52 Book Challenge: 12 – 28

 If you’re just tuning in, one of my goals for 2018 is to read 52 books! This is my Quarter 3 check-in. See Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 here.

I have to say, I’m kind of proud of myself! I mean I still have to figure out how I’m going to read 23 books between now and the end of the year, but I went from 5-6 books every 3 months to a whopping 16 these last 3! I actually listened to read a lot of books I’ve had on my list for at least a year or more, and I feel like I’m getting back into that groove I had as a teenager when I tore through books like it was my day job.

52 Book Challenge: 12-28

book challenge

12. [amazon_textlink asin=’0316322423′ text=’I Am Malala’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’83c725f9-868c-11e8-9da8-d7a0165ba08a’]

Author: Malala Yousafzai
Stars:  5/5
Setting:  Mainly Swat, Pakistan
Current Price: [amazon_link asins=’B00QPH6PGK’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a37ffc79-82b7-11e8-89ba-83471a4ebb35′]

QUICK SUMMARY:

I think most people know of Malala’s story but not in great detail. After all, no one takes kindly to the idea of the Taliban shooting a girl in the face no matter what the reason. This autobiography goes into Malala’s life before and after the shooting.

THOUGHTS:

I teared up. A lot. If I had been listening in my apartment and not in public, I probably would have started crying. There’s just so much to be heartbroken over. On one level, I cry for Swat, a place so beautiful, the queen of England once called it the Switzerland of the East. On another level, I cry for Malala, the young woman, who has to live far from her home and her friends and her life. I felt a tinge of sadness when my parents sold my childhood home, and we only moved 30-minutes away. I can’t imagine what it would have felt like to know you could never go back out of fear of death.

It’s just… What a story and what a life. I know she’s in college now, and I’m excited to see how she leads our generation when she graduates. I looked up that she recently was able to return to Pakistan for a visit, and I teared up reading about it.

book challenge

13. [amazon_textlink asin=’1501139290′ text=’Close Enough to Touch’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7a2134f1-868c-11e8-ba28-7d24b887bc8b’]

Author: Colleen Oakley
Stars:  4.5/5
Setting:  A Small Town
Current Price: [amazon_link asins=’1501139290′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e57d29ca-9e1f-11e8-a1fe-f1d05de072d8′]

QUICK SUMMARY:

Jubilee Jenkins is allergic to human skin. This has caused her to become quite the hermit, avoiding any sort of human contact or communication for years. It’s only when her mother dies, and her stepfather informs her he will no longer fund her isolation, does she start to venture out into the world and see what she’s been missing.

THOUGHTS:

This book was pretty darn cute! Honestly, I feel like the allergy to skin is such a metaphor for how a lot of us are in today’s age. We kind of hide ourselves away and avoid human contact as much as possible. Like, so many people hate talking on the phone, and we laugh about it, but it’s actually pretty sad. Anyway, it was a cute, very PG-rated love story that made me smile at the end.

book challenge

14. [amazon_textlink asin=’0062439596′ text=’The Hating Game’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2463be29-868c-11e8-9f7a-91fee39b171e’]

Author: Sally Thorne
Stars:  4/5
Setting:  A City
Current Price: [amazon_link asins=’0062439596′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’91528df0-868c-11e8-9cc4-a78198581662′]

QUICK SUMMARY:

Lucy Hutton hates Joshua Templeman. They’re both assistants to co-CEOs of a merged publishing company, and their approaches to work and life could not be more different. This has caused the two to form a rivalry even the HR director doesn’t want to deal with. However, when they’re both up for the same promotion, they learn there’s a fine line between hate and love.

THOUGHTS:

Okay, this book is silly, sexy, and fun, and if you go in expecting that, you won’t be disappointed. If you go in expecting something different, you will. I listened to it while I was hiking Bonghwasan by myself and wound up elongating my hike to like 6 hours as I kept listening. I like the author’s ability to develop chemistry even if everything else about the book is beyond ridiculous. Also, yes, I wanted to punch the main character every time she brought up how tiny and petite and little she was.

Side note: If you’re a fan of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” then tell me you’re not picturing Rebecca and Nathaniel!

book challenge

15. [amazon_textlink asin=’1455563927′ text=’Pachinko’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e77fab7f-868b-11e8-a186-bdf3bbbe4fc3′]

Author: Min Jin Lee
Stars:  4/5
Setting:  Korea and Japan over the 1900s
Current Price: [amazon_link asins=’1455563927′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’dc625d42-868b-11e8-81fb-6d6ef18463c4′]

QUICK SUMMARY:

Pachinko is a family epic that follows the story of a Korean immigrant family in Japan from the early 1900s through 1980s, mostly centered around the steadfast Sunja.

THOUGHTS:

Ughhhh, I loved like 3/4 of this book. I loved the main character, and I wish they had stuck more with her rather than dilute the narrative. I particularly loved reading about a topic we don’t really get much — the Korean experience in Japan during the 20th century. I’ve always known Koreans and Japanese people have generations of bad blood between them, even though things have cooled in today’s era, but this just describes another layer to that animosity while also making me cry.

For me, though, it fell apart a lot in the last third or quarter, and I remember listening to it thinking, “What the hell?” Some of the latter parts were so unnecessary to the plot, I’m still not sure what the author was trying to do.

Also, I’m sorry, the oldest son was a prideful dumbass.

book challenge

16. [amazon_textlink asin=’0544980700′ text=’Tango Lessons’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a00d0862-97ea-11e8-a938-6139c802a96f’]

Author: Meghan Flaherty
Stars:  5/5
Setting:  New York City
Current Price: [amazon_textlink asin=’0544980700′ text=’X’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ae9a2924-97ea-11e8-a82d-97e5d9f03da9′]

QUICK SUMMARY:

In this memoir, Meghan Flaherty recounts her entrance into the NYC tango scene and how its rigid rules and structures help her heal from past trauma.

THOUGHTS:

I really enjoyed this! I don’t do a lot of memoirs, especially of people I’ve never heard of, but I just loved the way she intertwined tango into her personal narrative, and her writing was beautiful.

book challenge

17. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Author: Jenny Han
Stars:  5/5
Setting:  East Coast, USA
Current Price: $7.28

QUICK SUMMARY:

Lara Jean is sixteen and has found herself in love exactly 5 times in her life so far. She’s written a love letter to each of her crushes, but they remain hidden in a secret box. Until… they’re released. Now she has to figure out how to keep her sister’s ex-boyfriend from thinking she still likes him by pretending to be with a the annoyingly popular, Peter.

THOUGHTS:

Okay, this book is cute. The Netflix trailer popped up on my Youtube feed one day, and I’m obviously 100% in support of whatever an Asian-American is a part of, even if it turns out to be silly or crappy. The trailer looked adorable, and I saw it was a novel, so I downloaded it instantly even though I haven’t really indulged in this specific genre since I was its target audience.

It’s obviously a sweet, YA romance type novel, and it plays into that genre masterfully. I know I’m getting older when I read some of the thoughts of Lara Jean and think, “Oh, honey, you’re definitely going to change your opinion on that in a few years.” I like that the narration has all these little sidenotes that aren’t really related to the plot, but they’re fun anecdotes to read anyway.

I’m also glad I never read this as an actual teenager because a lot of Lara Jeans’ thoughts and plans mirror my own way too closely that I’d probably be even moonier and lost in fantasy than I already was. I mean right down to having a crush on your fake boyfriend… RIP my 12-year-old heart.

*Side note: The movie is cute too if you live under a rock and haven’t seen it!

book challenge

18. [amazon_textlink asin=’1503933547′ text=’The Light of the Fireflies’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3c5251bd-9e20-11e8-8868-f93f3e749c96′]

Author: Paul Pen
Stars:  3.5/5
Setting:  Underground Bunker
Current Price: [amazon_link asins=’1503933547′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d138d522-94a4-11e8-ae8d-93ae936fd579′]

QUICK SUMMARY:

There’s a family that lives in a basement and never ventures outside. A mother, father, grandmother, brother, sister, and the youngest son, who was born and raised in the dark. He’s never questioned the odd things that happen around him — why they’re in the bunker, why his parents never quite tell the truth, who the father of his sister’s son is… until now.

THOUGHTS:

I made my friend, Autumn, read this book, so I could have someone to freak out over it with. I started this expecting some interesting coming-of-age novel with a touch of dystopian mystery. NOPE. This story felt a little off from the getgo. I mean the fact that the family never interacts with anyone else but the daughter is giving birth in the first few chapters… That just reeks of some sort of incestual abuse, though no one outright claims it initially.

I’ll hand it to the author because the actual writing and storytelling are extremely well done. The actual plot and the way things down in the second half of the novel… I just… NO. This book was part of Amazon’s World Reading Day freebies, so I grabbed it with a bunch of others. I needed a break from books that were outright romantic, so I guess this was certainly a detour… *Gagging*

book challenge

19. [amazon_textlink asin=’1442426748′ text=’P.S. I Still Love You’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6b6b0d0c-9e20-11e8-86a1-0f02edafc208′]

Author: Jenny Han
Stars:  3.5/5
Setting:  Charlottesville, VA
Current Price: [amazon_link asins=’1442426748′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7fd49ba5-962b-11e8-b6d5-9ddbe76bcd65′]

QUICK SUMMARY:

*Spoilers from the first* As Lara Jean and Peter try to navigate being a real couple, their relationship is put to the test almost immediately. Peter is having a hard time disconnecting himself from his ex, Gen, and one of Lara Jean’s former crushes has finally received her letter and is more than interested.

THOUGHTS:

This book was super cute, but there were definitely some odd things Peter did that I don’t think he should have gotten away with so easily. I get that it was about Lara Jean getting over her insecurities with Gen, but, like, dude was acting shady at some points and LJ had every right to be pissed.

book challenge

20. [amazon_textlink asin=’125013160X’ text=’Jane Austen at Home’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c50aedf3-9e20-11e8-b26e-e3895ce3e1c4′]

Author: Lucy Worsley
Stars:  5/5
Setting:  England
Current Price: [amazon_link asins=’125013160X’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d71ffd59-9e20-11e8-a3be-8f429783c43c’]

QUICK SUMMARY:

This is a nonfiction book that looks into Jane Austen’s life as it relates to the idea of home.

THOUGHTS:

I mean, I’d honestly consider something like Austenland, so I’m not a hard sell on anything related to Jane Austen’s life. I enjoyed it and its unique angle on Jane’s home and family life, but it’s pretty much something only people interested in her would enjoy!

21. [amazon_textlink asin=’0316399620′ text=’The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’153a94a2-9e21-11e8-b731-cf5e7946be87′]

Author: Claire North
Stars:  5/5
Setting:  England + the World
Current Price: [amazon_textlink asin=’0316399620′ text=’d’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’aeaa924f-c782-11e8-a491-df6699c0d078′]

QUICK SUMMARY:

Harry August is one of the unique humans who is destined to live his life over and over again. When he dies, he’s reborn back in the same day and year with all his memories of his previous lives intact. Except he gets a warning as he’s about to die in one of his lives that the end of the world is coming soon, and he must find a way to stop it.

THOUGHTS:

Autumn recommended this book to me, so I downloaded it. She’s super picky about what she likes and reads whole books in an afternoon, so if this got more than her stamp of approval, it has to be good. I really liked it, and I LOVED Claire North’s writing. It was such an interesting concept since most would just think Harry August is immortal and going through the centuries, but in reality, he’s repeating his life in a loop. More than the main conflict of preventing the world from ending, I enjoyed how she approached the character of someone who’s mentally around a thousand years old going through the same life over and over. I mean imagine having the wisdom of three generations and being forced to be 5-years-old again.

book challenge

22. [amazon_textlink asin=’1481430491′ text=’Always and Forever, Lara Jean’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1f97ad9a-c782-11e8-864d-0ba94a6203e8′]

Author: Jenny Han
Stars:  4/5
Setting:  Charlottesville, VA
Current Price: [amazon_link asins=’1481430491′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ae0da98a-c67e-11e8-8b21-35ed80aa3681′]

QUICK SUMMARY:

*Spoilers for the other two* Lara Jean and Peter are in their senior year, and their relationship is as solid as it ever was. Nothing could go wrong, except the possibility of them not both going to UVA next year.

THOUGHTS:

Actually, what I like about Jenny Han’s writing is that she subtly has Lara Jean mature over the three books, which I feel is much harder to do than it seems. This is the most mature version of LJ, and you can tell in her actions and responses to things. I thought it also dealt with a very real problem a lot of high school sweethearts deal with as they approach the end of HS and the beginning of college, which is a whole new world.

Also, of course, Peter is so unrealistically cute, my teen heart would have died.

book challenge

23. [amazon_textlink asin=’1250028663′ text=’Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5cd40c25-9e21-11e8-a117-e798552890c1′]

Author: Therese Anne Fowler
Stars:  2-3/5
Setting:  Montgomery, AL, NYC, Paris, Asheville
Current Price: [amazon_textlink asin=’1250028663′ text=’X’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7bde5e21-9e21-11e8-ad22-e72932468cf4′]

QUICK SUMMARY:

A fictional look at the famous Fitzgeralds from the enigmatic, Zelda’s point of view.

THOUGHTS:

I had this Audible book for ages but finally got around to listening to it in the middle of this book challenge. I kind of hated it to the point that I left a Goodreads review which I never do. It just takes an interesting real-life person and kind of sanitizes her and her actions! Plus it makes every person a 2D version of themselves, including the titular character. Not a fan. There has to be a better-written piece on Zelda somewhere!

book challenge

24. I’ve Got Your Number

Author: Sophie Kinsella
Stars:  3/5
Setting:  London
Current Price: $8.99

QUICK SUMMARY:

Poppy Wyatt is thrilled to be engaged to Magnus Tavish, a clever man for a well-to-do family. However, disaster ensues when she loses her fancy engagement ring and her phone in a hotel drill. When she finds a random phone in the bin and decides to keep it so the hotel can call her when they find her ring, she accidentally inserts herself into the life of businessman Sam Roxton.

THOUGHTS:

Actually, this was one of my least favorite of Kinsella’s stories, and I freaking love her. She’s my go-to chick lit author, and I think I must have gone through nearly all her books at this point. I listened to this so quickly, I don’t even remember much of it, but it was pretty unrealistic even for a Sophie Kinsella book. I didn’t get much of the chemistry with the two main characters, maybe because it was mostly over the phone, and I’m not sure what the heck the main character was doing most of the time.

Her more recent one, My So-Called Perfect Life, is much better with much more interesting characters.

25. The Hypnotist’s Love Story

Author: Liane Moriarty
Stars:  3.5/5
Setting:  An Australian beachfront town
Current Price: [amazon_link asins=’0425260933′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’256c10b9-c681-11e8-a7e3-6f3a0db1bf66′]

QUICK SUMMARY:

Ellen O’Farrell has pretty low expectations when it comes to her dating life. Despite a lovely home, a nice job as a hypnotherapist, and good friends, she’s never quite found the right guy to settle down with. She’s thrilled when she meets Patrick, and the existence of his ex-girlfriend stalker seems to only intrigue rather than unsettle her.

THOUGHTS:

You know, I feel like Liane Moriarty is such a hit or miss for me. I started reading her after Big Little Lies, and I either end the book liking it or feeling meh. This one was somewhere in between because I feel like she had a really interesting concept and commentary going, but it really didn’t go anywhere. Also, I kept feeling like Patrick would have some darker intentions, and it led to pretty much nothing.

26. [amazon_textlink asin=’1477849459′ text=’Ten Women’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’998a79d3-c681-11e8-9be9-69d87ac0b15e’]

Author: Marcela Serrano
Stars:  5/5
Setting:  Santiago + around Chile
Current Price: [amazon_link asins=’1477849459′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’778c3ca3-c681-11e8-b465-7588462afbef’]

QUICK SUMMARY:

A psychologist brings together some of her female patients so they can tell their stories.

THOUGHTS:

This is a super simple format, and I actually think I’ll try reading it in its original Spanish down the line. Basically, each chapter is from a different woman’s point of view, and it ends with Natasha’s own life story. I think it’s more of a commentary of Chilean women over the 20th century and their different experiences, which I think is super compelling on its own.

27. [amazon_textlink asin=’1416550534′ text=’The House on Riverton’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’04a3782b-c682-11e8-9bf8-fb7d22fc5670′]

Author: Caroline Lee
Stars:  3/5
Setting:  Rivertown House, England
Current Price: [amazon_link asins=’1416550534′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0e170d5b-c682-11e8-8dc3-17ee8dc8fb37′]

QUICK SUMMARY:

In 1924, an up and coming poet shot himself with only two sisters as witnesses. These same two sisters would never talk again, and the only one to know the truth of the whole situation is their former maid, Grace Bradley.

THOUGHTS:

I also had this book downloaded for ages before finally getting around to listening to it. Honestly, sitting down to write about it now, I can’t even remember how it ended that’s how bored I got with it. I would have liked to learn more about the narrator, Grace’s, story independent of the two sisters. She alludes to so many interesting things she decides to do after the events of that night, and I feel a bit cheated.

28. [amazon_textlink asin=’B01MQFRTQN’ text=’Anne of Green Gables’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6514c2d6-c784-11e8-a6cf-e93193af7acd’]

Author: L.M. Montgomery
Stars:  5/5
Setting:  Prince Edward Island
Current Price: [amazon_link asins=’B01MQFRTQN’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thereshegoesa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8e5e68da-c682-11e8-aa43-d5f58a141512′]

QUICK SUMMARY:

I mean, do you need much of a summary? Anne Shirley is accidentally adopted by brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, and the first book follows her from ages 11-16 as she grows from a feisty, moony young girl to a clever, loving young woman and all the friends she makes in between.

THOUGHTS:

UGHHHH, I love this story so much. After finishing “Anne with an E,” I decided I wanted to go back and re-read the whole series from start to finish. I read the whole thing in middle school and fell in love (Gilbert Blythe 4 Lyfe), and since then I’ve reread Rilla of Ingleside and Anne of the Island maybe once or twice since they’re my favorites. I’m interested to see how different my experience is now that I’m older. It’s weird to be the same age as Book 5 Anne vs. when I first read it as a 13-year-old!

Anyway, the first book is as lovely and dreamy as I remembered it. I still think of some of the things Anne brings up, like kindred spirits, and I’m reading all these books to my daughter or son someday. Also, I forgot how persistent Anne was in her hatred of Gilbert, and how much he steadfastedly liked her from the very beginning when he called her “Carrots.” Poor Gil haha

And those are my books from this quarter!

I actually am about halfway finished through at least four books I thought I’d finish by now: The Handmaid’s Tale (lost my spot and need to find it again), The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (physical book I left back in Providence to save space), What Happened (my new phone is only Bluetooth, and I don’t always want to have my big headphones on), and Serendipity (a book I got in Vancouver and accidentally left at a restaurant).

Some more books/series I still want to finish:

  • All of the Anne series
  • Kitchen Confidential
  • Through the Language Glass
  • The Woman in Cabin 10
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
  • The rest of the free Amazon books
  • Rebel Queen 
  • Girls & Boys
  • Emma

There are also a crap ton of books I have saved to my “Want to Read list on Goodreads!

Any I need to add? Let me know! 

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