PopSugar 2015 Reading Challenge

People of the earth…I DID IT! I completed the PopSugar 2015 Reading Challenge! Now, I’ll be honest…I stretched a few of the challenges, but I did what I had to do to make it work. Ain’t no shame in my reading challenge game. I included a link for any and all books I wrote full reviews for.

  1. A book with more than 500 pages: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  2. A classic romance: Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice by Stacy King (a stretch, but I’m SO counting it!)
  3. A book that became a movie: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (movie coming soon!)
  4. A book published this year: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  5. A book with a number in the title: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
  6. A book written by someone under 30: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  7. A book with nonhuman characters: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
  8. A funny book: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrew
  9. A book by a female author: Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
  10. A mystery or thriller: Jackaby by William Ritter
  11. A book with a one-word title: Drama by Raina Telgemeier
  12. A book of short stories: Four by Veronica Roth
  13. A book set in a different country: The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare
  14. A nonfiction book: The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
  15. A popular author’s first book: Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  16. A book from an author you love that you haven’t read: Off the Page by Jodi Picoult
  17. A book a friend recommended: The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
  18. A Pulitzer Prize-winning book: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  19. A book based on a true story: Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
  20. A book at the bottom of your to-read list: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  21. A book your mom loves: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  22. A book that scares you: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
  23. A book more than 100 years old: Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
  24. A book based entirely on its cover: The Heir by Kiera Cass
  25. A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  26. A memoir: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  27. A book you can finish in a day: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  28. A book with antonyms in the title: For the Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund 
  29. A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit: Bridge to Haven  by Francine Rivers (Hollywood)
  30. A book that came out the year you were born: Maus by Art Spiegelman (some of the original came out the year I was born)
  31. A book with bad reviews: Monster by Walter Dean Myers (this one has the worst reviews of all the books I read…although it doesn’t necessarily have bad reviews)
  32. A trilogy: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  33. A book from your childhood: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone  by J.K. Rowling
  34. A book with a love triangle: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (this whole series has a couple of love triangles)
  35. A book set in the future: The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  36. A book set in high school: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
  37. A book with a color in the title: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  38. A book that made you cry: Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  39. A book with magic: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
  40. A graphic novel: Smile by Raina Telgemeier
  41. A book by an author you’ve never read before: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
  42. A book you own but have never read: A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
  43. A book that takes place in your hometown: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (While I’m not from Paris, France…there aren’t many books that take place in Paris, Texas, so I’m counting this one.)
  44. A book that was originally written in a different language: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (I read the manga edition, but I’m absolutely counting it.)
  45. A book set during Christmas: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (a bit of a stretch…but part of it DOES happen at Christmas time!)
  46. A book written by an author with your same initials (CR): Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (No, these aren’t my initials BUT it IS my last name…so I’m just going to chalk that up to a win!)
  47. A play:The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
  48. A banned book: Saga by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples (it’s on a list of challenged books, so I’m sure it’s been banned somewhere)
  49. A book based on or turned into a TV show: A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin
  50. A book you started but never finished: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Did you complete any reading challenges this year? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

My 5 Auto-Buy Authors

Everyone has a mental (or physical) list of authors that they love. This is a list of authors whose books I will always buy, even if I have no idea what the book is about. These are my “auto-buy authors”, in no particular order:

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Francine Rivers: I don’t remember whether I read the Mark of the Lion trilogy or Redeeming Love first, but either way, I read Rivers’ writing and I was hooked. I quickly began picking up anything she’d written that I could get my hands on. I think there’s maybe one of her books that I haven’t read. Francine Rivers is a master storytelling. With her historical fiction, you can tell that she researched the time period because every detail is accounted for. Her characters always move me, causing me to reflect and learn something about the world or about myself.

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Sarah J. Maas: I love Sarah. Sarah and I understand each other. The Throne of Glass series is seriously some of the best stuff I’ve ever read. And I’ve read a couple hundred books just in the last 4 or 5 years. Nobody can write action scenes the way Maas can. I’m one of those book readers or movie watchers that can figure out the whole plot before we reach the halfway point, with one exception: when I’m reading Maas’ writing. Celaena, especially, is constantly outsmarting and tricking me. I will always, always, always, read Sarah J. Maas’ work.

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Shannon Hale: Her first book that I ever read was The Goose Girl. I read this my freshman year of high school and fell in love with fractured fairy tales and the fantasy genre. I think because of that beautiful adventure she sent me on (that I obviously still treat to this day), I feel a sense of obligation to continue supporting her. Having said that, you should know that Hale is a fantastic writer and has written a few types of books. I love her book Austenland and ADORE the movie adaptation.

