Halfway through the year and I’m approaching the halfway mark on my reading goal. I’ve read 39 books out of 80. Not too shabby. Almost respectable, even. (I have to say, it’s been so sweet to not see the nagging comments from Goodreads telling me how many books I’m behind this year.)
Now as far as how I’m doing with reaching the goals for the reading challenges, let’s take a closer look.
I only managed to check off one TBR pile book this quarter – shameful! I must double my efforts this next quarter. Especially because I haven’t stopped buying books. ( I have mentioned I have a book-buying problem, yes?) This pile hasn’t stopped growing! It’s currently moving in the wrong direction…
New book(s) I’ve managed to clear off my TBR pile:
THIEF OF LIES (Library Jumpers #1) by Brenda Drake
This is the first book in a series by the wonderful and charming Brenda Drake, the YA author behind the Pitch Wars phenomenon. I loved the premise and the feisty female lead character. Drake does an excellent job with world-building and her fast-paced story has you racing to the end.
I look forward to the next installment.
Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound.
Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed. (Plot summary from author’s website.)
Learn more about Brenda Drake here.
Follow Brenda on Twitter here.
Follow Brenda on Facebook here.
By the way, if you like Twitter chats, Brenda will be our special guest this month on #okscbwichat. Join us on Tuesday, July 26th from 7-8pm CST.
2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge – I made a lot more headway on this challenge – almost halfway done, but not quite.
There are always wonderful ideas given in the discussions of the Book Riot’s Goodreads Read Harder Group. I love looking through the conversations here – so many great reading suggestions for each category! (You can also follow the Twitter hashtag #ReadHarder, if you’re curious.)
New books I’ve read for this challenge:
BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME by Ta-Nehisi Coates
(Read a book about politics, in your country or another – fiction or non-fiction)
I can’t count how many people recommended this book to me. Everyone who read it was moved in a profound way. Obviously I signed up to read it.
Powerful doesn’t begin to describe this story.
Coates puts you immediately in the conversation and lets you explore the fear and worry and anger and enlightenment from the point of view of a parent teaching a son how to come to terms with the same. A must-read book for sure.
“This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”
In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?
Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward. (Plot summary from Goodreads.)
Learn more about Ta-Nehisi Coates here.
Follow Ta-Nehisi on Twitter here.
GEORGE by Alex Gino
(Read a book under 100 pages)
Although this book could also qualify as my selection for someone who identifies as transgender, I have another title I want to read for that. And I had heard so many positive reviews of this book, I had to read it.
This book may be little, but it is mighty.
I cried so hard at the end and hugged it close to my heart. What an important book to add to the world and to put out there for MG readers. Fantastic story that needs to be read.
When people look at George, they see a boy. But George knows she’s a girl.
George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part … because she’s a boy.
With the help of her best friend Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte – but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.
GEORGE is a candid, genuine, and heartwarming middle grade about a transgender girl who is, to use Charlotte’s word, R-A-D-I-A-N-T! (Plot summary from author’s website.)
Learn more about Alex Gino here.
Follow Alex on Twitter here.
Follow Alex on Facebook here.
THE THREE PIGS by David Wiesner
(Read a book out loud to someone else)
I could have picked any number of books for this challenge as I read out loud to my son quite often, but this is one of his favorites, as evidenced by the worn cover and the pages falling out near the back.
David Wiesner is a master of the picture book, with sparse words and fantastical artwork that allows for an exploration into one’s own imagination to fill in the story. My son also loves his book, TUESDAY, which is almost wordless and completely magical.
Hold on to your hat and your home, but let your imagination soar! This masterly picture book will blow you away right along with the three little pigs’ houses. Satisfying both as a story and as an exploration of story, The Three Pigs takes visual narrative to a new level. When the wolf comes a-knocking and a-puffing, he blows the pigs right out of the tale and into a whole new imaginative landscape, where they begin a freewheeling adventure as they wander—and fly—through other stories, encountering a dragon and a cat with a fiddle, among others. This familiar tale will never be the same old story again. (Plot summary from author’s website.)
Learn more about David Wiesner here.
What books have taken you out of your normal reading pattern this year?
Bookish Cassie’s Reading Bingo Challenge – I did much better on this challenge and actually got my first bingo – woohoo! Of course I’m going for the full blackout.
Cassie is the dynamic gal with a head of fantastic curls, always at the ready with great book recommendations. She writes the glorious blog Books and Bowel Movements that I just love. Cassie is doing this reading challenge on her Instagram account, which makes it fun and really easy.
