Vikzen tries again in 2020... #1

Charlas75 Books Challenge for 2020

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Vikzen tries again in 2020... #1

Editado: Mar 8, 2020, 2:37 pm

Get to Know Me
Hi! Back again with the challenge for this year. I am hoping to do alot better than I did last year! :)
I continue to have a ridiculous TBR pile, at this rate I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to read them all!

- Name's Vic
- Black female, avid reader - chronic shortage of time to read all the books ever!
- Twenty-something
- Lawyer/teacher - rather time consuming professions but I still try to make time to read for pleasure.
- I live in Barbados, open to meetups if you are travelling this way!
- I love to dance! Also trying to get into gardening, so far so good.
- Book choices: Fiction lover with eclectic tastes. I'll read most things but I stay away from horror generally (love a good thriller though!). Hoping to read more non-fiction books this year as well (same as last year). Cheers!

Editado: Dic 29, 2020, 11:19 pm

Books I've Read in 2020:

Currently Reading:
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Family Trust by Kathy Wang
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
The Diviners by Libba Bray
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Happy Holidays by Janet Dailey

Up Next:

Completed in 2020:
1. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
2. The Binding by Bridget Collins (audiobook)
3. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (audiobook)
4. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (audiobook)
5. Deacon King Kong by James McBride
6. Blood Kiss by J. R. Ward
7. Blood Vow by J. R. Ward
8. Blood Fury by J. R. Ward
9. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
10. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
11. Dominicana by Angie Cruz
12. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
13. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
14. The Savior by J. R. Ward
15. Prisoner of Night by J. R. Ward
16. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
17. Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta
18. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
19. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
20. All Adults Here by Emma Straub
21. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson (audiobook)
22. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
23. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (audiobook)
24. It is Wood, It is Stone by Gabriella Burnham
25. A Burning by Megha Majumdar
26. The Night Swim by Megan Goldin
27. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Feb 9, 2020, 10:05 pm

Placeholder :) (I'm sure I'm going to need this later on)

Feb 9, 2020, 10:06 pm

Placeholder #2 :) (I'm sure I'm going to need this later on too)

Feb 10, 2020, 12:06 pm

Welcome back! I finally got a chance to swing through the threads and was glad to see you've made a thread this year.

Feb 10, 2020, 12:54 pm

Great to see you back, Vic! I fell off the threads last year, too.

Feb 10, 2020, 3:21 pm

Welcome back, Vic. I loved The Poet X. You're starting off with a good one!

Feb 12, 2020, 12:10 am

>5 drneutron: Yay, I'm glad to be back :) Hoping to do a ton of reading this year (good intentions, eh?)

>6 Crazymamie: I'm hoping to be more committed this time! Already so much ridiculous things have happened this year to set me back.

>7 BLBera: Yes I quite enjoyed it! I'm hoping to read some more books from this author. We have a Reading Challenge at school (student based but I feel all staff benefit if they read as well) and The Poet X and With the Fire on High are on the list so I'm going to try that one next. Have you read With the Fire on High?

Feb 16, 2020, 12:50 am

Just finished off The was perhaps the longest audiobook I've listened to so far, and took quite a while to get through but I did mostly enjoy it. I've borrowed a copy of Family Trust to read but so far the two persons I know who have read it found it to be somewhat lackluster...we shall see what lies ahead.

I also want to continue reading the Millenium series (continued by David Lagercrantz) - I've had the Spider's Web one for ages but, like most of my TBR, it sits on the bookshelf as yet unloved. At least it has a spot in the bookshelf, I've had to resort to putting books on the floor and all sorts of odd places since I ran out of space.

What's everyone reading currently?

Feb 18, 2020, 10:15 pm

I haven't read With the Fire on High -- yet.

Feb 21, 2020, 6:15 pm

Another resolution is to keep up in 2020 with all my friends on LT.

Don't know how I missed your thread, Vic - I am normally quite diligent in getting to everyone in the group early in the year.

Looking forward to keeping up with you and your reading. Have a lovely weekend.

Mar 7, 2020, 8:59 pm

Update: Okay so at this point I am still slowly making my way through Family Trust...I am not yet finished or close to it. Work has this tendency to suck away my energy and my time.
I do have to make a trip for a couple weeks to different countries with a charity I work with...While that in itself is taxing work, there ought to be a little more time for me to read.

I'm having difficulty posting a picture, I wanted to share some spines I got recently...will see what I can do.

Editado: Mar 7, 2020, 9:06 pm

>10 BLBera: I just borrowed it yesterday from the school library, I'll let you know how I like it :)

>11 PaulCranswick: Hi! I quite like that image, I'll have to add those to my list of goals this year (in particular, more tea since I have so much and can't seem to get through it!) Hope you have been well! Will come over and visit your thread

Mar 19, 2020, 5:20 pm

I picked up so many books yesterday its crazy! I'm going to have to Lysol them all out of an abundance of caution. Will share the titles on here.

Also, can anyone tell me if they would prefer that I have a review comment where I post all the reviews of books I've read, or should I post reviews as I go?

Editado: Mar 26, 2020, 11:39 pm

So...I've been off work for a week and I haven't read a single book yet. I did dive in to my bookshelf and fish out a couple books I know I will never read so that's good. Made room for new (used) books and added a ton of new titles to my catalog (go check it out!) :)
I think I will just comment my review as I go along.

Mar 28, 2020, 6:54 pm

I think it's easier to post reviews as I read them, Vik, while the book is fresh in my mind. Stay well.

Abr 16, 2020, 11:08 pm

Alright so we have been in lockdown for quite a while here now... I've been doing alot of resting and working out so that seems to be helping me with keeping a routine :) I have downloaded a couple audiobooks and of course, I still have my ridiculous bookshelf that I need to deal with. Getting there slowly.

>16 BLBera: Good idea! I think I will have to do that as well before I forget. I think I can remember what the ones I did so far were about haha. Hope all is well with you

mayo 26, 2020, 1:15 am

Reviews for Books 1-8: (spoiler free for the most part)

1. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo: 4 stars
This book is written in an interesting style - all poems. It was a new concept for me, but the poems beautifully expressed the emotions and setting in the book, while leaving the reader with space to feel - and I definitely felt alot! Solid read, would recommend.

2. The Binding by Bridget Collins (audiobook):3 stars (lgbt friendly - yay!)
I only read (listened to) this book because a family member was also reading it. I enjoyed it generally...there was quite a bit of tension at some parts, and others long as it was, I somehow felt like I was missing some of the important background, even though I was overwhelmed with other background that didn't particularly add to the plot in any great way. At the end the pace picked up and I wished a bit that the majority of the book was like that!

3. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (audiobook): 3 stars
I listened to this during lockdown as part of a podcast (Phoebe Reads a Mystery). Always wanted to get into Agatha Christie's books but you know how it is...didn't have time so I listened instead. Solid, looking forward to reading more

4. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (audiobook): 4 stars
For someone who loves the show Elementary, I had strangely not read any Sherlock Holmes books before! I enjoyed this! I'm going to have to look at some of the others.

5. Deacon King Kong by James McBride: 4 stars
I laughed my way through this book, which is quite a pleasant thing to do while reading, if you think about it. First book by this author. Loveable and relatable cast of characters even if it is set in the 50s, with a healthy dash of duppies (ghosts, in my culture) and drugs. Read it if you get the chance!

6-8. Blood Kiss, Blood Vow, & Blood Fury by J. R. Ward: 3.5 stars (for each)
Broad review for all 3 books as they're in the same arc. Now...I've been reading the Black Dagger series for years...and I continue to do so! Its fun, a relatively easy read for me. This 3 book arc dived into the lives of the Brotherhood's trainees...I came to appreciate each of the characters. HEA as well - for the couples, not the rest of the plot.

Jun 4, 2020, 11:02 am

Hi Vik - I also loved The Poet X; I will look for more by Acevedo.

Christie is amazing with plots - she always keeps me guessing. I do love Sherlock Holmes stories.

The McBride sounds good as well.

Stay well.

Jun 4, 2020, 3:02 pm

I've got Deacon King Kong on my list of near-tern reads. Glad it's a good one!

Jun 15, 2020, 9:27 pm

Reviews for Books 9-10: (relatively spoiler-free!)
*Scroll up to see my list of books with links*

9. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty - 4 stars
This is my first book from this author and I have to say I enjoyed it! I am interested in reading more of her work. The ending was satisfactory in my opinion. The characters had seemingly normal lives, with the author reminding the reader about the struggles people go through. I will make a note to watch the tv show at some point in the future (fun fact: I don't really like watching tv, it's never my first option)

10. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng - 3.5 stars
I loved Little Fires Everywhere when I read it last year. This book was engrossing in its own way, and showed the intricacies of emotions at various ages/stages in life. Some of it was sad (none of the people in this book have any friends? Not even one? At all? Besides Lydia with her one friend? Damn!). I would have given it more stars but the ending left me wanting more...I wanted so much more from the ending. The book was solid, 3.5 - 3.75 stars

Jun 15, 2020, 9:29 pm

Would you guys - lovely people reading this blog - prefer spoiler reviews, or do you like them how I currently have them. I've deliberately tried not to be too specific because while I might enjoy spoilers (I do, love em!) others may not!

I've been so tired recently. As a Black person, life can be tiring. I will always keep fighting for human rights.

Jun 15, 2020, 9:49 pm

>19 BLBera: Yes, I recommend! Acevedo also has one called Clap When You Land that I'm looking forward to reading. There's no excuse as to why I haven't actually read With the Fire on High yet, since its here in my room!

I quite like this podcast, its a fun audio story! I'm currently listening to The Murder on the Links by Christie.

I'm going to endeavour to read all of McBride's books, I had such fun reading DKK!

>20 drneutron: Yes, quite enjoyable, I think you'll like it! Its like a cross-section of NYC back in those days.

Jun 16, 2020, 10:29 pm

I’m fine with somewhat spoiler reviews, but if you’d like to include spoilers in a way that leaves it up to the reader, use the spoiler tag.

text here

Except take out the spaces before and after the brackets.

Editado: Jun 19, 2020, 9:17 pm

>24 drneutron: oh, I can't see the way to do it, just shows up as 'text here'
I found this on the wiki, so I'll try it out!:
How to hide a "spoiler" when discussing a book
Use: text, placing the information that "spoils" the enjoyment of the book or a plot, where the word "text" appears. You can write several paragraphs of text here if desired. The spoiler text does not appear until you click on it.

Jun 19, 2020, 9:53 pm

That worked!

Jun 26, 2020, 1:44 pm

>25 vikzen: You are a technical genius, Vik. :)

Jul 4, 2020, 1:35 am

Review for Book 12:
The Kiss Quotient - 3 stars

Now...I picked up this book hoping for a light read, and I was enjoying it up to about halfway through! Generally, I like the writing style, nicely done with lots of details about the main characters (except for Stella's parents, we didn't learn much about them and why her father acts a judgmental fool at the dinner when he came across as nicer in the beginning) And then...

Huge rant incoming - be warned, I was still reading when I wrote this part - yes I stopped reading to compose this!
- rant -
Ooh I'm typing this part of the review before I even finish the book! I get so annoyed with romance books nowadays, and I think it has to do with the timeline/sequence. I know how its going to go before it gets there, and I'm almost always annoyed at how it goes! Like this book, when he breaks up with her but not really, and she sees the cheque that he left, and she gets all 'oh its because I'm autistic' - this part made me equal parts annoyed and sad! Super glad to see the representation but damn! Its almost always this trope with romance novels where the characters always blame themselves. Yes I'm aware that's a human response, but its irrational (once again, a human response). It upsets me to read. lol should I just stick to literary fiction instead? Because I just know the books tend to follow this ebb and flow where they ALMOST ALWAYS break up halfway through, ALMOST ALWAYS have a huge misunderstanding, and then they get back together. Give me a break!

I know this is ridiculous to have such a big rant about but OH HEAVENS I literally exclaimed out loud in frustration when he said "her obsession hadn't been strong enough to stand up in the face of his family's criminal past..." LIKE DUDE. He broke up with her and now he is mad that she didn't call him like he thought she was going to just throw herself at his feet? MAN NAW. I literally threw down my glasses in frustration in this last quarter of the book!!! (yes I actually need them to see, so that was pointless but reiterates the fact I no longer wanted to see what I was reading). If you want specifics, I took them off when he ripped up all of his sketches inspired by her - um, sir...really? Am I the only one who would have felt better if I had made them and sold them and made something good come from what I now considered bad? My my my. I was also not impressed with the way he 'wooed' her back after the breakup, parts of it seemed forced and not as nice as he previously was unfortunately

I don't know what happened because I used to really enjoy romance novels but for me its unrealistic. Maybe my reality is skewed?! Haha! Let me know how you feel about the romance genre (I don't hate it, I just wish there was a different pattern/sequence of events generally). Recommend some that don't lean this way please.
- end rant -
The book is nice enough. Is it for me at this present moment? No, its not, but I did enjoy it up to a point. For that I give it 3 stars. I don't know what I'm going to do with all the romance novels I have here since my mind has apparently packed up a suitcase and left the genre!

Jul 4, 2020, 1:49 am

Review for Book 11:
Dominicana - 4.5 stars

Whew. Y'all. This book is an existence between two covers.
I feel like I went on a journey through time, spirited back to the 60s.
It was just a really real story, (romantic) love did not win in this book. There is alot of sacrifice and pain, and truth be told, this was the life of so many young (young!) girls at the time. There is something to be said for telling the stories of your culture and keeping the struggles alive.
I'm not sure how the immigration laws were back then, but it did seem a little quick for the family to arrive.
I really liked this book, the writing style was interesting, I was mad at the characters for some of the things they did but like I said, it was really real, I could see this clearly being the story of someone (many someones) and the author based it on her mother's life.

Read it if you get the chance!

Jul 4, 2020, 1:50 am

>27 BLBera: Haha! I used it quite a bit since then too!

Jul 4, 2020, 11:42 am

I also loved Dominicana, Vik.

Jul 8, 2020, 11:14 am

>31 BLBera: That's great, it was so good. I'll have to look in to other works from Ms. Cruz

Editado: Ago 30, 2020, 8:45 pm

Review for Book 13:
My Dark Vanessa - 3 stars - as yet uncertain

I have many thoughts about My Dark Vanessa and I'm not certain if I can articulate them in the way that I would find most preferable. Perhaps as more time passes and I chew over the content, I will be able to provide a better update.
I will say, I considered not finishing the book at many points in time. Vanessa is not a likeable character generally...I did not grow to appreciate her or her actions. I could understand why she did some of the things but otherwise, meh. I was not a fan of any of the characters, come to think of it. None.

*Update, as previously promised.
I do not like any of the characters in the book however I somewhat understand why they would have made the choices that they did. As much as I personally might not agree, and as much as we - we being people who have not lived similar lives and felt similar pain - always have 'something to say' about what we might do/say/feel in these kinds of circumstances, these are circumstances that do occur in real life and it is certainly plausible that persons feel such as the characters, particularly Vanessa, did in this (fictional) book.

That said: Vanessa is (imo) insufferable as a character with seemingly no personality beyond her pain. I don't remember it showing that Vanessa really had an interest in anything much before she went to this school , which is something I would have been quite interested in. I'm inclined to believe this was done on purpose by the author, as too often people are wont to disregard the pain of a victim because the person was not a good person or 'beloved by all'. I leave it there for now.

I was very irritated with Jacob in this story, as I tend to be highly bothered by any pedophile who takes it upon themselves to manipulate young persons. And then how he ends up...I'm like ughhhhhhh! I don't even wish to give this (fictional) predator the time of day on my page.

It is just...alot to go through. I had many emotions while reading. Where is the growth? I wanted so much more for Vanessa. Right at the end though, we get a glimmer of hope and possibility.

Even as I write this review, strong feelings of revulsion really upset me. I is an important book and it will never be an easy read due to the nature of the subject matter. I borrowed a copy of Lolita from a friend to read, as the book refers to it so much and I have not read it before.

Ago 9, 2020, 10:31 am

I also want to read more by Cruz.

My Dark Vanessa sounds --- interesting? I'll watch for your comments.

Editado: Ago 24, 2020, 3:53 pm

The Savior: 3.5 stars
I liked this one - I am a fan of J R Ward's books generally and this did not disappoint! I liked the main story, the tension between John, Xhex and Mhurder, and of course the romance!

Prisoner of Night: 4 stars
Another J R Ward special which I readily consumed. This one was mostly adjacent to the main BDB line of books but I enjoyed these new characters and the various quests they went through and experiences they survived. I especially liked the surprise of them encountering his father even when the compound was clearly almost disregarded. 4 stars!

An American Marriage: 4 stars
I kept borrowing this book from the library and running out of time to read it. I finally started it a couple days ago and I really liked the writing styles and being able to see the events from the perspectives of both main characters (as well as Andre at times). Believable story; speaks to the human conditions. Its a book about love, but its not a romance novel. Enjoyable; I recommend.

Ago 30, 2020, 8:47 pm

>34 BLBera: I updated my review for My Dark Vanessa. It definitely is a memorable book because it offset me so much.

