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Amber's (scaifea) 2018 Category Challenge

2018 Category Challenge

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Edited: Mar 19, 1:02pm Top

Hi, everyone!

I'm Amber, and I've been thinking about joining this group for a long while, because I think it will suit my reading style really well since my reading choices are governed almost exclusively by lists. Plus, I've heard great things about this group and the folks who inhabit it. I don't know that I'll set any particular goal for my categories, but instead just list the books I read in each one and see how many I get through in a year.

I love the idea of an overall theme for the categories, and many of you have such great ones! I had a hard time coming up with one, so forgive me if it's kind of silly: I've decided to make a Mixed Tape for my categories, using only songs that can be found in my iTunes account. I'll try to give a little explanation for my choices if I think they need it, along with my description of the category itself.

Okay, so, um, thanks for having me (as if you had a choice - ha!)! I'm pretty excited about the challenge and being a part of a new group!

Currently Reading:

-Revenge (CAT#8: Stephen Fry: All The Books!)
-Hobberdy Dick (CAT #3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up)
-Gateway (CAT#6: Hugo, Nebula, and Other SF and Fantasy Award Winners)
-Men at Arms (CAT#21: Discworld read)
-Stephen Fry's Incomplete & Utter History of Classical Music (CAT#8: Stephen Fry: All the Books!; March alphaKIT:F)
-The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (CAT#24: Audiobooks)
-Just Add Magic (CAT#22: Charlie's bedtime book)
-Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (CAT#22: another Charlie bed-time read)


Adding CAT, KIT, & DOG lists here:


1. Famous person in title: Lincoln in the Bardo
2. Published more than 100 years ago: War and Peace
3. Originally in a different language
4. New-to-you author: We Are Okay
5. Relative name in the title (aunt, niece, etc...)
6. Money in the title - any form of currency, type of payment, etc...: A Kid for Two Farthings
7. Book published in 2018
8. X somewhere in the title: Light Boxes
9. Fat book - 500 plus pages: Andersonville
10. Book set during a holiday: Greenglass House
11. LGBT central character: Postcards from No Man's Land
12. Book on the 1001 list: Ivanhoe
13. Read a CAT (middle square): Ribsy
14. Number in the title
15. Book that is humorous: Enormously Foxtrot
16. Book bought in 2017 that hasn’t been read yet
17. Title contains something you would see in the sky: Witches Abroad
18. Related to the Pacific Ocean
19. Book that fits at least 2 KIT’s/CAT’s: Essential Teachings
20. Book with a beautiful cover (in your opinion)
21. Autobiography/memoir: Almost Interesting
22. Poetry or plays
23. A long-time TBR/TBR the longest: The Smartest Kids in the World
24. Story involves travel: The Year of the Quiet Sun
25. Rank in the title: The Worst President

January/Black: Einstein's Dreams (black cover)
February/Brown: Andersonville (brown cover)
March/Green: Essential Teachings (green cover)

January: - Theme: Ack! I've Been Hit - The Ever Dangerous Book Bullets: Lincoln in the Bardo
February: - Theme: Laissez les bons temps roulez: Kneeknock Rise
March: - Theme: Ripped from the Headlines: On Tyranny
April: - Theme:
May: - Theme:
June: - Theme:
July: - Theme:
August: - Theme:
September: - Theme:
October: - Theme:
November: - Theme:
December: - Theme:

Yearlong Letters: X and Z: Zlateh the Goat
January: - Letters: V and M: Greenglass House (by Kate Milford) & A Solitary Blue (by Cynthia Voigt)
February: - Letters: P and J: The Planet of Junior Brown & Light Boxes (by Shane Jones)
March: - Letters: F and I
April: - Letters: Y and U
May: - Letters: Q and K
June: - Letters: G and R
July: - Letters: S and A
August: - Letters: O and D
September: - Letters: B and E
October: - Letters: N and L
November: - Letters: T and H
December: - Letters: C and W

January: Read an SFF you meant to read in 2017, but never started/completed: Witches Abroad
February: Urban Fantasy: Our Lady of Darkness

Edited: Feb 6, 6:58pm Top

Bad Reputation - Joan Jett

1. 100 Banned Books
This list comes from 100 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature.

1. Andersonville

Edited: Mar 13, 11:00am Top

Thursday's Child - David Bowie

2. Newbery Honor Books
I'm officially (sort of) a Newbery Nut - I've read all of the Newbery Medal winners, and now I'm working through the Honor books. I started this project, oh, gosh, 10 years ago, when I was pregnant with my son, and I've loved working through these kids' books. There are some stinkers, but I've also met up with some pretty amazing books along the way, too, many that I really wish I'd read when I was little!

1. A Solitary Blue
2. Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories
3. Like Jake and Me
4. Kneeknock Rise
5. The Planet of Junior Brown
6. The Headless Cupid
7. Long Way Down
8. Piecing Me Together
9. The Apprentice of Florence
10. Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe

Edited: Mar 19, 1:03pm Top

Lullaby in Rhythm - Dave Brubeck Quartet

3. 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
List from the book of the same name. I've been working on this one for as long as the Newbery project has been going on. I'm getting there.

1. Postcards from No Man's Land
2. Brendon Chase
3. The School for Cats
4. The Wind Singer
5. Troy
6. Finn Family Moomintroll
7. Across the Nightingale Floor
8. Mister Monday
9. A Kid for Two Farthings
10. Private Peaceful

Edited: Feb 9, 2:26pm Top

Magic - The Cars

4. 1001 Fantasy Books You Must Read Before You Turn Into a Newt
This one comes from the list curated in The Green Dragon group a few years ago and captained by Morphidae.

1. The Gods of Pegana

Edited: Mar 14, 7:40pm Top

The Authority Song - John Mellencamp

5. The Presidential Challenge
There's an LT group somewhere around here for people reading biographies of all the U.S. presidents. I'm so far behind the group that I haven't really visited over there in a long time, but I'm still plugging along with the challenge.
As for the song choice, well, I was born and raised in Indiana, so John had to show up here at some point...

1. The Worst President: The Story of James Buchanan

Edited: Mar 3, 4:41pm Top

Atom Bomb - Fluke

6. Hugo, Nebula, and other SF and Fantasy Award Winners
My best friend and I are working through a *very* long list of sci-fi and fantasy award winners. He's the Keeper of Keys and Grounds with this one, so I couldn't even tell you all of the different awards he's included. I just know that it's LONG.
I chose Atom Bomb because, well, it seems sci-fi-ish, and also it's super catchy.

1. The Year of the Quiet Sun (Campbell Award)
2. Our Lady of Darkness (World Fantasy Award)
3. Somewhere in Time (World Fantasy Award)
4. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (Hugo & Locus Science Fiction Awards)

Edited: Nov 17, 2017, 6:11pm Top

Passage to Bangkok - Rush

7. Agatha Christie - All The Books!
I started this challenge *years* ago (she has more than a few, dontchaknow). I *love* her stuff.
About the song selection: Well, yeah, I know. It's the Thailand Express, not the Orient one, but, Rush has been my jam since high school and had to make the list somewhere.

Edited: Nov 17, 2017, 7:05pm Top

Language - Suzanne Vega

8. Stephen Fry - All The Books!
I love Stephen Fry with a love that burns brighter than a thousand suns. I mean, JEEVES, folks. And his stuff makes me feel so very not very intelligent at times, but he has a fabulous way with language, and I just love him so much.

Edited: Nov 17, 2017, 6:19pm Top

Sunny Side of the Street - The Pogues

9. John Boyne - All The Books!
Boyne is one of my favorites, so I need to Read. It. All.
Musical selection is because, well, he's Irish, and also because his work is beautiful but generally not considered to be demonstrably, um, sunny.

Edited: Nov 18, 2017, 11:13am Top

Tea in the Sahara -The Police

10. Neil Gaiman - Also All The Things!
I started reading Sandman in college, as it came out each month, and just fell in love with Gaiman's sense of storytelling and his own love for mythology. So, all the things.
Song: More association than anything else for this one; at the time that I was reading Sandman in college, I was also going through an I Only Listen to The Police and Tori Amos and Also NIN phase. So, yeah.

Edited: Nov 17, 2017, 6:26pm Top

Birdhouse in Your Soul - They Might Be Giants

11. Christopher Moore - One More All The Things!
Funniest stuff on paper. Love him.
Music: TMBG seemed like a suitably whimsical match with Moore.

