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JulieLill's 2017 Reading Challenge

Read it, Track it! (& 2017 12 x 12 Challenge)

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Edited: Dec 24, 2016, 5:06pm Top

Going to challenge myself by doing a pyramid reading challenge!

Edited: Dec 24, 2016, 5:09pm Top

#1 Author Challenge - Read a Charles Dicken's Book

Edited: May 20, 6:53pm Top

#2 Horror Challenge Read 2 horror books
1)Universal Harvester John Darnielle 3.5/5 stars Finished 5/20/2017

Edited: Mar 16, 3:15pm Top

Edited: May 10, 1:03pm Top

#4 Young Adult Read 4 books
1) The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip M. Hoose 4.5/5 stars 1/5/2017
2) Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan 4/5 stars 1/16/2017
3)The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge 4/5 stars 2/18/2017
4) The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier 5/5 stars 5/9/2017

Edited: May 15, 7:24pm Top

#6 Romance Read 6 books
1) Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell 4.5/5 stars Finished 5/15/2017

Edited: Feb 5, 2:59pm Top

#7 Science Fiction Read 7 books
1) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline 4/5 stars 1/24/2017
2)The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster by Scott Wilbanks 3.5/5 stars 2/4/2017

Edited: Mar 30, 6:11pm Top

#8 New Authors for Me Read 8 books
1) Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt 4/5 stars 2/2/2017
2) Artichoke Tales by Megan Kelso 2/5 stars 3/4/2017
3) The Bookman's Tale by Ronald Blythe 4/5/ stars 3/15/2017
4) Gast by Carol Swain 3.5/5 stars 3/30/2017

Edited: Mar 30, 6:09pm Top

#9 Mysteries Read 9 books
1) Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley 3/5 stars 2/10/2017
2)Tricky TwentyTwo by Janet Evanovich 3/5 stars 3/30/2017

Edited: May 27, 7:44pm Top

#10 Autobiographies and Biographies Read 10 books
1) Not Just Batman’s Butler: The Autobiography of Alan Napier by Alan Napier with James Bigwood 3/5 stars 1/17/2017
2)I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou 5/5 stars 3/19/2017
3)Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Detachment and Isolation by Adam Resnick 4/5 stars 3/20/2017
4)Maude by Donna Mabry 3.5/5 stars 3/25/2017
5)On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker by A'Lelia Perry Bundles 4/5 stars 4/10/2017
6)Max Perkins: Editor of Genius A. Scott Berg 5/5 stars 4/18/2017
7) Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride Lucy Knisley 4/5 stars 5/12/2017
8) Even This I Get to Experience by Norman Lear 4/5 stars 5/27/2017

Edited: Apr 22, 6:16pm Top

#11 Fiction Read 11 books
1)O Pioneers by Willa Cather 4/5 stars 3/2/2017
2)The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai 3.5/5 stars 3/3/2017
3) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins 4/5 stars 4/4/2017
4)A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories Lucia Berlin 5/5 stars 4/22/2017

Jan 3, 4:13pm Top

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer
by Kelly Jones
3/5 stars
Sweet book about a young girl who is uprooted when her father loses his job and they move to her mother's deceased father's farm. As they adjust to life in a new town, she finds one of her grandfather's chickens. This motivates her to start learning more about them when she discovers that her other grandfather's chickens have been stolen. She gets some help learning about the chickens and ends up making friends while recovering her grandfather's chickens. Told through letters.
Childrens Fiction #1

Jan 3, 5:12pm Top

>14 JulieLill: I like the sound of this book!

Jan 5, 6:14pm Top

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club
Phillip M. Hoose
4.5/5 stars
This actually is a YA book and fairly short but nevertheless a fascinating story of a group of Danish teenagers that refused to accept Nazi occupation during WWII while most of the adults accepted the occupation and went along with it. Most of the books that I have read on WWII did not discuss Denmark so I found this very interesting.

Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon
by Torben Kuhlmann
3/5 stars
This is a children's book about a mouse who builds a space ship to travel to the moon. I was extremely impressed with the beautiful art work but the story was just okay for me

Edited: Jan 16, 12:26pm Top

Counting by 7s
Holly Goldberg Sloan
4/5 stars
Willow Chance is a unusually smart girl who is interested in plants and medical syndromes but not so much in making friends. This all changes when tragedy befalls her and she has to rely on the few friends she has to help her get through it. Funny and smart read-not just for teenagers. Young Adult/Teen

Edited: Jan 17, 9:06pm Top

Not Just Batman’s Butler: The Autobiography of Alan Napier
by Alan Napier with James Bigwood
3/5 stars
Alan Napier is probably best known as Alfred, the butler in Batman, the TV series but he had a very fascinating life and career outside of Batman. Born and raised in England, he was related to the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain on his mother's side. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and then spent his whole life acting on the stage, in movies and on TV. The book discusses his life, family and working in the entertainment field.

Originally written by Napier, James Bigwood took over finishing the book and adding comments to the sections written by Napier. At times this was hard to put down especially when the book discussed his family and growing up in England but the discussion of his roles was a little overwhelming since most of his career he had small roles and a lot of them. But overall I enjoyed this book and I learned a lot about him.

Jan 25, 12:33pm Top

Ready Player One by
Ernest Cline
4/5 stars
Set in 2044, the world is a dark and horrible place to live in for most people. People rarely go out now but live, go to school and work on the internet and in OASIS, a virtual world. When a challenge is announced that someone will win millions of dollars in a game set up by the now deceased creator of OASIS, James Halliday, the world goes berserk in trying to find the prize. The book follows Wade Watts and a few of his online friends as they take up the challenge to be the first to find the prize.
This was a fast read and hard to put down. If you lived through the 1980s and love video games you will appreciate this book. Looking forward to seeing Spielberg's film version.

Jan 26, 8:49am Top

>19 JulieLill: - This was one of my favorite audio books a couple years ago.

Jan 26, 4:26pm Top

>20 Olivermagnus: This has been on my reading list for quite awhile and I was surprised I liked it so much.

Feb 2, 5:34pm Top

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
4/5 stars
This is a coming of age story of fourteen year old June Elbus in 1987. Her favorite person in the whole world was her Uncle Finn, a well-known painter and he too was in love with her. After his death from AIDs, the whole family falls apart. June and her sister Greta are fighting. Her parents are working too much and she has no real friends at school. Toby who was Finn's partner was persona non grata in regards to the family. But one day Toby sends her a gift and she agrees to see him though she is supposed to hate him. They begin a covert friendship but someone else knows about it. This was beautifully written and the angst of lost and heartache was palpable.

Edited: Feb 5, 2:59pm Top

The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster by Scott Wilbanks
3.5/5 stars
Lemoncholy means to make the best of a bad situation and that is the philosophy of Annie Aster. In this story we find Elsbeth Grundy living in Kansas in the year 1895. One day she wakes up and finds that in her far backyard stands a home in her wheat field. She writes a letter to the occupant of the home and leaves it in her mailbox and thus begins a correspondence with Annie, a young woman living in a home in San Francisco in the 21th century that faces Elsbeth's home. But this is not a coincidence and they have more in common then they both know. You have to be able to suspend disbelief in this far- fetched but exciting tale of the two women who are destined to change their futures.

Feb 7, 1:43pm Top

Changed up my challenge a bit. I realized I did not have a section for fiction only so I made autobiographies and biographies into one level.

Feb 11, 4:50pm Top

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley
3/5 stars
Flavia de Luce has returned to her home in England only to find her father in the hospital and herself embroiled in a another mystery over the death of a woodcarver in his home where she was sent to deliver a message. While I enjoy Flavia's ability to solve crimes, I despair to see the continued hatred of her sisters towards her and the way Bradley handled her father's illness. Will there be no love or sympathy in her family for Flavia?

Feb 14, 6:59pm Top

>25 JulieLill: - I completely agree. I loved the first few books of this series but now Bradley seems to hate Flavia. My heart broke with each of the last two books. I can't believe Esmeralda's sacrifice. Who will love Flavia now?

Feb 15, 12:17pm Top

>26 Olivermagnus: I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels that way.