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Rainbow Rowell: If you’re not new to my blog, then you know that I love Fangirl. I will love that book until the day I die and probably even after the fact. I’ve read all of her books and not only is she one of my “auto-buy authors”, but I preorder her books. I can’t wait any longer than necessary. Rowell has a unique tone and voice that is found in each of her books, no matter the content, and it’s something that just really clicks with me.

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Cassandra Clare: These books are guilty pleasures for me. Anything paranormal – vampires, werewolves, angels/demons – these all fall under that category for me. Although, I will say that the Mortal Instruments series was a little more “guilty” for me than the Infernal Devices books. That prequel series was some seriously good stuff. I’m looking forward to her next spin-off series in the world of the Shadowhunters. If she writes it, I will read it…mostly because I know there are going to be some hunky characters.

Who’s on your list of “auto-buy authors”? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Update: 2015 Reading Challenge

I’ve seen a lot of book bloggers giving updates on their 2015 Reading Challenges. A lot of people used the one provided by PopSugar. I had it all written out for the first few months of the year…then I had to keep rearranging the titles to maximize the challenge…then I just gave up. So I recently sat down again and categorized all the books I’ve read this year. I’ve got a few left over, so let me know if you see where I could fit them in!

I have 14 challenges left to complete! As you can see, nonfiction isn’t my favorite genre. Ha!

  1. A book with more than 500 pages: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  2. A classic romance
  3. A book that became a movie: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (movie coming soon!)
  4. A book published this year: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  5. A book with a number in the title: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
  6. A book written by someone under 30: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  7. A book with nonhuman characters: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
  8. A funny book: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrew
  9. A book by a female author: Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
  10. A mystery or thriller: Jackaby by William Ritter
  11. A book with a one-word title: Drama by Raina Telgemeier
  12. A book of short stories: Four by Veronica Roth
  13. A book set in a different country: The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare
  14. A nonfiction book
  15. A popular author’s first book: Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
  16. A book from an author you love that you haven’t read: Off the Page by Jodi Picoult
  17. A book a friend recommended: The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
  18. A Pulitzer Prize-winning book: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  19. A book based on a true story
  20. A book at the bottom of your to-read list: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  21. A book your mom loves
  22. A book that scares you: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
  23. A book more than 100 years old
  24. A book based entirely on its cover: The Heir by Kiera Cass
  25. A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t
  26. A memoir
  27. A book you can finish in a day: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  28. A book with antonyms in the title: For the Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund 
  29. A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit: Bridge to Haven  by Francine Rivers (Hollywood)
  30. A book that came out the year you were born
  31. A book with bad reviews: Monster by Walter Dean Myers (this one has the worst reviews of all the books I read…although it doesn’t necessarily have bad reviews)
  32. A trilogy: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  33. A book from your childhood: Sea of Monsters graphic novel by Rick Riordan (the original book came out in 2004…and calling that my childhood is a stretch, but I’m going with it)
  34. A book with a love triangle
  35. A book set in the future: The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  36. A book set in high school: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
  37. A book with a color in the title: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  38. A book that made you cry: Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  39. A book with magic: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
  40. A graphic novel: Smile by Raina Telgemeier
  41. A book by an author you’ve never read before: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
  42. A book you own but have never read: A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
  43. A book that takes place in your hometown
  44. A book that was originally written in a different language
  45. A book set during Christmas: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (a bit of a stretch…but part of it DOES happen at Christmas time!)
  46. A book written by an author with your same initials (CR)
  47. A play
  48. A banned book
  49. A book based on or turned into a TV show: A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin
  50. A book you started but never finished: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Extras that didn’t fit into the challenge:

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Dearest by Alethea Kontis

All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg

Do you have any recommendations?

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

My Favorite Books of 2015 (So Far)

One thing I love about Goodreads is that you can set a reading goal each year and it keeps track of your progress for you. My goal for 2015 is to read 47 books (because 47 is my lucky number.) So far this year, I have read 41 books. Yes. 41. Out of those 41 books, 5 have jumped out at me as the best I’ve read this year (so far). These are those 5, in no particular order:

lightAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I cannot express how much I loved this book. I gave it 5/5 stars because it is perfection. This book is necessary. It’s WWII historical fiction, showing sides of the war we don’t usually get the narrative perspective from. I loved the characters, I loved the writing, I loved the cover. Read it. Read it now. (See my full review here!)

wonder

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

This is a middle grade novel about acceptance and understanding, identity and kindness. I want to read it out loud to children all day, every day. Then I want to read it to their parents. I don’t always love middle grade novels, but this one was hook, line, and sinker. The main character, August, tugged at my heartstrings and made me look at each of my students in a new light. You’re a wonder, August. (See my full review here!)

wrath

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

THIS BOOK. This could very well be my favorite of the year. I love a good fairy tale retelling, but because I love them so much sometimes I’m hard to impress. This is a reimagining of A Thousand and One Nights and I award this book a thousand and two stars. I was so captivated that I started this book and finished it in one sitting. (Full review coming on Tuesday!)