Editado: Oct 1, 2020, 10:32 pm

Frying Plantain - 3 stars
Surprisingly, this book is actually a collection of short stories, but it details the journey of the same characters.
Gonna be honest here: it felt like halfway - I might have enjoyed it more as a fully detailed novel. I wanted to get into more of the characters quirks, in particular the mother's angst towards Kara's father, and her seeming struggle to balance education, work and family. I like that it involves a Caribbean perspective (Jamaican heritage living in Canada) as so much of my family also lives overseas and would have encountered some similar circumstances. Big up the writer for detailing that experience.

The Dutch House - 4 stars
I enjoyed Bel Canto so much I figured I must continue to read this author for the time being. The Dutch House is centered around a ridiculous home and its occupants over time. I thought it spoke well to the human emotions of being a child in the circumstances and how that impacts growth and adult experiences/grudges. I enjoyed it, solid read.

The Vanishing Half - 4.5 stars
OMG. READ THIS BOOK. READ IT NOW. I really enjoyed the writing style on this and I look forward to reading more of Brit Bennett's works. As a black woman from the Caribbean, the history, reality and effects of slavery look me in the face every day. I - and most black people - know people who 'pass' or could pass, and this story intertwines racial issues, family issues, LGBTQ+ issues, and all that! Just read it. The writing is beautiful.

All Adults Here - 3 stars
This book was interesting. There was so much diversity going on! Now I definitely love that, but there was one of everybody and it didn't feel like the characters were fully fleshed out as they could have been. There was alot of stuff going on that felt unfinished. It left me wanting - I feel like I wanted to know so much more about the characters story and it was stopped short. This would make a great tv show though! I hope to see it!

Oct 5, 2020, 2:35 am

I found you!! Yay! Thanks for stopping by my thread. : )

>2 vikzen: From your lists, I have read:

Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson.

Guess that means we can be reading buddies! LOL. And your "currently reading" list is a plentiful as mine. I don't know about you, but I really should read fewer books at a time, seriously.

Hope you are doing well in this crazy COVID time.

Oct 11, 2020, 4:09 pm

>38 Berly: Thanks for popping in! You've read quite a few from my list! Reading buddies sounds good to me :)
What were your thoughts on Red at the Bone if you don't mind? I'll have to pop back over to your page and see if I find a review!
I see I've got quite a few more to go (to say the least) to make it to 75 this year.

I'm doing alright, just trying to be as cautious as possible with the return to work and such. Hope you are staying safe!

Oct 25, 2020, 5:34 pm

Does anyone know if there will be SantaThing here this year? I really enjoyed it the previous years that I have done it!

Oct 30, 2020, 12:03 pm

Hi Vik. Your comments on The Vanishing Half really tempt me. I wasn't a huge fan of The Mothers, but maybe I should give her another chance.

I also loved An American Marriage.

Nov 21, 2020, 10:34 am

>41 BLBera: It was really, really good! And I haven't said that about a book I've read in recent times. I quite appreciated the nuance within. I have The Mothers on my list to read, I have just been terrible with reading library books as work is pretty hectic right now!
Yep, American Marriage was great!

Nov 30, 2020, 8:13 pm

So sad. Just realised that I missed the deadline for SantaThing by just a little. I'm crushed! Off to buy something else instead *cries in missed book opportunities*

Editado: Dic 7, 2020, 10:30 pm

Sorry you missed out on Santa Thing. Bummer. And sorry I haven't been here in a while. I had computer issues. Maybe things will start looking up now? I hope!! : )

Dic 11, 2020, 10:31 am

Sorry you missed the SantaThing deadline, Vik. I did, too.

Dic 24, 2020, 5:39 pm

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
May 2021 bring you less need for masks, loads of peace and joy, good health and, of course, books!

Dic 29, 2020, 11:43 pm

>44 Berly: I will have to pay more attention to the deadline next year! I'm sure I spent the $ in planner supplies instead. I hope your tech problems have all been sorted out! :)

Dic 31, 2020, 2:27 pm

Yes, computer sorted out and I am ready to post away in the New Year!! See you on the other side. : )

Ene 1, 2021, 2:00 pm

>45 BLBera: We were both a bit slow on the draw this time around I guess!

Ene 1, 2021, 11:54 pm

So we made it to the beginning of 2021!

2021 Thread: