round for avid readers and runs for five months. Here are the categories for Book Challenge by Erin 8.0:

  • 5 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages


 Before We Were Yours is a story of adoption corruption. I have an interest in the subject of adoption, so I am looking forward to this one.

  • 10 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “L”


Little Fires Everywhere is Ha! another novel featuring adoption issues. I loved this author’s other novel Everything I Never Told You.

  • 10 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) red cover


The Red Door showcases Ian Rutledge and his ghost buddy cum tormentor Hamish. I finished this one. The suspects comprised three brothers, three wives, a sister, some neighbors. I had trouble keeping them straight. Then again, I read this in my comfy bed at night, so that may have something to do with my confusion.

  • 15 points: Read a book with a character’s name in the title:


Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life is an Upper Middle Grade novel about a kid who must unlock messages from his dead father. It made me think of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close–complete with a key quest though lighter, for the younger set.

  • 20 points: Read a book from this list: Book Riot’s 100 must read books with plot twists:


Everlost is a YA novel about ghosts of a sort, I guess. Ghost fiction–another of my passions.

  • 20 points: Read a book with the words “house” or “home” in the title:


Louise Erdrich is a very accomplished writer. I was impressed with two of her novels I’ve read–Love Medicine and Birchbark House. My only concern with Future Home of the Living God is it sounds similar (almost to the point of being derivative?) to The Handmaid’s Tale. We’ll see.

  • 25 points: Read a book by an author whose first and last name begins with the same letter:


I loved the movie Nobody’s Fool, and Pulitzer winner Empire Falls, so I’m looking forward to reading Nobody’s Fool.

  • 30 points: Read a book that was originally published in a different language than your own:


The Forgotten Girls is Nordic Noir featuring a detective with a past. The next book in the series explores her past, so I’ll probably check that one out, too.  

  • 30 points: Read a book where most of the action takes place on a form of transportation:


The Lady Vanishes is the book that was adapted into the famous Alfred Hitchcock film. The book gave me a lot of context I missed when I saw the movie–some pro-British xenophobia and blatant paternalism. For instance, passengers thought it was appropriate to drug a woman without her knowledge or consent because they disapproved of her behavior.

  • 35 points: Read a book with a character that suffers from a debilitating physical illness:


The main character of Fear Nothing has XP, a terminal skin condition that confines him to the house during daylight hours. He roams at night and discovers something is not right in Moonlight Bay.

So there you have my selections for Book Challenge by Erin 8.0. Any suggestions for the bonus round…assuming I get that far? If you’d like to join in the fun, check out Book Challenge by Erin on Facebook or Goodreads. The more the merrier!  



Reading in 2017: Review and Resolve

My reading in 2017.

At last it’s New Year’s Eve. I’ve yet to speak to anyone who is not happy to bid farewell to this year of greed and infighting and fake news and war mongering.

Of course, reading is never something to regret but rather to look back on with affection even as we anticipate the new reads of the new year. With that in mind…

I read many books but only recorded 30 of them on Goodreads. Among those, a few stand out.

I read a Newbery Medal:

Sarah, Plain and Tall

a PEN Faulkner nominee:

Behold the Dreamers

a Hugo and Nebula winner:

The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer

a Man Booker nominee:

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam, #1)

a Man Booker winner:


a Kirkus Prize and Goodreads Choice nominee:

A Gentleman in Moscow

and the latest novel by Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguru

The Buried Giant

I’m still wrapping my head around The Buried Giant. My book group is discussing it in a week, and I will write a post about this novel and versatile author. Watch for it. The Diamond Age was optioned for a drama series long ago; fingers crossed it is produced soon! I think it would be absolutely stunning. Of all the books I read in 2017, my favorite, favorite read was A Gentleman in Moscow. It has everything: historical drama, buddy love, romantic flutterings, and family devotion. Every single member of my book group loved it, and that’s hard to achieve.

All told, 30% of my Goodreads selections were literary prize winners. I had set a goal of 25%, so I’m happy. I’m setting a reading goal of 32 books on Goodreads. I easily read that much and more. The challenge has been to record and/or review them, so I resolve to do a better job of that in 2018.

Tomorrow, January 1, 2018 begins Book Challenge by Erin. I’ve already made my selections and will discuss the challenge next week. Some great categories coming up for 2018!

How about you? What books did you love or hate in 2017? What are you looking forward to in 2018?


