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Amber's (scaifea) 2020 Category Challenge

2020 Category Challenge

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Edited: Today, 11:24am Top

Hey, everybody!

I'm Amber, a one-time Classics professor, turned stay-at-home parent/lady of leisure, turned part-time library assistant. I spend my time sewing, writing, knitting, baking, and, of course, reading. Oh, and I run an Etsy shop and I'm co-writing a Latin textbook with a former colleague. So I keep busy.

I'm 44 going on 12 and live in Ohio with my husband, Tomm; our 11-year-old son, Charlie; and our two dogs, Tuppence the Border Collie and Mario the Golden Retriever.

This is my third year in the Category Challenge. I won't set any particular goals for my categories again this year, but instead just list the books I read in each one and see how many I get through. I'm also taking a break from the CATs and KITs this year; I love doing them, but they also stress me out much more than they should so this year I'm going to focus on my own categories instead. I'll still keep an eye on the BingoDOG, but I won't actively work toward filling it out - I'll just see which books I read happen to fit as I go along.

For my theme this year I'm going with characters from two of my favorite shows, Supernatural and Gilmore Girls.

Currently Reading:
-Pride and Prejudice (CAT#15: Books from my Read Soon! Shelves)
-(awaiting library holds) (CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books)
-The Shepherd's Crown (CAT#20: Discworld series)
-(awaiting library holds) (CAT#24: Romance Genre List)
-Bleak House (CAT#23: Audiobooks)
-The Graveyard Book (CAT#21: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime)

Edited: Today, 11:30am Top


1. Book that's in a Legacy Library
2. Book written by an LT author: The Slow Regard of Silent Things
3. Book published in 1820 or 1920
4. Book published in the year of your birth
5. Book published under a pen name or anonymously: If You're Reading This, It's Too Late
6. Book set in Asia
7. Mystery or true crime: Still Life
8. Book involving a real historical event (fiction or nonfiction): They Called Us Enemy
9. Book about books, bookstores, or libraries
10. Book with at least three letters of BINGO consecutively in order in the title: BreakING Stalin's Nose
11. Red cover, or red is prominent on the cover
12. Title contains a pun: Snuff
13. Book about birth or death (childbearing, midwifery, human aging -- this is a combo of the "childbearing" and "human aging" suggestions)
14. Book with a proper name in the title: The Book of Essie
15. Book published by a small press or self-published
16. Book published in 2020
17. Epistolary novel or collection of letters
18. Book by a journalist or about journalism
19. Book not set on Earth: I Shall Wear Midnight
20. Mythology or folklore: The Wise Man's Fear
21. Weird book title: Bloodlust & Bonnets
22. Book with "library" or "thing" in the title or subtitle
23. Book with a periodic table element in the title: The GOLDen Name Day
24. Book by a woman from a country other than the US/UK
25. Read a CAT

Edited: Nov 19, 2019, 7:54am Top


CAT #1: 100 Banned Books
This list comes from 100 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature.
Crowley is bad enough to get banned from most places, really. I do love a bad boy.

Edited: Mar 23, 11:25am Top

Dean Forester

CAT #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, 12 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!
Aw, adorable Dean (not to be confused with Dean Winchester). Oh, the days of innocence, when girlfriends on fire on the ceiling are not even remotely a possibility... I suspect Dean/Baby Sammy read his fair share of Newbery Books as a kiddo.

1. Breaking Stalin's Nose
2. The Golden Name Day
3. Mr. Justice Holmes
4. The Corn Grows Ripe
5. Old Ramon
6. Thistle and Thyme
7. The Fearsome Inn

Edited: Mar 18, 5:28pm Top

Kevin Tran

CAT#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.
Kevin is the closest thing we get to a kiddo in Supernatural, I suppose. Poor thing. Good with the heavenly languages, though.

1. The White Stone
2. The Rattle Bag
3. Telephone Tales
4. Me in the Middle
5. The King of the Copper Mountains

Edited: Nov 19, 2019, 8:03am Top

Charlie Bradbury

CAT#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.
Charlie's the clear choice for this category. Cutest badass-nerd on the planet and I love her to bits.

Edited: Jan 1, 4:49pm Top

John Winchester

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 far as problematic authority figures go, John takes the trophy.

UPDATE: Since creating this thread, I've made a Major Life Decision: I'm abandoning this particular category/challenge. I'm so slow at it and I feel that I'm not getting out of it what I wanted to. So, I'm letting it go. (This may not seem like a Huge Thing to most normal-brained folks, but it took a lot of thinking and self-coaxing to make this decision. It is a big deal for me.) I'm keeping John here because I really don't want a blank post (*shudders*) and despite his status as a problematic dad to the Winchester boys, he's still easy on the eyes.

Edited: Jan 1, 4:49pm Top

Chuck Shurley

CAT#5: 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.
You just know Chuck keeps up with these kinds of award lists, because of course he does.

Edited: Jan 1, 4:49pm Top

Sookie St. James

CAT#6: Agatha Christie - All The Books!
I started this challenge *years* ago (she has more than a few, dontchaknow). I *love* her stuff.
I just feel like Sookie would be a huge Christie fan. Don't you think?

Edited: Jan 1, 4:50pm Top


CAT#7: 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.
Like Sookie and Christie, I think Balthazar probably has a healthy appreciation for Fry.

Edited: Jan 1, 4:50pm Top

Lane Kim

CAT#8: John Boyne - All The Books!
Boyne is one of my favorites, so I need to Read. It. All.
I can see Lane hiding out in her decked-out closet, reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and having a good cry.