Feb 18, 3:43pm Top

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
4/5 stars
Faith Sunderly's life has been upturned. Her father, a minister, naturalist and geologist has died after uprooting his family to Australia due to a scandal. The villagers think he killed himself but Faith knows something is wrong and decides to investigate her father's death in a time period where girls were to stay at home and mind their place. Hard to put down! YA Award winning book.

Edited: Feb 21, 3:38pm Top

Born Bright: A Young Girl's Journey from Nothing to Something in America
by C. Nicole Mason
3.5/5 stars
This is the true story of C. Nicole Mason who as an African American experienced life in poverty in Los Angeles, California during the 60s and 70s. She discusses what it was like to live in poverty, going to schools who did not encourage the academic growth of her race, struggling with moving from home to home and when she was determined to go to college, not knowing how to go through the ropes of applying for college since no one in her family or neighborhood went to college. She was able to beat the odds and got into Howard University and has made a success of her life. Very eye opening!

Edited: Feb 23, 5:30pm Top

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom #1
by Christopher Healy
3/5 stars
This is a fun children's book about the unsung heroes of fairy tales, the princes, who are often unnamed or just go by Prince Charming. The bards of the area have all been kidnapped and the princes gather together to rescue them while fighting witches, dragons and more. This is the first in a series of books about the League of Princes. Loved the illustrations.

Edited: Mar 2, 6:35pm Top

O Pioneers by Willa Cather
4/5 stars
Cather follows the lives of Alexandra Bergson, an immigrant, her family and friends who live in Nebraska working the land as farmers and dealing with the ups and downs of pioneer life, some succeeding, some not. Beautifully written and compelling. Love Cather's writing. Cather lived for a time in Nebraska and you can tell by her writing how it influenced her.

Mar 3, 12:23pm Top

The Hundred-Year House
by Rebecca Makkai
3.5/5 stars
Set in Illinois at the Laurelfield estate, the author takes us through the history and drama of the happenings at the estate including housing an art colony, a suicide and a mystery. Told backwards, the author slowly unravels the fascinating story of the lives that inhabited the mansion.
I wish I had more time because this book deserves a re-read because I think more would be revealed with a re-read. Fiction

Edited: Mar 4, 6:48pm Top

Artichoke Tales by Megan Kelso
2/5 stars
This graphic novel about opposing clans whose heads are artichoke like came highly recommended but I really had a hard time following the story lines plus everyone looked alike so it was hard to tell them apart. Adult content not for kids. New Authors to Me - Graphic Novel

Edited: Mar 9, 4:47pm Top

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer
4/5 stars
This is the story of Abdel Kader Haidara, a historical archivist from Timbuktu and his fellow patriots who saved the centuries old, rare manuscripts of Mali twice. Abdel's initial project was to find and store books from his countrymen and build libraries to showcase them in the 1980's. Unfortunately, he would have to do it a second time when Al Qaeda came to Mali and attempted to destroy their books and heritage. I found this a fast and amazing story which also covers the takeover of Mali by Al Qaeda. Hard to put down. Non-Fiction

Mar 15, 12:33pm Top

The Bookman’s Tale
Charlie Lovett
4/5 stars
Peter Byerly is a mess. After the death of his beloved wife, he moves to England to mourn his wife and to continue in his job collecting and restoring rare books. Upon finding a painting inside a old book that looked like his wife, he tries to find out who painted the picture and who the woman in the picture was which lead him further into the mystery of who really wrote the plays that are attributed to Shakespeare. Not perfect but I had a hard time putting this down. Authors New to Me

Edited: Mar 20, 10:34pm Top

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Maya Angelou
5/5 stars
This is the first autobiography of Maya Angelou in which she tells the story of her life from birth to young adulthood and the birth of her son Guy in the early 40's. I was blown away with her writing and her recollection of a severe and difficult life growing up in America as an African American child and young woman. She is an amazing writer and I am looking forward to reading more of her books. Autobiography