YA Book Review: Frankie


Frankie by Shivaun Plozza

Publisher: Penguin, 314 pages
Format: Ebook
Source: Net Galley

What it’s about:

Frankie lives with her Aunt Vinnie above Terry’s Kebab Emporium, her addict mother having walked out years before. Currently suspended from school for engaging in a fight with the class bully, Frankie is tough and scrappy because she has to be. As the novel opens, Frankie discovers a brother, a talented street artist, she never knew she had. However, shortly after their meeting, Xavier goes missing, and Frankie seems to be the only one who truly cares.

Frankie takes to back streets and junkie warrens searching for clues to Xavier’s whereabouts. Along the way she picks up bad boy pickpocket Nate, and together they question all who know Xavier.

What I thought:

I really like Frankie’s punk-yet-vulnerable voice. I love the author’s sensuous descriptions of street art hidden around the city; in fact, I would have enjoyed even more art. It was that rich. The author does a good–scratch that–great job of putting abandonment and its terrible legacy onto paper. Despite the tough love of Aunt Vinnie, Frankie is gripped by a sense of loss. Why wasn’t she good enough for her mother to keep? And it is this as much as anything that drives her search for the brother she never knew she had.

The middle bogged down for me in an endless Waiting for Godot loop. Blowing off school, lying to Aunt Vinnie, mistreating her childhood friend, searching for Xavier, mooning over Nate’s blue eyes, blowing off school–every day and every night the same. At times, you find yourself wanting to beat Frankie with a wet noodle for her less than stellar choices.

Although at times I felt I had entered a teen Waiting for Godot, the  pitch perfect ending of Frankie brought all the plot elements–high school drama, drug dealers, working class values, first love–together and, for me, proved worth the wait.

I received a copy of Frankie from Net Galley.  

Your reading room

Books! Beautiful books!

Your Reading Room

If you’re reading this, then it follows as night follows day (I always wanted to use that simile, and now I have!) that you’re a reader. It also follows that you may be in need of the perfect reading room.

Bear with me. I know you have a place to read–perhaps it’s your bed with a bevy of pillows tucked in behind you, and you’re wearing your fuzzy bunny sleeper. But that’s not the reading room we’re discussing today. Today is all about pretending and maybe salivating but mostly we’re going to imagine, even fantasize about–

Your Ideal Reading Room!

Ready? Good. Let’s begin.

The first, most necessary of items in our reading room is a bookcase. I know you may be utterly devoted to your Kindle, Kobo, or Nook, but that doesn’t mean physical books don’t matter. They still do, so you’ll want to surround yourself with some actual books for that much-needed ambiance. Plus, you can’t get that smell of old paper or the touch of leather from an e-reader.

Besides, we’re not talking ordinary bookcases here. We’re talking the kind of bookcase you’ve read about in Gothic novels but didn’t imagine you could ever own, might not have known even existed, but this is your ideal reading room and therefore this is a hidden bookcase just for you:

image courtesy flikr creative commons

If you happen to be in the enviable position of remodeling or designing your own reading room, check out Hidden Doors by Design to see what they have to offer.

Now the second most important element in your ideal reading room is that you not be disturbed when reading. So, with a twist of the crown of Nefertiti here whose bust has been inconspicuously placed on a shelf, your magic bookcase swivels, and you step inside

File:Nefertiti bust.JPG

Queen Nefertiti courtesy Egyptian Museum Berlin via Wikimedia Commons

and behold your inner bookcase. This one is called the Athens Library and comes to us from Arhaus:

In addition to its roomy shelves, I love the idea of a ladder so that no book will ever be out of reach. If you happen to be wearing a skirt when perched atop the ladder though, be aware of any potential voyeurs nearby who may have an eye for more than your books.

Now that you are safe, hidden, and cozy in your reading room, it’s time to prepare yourself for your reading adventure. You’ll want to put on some primo reading music–perhaps classical instrumental or smooth jazz. Here’s a lovely media center that will go nicely with your furnishings so far from Arhaus:

TV Stands & Media Consoles

You can see more elegant pieces to mix into your reading space here.

And now, with a vibrant Amish quilt on the wall at your back,

By Hiart (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

plot yourself down in your easy reading chair, place your reading selection on the handy table, and gaze out the mullioned windows overlooking a grove of quaking aspens. As it’s fall, the trees are in full autumnal splendor.

There you have it–your fantasy reading room. Other items I didn’t mention but consider essential (otherwise, this post would go on forever, and you need to get to your reading) include Korean celadon pottery placed here and there on the bookshelves and an Aynsley tea cup on the table. Yes, the tea cup must be hand washed at the end of the day, but your household staff will be happy to take care of that for you.

So, how close did I get to your wildest dream? Can you picture yourself in this reading room? What did I leave out?

Now if only I lived here! Sigh…