February Reading Challenge Report Card

Time to check in on our Reading Challenge progress for the year.

February’s challenge was: a 2015 Award Winner.

Here’s what we picked:

station elevenBethany: Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven won The Morning News’ 2015 Tournament of Books, handily and with good reason. I suppose it’s a bit of a stretch to call TMN’s Rooster prize an award, but I trust their judgement.

This is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi literary fiction masterpiece. Mandel deftly obliterates the world as we know it, but then spends her time dwelling on the connections between survivors, the fears, memories and linkages they share. This is a brilliant ensemble cast book. No one character is the protagonist, but humanity is, as experienced by the half-dozen people Mandel focuses on. She weaves in great references to other books and other sci-fi narratives, but not in a heavy-handed way. If you’ve never seen an episode of Star Trek, the story is more than accessible still. It’s the kind of book I wanted to devour and yet not read too fast because then it would be over.

This book will be in my top ten for the year, no doubt. We did this challenge last year and my pick for 2015 was my favorite book of the year. I suspect a repeat is highly possible with this pick taking home my 2016 top honors. It will be hard to beat.

Stacie:  The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day20150509_185814

I read The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day.  This title caught my eye in 2014 when Rader-Day described it as a “Why dun it” rather than a “Who dun it” at Murder and Mayhem in Milwaukee.  The book dives into the life of Dr. Amelia Emmet, victim of a violent crime.  Melly (to her friends) was shot for unknown reasons about 10 months before the story begins.  Melly is a sociologist, one who studies violent crimes.  As an academic, the research and struggle hits too close to home and she is compelled to figure out why the crime happened.

Rader-Day won several awards, including an Anthony Award, a Lovey Award, and Silver Falchion, all for best first novel.  The first half of the book set-ups up the players and allows the reader to see the impact of the crime, while the second half is spent unraveling the mystery and resolving the why it happened.

I liked this story, and look forward to reading more by Rader-Day.  Knowing some of the behind the scenes of Rader-Day’s writing style and influence on this title, makes me curious about where she is headed with her writing career.

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