Edited: Nov 17, 2017, 7:16pm Top

Fly Me to the Moon - Frank Sinatra

12. National Endowment for the Arts Timeless Classics
This may well be the first book list I ever acquired. I don't remember where it came from, but I know that I got it at some point in high school, in the form of a tri-fold pamphlet. I didn't start working through it, though, until around the same time as I started the Newbery winners and the 1001 Children's Books list.
Music: It doesn't get much more timeless or classic than Frank.

Edited: Jan 10, 5:31pm Top

Top of the World - The Carpenters

13. National Book Award for Fiction
This one seems clear on its own, I guess.
Musical choice: I would think that, were I to win the National Book Award, I may feel thus geographically inclined.

1. The World According to Garp

Edited: Nov 17, 2017, 7:26pm Top

You're Nobody Til Somebody Loves You - Dean Martin

14. Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Another awards list.
Music: You're nobody til somebody gives you a Pulitzer.

Edited: Jan 14, 5:28pm Top

Hotel California - The Eagles

15. Unread Books from my Shelves
I have books on my shelves that have been there, unread, for YEARS. I need to work on that.
Musical selection: My bookshelves are a bit like the Hotel California; books can check in, but some of them probably feel like they'll never be read.

1. Einstein's Dreams

Edited: Mar 15, 8:05pm Top

Sabotage - The Beastie Boys

16. Books from my Read Soon! Shelves
I have a couple of shelves full of books that I really want to get to soon.
Song: I feel like all those other unread books on my regular shelves probably feel thrown under the bus by this group of books.

1. The Smartest Kids in the World
2. Wishtree
3. Light Boxes
4. On Tyranny

Edited: Mar 8, 5:25pm Top

Happy - Pharrell Williams

17. H. H. the 14th Dalai Lama - okay, one more All The Books
I'm a secular Buddhist, although there are days during which I'm not great at it. I'm working on getting through this bibliography, and learning tons along the way.

1. Essential Teachings

Edited: Jan 25, 5:18pm Top

Red Balloon - Charli XCX

18. Books on Buddhism
I've put together a list of recommended books on buddhism from various sources. Working on that being a good buddhist thing.
Song choice: This one's about being happy, too.

1. The Art of Power

Edited: Nov 17, 2017, 7:55pm Top

Pretty Good Year - Tori Amos

19. Book-A-Year Challenge
A couple of years ago, I made a list of books by year, just to see both how far back my reading goes and where/when there are gaps. I'm now working on filling in the gaps, so that I'll have read a book from every year for as far back I can go.

Edited: Nov 17, 2017, 8:01pm Top

Fever - Peggy Lee

20. Shakespeare
I'm doing a full-on reread.
Music selection: I had trouble with this one, so apologies. There *is* a link, though, sort of.

Edited: Mar 17, 7:08pm Top

Don't Fear the Reaper - Blue Öyster Cult

21. Discworld
I'm working my way through the series.
Song Selection: Death is, so far, my favorite character.

1. Witches Abroad
2. Small Gods
3. Lords and Ladies

Let's Go Crazy - Prince

22. Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
I'll list here the books my 9-year-old and I read out loud at night.
Music: Charlie saw me making up this thread, and when I explained what I was doing, he wanted to pick his own song for this category. Seemed fair enough to me. Prince is one of his favorites.

1. Ribsy
2. Upside-Down Magic
3. Dog Man and Cat Kid
4. Beezus and Ramona
5. Ben and Me

I'll Fly Away - Alison Krauss

23. Books I Read with My Mom
My mom and I have a few series that we're reading together. She likes cozy mysteries, so we're working through Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, Jenn McKinlay's Library Mystery series, and Maggie Sefton's Yarn Shop Mystery series.
Song: Since Charlie chose his own song, I thought I'd give Mom one of her favorites, too.

The Things We Said Today - The Beatles

24. Audiobooks

1. Lincoln in the Bardo
2. The World According to Garp
3. The Art of Power
4. Ivanhoe
5. The Fall of the House of Usher
6. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
7. The City of Ember
8. A Boy Called Christmas
9. Starry River of the Sky
10. Almost Interesting

Nov 18, 2017, 10:04am Top

I love a good list, I have to stop myself before I get overwhelmed and start writing the list of lists. Will follow some of these with great interest.

>16 scaifea: yup, I've got some of those as well. Poor things.
>22 scaifea: I do love Death as well. That sounds so wrong, but you know what I mean, I hope. >;-)

Nov 18, 2017, 10:21am Top

Nice mix tape, Amber! My favorite song is the final one.

Nov 18, 2017, 10:39am Top

>23 Helenliz: Hi, Helen!
I have binders full of lists, and I love them all.
I'm glad I'm not the only one who has book guilt - ha!
And yes, I definitely know what you mean - Death is definitely the best character I've come across so far in the Discworld, followed closely by The Luggage.

>24 Crazymamie: Hi, Mamie! Thanks!

Nov 18, 2017, 10:52am Top

Welcome to the challenge! Gaiman and Moore are two of my favorite authors, so we must have some of the same tastes :) Meanwhile, I LOVE your comparison of your shelves to "Hotel California"--that's an analogy I'll probably never forget now, and couldn't agree with more! Count me in as a lurker who'll be curious to see what you end up reading :)

Nov 18, 2017, 10:58am Top

>26 whitewavedarling: Thanks for the welcome! Yep, Gaiman and Moore can do no wrong. And the Hotel California thing just seemed to fit. I do definitely have Book Guilt. Gah.

Nov 18, 2017, 11:11am Top

That's a very interesting mix of music. Happy reading!

Nov 18, 2017, 11:12am Top

Nov 18, 2017, 11:27am Top

Good luck trying out the category challenge, Amber!

Nov 18, 2017, 11:35am Top

>30 Carmenere: Thanks, Lynda!

Nov 18, 2017, 11:51am Top

Bwahahahahaha - I love this! Nice job, Amber. Now I'm going ot have to follow you on TWO threads... *grumble grumble*

And this kind of made my day: "I would think that, were I to win the National Book Award, I may feel thus geographically inclined."

Nov 18, 2017, 12:21pm Top

>32 katiekrug: Ha! Hi, Katie! Feel free to ignore one or both of my threads, I guess... *sigh*...

Nov 18, 2017, 1:13pm Top

In the words of Charlie, "Um, no."


Nov 18, 2017, 1:22pm Top

>34 katiekrug: Ha! Woot!

Nov 18, 2017, 6:17pm Top

Great link for the Shakespeare category! :) Looking forward to following along with your reading next year.

Nov 18, 2017, 8:08pm Top

Nice to see you over here as well as in the 75 group. I really enjoy following your children's lit reading.

Nov 18, 2017, 9:23pm Top

Glad to see you here! I can't wait to see what you're reading.

Nov 18, 2017, 9:40pm Top

>36 rabbitprincess: Hi - and thanks!

>37 avatiakh: Good to see you here, too, Kerry! I feel the same way about your children's lit reading!

>38 cmbohn: Thanks!!

Nov 19, 2017, 12:57pm Top

Fabulous to see you in the group, Amber!

Nov 19, 2017, 1:04pm Top

>40 lkernagh: Thanks, Lori!

Nov 19, 2017, 3:10pm Top

Hi Amber and welcome to the Category Challenge. I am so happy to see you here, I've been doing terrible at keeping up with many of my friends over at the 75 Challenge but I vow to do a better job here! I know you are a "list" reader, but seeing them all laid out is really impressive!

Nov 19, 2017, 5:50pm Top

>42 DeltaQueen50: Hi, Judy! Good to see you here, too!

As for the lists, I realized today that I left two off, so I'll need to fix that soon...

Nov 20, 2017, 1:16pm Top

Update: I've added a couple more categories up in >22 scaifea:. I think I'm all set to get started now! So, um, the waiting until Jan. 1 now, I guess... Yeesh.

Nov 20, 2017, 1:31pm Top

Howdy Amber! This group was made for you and your lists!

I love the song that Charlie chose for his category. Please feel free to post random Charlie, Tuppance and Mario pics next year. ;-)

Nov 20, 2017, 2:19pm Top

>45 luvamystery65: Hi, Roberta! I know, right?! I'm not sure why I've not moseyed over here before!

And don't encourage me - you know it won't take much of a push to get photos posted here...

