Book Reviews · Classic Literature · Mystery · POPSUGAR Reading Challenge · Young Adult

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge 2020 Update: Week Twelve

How’s everyone doing this week? This Covid-19 pandemic is scary, isn’t it? I hope that you are all managing to stay healthy. Like so many of you, I’ve been vigilant about practicing social distancing and have stuck close to home this week. I would feign surprise at how easy it’s been, but in all honesty, the whole “avoid other people” thing really works well with my social anxiety. There have been a few items that I wish I’d thought to pick up at the grocery store last week, but otherwise I’ve been pretty content to stay at home. It’s given me plenty of time to write, and I’ve managed to do a significant amount of reading as well.

My reading goal for this week was to see how many of the “Advanced” prompts I could complete for this year’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. I started out with six prompts remaining, and managed to finish three of them.

A book set in the 1920s…

My first book of the week was Flying Too High, by Kerry Greenwood. Flying Too High is the second book in the Phryne Fisher Mystery series, which takes place in Australia in the 1920s.

In Flying Too High, Miss Fisher finds herself investigating two different crimes. Phryne’s detective services are first sought out by Mrs. McNaughton, who is convinced that her son Bill is going to murder his father. When Phryne approaches Bill at his aviation school and informs him about his mother’s concerns, Bill claims that he has no intention of murdering his father, but offers to have their next business discussion/argument away from home so as not to worry his mother anymore. Unfortunately, Bill’s father’s dead body is discovered out on his lawn on the day they are supposed to meet, and Bill is arrested for a murder he claims he didn’t commit.

As Phryne begins to investigate Mr. McNaughton’s death, the kidnapping of a young girl also takes place. Afraid to go to the police, and risk the kidnappers harming their daughter, the girl’s parents hire Phryne to find her.

I loved this book! Phryne is a fascinating character, mostly because she is very modern and independent. If you’re looking for a great mystery series featuring an intelligent, fun-loving female detective, then I highly recommend the Phryne Fisher Mysteries. The first book in the series is called Cocaine Blues, and is a must-read before jumping into Flying Too High.

You can also experience Miss Fisher’s adventures by watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. The television series was produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and stars Essie Davis as the title character. The series ran for three seasons, and a movie titled Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears came out earlier this year. Supposedly the movie will be available for streaming beginning on March 23rd, according to IMDB. Even if you don’t have a chance to read the books, I highly recommend watching the television series. It is wonderful, and well worth your viewing time!

A book with more than 20 letters in its title…

The second book I read this week was Rachel Cohn’s My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life. This book is about a girl named Elle, who is being raised in foster care while her mother is in prison. She’s had one horrible foster care home after another, but that changes when she is approached by an old friend of the family who tells her that her father (who she has never met) wants her to come and live with him in Tokyo.

When she arrives, Elle immediately begins school at the International Collegiate School of Tokyo and finds herself absorbed into a clique of popular rich girls known as the “Ex-Brats.” Transitioning to her new environment is tough, especially since it seems like her father has no time to actually be a father, her aunt only seems to be interested in Elle when she can use her niece to gain new networking connections, and her grandmother is apparently racist.

My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life was an enjoyable read, which will definitely appeal to teenagers and young adults interested in Japanese culture. The overall plot of the book would not have been out of place in an anime or manga series, which makes the novel a lot of fun. Elle also deals with a lot of issues (both in the United States and in Japan) that are very applicable to teenagers today, which definitely help readers connect with her on an emotional level.

As always, I think it’s important to let readers know about potential emotional distress-triggering content in the books that I review. The last third of My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life does contain references to sexual assault and an unwelcome kiss, which are treated with varying degrees of concern by the characters. Parents of younger teens might also like to know that there is a significant amount of profanity in the book, mostly instances where the F-word is used by teenage characters.

A book with a main character in their 20s…

My third book of the week was Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I usually read Pride and Prejudice once a year, typically during the holidays. But with all of the anxiety surrounding our current world health situation, I decided that this would be an excellent opportunity to escape into the world of one of my favorite books.

Pride and Prejudice tells the story of the Bennet family. At the beginning of the novel, the introduction of a wealthy bachelor to the neighborhood ignites Mrs. Bennet’s hopes that he will fall in love with one of her five daughters. Mr. Bingley quickly becomes interested in Jane (the oldest of the girls). Jane’s sister, Elizabeth, definitely approves of their seemingly mutual affection. What she doesn’t approve of is Mr. Bingley’s best friend, Mr. Darcy, who slighted her at a village dance and is entirely too proud for her liking. It’s not long before Mr. Darcy’s appreciation for Elizabeth’s beauty begins to change, but Elizabeth will need a lot more convincing before she could ever be interested in him.

Even though this book was written in the 19th Century, Pride and Prejudice tells a story that could happen anywhere, and in any time, about two people who have to learn to overcome their first impressions of each other. While I know many readers find it impossible to choose their favorite books, Pride and Prejudice is definitely one of mine. I’ve read it more times than nearly every other book in my possession, beginning when I was a middle school student, and it truly is one of the best books I’ve ever encountered.

If you’d like to read more of my thoughts on this wonderful novel, please check out my “Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!” post from December, 2019. And, if you haven’t had the opportunity to read Pride and Prejudice, I hope you will consider giving it a try.

Since I was only able to complete half of my remaining “Advanced” prompts this week, I’ve decided to make next week’s reading goal the completion of the final three. They are: “a book written by an author in their 20s,” “a book set in Japan, home of the 2020 Olympics,” and “a book from a series with more than 20 books.” I’ll let you know if I manage to make my goal in next Saturday’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge update.

In the meantime, I hope you are all able to stay healthy. If you are having to go out in public because of your job, or for groceries or medication, please make sure to practice social distancing as much as possible while you are out. If you are staying at home, be sure to check out The Unapologetic Bookworm throughout the week for reviews of some great books that will help you take your mind off the reason you’re staying at home.

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