Edited: Mar 20, 10:35pm Top

Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Detachment and Isolation by Adam Resnick
4/5 stars
Comedy writer Adam Resnick, who has written for David Letterman and Saturday Night Live, now writes about his life in a series of essays that are fabulously funny and yet disturbing. I could not help but laugh through these stories and some hit very close to home. Recommended to those not afraid of dark humor. Autobiography

Mar 25, 6:14pm Top

Maude by Donna Mabry
3.5/5 stars

This is the story of Maude, a woman born in the late 1800s and written by her granddaughter. The reader is taken on a nonstop journey that was Maude's life-from losing her parents early and then her first husband, marrying her second husband because of the social mores at the time and dealing with the major events in her life time from WWI, the flu epidemic, the depression and WWII. Life was hard for Maude but she kept her spirits up and kept going. A fast read and a very interesting look back at a woman's life in the 1900s. Biography

Edited: Mar 30, 6:12pm Top

Gast by Carol Swain
3.5/5 stars
In this graphic novel, a young girl moves into a farm community in Wales and begins to explore the area taking her notebook with her to document her discoveries. When she learns about a neighbor who has died, she goes to his farm and looks for clues about him and the life he lead which helps her to learn more about herself. Authors New to Me

Tricky TwentyTwo by Janet Evanovich
3/5 stars
Stephanie, Grandma Mazur, Lulu, Ranger, and Joe are back for another nutty adventure involving a frat and the plague. Loved the first book in the series but after 22 it is starting to get a little old and sections of the book are just repetitive explanations of the characters. However, there is some movement in Stephanie and Joe's relationship in this book. Mystery

Apr 4, 3:02pm Top

The Girl on the Train
Paula Hawkins
4/5 stars
In a drunken state, Rachel observes something from her window on the train that she takes everyday to view the life that once was hers. Shaken from the event, she seeks to find out what happened, not knowing that she is endangering herself. This was told through the eyes of the three women involved in the story. I had a very hard time putting this down! Fiction

Apr 5, 4:53pm Top

>40 JulieLill: I'm glad to hear that you liked it. It's in my TBR pile. I've heard mixed reviews, but I often agree with your reviews so this gives me hope.

Apr 5, 4:57pm Top

>40 JulieLill: >41 Darth-Heather: I read it and I liked it better than Gone Girl.

Apr 5, 6:20pm Top

>40 JulieLill: - I read them both as soon as they came out so I wasn't burdened with any high expectations. I enjoyed them both at the time, but now I hate the phrase "the next Gone Girl" or "the next Girl on the Train". I read a lot of Scandi fiction and hate "the next Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" as well.

Apr 5, 6:35pm Top

>43 Olivermagnus: or authors who are the next Dan Brown!

Apr 6, 5:28pm Top

>40 JulieLill: This book was so popular that I knew it would be made into a movie and I hate reading the book before I see the movie. The book is almost better than the film and if I read it first, I am almost always disappointed in the movie but if I read it after I see the movie, the book enhances what I saw on the screen. Yes, I know that sounds weird but that is the way I am.

I think that statement about being the next... could backfire especially if you are not wild about the book or author.

Apr 6, 5:38pm Top

>45 JulieLill: but when a book is so popular, they bank on the fact that a majority will read the next gone Girl or The Girl on the Train.

Apr 7, 11:58am Top

>46 EadieB: I agree.

Apr 10, 12:30pm Top

On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker
A'Lelia Perry Bundles
4/5 stars
This is fascinating in depth look at the life of the ambitious Madam C.J. Walker, who rose from slave to entrepreneur and philanthropist amid the historical events of the late 1800's and the early 1900's. Bundles who was related to Madam Walker and is a writer and news producer writes of the struggles and triumphs of Madam Walker as she hawks her hair products and employs poor women across the country to demonstrate her products and to help themselves out of poverty. Biography

Apr 10, 4:49pm Top

>36 JulieLill: I read this one a couple of years ago while on a business trip, and I thought it was fantastic. She is such a poet with words.

Apr 11, 3:25pm Top

>49 threadnsong: I want to read more of her!