Edited: Jan 1, 4:50pm Top


CAT#9: 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.
I can't decide which version of Lucifer I love more, Neil's or Supernatural's. It's a pickle.

Edited: Jan 1, 4:50pm Top


CAT#10: Christopher Moore - One More All The Things!
Funniest stuff on paper. Love him.
Gabriel goes well with Moore, as another lovable goofball.

Edited: Jan 1, 4:50pm Top

Luke Danes

CAT#11: National Endowment for the Humanities 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.
Luke is a grump most of the time, but he's also an old softie, and I just know that he would support the National Endowment for the Humanities, because he's a good guy.

Edited: Jan 1, 4:50pm Top

Jess Mariano

CAT#12: National Book Award for Fiction
This one seems clear on its own, I guess.
If any character from either show were to win the NBA, it would be Jess. I'll brook no arguments here.

Edited: Jan 1, 4:50pm Top

Sam Winchester

CAT#13: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Another awards list.
Sammy keeps up with the Pulitzer winners, he just doesn't tell Dean that he does it.

Edited: Jan 1, 4:50pm Top

Richard Gilmore

CAT#14: Unread Books from my Shelves
I have books on my shelves that have been there, unread, for YEARS. I need to work on that.
Richard would not approve of my shelf neglect.

Edited: Today, 11:25am Top

Dean Winchester

CAT#15: Books from my Read Soon! Shelves
I have a couple of shelves full of books that I really want to get to soon.
While reading isn't really Dean's cuppa, impulsive anything pretty much is, so he goes with the impulsive reads category.

1. Still Life
2. The Adventurous Eaters Club
3. Call Down the Hawk
4. They Called Us Enemy
5. The Wise Man's Fear
6. The Slow Regard of Silent Things

Edited: Jan 1, 4:50pm Top

Bobby Singer

CAT#16: 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.
Bobby, the closest the Winchester boys get to a spiritual leader, seems appropriate here.

Edited: Jan 1, 4:50pm Top


CAT#17: 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.
Oh, Cas. Sweet baby angel nugget. Confused little buddha in a trenchcoat.

Edited: Jan 1, 4:51pm Top

Paris Geller

CAT#18: 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.
This seems like something Paris would get behind, right? Excel files and research for the best book to read for each year...

Edited: Jan 1, 4:51pm Top

Rory Gilmore

CAT#19: Shakespeare
I'm doing a full-on reread.
Rory has read his full canon. You *know* she has. And she has a spreadsheet, detailing each one from best to least favorite, with pros and cons for each.

Edited: Mar 15, 5:05pm Top


CAT#20: Discworld
I'm working my way through the series.
Death is my favorite character in Discworld, and he's a pretty great character in Supernatural, too.

1. I Shall Wear Midnight
2. Snuff
3. Raising Steam

Edited: Mar 21, 3:05pm Top

The Other Crowley

CAT#21: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
I'll list here the books my 11-year-old and I read out loud at night.
I let Charlie pick his own character for this category. When given the choice between Supernatural and Gilmore Girls characters, he chose Crowley from Good Omens. Seems legit. I've added Charlie in his Halloween costume from last year as further explanation for his choice (he's a fan).

1. Pawn of Prophecy
2. The Terrible Two Go Wild
3. The Specter from the Magician's Museum

Edited: Jan 1, 4:51pm Top

Lorelei Gilmore

CAT#22: 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.
My mom and I have a *super* close relationship, much like Lorelei and Rory. I love that about us.

Edited: Apr 1, 2:11pm Top

Miss Patty

23. Audiobooks
I listen to books while vacuuming, sewing, and driving, so I get through a fair amount in a year, generally.
I feel like Miss Patty would be *fantastic* at narrating audiobooks. I'd certainly listen.

1. Breaking Stalin's Nose
2. Vanity Fair
3. Agnes Grey
4. Cranford
5. Mary Barton

Crowley, Again

24. Romance
This is one of the few genres from which I have read virtually nothing and I want better to familiarize myself with it. To that end, I have a list of romance novels recommended by a very trusted source and I'll be working my way through those.
We come full circle to Crowley again because I very much would not mind co-starring in a romance of the steamy variety with him...

1. These Old Shades

Nov 19, 2019, 8:59am Top

Wow! I love all your categories.

I, too, am addicted to childrens/middle grade books. We are also working our way through 1001 Childrens Books.

In 2020, I have a Pulitzer Prize category - I am planning on starting at 1918 and reading forwards in order.

Stephen Fry, John Boyne and Neil Gaiman - I'm with you there!

And banned books. My hobby/job is yarn dyeing - I have an Etsy shop too. This year, my yarn club has been based on banned books. I have so enjoyed dyeing yarns to match some of the banned books I love. I could keep going forever!

I am looking forward to following your 2020 reading as I'm sure I will get many great recommendations here!

Nov 19, 2019, 9:09am Top

>26 scaifea: Hi, Jayne! We have tons in common it seems! Very cool.

Happy new reading year!!

Nov 19, 2019, 10:58am Top

Great categories, I'm looking forward to the reviews!

Nov 19, 2019, 11:12am Top

Nov 19, 2019, 11:17am Top

Good luck with your challenge!

Nov 19, 2019, 12:41pm Top

Fun setup and I love Charlie's costume!!

Edited: Nov 19, 2019, 3:01pm Top

>31 majkia: Thanks!

>32 LittleTaiko: Aw, thanks! I made the vest, jacket, and scarf and was really pretty pleased with how it came out!

Nov 19, 2019, 5:37pm Top

Great set-up, Amber. Looks like you have lots of great reading planned for 2020.

Nov 19, 2019, 7:56pm Top

My goodness, Amber! 24 Categories! that's so ambitious of you. You've got some great categories that I'm looking forward to seeing what you read.

Nov 19, 2019, 8:11pm Top

Charlie makes an awesome Crowley! Looks like you have a great reading year ahead :D

Nov 20, 2019, 5:26am Top

>34 DeltaQueen50: Thanks, Judy!

>35 dudes22: Well yes, but remember, I'm not setting any actual goals for those categories; those are just the lists I'm working through at the moment. We'll see just how many books get read in each one...

>36 rabbitprincess: Aw, thanks! He makes a pretty cute Crowley, I think, but I may be biased just a bit.

Nov 23, 2019, 12:47am Top

Impressive! I'll look forward to following along - especially the John Boyne category. I'm a fan too.

Charlie's costume is perfect.

Nov 23, 2019, 10:47am Top

>38 VivienneR: Thanks! Boyne is amazing, no? Both his Middle Grade and adult books are fantastic, and I'm always impressed with an author can get both right.

Nov 26, 2019, 3:39pm Top

You have some very interesting categories, so I'll be following your reading next year with much interest!

Nov 26, 2019, 5:13pm Top

>38 VivienneR: & >39 scaifea: - I've never read anything by him, but do plan on reading The Heart's Invisible Furies next year. Definitely looking forward to it since you both are such fans of his work.

Nov 26, 2019, 6:02pm Top

>41 LittleTaiko: I'm reading The Heart's Invisible Furies right now and loving it! I hope you do, too!

Dec 7, 2019, 7:05pm Top

Nice set-up!

Dec 9, 2019, 6:38am Top

>43 thornton37814: Thanks, Lori!

Edited: Jan 1, 4:56pm Top

1. Still Life by Louise Penny
CAT#15: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
This first in the Inspector Gamache series just blew me away. It's everything one should want in a murder mystery: a cozy and uniquely quirky town, an excellent cast of well-drawn characters, a detective whom the reader immediately falls for and falls hard, and a mystery that remains elusive until the very end. There are a few characters who irked me, but in the best possible way: because they are so very believably human, and it doesn't get much more fantastic than that. I will most certainly be revisiting Three Pines, which is now one of my favorite towns, real or written.

Jan 1, 4:19pm Top

>45 scaifea: Yay! My mum and I share a fondness for this series. I love the descriptions of food! I always have to have a snack on hand while reading these books ;)

Jan 1, 4:22pm Top

>46 rabbitprincess: There is a ton of good-sounding food in there, isn't there?! *happy sigh*

Jan 1, 6:02pm Top

>45 scaifea: Wow, a ringing endorsement! I'm happy you liked it, since it's on my TBR list for this year as well.

Jan 1, 6:03pm Top

>48 christina_reads: Oh, I loved it, and I hope you do, too!

Jan 1, 6:49pm Top

>45 scaifea: - This is also one of my most favorite series. At some point I want to go back and re-read the first book now that I'm more familiar with the characters. And I love the food mentions.

Jan 1, 8:15pm Top

>50 dudes22: It's always nice to revisit the first in a favorite series, isn't it?

Jan 5, 3:09pm Top

2. Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
CAT#23: Audiobooks

A boy living in Stalin's Moscow and following the rules like a good little brainwashed kiddo idolizes his father and loves Their Leader until his father gets arrested and he starts waking up to the nightmare in which he lives.
This one seems pretty dark for a Newbery Honor Book, and certainly doesn't have what I'd call a happy ending. It's an interesting look at that time and place, though.

Jan 6, 4:22pm Top

3. The Golden Name Day by Jennie D. Lindquist
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Book
A city girl whose mother is very ill goes to live in the country with her grandparents, and spends a spring and summer playing with her cousins and enjoying life on a farm.
This one melted into syrupy sweetness, mixed with the cloying annoyance of a sad girl complaining and getting everything she wants. So, well, kind of ew. The one saving grace here are the illustrations by Garth Williams.

Jan 6, 4:49pm Top

I love literally everything about this list.

Edited: Jan 6, 4:54pm Top

Jan 6, 5:13pm Top

>56 lycomayflower: *melt* *am now puddle*

Jan 6, 5:18pm Top

>57 scaifea: That stupid little grin/smirk....

Jan 6, 5:45pm Top

Jan 8, 8:11am Top

4. Lumberjanes #2: Friendship to the Max by Noelle Stevenson & Grace Ellis
5. Lumberjanes #3: A Terrible Plan by Noelle Stevenson & Shannon Watters
no CAT: series read
I *love* the Lumberjanes girls. LOVE them. Also, the storyline is a hoot and the dialogue super-witty and -clever. Just all kinds of love for this series.

Jan 11, 6:51pm Top

6. Lumberjanes #4: Out of Time by Noelle Stevenson
7. Lumberjanes #5: Band Together Noelle Stevenson
8. Lumberjanes #6: Sink or Swim Shannon Watters
9. Lumberjanes #7: A Bird's-Eye View Shannon Watters
10. Lumberjanes #8: Stone Cold Shannon Watters
11. Lumberjanes #9: On a Roll Shannon Watters
12. Lumberjanes #10: Parents' Day! Shannon Watters
13. Lumberjanes #11: Time After Crime Shannon Watters
no CAT: series reads
I love everything about this series (well, almost everything: they mistreat Greek mythology a smidge, but I'm willing to overlook it because the everything else is so, so good)!! The characters are fabulous, the stories inventive and interesting, and the low-key inclusiveness and the supportive language and atmosphere is excellent. Highly, highly recommended.

Jan 12, 4:31pm Top

14. The Adventurous Eaters Club by Misha Collins and Vicki Collins
CAT#15: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
I fully admit that I wanted this cookbook at first solely because I *ahem* hold Misha Collins in high esteem, first as Cas in Supernatural and now also as the goofy, sweet, full-of-kindness-for-the-world sort of person he seems to be. (Read: I. Am. A. Fan.) So, I convinced my 11-year-old son to get it for me for Christmas (no shame!), and it's the first cookbook that I've actually read cover-to-cover. And it's completely worth it. Misha and Vicki (his equally awesome partner, whom I now also love to bits) have an excellent approach to introducing possibly-reluctant kiddos to all sorts of healthy and adventurous foods. The theory and practice seems sound, and I love their openness about their own successes and failures in parenting: they're happily candid about not being or pretending to be perfect parents, and there's a lovely sense that they're not completely comfortable with writing a book about even this one aspect of parenting without stressing that they're not be-all authorities on the subject. Also, the recipes look very doable and very good - I've marked tons of them that we will definitely be trying.
Charlie has been, from an early age, a happy helper in the kitchen, but after reading this I realize that I could be even more open to food adventures and letting him have more autonomy in the kitchen (not that he'll go crazy with ingredient combinations - it's just not his style (he is a "cautious fellow," after all (his words, not mine (I swear I'm not making that up)))). It has also been a good reminder that it doesn't have to be time-consuming or difficult to cut the convenience of processed food out of the mix and out of the house. In short, highly recommended.

Jan 12, 11:32pm Top

>62 scaifea: I have been waiting for my library to get a copy of this as I really want to check it out to see if I want to buy it. Sounds like it might be worth the purchase!

Jan 13, 5:18am Top

>63 JayneCM: It definitely is, especially since 100% of the proceeds go to charity!

Jan 14, 1:05am Top

>64 scaifea: That is great - which charity?
I had another look on Amazon - are you planning to try the Breakfast Popsicles on page 73?! I guess we always say they have to eat what we cook - it has to go both ways!

Jan 14, 6:18am Top

>65 JayneCM: From the website: "100% of author profits will go to charities that provide access to healthy food and the arts to underserved families, including Edible Schoolyard, The Garden School Foundation, and the Whatcom Farm to School Fund." And that sounds pretty wonderful to me.

Ha! No, I don't think we'll try that recipe! I do love that they included some of the crazy recipes their kiddos have come up with. We've let Charlie made his own recipes in the past, but at least they've all been edible (if not exactly delicious). His favorite is what he's named Charlie Water: chopped celery, carrots, and red and yellow bell peppers divided into soup bowls, then boiling water poured over them. He lets it sit for five minutes and then it's time to eat it. *sigh*

Jan 14, 6:41am Top

>66 scaifea: That is wonderful. We have a similar initiative here in Australia for school kitchen gardens.

His cooking can only improve! At least it doesn't actually sound disgusting to eat. And it is quick to prepare!

Jan 14, 7:00am Top

>67 JayneCM: That's great! I love the idea of school gardens and think it should be way more prevalent.

I do love that he loves to cook and bake. Weirdly, he's much better at baking (you'd think that would be more difficult), and he absolutely loves it.

Jan 14, 8:37am Top

15. The Black God's Drums by P. Djeli Clark
no CAT: Alex Award winner
Creeper is a young girl living on the streets of an alternate, steampunk, late-1800's NOLA. She makes her way as a pickpocket, but dreams of working on an airship. Her dream moves to the realm of possibility when she gets information about a scientist getting kidnapped for his knowledge of a secret and very dangerous weapon called the Black God's Drum, but she'll need to grapple with the tension between her desire to see the world and her ties to the city she loves. Oh, and she also has an orisha sort of living in her brain...
It's quite short (clocking in at just over 100 pages), but boy, this one packs a good storytelling punch. Anyone who can weave such a good yarn, create such interesting characters, build a fascinating world, and set a perfect atmospheric scene in such a few pages is clearly a talent to be watched. Highly recommended.

Jan 14, 10:09pm Top

>69 scaifea: Ooh, that sounds good! I hope my library has it! Even though it doesn't fit any of my categories (that I can think of), I am glad it is short so I can squeeze it in.

Jan 15, 5:38am Top

>70 JayneCM: I hope your library has a copy, too! It's so good. And so short! So, perfect! Ha!

Jan 19, 3:41pm Top

16. Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater
CAT#15: Books from my Read Soon! Shelves
Since this is the first in a new series containing the characters and backstory of the Raven Cycle books, I can't really talk about the plot without giving away all sorts of things about that previous series. So instead I'll just say that Stiefvater is Everything. I mean, EVERYTHING. She can craft a character like really crafty people craft really crafty things (read: she's super good at it.). Her stories are a perfect mix of real and fantasy, incorporating bits and bobs from folklore and myths seamlessly and beautifully. And her prose is devastating. Absolutely. She breaks your heart multiple times with single sentences and makes you love the pain and long for more of it. So, don't read this one if you haven't read The Raven Cycle first, and if you haven't read The Raven Cycle, what even is your life right now?! Fix that, soonish like.

Jan 21, 7:55am Top

17. Mr. Justice Holmes by Clara Ingram Judson
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
A Newbery Honor winner, this is a biography of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. aimed at Middle Grade readers. The language is slightly dated, but overall it was more engaging than I expected it to be, and I think that young history buffs would still enjoy it.

Jan 21, 5:49pm Top

>72 scaifea: I love Stiefvater (The Scorpio Races is one of my all-time favorite books!) and liked the Raven Cycle a lot, but I wasn't nuts about Call Down the Hawk. It was too much place-setting and not enough actual things happening. I felt like the story didn't really begin until nearly the end, when all the main characters' storylines converged. That said, I loved the new perspective on Declan in this book! And now that I think about it, The Raven Boys was mostly place-setting also. So maybe I'll like CDtH more in retrospect, once I've read the whole trilogy.

Jan 21, 6:16pm Top

>74 christina_reads: The place setting didn't bother me at all because I was so happy to be back with these characters!

Jan 22, 1:06pm Top

>72 scaifea: Reading between the lines here, I think you're saying you like Stiefvater ;) I got The Raven Boys not long ago... I guess I need to move it up the TBR list! And The Black God's Drums looks really good too. So many books to read...

Jan 22, 3:39pm Top

>76 antqueen: Welp, you've cracked the code. And here I thought I was being all subtle and such. But yes, do move it up the list!! I do happily recommend the Clark book, too. And agreed: so many good books. What burdensome lives we lead...

Jan 27, 7:22am Top

18. I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
CAT#20: Discworld series
A few years after we last saw Tiffany Aching, she seems firmly established as the witch of the Chalk, but then whispers and rumors start to move and suddenly Witches are Bad and Tiffany becomes suspect. She brought it on herself when she kissed Winter and unknowingly woke up something else...
Another solid installment in the Discworld series. Tiffany is a wonderful character and I love spending time with her. There's even a bit of a crossover between her part of the world and the City Watch, and I may have geeked out just a bit at that.

Jan 27, 5:08pm Top

19. The White Stone by Gunnel Linde
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books
Two outsider children who live across the street from one another become friends and set contests for each other, the prize for which feats is the trading back and forth of a lovely white stone.
Meh, this one had potential, but didn't deliver like it could have. To be fair, it could be a problem of poor translation (the original is Swedish).

Jan 29, 6:44am Top

20. The Corn Grows Ripe by Dorothy Rhoads
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
When his father breaks a leg clearing the bush for their yearly corn plot, a young boy in the Yucatan must take over the job, and then plant and tend the corn. A coming-of-age story with a verb basic introduction to the culture. I did enjoy the tensions hinted at between belief in the old gods and the more recently adopted Christian beliefs.

Feb 2, 2:41pm Top

21. The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir
no CAT: one of last year's Alex Award winners
17-year-old Essie has lived her entire life so far in front of cameras; her family are the stars of a reality TV show that follows them both in the huge church her father preaches to and in their daily lives. She has felt trapped and her life has been dictated entirely by her mother, but recent events have given her hope that she may be able to find a way out...
Oooof, but this is a good one. Very seat-edgy, with twists that you can sort of see coming, but hold your breath for anyway, and with a strong, well-crafted, and important message woven into the suspense and thrills. I loved the complicated characters - and loved to hate some of them. Definitely recommended.

Feb 2, 3:34pm Top

>81 scaifea: Book of Essie tagged for an engaging YA thriller! Looks like a good fit for me too.

Feb 2, 5:02pm Top

>82 pammab: Woot! I hope you love it!

Feb 2, 5:40pm Top

22. Lumberjanes 12: Jackalope Springs Eternal by Shannon Watters
23. Lumberjanes 13: Indoor Recess by Shannon Watters
24. Lumberjanes: Bonus Tracks by Various Authors
25. Lumberjanes: The Infernal Compass by Lilah Sturges
26. Lumberjanes: The Shape of Friendship by Lilah Sturges

And with those, I think I'm up to date on the series. I loveloveLOVE these girls and their stories.

Feb 3, 4:25am Top

>81 scaifea: I have this one on my list to read - I was hoping it would be good!

Feb 3, 5:21am Top

>84 scaifea: Well, I loved it - I hope you do, too!

Feb 3, 8:01am Top

27. Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu
no CAT
A young witch living with her grandmothers and helping out in their magic/book shop is reunited with her school crush and together they fight against an arch demon that's hanging out in the local woods.
I loved this one both for the story, which was excellent and well-told, and for its representation of disabilities and LGBTQ+ folks as normal and completely NBD. So good.

Feb 6, 1:19pm Top

28. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
CAT#23: Audiobooks
I started out liking this one very much and loving Becky's no-nonsense spirit, but by halfway through I thought the story was dragging quite a bit and by the end I was long past caring about these silly characters and their goings-on. File under Classic Lit What Needed a Keen Editor.

Feb 7, 12:46am Top

>88 scaifea: Becky Sharp - one of the most annoying characters in classic literature! I agree, it was hard to care what happened to anyone.

Feb 7, 6:15am Top

>89 JayneCM: Ha! I actually kind of loved Becky! It just all the other characters and how they interact that got dull for me.

Feb 8, 12:48pm Top

29. They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
CAT#15: Books from my Read Soon! Shelves
Takei tells the story of his family's time spent in the Japanese prison camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in this powerful graphic novel. An important story, well told. I'll certainly be passing thing one on to Charlie.

Feb 9, 11:45am Top

30. The Rattle Bag edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes
Cat#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
A collection of poems curated by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes for kiddos. Some old favorites (and for them to be favorites for me, you *know* they're *old*), some new (to me) delights, and a fair few that didn't really resonate with me. A mixed rattle bag, as it were.

Feb 12, 7:58am Top

31. Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis
No CAT: library impulse checkout
A sort of alternate history/historical fiction graphic novel loosely based on the experiences of the young Elizabeth I. I enjoyed it just fine, but it didn't knock me off my feet like I was expecting. I think, honestly, it would have worked better as a plain old novel, where details could be fleshed out more (and I don't really feel like the illustrations playing a strong enough role in the story anyway). *shrug*

Feb 18, 5:28am Top

32. Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell
no CAT: impulse library checkout
I love it when the plot of a story is predictable but the characters and the dialogue are *so good* that you can't even be mad, and in fact you'd be mad if it didn't turn out the way you thought it would. I *loved* this graphic novel about two teens who became friends through their yearly seasonal work at a pumpkin patch and who help each other through a last night of work before parting ways for college. I fell in love with both of them in seconds for their sweetness, badassery, and cleverness. This was my first Rowell and now I must read All. The. Things.

Feb 18, 6:12am Top

33. Snuff by Terry Pratchett
CAT#20: Discworld series
Sam Vimes, on the insistence of his wife, goes on holiday to the country. To relax. And spend time with his family. Only someone's gone and murdered a goblin, so there's police work to be done and justice to be served.
Only Pratchett could spin a worthy lesson about equal rights for all using a story about goblins, a hot-headed blacksmith, and a woman who writes children's books about poo. And you just can't help but love him for it, right along with loving Commander Vimes as well.

Feb 18, 6:53am Top

34. Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
CAT#23: Audiobooks
A young, middle-class woman in mid-1800s England gets a harsh awakening from her sheltered life when she seeks employment as a governess to two different upper-class families. Mistreated by both the snobby employers and her charges *and* the lower-class servants, she leads a snubbed and lonely life.
Slow to start (I'm still not certain what the point of the first third of the novel was, really), but once it gets going, I enjoyed Miss Grey's story. I especially enjoyed the quiet simplicity of the love story bit. It was interesting, too, how Anne tells the story of the governess life in a much different, much more realistic and everyday style than her sister, Charlotte.

Feb 18, 7:13am Top

35. New Kid by Jerry Craft
no CAT: this year's Newbery Medal winner

Jordan is the new kid at his middle school, and if that weren't hard enough, it's a fancy, rich-kid school and he's a non-white-skinned scholarship student. The story takes up through how Jordan negotiates this new, strange, and sometimes-frustrating space, making friends, standing up to bullies (both among the students and the staff), and making his own space within it all. It's brilliantly done. I mean, so much so that *every* kiddo should be reading it. The pictures of middle school life, and of everyday racism, drawn here are realistic and all the more brain-and soul-shaking for being undramatic. I'm so happy that Craft won the Newbery for it, and I hope it gets into as many young hands as possible.

Feb 18, 10:49pm Top

>94 scaifea: I read my first Rowell last year and in short order I *did* read All. The. Things. With the exception of Pumpkinheads. Which I do need to rectify -- but it is very hard emotionally for me to read literally the last book remaining by an author....

Your review encourages me though.

Feb 19, 5:24am Top

>98 pammab: Well, I think we can hope that it won't, in fact, be the last...

Feb 19, 6:07am Top

>94 scaifea: I love Eleanor and Park! I have read it three times. I have not read Pumpkinheads, even though it was THE book that I kept hearing about. I will have to give it a go.

>97 scaifea: Looking forward to picking up New Kid too.

Feb 19, 6:25am Top

>100 JayneCM: I'm really excited to get to her other stuff - I've heard absolutely nothing but amazing reviews for all of it!

And yay for New Kid! You'll love it, I suspect.

Feb 19, 6:58am Top

36. Telephone Tales by Gianni Rodari
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
A collection of very short, very silly stories for kids, framed by the narrative that they were told by a business-traveling father over the phone to his child every night.
Meh. In the vein of Lear's Book of Nonsense; likely absolutely hilarious to little ones, but loses most of its appeal at older ages.

Feb 20, 10:56am Top

Just chiming in as another Rainbow Rowell fan! You've got a lot of good stuff awaiting you. :) My own personal favorite is Attachments, but I haven't yet found one I've disliked!

Feb 20, 2:18pm Top

>103 christina_reads: Woot! Honestly, I've not heard anyone at all say, "Rowell? Yeah, I guess she's okay." Ha!

Feb 22, 2:16pm Top

37. Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings
CAT#21: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
This first book (this is the first read for Charlie and the nth read for me) is a little slow to get going, but it's the introduction to one of my all-time favorite fantasy series so I'm still absolutely in love with it. The characters in this series have for years informed the rubric by which I measure good character writing; they are some of my best friends and I will love them with my whole heart until my dying breath.

Feb 23, 8:18am Top

>37 scaifea: I really loved these books when I was in my twenties. I had a big crush on Silk and that's one charater that's stayed with me through the years. Unfortunately I think my tastes have evolved and I don't dare read them again as I fear I'll be really disappointed. It's good to hear that you still like them! :)

Also, I'm not much into comics myself but I'm writing down recommendations for my brother who is, thanks for that!

Feb 23, 8:27am Top

>106 chlorine: Ha! Silk was one of my first literary crushes! So clever and adorable.

Feb 24, 3:04pm Top

>107 scaifea: He must have been also among my first literary crushes. I'm trying but can't remember who was the first. I don't crush on book characters anymore and sometimes I regret it...