Nov 20, 2017, 6:14pm Top

Welcome, Amber! I love your categories and your rad music taste! Also, I laughed out loud at >15 scaifea: "You're nobody till somebody gives you a Pulitzer."

Nov 20, 2017, 6:25pm Top

>47 christina_reads: Hi, Christina! Thanks! I had fun looking through my music and trying to match up songs with lists.

Nov 21, 2017, 1:10am Top

What a lovely surprise to open your thread and see one of my favourites right at the top! I love Joan Jett - and Dave Brubeck! Fabulous categories!

Nov 21, 2017, 6:13am Top

>49 VivienneR: Vivienne: Aw, excellent! I'm glad you like the categories!

Nov 24, 2017, 7:39pm Top

Welcome to the group, Amber. I haven't posted my 2018 challenge yet, but I hope to do so this evening or tomorrow.

Nov 25, 2017, 3:41pm Top

Welcome to the challenge! Great categories with just as great music choices. Lots of love for The Pogues! Enjoy your reading!

Nov 25, 2017, 5:02pm Top

>51 thornton37814: Thanks, Lori!

>52 Chrischi_HH: Thanks! Woot for the Pogues!

Nov 27, 2017, 1:54pm Top

Love your playlist, and you have some great categories.

Nov 27, 2017, 3:57pm Top

Welcome to the challenge! I see some categories that I will be most interested in following.
>4 scaifea: I am big into these genres.
>11 scaifea: I'm also a big fan of Gaiman. If ever you get a chance to go to one of his book talks - GO!
>12 scaifea: Sacre Bleu

Nov 27, 2017, 4:42pm Top

>54 Tafadhali: Thanks!

>55 mamzel: Thank you! Oh, gosh, I'd love to see Gaiman live, but I also super-can't-stand crowds. It's a pickle.
And that's one of the few Moore's I haven't read yet, so maybe I'll get to it this year.

Nov 27, 2017, 6:03pm Top

It's printed with a beautiful blue ink and has pictures of many of the artists of the time.

Nov 27, 2017, 6:28pm Top

>57 mamzel: I already have my copy - I agree that it's gorgeous!

Nov 27, 2017, 11:54pm Top

This is a fabulous playlist! I love your sense of humor.

It will be a hoot to check in with you this year and learn what books you have slotted into the various categories. I like #22, books to read aloud with Charlie.

Nov 28, 2017, 6:14am Top

>59 MNTreehugger: Hi, Angela, and thanks! I've shamelessly snooped on your profile page, and I see that not only are you a sort-of neighbor (I live in Wisconsin), you're a quilter, too! I sew almost as much as I read, and that includes some quilting, too.
I'm glad you like my categories - I can tell you that right now Charlie and I are working on Murder on the Orient Express and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix...

Dec 1, 2017, 4:43pm Top

Wow! Where to start with your challenge. You have Frank, Dean, and the Carpenters which makes me very happy as I love their music. I've also been rereading Agatha Christie over the last few years and usually manage to get 4-5 in per year. Didn't do as well this year though.

Looking forward to seeing what books you fill your Buddha category with. I just came back from visiting Japan and am really quite interested in learning more about Buddhism and Shintoism.

Happy 2018 reading!

Dec 1, 2017, 9:55pm Top

>61 LittleTaiko: Hi, Stacy, and thanks! I'm glad you like my music choices!

I think I read more Christie this last year than I have in a long while - I usually only get one or two in every year, so it's taking me a loooong time to get through her bibliography.

And a trip to Japan sounds amazing! Did you go on vacation or for business?

Dec 18, 2017, 7:17pm Top

Sweet mix tape! You happen to have four category headings that are on my ipod. Good luck in 2018, I'm looking forward to seeing your choices.

Dec 18, 2017, 9:16pm Top

I love that your 9 year old likes Prince. When my daughter was that age, she was a big fan of Phil Collins. But she could never remember his name so she just called him Tarzan because he did all the songs for the movie. In fact, at 15, she still just calls him Tarzan.

Dec 18, 2017, 10:02pm Top

>63 mstrust: Thanks! Um, aren't you going to tell me which four...?

>64 virginiahomeschooler: Ha! I think Tarzan is a much better name for Phil.

Jan 1, 4:28pm Top

Hi, everyone! Happy New Year! I'm pretty excited to get started here, so here's what I'm currently reading:

-Andersonville (CAT#1: Banned Books)
-Postcards from No Man's Land (CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books)
-The Year of the Quiet Sun (CAT#6: Campbell Award)
-Witches Abroad (CAT#21: Discworld read)
-Lincoln in the Bardo (January RandomCAT: BB/audiobook)
-War and Peace (because Charlie wants me to)
-Ribsy (CAT#22: Charlie's bed-time book)
-Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (CAT#22: another Charlie bed-time read)
-Greenglass House (holiday read and January AlphaKIT)

Jan 1, 4:38pm Top

Aw, Ribsy! That's a blast from the past :)

Jan 1, 4:56pm Top

>67 rabbitprincess: Charlie is nuts about the Henry Huggins books so we've read all of them up to Ribsy so far. I love that he loves the classics - ha!

Jan 1, 6:49pm Top

>65 scaifea: Oops! Sorry for being mysterious about it. I have "Bad Reputation" which is my favorite song from Jett, much closer to her days with The Runaways. I also have They Might Be Giants, Dave Brubeck and Peggy Lee on my iPod.
>66 scaifea: Wow, long list of current reads. It's like a horse race of which one will finish first!

Jan 1, 6:58pm Top

>69 mstrust: Bad Reputation is my favorite of hers, too, definitely. You clearly have excellent taste in music!

I have had multiple books on the go all the time since grad school and can't seem to (want to) kick the habit. It's generally a crap shoot as to which one will win at any given moment, which is part of the fun, I guess?

Jan 2, 12:30pm Top

I read two or three books at a time but that many is a whole other level!

Jan 2, 12:57pm Top

>71 hailelib: Yeah, but a necessity in grad school, and since then I just can't seem to kick the habit.

Edited: Jan 21, 6:04pm Top

1. Enormously Foxtrot by Bill Amend - 8/10 = B+
bingoDOG #15: Book that is humorous
Every night, my husband, our 9-year-old son, and I snuggle up and each read aloud from a book or two. This is one that Tomm (husband) has been reading to us lately. He is a huge fan of Foxtrot and he's made another fan out of Charlie by reading these comic strips with us. And anything that can induce a Charlie giggle (my favorite sound in the world) is good in my book.

Jan 3, 6:59am Top

Nice to see you hear Amber! Wishing you great reading and listening too.

Jan 3, 7:54am Top

>74 majkia: Thanks, Jean! I'm excited to try out the category challenge this year!

Jan 3, 2:35pm Top

>73 scaifea: It's good Charlie gets to giggle from time to time! It's great your husband also reads aloud. I think it is important for kids to see both parents read!

Jan 3, 2:36pm Top

>76 thornton37814: Lori: Agreed! It's always one of my favorite times of the day, all three of us snuggled up together and reading to each other.

Edited: Jan 21, 6:05pm Top

2. Greenglass House by Kate Milford - 9/10 = A
bingoDOG #10: Set during a holiday
January alphaKIT: M
Milo Pine lives with his adoptive parents in their rambling old mansion-like house halfway up a mountain (or maybe just a really tall hill - I don't remember this being made clear), which they've turned into an inn that caters mostly to smugglers. And if that isn't enough to hook you, a bunch of guests turn up completely unexpectedly on the first day of Milo's school holiday, which he usually enjoys with his parents and no guests at all. Before he knows it, he's snowed in with a suspicious group of folks, who all seem to have suspicious reasons for being there. And this stuff starts going missing. Milo and his friend, Meddy, combine the fun of a role-playing game with the challenge of finding the stolen items to try to solve the mysteries of each of the guests and themselves as well.
Such a good middle-grade mystery. I love it and will definitely be tracking down the next one in the series.

Jan 3, 10:00pm Top

Currently Reading:

-Andersonville (CAT#1: Banned Books)
-Postcards from No Man's Land (CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books)
-The Year of the Quiet Sun (CAT#6: Campbell Award)
-Witches Abroad (CAT#21: Discworld read)
-Lincoln in the Bardo (January RandomCAT: BB/audiobook)
-War and Peace (because Charlie wants me to)
-Ribsy (CAT#22: Charlie's bed-time book)
-Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (CAT#22: another Charlie bed-time read)

Jan 5, 1:24am Top

Amber, as always, you blow me away with the number of books you are able to read at one time. I find myself struggling if I have more than two on the go. Looks like you have gotten off to a good start with your challenges.

Jan 5, 6:12am Top

>80 DeltaQueen50: Hi, Judy! I think I'd be at a loss if I *didn't* have this many going at once, to be honest.

Edited: Jan 21, 6:06pm Top

3. Ribsy by Beverly Cleary - 8/10 = B+
CAT#22: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
Henry Huggins' dog, Ribsy, accidentally gets into the wrong station wagon at the mall and finds himself going home with a family of girls, who then proceed to give him - horrors - a bubble bath. He manages to run away and then spends the rest of the book trying to find his way back home to his boy, Henry.
I find this type of narrative (family pet gets lost and has various adventures while trying to get back home) frustrating - I just want pet and family reunited, already! Charlie felt the frustration, too, but we were still rooting for Ribsy.

Edited: Jan 21, 6:06pm Top

4. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders - 8/10 = B-
bingoDOG#1: Famous person in the title
January randomCAT: BB
Well, I didn't loathe it, but neither did I love it. The plot idea is a good one, and I thought the portrayal of Abe Lincoln as a grieving father was very well done and so touching, but some of the residents of the graveyard were too odd in a not-good way and the volume of different stories from them was distracting more than an enhancement of the overall story. The rapid-fire direct quotes from Lincoln scholarship was so irritating that I nearly quit several times, and David Sedaris' voice makes me grind my teeth (although Nick Offerman is excellent as usual).

Jan 5, 12:45pm Top

Hi Amber and welcome to the Category Challenge. I remember you from back when I used to be in the 75 Books Challenge group. It was way too active over there for me.
You have an impressive list of categories. Looking forward to seeing what you'll read this year.

Jan 5, 12:54pm Top

>84 VioletBramble: Hi, Violet! Good to see you! Yes, the 75ers are definitely an active group, but I'm glad that you're here!

Jan 5, 3:50pm Top

>83 scaifea: It was certainly not your usual read, and I suspect that is what earned its award more so than the plot itself.

Jan 5, 5:15pm Top

>86 thornton37814: Lori: I won't pretend to understand how the PTB decide such things, but it did have its good qualities, too. My quibbles are mostly based on my particular personal preferences and not on any feeling that the book was bad.

Jan 6, 12:23am Top

Love your January line-up reading and look at you go! 4 books read already!

Jan 6, 7:02am Top

>88 lkernagh: Hi, Lori! Thanks!

Edited: Jan 21, 6:07pm Top

5. Postcards from No Man's Land by Aidan Chambers - 8/10 = B-
bingoDOG#11: LGBT central character
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
Details the parallel stories of a Dutch woman falling in love with an English soldier whom she nurses and hides during WWII and of a young man visiting Amsterdam for the first time while dealing with his occasional bouts of depression, his social anxiety and his sexuality. The two plots are joined by the relationship of the young man (grandson) and the soldier (grandfather).
There are good things about this one (the stories are good and I enjoyed the way in which they are entwined), but Chambers tries to do too much here, taking on not only the telling of two separate tales and the fleshing out of two main characters, but also trying to add a history of a specific instance during the war via direct quotes from first-hand accounts, along with philosophical dialogue on the nature of love, the pointlessness of war and even a slightly hackneyed pro-and-con on euthanasia. The result feels disjointed and cluttered.

Edited: Jan 21, 6:08pm Top

6. The World According to Garp by John Irving - 6/10 = D+
CAT#13: National Book Award for Fiction
Yoicks. Unlikable characters, disagreeable plot happenings, and writing that didn't stand out as spectacular in any way for me. So this one just isn't up my street, I think.

Jan 10, 5:42pm Top

>91 scaifea: Ooo! A blast from the past. Sorry it wasn't good for you.

Jan 10, 5:45pm Top

>92 mamzel: Meh, that's okay. I've been curious about it for years, so at least the curiosity has been humored.

Edited: Jan 21, 6:09pm Top

7. Brendon Chase by BB - 8/10 = B
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
Three brothers, staying with their aunt over school holidays, get fed up with her strict rules and decide to run away to the eponymous woods. With the help of an old hermit also living in Brendon Chase, they manage spectacularly well and stay on for several months.
Think My Side of the Mountain (the boys' part of the story) meets the country-living characters in Jeeves & Wooster (as an example, there's a particularly funny scene in which the local constable goes for a swim and the boys hide his clothing in the vicar's car while the vicar, all unwitting, chases butterflies with his net).

Jan 12, 3:17am Top

That sounds like fun but also very hard to find.

Jan 12, 6:15am Top

>95 cmbohn: Yes, I had to request it through ILL.

Edited: Jan 21, 6:10pm Top

8. A Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt - 9/10 = A
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
January alphaKIT: V
This entry in the Tillerman Family series tells the story not of one of the Tillermans, but of Jeff, a friend they meet living near their Gran's home. True to Voigt's other books, the story is excellently told and you fall headlong into love and sympathy for Jeff and his father. I heartily recommend the whole series.

Edited: Jan 21, 6:11pm Top

9. Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer - 8/10 = B
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
Year-Long alphaKIT: Z
A fun little book of very short Jewish folktales, all set around Hanukkah. Not much else to say about this one, except that fans of Maurice Sendak will enjoy his illustrations.

Edited: Jan 21, 6:12pm Top

10. Real Friends by Shannon Hale - 9/10 = A
(Doesn't fit any categories; BB from foggidawn (I think?))
A graphic novel memoir of Hale’s experiences in grade school with cliques, bullies, sibling issues, and possibly OCD. A great book, and an important one, too. Would be fantastic as a class read, to bring up discussions on bullying and acceptance.

11. The School for Cats by Esther Averill - 8/10 = B
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
A weird (but not necessarily in a bad way) little book about a cat who goes to a cat school while her owner is on vacation and gets bullied by another, bigger cat.

Edited: Jan 21, 6:12pm Top

12. Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman - 8/10 = B-
January colorCAT: black (cover is half black)
CAT#15: Unread Books from my Shelves
In this short novel, as Einstein works on his theory of time he dreams each night of different worlds in which time works in various ways.
I like the idea of the story, but thought the execution could have been better. For me there were too many different dreams and although each variation of time was interesting and clever in its own right, the string of them quickly became tedious ("and here's another dream, and another one, and another one..." sort of thing).

Edited: Jan 21, 6:13pm Top

13. The Wind Singer by William Nicholson
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
A brother and sister team rebel against their city's soulless and color-coded caste system, face dire consequences from the Chief Examiner, and instead escape the city walls and head out in search of the key to the Wind Singer (a strange and ancient device in the middle of the city). There are hints that finding and replacing the key will unlock the Wind Singer's song and along with it, the freedom of the citizens of Aramanth. But to get it they must travel a long way and face the Big Bad, Morah, and his creepy sort-of-undead marching-band army.
A good story with good characters (the twins' parents, who also rebel in their own ways, are excellent too), but the world-building has some bare patches and the ending was a bit pat. I may continue the series at some point, but not just now, I think.

Edited: Jan 23, 7:31am Top

14. Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett
CAT#21: Discworld
January SFFKIT: Read an SFF you meant to read in 2017, but never started/completed
bingoDOG#17: Title contains something you would see in the sky
Granny Weatherwax and her two fellow witches go on a working vacation of sorts (leaving a swath of confusion and bemusement behind them) to settle up a fairy godmother who's trying to turn life into a storybook.
Pratchett takes up traditional fairy tales and plonks them down in NOLA, essentially. Fun, with the usual strong characters. I have new-found respect for Granny, too.

Jan 23, 6:31am Top

15. Key to the Treasure by Peggy Parish
CAT#22: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
Three siblings spending the summer with their grandparents decide to try to solve the family mystery that their grandpa has been telling them about every summer since they can remember: his great-grandfather hid treasures for his father and siblings, handed down from an old Native American woman who used to live in a cabin nearby: a scary old mask, a deerskin doll and a warrior's shield. The great-grandfather left to fight in the civil war, never returned, and the treasure remained undiscovered.
The only clue they have is a painting hanging over the mantle, which depicts a headdress, a clay pot, a key and a question mark.
This was one of my absolute favorite books when I was a kid; I read it over and over and over again. I was so excited to read it to Charlie, and found that I still love it as an adult.

Jan 23, 8:51am Top

>103 scaifea: A pre-Amelia book! That cover looks familiar so I must have read it as a child.