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For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

I was really surprised by this book. I figured I would like it because fantasy + Jane Austen = right up my alley, but I didn’t expect to love it. This is a retelling of my least favorite Austen novel, Persuasion. I actually like the original just a teensy bit more, courtesy of this version. I loved the world building and the characters. It’s a hefty book, but a quick read…you know what I mean? (See my full review here!)

fangirl

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

First of all, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: I’ll read anything Rainbow Rowell writes. This is my favorite book of hers and it’s easily one of my favorite books ever. I connected with the main character, Cath, on so many levels it’s alarming. I laughed my way through this novel, and now that I think about it…I’d like to reread it.

Honorable Mention: Favorite Series of the Year

smoke

Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor

Angels, demons, art, Prague, romance…this series has it all. I read all 3 of these back to back, which I wouldn’t recommend. 1) Because then it was all over and I was left depressed and 2) these books are hefty and it takes a lot out of you to read that many pages of one story so quickly. When you read them (because you should), spread them out. You’ll thank me.

What are your favorite books of the year (so far)?

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

 

For Darkness Shows the Stars

“Before the Reduction, there were two kinds of people: people who trusted in God to make mankind in His own image, and people who thought they could do better than God. The first kind of people were my ancestors, the Luddites.”

When I first picked For Darkness Shows the Stars up, the only thing I knew about it was that it was based on Jane Austen’s Persuasion. That happens to be the only Austen novel I haven’t read, so I was curious.

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Synopsis: This is is the story of Elliot North, a Luddite girl in a dystopian society. In this world, history is filled with tales of the Lost, people who tried to create new versions of plants and animals. The Lost also found ways to improve upon themselves – their own bodies and limitations. The Luddites refused these new innovations and experimentations, retreating into caverns and sanctuaries until the time of Reduction was over. The children born during this time were simple, lacking the ability to string too many words together and unable, in the Luddite opinion, to take care of themselves. These children were called the Reduced. The Luddites reemerged into society to care for the Reduced, bringing them onto their estates (that read like plantations) to work and live as servants. As the years went on, a third group of people emerged- the Children of the Reduction, or Post-Reductionists. These people were seemingly just like the Luddites – returned to a full and normal status. Some stayed with their Reduced parents, while others fled to Post Enclaves. Elliot and her family are estate landholders with many Post and Reduced living and working their lands.

This novel centers around Elliot and her relationship with an old, Post friend – Kai. Four years prior to the main storyline, Kai left the estate to try and build a better life for himself. Kai wanted Elliot to leave with him, but she didn’t. She stayed because let’s face it, she’s really in charge of the estate’s operations. Her father, Baron North, cares more for his own vanity than his family lands.

The timeline flips back and forth between letters from their past and chapters of their present, filling in blanks as the pages turn.

Feelings: I really enjoyed the world building and felt like Diana Peterfreund did an amazing job with this society. We are able to dig into their history and traditions, changes in their norms, and see glimpses of the future, all while deeply connecting to numerous characters.

Characters: The first few pages gripped me and I was hooked until the very end. Elliot is passionate and strong – a forceful female lead that YA lit needs more of. She speaks her mind and follows her convictions, yet she isn’t perfect. Lord knows I love me some faulted characters. She does what is unexpected for the good of those who rely on her.

I’m one of those annoying people who can almost always predict how something will end. This book, however, was filled with twists and turns that got me good. I’m still in shock over some of the little twisty moments, but I’m not angry about it. Some stories take a turn for dramatic effect and to strategically lead into a sequel. This story had natural dips and curves that were beautifully done.

This books is one of the best written stories I think I’ve ever read. I’d recommend it to everyone.

Pick this up if you liked:

Mythology, astronomy, caste system struggles, and love that makes you melt.

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski (similar worlds and female leads)

Across the Universe by Beth Revis (they all tinker with food and affect reproduction; similar themes)

Goodreads rating: 3.92/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.3/5

My rating: 5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn