2020 reading goals + mini-review dump for January books read (so far)

I have some ambitious reading goals for 2020. Believe it or not, these are actually not as nutty as last year, as I’m doing fewer challenges. Considering it’s already January 18th and this is my second blog of the year, I’m not sure number 5 is working out yet. I will get there!

I know challenges aren’t for everyone, but I love them. I enjoy planning my reading ahead of time, and I’ve read some excellent books to fill challenge prompts in the last few years that I probably would not have read otherwise. I’m excited about the books I have chosen for Reading Women Challenge and it’s been a favorite challenge of mine for the last two years. My other 3 challenges are all Litsy-based, as is the Read Around the World monthly challenge. I’m pleased to report I’ve already finished 3 challenge books so far in January. 🙌🏻

This isn’t one of them, but…

My first audiobook of 2020 was Lindy West’s second book of ever. I listened to it all on New Year’s Day and absolutely loved it. So quotable, and narrated by the funny, powerful woman herself, speaking the truth. Everyone should read this.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Graphic novels aren’t my favorite genre, but I was pleased to receive George Takei’s They Called Us Enemy on rotation for one of my postal book clubs. I have long loved Takei for his social media presence and activism. His personal story of the US internment of Japanese Americans during WWII is powerful and very well presented in this format.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Making good on my goal to read at least 2 BOTM books from my ridiculous tbr shelf each month, I finally read my February 2017 selection. 😬 Pachinko by Min Jin Lee was completely engrossing. Really well-written historical fiction spanning four generations of a family of ethnic Koreans in Japan in the 20th century. Fascinating and heartbreaking.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Margaret Atwood is incredible. Cat’s Eye is so well-written and powerful. A deep dive study of childhood and its impact on adult life. Beautifully detailed narrative of middle aged woman visiting her childhood hometown. Her memories unfold slowly, but I was never bored and often taken aback. I saw pieces of myself as a kid, a teenager, a wife, a mom, and as a woman in general. Disturbing but excellent.

My first ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ of 2020.

My books read for #NewYearWhoDis

For the second year in a row, I’m participating in a fun event on Litsy called #NewYearWhoDis. Participants compiled a list of up to 20 of our favorite reads from 2019, and our wonderful hostess/organizer used those lists to pair everyone up. In January, we all read at least one book from the list of our match and post on Litsy. My partner had an excellent list for me, including a couple I had read, a few already on my tbr, and several that I hadn’t even had on my radar.

Kingsbane by Claire Legrand was on the list, and since it’s the second book of a series, of course I decided to read Furyborn first. I was pleased to find that, unlike many series books I’ve read that are classified as YA fantasy, these books didn’t make me roll my eyes excessively. In fact, I enjoyed these books a lot. Great world-building, characters, and story, without the usual tropes. The second book was not as strong, and one character had a bit too drastic of a personality change. I don’t appreciate cliffhanger endings and this one definitely has that, but I will read the last book when it comes out.

Furyborn ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Kingsbane ⭐️⭐️⭐️

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey was a crazy romp of a novel. The setting is the swamps and rivers of the American south in the 1890s, only those rivers and swamps are infested with man-eating hippos. Enter our cast of vaguely-criminal, colorful hippo wranglers and add a fun caper, and how can this not be an enjoyable read?

⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon is a very dark sci-fi set on a spaceship that has been fleeing the destroyed Earth for 300 years. Society onboard strongly resembles the antebellum south and slavery powers the ship. Not an easy read, but I loved the diverse characters and the writing is excellent.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers is just stunning sci-fi. A fascinating character study about four astronauts traveling to alien planets in a not-so-distant future. A perfect blend of science and humanity that doesn’t at all need a sequel, but gosh I would love one. Becky Chambers is an amazing author.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

This book was not one of my meticulously pre-planned reads. But sometimes, you’re just scrolling though book Twitter and see a tweet that grabs your attention that leads to you reading an entire book in a day so that you can watch the movie adaption the tweet was about. You know how it is!

The tweet that I saw last Saturday was referencing a movie available on Hulu called In Secret. The tweet had this gif that I can’t seem to stop watching:

One web search later, and I knew it was based on a #1001books selection that I already owned, so of course I read it. All of it. Then watched the movie which was very ok. I’m very thankful for the smoking-hot Oscar Isaac gif for bringing me to this book.

Therese Raquin by Emile Zola is deliciously dark, with a pervasive atmosphere of dread and loneliness which made me think often (and fondly) of Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. Full of completely unlikeable characters, well-written, and pretty much a perfect gothic-type read.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

This is such a long blog… I’ve really, really got to blog more often.

Until next time,

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