Monthly Archives: January 2016

Book Riot, PopSugar, The Hub…Oh My!

2016 is shaping up to be a year of book challenges, though whether or not I complete any of them remains to be seen. Last year, I did manage to complete Book Riot’s 2015 Read Harder Challenge, but that was the only one. Both PopSugar’s and Panels’ challenges were not quite so lucky. Being sucked into a sub-genre vortex can do that to you – alien abduction romance novels…I’m looking at you.

I’m already underway with Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge – six out of 24 books read so far, but I am also going to attempt both PopSugar’s 2016 Ultimate Reading Challenge and YALSA’s The Hub 2016 Reading Challenge. Of the two, The Hub is by far the most likely contender for completion as I only need to read 25 books. PopSugar has 40 books, and if I’m honest with myself…I probably won’t really pay attention to it until I’ve (mostly) completed the other two challenges. But, here’s to optimism! Right?

cuzco bring it on

PopSugar’s 2016 Ultimate Reading Challenge
The behemoth of my chosen challenges with 40 tasks, PopSugar’s 2016 Ultimate Reading Challenge has a good selection books (genre, format, themes, etc…).  While some of the tasks are well within my comfort zone – a YA bestseller, a book based on a fairy tale, a graphic novel – others are well out of my normal reading range – a political memoir, a book from Oprah’s Book Club, a book recommended by someone you just met. This last one is less of a “reading range” issue and more of a “I don’t talk to people” issue.

YALSA’s The Hub 2016 Reading Challenge
The Hub is a bit different from the other two challenges. There is a set list of titles to choose from instead of themed suggestions, and it has to be completed by June 23rd. This challenge will also push me past my normal reading range – only 11 titles on the list were on my TBR list. A fringe benefit of reading 25 books off the list is submitting your list in order to be entered into a drawing to win free books. One can never have too many books, amirite?

Husband’s Reads 2015

I probably should post more frequently regarding what my husband has read, but well…I just haven’t. One of my many goals for 2016 is to try to stay on top of what he’s reading, maybe quarterly posts.

The books below are the ones I know my husband read in 2015. I’m sure there are between 4-8 audiobooks not shown, but he has no inclination to track them down given as most of them were read months ago.

Without further ado, the mostly complete list of what my husband read during the second half of 2015 (and here’s what he read during the first half):

6th fountainhead comic beer red moon
then there's this high tech trash forgotten continent central europe racio
anthem ayn rand dark forest aurora

Sophia’s 2015 Book Riot Read Harder Roundup

I was so excited when my sister turned me onto Book Riot’s reading challenge – FINALLY something to force me to look beyond the fantasy fiction and classic literature that overwhelmingly populated the bookshelves of my teenage years.  Also, an excuse to make functional spreadsheets…hooray for sortable data!

It was a lot of fun to explore the categories and find books that were both interesting to me and relevant to the challenge.  There were three categories that gave me some grief: romance novel, audiobook, and self-improvement book – romance has never interested me, listening to a book doesn’t feel the same as reading one, and ‘self-improvement’ always struck me as a little shill-y.  My choices weren’t entirely successful (looking at you, time-traveling, flip-flopping, kilt-wearing bodice ripper), but I did come away very willing to try other books that could reasonably fall into any of those categories.

Overall, Read Harder 2015 led me to so many great books!  My top three for this challenge:

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Here’s the complete*** list:

***I haven’t actually finished the challenge…I have one book left!  I swear I’ll finish it! I blame impulse control issues triggered by working at the circulation desk in a public library.  This is why I could never work at an animal shelter.

  1. Author under 25 – White is for Witching, Helen Oyeyemi
  2. Author over 65 – Emma: A Modern Retelling, Alexander McCall Smith
  3. Short stories – The Haunted Looking Glass,  ed. Edward Gorey
  4. Indie press – Glaciers, Alexis M. Smith
  5. LGBTQ – The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters
  6. Different gender – Election, Tom Perrotta
  7. Takes place in Asia – A Tale for the Time Being,  Ruth Ozeki
  8. Author from Africa – Waiting for the Barbarians, J.M. Coetzee
  9. Indigenous culture – The Orenda, Joseph Boyden  (I WILL read it)
  10. Microhistory – Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found, Frances Larson
  11. YA novel – Hellhole, Gina Damico
  12. Sci-fi novel – The Martian, Andy Weir
  13. Romance novel – Beyond the Highland Mist, Karen Marie Moning
  14. Award winner – All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
  15. Retelling of a classic – Cinder, Marissa Meyer
  16. Audiobook – Paddle Your Own Canoe, Nick Offerman
  17. Collection of poetry – Poisoned Apples, Christine Heppermann
  18. Recommendation – Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times, Emma Trevayne
  19. Published in another language – The Room, Jonas Karlsson
  20. Graphic novel – The Walking Dead Vol. 22: A New Beginning, Robert Kirkman
  21. Guilty pleasure – Catering to Nobody, Diane Mott Davidson
  22. Published before 1850 – Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
  23. Published in 2015 – Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, Erik Larson
  24. Self-improvement – This is How, Augusten Burroughs

Read Harder – Tasks in the Stack

Instead of buckling down and focusing on Read Harder, I’ve been trying to finish reading the 600+ page book, A Royal Experiment: The Private Life of King George III by Janice Hadlow. I am still 200 pages away from finishing it, but it is already eleven days overdue at the library, and I feel like the book is shackled to me. Don’t get me wrong, it is an absolutely fascinating book, it’s just that instead of reading it during the nine weeks I had it at home, I was reading alien romances instead. I need to return it and finish it another time. Preferably when I am not obsessed with some sub-genre or another.

Below are the first round of chosen books for the challenge. This doesn’t mean these will end up being the actual books used for the given categories, but they are the ones waiting in the wings at the moment. There are two other categories that are sort of set, but they aren’t listed because I haven’t made the tentatively final choice.

anna dressed in blood lemoncello olympics boundless gold fame citrus
fair fight romantic outlaws zealot

#1 – Horror book
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
(A book I’ve been curious about since it came out. It’s been on my list to read, but I’ve not gotten around to it because I don’t like being scared. And I scare very easily.)

#4 – Read aloud to someone else
Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics by Chris Grabenstein
(I read Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library several years ago to Bean on the recommendation of my bestie. Bean was a little bit too young at age 6 to really appreciate it, but she liked it enough that when we learned a sequel was coming out, she was excited to read it.)

#5 – Middle grade novel
The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel
(One of our avid young readers at my library enjoyed this book, so I thought I’d give it a go. There are too many awesome middle grade novels to choose from, and this isn’t one that is on the list of books I want to read to Bean.)

#7 – Dystopian / post-apocalyptic novel
Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins
(A book I learned about courtesy of Book Riot. Post-apocalyptic California without water sounds interesting.)

#15 – Historical fiction, pre-1900
The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman
(Another Book Riot-recommended book. This one about an 18th century female boxer who was raised in a brothel.)

#19 – Feminist or feminist themes, nonfiction
Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollenstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon
(The title makes this choice fairly self-explanatory: Wollenstonecraft wrote A Vindication for the Rights of Women, and Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein.)

#20 – Religion, fiction or nonfiction
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan
(I’ve been fascinated with early Christian history since my undergrad days – my degree is in Religious Studies – and I like books that appear to be more academic than dogmatic when it comes to this topic.)

Favorite Books 0f 2015

Favorite Books of 2014

2015 was another hard year for narrowing down favorite books. I ended up with the very arbitrary criteria of choosing the books that I most connected with – through laughter (Hellhole), heartstrings (My Real Children), similar shared experiences (Anna and the French Kiss), or plain old awesome execution (Red Moon). I added an “honorable mention” section for favorite books I re-read.

Bean’s favorite books are included as well (for reference, she is 9). The thumbnails are books I read to her, the listed titles are ones she read herself. This past year was the first year she started independently reading chapter books. Before this, the only thing she would touch were graphic novels and manga. That is not a complaint by any means, as I see reading is reading is reading, and the graphic format is a gateway drug into other types of books.


koch 1 my real chlidren hellhole red moon anna french kiss sweet cowboy gannon spinsterbeauty hubert

Honorable Mentions:
Cruel Beauty
Cinderella and the Colonel
A Court of Thorns and Roses


tuesdays flights chimes misty bad beginning
chocolate touch dr libris cs swiss family

Bean’s Reads:
The Storybook of Legends (Ever After High #1)
Cleopatra in Space #2: The Thief and the Sword
Mameshiba manga series

Book Riot Read Harder 2016

Last year was the first year Book Riot ran their reading challenge, and both myself and my sister had fun finding and reading books to match the categories. Some categories were harder than others – for me, finding an African author was hard given many of the recommended authors were African American, not born and/or raised in Africa. Others were easy because they were types of books I read regularly – YA, retellings of classic stories, and graphic novels.

Their 2016 Read Harder Challenge looks to be equally entertaining. “Read a book out loud to someone else” and “read a middle grade novel” will be quick and easy as I do both of those anyway when reading my children bedtime stories. Other categories will be harder, such as “read a horror book”, because I don’t like being scared. I watched It when I was 13, and was still avoiding storm drains 10 years later, imagining Pennywise curling a finger towards me saying, “come here, little girl”. I did break from my horror novel avoidance rule last year to read Horrorstör. Consequently, I had trouble sleeping that night, and made the mistake of going to IKEA the following afternoon. The display rooms gave me the willies.

Like last year, both my sister and husband will also participate. Unlike last year, my husband will knowingly participate as opposed to me throwing specific books at him to read.

I plan on following the same strategy as last year:

*Books read in the past cannot be reread to count towards this challenge.
*Books cannot count for multiple categories.
*Books used for Book Riot’s challenge cannot be used for other book challenges.

Let the reading begin!

2015 Book List

Another year, another massive amount of books read – much less manga, and a heck of a lot more romances (over half the books I read were romances of some sort). We’ll see what 2016 brings given I now work full-time and run two Girl Scout troops.  I will be going to Thailand this spring, which will give me 48+ hours of reading time on planes alone, so I’m sure that I will still read excessively.

2014 Book List
Favorite Books from 2014

Total Books Read: 283

Genre/Author Kicks: Romance (specifically Regency, paranormal, and aliens), Science-Fiction, Gini Koch, KM Shea, Cassandra Gannon

* denotes an audiobook
+ denotes a book challenge book

Fiction, Adult (115)
+Say Yes to the Marquess
My Real Children
+The Strange Library
Shades of Milk and Honey
Glamour in Glass
+The Bone Season
Without a Summer
+Mermaids in Paradise
*The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The Just City
+The Rabbit Back Literature Society
+Motherfucking Sharks
The Shambling Guide to New York City
Four Nights With the Duke
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake
Touched by an Alien
Alien Tango
The Accidental Duchess
Alien in the Family
Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord
Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart
Alien Proliferation
Alien Diplomacy
+Universal Alien
Alien vs. Alien
Alien Research
When Beauty Tamed the Beast
Dead Until Dark
Living Dead in Dallas
Club Dead
Dead to the World
Dead as a Doornail
Definitely Dead
+The Shining Girls
+The Orenda
A Kiss at Midnight
Ready Player One
Once Upon a Tower
China Rich Girlfriend
Fantasy Lover
Night Pleasures
+The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories
First Grave on the Right
Warrior’s Woman
Warm Bodies
When a Scot Ties the Knot
Harrison Squared
Chase Me
Need Me
Any Duchess Will Do
Make Me
Owned by Fate
Exposed by Fate
Rules of Seduction
Driven by Fate
Looking for Trouble
Sweet Filthy Boy
The Wind City
A Darker Shade of Magic
A Rake’s Guide to Pleasure
*Second Grave on the Left
The Unnoticeables
Red Moon
The Dead Lands
*Third Grave Dead Ahead
*Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet
*Fifth Grave Past the Light
*Sixth Grave on the Edge
*Station Eleven
Cinderella and the Colonel
Discount Armageddon
Princess Ahira
Puss in Boots
My Life at the MBRC
Farewell to the MBRC
Wicked Ugly Bad
Once Upon a Caveman
Barbarian Alien
Barbarian Mine
Not Another Vampire Book
Vampire Charming
Dark Heat: The Dark Kings Stories
Darkest Flame
Love in the Time of Zombies
Fire Rising
Burning Desire
Night’s Blaze
Hot Blooded
Beast in Shining Armor
Cowboy from the Future
Soul Scorched
The Professional
Passion Ignites
The Master
*Seventh Grave and No Body
Mercenary Abduction
Capturing Cara
Tracking Trisha
Twin Dragons
Choosing Riley
Cornering Carmen
Paul’s Pursuit
*Eighth Grave After Dark
Ha’ven’s Song
Hunter’s Claim
Smoldering Hunger

Fiction, Young Adult (42)
When We Wake
+Stitching Snow
Hush, Hush
172 Hours on the Moon
Tin Star
The Adoration of Jenna Fox
+Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty
Red Queen
The Glass Arrow
The Jewel
Cruel Beauty
Throne of Glass
Crimson Bound
Little Peach
A Wicked Thing
The Tricksters
Stone in the Sky
Crown of Midnight
Heir of Fire
The Wrath and the Dawn
+Everything Leads to You
Anna and the French Kiss
Lola and the Boy Next Door
Isla and the Happily Ever After
Beastly Bones
Shadow and Bone
Queen of Shadows
The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim
The Jock and the Fat Chick
First & Then
A Court of Thorns and Roses

Novellas (17)
Gilded Ashes
The Map
Ice Planet Barbarians
Barbarian Lover
The Lost Files of the MBRC
The Warlord Wants Forever
Accidental Abduction
Intentional Abduction
Dual Abduction
Heroic Abduction
Abducting Abby
A Demon and His Witch
A Demon and His Psycho
A Dragonlings’ Easter

Classics (2)
+Cupid and Psyche
*The Importance of Being Earnest

Non-Fiction, Adult (20)
England’s Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton
+If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home
+Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China
+*Yes Please
*Notes from a Small Island
Hyperboly and a Half
*Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
+The Worst Hard Time
The Birth of Korean Cool
*Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography
+The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
The Greatest Knight: the Remarkable life of William Marshal, The Power Behind Five English Thrones
Girl in a Band
Negroland: A Memoir
*Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own
*A Walk in the Woods
The Lost City of Z
*The Sixth Extinction
*Why Not Me?
*Furiously Happy

Manga (52)
A Bride’s Story, Vol 1-5
Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Vol 1-3
xxxHolic, Vol 1-3
Say I Love You, Vol 1-7
+Skip Beat!, Vol 1-33
The Ancient Magus’ Bride, Vol 1

Graphic Novels (19)
Miss Don’t Touch Me
Rat Queens, Vol 1: Sass & Sorcery
Rat Queens, Vol 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’rygoth
Beautiful Darkness
Wayward, Vol 1: String Theory
Aliens Vs Parker
Low, Vol 1: The Delirium of Hope
Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes
Blue is the Warmest Color
Sunstone, Vol 1
Saga, Vol 5
Sunstone, Vol 2
Empowered, Vol 1
Lady Killer
Bitch Planet, Vol 1: Extraordinary Machine
Birthright, Vol 1: Homecoming
Birthright, Vol 2: Call to Adventure

Manga/Graphic Novels, Juvenile (7)
Over the Wall
Oddly Normal, Vol 1
Oddly Normal, Vol 2
Ms. Marvel, Vol 1: No Normal
Rocket Girl, Vol 1: Times Squared
Princeless, Vo 3: The Pirate Princess

Webcomics (not included in the count)
Girls of the Wild’s
Girl Genius
Love Not Found

Bean Read Alouds (18)
Emma and the Blue Genie
Tuesdays at the Castle
The Celery Stalks at Midnight
Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times
Misty of Chincoteague
Sea Star: Orphan of Chincoteague
Stormy, Misty’s Foal
Seesaw Girl
The Westing Game
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
The Bad Beginning
Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
The Chocolate Touch
The Island of Dr. Libris
The Swiss Family Robinson (Classic Starts)
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Classic Starts)
Pollyanna (Classic Starts)
Which Witch?

Bug Read Alouds (9)
Ruby the Red Fairy
Amber the Orange Fairy
Sunny the Yellow Fairy
Fern the Green Fairy
Sky the Blue Fairy
Inky the Indigo Fairy
Heather the Violet Fairy
Dinosaurs Before Dark