10 Books in 2016 Challenge

Update: How did I do in my 10 Books in 2016 Challenge?

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Um… well, I didn’t quite make it. Though I’m fairly certain I read more than 10 books before 2016 had ended, not all of them were from the list I created last August. This post will provide the 10 Books in 2016 Challenge Update: (aka, it’s now 2017, so here’s specific detail on how I did).

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  1. The Glass-Blowers By Daphne DuMaurier

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2. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

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3. Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

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4. The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale

  • STATUS: Read in 2016 #yay
  • Blog post

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5. The Room: A Novel by Jonas Karlsson

  • STATUS: Did not read in 2016 #boo

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6. Odd Girl Out by Elizabeth Jane Howard

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7. Off the Page by Jodie Picoult

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8. Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming

  • STATUS: Did not read in 2016 #boo

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9. The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida

  • STATUS: Did not read in 2016 #boo

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10. L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad

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In conclusion, I read 7 of the 10 books chosen for the 10 Books in 2016 Reading Challenge. I didn’t knock the challenge out of the park, but I’m happy with my results.

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How did your 2016 reading go? Or what are you aiming to achieve in 2017? I would love to hear about your accomplishments and your goals in the comments!

What is Love?

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Baby don’t hurt me… Don’t hurt me… No more…

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As part of the self-imposed 10 Books in 2016 Challenge, I read Elizabeth Jane Howard’s novel Odd Girl Out.

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So glad I did. This was my first work by Elizabeth Jane Howard, and it was realistic, clever, and enjoyable. Today’s post, I plan to list out some of the pros & cons:

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*The pacing of this story actually worked very well, for me. However, some readers prefer to be shown everything, and this is a story that instead sometimes chooses to show, sometimes chooses to tell, which results in more of a leisurely stroll than a fast-paced run.

Ultimately, if you enjoy complex novels filled with realistic and slightly ambiguous characters, and you do not mind novels with a slower pace, and you enjoy stories that make you think, then I highly recommend Odd Girl Out.

4.5 out of 5 bell bottoms

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Question the Meaning of Life & Realize that Teenagers are Ridiculous

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As part of the 10 Books in 2016 Challenge, I read Jodi Picoult and her daughter’s sequel novel Off the Page.

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No, of course I had not read the original, although there was enough exposition in the sequel to make me fully aware that a teenage girl becomes obsessed with a children’s fairy tale, falls in love with the prince protagonist, and figures out how to get him out of the book because he loves her back.

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#kids

Off the Page is about as interesting as can be expected, considering the fact that it is a sequel written by a mother-daughter duo, one of whom is Jodi Picoult.

I know that I am in the minority here, and that a lot of people think that Jodi is amazing, because she writes about issues from multiple viewpoints, and her novels are risqué, but I don’t like her writing and find her work predictable.

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This book was no exception. Except that it was batshit crazy because apparently that’s what teenagers are like? Or I’m assuming that’s where the Picoult women were going with this.

Like, going on 2 dates does not mean you are boyfriend and girlfriend. Love at first sight is lust before you get to know each other well enough to be bored. And date real people whom you can stand, girls, because waiting around for the fictional ones who are “perfect” for you only works in novels.

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Ok, & 1 movie

Overall, an escapist piece of fluff that is too ridiculous for me to recommend. This book earns two melting ice cream cones on the scale of whatever-the-fuck-I-feel-like.

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Skilled Workers & Revolution

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Ever since reading Rebecca, I have been convinced that Daphne du Maurier is the shit. As such, I recently alighted on the idea that I should read more of her work, and resolutely trotted to the library to begin.

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#librarytrot

I decided on The Glass Blowers, for no discernible reason, and read the first third of the book early on the Saturday morning of the date it was due.

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#howiroll

Then, the library wouldn’t let me renew it…

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…so I had to purchase a copy on Amazon.

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I suppose, since I enjoyed this novel, that this turn of events worked in my favor. Although they were still annoying.

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Ugh. Okay. Over it.

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#notoverit

“So…” you ask me, in that self-conscious tone that means the room is tense and super-awkward. “What is this book about, exactly?”awkard

Good question. The Glass Blowers is a tale within a tale. Sophie Duval is writing the tale of her family, a group of glass blowers who experience the French revolution. They experience the decadence of the French royal court, they gain and lose from the revolution, they grieve and love each other, and the story is captivating. The writing feels simple, as though you are hearing a story from a friend, your friend in her eighties who has lived through some amazing shit that is horrifying and wonderful and entertaining, by turns, and sometimes all at once.

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Daphne du Maurier is a talented writer, and I highly, highly, highly recommend this novel.

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Have you read The Glass Blowers? Or is there another duMaurier book that you recommend I read next? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

The Snow Maidens

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After meaning to do so for years, I have finally read Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls.

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It was worth the wait.

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I am one of very few people who, while considering Speak well written, did not much enjoy reading the book.

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To be honest, I would prefer to discuss what I liked about Wintergirls as opposed to what I didn’t about it’s more famous sibling. Therefore:

1. I often felt disconnected from the protagonist.

I know, this description probably does not, at first, sound like a good thing about a novel. But it is. A large part of the reason that Lia is so controlling about what does (or more often, does not) go into her body is because life is overwhelming and painful. By focusing on suppressing one of life’s necessities, Lia is able to block out the world around her… As such, it is both appropriate and a sign of her skill that Anderson allows is a glimpse into this character, helps us to feel sympathetic and worry for her, when at the same time, we feel a sense of “otherness” from her that the character is pushing out into the world.

2. The language

…is gorgeous.

Akin to A Clockwork Orange or Inherent Vice, Anderson creates Lia’s own language in this book. All of the words she uses are English, yet the manner in which she uses those words turns her phrases into more of that exotic, disorienting, Wintergirl-ness

3. The story, while fairly simple at its’ core, is still intriguing and unpredictable.

I was completely unsure how this story was going to end, and the ending did not disappoint. #winwin

I know not everyone likes young adult literature, and as such, would not say that this novel is for everyone. If you do like YA, however, this YA novel is very well done, and I highly recommend.

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Women Can be Beautiful and Funny

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It’s the sixties. Mini dresses and go-go boots abound. Change is in the air. And Sophie Straw is determined to be the next Lucy (as in, I Love…, TV fame). The biggest hurdles standing in her way are her looks, which gain her the title of Miss Blackpool until she turns it down, and the fact that few people consider women funny. So, you know… huge deal.

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Funny Girl is the first novel I have read (or perhaps devoured would be a more fitting term…) by Nick Hornby. As such, I cannot comment on how this novel compares to well-known predecessors, such as About A Boy and High Fidelity. But I liked it. Very much.

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In Funny Girl, Hornby introduces the writers, cast, and crew of what goes on to become one of the most well-loved television comedies of its’ era. The novel follows them from the beginning, when the show is just an idea that they all think is very good, but which could also very easily have fallen on its’ face, to the reunion decades later. All characters were funny, most were likable, (and those that weren’t likable were still immensely fun to read about), and best of all, human. Hornby’s characters have flaws, and do the wrong thing sometimes, and it is wonderful to read about them through the entire book.

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S’wonderful…

As I have mentioned previously, numerous times, I am a character reader. I don’t care if it has an interesting plot if the characters are mediocre. So the following is hypothetical, but I feel that Funny Girl is that rare treat that will appeal to both types of readers – the plot seekers and the character fanatics – and leave them both satisfied at the end. I may be wrong, but I sincerely hope not.

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… and not just because I like being right

Have you read Funny Girl? What were your thoughts? Love it? Hate it? Planning to read it? Please let me know in the comments below!

P.S. This book was partially read to fulfill the goal I set for myself 10 Books in 2016 Challenge.

California Toothache

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The only reason I read L.A. Candy through to the end instead of throwing it out of my window in frustration is that I committed myself to doing so. (Also, it was a library book, so… two reasons.)

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This novel is a blatant attempt to capitalize off of the reality TV show that brought Lauren Conrad into our living rooms, and some of our hearts,

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…not mine

written with less grace and finesse than a Sweet Valley High novel,

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Yes… that SVH

and, unless you feel compelled to adhere to your own arbitrary and impulsive decisions,

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far too easy to put down.

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My recommendation? Don’t bother to pick it up in the first place.

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This book was so bad, it gets a black hole… which is equivalent to negative stars, right? #right