Jan 23, 8:52am Top

>104 thornton37814: Lori: Yep. It's the first of it's own series, too, but I've only read the first two.

Edited: Jan 24, 5:12pm Top

16. The Year of the Quiet Sun by Wilson Tucker
CAT#6: Hugo, Nebula, and Other SF and Fantasy Award Winners (Campbell Award)
bingoDOG#24: Story involves travel
Brian Chaney, a Dead Sea Scrolls scholar and think-tank thinker, finds himself volunteered, along with two other men plucked from military ranks, for a government-funded mission to test a Time Displacement Vehicle. Their first field study is an order from the president to go ahead two years to discover whether he wins re-election (yoicks), and, well, they find so much more than that.
Ooof, this one was surprisingly good. And disturbingly relevant. There are a couple of really good twists sprinkled in for good measure, too. Definitely recommended.

Edited: Jan 24, 5:13pm Top

17. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
bingoDOG#2: Published more than 100 years ago
A-whelp, that was long.
But good, of course. The battle scenes really dragged for me, but that's just really not my jam and so is probably more a reflection of my own tastes rather than any shortcoming on Leo's part. The characters were excellently drawn, though, and I loved trying to keep up with all of them and how their stories intricately interlaced.

Jan 24, 6:27pm Top

>107 scaifea: War and Peace will probably be a Serial Reader read for me, given its length! Glad to hear you liked it.

Jan 24, 6:34pm Top

>108 rabbitprincess: It took me well over a year to get through it, since I generally read several books at once and so I'd only get to it every few days or so. It's a great story, though.

Jan 25, 3:16pm Top

Congrats on completing War and Peace, Amber, I remember when you started it. I want to read it but will probably also do it as a serial read.

Jan 25, 4:47pm Top

>110 DeltaQueen50: Thanks, Judy! You remember when I started?! I can barely remember back that long!

Jan 25, 4:58pm Top

>111 scaifea: If I remember correctly, Charlie started reading it and then requested that you join in, I was so impressed by Charlie's reading choice!

Jan 25, 5:09pm Top

>112 DeltaQueen50: That's true! He did! So funny. He decided to defer his reading until a later date, but he did make it several chapters in - I was impressed, too!

Jan 25, 5:20pm Top

18. The Art of Power by Thich Nhat Hanh
CAT#18: Books on Buddhism
Thich Nhat Hanh here details how real power is found in loving kindness and not in wealth or fame or political gain. So mostly a reinforcement of moral common sense, to be honest, but it was a nice reminder on trying to walk and breath and pretty much do everything we do mindfully.

Jan 26, 7:42am Top

19. Upside-Down Magic by Sarah Mlynowski
CAT#22: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
Nory fails her entrance exam to magic school and so her father sends her away to live with an aunt so that she can attend a school for kids with wonky magical abilities. She hates it at first but learns to value her unique abilities.
Meh. Okay, but not fabulous. I can see how 3rd/4th grade kiddos might enjoy it, though.

Jan 26, 8:43am Top

>107 scaifea: congrats on finishing War and Peace. That's quite an accomplishment.

Jan 26, 9:51am Top

>116 virginiahomeschooler: Thanks, Traci! It took *forever* but it was worth it.

Jan 26, 11:00am Top

>107 scaifea: impressed. I have a copy on the shelf, keeping picking it up, looking at it and putting it down again.

Jan 26, 12:36pm Top

>118 Helenliz: It was very good, but it's not one that I could read solely without having other books going at the same time. It worked okay for me spreading out over a long period.

Jan 26, 1:52pm Top

Look at you go with your category reading, Amber! War and Peace is a long read. Congratulations on finishing that tome!

Jan 26, 2:19pm Top

>120 lkernagh: Ha! Thanks for the cheers, Lori!

Jan 28, 3:28pm Top

19. Troy by Adele Geras
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
A retelling of the fall of Troy as a YA romance? It sounds kind of awful, but it sort of works. I liked it, at any rate. Geras is quite faithful to the original myths, and I love her take on the gods and how their interactions with mortals work.

Jan 28, 4:00pm Top

20. Like Jake and Me by Mavis Jukes
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
This one is about a young boy bonding with his stepfather over the idea that everyone, no matter how strong and brave he looks, has something he fears.
Short but very warm and sweet, and with lovely illustrations.

Jan 29, 12:39pm Top

>107 scaifea: Congratulations on finishing War and Peace! I agree with you -- loved the characters and social commentary but did not care for the battle scenes.

Jan 29, 12:53pm Top

>124 christina_reads: Thanks, Christina! I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels that way about the battle bits.

Jan 29, 12:59pm Top

>107 scaifea: - Congratulations on finishing! I made it about 1/3 through before getting distracted by other books. Really need to get back to it someday as it was quite good.

Jan 29, 2:14pm Top

>126 LittleTaiko: Thanks! I definitely got distracted by tons of other books - that's why it took me over a year to finish! Ha!

Jan 29, 5:37pm Top

22. Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
It's difficult (for me, at least) to describe the Moomin books except to say that they're delightfully nonsensical. This one holds true to that classification. Goofy and fun.

Feb 2, 2:16pm Top

23. Kneeknock Rise by Natalie Babbitt
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
February RandomCAT: Laissez les bons temps roulez
Egan travels to a nearby town to stay with his aunt and her family during the local annual fair. This fair isn't the usual thing, though - it's held in honor of and to celebrate the monster who lives on top of Kneeknock Rise.
This is a fabulous story about the difference between fact and truth, about people's willingness to believe even when evidence to the contrary is right before them, and about the strange power of myth. I loved it, of course. Babbitt can weave a special kind of magic into her tales.

Feb 3, 5:15pm Top

24. The Smartest Kids in the World
CAT#16: Books from my Read Soon! Shelves
bingoDOG#23: A Longtime TBR/TBR the Longest
Ripley traveled to three countries - Poland, South Korea, and Finland - all of which have high school students testing higher than any other countries' students in the world. She also talked to three U.S. students who traveled to these three countries as part of exchange programs. Her findings, and their implications for how we could improve our own education system, are interesting and pretty important, I think. Definitely a recommended read to all who work in education or have children in U.S. schools.

Feb 4, 3:21pm Top

25. The Planet of Junior Brown
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
February alphaKIT: P & J
This Newbery Honor Book tells the story of two friends who have been cutting school together to hang out with the kindly janitor in the basement of the school. Both have troubles: Buddy has no family and lives on the streets, struggling to take care of other, younger homeless kids; Junior Brown has an overbearing mother, a mostly absent father, and a piano teacher with some pretty serious mental health issues. Their stories come together in an emotional way, which helps this dark story not go over the edge in to hopelessness.

Feb 4, 5:09pm Top

26. Wishtree
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
A lovely little book about a tree upon which people tie their wishes once a year. Told from the viewpoint of the tree, it's also a story of a young muslim girl who just moved into the house nearby, how her family is shunned in the neighborhood, and how the tree and the boy next door befriend her. And it's also about the animals who live in and depend upon the tree, and the long history of the neighborhood, again as seen through the life of the tree itself. Above all, this is a story about kindness, and it is wonderfully told.

Feb 4, 5:56pm Top

>132 scaifea: I think I may have to look this one up. Seems like a wonderful little story. And what a lovely cover.

Feb 4, 9:23pm Top

>133 virginiahomeschooler: I think it's a favorite for the Newbery Medal this year, too.

Feb 4, 10:51pm Top

>134 scaifea: Nice! I was able to locate it on Overdrive and have placed a hold.

Feb 5, 6:12am Top

>135 virginiahomeschooler: Good! I hope you like it!

Feb 6, 7:00pm Top

27. Andersonville
CAT#1: Banned Books
February colorCAT: Brown
bingoDOG#9: Fat book - 500 plus pages
Kantor weaves his fictional account of the inmates and jailers of the Andersonville prison camp, along with the lives of families living nearby using actual prison diaries and his own impressive writing skills. This is a good read, but a difficult one; the prose is nearly as bleak as the facts it aims to portray, and rightly so. It's a somber subject that demands a bleak tone.

Feb 7, 6:32am Top

28. Dog Man and Cat Kid
CAT#22: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
Another silly/funny installment in the Dog Man series. Charlie is a huge fan and his giggles make me a fan of these, too.