New books I’ve read for this challenge:
THE BANE CHRONICLES by Cassandra Clare
(Collection of Short Stories)
As a serious fan of all things Shadowhunter, I couldn’t resist getting to know one of my favorite characters in the series. I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes peek at the life of Magnus Bane and the illustrations – I only wish there had more more! The tales answered some questions and raised some others. The only drawback is now I feel compelled to reread the entire series of books. What’s a booklover to do?
Fans of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices can get to know warlock Magnus Bane like never before in this collection of New York Times bestselling tales, in print for the first time with an exclusive new story and illustrated material.
This collection of eleven short stories illuminates the life of the enigmatic Magnus Bane, whose alluring personality, flamboyant style, and sharp wit populate the pages of the #1 New York Times bestselling series, The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices.
Originally released one-by-one as e-only short stories by Cassandra Clare,, this compilation presents all ten together in print for the first time and includes a never-before-seen eleventh tale, as well as new illustrated material. (Plot summary from author’s website.)
Learn more about Cassandra Clare here.
Follow Cassandra on Twitter here.
Follow her on Tumblr here.
CAREER OF EVIL (Cormoran Strike #3) by Robert Galbraith (pseudonym of J.K Rowling)
(A book set in a place opposite of your hometown)
London couldn’t be any more opposite from my hometown in rural Oklahoma, so this is a perfect match for this challenge selection.
There’s nothing like a hard-boiled mystery novel, is there? I really enjoy reading these books by Rowling, er, Galbraith. Just a fun read. I know, I know, murder and mayhem, fun? I may be a little weird. Either way, I read through this book in a flash to find out whodunit.
When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible- and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.
With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…
Career of Evil is the third in the highly acclaimed series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott. A fiendishly clever mystery with unexpected twists around every corner, it is also a gripping story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives. (Plot summary from author’s website.)
Learn more about Robert Galbraith here.
Follow Robert on Twitter here.
Follow Robert on Facebook here.
(I’m sure you know how to find J.K. Rowling, but her other main site’s here.)
AMERICAN BOYS by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
(A book that makes you sound smart at dinner parties)
I think this book could fit in many categories, but I love talking about it everywhere I go, and encouraging everyone I know to read it, so I think it fits well here.
So much buzz about this book as THE book to read this year brought this title to my attention. And now I know why.
Such an important topic and so well handled by these two incredibly talented authors. Bravo!
Critically acclaimed authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely have joined forces to write an explosive new novel, ALL AMERICAN BOYS, inspired by recent controversial events and the national firestorm over police brutality.
Rashad Butler and Quinn Collins are two young men, one black and one white, whose lives are forever changed by an act of extreme police brutality. Rashad wakes up in a hospital. Quinn saw how he got there. And so did the video camera that taped the cop beating Rashad senseless into the pavement. Thus begins ALL AMERICAN BOYS, written in tandem by two of our great literary talents, Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. The story is told in Rashad and Quinn’s alternating perspectives, as they grapple with the complications that spin out of this violent moment and reverberate in their families, school, and town. Over the course of one week, Rashad tries to find the strength to accept his role as the symbolic figure of the community’s response to police brutality, and Quinn tries to decide where he belongs in a town bitterly divided by racial tension. Ultimately, the two narratives weave back together, in the moment in which the two boys, now changed, can actually see each other—the first step for healing and understanding in a country still deeply sick with racial injustice. Reynolds pens the voice of Rashad, and Kiely has taken the voice of Quinn.
“As a black man and a white man, both writers and educators, we came together to cowrite a book about how systemic racism and police brutality affect the lives of young people in America, in order to create an important, unique, and honest work that would give young people and the people who educate them a tool for talking about these difficult but absolutely vital conversations,” said Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. (Plot summary from author’s website.)
Learn more about Jason Reynolds here.
Follow Jason on Twitter here.
Follow Jason on Tumblr here.
Follow Jason on Instagram here.
Learn more about Brendan Kiely here.
Follow Brendan on Twitter here.
Follow Brendan on Facebook here.
ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
(Book already on your shelf)
As this book was a re-read for my Relaxed and Groovy Book Club, it was definitely already on my shelf. I’ve talked about this book ad nauseum on this blog, because it is one of my all-time favorites so I’ll spare you the details, unless you’re truly interested.
The way Sáenz paints with language gets me every time. He uses evocative language so well to hit right to the heart of the emotional moment of every scene. And his characters Ari and Dante are just the greatest. I loved this book even more the second time around. Find the full discussion here.
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be. (Plot summary from Goodreads.)
Follow Benjamin on Twitter here.
What have you been reading, lately?
What are you looking forward to reading next?