Not Just Another Grouchy Grammarian

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Archive for the category “Goodreads Reading Challenge”

Book Riot’s READ HARDER Challenge and GOODREADS Reading Challenge Update #10

And here goes another installment of my reading list and bookish pursuits.

It’s been a busy month. I read a trilogy and a horror anthology, finished one serial on Serial Box, started the final season of another and began a third, read the newest in a mystery series I love, and had enough real life to keep things interesting. All my reading this month was for the GOODREADS Challenge only, however, and I need to remedy that this month.

Book #76 (Goodreads Challenge): I began the month with a recommendation from Cindy Guentert-Baldo – Kevin Kwan’s trilogy. The first book in that trilogy is Crazy Rich Asians. I’m not much on popular fiction, but this was a delightful book – It’s not quite chick lit, and it’s not quite a rom-com, but it tells the story of Rachel and Nick in a very quick and frothy read with a few darker moments.

Book #77 (Goodreads Challenge): Kwan’s trilogy continues with China Rich Girlfriend. Here the plot shifts from Rachel and Nick to his cousin and her husband, and to the stories of other of the secondary characters. By now, they all felt like old acquaintances, and it was wonderful to catch up on their stories.

Book #78 (Goodreads Challenge): The final book of Kwan’s trilogy is Rich People Problems. The focus is heavily on Nick and his grandmother in this one. It ties up the series nicely. The whole series took me about two and a half days to read and was well worth the time spent.

Book #79 (Goodreads Challenge): I’m not a horror reader in general, but I was invited to a book launch for A New York State of Fright, edited by James Chambers, April Grey, and Robert Masterson, published by Hippocampus Press. I was – I admit – predisposed to like at least two stories in the book because I know the writers, Hal Johnson and Patrick Thomas. (Full Disclosure: I also know the publisher slightly. The opinions herein are my own, however.) Much to my surprise, while I loved both stories from my friends, I was more impressed with several of the other stories. Alp Beck’s “Heels,” which I heard partially read at the launch was my main reason for purchasing the book, and it didn’t disappoint. In fact, I only felt one story wasn’t superb – and that just because I thought the ending had been telegraphed too early. Again, while horror is not my jam, this was an excellent example of contemporary horror. Oh – and all the stories are set in New York – either state or city – a big plus for me.

Book #80 – 84 (Goodreads Challenge): As most of you know, I am rather fond of a website/app called Serial Box. I finished the five books of their BOOKBURNERS series this month. I’m sorry to see this serial end. It’s held my attention all the way through but leaves some loose threads. I want to find out what happens to several of the protagonists whose endings are not shown in the last chapter.

Book #85 (Goodreads Challenge): Serial Box has also released the first, preview, chapter of the final season of TREMONTAINE, which is how I found them in the first place.

Book #86 – 88(Goodreads Challenge): The new series I started on Serial Box is something of an experiment for them. They have teamed up with The Associated Press to do a non-fiction series called 1776: The World Turned Upside Down. It covers the year 1776, in 12 chapters – one per month. Each chapter begins with an overview of the events taking place that month and then goes into the story. If you are a history fan, you will find it quite interesting, and worth subscribing to. I have already read the first three installments, and have the fourth queued up on my computer.

Book #89 (Goodreads Challenge): Donna Andrews has released the next chapter in her Meg Langslow mysteries. is another enjoyable chapter. It’s fun to watch her boys growing up, and watch her indomitable mother and father, as well as the other characters. This is another series where the characters feel like old friends settling in for a visit, and I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

I didn’t get more reading done this month because of various real-life issues. I’ve been fighting yet another round of cellulitis, a friend has had sudden, unexpected brain surgery (he’s doing fine so far), another friend has developed what seems to be pretty much terminal cancer, various friends have needed tech support, and my sister has her usual crises, so my attention has been pushed in all sorts of directions other than books.

In September, I will be attending a conference for people who are in the planner community – which is one of the groups that ties in with the bullet journal communities. I met some of the other folks who will be attending this evening, and they seem to be quite friendly and welcoming. At least I will see a few familiar faces when I get there.

So that is where things are at for August. I will try to blog more in September, but with the High Holy Days and my birthday, it’s going to be a pretty full month.

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Book Riot’s READ HARDER Challenge and GOODREADS Reading Challenge Update #9

So here is the next installment of my 2018 reading list for both the challenges I have committed to so far.