Apr 18, 3:13pm Top

Max Perkins: Editor of Genius
A. Scott Berg
5/5 stars
This is the biography of Max Perkins, editor for Scribner's who worked with Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and many more authors in editing their classics. Berg does a wonderful job in writing this amazing tale of Perkin's life and his close relationships with some of the most influential writers of that time period. I had seen the movie based on this book and wanted to learn more and I was not disappointed. Highly recommended - I did not want this book to end! Biography

Apr 22, 6:14pm Top

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories
Lucia Berlin
5/5 stars
This is a compilation of short stories written by Lucia Berlin over the years. Berlin uses her experiences to frame her stories about living in hard times and hard places, working through addiction and the prejudices of others. If you are looking for some feel good stories, pick another book but if you are looking for great writing by an amazing author you are in the right place. Fiction-Short Stories

Apr 25, 4:13pm Top

Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam
Pope Brock
5/5 stars
In this fascinating and outrageous story set in the early 20th century, Pope Brock covers the true life story of Dr. John R. Brinkley, famous doctor, would be politician, businessman and radio innovator who is not all that he seems to be when in fact he is a fake and charlatan taking advantage of his patients and convincing them he could renew their sexual vigor. But instead of healing patients he causes pain and death while being pursued by Morris Fishbein, physician and editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, who is determined to see Brinkley be punished and removed from harming further patients. One of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. Crime/Non-fiction

May 6, 7:22pm Top

The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder
by Daniel Stashower
3.5/5 stars
In 1841, Mary Rogers, a beautiful, young woman who worked in a cigar shop is found dead after being missing for 3 days. Her death incites the newspapers to analyze the crime in a morbid fashion for months and is the main story in the city with hundreds of articles and theories brought forward about her death. Even Edgar Allan Poe becomes involved in the case and writes a story with similarities to Mary Rogers’s death in order to prove who killed her. Enthralling! Crime/Non-fiction

Edited: May 10, 1:05pm Top

The Night Gardener
By Jonathan Auxier
5/5 stars
This wonderful young adults story revolves around Molly and Kip who are traveling through England after escaping the potato famine of Ireland in the mid 1800's. They have become separated from their parents and are looking for jobs to support themselves. On their travels they come to a manor where they are taken in as servants. They soon discover that they were hired because no one else would take a job there. The longer they stay there they notice something is not quite right with the family who are all becoming ill and they encounter a mysterious stranger who comes at night to take care of the tree growing into the house. I had a hard time putting this down and would love to see this made into a film. YA

May 12, 12:28pm Top

Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride
Lucy Knisley
4/5 stars
Lucy Knisley, graphic novelist, writes and draws about her engagement and marriage to her on and off boyfriend John. Told through pictures and words, we follow the ups and downs of their relationship and the planning of an unorthodox and unique wedding in modern day. This is another delightful graphic novel for Knisley who has done several travelogues, a web comic series and her wonderful graphic memoir Relish- My Life in the Kitchen. Looking forward to her next project! Autobiography

May 15, 7:25pm Top

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
4.5/5 stars
Teenagers, Eleanor and Park meet on the bus one day when Eleanor is forced to sit with Park. Both are very uncomfortable but slowly their relationship develops as their background stories unfold and Eleanor finally finds some she can trust and maybe love but will her stepfather break them up. . . Loved it! Romance/YA

May 20, 6:51pm Top

Universal Harvester
John Darnielle
3.5/5 stars
A man finds that the VHS tapes at the store where he works at are being altered and his boss becomes obsessed with the tape mystery. A woman leaves her husband and child and they look for her unceasingly. A brother and sister find a car filled with ancient video tapes and try to find who left them there. These are the stories that interconnect in Darnielle's book set in rural Iowa. While this book is considered to be part of the horror genre, you won't find this book to be a true horror tale but there is an uneasiness to these tales that are hard to shake especially when there are no clear conclusions to the mysteries. Horror

Edited: May 23, 3:20pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

May 27, 7:42pm Top

Even This I Get to Experience
Norman Lear
4/5 stars
Norman Lear, TV/film producer writes about his life and shows how even growing up in the poorest of circumstances that sometimes life gets better with hard work, ambition and talent. Not happy to just get rich, he has not left his life go by without impacting others by becoming a philanthropist and getting involved in political causes. Autobiography


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