Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge

Stephen King said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Well, since the scorching New York heat is providing a good reason not to go outside my air-conditioned-existence, this seems as good a time as any to Take On The Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge

I’m reading my way through the Beginners list and wanted to share with you all. Feel free to share your thoughts too!

THE BOOK IS BETTER: READ A BOOK BEING ADAPTED FOR TV OR FILM THIS YEAR

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A Favorite Quote: “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Technically, The Handmaid’s Tale was first adapted on Hulu two years ago, but if you know me by now, you know “better late than never” is kind of my life’s motto. 

This book may have been published in 1985, but it is still eerily relevant today. Its theme of female oppression in a patriarchal theocracy and its exploration of individuals who fight against this dystopia, both parallel our current events. Needless to say, this is not an easy book to read.

My complaint with this book though is the ending. Without giving any spoilers, let me just say I dislike ambiguous endings, as a personal choice. For me, ambiguous endings make me feel cheated and frustrated as a reader.

SPOILERS

There I am, heart in my throat as I read how Nick helps Offred escape the Commander’s house. She steps into the van, I flip the page and—nothing. Did she escape? Did she make it to Canada? Or did the Eyes capture her? Was she sent to the colonies to die? WHAT HAPPENED, BOOK? Also, did she ever find out what happened to her husband? Is he dead? WHERE IS HE, BOOK? You see? Frustrating. 

P.S. I know there’s an epilogue, but the epilogue didn’t answer my questions as to what happened next, so I’m still frustrated. 

ACTUALLY WANT TO READ: READ A BOOK THAT’S BEEN ON YOUR WANT TO READ SHELF FOR MORE THAN A YEAR

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A Favorite Quote: “How often were you aware, while it happened, that you were living an hour that would change the course of your life forever?”

The Cormoran Strike series can be summed up in murder mysteries, complex plots, and fun, intriguing characters. J.K. Rowling has proven, time and again, that her strengths and talents lie in novel-writing, and I was in awe of the layers of storytelling that laid here and the seamless way she tied everything together at the end.

That being said, was it really necessary for this book to have 656 pages? *stares*

IN THE FRIEND ZONE: READ A BOOK A FRIEND HAS RECOMMENDED

A Favorite Quote: “Love isn’t meant to be hidden away and life is too short for shame.”

I was recommended Something Like Summer with the assurance that it was a classic rom-com of a read, a young love story with all the feels and a satisfying ending. So it was…and then some.

This book is an emotional rollercoaster of an investment. It’s so easy to relate to Ben, our narrator, and feel everything he feels. When he fell in love, so did I and when he hurt, oh man, so did I. In between the rom-com moments were themes of self-acceptance, of allowing ourselves to make mistakes and mature, and most importantly, of finding the courage to love, no matter how scary it may be.

Overall, this coming-of-age story was fast-paced, sincere, and realistic. Consider this your recommendation from a friend. 

NEW VOICES: READ A DEBUT NOVEL

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A Favorite Quote: “Thinking about history makes me wonder how I’ll fit into it one day, I guess. And you too. I kinda wish people still wrote like that. History, huh? Bet we could make some.”

There were many things I liked about Red, White, and Royal Blue: the fun premise, the fact that America’s first family is biracial and that Prince Harry is gay, all the diverse characters and the witty banter. But there were just as many things I didn’t like: the lack of depth in any of the characters (Alex, one of our main characters, could essentially be boiled down to 80% sarcasm, 10% rallying speeches, and 10% constantly lusting after Prince Harry), the dragginess of the book towards the latter half, and quite frankly, the inability of the book to make the reader care about anyone or anything happening in it. 

All in all, reading this book was the equivalent of having a funny, cliché rom-com playing in the background while you do some chores, occasionally stopping to laugh at a scene or smile when the main couple kiss. 

IT TAKES TWO: READ A COAUTHORED BOOK

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A Favorite Quote: “Men are more interesting in books than they are in real life.”

What an apt quote for this book since a huge reason why I loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is because I have fallen hopelessly in love with Dawsey Adams, our narrator’s love interest. It’s the Mr. Darcy conundrum.

Beautiful leading man aside, I loved our narrator, Juliet Ashton as well. I loved her love for books, her outspoken attitude, her independence, her witty sense of humor, and her warmth. When I read her letters, it felt like my best friend was writing to me.

Speaking of letters, this book is written as a series of letters sent back and forth between Juliet and all the other characters. Personally, I found the unique storytelling format refreshing and had no trouble keeping up with the plot happening in all the different characters’ letters. And what a plot. This book is a moving love story meets heartbreaking war story set in one of the most beautiful islands in the world. 

My only complaint: The ending felt too rushed. It was a good ending, it was just…abrupt.

SPOILERS

Juliet and Dawsey get married after just a week of being engaged? Seriously? I get that they’re in love and all that jazz, but Juliet couldn’t have at least waited for her best friend to attend her wedding?

P.S. I loved Netflix’s movie adaptation too. It was a faithful adaptation and the casting was perfect, particularly Lily James as Juliet Ashton and Michiel Huisman as Dawsey Adams. As if I needed another reason to love the character. *sighs*

***

That’s five books down and seven more prompts to tackle on the Reading Challenge. If you have any recommendations that would fall in one of the remaining reading prompts, leave them in the comments!

21 thoughts on “Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge

  1. It is better late than never so I am sooo happy to be here! HAHA. I tried reading Atwood’s but…. uhm.. I cannot seem to find my groove with it. (SPOILER: Classics and me really don’t go so well. Yea. What a shame. -_-) AAaaaaaand I have to read that Cormoran Strike!!! WAAAH!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I actually did read Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” some time ago, mainly because I was curious as to all the hype surrounding the Hulu series (which I’ve never watched) and about women dressing as “handmaids” to protest various events and people. I did write a review, both on my blog and Amazon, which basically concluded that the novel was okay, but the world Atwood created was very unlikely to ever occur. Of course it was written during the Reagan administration when Jerry Falwell and his so called “Moral Majority” were all over the news, so the sources for the book were pretty obvious.

    I’m usually not interested in these sorts of challenges, since I prefer to define my own reading list. I recently finished Seth Patrick’s “Reviver” which is a well-done SciFi/Horror/Mystery novel and the author’s first. For other fiction books, I’m currently re-reading Len Deighton’s alternate World War Two novel “SS-GB” and I’ve just started Octavia Butler’s novel “Parable of the Sower,” which, so far, is a bit of a snooze.

    For non-fiction, my wife recommended Tovah Klein’s “How Toddlers Thrive,” basically so I can be a better Grandpa to our four-year-old granddaughter.

    Oh, it’s not a book, but I finally got around to seeing the film “Captain Marvel” (2019) on DVD, thanks to my local public library.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I usually don’t participate in these reading challenges too for the same reason: I like to choose what I read, but since I had been on a reading drought for a bit, I thought it was a good way to motivate myself back into a regular reading habit.

      Thanks for all the book recommendations! I probably won’t be adding “How Toddlers Thrive” to my reading list, but the other books are worth checking out.

      Ah, what did you think of Captain Marvel?

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  3. Air-con does make life comfortable. In Scotland we have been hit by the same heat wave 28 degrees C yesterday, today 22 but with our beloved rain cooling us down. I spent yesterday in the garden, under the shade reading Philip K Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.’ Only because someone gave me a copy.

    Warning Plug – Read the blurb for my novel MISSING by James McEwan – Is New York ready?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. warm summer and good books go well together, I will be visiting these books on your recommended list. hope you are doing well my friend. I love Goodreads for keeping me on track with my reading too. Have a lovely summer, but I am sure you are looking forward to cooler weather. Love, hugs and more hugs,

    Liked by 1 person

    • This summer has been doable because of the wondrous invention that is air conditioning lol. Thank you for checking in, Gina! Yes, Goodreads has been super helpful in my keeping track of my reading as well as pushing me to read more. Sending you love and hugs back 💜

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  5. For “Not from Around Here,” there’s a book called “Binti.” It’s a novella with 2 follow ups, so it also works if you want to read something really short. It could also work for the “Short & Sweet” category, though I’d suggest “All Systems Red” for that.

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  6. I have ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ in my TBR! I’m not even sure when I’ll get to it, but all the best with this challenge. My reading days seem to be behind me at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome, Jade and I hope I can get to it before year end, God’s willing, once I get back into the swing of reading. I am fine by God’s grace, thank you, my friend, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

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