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Book Riot's 2018 Read Harder Challenge - May Update: Tsarina & The Garden of the Gods

It doesn't seem possible that today is already the last day of May - meaning 10 of the 24 tasks for Book Riot's 2018 Read Harder Challenge are complete!  The tasks I completed required me to read a book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, or South Africa) and a book about nature.  For the tasks, I selected Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick and The Garden of the Gods (Corfu Trilogy #3) by Gerald Durrell respectively.  Read on to see my mini reviews and what's next for June:

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Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick has a lot of potential. Historical-fantasy is one of my favorite genres and I was hoping I could count this story as one of my new favorite reads. I will say though that my favorite elements of the story are seeing the Romanov family (I could have done with a lot more of them actually as well as Rasputin himself) and the 1917 Russian setting as the Revolution is really beginning to hit home. The author takes some liberties with the timeline of events and changes up some of the cast in order to suit the story that she's telling. I also have to admit that I didn't find our Natalya, our leading lady, all that inspiring as a potential heroine. Although Tsarina never quite hit the mark for me, it's still an enjoyable read. If you like the 1997 animated movie Anastasia, you may also enjoy this stand alone historical fantasy novel.

I read this novel from May 10 - 11, 2017 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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My Family and Other Animals is still my overall favorite installment of this trilogy of memoirs from Gerald Durrell, but The Garden of the Gods, the third and final installment, still has its moments. It was so much fun being back with the Durrell family on Corfu and seeing everything they got up to - from Gerry, Larry, Leslie, Margo, to their Mother, and everyone really that comes into contact with them - and it's still just as hilarious. While Durrell is great at writing about nature, he's fantastic when it comes to writing about his family and being totally entertaining. It really makes you feel like you're visiting with long lost family or old friends. These memoirs make me want to visit the island myself to experience the flora and the fauna, and the people as well. If you like the tv series The Durrells in Corfu or the made for tv movie adaptation called My Family and Other Animals, then you'll absolutely have to try the original memoir trilogy.

I read this book from May 3 - 7, 2018 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Next Up For June:

A romance novel by or about a person of color 

My choice: The Hidden Blade (The Heart of Blade Duology #1) by Sherry Thomas - I really liked Thomas's take on Sherlock Holmes with A Study in Scarlet Women, so although romance isn't really my thing I'm looking forward to it.  Plus, it's described as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets Downton Abbey - that sounds like a pretty awesome combination to me!

A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author 

My choice: A Conspiracy in Belgravia (Lady Sherlock #2) by Sherry Thomas - Like I mentioned above, the first book in the Lady Sherlock series was fantastic and I can't wait to continue Charlotte's adventures!

Have you been taking part in Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge?  Have you tried any of these books before, if so, what did you think of them?  As always, thanks for visiting my blog and perhaps even commenting down below!


  1. I have Tsarina in my massive 'to be read' pile... I've heard mixed reviews of this novel, but I am a HUGE fan of historical fiction and the Romanov family or anything Russian related is awesome!

    I read I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon last month and really liked it a lot. It's historical fiction and deals with the Romanov family.


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