Feb 9, 12:39pm Top

29. Light Boxes
CAT#16: Books from my Read Soon! Shelves
February alphaKIT: J
bingoDOG CAT#8: X Somewhere in the Title
Welp, that was weird. And mostly in a good way, I think (I'm still deciding, to be honest). So, if I'm correct (and I'm not certain that I am, again, to be honest), February (a sort of god-like figure, but also very human in his hang-ups and frailties), gets upset at a small town because the people living there fly balloons and kites, and so punishes them by never leaving. The townspeople start suffering from what - in the mildest of descriptions - is the most intense and insane form of Seasonal Affective Disorder ever imagined, and children start going missing, and there are two holes in the sky, and a buncha other strange happenings. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it, but I'm not sure if I liked it. But it was definitely interesting and not not-well written.

Feb 9, 2:27pm Top

30. The Gods of Pegana
CAT#4: 1001 Fantasy Books You Must Read Before You Turn Into a Newt
In this slim volume, Dunsany created his own pantheon and a bare-bones mythology to go with it. It reads like poorly written Hesiod-inspired fan fiction. And I'll just leave it at that.

Feb 9, 6:40pm Top

>139 scaifea: I had much the same reaction to Light Boxes...I couldn't evaluate whether it was "good" or "bad," but I could definitely say it was weird!

Edited: Feb 9, 6:59pm Top

>141 christina_reads: Ha! I'm glad I'm not the only one! I still can't decide if I liked it...

Edited: Feb 10, 2:58pm Top

31. Our Lady of Darkness
CAT#6: Hugo, Nebula, and Other SF and Fantasy Award Winners
February SFFKIT: Urban Fantasy
Franz Westen is a horror/fantasy writer who becomes interested in a book written by Thibaut de Castries. The book deals with Thibaut's theories of the occult and big cities, specifically how paramental entities can thrive in metropolitan settings, and Westen find himself in the thick of De Castries' posthumous attempts to prove his own theories.
Groundbreaking in the genre of urban fantasy, this is a pretty cool little novel. A cool mix of the supernatural in the lovingly-described streets and districts of San Francisco with the (literal) horrors of an academic lifestyle, and with just the right amount of creepy blended in.

Feb 11, 2:30pm Top

32. Somewhere in Time
CAT#6: Hugo, Nebula, and Other SF and Fantasy Award Winners
A young man with a brain tumor in the 1970s falls in love with a photo of an actress from the 1890s and 'wills himself' back in time to be with her.
Ugh. Was this *really* written by Matheson? Honestly, I still have trouble believing it, because, well, Matheson. But this one is awful with raisins. I mean, wow. I'm in awe at how terrible it is. The pace is excruciatingly slow in way too many places, the main character is so milquetoast and bland, and the actual love scenes are cringeworthy. Yoicks.

Feb 11, 3:00pm Top

>144 scaifea: I'm sorry that this was a disappointment for you, but I had to giggle at "awful with raisins" :)

Feb 11, 4:28pm Top

>145 rabbitprincess: Dorothy Parker for the win!

Feb 12, 7:47am Top

33. Beezus and Ramona
CAT#22: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
The is one of my least favorites of the Henry Huggins/Beezus/Ramona books, because Ramona is just so nearly unforgivably frustrating in it. As a parent, she makes me cringe. But Beezus is great and saves the story. I'll be curious to see if Charlie wants to continue with these, now that the focus will be on Ramona and not Henry Huggins...

Feb 12, 7:53am Top

34. Small Gods by Terry Pratchett (Discworld series, 385 pages) - 8/10 = B+
Pratchett's Discworld version of holy wars, religious fundamentalism, crises of faith, and the lion and the thorn.
A fun-enough story, amusing-enough characters and a few out-loud chuckles = par for the Discworld course.

Feb 13, 12:18pm Top

I can say for sure that I enjoyed Light Boxes. For me, it was true surrealism, which is something I enjoy, but I can see where to it might be too surreal for some readers.

Feb 13, 2:00pm Top

>149 mstrust: I'm glad you liked it! I think I definitely need a bit more reality in my stories, though. Or at least a little more sense-making...

Feb 14, 8:42am Top

35. Across the Nightingale Floor
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
After a day in the forest, Tomasu comes back to his village to find it burned and the inhabitants all (he presumes) murdered. He himself barely escapes the wicked Lord Iida and his soldiers, but is rescued by Lord Otori, begins a new life as Takeo and discovers that he is a member of The Tribe, a clan with amazing skills in misdirection and fighting. He struggles with his new identity, his loyalties to the man who saved him and his new-found 'family,' and his growing desire for revenge.
My description isn't doing this one justice - it's a great story with excellent characters. Definitely recommended.

Feb 14, 3:07pm Top

>151 scaifea: Hi Amber, I loved the Tales of the Otori series when I read them a number of years ago. I am looking forward to starting another of her series, this one called Tales of the Shimanko. I have the first book Emperor of the Eight Islands on my Kindle.

Feb 14, 5:03pm Top

>152 DeltaQueen50: Hi, Judy! It's a great book and I hope that I'll eventually get round to the rest of the series!

Feb 16, 5:47pm Top

>137 scaifea: - I have had my eye on that book. Your comments are helping to move it up my long list of potential library borrows.

>139 scaifea: - Light Boxes is a very strange little story, no doubt about that! I categorized that one as "experimental", but Jennifer's comment of it being true surrealism is pretty bang on as a description. ;-)

Feb 16, 6:38pm Top

>154 lkernagh: Lori: I would just suggest that you don't go into Andersonville already sad...

And yes, Light Boxes is very strange. I've *still* not decided if I like it or not.

Feb 18, 8:00pm Top

36. The Hate U Give
(This one doesn't fit into any of my categories - I read it because it won a couple of this year's ALAyma awards.)
This book is amazing. And so, so important. It tells the story of a 16-year-old girl who witnesses the death of her friend at the hand of a police officer, and what she, her family, her friends, her neighbors and her neighborhood go through in the aftermath. The main story is woven together with Starr's daily struggle to balance her life in her poor black neighborhood with the prep school life she leads 45 minutes away. It's also about the need for justice that's sorely lacking in this country for so many people. And all of these things are told in a heartbreaking, empathy-inducing, beautifully honest and ultimately uplifting way. This absolutely needs to be required reading in every high school in this country, for students, parents, teachers, school board members, community members,... Honestly, everyone needs to read this book. Everyone.

Feb 21, 8:17am Top

37. Hello, Universe
Newbery Medal winner
The characters in this story are a quirky mix of outsiders: Virgil, an extremely shy boy with a pet gerbil, a problem with the class bully, and a friend-crush on a girl with hearing aids and tidy braids; Valencia, a girl with hearing aids and a hard time making friends; Kaori, a girl with a lot of self-confidence and a penchant for pretending to dabble in predicting fortunes and reading the stars; and Chet, the snake-poking bully of the story. Their lives come together in an equally quirky way in the neighborhood woods, and the ending is a simple and lovely beginning for new friendships.
Not my favorite Newbery Medal winner, but I liked it. The story is creative and fun, but I felt that the multiple narrator bit took a little long to untangle itself and made the whole thing feel a bit clunky in parts.

Feb 21, 2:42pm Top

38. Ivanhoe
bingoDOG#12: Book From the 1001 List
Knights errant, jousting tournaments, a king in disguise and a plot against said king, fair damosels and their various distresses, a fool who is touchingly loyal to his gruff master, naughty templars and Robin of Locksley. What else could one possibly want or need in a story? Well, maybe just a smidge less anti-Semitism, to be honest. But otherwise, this one is a hoot.

(Seriously, the way Isaac of York is treated across the board by 'good' and 'bad' guys alike bothered me enough to knock me right out of the story on several occasions. Product of the times and all, I suppose, but the cavalier nature of it all sets my teeth on edge.)

Feb 21, 6:17pm Top

>158 scaifea: I should probably re-read this sometime; I read it in university but have much stronger memories of the Wishbone version :D (which, being a children's show, likely treated Isaac of York better).

Feb 21, 7:23pm Top

>159 rabbitprincess: Ha! You know, I've never watched Wishbone. Generationally, I think I just missed out on it.

Feb 22, 1:27pm Top

39. The Fall of the House of Usher
CAT#24: Audiobooks
Meh. S'okay, but I think in general that Poe is just not my thing. His language is too fussy, or something, and his stories are just shy of being the good kind of weird.

