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Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017 08:22 pm
20. Mouse Guard: The Black Axe ***** (23 Jan – 2 Mar) I’ll start off by saying I am not really a fan of graphic novels, I don’t read them. But this was not only a really interesting (though at times sad) story, it was so well illustrated! I loved loved loved the illustrations, possibly because I adore little things and the mini mouse world was amazing, with the old-timey buildings and feel. It was like being at a RenFest for mice! My only nitpick was the font used for a lot of the story was a bit on the hard side to read, but I see where they were going with the feel of it. Definitely recommend it to graphic novel fans, and maybe even to those that aren’t (and I’d like a model of those buildings and little tiny needle-felted mice, please!)
CHALLENGE: MRC, An all-ages comic book

21. Otherwise Engaged **** (2 Mar – 2 Mar) A fairly typical romance novel that follows a fairly typical story arc, with enough adventure, suspense, and decent characters to keep it interesting even though you know how it will end (spoiler: they get together in the end, I know, shocking!). It does have a good mystery component and while it’s not unguessable, it’s well done so that you’re not sure if you think the bad guy is who you think it is because it makes sense, or you just want then to be because you don’t like them. A little heavy on the ecological warrior message (um, I can’t explain that without giving away a chunk of the plot) that felt a little… preachy (though historical possibly accurate given the time frame), and for that it loses a star. But it’s still a quick, fun, fluffy read.
CHALLENGE: URC/PS, A book by an author who uses a pseudonym

22. Written in Red **** (5 Mar – 5 Mar) Urban fantasy is not usually my thing, but this on grabbed me right off. I think it helped that it was recommended and I didn’t even read the cover flap, so I didn’t know even what Meg’s backstory/secret was! I really enjoyed the vast array of characters and personalities and the story, though a little predictable, was fun to read. I’d recommend it to fantasy lovers (especially urban fantasy lovers), so long as you’re prepared for a bit of darkness and a moment of sadness.
CHALLENGE: MRC, A fantasy novel

23. Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice * (audio) (22 Feb – 7 Mar) While I’m not an enormous Austen fan, some of the retellings have been fun and brilliant. This is not one of them. This is a book that does just about every single thing wrong, and I gritted my teeth through the entire thing. I don’t even know how I finished it, if it hadn’t been an audiobook there is no way I would have wasted my time. At least with an audiobook, I was accomplishing other things simultaneously. Bizarre and pointless side stories (the family maid, Mary’s mysterious outings, that last chapter that just had to shoe-horn in one more “look how modern and inclusive I’m being” character), characters that had less depth than a parking lot puddle, absolutely unbelievable and weird plot devices to try to tie into the original storyline (which sometimes the author tried to stick to with manic disregard for the coherency of the story/believability of the characters, and then sometimes, for no discernable reason, abandoned entirely)… toss in more intolerance in the “that’s just the way they are” Midwestern folk than you can shake a stick at, and you have an absolute pile of… horrible, horrible work. Recommended to absolutely no one. I wouldn’t line a bird’s cage with it and subject them to it.
CHALLENGE: URC/MMD, A book in any genre that addresses current events / ORC, a book published in 2016

24. Sorrow Road *** (12 Mar – 12 Mar) Part of the book is four stars, part is two, so it evens out to three. I lived Bell and the main story, but once her daughter Carla got involved (and her “really bad thing”, which really wasn’t that bad, was anticlimactically revealed) it went downhill. Nothing about the daughter seemed remotely believable or likeable. The mystery was a stretch, but it was interesting enough to keep you reading. The secondary story was unnecessary and distracting. I did enjoy the writing and the setting, and maybe if I’d read the others in the series I’d have more feelings towards the characters, but in the end I put it down as a middle-of-the-road, not great, not horrible book I wouldn’t necessarily recommend.
CHALLENGE: URC, A book you can read in a day

25. The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place **** (16 Mar – 16 Mar) While the bulk of the book is just humorous and should be taken tongue-in-cheek, I think the underlying message of “cleaning won’t fix your problems” is a true one. Even on all the hoarding shows they talk about how there’s an underlying problem that makes the hoarding an issue, and that needs to be addressed. If you’re unhappy, it’s probably not because your socks are feeling unloved. If it makes you happy to clean, go for it. But also don’t fall into the trap of thinking that there’s something wrong with not wanting to be minimalist and pin-neat. Humor plus a message of “it’s okay to be you” makes this the best (not) self-help book I’ve ever read (which, admittedly isn’t a high hurdle to clear).
CHALLENGE: URC/PS, A book with pictures

26. The Fifteen Lives of Harry August ***** (audio) (7 Mar – 21 Mar) The one down side to this book is that it does get slightly confusing, especially when you’re listening to the audiobook, as to which life he’s talking about. He bounces around a bit instead of going strictly consequentially, so if you miss the quick little “In my third life…” you can get a little lost. And in audiobooks it’s hard to “flip back” to the start of a chapter to catch something. Still, the story was very interesting and compelling and I did like the characters and the writing, so I’d pretty much recommend this to everyone, provided you can suspend a little bit of disbelief for the premise. It’s kept me thinking” what if….?” for days afterwards!
CHALLENGE: URC/PS, A book that takes place over a character's life span

27. The Crossing Places *** (25 Mar – 26 Mar) I struggled with a rating on this one, because while I did like the story and the characters enough (though there were a few issues there) to want to read more in the series, I also don’t love present tense writing, and that took a bit to get over. But once I got into the story I noticed it less. And the mystery is a little easy to guess, at least by halfway through, but it still kept my interest. My biggest problem was probably with the character I did like the most – Ruth herself. While I like a flawed character, constantly pointing out how “fat” she was, the cliché of the childless, overweight single woman with cats who really, secretly, feels unfulfilled without children rankled a bit. I’d rather have seen her actually happy with her life and okay with herself. It was a quick read, a fun mystery, and I’d recommend it to most* mystery lovers. (* SPOILER/WARNING: there’s a rather upsetting pet cat death that might make some people not want to read it)
CHALLENGE: URC/PS, A book by an author from a country you've never visited

28. Overqualified ** (28 Mar – 28 Mar) I get the sad, poignant parts of this book, but I didn’t see the humor that other people did. It was just sad and depressing, and a little bit weird. I appreciate what they author was going for, but it just wasn’t the book for me. The big up side is it takes less than an hour to read, so I didn’t lose much time in it.
CHALLENGE: URC/PS, A book of letters

29. The Underdog and Other Stories **** (27 Mar – 28 Mar) Classic Agatha Christie, slightly farfetched but engaging short stories, this time with Hercule Poirot (my favorite of her detectives!). Great for mystery lovers, if you haven’t read them, I would recommend it!
CHALLENGE: URC, A collection of stories by a woman