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2017 Sirens Reading Challenge complete!

As of today: I have completed the 2017 Sirens Reading Challenge!

As part of this challenge, I’ve read many books I would not have read otherwise. I loved some of them (N.K. Jesimin’s The Fifth Season, for example). I flat-out hated others (I alluded to one such here). Most were somewhere in between.

The experience of reading so many new-to-me authors and books was definitely positive. I do have some more specific thoughts about my experience of the challenge overall, but I’m letting them coalesce for the time being. Once I can write about them with some coherence I’ll post more. In the meantime, here’s what I read (books I especially liked marked in bold).

Guests of Honor: Required
Required Theme
Additional Theme Books
Middle Grade/Young Adult: Select Five


I’ve been looking forward to A Darker Shade of Magic for a while. This book, one of three in the “Guest of Honor – required” section on the Sirens 2017 Reading Challenge, is so popular at my local library that I’ve had to wait for three months. When my turn came up (coincident with the end of the school year, so I actually had some time to read it!) I was ready to dive right in.

And then…I didn’t love it.

I think the problem I had might simply have been too much anticipation. A Darker Shade of Magic did grow on me as I kept reading, and I especially enjoyed the character of Delilah Bard – it would have been so easy to make her a caricature, and Schwab avoided this with writerly skill. There were so many things I liked about this book. I just didn’t love it.

I might pick it up again later, when there’s not such a rush at the library, and see if I have a different reaction to a second read. I have occasionally been known to fall into a reading funk; having a reading funk problem while transitioning to summer rhythms would not be unexpected; and reading funk problems, I’ve found, often vanish in a second read.

Four to go: progress on the 2017 Sirens Reading Challenge!

Making progress – four more to go! The full list for this challenge is here).

Guests of Honor: Required

 Required Theme (category complete!)

Additional Theme Books: Select Five (category complete!)

Middle Grade/Young Adult: Select Five
(category complete!)


Adult: Select Five

Update on 2017 Sirens Reading Challenge progress

Figured it was about time to do a check-in on what I’ve read so far for the 2017 Sirens Reading Challenge (the full list for this challenge is here). Here’s what I’ve read so far:

Guests of Honor: Required

 Required Theme (category complete!)

Additional Theme Books: Select Five

Middle Grade/Young Adult: Select Five

Adult: Select Five

Eight more books to go (plus the one I’m currently reading) to complete the challenge! I’ll probably substitute a few new reads for the ones I’ve currently listed, given that I read quite a few of these last year. But I’m finding this charting of my reading rather fun 🙂

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

The downside of reading a lot, and reading critically – at least for me – is that I rarely get swept away by anything I read anymore. If I want an immersive read, it’s safest for me to re-read something that I *know* will transport me into another world, because the vast majority of new things I read (even when I like them!) don’t do it. When a book that’s new to me grabs me this way it feels like winning the lottery.

That’s how I felt when reading The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin.

I picked up The Fifth Season because it was the next book on my Sirens Reading Challenge list (the author is one of the guests of honor, so the book is required), and I had a long flight ahead of me. I wasn’t expecting that immersive experience; I just hoped it would be entertaining enough for a difficult travel day.

And then…it just blew me away.

Keep reading, no matter what

I am currently in the midst of a 6-month yoga immersion class. We meet for one intensive weekend once a month; in the meantime, we are responsible for building a home practice and journaling about it. I took this project on because I wanted to make yoga a more consistent part of my life – I wanted it to become something that I do no matter what.

It’s been working. Yoga is a bigger part of my life now than it has ever been. But maybe more interesting than that is how the process of this immersion is making me reflect on other parts of my life that are there “no matter what.”

One of those is reading. Be the world falling around me, I must read. And so I have been continuing through the 2017 Sirens Reading Challenge. I read three more books – Marika McCoola & Emily Carroll’s Baba Yaga’s Assistant, Anna-Marie McLemore’s When the Moon Was Ours, and Jewell Parker Rhodes’ Bayou Magic– and have completed the “Required Theme” section. I’m on to the “Guests of Honor” section now!

I will read, no matter what.


I just finished The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, the fourth book towards the 2017 Sirens Reading Challenge.

I’ll have more to say about this book later, I think, but right now I will comment that  a story which is at its heart about lust for life is exactly what I needed to read.

Also, I would have guessed, I think, that this was an older book (it was published in 1997). Something about its style is different than a recently-published book would be. Can’t quite put my finger on what, thought.

Next up: Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola & Emily Carroll.

The Sirens reading challenge and ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY

As I posted on Twitter a while back, I’ve decided to do the 2017 Sirens Reading Challenge this year.

I’ve never done any kind of reading challenge before; usually I read plenty without structure. But between all the horrible world news and the general business of life, I haven’t been reading as much as I would like recently – and when I have been reading, I’ve been subject to periodic reading slumps. Some structure seems in order.

The Sirens Reading Challenge has five parts, two required (in which you read all the books in that part), and three where you have a choice. I am beginning with the “Required Theme” section. I’ve already read two (Chime by Franny Billingsley, an old favorite; and Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, which I read last year and very much enjoyed), which leaves me five more.

I began yesterday with Charlie Jane Anders’ All the Birds in the Sky. There’s been a lot written about this one (here is the LA Times review) so I won’t rehash the plot points. What I will say, though, is (a) the writing is incredibly skillful and yet (b) the book overall kind of left me cold. It might be the science-vs.-nature setup (although Anders resolves this nicely, this dichotomy is one that bugs me). It might be that (again, given the awful news in the world) I can’t handle books with a dystopian bent right now. It might just be my mood.

Can’t say. I can say, though, that despite all this I did both enjoy and admire this book. Definitely it is worth a read.

Next up on the list is The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Stay tuned…