Feb 22, 7:30pm Top

40. The Headless Cupid
CAT #2: Newbery Honor Books
David and his three younger siblings move into an old and mysterious house with their dad, new stepmom and her peculiar daughter, Amanda, who is twelve to David's eleven. Amanda is interested-slash-borderline-obsessed with everything occult, to the point that she moves in along with a crow, a toad and a snake despite the fact that the crow treats her viciously and she's afraid of reptiles. She quickly establishes herself as the leader and pulls David and the little ones into an elaborate series of initiation rites. David begins to sense that her strange behavior is less about witchcraft and more to do with all the recent changes in her life. When they learn that there may have been a poltergeist in the old house long ago, however, things start happening and David works to solve all sorts of mysteries.
An interesting story and a fun read that pulls you in and keeps you page-turning. David's character is immediately likable, and Amanda and the rest of the kiddos are completely believable and easy to root for.

Feb 23, 8:46am Top

41. Long Way Down
CAT #2: Newbery Honor Books
A young man caught in the seemingly endless cycle of gang shootings and retaliations spends an elevator ride with the literal ghosts of his past on his way to avenge the death of his brother.
Whoa, what a powerful message, and so brilliantly written. This novel cements Reynolds place as a master of free verse, as well. Like Thomas' The Hate U Give, this one is so, so important and comes with an ending that will leave your innards most definitely feeling bruised. Highly, highly recommended.

Feb 23, 11:28am Top

>162 scaifea: That sounds like it would be a good read for the R.L. Stine fan. I'll look for it.
Sorry you didn't enjoy the Poe. He's not for everyone, and I think his writing can be just Victorian enough to put some readers off. If you want to try something else from him, more clearly written, I'd recommend his poem "The Conqueror Worm". It's horrifying!

Feb 23, 11:39am Top

>164 mstrust: I've never read any Stine, so I can't help you there. It is just creepy enough to be fun without being scary, though.

As for Poe, I generally don't have a problem with writing of that era, but he seems to be a Victorian writer trying hard (and not succeeding, particularly) to do an impression of a Victorian writer, and erring on the side of hyperbole. I'll read him when he comes up on my lists, but otherwise I think I'm okay with a Poe-free life.

Feb 23, 2:05pm Top

Well, hello, and nice to meet you; anyone who includes The Pogues, They Might Be Giants, and Tori Amos on a playlist must be of good character...

>91 scaifea:
I read that one when I was quite young (12 or 13 or so) and it blew me away. I had never read anything like it at that time. Not sure how well it would fare on a reread.

>102 scaifea:
Looks like you finished this a few days before I finished. Agree about Granny - she is wicked!

>107 scaifea:
Ooh, We had that as a group read a couple of years ago and you are absolutely right, it's looong. :) I'm not sure I would have finished without the others in the group.

>128 scaifea:
I'm originally from Sweden, so the Moomins (a very cherished) part of my childhood. I'm always happy when I see people reading them.

41 books so far this year! Color me impressed - kudos.

Feb 23, 2:20pm Top

>166 -Eva-: Hi, Eva!

Well, hello, and nice to meet you; anyone who includes The Pogues, They Might Be Giants, and Tori Amos on a playlist must be of good character...

I think we may have just become best friends...

41 may or may not be that impressive - I read when I very much should be doing other things (like cleaning my house and, well, working, and such), so more degenerate than impressive probably.

Feb 23, 2:44pm Top

>167 scaifea:
I'm working on #10, so... :)

Feb 23, 5:04pm Top

>168 -Eva-: That just tells me that you're a much more productive member of society than I am!

Feb 23, 8:09pm Top

>169 scaifea:
Ha! I'll take that. :)

Feb 24, 4:39pm Top

42. We Are Okay
bingoDOG#4: New to You Author
Marin is alone in her NY freshman college dorm, which is emptied for the winter break. But she's also alone in all sorts of other ways; she's cut herself off from her old life in California, both terrified of and embracing the loneliness of losing her grandfather, her only family. Now Mabel is coming to visit her and she both longs for and dreads the company.
I can't begin to describe this book in any way that will do it the justice it deserves. The story unfolds slowly, delicately (you feel that if, like a very old bit of folded paper, it didn't do so gently it would crumble beneath your fingers and be lost), and it is gorgeous and stark, sad and wonderful. I loved Marin from the first page to the last and cried a whole spectrum of tears with her and for her.

Edited: Feb 25, 11:34am Top

43. Ben and Me
CAT#22: Charlie's bedtime book
The story of Ben Franklin as told by his friend, Amos the mouse.
I remember this one being better when I was a kid, but this time around I found the language too stilted for a kid's book, and Charlie didn't really enjoy it much, either. *shrug*

Feb 25, 11:35am Top

44. Piecing Me Together
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
The story of a high school girl living in the poor part of town but commuting to a private school in another part of town on scholarship, trying to balance both worlds and her place in each while negotiating her role within the opportunities she's given and those she makes for herself. She struggles to find her own voice through her interactions with others and through her art.
I enjoyed this one, and I suspect that it would be a great read for many high school kids for the world that it explores and the inspiration it could bring.

Feb 25, 12:08pm Top

>173 scaifea: BB for me with this one, and I think my daughter would love it as well.

Feb 25, 12:43pm Top

>173 scaifea: Yeah, it's good, but to be honest, The Hate U Give is along the same theme lines and is tons better.

Feb 25, 2:30pm Top

>175 scaifea: Good to know. I've got The Hate U Give planned for next month's RandomCAT. It's my daughter's favorite book.

Feb 25, 2:39pm Top

Mar 2, 2:18pm Top

45. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
CAT#24: Audiobooks
Set in Victorian England, this is the story, told through a series of letters (and then diary entries within letters) of a woman who marries for what she thinks is love but when she discovers that her husband is more than a bit of a cad, she escapes to (she thinks) a secluded life in her old family hall with her young son. She then, of course, meets Mr. Right, and then ensues much hand-wringing and tear-shedding because she won't be unfaithful to her wretched husband.
There isn't one male character in this whole business who isn't at least marginally repugnant (which is, I'm certain, a big part of the point), but then, to be honest, I found Helen and her fanatical religious devotion to be fairly intolerable as well. And the whole "Oh, how I love you, oh, but we simply mustn't" schtick gets tiresome so very quickly. So, yeah, not my favorite thing ever.

Mar 2, 4:29pm Top

Awww, sorry that wasn't a good one for you, but your review is entertaining!

Mar 2, 5:06pm Top

>179 mstrust: Ha! I'm glad some good came of me reading it, then!

Mar 3, 4:42pm Top

46. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
CAT#6: Hugo, Nebula, and Other SF and Fantasy Award Winners
An epidemic all but wipes out the world's population, but one large (and very wealthy) family pool their extensive expertise to survive it and rebuild on their Shenandoah Valley land. This rebuilding involves cloning of both animals and humans, and the saga, detailed over several generations, follows from there.
An interesting and well-written story, with characters that I found myself rooting for, nearly every one. Definitely deserving of its Hugo and Locus awards, and definitely recommended.

Mar 4, 3:22pm Top

47. Mister Monday
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
Arthur is a boy in a new town facing his first day in a new school, but his what-to-worry-about priorities sort themselves quickly after Mister Monday pops in out of thin air and hands Arthur a minute hand-shaped key. Adventure and danger follow, and Arthur finds himself in The House, an unthinkably huge and rambling place that stands outside of time and place and where all things are recorded and filed away.
Think Harry Potter as an asthmatic muggle, plopped down into Spirited Away. So, yeah, pretty good.

Edited: Mar 5, 8:41am Top

48. A Kid for Two Farthings
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
bingoDOG#6: Money in the title - any form of currency, type of payment, etc...
A young boy living with his mother, and looked after by their kind tailor/landlord, in the East End, wants a unicorn for a pet. And one day he finds one in the market for 5 shillings.
A cute-enough story, but it hasn't aged well.

Mar 7, 5:15pm Top

49. The City of Ember
CAT#24: Audiobooks
Lina lives in the city of Ember, which is surrounded by absolute darkness and itself experiences the difference between day and night only because of the lightbulbs lighting the entire town. The people of Ember believe that they live in a city of endless bounty, but the supplies are running out, the mayor is corrupt, and the lights flicker more and more frequently. Lina, along with her friend Doon, believe that there is something more beyond the city and together - along with a mysterious set of instructions that have been long lost - set out to discover what they can discover.
I liked this one tons. I particularly loved the world (or rather, city)-building, and how DuPrau slowly and cleverly unfolds the mystery of what the city is and how it came to be.

