Book Riot recently announced their 2019 Read Harder Challenge, Gentle Reader.
I thought I would throw some suggestions at you in case you were doing this but wanted to do it with a Miss Gail sort of twist. (AKA lighter hearted and fun.)
2019 Read Harder Challenge
1. An epistolary novel or collection of letters
Sorcery & Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer (read Gail’s review) if you are a fan of my books and haven’t read this wonderful gaslight double shot regency romance, honestly I have no idea what you’re doing with your life.
2. An alternate history novel
Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw (read Gail’s review) a YA retelling of the transition of power from Queen Hatshepsut to King Tutmosis III. Spies! Magic? So good.
3. A book by a woman and/or AOC (Author of Color) that won a literary award in 2018
I tend not to read lit award winners. I just find they lean too dark for me. So I’m going to blind pick
The Broken Earth Trilogy: The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin all of which won the Hugo Awards (including 2018).
Now these are pretty epic so I have been waiting for a big vacay to tackle them but they are supposed to be awesomesauce. But they are dark. So yeah.
Another option is Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, YA and reputed to be not quite so grim and winner of many accolades.
But honestly the kind of fluffy fun books I love never win awards so if you have AOC books to rec that are funny, please pop them below.
4. A humor book
Ridiculous by D L Carter (read Gail’s review) is a frivolous, hilarious, cross-dressing regency romance.
5. A book by a journalist or about journalism
I could not be less interested. Sorry.
Feel free to leave a comment if you know a fun, light hearted sci-fi or fantasy featuring a journalist… I mean, huh? This may be an untapped niche.
6. A book by an AOC set in or about space
OK, another one where I fall short (I don’t read much sci fi and when I do it’s either light hearted capers and romps or space opera) but I found this great list for you.
7. An #ownvoices book set in Mexico or Central America
The closest I came to this is Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier (not sure if this is own voices since she is a very private person) but you can read my review if you’re interested.
Another situation where I would love some recommendations that also fill my criteria of light hearted, romantic, and funny.
8. An #ownvoices book set in Oceania (Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia)
The Sea Is Ours: Tales from Steampunk Southeast Asia edited by Jaymee Goh & Joyce Chung since this one comes out of Singapore I think it *kinda* counts.
9. A book published prior to January 1, 2019, with fewer than 100 reviews on Goodreads
Down From Ten by J. Daniel Sawyer had only 6 reviews on Goodreads as of this blog post. I have immense affection for this book and the full cast audio is good too. I’m biased, I’m the voice of the computer, Dan is one of my BFFs, and one of the characters is based on me. Nope, I won’t tell you which one. But you can read it and guess.
10. A translated book written by and/or translated by a woman
Tell me! Tell me. But make it fun, romantic, and silly. Remember, nothing depressing.
11. A book of manga
If you don’t want to read mine, try Black Butler!
12. A book in which an animal or inanimate object is a point-of-view character.
Oh this is a fun one, and I am going seriously old school. I pick To the Haunted Mountain by Ru Emerson (and the two follow up novels) high fantasy chronicled by a magic cat.
13. A book by or about someone that identifies as neurodiverse
I love this one! I have so many to choose from but I’m going to go with…
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, I will likely pick this one up and read it in 2019 but I hear it’s good and fun and funny.
14. A cozy mystery
Nearly constantly mentioned in conjunction with Soulless is Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody Book 1) by Elizabeth Peters. If you like Alexia and Conall, rumor is you will love this book. We use the same source material for our heroine, Amelia B. Edwards, so that explains a great deal of the similarities.
15. A book of mythology or folklore
This is your opportunity to pick up D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths for yourself and any kid in your life. I grew up reading and rereading this book. I love it so much. Maybe next year, if I do this again, I’ll be able to list my non-fiction book into this category.
16. An historical romance by an AOC
I dithered for a lot over this one and I couldn’t find anything I also really loved in the M/M world. Finally I settled on The Duchess War by Courtney Milan.
17. A business book
I’m going to the author creative side for this one. Pretty much the only craft book I find myself consistently recommending is 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron. Not only is it great advice, it’s short, reasonably priced, and from an author who’s books I genuinely admire and therefor I respect her advice.
18. A novel by a trans or nonbinary author
Pretty much ANYTHING by Jordan L. Hawk. But my particular favorite happens to be their Hex series. You can start with Hexbreaker and just go from there. Thank me later (in about 2 months when you emerge from the haze).
19. A book of nonviolent true crime
Nope. Not even slightly intrigued. Don’t even bother leaving a rec. I couldn’t possibly be less interested in true crime of any kind.
20. A book written in prison
I got nothing.
21. A comic by an LGBTQIA creator
Ooo, options option. How about Crossplay: An Erotic Graphic Novel by IronSpike? It is so VERY sexy, and so bizarrely indicative of my former life as a fan girl and cosplyaer. Oh yes, yours truly had a wild youth. Just saying. OK this book is HELLA SEXY. So yeah, be warned, but have fun…
22. A children’s or middle grade book (not YA) that has won a diversity award since 2009
I’ve not got chillins so I poked about a bit and came up with this one: Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass by Dean Robbins, Sean Qualls & Selina Alko (winner of the Amelia Bloomer Award).
