Tag Archives: book riot 2017 read harder challenge

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 Challenge – July Reads

I had no internet for a chunk of July! It was an odd experience, and one I haven’t had in a long time. On the other side of the situation, I read a lot in the month of July and I am crazy proud of that. I even completed some Read Harder Challenges!

I am up to BLANK number of challenges completed. Let’s keep it up!


The Chinese Knot: And Other Stories by Lien Chao

Completes Challenge #10: Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location

Thoughts: This book was recommended to me by one of my colleagues that I work with. I am not the biggest short story reader, but I’ve found this year I’ve been reading more and more as a means to broaden my reading. These stories look at Chinese immigrant perspectives in downtown Toronto. One thing I immensely enjoyed about the stories is how Lien Chao visualizes Toronto and shows how the city is deeply rooted in many of the new immigrants. “Rose” was my absolutely favourite story in this collection, as it looks as immigration through the lens of someone who has been in the city a long time and watching how it has changed for them over the years. I found most of the stories a bit same-y, but I did think the writing was pretty excellent.

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 Challenge – June Reads

I am a few days into July and late with this post. My apologies! Life has been insanely busy on my end and reading has oddly slowed down. It’s summer now so I feel like I can get my reading mojo back to where it needs to be. Only one Book Riot challenge was completed in June, and while I am sad I didn’t read more, I am happy that I still managed one over none. Here’s what I tackled in June.


Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Completes Challenge #11: Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location.

Note: Based on where my location is, Nigeria is 5,686 miles away.

Thoughts: This year I have slowly been working my way through all of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s works. While I find her writing to be impeccable, Purple Hibiscus wowed me from the first page. Taking place in Nigeria, Kambili and her brother Jaja lived a privileged life until visiting their Auntie. Soon they start to see the corruption that exists in Nigeria, along with religious and political struggles as well. This is a book about family ties, father-daughter relationships, and the way in which religion can play into peoples lives.

This book is just beautiful written, completely engrossing, with Kambili and Jaja being such wonderful characters to follow along throughout the story

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 Challenge – May Reads

With May winding to a close, I can safely say, YAY! And by that I mean, I read more books for my Book Riot Read Harder challenge than I did in the month of April. How wonderfully unexpected, am I right? Plus, I liked the majority of what I read for the challenges as well. Let’s see how May faired.


The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Completes Challenge #7: Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.

Note: This book was originally published in 1911.

Thoughts: So hilariously, I never read this book as a child. I remember owning an “easy-reader” version, but somewhere a long the line this was just a book I never bothered to pick up. Which is a real shame that I am doing it so late in life given how much I love A Little Princess. I found The Secret Garden to be a really enchanting book, and I found myself very invested in all of the characters and the mystery behind the garden itself. I oddly loved Mary, even when she was being a brat (and I am not always fond of the “bratty child”). It’s funny too because I often find classics fairly difficult to read, but this one I was compulsively turning pages because I felt so absorbed in the story. So glad I finally gave this one a go!


Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

Completes Challenge #22: Read a collection of stories by a woman.

Thoughts: Difficult Women is one of those short story collections that is incredibly raw from story to story. Many of what Gay’s heroines portray are women who are “difficult” in the sense that they are unconventional, not following specific female binaries, and they are intense. Some of the stories are very heartbreaking, tragic, others are hopeful. There’s an honesty in Gay’s writing that makes each story compulsively readable. If you like short story collections, this is a great read.

My favourite stories were: La Negra Blanca, Difficult Women, and I Am a Knife. Though seriously, every story is pretty captivating.


Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson

Completes Challenge #8: Read a travel memoir.

Thoughts: I adore Bill Bryson and he’s one of the few non-fiction writer’s I actually try to keep up with. I usually find his brand of humour coupled with being informative to be something that gels with me easily. However, Neither Here Nor There is so far my least favourite Bill Bryson book to date that I’ve read. I usually love his travel memoirs because I feel like he does this great job of making the reader feel like they are there with him, but this one, likely due to how old it is, lacked in that department for me. I found Bryson’s antics a little frustrating, and he does more complaining than he does sharing anecdotal information. This book did have some glimmering moments that I personally enjoyed, but overall I found this book to be lacking in the fun-informative department.

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 Challenge – April Reads

April was a slow month for my Read Harder Challenge. In fact, I only completed one challenge for the challenge, which is pretty damn pitiful if you ask me. Usually I try to knock out two or three, but I got very into just reading what I felt like during the month and it was good to do that.


Here’s the only challenge I completed:

 The Sound of Water: Haiku by Basho, Buson, Issa, and Other Poets by Sam Hamill

Completes Challenge #23: Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.

Thoughts: This was a surprisingly difficult challenge to complete given I’m not the biggest poetry reader, and the majority of published poetry is often about love or relationships. Then I remembered I had a background in East Asian Studies and was like “I could read Basho again!” Through my work I found this tiny little collection of haiku from the greats such as Basho, Busan and Issa. A lot of the poems focused on meditative states and the evolution of life. This was a very quick, easy, and thoughtful collection of relaxing poems to read!


Here’s hoping May is a better month for completing challenges! However, I am really glad to have knocked this one out giving how much trouble it was giving me at first.

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 Challenge – March Reads

March is almost over, and much like February, I didn’t complete as many of the challenges I would have liked. Truthfully I got way too obsessed with some of the personal reading challenges I gave myself this month, and my husband’s silly challenge of reading as many blue books (blue on the cover, on the spine, just blue) as I could. I read quite a few, not going to lie. Still, I managed to complete two more challenges on my read harder journey. Here’s what I read in March!


King Baby by Kate Beaton

Completes Challenge #9: Read a book you’ve read before.

Thoughts: I recognize that picking a picture book may seem like cheating, but my goal this year is to read books I own and haven’t read, so I knew this challenge would be challenging given my own reading goals for the year. However, I ended up rereading King Baby for an interview I did where I had to perform storytime. I sadly didn’t get the position, but I will admit how much fun it was to reread this book to adults during the interview process. This book is still so funny, quirky, and I need one of those King Baby plushies that exist. Or a Queen Baby plushie. I maintain that my husband reads this book out loud better than I do. Seriously if you have wee ones, this is a must read!


Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach

Completes Challenge #14: Read a book about war.

Thoughts: For this Book Riot Challenge, I decided to read a non-fiction book about war, and one that was more science-based than historical. I love Mary Roach’s writing, and adored Packing for Mars, but Grunt feels like a very different book. It has Roach’s humour and her methodical breaks downs for how different things work, but this was definitely a much more challenging read to get through. For starters, I am not really interested in books about war, and two: there’s some stuff in this book is really not for the faint of heart. Roach describes things like penis transplants, diarrhea, and others aspects of the military that are unique and challenging to say the least. I learned not to eat while reading this book. It’s very informative and very accessible, and I liked it given it gave me a different perspective on war that I didn’t think was actual possible.


When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid

Completes Challenge #21Read a book published by a micropress.

Note: This book is published by Arsenal Pulp Press.

Thoughts: This book is a very difficult read, and it’s a book that doesn’t shy away from anything. It’s vulgar, it’s raw, and it doesn’t pull any punches. I both enjoyed and found this book frustrating. I really found myself disliking how Jude treated any friends he had in the story, but I weirdly loved his self-absorbed world where he was the movie star and everyone else the players. I feel like Reid nails that voice and nails that presentation throughout the story, to the point where it is so believable to both Jude and the reader. I also found the ending to be so difficult and given some of the hints in the story it was bound to happen. The writing had some awkward moments for me though. This book is definitely not for everyone, and if you can’t stomach sexual content or vulgarity, I would advise not touching this book with a ten foot pole.

 

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 Challenge – February Reads

With February having just recently ended, it’s time to check in on the Book Riot Read Harder 2017 Challenge. This month I only managed to complete two challenges, which isn’t as much as January, but I am still happy with the results all the same.

Let’s see what was read, shall we?


30102870History is All You left Me by Adam Silvera

Completes Challenge #15Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.

Thoughts: I read History is All You Left Me in the course of a day. When I wasn’t reading it, I was constantly thinking about it. This is a beautifully written book about a boy who loses his first love at a young age and it alternates between present time and the past. Griffin and Theo’s friendship-turned-relationship is organic, it’s vibrant, and you see how they bring the best out of each other. Silvera has this knack for making you laugh on one page, and then gut punching you on the next. This is a great LGBT romance novel, and I highly recommend it.


17296690He Said, She Said by Kwame Alexander

Completes Challenge #24Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color.

Thoughts: Okay, so I am really heartbroken about this. I have been loving the hell out of Kwame Alexander’s books, but this one I am sad to say fell short for me. Which sucks because this is his first novel that I’ve read that isn’t in verse. The romance in this book was grating, corny, and I struggled so much with Omar’s character. On the opposite, I adored Claudia to pieces and I loved how important the cause in the story was to her. I think Alexander does a great job handling topics like abortion, teen pregnancy, but the characters and writing in this book fall short of what I feel he is better capable of. I found the side characters to be very flat (also I hated the way Fast Freddie was written). But yeah, there’s great ideas and the political side of this book is great. It’s just too bad it’s the smaller part of this novel.

Still love ya, Kwame Alexander. I still think you’re prose is beautiful.

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 Challenge – January Reads

I wasn’t fond of the challenge list for last year’s Book Riot’s “Read Harder Challenge.” I adored and completed the 2015, which I chronicled on the blog two years ago now, and realized how much I missed doing this year long event. Here is the full list of challenges. Every month I am going to share with you all some progress I’ve made on the challenges, as well as some thoughts on each read.

Let’s get to it!

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The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot and Score in This Game Called Life by Kwame Alexander

Completes Challenge #1Read a book about sports.

Thoughts: I actually participated in a blog tour for this book, which you can read my full thoughts here. If I am being honest, I am not that big on sports (unless you count, like, figure skating and bowling), so this challenge was going to be tough for me. Then I read this gem, which is a book about sports and it’s also about being inspiration and using sports metaphors to explain how life can work sometimes. Kwame Alexander is an amazing writer whom I am glad I have discovered at the beginning of this year, and I already plan to make time to read the rest of his current published works as I get my hands on them. Seriously, a small book with a big impact.


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Midnight Without A Moon by Linda Williams Jackson

Completes Challenge #2: Read a debut novel.

Thoughts: Another book I reviewed, and you can read my thoughts on here. This book is a stunning debut that looks at racism in 1955, during the time in which Emmett Till, is killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Beautifully written, it’s one of those books that you have a hard time believing is a debut as you read it. Rose Lee Carter is definitely a heroine you can cheer for. Loved this book to pieces. ❤


26892070Secret of the Time Tablets (Cleopatra in Space #3)
by Mike Maihack

Completes Challenge #6: Read an all-ages comic.

Thoughts: I LOVE the Cleopatra in Space series, and this is the third volume. I think Mike Maihack is really talented at making characters that children and adults can relate to while also creating a very addictive plotline. Cleopatra is a heroine who is easy to root for, once in awhile follows her namesake to a tee, and often gets into a lot of trouble. She also has a fabulous supporting cast as well. This is a fantastic middle grade adventure series that definitely will get even reluctant readers asking for the next volume.


29775583Ms. Marvel, Vol. 6: Civil War II (Ms. Marvel, Volume III & IV #6)
by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, and Adrian Alphona 

Completes Challenge #18: Read a superhero comic with a female lead.

Thoughts: I LOVE Ms. Marvel, though I admit I haven’t really been keeping up with Civil War II (frankly, I’m not that interested in it either). But I do love Kamala, and I always want to see what my girl is up to. This installment starts off with a hilarious short story that pits Miles and Kamala against each other. It is pretty genius. The rest of the comic focuses on her newfound frustrations with Captain Marvel, and a nasty disagreement. There’s some witty writing here, art is still fabulous and this adds another darker layer to Kamala’s story. Good stuff.

I think I am off to a good start. Here’s hoping for more great reads next month!