Mar 7, 9:42pm Top

>184 scaifea: My daughter and I watched this movie yesterday. It was her first time seeing it, but we'd both read it a few years back and loved it. She was terribly disappointed with the film version, specifically that they give away a huge plot point within the first few minutes that you don't learn til way later in the book. I'm not sure if there was a way they could have filmed it without spoiling that part, though.

Mar 8, 6:20am Top

>185 virginiahomeschooler: I'm glad that Charlie and I are reading the book first, although I do want to see the movie, too.

Mar 8, 5:26pm Top

50. Essential Teachings
CAT#17: H.H. The Dalai Lama, All the Books
March colorCAT: Green
bingoDOG#19: Book that fits at least 2 KIT’s/CAT’s
A translation of the Dalai Lama's talk series given in 1974 in Bodh Gaya, India, this is a helpful guide to the 37 Practices, told in his simple and loving style.
Recommended as an accessible and enjoyable explanation of the Path of the Bodhisattva.

Mar 9, 5:30pm Top

51. A Boy Called Christmas
CAT#24: Audiobooks
The story of the boy who became Father Christmas, this book is sweet and clever and lovely and funny and very well-written. Think Terry Pratchett does Harry Potter. Also, I highly recommend the audio version, read by Stephen Fry (so OF COURSE it's amazing), which won a well-deserved Odyssey award this year.

Mar 9, 6:08pm Top

Narration by Stephen Fry definitely piques my interest!

Mar 9, 7:11pm Top

>189 rabbitprincess: He's wonderful, isn't he?!

Mar 10, 7:33pm Top

>188 scaifea: Taking a BB for this one. Now to see if I can find the audio version.

Mar 10, 9:33pm Top

>191 virginiahomeschooler: Oh, do try to find the audio; it's so excellent.

Mar 12, 2:58pm Top

52. The Apprentice of Florence
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
A young boy leaves home to seeks news of his father in Florence, but ends up as an apprentice to a silk merchant instead, and travels with him to Constantinople.
Hm. This one seems a bit all over the place, and I'm not certain at all what it was really meant to be about, I'm afraid. Not one of my favorite Newbery Honor Books; it really hasn't aged well, I think.

Mar 12, 3:18pm Top

53. Starry River of the Sky
CAT#24: Audiobooks
A boy runs away from home and finds ends up as a helper boy at the town of Clear Sky's inn. But something's not right here - the moon is gone from the sky, Rendi can hear someone moaning every night, and everyone seems to be hiding something about their true identity.
Lin's storytelling abilities are spectacular, and her way of spinning stories within stories and connecting them all together is wonderful. Definitely recommended, as the writing is as magical as the stories themselves.

Edited: Mar 13, 11:01am Top

54. Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe.
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
Beth has a crush on Philip Hall, a boy in her 6th grade class. She fluctuates between being confident that he likes her, too (he does let her come over and do his chores for him (ugh)), and being not so certain, especially when he gets annoyed when she proves more successful at certain things. She works her way toward a realization that her self-worth means more than what a boy thinks of her.
I suspect that this one can be inspiring for young girls, but I was irritated with Philip from the beginning and exasperated with Beth for not realizing how amazing she is much earlier.

Edited: Mar 14, 11:38am Top

55. Lords and Ladies
CAT#21: Discworld read
Pratchett's version of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Granny and Nanny are beginning to grow on me.

Mar 14, 7:42pm Top

56. The Worst President: The Story of James Buchanan
CAT#5: The Presidential Challenge
bingoDOG #25: Title Contains a Person's Rank, Real or Fictional
For the most part I thought this was a good biography of Buchanan; I have two major quibbles, however: 1) It only really deals with the presidential years, and I'd like a full-life view, and 2) the title is clearly now completely inaccurate.

Mar 15, 9:20am Top

57. Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess
no category - I read it because it won a Schneider Award this year
Macy is unhappy that her mother is getting married. She doesn't want to move out of their house, losing her wildflower garden and the closeness of feeling that it's just her and her mother against the world. To make things worse, she gets in a fight with her best friend and so has no one to sympathize with her, until she finds a new friend in her elderly next-door neighbor, who teaches Macy the value of sending messages of love through the art of cookie baking.
The good things: I very much like that Macy's deafness feels like a side note more than the focus of the story - she's a normal character who just happens to be deaf, and although the issues she faces every day because of that deafness aren't ignored, the story is clearly much more than that. Also, the neighbor is a fantastic character and I love her to bits.
The not-so-great things: It's written in free verse, but I really think it would have been better in prose. It seems to me that the free verse doesn't flow well at all, and instead mostly feels as if it's trying too hard to be poetic. Also, Green has an 'every life is a story being told' theme going on, and I know this because she makes sure to point it out every few pages. It's too much. If she had just let the story itself explain this, it would have worked much better; as it is, her efforts to explain it for us was a big distraction for me.

Mar 15, 8:06pm Top

58. On Tyranny
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
March randomCAT: Ripped from the Headlines
A plain-spoken treatise on where we are, politically, how we could possibly have gotten here, and what to do about it now that we are.
Everyone needs to read this, and soonish would be good.

Mar 17, 7:08pm Top

59. Almost Interesting
bingoDOG #21: Autobiography/Memoir
CAT #24: Audiobooks
Spade talks about his life from childhood through the Tommy Boy/Black Sheep days.
This one was a hoot. Spade is one of my favorite stand-up comedians, and of course he brings his excellent timing and sense of humor to his memoir, which is filled with fascinating tidbits from his early career and SNL days. I highly recommend the audio version, because he reads it so well, and that goofy laugh cracked me up every time.

Mar 17, 8:08pm Top

>200 scaifea: I'm going to have to look for that one. He's one of my favorite SNL people.

Mar 17, 8:30pm Top

>200 scaifea: Oh, do! It's so funny and interesting. I love how self-deprecating he can be, too.

Mar 17, 8:49pm Top

>202 scaifea: Hoopla has it. I've used all my borrows for March, but I've put it on my list for April. :)

Mar 17, 10:36pm Top

>156 scaifea: I really appreciate the glowing endorsement of The Hate U Give. I saw it first in a bookstore with a blurb that looked interesting, but I was put off by the "U" in the title. I've heard so many good things since -- and yours is the icing. This one should be pulled off my list and read soon, I think.

Mar 17, 10:58pm Top

>161 scaifea: Sad to hear you're giving up on Poe, since I really like him and I want everyone to experience much pleasure! I have heard that Poe really considered himself a poet, and that's where his heart was -- he just wrote creepier material because it was all that would pay him at the time.

Mar 17, 11:20pm Top

And to finish it off -- love all the reviews! Lots of good books in there. Glad I found my way back to your thread, even though it's been a few months. :) Hope you have many more!

Mar 18, 2:16pm Top

>203 virginiahomeschooler: Yay! Good news!

>204 pammab: Oh, do give The Hate U Give a go; I don't think you'll be disappointed (and there's even a good reason for the U!).

>205 pammab: I spent a fair amount of time with Poe's poetry, too, and I'm afraid he's just not my jam all round. I'm happy that others love him, though!

>206 pammab: Thanks! I've had some good reading already this year, for certain!

Mar 19, 1:03pm Top

60. Private Peaceful
CAT #3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
Tommo Peaceful, a British soldier in WWI, thinks back through his life so far (he's now seventeen) as he serves his sentry duty one night in the trenches: the death of his father when he was very young, life with his mother and two brothers, Big Joe and Charlie, and the girl next door (Molly), with whom both he and Charlie are in love. Through it all, Charlie has been his best friend and closest ally in all things. Tommo even followed him off to war so that they'd remain together. But Charlie's not with him on this long night's vigil, and dawn will bring an unbearable event that will change all their lives.

Morpurgo is an excellent storyteller, which is evident in how he balances Tommo's remembrances with his awful night of dreading what's coming at dawn, and also in how well he paces the revelation of exactly what Private Peaceful is dreading so much. So I do recognize that this is a masterfully told story, but in the end, it's just too sad for me. War stories are difficult for me, and this one is so personal and deeply touching. I'm glad I've read it, but I'm not sure how glad I am with how long it will likely stay with me.

Mar 19, 1:41pm Top

Time, I think, for a new thread:


Group: 2018 Category Challenge

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