23. A self-published book
Goodness, this is mostly what I read these days. So I guess I’ll just pick some of my favorites that I read in 2017.
For something interesting and sci fi, Dangerous Times by Isobelle Winter (read Gail’s review). For something fantasy and romantic, Truth in the Dark by Amy Lane (one of my favorite queer retellings of beauty and the beast, read Gail’s review).
24. A collection of poetry published since 2014
Yeah, nope. Not my thing.
There is a reason for my general poking fun at poetry all the time from Dimity to Ivy and beyond.
The mum recently sent me this picture, I ‘m showing it as proof that I get my twee tendencies and tea obsession from my maternal line…
Yours, nose in a book,
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For a translation, I would recommend Emily Wilson’s translation of Homer’s Odyssey. Not exactly a lighthearted rom-com, but it captures one of the oldest tales of adventure in a more (IMO) accessible tone.
Thank you for the recommendation!
Other classics that have recently been translated by women are
1) The Iliad translated by Caroline Alexander, and
2) The Aeneid translated by Sarah Ruden
For a book written by an author of color set in space, I Highly recommend the Africanfuturism Binti novella trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor. She balances Nigerian history and mythology with an epic story involving space war and defying family expectations.
Thank you for the recommendation.
I second the Binti trilogy. Different than any other sci-fi I’ve read, and SO GOOD.
5. A book about journalism, light hearted and fun: The Truth by Terry Pratchett, it’s very witty.
I know you said you weren’t interested in True Crime, but what about The Man Who Loved Books Too Much? You can usually miss me for that kind of thing but this one looks fascinating (it’s the one I plan to read in 2019 so I haven’t actually read it yet…)
I couldn’t remember it this morning because, duh, morning. But I have it now, for the book with a journalist, try Zoe Archer’s Stranger. It is one of her Blades of the Rose books and they are all excellent adventure/steampunk/romance books and Stranger has a main who is a journalist.
For #12, Frank Tuttle has a book with a sentient plant. His name is Mug and he is awesome. The first book is All the Paths of Shadow. It is a steampunkesque fantasy with a female main who is just as awesome as her friend Mug the plant.
For #9 – a book with fewer than 100 reviews pub’d before 2019 I suggest anything by Maria E. Schneider. She has cozy mystery, fantasy and urban fantasy. All are light, fun and really good reads. Full disclosure, she is a friend of mine and I assisted with beta reading all of her books.
Another one for #12, Anonymous Rex by Eric Garcia which is a noir type mystery where the main is a dinosaur hiding in a human skin. It is really fun.
I second the Truth!
And ..well, Justine by Marquis De Sade was written while he was was in the Bastille.
But perhaps “Letters from a Birmingham Jail” by MLK might a good recommendation as well? Its not like this area will exactly joyful, but this particular work is inspiring.
And nonviolent true crime – well, I would argue that Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil could work.
For n°2 “alternate history”, I think about Laura S Andersen’s The Boleyn Trilogy and The Tudor Legacy Trilogy; in the first, Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII have got a son, Henry IX, andin the second Elizabeth I has indeed become a queen but has also has a daughter. Perfect for Tudor era fans who would like something different.
For n° 4 “humour”, your books, of course!
For n° 9 “fewer than 100 reviews on Goodereads”, a trilogy by J L Spohr: Heirs & Spares, God & King, Crown & Thorns, and the Sword & Shield prequel. This series is also ‘alternate history’, but set in a fictional small kingdom located around the North of France in the 16th century. King William has to struggle for his throne and also has to deal with religious unrest.
Thank you for your suggestion of the Amelia Peabody.
#12 “She Was Nice to Mice”. A favorite of my childhood, tells the story of Queen Elizabeth I from the point of view from the court mice. Bonus point – author is Ally Sheedy and she wrote it when she was 12.
For a translated book in #10, Rubinrot or Ruby Red by Kerstin Geir is really fascinating and involves time-travel and romance.
For #5, Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond is a really good modern Superman adaptation that focuses on Lois and her reporting adventures.
For #15, the mythology graphic novels by George O’Connor have amazing designs and tell the myths in an interesting way. My favorite is Aphrodite: Goddess of Love.
Translated book – ANYTHING by Isabel Allende — eg. “Daughter of Fortune” or “Ines of my Soul” or “Zorro” which, by the way, is pretty fun!).
For number 6, I highly recommend French/Vietnamese author Aliette de Bodard’s novella, The Tea Master and the Detective. Female Sherlock Holmes-type, and the Watson is a sentient spaceship with PTSD.
Here is a line from the very beginning: “She was done with diminishing herself to spare the feelings of others.” The whole story is delicious.
Coming to the party late but …
5. A book by a journalist or about journalism
An Unnatural Vice (Sins of the Cities Book 2) by KJ Charles (who has co-written with Jordan L. Hawk.) Set in Victorian London m/m romance/pulp adventure
Crusading journalist Nathaniel Roy is determined to expose the spiritualist Justin Lazarus. The very, very sexy Justin Lazarus. Who also holds a clue to a mystery Nathaniel’s friends are caught in. Written as an homage to pulp novels of the time, the series includes deadly secrets, a lost heir, fog, blackmail, thrilling escapes through the fog, really thick fog, poison and fog.