Book #63 (Goodreads Challenge): Okay. A friend suggested I read Amy Tangerine’s Craft a Life You Love: Infusing Creativity, Fun & Intention into Your Everyday because Ms. Tangerine had some pretty good suggestions and kept the Newage goop to a minimum. While both observations are correct, there really wasn’t anything new and exciting in here. Note: I am probably a good twenty to thirty years older than her target audience, so having a longer perspective may have something to do with my having “seen it all” before now.

That said, the exercises are interesting, and have helped renew my interest in art journaling, so I will give the book that much credit. And Amy’s story is interesting, if not a bit indulgent. Many of us who are trying to make it don’t have parents or a partner in the background to prop us up if we have a fall or a rough spot, and I think that far too many books of this kind overlook that. Ms. Tangerine at least acknowledges the help she got at crucial moments from her parents.

Still, it was a relatively quick, enjoyable read, and I’d say that there are people who could benefit from reading it. That I just didn’t happen to be one of them is no fault of Ms. Tangerine’s, and I wish her all success and hope many of her target audience find this book and buy it.

Book #64 (Goodreads Challenge): Went to a book launch party at Integral Yoga, and the swag was a copy of the book being launched. The book was Suzan Colon’s Yoga Mind: Journey Beyond the Physical, 30 Days to Enhance your Practice and Revolutionize Your Life From the Inside Out. This book tells the story of the year she spent teaching yoga to a friend who had been severely injured in a freak diving accident. It includes actionable practices for the various steps of yoga, including breathing, mantra, and cultivating appropriate attitudes. I would definitely recommend this, just for Francesco’s story. Note: We got to meet Francesco
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Book Riot’s READ HARDER Challenge and GOODREADS Reading Challenge Update #8

Okay, I’ve been slacking a bit, but I’ve had some actual work to take my attention away from reading. Hopefully, I am heading back to achieving my daily reading goal. I find it helps me deal with the day better if I start by enjoying some time with a book.

Books #52-57 (Goodreads Challenge): Donna Andrews’ The Good, the Bad and the Emus, The Nightengale Before Christmas, Lord of the WIngs, Die Like an Eagle, Gone Gull, and How the Finch Stole Christmas bring the Meg Langslow series (mentioned in my last Book Challenge post) current. There are two more books in the series, but they won’t be released until later this year.

Book #58 (Goodreads Challenge): A Baby’s Bones by Rebecca Alexander is the first book in a new mystery series. It was pretty interesting, although my one gripe is that I really would like to see more female sleuths who are not dependent on a man. There is a more in-depth review in my post of 1 May 2018.

Book #59 (Goodreads Challenge): Spenser is back again. Ace Atkins continues the Robert B. Parker “Spenser” series with Old Black Magic>. This time, Spenser is without his old buddy Hawk, as he works to resolve a case involving a mobster with a grudge against him and some paintings that were stolen several decades ago. Further, he doesn’t have much help from Quirk or Belson, who have risen up the chain of administration. Spenser prevails, of course, but it’s always fun to watch how he gets there.

Book #60 (Goodreads Challenge): Roger Levy’s The Rig got reviewed in my post of 16 May 2018. It’s another book not to be picked up lightly, but is well-worth the read.

Book #61 (Goodreads Challenge): Madman Walking, by L.F. Robertson is an interesting look, through a fictional case, at the process of overturning the conviction of an innocent, but mentally-ill, man. I note that I received this as an uncorrected bound proof from the publisher, but – as always – my responses are not based on that. I did a more in-depth review on Goodreads.

Book #62 (Goodreads Challenge): The Crowns of Croswald, by D.E. Night is a book I was asked to review by the author’s publisher. I agreed, with the usual proviso that my review would be honest, and not influenced by the fact that I was given the copy.

That said, it was enjoyable. It started a bit slowly, and I had figured out the plot twist long before it was revealed, but that did not make the book less enjoyable. The story revolves around a young woman with a secret. A kitchen maid, she still somehow gets invited to join the country’s most important school to learn to be a scrivener. Being bright and inquisitive, as well as poor, she has some trouble fitting into her new surroundings. She also has a very powerful enemy, who has been searching for her for all of her life and develops two very close friendships, one male and one female.

The similarities to Harry Potter will, I think, make the book resonate with its target audience, which I believe is YA. There are enough differences, however, that those similarities do not detract from the story.

I further note that I am now awaiting the next book in the series since the ending of this book sets up the heroine’s next quest.

So, those are my recent books read. I am a touch behind where I want to be, but that happens around this time of year. I fully expect to get to where I should be over the summer.

Roger Levy Spins a Complicated Tale

Two things before I begin. First, I apologize for this being a bit after the publication date. I was dealing with a sinus infection, and not up to reading much. Second, I received this as an uncorrected bound proof from Titan Books. All opinions contained herein are my own, however…and you guys know how opinionated I am.

At 615 pages, Roger Levy’s The Rig is not a book to dive into lightly. While I occasionally found myself “rooting for” one or another of the characters, all are pretty flawed. None are wholly likable, but there are books where that happens, and it’s never been a deal-breaker for me.

The book starts slowly, establishing the friendship between the two main characters, and the world they are living on. It’s not a pretty society, either, because it follows a pretty rigid interpretation of the Bible. At any rate, the story follows the two characters and several other plotlines. One thing that kept me reading, in fact, was waiting to see how Mr. Levy was going to tie all the different stories together. And, when he finally did so, it was only partially in ways I had expected.

For all that, the book is well-written, and once I had gotten past the slowness at the beginning, I didn’t want to put it down – not for dinner, not for some work I needed to do, not even to go to bed.

It’s doesn’t fit neatly into military SF or horror, but I think it will appeal to readers thereof. It was definitely worth the time and effort to read it.

 

This One is Okay, But….

First, let me note that I received an advanced reading copy of this book. Second, let me state that all opinions herein are mine, and are not influenced by the previous statement.

A Baby’s Bones is not a book to read lightly; it requires concentration, patience, and attention to detail. It is the first book in a new series by Rebecca Alexander, featuring Sage Westfield, a female archæologist. It’s a good read, but the subject matter gets a bit grisly in places, so I would say it’s not for the squeamish or faint of heart.

I felt the book started slowly and, at first, I didn’t much like any of the characters except Sage’s mother. Still, as I read, it grew more interesting, especially the historical mystery within the contemporary one. The ending was pretty satisfying, although I had figured out the historical mystery. However, the modern-day mystery had a somewhat different solution than the clues led me to believe, so that was cool.

My other nit to pick is that I would love to see a series with a female protagonist where she doesn’t meet a romantic partner in the first book. It would be wonderful to have a female detective/cop/etc., who doesn’t need a man (or woman) in the background. However, that is a personal preference, and should not keep anyone from reading this book and, indeed, this series.

Book Riot’s READ HARDER Challenge and GOODREADS Reading Challenge Update #7

So. I haven’t gotten to the last six books for the Book Riot Challenge just yet. Reading has been going a bit more slowly this week, as I have been a bit under the weather. Also, the book I am working my way through actually requires you to think, so it’s taking a bit longer than lighter fare.

Book #32 (Goodreads Challenge): The Last Stand, by Mickey Spillane is the last novel that Spillane completed before his death. It’s packaged with one of Spillane’s early novellas that has not been published before, “A Bullet for Satisfaction.” This volume is being released by Hard Case Crime, who kindly sent me an ARC, to celebrate what would have been Spillane’s 100th birthday and begins a year of events and releases. Neither story is a “Mike Hammer,” so if you are looking for Spillane’s most famous character you will be slightly disappointed. The title story is one of the best I’ve ever read, and the characters will definitely stay with me. It’s clear that no matter how old Spillane was when he wrote it, his abilities were still top drawer. This is funny, scary, tense, and delightful in general – all at the same time. There is some stereotyping of Native Americans here, but it’s made clear early on that the author has contempt for those stereotypes. The earlier piece has a lot of violence and also has some stereotyping, mostly to the tropes of the characters – the hard-boiled ex-cop turned investigator, etc. If you can remember that this piece was written in the late 1940s/early 1950s, you can keep in mind that those were how the reading public of that era wanted that particular sort of protagonist. Still, this is one volume that I am delighted I had a chance to read, and I hope you love it as much as I did, even with its obvious faults.

Book #33 (Goodreads Challenge):My friend Marie recommended that I read Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Jinni. I ordered it for my Kindle, and there it stayed – at the bottom of my reading queue until she asked me during this past week if I had read it yet. I’ve been working my way through a different book, so I sheepishly admitted I hadn’t. I then bumped it all the way up to “Read Now” status. I’m glad I did. It’s set primarily in New York in the late 19th century. The mix of characters is intriguing: a female golem, a jinni, a wizard reborn as an amoral rabbi, an apostate Jew, an Orthodox rabbi, a Syrian tinsmith, a pretty heiress, a possessed doctor, and various immigrants that helped make up the melting pot we know as the Lower East Side. The story starts out in a fairly straightforward manner: a man in Danzig wants a wife, so he pays an amoral rabbi to create a golem for him, which he then attempts to take to America. Having been cautioned not to wake her before the boat docks, he does so anyway, then dies from appendicitis, leaving the golem masterless. Meanwhile, in the Syrian quarter of New York City, a tinsmith is given a flask to fix. When he unstoppers it, he releases a jinni – who has no memory of how he ended up in the flask, just that a wizard put him there. Both golem and jinni have to learn to adjust to living with humans. This not only puts restrictions on their natural abilities so that they are not discovered, but it requires them learning how humans think and feel. The tinsmith becomes the jinni’s protector, while an Orthodox rabbi becomes the golem’s. Like all the best books, this one can be read on many levels. First, there is the story itself, entertaining as is. Next, it can be read as a tale about the human condition: what are feelings, what is duty, what is faith, what is our obligation to our fellow person. Finally, it can be read as a quest to fully realize oneself. It’s not preachy, however, and is – in fact – quite an enjoyable way to pass a weekend day. Give this one a shot – you may enjoy it as much as I did, if not more.

Books #34 through 49 (Goodreads Challenge): My friend Kathy recommended the first book in the series, Murder with Peacocks, to me when I asked for recommendations as part of one task in the 101 in 1001 Challenge I’m doing elsewhere. She negelcted to tell me it was part of a series though. I’m up to the 11th book in the series, Swan for the Money. The series is delightful, if a touch formulaic. It has memorabe characters, titles that are all bird-related, puns, literary allusions, and the books are short enough that a fast reader could get in two per evening if he/she tried. The titles in order (of the ones I’ve read so far) are:

Murder with Peacocks
Murder with Puffins
Revenge of the Wrought Iron Flamingos
Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon
We’ll Always Have Parrots
Owls Well That Ends Well
No Nest for the Wicket
The Penguin Who Knew Too Much
Cockatiels at Seven
Six Geese A-Slaying
Swan for the Money
Stork Raving Mad
The Real Macaw
Some Like It Hawk
The Hen of the Baskervilles

and the one I am currently reading: Duck the Halls.

Book #50 (Goodreads Challenge): Killing Town, by Mickey Spillane and Max Collins. It’s a wonderful thing that Spillane hand-chose Collins to be his literary executor. When Collins finishes a Spillane manuscript, it’s virtually impossible to tell where Spillane left off writing and where Collins began it. This book is no exception. I do note that I received the book as an ARC, but all opinions of it are mine and are in no way influenced by its receipt. This is the very first appearance of Mike Hammer – yes, before even I, the Jury. It has all the hallmarks of Hammer to come: it’s gritty, there’s violence, there are beautiful women and plot twists within plot twists. Overall, it was a highly satisfying way to spend an evening.

Book #51 (Goodreads Challenge): Steve Allen’s “Dumbth”: The Lost Art of Thinking With 101 Ways to Reason Better & Improve Your Mind requires some thinking. This is not the first time I have read it, nor will it be the last. It’s one of those books that works best with several re-readings because you will concentrate on different suggestions by Mr. Allen on how to improve the use of your brain. Even better, there is finally a Kindle version of it. Now if I can only get the four books of the MEETING OF MINDS series for my Kindle….

Anyway, that’s it for this time. I am hoping to get back to reading a bit more in the near future. I just don’t feel right if I can’t read for an hour a day.

What a Way to Meet Someone.. .

I do note that I received the book as an ARC, but all opinions of it are mine and are in no way influenced by its receipt.

Today’s mail brought me the ARC of the newest – yet oldest – book in the Mike Hammer series: Killing Town, by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins (Titan Books). This is the very first appearance of Mike Hammer – yes, before even I, the Jury. It is being released as part of the celebration of the 100th year since Spillane’s birth. It follows the release of The Last Stand/A Bullet for Satifaction by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins (Hard Case Crime), two non-Hammer stories in one volume.

Spillane could not have chosen a better literary executor than Max Allan Collins. When Collins finishes a Spillane manuscript, it’s virtually impossible to tell where Spillane left off writing and where Collins began it. This book is no exception.

In Killing Town Mike Hammer slips into the small town of Killington to fulfill the last request of an old Army buddy of his who had liberated $30,000 from an operation run by the New York “Mob.” Before he can do so, however, he is arrested and framed for the rape and murder of a young woman he had observed while traveling to Killington.

