Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Reading Challenge: Reading Women 2021

I've never done the Reading Women challenge although I've been aware of it for years. 

Now that I'm doing more free-range reading, challenges like this interest me -- especially as I am trying to broaden my reading horizons. 

Here's hoping I can double up some of these reads with Read Harder 2021 as I"m not confident these days that I can do all the requirements of both challenges. I haven't been very good at making myself read in 2020 so this is very much me being ambitious and optimistic!

 Will you be participating?

2021 Reading Women Challenge

  1.  A Book Longlisted for the JCB Prize
    • A Burning by Megha Majumdar  
    • Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara
  2.  An Author from Eastern Europe
    • The Door by Magda Szabó
    • Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
    • Flights by Olga Tokarczuk
    • Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn
    • Forty Rooms by Olga Grushin

  3.  A Book About Incarceration
    •  Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
    • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones 
    • The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
    • The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah

  4.  A Cookbook by a Woman of Color
    • The Edna Lewis Cookbook by Edna Lewis (completed 1/18/2021)

  5.  A Book with a Protagonist Older than 50
    • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
  6.  A Book by a South American Author in Translation
    •  Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor
    • Near to the Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector

  7.  Reread a Favorite Book
    •  Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier

  8.  A Memoir by an Indigenous, First Nations, Native, or Aboriginal Woman
    •  Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo 
    • A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott
    • Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Land by Toni Jensen
    • Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
    • Blonde Indian: An Alaska Native Memoir by Ernestine Hayes

  9.  A Book by a Neurodivergent Author
    • The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
    • Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

  10.  A Crime Novel or Thriller in Translation
    • The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda (finished 3/13/2021)

  11.  A Book About the Natural World
    • Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
  12.  A Young Adult Novel by a Latinx Author
    •  Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore (finished 2/20/21)

  13.  A Poetry Collection by a Black Woman
    •  Sonata Mulattica by Rita Dove
  14.  A Book with a Biracial Protagonist
    • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
    • Don't Ask Me Where I'm From by Jennifer De Leon
    • The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

  15.  A Muslim Middle Grade Novel
    •  Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
    • A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi 
    • The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf

  16.  A Book Featuring a Queer Love Story
    • Bring Her On by Chelsea M. Cameron
    • The Craft of Love by EE Ottoman
    • The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite
    • You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
    • The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar 
  17.  About a Woman in Politics
  18.  A Book with a Rural Setting
    • All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld 
    • O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
    • The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey 
    • Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

  19.  A Book with a Cover Designed by a Woman
    • Writers & Lovers by Lily King 
    • Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
    • The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow 
    • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
    • A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

  20.  A Book by an Arab Author in Translation
    • One Thousand and One Nights by Hanan Al-Shaykh 
    • Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi
    • Minor Detail by Adania Shibli
    • The Proof of the Honey by Salwa Al Neimi
    • The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz

  21.  A Book by a Trans Author
    •  Bring Her On by Chelsea M. Cameron
    • The Craft of Love by EE Ottoman
    • The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders
    • She of the Mountains by Vivek Shraya 
    • One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston 
    • Little Fish by Casey Plett
  22.  A Fantasy Novel by an Asian Author
    • The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
    • Ash by Malinda Lo 
    • Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho 
    • The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

  23.  A Nonfiction Book Focused on Social Justice
    •  Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
  24.  A Short Story Collection by a Caribbean Author
    • Where There Are Monsters by Breanne Mc Ivor
    • Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat
    • How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs


  •     A Book by Alexis Wright
  •     A Book by Tsitsi Dangarembga
  •     A Book by Leila Aboulela
  •     A Book by Yoko Ogawa
    • Revenge (finished 2/16/2021)

Monday, December 28, 2020

Book Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I can't wait to reread this one. 

This book was incredible. It has the vibe of I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House meets Lovecraft Country (the book, not the show) with a dash of Grace Kelly-in-a-Hitchcock-thriller. 

Our flesh-and-blood heroine Noemí takes on a family errand that turns into something very, very else; and it's this character who completely anchors the story for me and makes it so beautiful, compelling, and moving.

Moreno-Garcia is heavy with the capital G Gothic-vibe, and every page is saturated with the elements that made me shiver with delight. It's a creepy, cold, creaky story that thumps with life and stretches the exaggerated elements of the Gothic to encompass more than its roots. Noemí is fighting not only the mist, a malevolent presence, her own doubts, but also racism, and sexism, and colonialism (never named so plainly, because Moreno-Garcia is great, but it's there, unable to be ignored). There's so much real in the growing horror we empathize with Noemí when she resists the supernatural possibilities because there are enough real things to be scared about.

A perfect read.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Reading Challenge: Willa Cather Short Story Project, Phase II

Having spent some of my formative years in the prairie states (Nebraska and South Dakota), I'm sentimental about writers like Willa Cather. 

I haven't done a deep dive into her work, so I'm especially excited to participate in the Willa Cather Short Story Project, a reading challenge to read all of Cather's short stories, one a month. 

Most excitingly, all the stories are available for free online, so there's basically no impediment for my participation.

You can find the entire schedule here. I will put the 2021 reading plan here so I can track my reading and, hopefully, my reflections. Let me know if you're going to participate so we can gush together!

2021 Cather Stories

  1. January 2021 “Lou, the Prophet”
  2. February 2021 “Peter”
  3. March 2021 “A Tale of the White Pyramid”
  4. April 2021 “The Son of the Celestial”
  5. May 2021 “The Elopement of Allen Poole”
  6. June 2021 “The Clemency of the Court”
  7. July 2021 “The Fear that Walks by Noonday”
  8. August 2021 “On the Divide”
  9. September 2021 “A Night at Greenway Court”
  10. October 2021 “The Princess Baladina—Her Adventure”
  11. November 2021 “Tommy, the Unsentimental”
  12. December 2021 “The Count of Crow’s Nest” (Parts I and II)

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Reading Challenge: Read Harder 2021

Book Riot's Read Harder challenge rocked my world when I did it in 2019, and it lead to some of the most interesting reads for my 2020 (although I didn't come close to completing). Really excited to try to crush the challenge this year!

Read Harder 2021

Read a book you’ve been intimidated to read

  •  The Sword Went Out to Sea by H.D.
  • The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

Read a nonfiction book about anti-racism 

  • Me and White Supremacy : Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad

Read a non-European novel in translation 

  • The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda (finished 3/13/2021)

Read an LGBTQ+ history book 

  •  Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America by Rachel Hope Cleves 

Read a genre novel by an Indigenous, First Nations, or Native American author

  • Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
  • The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
Read a fanfic
  • a murder-free Hannigram???

Read a fat-positive romance

  • Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade (finished 2/2/2021)

Read a romance by a trans or nonbinary author

  • Bring Her On by Chelsea M. Cameron
  • The Craft of Love by EE Ottoman

Read a middle grade mystery

  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg 
  • Pepper's Rules for Secret Sleuthing by Briana McDonald 
  • Chirp by Kate Messner
  • Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison

Read an SFF anthology edited by a person of color

  • She Walks in Shadows by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, ed.
  • A People's Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers by Victor LaValle (Editor)

Read a food memoir by an author of color

Read a work of investigative nonfiction by an author of color

  •  Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga
  • Sway: Unravelling Unconscious Bias by Pragya Agarwal
  • The Golden Thread: The Cold War Mystery Surrounding the Death of Dag Hammarskjöld by Ravi Somaiya
  • The Light of Truth: Writings of an Anti-lynching Crusader by Ida B. Wells-Barnett
  • Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" by Zora Neale Hurston

Read a book with a cover you don’t like

  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  • The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
  • The Gift by H.D.
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
  • Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys

Read a realistic YA book not set in the U.S., UK, or Canada

  • The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
  • Here the Whole Time by Vitor Martins
  • The Silence of Bones by June Hur
  • The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf 
  • The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf 
  • Boxers by Gene Luen Yang
  • If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
  • A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena

Read a memoir by a Latinx author

  • In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

Read an own voices book about disability

  • Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space by Amanda Leduc 
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell
  • Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist by Judith Heumann
  • Disability Visibility 

Read an own voices YA book with a Black main character that isn’t about Black pain

Read a book by/about a non-Western world leader

Read a historical fiction with a POC or LGBTQ+ protagonist

  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste
  • She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore 
  • Out of Darkness, Shining Light by Petina Gappah
  • Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore (finished 2/20/21)

Read a book of nature poems

  • Bestiary: Poems by Donika Kelly
  • Bright Dead Things by Ada Limon
  • The Wild Iris by Louise Glück
  • Passing Through Humansville by Karen Craigo
  • Follow by Amy Wright Vollmar

Read a children’s book that centers a disabled character but not their disability

  • Hello Goodbye Dog by Maria Gianferrari (finished 1/30/2021)

Read a book set in the Midwest

  •  Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  • A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley 
  • You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson (finished 3/30/2021)

Read a book that demystifies a common mental illness

  •  Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
  • A Biography of Mrs Marty Mann: The First Lady of Alcoholics Anonymous by Sally Brown
  • Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney
  • The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Read a book featuring a beloved pet where the pet doesn’t die 

Friday, December 25, 2020

Books Read in 2020


Tessa Bailey, Fix Her Up
Tessa Bailey, Protecting What's His
Tessa Bailey, Too Hard to Forget
Tessa Bailey, Too Hot to Handle
Tessa Bailey, Too Wild to Tame
Andrea Beaty, Sofia Valdez, Future Prez
Maria Grace, Pemberley: Mr. Darcy's Dragon
Jennifer Kincheloe, The Secret Life of Anna Blanc


Tessa Bailey, Baiting the Maid of Honor
Tessa Bailey, Disorderly Conduct
Tessa Bailey, Love Her or Lose Her
Jennifer Kincheloe, The Body in Griffith Park
Jennifer Kincheloe, The Woman in the Camphor Trunk
Diana Lloyd, About an Earl
Olivia Waite, The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics
Rebekah Weatherspoon, Rafe


Tessa Bailey, Asking for Trouble
Mari Coates, The Pelton Papers
Cat Sebastian, Unmasked by the Marquess
Rivers Solomon, The Deep


Annabeth Albert, Burn Zone
Tessa Dare, A Night to Surrender
Tessa Dare, Once Upon a Winter's Eve
Eva Leigh, My Fake Rake
Cat Sebastian, A Delicate Deception
Cat Sebastian, A Duke in Disguise
Meryl Wilsner, Something to Talk About


Tessa Dare, Any Duchess Will Do
Tessa Dare, The Duchess Deal
Tessa Dare, A Lady By Midnight
Tessa Dare, A Week to Be Wicked
Laura Lam, Goldilocks
Eva Leigh, My Fake Rake [reread]
Courtney Milan, The Duchess War
Courtney Milan, The Governess Affair
Richard Powers, The Overstory
Lee Winter, Breaking Character


Tessa Dare, Beauty and the Blacksmith
Tessa Dare, Do You Want to Start a Scandal
Tessa Dare, Lord Dashwood Missed Out
Courtney Milan, The Countess Conspiracy
Courtney Milan, The Heiress Effect
Marcie R. Rendon, SongCatcher
Rhonda Riley, The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope


Tessa Dare, The Governess Game
Tessa Dare, The Wallflower Wager
Scarlett Peckham, The Rakess


Tessa Dare, Romancing the Duke
Tessa Dare, The Wallflower Wager [reread]
Tessa Dare, A Week to Be Wicked [reread]
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States 
Joanna Shupe, Magnate
Tessa Dare, Say Yes to the Marquess 
Tessa Dare, When a Scot Ties the Knot 
Olivia Dade, Teach Me
Eva Leigh, Would I Lie to the Duke?
Sylvia Moreno-Garcia, Mexican Gothic


Tessa Dare, When a Scot Ties the Knot [reread]
Shana Galen, How the Lady Was Won


Sylvia Day, Seven Years to Sin
Carlos Hernandez, Sal and Gabi Break the Universe

Monday, December 21, 2020

Dipping my toe back in ...

I've missed this space! 

While I enjoyed having one less thing to feel guilty about not doing well during this crap year, I absolutely missed being even lightly connected with the book blog world, and so I'm going to try to get back into this without stressing myself out.

I'll share more reflections on 2020 but what I lacked in reading and blogging, I made up with knitting (achieved my goal of 8 completed projects!) and gardening slash homesteading.

Looking forward to connecting with everyone again and talking about the reads of the year and my plans for next year (because even failing at goals this year doesn't mean I won't attempt ambitiously for next year!).