Word 1: A Semi-Charmed Summer in Wintertime

I cracked it. Well, let me be clear. I didn't crack 'finishing a book challenge', although I am sure it will happen one day. Not this day, but one day. I cracked the ess-aitch-one-tee's. Explaining how my perversion of the already complicated shift system affects my ability to take time off work is hard enough, so it suffices to say that I got grumpy and took every available holiday space left in the book for August. It meant I had days and days of leisurely happiness interrupted occasionally by a shift or two of torture normal rotational shift-work. Do you know that it is harder to go to work for one day a rotation than for four! All this should have meant I could finish this challenge. But it didn't.

Thanks Megan at Semi-Charmed Kind of Life. Even though I am hopeless and let my currently-reading pile rule my otherwise sane life, I always enjoy the confrontation to reading norms that your challenge embodies. Can't wait to see if I can do better on the next one.

Here's what did, and didn't, happen:

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 150 pages long.

A Perfect Evil by Alex Kava

Finished. I liked the smart but flawed female protagonist and enjoyed the brooding, broiling tension between her and the local sheriff. The only letdown is that the local sheriff is coming across as a him-bo with big muscles except above the neck. Not letting that stop my vicarious enjoyment. (461 pages, ★★★★)

10 points: Read a collection of short stories or essays. They may all be written by the same author, or the book may be an anthology from different writers; your choice!

Drifting House by Krys Lee

Finished. Poignant and sad as immigrant fiction often can be. Korea is fascinating in its unknown (to me). Short stories have to be a level above novels. They need the slight uncanniness of being more than they are. Like good advertising, like tardis'. (224 pages; ★★★★)

10 points: Read an adult fiction book written by an author who normally writes books for children. Examples: J. K. Rowling, Judy Blume, Suzanne Collins, Rick Riordan, etc. - Submitted by SCWBC15 finisher Kelly E.

Adverbs by Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket)

Finished. There are echos of The Series of Unfortunate Events in this in the oddly self-reflective narrator(s). I should write my reviews when I finish the books because I get a little hazy. As a trigger I like to read the comments people make about the book on Goodreads. If you want to get a feeling of the strangeness this book inhibits, read the comments—they're as bizarre as that they describe. (272 pages; ★★★)

15 points: Read a book set in Appalachia. - Submitted by SCWBC15 finisher Ericka B. (Try this list or this one for inspiration. And here’s a map if you have a book in mind and want to know if it fits the setting.)

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

Unfinished. I'm reading about both great walks in the States at the moment—this, and the Pacific Coast Trail (Wild). I miss long-distance walking so much. But. Bears? While I read these books I am vicariously walking them via Walking 4 Fun. I'm a hundred and fifty-one kilometres in. Bryson, as usual, is great company.

15 points: Don’t judge a book by its cover! Read a book with a cover you personally find unappealing.

The Road to Ruin: How Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin Destroyed Their Own Government by Niki Savva

Ironically, Credlin autocorrects to 'cradling'. In a nutshell it describes how the sub-title came about. This book is repugnant unappealing to me because I am not a fan [understatement] of Tony Abbott. I won't go into a long list of where his and my ideologies fail to meet but despite the rather nasty appearances, I am rather enjoying it. It would have been intolerable if it was about his successes (were there any?), but I love a good downfall story. Didn't realise I did, but I do. Can't believe this all happens in the hallways and broom closets of power while I sleep between night shifts! Yay, bliss.

20 points: Read a book that you have previously only seen the film (movie) of. - Submitted by SCWBC15 finisher Bevchen.

Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp (Die Hard)

Finished. It is rare for me to read a book after the movie. I didn't like it. It may be the era. I have a feeling that when I get round to reading Fleming's Bond at some time, my reaction may be the same. Gender, race, humanism. But ultimately, Book Leland is no Movie McClane. Book Gruber pales in the light of Rickman Gruber. The baddies aren't as good, the goodies aren't as bad. In another life, I wouldn't bother. (245 pages; ★★)

25 points: Read a book with a punny title. The title can be a play on another book title, movie title or a common expression. Examples of such titles include Southern Discomfort, We'll Always Have Parrots or Bonefire of the Vanities. - Submitted by SCWBC15 finisher Jamie G.

Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them By Donovan Hohn

Unfinished. Awesome. Who would think reading about a quartet of small rubber animals, ducks being just one, who came a-cropper off a container ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and have been floating around ever since. Along with an awfully large amount of other floating stuff. I love quirky non-fiction. It's the best genre. Besides the other best genres. This is heading for five stars unless something goes awfully wrong. Some would argue it already did on board those container ships!

30 points: Read a microhistory.

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife

Finished. Another quirky non-fiction. Who'd'a thought the number zero could be so interesting. I feel conflicted about the need for a *spoiler alert* here. We know how it all ends: zero is an accepted numeral - ubiquitous, necessary. But what a beginning. And what a future. This story is, strangely enough, a circle. We begin shrouded in mystery and mystique with zero as heretic, its ties with religion spurious; we end with mystery and the unknowablity (presently, at least) and faith of zero's part in quantum and string theories. I got a little lost in the middle when there was lots of Maths. It's been a while. But otherwise this book was awesome! (248 pages; ★★★★★)

30 points: Read one book with a good word in the title, and one with a bad word. Note: This category is reeeeeeeally open-ended! Maybe you like turtles, so The Pearl that Broke Its Shell is a title with a "good" word. Similarly, the "bad" word could be a swear word or a literally negative word like “not” or “none,” or it could just be something you don’t like. Have fun with it! (Remember, you must read both books to get 30 points; this category is not worth 15 points per book.)

I'm going the way of 'cowboys' or 'villains' for my idea of good[ies] and bad[dies]:

Wolf in WHITE Van by John Darnielle

Finished. Nothing can describe this book without giving it away, so read on at your peril. It's an onion of a book. If onions were also maze-like, and you never reached the centre. Simply, it is told from the p.o.v of a recluse who makes a living creating a role-playing game where players subscribe and follow a quest through back-and-forth mail correspondence. But it is not simple. We get snippets of the reason for his reclusively, how its isolation sparked the game, how the game—created just before the Internet—creates a community and an effect on its participants, how two such players take it too far and die, sparking a lawsuit. It's very quiet, almost frustratingly answerless but makes you think. Not like much else you have read. (208 pages; ★★★★)

BLACK by Ted Dekker

Unfinished. And decidedly odd. I have claimed so many books in this list to be odd, that odd must now equal normal and stock standard, genre-conforming plot would seem bizarre. But let me list some things in this book and you tell me: bad bats, good, fluffy bats, dream states in two timezones, a virus, fruit, romance contracts, the French, Asian mafias. Yes. All in the same book. Oh, and it does have Christian undertones too. I'm persisting, but I am really not sure yet. Opinions TBA.

40 points: Read two books that contain the same word in the title, but once in the singular and once in the plural. For example: Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter and The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer, or Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff and The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. (Remember, you must read both books to get 40 points; this category is not worth 20 points per book.)

Crow Hollow by Michael Wallace

Finished. How do you work out a score out of five for a book? I've given a number of books in this list a four, but each one seems like a different kind of four. It makes comparison problematic. Ultimately it means I liked this book in a four star kind of way. I enjoyed picking it up. I enjoyed the story and the characters. Something small, and almost unnoticeable, like the standard of insurance at a hotel or the lack of a pool table or a telex in the business centre—something you don't know is missing until some bizarre circumstance means you need it—takes this from five star enjoyability to four. I can't explain. (345 pages, ★★★★)

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Unfinished. And this book has the telex machine. Again, not sure if I'll ever need one, but the overall feel is five stars. Character, tension, unpredictability, difference? Hype? Poetry, lyricism, visuality? Maybe I like a quest novel. Maybe I like an anti-hero, or an underdog (or seven). Some magic. Some noir. I won't question it too much, I'll just read it and enjoy it.

So out of twelve books, I finished seven, but with the distribution I only got seventy-five points out of a total of two hundred. But I read some things I may not ordinarily have picked up at this point in time, so I don't really care. Win, win. Well technically, lose, win. But win, win. You know.

75 Points Total

*Images courtesy of the authors and books on Goodreads.


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