It has all the hallmarks of Hammer to come: it’s gritty, there’s violence, there are beautiful women and plot twists within complications within plot twists. The writing is taut, the dialogue is the kind of snappy, period talk we expect in the best early noir novels. Overall, it was a highly satisfying way to spend an evening.

Book Riot’s READ HARDER Challenge and GOODREADS Reading Challenge Update #6

So. I still have six books to read for the Book Riot Challenge. Reading has been going a bit more slowly this week, as I have been a bit under the weather.

Book #28 (Goodreads Challenge): Karen S. Bell’s Brooklyn Rhapsody is a quick, pleasant, easy read. It’s pretty much a vignette about a single woman living in Brooklyn, who is dealing with family who cannot see any of her accomplishments unless she manages to get married.

Book #29 (Both Challenges): I had Gabourey Sidibe’s This Is Just My Face: Try Not To Stare on my TBR queue for a while now, so when I needed a celebrity memoir it seemed like a good choice. It was. Ms. Sidibe has a very refreshing viewpoint, and she openly discusses things that shaped her, both for good and bad. The one thing I was not so pleased about is that she still seems to need to make the jokes about herself before others might do so. Then again, that is a skill that many of us who are different learn, and it’s a damned hard one to break.

Book #30 (Goodreads Challenge): Gareth L. Powell’s Embers of War is a solid, thought-provoking piece of military sf. It reads like a cross between Ann McCaffrey’s “The Ship Who…” books and David Feintuch’s “The Seafort Saga” books. IT makes you think; it does not sugar-coat its tale of war’s legacies, and it does not shrink from calling things what they are. You really want to read this book, even if military sf is not your normal beat.

Book #31 (Goodreads Challenge): Haldane Macfall’s Vigee Le Brun is an interesting short biography of painter Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. I read this for a project I’m involved with, and it was interesting enough to keep me going, even though the language is a bit odd. Written in 1922, the language is more than a bit flowery, and I get the feeling that the writer was off by a hair when using certain words to describe things. Still, if you like artist biographies, this one is worth exploring. It was a quick read (less than a morning) and covered the life of a fascinating woman who spent twelve years after the French Revolution as an exile and an official enemy of the State. The book also has colored illustrations of some of her works, and those are a true delight.

I am in the process of rereading one of my favorite books – Steve Allen’s marvelous “Dumbth”: The Lost Art of Thinking With 101 Ways to Reason Better & Improve Your Mind, and will report on that next time. After that, I will get back to my other reading challenge.

Book Riot’s READ HARDER Challenge and GOODREADS Reading Challenge Update #5

And here we go again – another round of books for my two reading challenges.

Book #21 (Both Challenges): The task was to “read an assigned book you hated or never finished.” I had vague memories of Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome during the same term I had to read Willa Cather’s My Antonia. So I tossed a coin and Frome won out. While it is not a fun book, being about the inability to escape one’s responsibilities, it was a very well-written one. I was surprised at how easily it read, given the subject matter. I can’t say I would recommend it for light reading, but if you are interested in the classics, this is a good one to read. In fact, it was sufficiently good that I may very well give My Antonia another try!

Book #22 (Both Challenges): I wish I could say the same for the next book on my list. The task was to “read a book with a cover you hate.” I had wanted to try some Henry David Thoreau, specifically because I could not get into Walden back when I was in college, so I figured I would try a shorter work, Walking. I was underwhelmed. I thought I would enjoy this piece because I love walking – before I became disabled, I would walk three to five miles a day just for the hell of it. For Thoreau, however, walking seems less an enjoyment than a political statement. The bulk of the piece is spent eschewing civilization and its comforts. For me, a devout city walker (I do live in New York, one of the best walking cities in the world), this is so far outside my wheelhouse that I can’t wrap my brain around it. Oh, well, I suppose they can’t all be winners.

Book #23 (Goodreads Challenge): My ex and I were discussing this past month’s obituaries and – of course – Sue Grafton was included. He noted that he had come across an interesting bit of info in one of the obituaries about her: She said that she had gotten the idea for her Kinsey Millhone series by reading Edward Gorey’s The Ghastlycrumb Tinies. I had not read this, so he pointed me to a free PDF version. It’s a very quick read, and if you like Gorey’s twisted sense of humor you will enjoy it.