Feb 24, 4:14pm Top

>108 chlorine: Rhett Butler was my first literary crush; I was in 5th grade. And I still crush out on characters all the time!

Feb 25, 4:44am Top

>109 scaifea: I had more of a crush on Ashley Wilkes. :) And lucky you to still get crushes!

Feb 25, 5:43am Top

>110 chlorine: Ha! I was so mad at Scarlett for being infatuated with Ashley when she could have Rhett whenever she wanted!!

And maybe you're just not reading the right books for crushes...

Feb 25, 5:53am Top

Have you and Charlie read any of the Chris Grabenstein Mr Lemoncello books? I've just started the latest one and find them great fun.

Feb 25, 6:01am Top

>112 dudes22: I've read the first one myself, but we haven't read any together. That one didn't really grab me back when I read it, but I'm really glad you've reminded me of them again, because I think they'd really be up Charlie's street right now, as far as what he reads on his own. Right now he's working through The Name of This Book Is Secret series and just loving them, so I bet he'd like those as well. Thanks!

Feb 25, 7:46am Top

>112 dudes22: I have the first Mr Lemoncello on hold to read with my boys - cannot wait!

Feb 25, 4:36pm Top

>113 scaifea: - I've read books 1 & 2 of the Bosch books and liked them but I like Mr Lemoncello better. Maybe cause it's books and library stuff. I finished the newest Lemoncello book on the plane. I'll be adding it to LT later.

>114 JayneCM: - I hope they like it. I think too the fact that the main character is a boy might make it more interesting to boys.

Feb 27, 7:25am Top

38. The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil (Alex Award) - 7/10 = C
(no CAT: Alex Award winner from last year)
Wamariya chronicles her escape, at a very young age, from Rwanda and genocide, and her struggle to adjust to living in the US and post-war-zone life in general.
I read this one because it was given an Alex Award last year, and I get that stories like Wamariya's are crucial narratives for all of us to hear, especially young people, so I feel guilty for not thinking better of it. Again, Clemantine's story is important and good for her for finding the strength to share it - you'll get no argument from me on these points - but the book could have used a better editor. She alternates snippets from her life as a child refugee running from one country to the next and her life once she arrives in the states, and I like this narrative structure in theory, but the execution here seems clunky. Also, she tries to convey her feelings of frustration and rage, and the tension between her sense of self-strength and her deep-set fears, which is an important thread throughout, but instead of tying it all together, these bits of self-description seem repetitive and eventually unnecessary and borderline-tiresome. There are also holes in her account that left me confused at best and frustrated at worst. I understand that it's *her* story and she has every right to choose what to include and what to keep out of the book, but some of those exclusion choices created the suspicion of a flawed narrator, a sense that we're not given enough to get an accurate sense of story she really is trying to tell. I'm doubly surprised at the places where this book fails because she had help writing it; how could an editor *and* a co-writer not see that this important story could be so much more?

Feb 28, 1:13pm Top

39. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
CAT#23: Audiobooks
Life in a 19th-Century English town, one which is run almost solely according to the rules of the women who live there. I loved this book. Sweet and funny, with characters you grow to adore. Nothing much happens in this small town, but Gaskell has a knack for describing everyday events in terms of the momentous drama in which her characters perceive them and it makes for storytelling gold.

Feb 28, 5:34pm Top

>117 scaifea: The BBC series is fabulous. Judi Dench is spot on.

Feb 28, 6:17pm Top

>118 JayneCM: Noted! I do love Dench, so I'll have to put that on my list.

Mar 2, 7:11am Top

40. Best Friends by Shannon Hale
no CAT: impulse library checkout
A follow-up to Hale's autobiographical Real Friends, this middle grade graphic novel is just as sweet and interesting and well-done as the first. She tackles the minefield that is upper grade school/middle school friendships skillfully, and in a way that I think would be comforting and supportive for MG readers going through similar experiences. I know I would have loved to have read this when I was in junior high!

Mar 4, 7:29am Top

41. Old Ramon by Jack Schaefer
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
A coming-of-age story about a boy who spends a summer with a sheep flock and the old man who tends them, learning about friendship and life.
Meh. I think my Newbery Books about Boys Shepherding in the Wilderness compartment is chockablock full at this point.

Mar 7, 3:25pm Top

42. Bloodlust & Bonnets by Emily McGovern
no CAT: impulse library checkout
A sort of strangely-and-randomly bloodthirsty gal, Lucy, teams up with a bounty hunter and, um, Lord Byron to hunt down a vampire lady, but they all have different motives for doing so. The schemes are all hairbrained, the plot twist are excellently twisty and convoluted, and the banter is fantastically witty. I. LOVED. It. Exactly what I was hoping for from the author of My Life as a Background Slytherin.

Mar 9, 9:30pm Top

>39 scaifea: I took a BB for Cranford. I'm hoping to read more from the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list this year, and this one sounds like a good one.

Mar 10, 6:08am Top

>123 mathgirl40: I hope you enjoy it! (I read it because it's on that list, too, but I haven't officially made it one of my challenges yet. Right now I'm just looking through and finding ones that I can get on audio from the library.)

Mar 12, 3:12pm Top

>122 scaifea: You didn't get me with a BB for Bloodlust and Bonnets, but only because it's already on my to-read list! It sounds bonkers in a really fun way.

Mar 12, 4:12pm Top

>125 christina_reads: "bonkers in a really fun way" is the perfect description - I hope you love it as much as I did!

Mar 15, 5:05pm Top

43. Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett
CAT#20: Discworld series
Moist von Lipwig teams up with Commander Vimes et al. to use the newly-invented steam engine and resulting railway to get the nearly dethroned dwarf king back to his land to safe his kingdom.
Not my favorite Discworld book, but still fairly enjoyable.

Mar 17, 12:42pm Top

44. The Terrible Two Go Wild by Mac Barnett & Jory John
CAT#21: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
Charlie's latest nightly read-aloud selection. I didn't love this one as much as the others in the series, but it was still a hoot.

Mar 17, 2:46pm Top

45. If You're Reading This, It's Too Late by Pseudonymous Bosch
no CAT: Charlie Recommendation
Cas and Max-Ernest are still fighting the evil Midnight Sun forces while now trying to get themselves initiated into the Terces Society. And track down a homunculus.
A fun-enough sequel to the first book. I think I would have thought the series immensely clever as a kid (as does Charlie, who insisted I read them).

Mar 17, 5:31pm Top

46. Me in the Middle by Ana Maria Machado
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
A girl finds a photo of her great-grandmother as a child and makes an invisible friend out of it.
This one was strange, and not in a good way, really. It unintentionally read like a sad story about a girl with some form of schizophrenia, and the writing was clunky at best.

Mar 18, 5:29pm Top

47. The King of the Copper Mountains by Paul Biegel
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
Scheherazade for kids with a Dutch twist: a 1000-year old king is dying, so a magic doctor races to find a key ingredient for a potion that will save him, while the king's only servant and best friend, a hare, tries to keep him alive by inviting a new animal into the castle every night to tell a story.
A lovely book, with all sorts of good stories from the animals and a good overarching story to tie them all together.

Mar 20, 5:21pm Top

It was fun catching up on your thread; and I will take BBs for the Raven Cycle.

Mar 20, 5:55pm Top

>132 LisaMorr: Oooh, I hope you love 'em!

Mar 21, 3:06pm Top

48. The Specter in the Magician's Museum by Brad Strickland
CAT#21: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
Lewis and Rose Rita visit a museum of magic and accidentally let loose a spector in spider form (because of course they do). It targets Rose Rita and it's up to Lewis and his uncle and their witchy neighbor to figure out how to save her.
Another fun entry in the series, and Charlie loved it, so I call that a chicken dinner.

Mar 22, 12:23pm Top

49. Green by Sam Graham-Felsen
no CAT: Alex Award winner
David is starting sixth grade at a rough school in Boston, and spends the year trying to negotiate race issues as a white, Jewish kid in a sea of non-white students while he and his friends try to test into the Latin school as a ticket out of where they are.
A fantastic and (what feels like) authentic look at the struggles of starting puberty while trying to figure out how to live in a racist world. You'll love David and his friend, Mar, instantly.

Mar 23, 10:57am Top

50. Thistle and Thyme by Sorche Nic Leodhas
CAT #2: Newbery Honor Books
A collection of fairy tales and legends from Scotland. Nicely told, and not surprisingly so; I have long appreciated Alger for her storytelling abilities.

Mar 23, 11:25am Top

51. The Fearsome Inn by Isaac Bashevis Singer
CAT #2: Newbery Honor Books
A cool fairy tale about a witch and a devil, their three lovely slave girls, and the three handsome men who defeat them and save the young ladies. Excellent illustrations from Nonny Hogrogian, too.

Edited: Mar 26, 5:30am Top

52. These Old Shades by Georgetter Heyer
CAT#24: Romance
Historical romance about a rascal of a duke who rescues a young girl from a low, cross-dressing fate, Pygmalions her to get revenge on an old foe, then falls in love with her.
I wanted to love this, but instead I just kind of liked it. The writing - especially the dialogue - was clunky, the characters promising but ultimately cardboard cutouts, and the story was good but the telling of it could have been more interesting by at least half. I'm chalking it up to this being one of Heyer's first novels, though, and am very much willing to give her another try at some point.

Mar 25, 7:35pm Top

>52 scaifea: That was my first Heyer too and I'm planning on giving her another try as well.

Mar 26, 5:31am Top

>139 LisaMorr: Lisa: I've heard so many good things about Heyer that her later stuff must be pretty good.

Mar 31, 5:46pm Top

53. The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
CAT#15: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
Holy buckets, this series is good. The characters are fantastic, the scope of the world and the story
epic and amazing, and the backstory mythologies phenomenal. Kvothe (despite being just a smidge too precocious for his years *Adem hand sign for huge understatement*) is one of those characters who, once introduced into your mind and heart, will take up fond residence for all and good. I both can't wait and also sadly dread the third installment of the trilogy: I need to know how this all ends, but so very much don't want it to ever.

Apr 1, 2:11pm Top

54. Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskill
CAT#23: Audiobooks
Set in mid-1800s industrial Manchester, the story is both a romance and a political commentary on the working classes vs. the wealthy owners of industry. Where the two parts of the tale meet, the potential for tragedy lives.
So much bleaker than Cranford, and therefore not quite as enjoyable for me, but still an interesting and groundbreaking novel.

Today, 11:25am Top

55. The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
CAT#15: Books from my Read Soon! Shelves
A slim addition to the Kingkiller Chronicles, this short novel gives us a few days in the life of Auri, and it's just as strange and sweet and mysterious as you'd expect. I loved it. Definitely recommended if you've read the first two books of the Chronicles, but ill-advised if you haven't yet.

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