Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Redolent Mermaid 2017 Reading Challenge: Final Update

Season's Greetings! The last few pages of 2017 are flipping by terribly fast and this book is almost finished, but before 2018 comes down off the shelf to be cracked open to the first page, I wanted to wrap up my reading challenge. 

1. Re-read a beloved book (or series!- give yourself credit for each one you read).
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling*** Yep. It was time. I have the lovely fully illustrated picture book versions and have not had the time to read them yet, so what better time than the holidays? I just started it but I plan on savoring the experience.

2. Art and literature. Graphic novels, art history, comics, even a doodle or two on a Wreck This Journal, as long as art is involved, count it. 
All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater*** This latest installment in Maggie's repertoire chronicles the Soria saints and the pilgrims who flock to them to get their darkness cast aside. Of course there is always a catch, especially if you are a Soria in need of your own cleansing. I continue to be a huge Maggie Stiefvater fan and her writing becomes more and more polished with each book she pens. It counts as art since Maggie designed the cover and painted the artwork within, not to mention the owl doodle. She is too cool. Highly recommend.  

3. Magic. Witches and wizards, fairy courts or simply a story that enchants you.
Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker *** An enchanting tale of two unlikely friends, who also happen to be somewhat magical, and their journey in the Big Apple during the late 1800's-early 1900's. A story of immigration, love and tragedies. 

4. A book gifted or loaned to you.
Hollow City by Ransom Riggs ** The sequel to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, it picks up where the boat drifts off and follows the mad dash through many loops and time periods to save their headmistress in distress. Not quite sure how I felt about the hero honing his newfound peculiar skill so darn fast or a few other nit picks. But it was good.

5. A book that has been in your TBR pile but overlooked time and again. Read it!
Wool by Hugh Howey*** A dystopian novel set somewhere in southeast America in the far (or near?) future where a whole civilization is confined into an underground silo. I really enjoyed the fast pace and the building of suspense but I did feel a touch disconnected with the characters. Still a good fast paced read and I am looking forward to reading the rest in the series.

6. A library find.
Circus Galacticus by Deva Fagan ** This is one my daughter requested I read. It was a fun, fast kid angled book about a girl who's parents pass and years later she runs away with a circus, but not just any circus, a space circus full of Tinkers who are battling the Mandate in an effort to help keep individuality. 

7. A book to learn something from. 
The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson ** An interesting dive into the cholera epidemic in London in the mid-1800's. Well written and fascinating given the subject matter. 

8. Cool book cover art that lures you in like bait. (Yes, it is fun to judge a book or wine by its cover).
Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie** A hugely symbolic tale of a European traveler heading east to speak with a Mughal Emperor to weave a tale and work some magic. The story is brimming with gilded imagery and painted with words and ideas that will stick with you but the telling can at times be tedious and overwrought. 

9. A story that takes you to another place and time, real or imagined.
Wormwood by G. P. Taylor * A sci-fi thriller that tracks the coming of the comet Wormwood to London in 1756. The religious overtones are obvious. It just didn't thrill me like I could have. 

10. A book from a favorite author that you haven't gotten around to reading yet.
Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling*** I was prepared to not like this given the bad press and word of mouth I had heard, but taken as its own book, I loved it. It is a darkly humorous tale of small town life and the politics that surround it. There are deep and stony moments of seriousness that touch on hot topics but enough awkward and humor filled moments to keep it from being bleak. I very much enjoyed it.

11. A book with an animal on the cover or in the title.
Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard** A fantasy novel of a kingdom embattled with tyrant neighboring countries who have the heft of dragons on their side and how once dead magic is beginning to bloom again. This book has a sweet love story but it is mostly a fast YA read for when you want some fluff reading. Nothing deep or heavy, just good old fashioned dragons and kingdoms with a kick butt cover art.

12. A memoir.
Hemingway in Love by A.E. Hotchner*** Hemingway seems to have been kinda a dick in his past, especially with women. Granted, I didn't know the man and only have what I have read to go by. This story illuminated some of Ernest's past through the lens of an adoring friend and co-worker who watched from the 

13. A fluff read. (Easy, fast, or cheesy).
Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews *** A story that follows Kate Daniels, a magic and sword wielding heroine of the first book Magic Bites (see #18 below) through Atlanta, Georgia. This time in search of whomever is taking a murderous advantage of the fast approaching magic flare. Good gosh I am loving this series. 

14. A Steinbeck, Hemingway or John D. MacDonald creation or book about one of them or inspired by one of them.
Not Completed. My only fail on this challenge. Maybe next time!

15. A scarlet hued tome.
Poison Apples by Lily Archer * Three (four? sorry it has been a while) high school girls unite to terrorize their new and much hated step-mothers. I could not get on board. It was a fast read but just not fleshed out. The book looked cool though.

16. The next in a series you have read.
Written In My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon *** Can I give 4 stars? Because... Outlander. This is the most recent installment and I savored every moment back with my beloved characters and their adventures. Roger and Bree looking for their son back in 1980ish, Jamie and Claire avoiding the American Revolution as best as they can, Lord John, William, Ian and more. The whole cast was there and alive for me once again. That ending though.... tears, tears, tears.

17. A tale that takes place during a war.
A Green and Ancient Light by Frederic S. Durbin*** A tale set during WWII (possibly) that felt similar to Chronicles of Narnia but still very much its own story of the fairy realm and how it interacts with the mundane world. There is a boy who has to live with his grandmother while the war is on and she shares her secret garden  with him and the mystical puzzle it presents. 

18. Female heroine triumphant. 
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews *** The first in a nice and fat series about Kate Daniels, a tough magically inclined mercenary that fights baddies in a much changed, futuristic Atlanta. This first book tackles a particular brand of baddie looking to eat the women-folk and breed. This series reminds me of the Jim Butcher Dresden Files, which I love. Funny, easy to read and I am already shipping creatures. 

19. A European setting.
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro ** A medieval tale that takes place just after King Author has passed away, in the land of the Britons verses the Saxons. A fog has come over the land causing the people to forget. And old couple catches glimpses of their life, and son, before the fog and are determined to find him. A story that deals with the bliss of ignorance verses the pain of knowing. 

20. Female authored.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware *** A fast paced page turner revolving around a journalist who thinks she witnessed a murder and the lengths gone to convince her otherwise. Perfect for poolside or beach summer reading. Thrilling. 

21. Paranormal or supernatural phenomenon.
Green Heart by Alice Hoffman*** This was actually two books in one Green Angel and Green Witch. Both follow the life of a young girl who grows up quickly after the death of her parents and sister and the ways she deals with the grief and pain. 

22. A book to make you belly laugh, guffaw or snort and chuckle along the way.
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood** A cute children's series that follows a trio of orphans who have been (probably) raised by wolves and are under the care of a young nanny who loves them in the service of a husband and wife who rather don't. A cute story that made for a light hearted read.

23. A book that will be a movie, you read, then watch. Preferably with friends then you can chat about how much better then book was (unless it was Maze Runner, then the movie was better).
The Orient Express by Agatha Christie*** With all the hubbub of the movie coming out I decided it was time I read the book. I picked this one up at The Strand in NYC and I read it rather quickly. It is a classic "who done it" mystery with some wonderful characters and a nice twist ending. 

24. A book with words in it. That should cover it.
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler ** An accounting of the southern belle turned international high society life of Zelda Fitzgerald, the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald and the many triumphs and tragedies they faced. Slow paced at first, then it gains momentum.

Overall I am thrilled with the progress I made and the books I read. I still have many on my bookshelf to read but that is why I love reading challenges, they keep me motivated to keep reading. I did meet my GoodReads Challenge of 30 books this year and actually passed it and read 40 so far. I may still yet squeeze a few more in before 2018 hits.

I plan on creating another reading challenge for next year. Or maybe I will find one I like instead. Do you set reading goals? Do you plan on trying to read more, less or the same for next year? What one book is a must read that you discovered this year? 


  1. You read some really cool books! Have added several titles to my list. I read The Ghost Map a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. I only did the Goodreads challenge for number of books, but am proud to say I exceeded my goal of 45 books, and am now up to 60. Glad to have read a lot more, but it definitely cut into my tv watching lol!

    1. Thanks! I did enjoy most of them! The Ghost Map was very enlightening for me. I liked seeing the shift in archaic scientific thought to modern ideas and how that might even still occur today? Just neat things to ponder. Congrats on exceeding your goal!!! Are we friends on Goodreads?? I need to check that today and spy out your books.

      Reading does cut into programs! But I figure I can always catch up on that later. <3 Happy holidays beautiful friend!

  2. You did terrifically, my friend. I'd expect nothing less of the originator of the challenge - you really slayed this thing. I...did not! Tapped out at 11 books. The Stand really did me in; it took about a month to read, and left me in a weird head space (curses, Stephen King!) But I plan on continuing on next year from where I left off - maybe you can pick up that Hemingway then!

    1. Thank you. Eleven books is better than zero books. Sorry The Stand left you feeling wasted. I hate when a book does that. White Oleander and Beautiful Losers did that to me as well. I think I will pick up Hemingway then too. Great idea. <3

  3. A lot of books there! Well done! And your pics to go with them are so fun.

    I didn't partake in any challenges, not even a simple Goodreads goal. I think I should at least keep a list of what I read in 2018, give myself and idea of what I've been up to during the year. Thinking about 2017, I couldn't even tell you most of what I read. lol


    1. Thanks! It was a good reading year for sure. I like Goodreads for tracking what I read and want to read. You kind of do that with your book reviews on the blog. It is not too late to open a Goodreads account and input your read books. We can be Goodreads buddies. You did read quite a bit this year.

    2. I do have a Goodreads account, just don't use it like I used to. I thought of the blog too, after leaving the comment. I should go back and see just how many I read. It's probably 90% middle grade fantasy. lol


    3. Yeah, but middle grade fantasy is SO FUN!!! Heck, you see all the YA and fantasy books I read. I love 'em. I even read a few kiddie books this year and they were fun too.

  4. Bravo, I say you smashed it, and the memoir you read was about Hemingway, so, 2 birds?
    I'm going the optimistic route for once and am aiming at finishing my 4 current reads/listens before the end of the year. It could be far-fetched, even though they're smallish. Doesn't matter number-wise as it puts me in the 20s, not 24. I'll update next week and I hope you are doing a 2018 challenge, if you need suggestions or collaborative ideas lemme know!
    P.S. You've sent such great reading recs (and actual books)my way this year, that I thank you for a good inspirational reading content year too:)

  5. Bravo to you, and the memoir you read was about Hemingway, so, 2 birds?

    I'm being an optimist for once and proclaiming I'll finish around 20 with the 4 current reads/listens I have going. Still won't meet the challenge, but it was a good reading year, I plan to update next week.
    Thank you for the wonderful recs and actual books you've given. I hope to complete it in 2018 if you are doing another one. If you need any challenge suggestions or collaborative ideas, lemme know:)

    1. You know what, I totally SHOULD count that as two birds! Er, books! Thanks, friend!

      I look forward to reading your update <3 I would love to collaborate on next year's reading challenge!! That sounds like great fun. Merry Christmas, Jay. <3

  6. Welcome;)
    Hi buddy, thank you, these photos are dreamy. I'm currently drafting my challenge recap and would absolutely enjoy contributing to 2018's challenge. After I finish this up, I will email you tonight, or tomorrow a.m. at the latest<3<3