Book #24 (Goodreads Challenge): One thing I love to do is review books, as you may have noticed. Occasionally, a publisher will send me an advanced reading copy, such as Help I Am Being Held Prisoner, by Donald E. Westlake. This is a rerelease of an old Westlake book by Hard Case Crime, Like all the best Westlake books, it careens along at ludicrous speed (See Spaceballs). While a more in-depth review will follow on the publication date, the book involves a practical joker who ends up in prison as a result of one of his jokes going horribly wrong. He falls in with one of the “bad” groups of the prison and is compelled to assist in planning and executing the robbery of two banks — while still in prison. Definitely a fun read, and worth the time spent. If you like books with a cast of oddball characters, this is one you will love.

Book #25 (Goodreads Challenge): Got a lovely little surprise this morning while managing the books on my Kindle – a little gem of a story from one of my favorite writers – the absolutely charming Lawrence Block. It’s called Who Knows Where It Goes?, and has all the things I like about Block’s stories. It’s well-written and depicts how easily a plain, prosaic man can accept work that is inherently evil in order to maintain his lifestyle. Pretty much anything by Block is worth reading, and this is no exception.

Book #26 (Goodreads Challenge): I was going through the backlist on my Kindle, and found Nancy Nahra’s quick, little hagiographic book, Jacqueline Kennedy: First Lady in Courage. It was just okay, not noting anything new to me about its subject.

Book #27 (Both Challenges): The Woman in the Window, by A.J.Finn was another recommendation from the forums for the Book Riot Challenge. It actually was a page-turner of the best kind – twist upon twist, with elements of many of the old black and white movies the heroine loved so much. This is not to say that the protagonist is likable – she’s not really. However, the story has so many interesting turns that I don’t recommend starting this book before bedtime – I was up all night reading it.

And that is it for this entry, I think. I am six books away from finishing the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. We’ll see how long it will take me to accomplish that – possibly in the next entry or the one after that.

Book Riot’s READ HARDER Challenge and GOODREADS Reading Challenge Update #4

I’m back with the next installment of my challenge reporting. Again, I’m sticking with the running draft because I like it. And I can’t believe that with the books reviewed here I’m fifteen books through the 24-book Book Riot READ HARDER Challenge!

Book #17 (Both Challenges): Someone in one of the forums recommended The Windfall, by Diksha Basu for Challenge #5, which is “A book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, or South Africa).” I’m glad I listened. The story careens along, with as endearing and frustrating a cast of characters as a reader could want. The story centers around the changes a family undergoes when the father sells a technology start-up for what – to them – is an extremely exorbitant amount of money. Ms. Basu has a good eye for people’s foibles and strengths, and how they are sometimes interchangeable. I will definitely be looking up her other work when this challenge is over.

Book #18 (Both Challenges): I’m not much on romance these days, and task #10 was to read “A romance novel by or about a person of color.” I looked in the forums, and a few people were recommending Someone in one of the forums recommended Forbidden, by Beverly Jenkins. This book is considered #1 in her Old West series and is one of those wonderful books where the characters are so memorable that you want more. Fortunately, Rhine Fontaine is so fascinating that he appears in at least one of Ms. Jenkins’ other books, which I am looking forward to reading after this challenge, and her protagonist, Miss Eddy Carmichael, is so fascinating that I hope she reappears in other books.

Book #19 (Both Challenges): Someone in one of the forums recommended Pashmina, by Nidhi Chanani for Challenge #19, which is to read a comic not published by DC, Marvel, or Image. Since I’ve been having pretty good luck with forum recommendations, I figured I’d try another one. I’m glad I did. The art is lovely, and the story is absorbing. You can add me to the folks that are recommending this book about a teenager’s coming of age and learning about making life choices.’

A Rare Fail: I tried to read Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin, but could not. I found it much more disjointed than I could deal with (and I don’t usually have problems with “disjointed” – I adored Laurence Sterne’s The Life & Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman immensely). (I note that my roommate says the only Atwood she ever read and liked was a book review in The New York Times.) It’s not often that I give up on a book but, honestly, there are some books that life is just too short to slog through. Still, I wanted it on record that I did try with this one.

Book #20 (Both Challenges): I read the first Aunty Lee book back in May 2015, about six months after it first came out. I fell in love with Aunty Lee, Nina, Salim, and Raja, and hoped there would be many more books in the series. Much to my delight, I found there are now three more books to read. For Book RIot’s task 23, I needed to read a book by a female writer with a protagonist who is both female and over 60 years of age.

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