The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel. I read this for week #1's topic - a book from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016. This book covers the early years of the Chinese courtesan who would become the Empress Wu. (There is a follow up book that follows her history after she is made empress, although I have not read that one so can't speak towards whether it furthers the tale or not.) A good read - I liked that it really developed the subcharacters in the Emperor's court and the intrigues and political turmoil going on. I also was happy to find a historical fiction that wasn't European - there aren't as many of those, so it was a nice change to read something in that genre that was outside my usual knowledge base. I'm always up for learning about different things. I'd be curious to see if the characters held up into the sequel, as that doesn't always happen. In fact, I may pick up the sequel for week 21, and see how it goes. Overall, a B+: Entertaining, interesting, easy read.
I then picked up Longbourn by Jo Baker for week 4: A title that doesn't contain the letter "E". This book is a sort of upstairs/downstairs retelling of Pride and Prejudice. The author has used all of the pivotal story points (like the ball at Netherfield, the elopement of Kitty and Wickham, etc.) but has written the tale from the perspective of the servants in the Bennet household. Smart, well-written and researched, with a LOT of historic information hidden away in subtle corners, I really enjoyed this one. The back story behind the housekeeper is worth the price of admission alone, but I also appreciated that the author expanded the story beyond just the house at Longbourn to cover some good historical tidbits about the Napoleonic Wars. Definitely recommended for Jane Austen fans!
This week, I'm reading The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg. I'm not too far into this, but it's a historical fiction piece about the life of George Sand, which I'm using for week #25. More to come on that once I've finished it.
The 2017 List
1. A book from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016: The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel.
2. A book with at least 2 perspectives (multiple points of view): Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce.
3. A book you meant to read in 2016
4. A title that doesn't contain the letter "E": Longbourn by Jo Baker.
5. A historical fiction
6. A book being released as a movie in 2017: Olive Kitteredge by Elizabeth Strout.
7. A book with an animal on the cover or in the title: The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht.
8. A book written by a person of color
9. A book in the middle of your To Be Read list:
10. A dual-timeline novel: The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor.
11. A category from another challenge: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier.
12. A book based on a myth: Summerlong by Peter Beagle.
13. A book recommended by one of your favorite authors
14. A book with a strong female character: The Ornatrix by Kate Howard.
15. A book written or set in Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland)
16. A mystery
17. A book with illustrations: Prairie Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
18. A really long book (600+ pages)
19. A New York Times best-seller
20. A book that you've owned for a while but haven't gotten around to reading
21. A book that is a continuation of a book you've already read
22. A book by an author you haven't read before: The Secrets of Wishtide, by Kate Saunders.
23. A book from the BBC "The Big Read" list (link)
24. A book written by at least two authors
25. A book about a famous historical figure: The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg.
26. An adventure book
27. A book by one of your favorite authors
28. A non-fiction
29. A book published outside the 4 major publishing houses (Simon & Schuster; HarperCollins; Penguin Random House; Hachette Livre) - check all the editions
30. A book from Goodreads Top 100 YA Books (link)
31. A book from a sub-genre of your favorite genre
32. A book with a long title (5+ words, excluding subtitle): I Shall Be Near to You by Erin McCabe.
33. A magical realism novel: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.
34. A book set in or by an author from the Southern Hemisphere
35. A book where one of the main characters is royalty
36. A Hugo Award winner or nominee (link)
37. A book you choose randomly: A Book of Bees by Sue Hubbell.
38. A novel inspired by a work of classic literature
39. An epistolary fiction
40. A book published in 2017
41. A book with an unreliable narrator: His Bloody Project by Graeme McRae Burnet.
42. A best book of the 21st century (so far)
43. A book with a chilling atmosphere (scary, unsettling, cold): Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase.
44. A recommendation from "What Should I Read Next" (link)
45. A book with a one-word title: Uprooted by Naomi Novik.
46. A time travel novel: Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon.
47. A past suggestion that didn't win (link)
48. A banned book
49. A book from someone else's bookshelf
50. A Penguin Modern Classic - any edition
51. A collection (e.g. essays, short stories, poetry, plays) : Beyond the Woods; Fairy Tales Retold by Paula Guran.
52. A book set in a fictional location