Reading Challenge Update

Well, here we are again. Time to take a look at my reading challenge progress!

Monthly Motif is a reading challenge hosted by girlxoxo.

August’s theme was mode of transportation, and to expand on that, its official description is “a book where the mode of transportation plays a role in the story.” I went with The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett for this prompt, mostly because I had started it in July, but also because it takes place over the course of a trek through Europe and how the characters get around ends up being a big part of the story.

September’s theme is animal, number, color, name and I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to read, but I am 100% sure that I have some book in some box somewhere that will fit this prompt!

I read a total of 9 books in August and finished my reading challenge! I’m at 105 books read now.

Popsugar hosts a reading challenge every year. You can find out more information on their website.

I read literally nothing that counted for this reading challenge in August! Next month will be better.

Romanceopoly is a reading challenge hosted by Under the Covers and Peace Love Books.

Surprisingly, I did not read even one single romance novel in August! Who even am I?

This challenge is still on hold for now. I’ll probably pick it back up at some point this fall. I did, however, read two ARCs that have been hanging around for a bit:


How are you doing on your reading challenges? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Reading Challenge Update

Well, here we are again. Time to take a look at my reading challenge progress!

Monthly Motif is a reading challenge hosted by girlxoxo.

July’s theme was through the years. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked with this theme, but I did read two books that I think should qualify.

I also read the first fifty pages of The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett before I realized that I wasn’t really in a historical fiction mood.

August’s theme is mode of transportation, so we’ll see what ends up happening there.

I read a total of 11 books in June, which puts me 38 books ahead of my goal.

Popsugar hosts a reading challenge every year. You can find out more information on their website.

I read one book that counted for a Popsugar prompt in July:

Romanceopoly is a reading challenge hosted by Under the Covers and Peace Love Books.

I didn’t read any books toward this challenge in July!

This challenge is still on hold for now. I’ll probably pick it back up at some point this fall.


How are you doing on your reading challenges? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let’s talk in the comments!

Book Review: The Secret Language of Cats by Susanne Schotz

The Secret Language of Cats by Susanne Schotz
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: November 6, 2018
Source: Borrowed

Have you ever wondered what your cat is saying?

Cats do not meow randomly, nor do they growl or hiss because they have nothing better to do. Cat sounds have a purpose, and they can carry important messages, whether for us or other cats.

Susanne Schotz is hard at work on breaking the cat code. She is a professor at Lund University in Sweden, where a long-standing research program is proving that cats do actually use vocal communication–with each other and with their human caretakers. Understanding the vocal strategies used in human-cat communication will have profound implications for how we communicate with our pets, and has the potential to improve the relationship between animals and humans within several fields, including animal therapy, veterinary medicine and animal sheltering.

In The Secret Language of Cats, Schotz offers a crash course in the phonetic study of cat sounds. She introduces us to the full range of feline vocalizations and explains what they can mean in different situations, and she gives practical tips to help us understand our cats better.
 

I’ll be honest here and say that the only reason I checked this out from the library was that cute kitten on the cover. I mean, I do have an interest in linguistics (I did major in it in college, after all) and I do love cats, but nonfiction about felines isn’t really my thing. Quite honestly, after I picked this up and remarked on the cuteness of the cover, I should have just put it back down, because this book was some nonsense.

The thing is, if you’ve owned cats for any portion of your life, or been close with anyone who has owned cats, or even just spent like two minutes with a cat one time, nothing in this book will come as a surprise to you. I mean, was it fun to see the various noises a cat can make transcribed using IPA? Sure, I guess. Was I happy that cats weren’t hooked up to any crazy machinery to make this book happen? Yes. But was there a point to this book? Not really.

Because aside from the transcription of cat noises into IPA, the majority of this book is just the author saying, “My cat makes this noise in this context and if you want to go to my blog, you can listen to a recording.” The book is also incredibly repetitive, stating over and over and over and over that cats make hissing and growling noises when they’re mad and chirps and purrs when they’re happy.

Overall, the book feels more like observances that will be common sense to any cat owner mixed with a lot of phonetic observations. I’d hardly call any of this a revelation, and I’d hardly call anything that the author discusses in this book a “language” since it has no known rules. For a nonfiction book, this was at least a rather quick read, but more than anything else, I’m just disappointed.

#ps19: a book by an author whose first and last names start with the same letter


Have you read The Secret Language of Cats? What’s the last book that seriously disappointed you? Let’s talk in the comments!

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ARC Review: The Escape Manual for Introverts by Katie Vaz

The Escape Manual for Introverts by Katie Vaz
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Source: ARC via Netgalley

Feeling cornered at a wedding reception by gossipy guests? Stuck at a holiday party that lasts forever? This beautifully illustrated book is the ultimate funny, sometimes absurd guide to escaping those painfully awkward situations. 

Trapped in an airplane seated next to a chatterbox? Are you hosting a dinner party with people who just won’t leave? Katie Vaz has the key to your escape. The Escape Manual for Introverts guides readers through different scenarios with themed chapters (“Friends,” “Relatives,” “Strangers,” etc.). Each chapter covers a range of situations, from an invitation to karaoke night to group lunchtime. And she offers a number of escapes for each scenario: bringing odoriferous foods to lunch for a while, having a pet (real or imagined) that “requires” frequent check-ins, and even investing in a jet pack. This book features Vaz’s full-page illustrated spreads, hand-lettering, and spot illustrations. From the silly to the sincere, Vaz’s clever, hilarious escape plans and bizarre excuses speak to the introvert in all of us.

As an introvert and someone who likes to escape from uncomfortable situations whenever possible, I couldn’t not read this book when I found it on Netgalley. I read it in one sitting over maybe a half hour or so, and it was just as cute as I thought it would be.

I guess that the first thing I want to say is that I don’t think this is necessarily the kind of book that you just sit down and read. I think it would do a lot better as a coffee table book, one that you pick up, flip through a few pages, chuckle to yourself, and put back down. I think that my rating of three stars has a lot to do with the fact that I read all of the scenarios and all of the escapes back to back, which probably made them less entertaining and less helpful.

As you might expect, some of the escapes are reasonable, some are obvious, and some are just funny. The book is clearly meant to be cute, and at that, it definitely succeeds. It has a very lighthearted vibe, which I liked, but it didn’t leave me with any long-lasting positive (or negative) feelings.

#ps19: a book with an item of clothing or accessory on the cover


Have you read The Escape Manual for Introverts? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Reading Challenge Update

Well, here we are again. Time to take a look at my reading challenge progress!

Monthly Motif is a reading challenge hosted by girlxoxo.

June’s theme was diversify your reading. This is my favorite monthly motif prompt. (We did it last year, too.) I ended up reading a ton of books for this one!

July’s theme is through the years. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to read until I looked at The Lady Rogue and saw it’s set in 1930s Romania!

I read a total of 17 books in June, which puts me 36 books ahead of my goal.

Popsugar hosts a reading challenge every year. You can find out more information on their website.

I read three books that counted toward my Popsugar challenge in June:

Romanceopoly is a reading challenge hosted by Under the Covers and Peace Love Books.

I finally feel like I’m making some progress on this challenge! I checked off four prompts in June.

The prompts I checked off were:

Modern Mrs. Darcy hosts a reading challenge every year. You can find more information on the website.

I am very, very happy to report that I finished this challenge! I checked off the last two prompts in June, which were:

I made the executive decision to put this challenge on hold for the time being so that I can get caught up on library books and ARCs. I ended up knocking out a few ARCs that I needed to read in June:


How are you doing on your reading challenges? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let’s talk in the comments!

ARC Review: Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis

Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Source: ARC via Netgalley

Cult graphic novelist Dylan Meconis offers a rich reimagining of history in this hybrid novel loosely based on the exile of Queen Elizabeth I by her sister, Queen Mary.

When her sister seizes the throne, Queen Eleanor of Albion is banished to a tiny island off the coast of her kingdom, where the nuns of the convent spend their days peacefully praying, sewing, and gardening. But the island is also home to Margaret, a mysterious young orphan girl whose life is upturned when the cold, regal stranger arrives. As Margaret grows closer to Eleanor, she grapples with the revelation of the island’s sinister true purpose as well as the truth of her own past. When Eleanor’s life is threatened, Margaret is faced with a perilous choice between helping Eleanor and protecting herself.

Queen of the Sea is one of those graphic novels that I’d seen floating around the book blogging world for a while before I decided to read the ARC. I’ve definitely been in a graphic novel mood recently and an alternate history featuring fictionalized versions of Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Mary seemed really interesting.

The beginning moved really slowly and I had to consciously decide to keep reading. While the illustrations were nice and the characters were interesting, I felt like there was actually very little plot, especially for a book billed as “a rich reimagining” of royalty. Also, for being a graphic novel, this book has a lot of pages that mostly contain walls of text with few actual illustrations.

Fortunately, I felt that everything picked up a lot about halfway through. The plot finally started to capture my interest and I no longer had to force myself to keep reading. That said, I’m still not sure that I’d recommend it. All in all, not a bad read, just maybe not one for me.

#ps19: a novel based on a true story


Have you read Queen of the Sea? Do you like alternate histories?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Mini Review: Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 30, 2018
Source: Borrowed

A short, powerful, illustrated book written by Khaled Hosseini in response to the current refugee crisis, Sea Prayer is composed in the form of a letter, from a father to his son, on the eve of their journey. Watching over his sleeping son, the father reflects on the dangerous sea-crossing that lies before them. It is also a vivid portrait of their life in Homs, Syria, before the war, and of that city’s swift transformation from a home into a deadly war zone. 

Impelled to write this story by the haunting image of young Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed upon the beach in Turkey in September 2015, Hosseini hopes to pay tribute to the millions of families, like Kurdi’s, who have been splintered and forced from home by war and persecution, and he will donate author proceeds from this book to the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) and The Khaled Hosseini Foundation to help fund lifesaving relief efforts to help refugees around the globe. Hosseini is also a Goodwill Envoy to the UNHCR, and the founder of The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a nonprofit that provides humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.

I have heard it said we are the uninvited.
We are the unwelcome.
We should take our misfortune elsewhere. 
But I hear your mother’s voice,
over the tide.
and she whispers in my ear,
“Oh, but if they saw, my darling.
Even half of what you have.
If only they saw.
They would say kinder things, surely.”

This is going to be a very short review because this is a very short book. I read it in just a few minutes, but it left an impression. This little book is a prayer from a father for his son and, oh my, it really made me feel things. It’s only 48 pages long, but by the time I finished, I wanted to cry.

This is the first work I’ve read by Hosseini and now I can’t even imagine why. If he was able to break my heart in 48 pages, I can’t imagine what he can do with a full-length novel.

#mm19: diversify your reading
#ps19: a book written by an author from Asia, Africa, or South America


Have you read Sea Prayer? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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