Final Reading Challenge Update

I’d planned on this being my 3rd of 4 total reading challenge updates for the year, but…I’M FINISHED. That’s right, friends. I have completed my reading challenge for 2016. This year, I was motivated to complete the challenge, but to BE challenged. This list didn’t encourage me to look for certain types of books, but rather to read what I wanted and see how I could fit it into the challenge.

I’m wanting to do something different for 2017. I don’t think I want to do a list of challenges like this for the third year in a row. Any suggestions?

In the meantime, check out the list of 50 books below! For books that I wrote full reviews on, I’ve included the link to that page!

Challenges completed: 50/50

  1. A winner from the 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards – Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (read my full review HERE)
  2. A book about books – Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (read my full review HERE)
  3. A book from the Rory Gilmore Challenge – Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  4. A book with one of the 5 W’s in the title (who/what/when/where/why) – What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  5. A book set more than 100 years ago – An Echo in the Darkness by Francine Rivers (read my full review HERE)
  6. A book whose main character is in a profession that interests you – The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay (read my full review HERE)
  7. A book by an author who writes under more than one name – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling  (read my full review HERE)
  8. A fairytale from a culture other than your own – The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan (I Googled “fairytale” and according to the world wide web, “myth” is a synonym for “fairytale”. So it’s a stretch, but I’m running with it.) (read my full review HERE)
  9. A historical fiction book – The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson (read my full review HERE)
  10. An award winning book (ex: Newberry Medal, National Book Award, etc.) – Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan (read my full review HERE)
  11. A book you’re embarrassed to read in public – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (read my full review HERE)
  12. A book published in 2016 – Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (read my full review HERE)
  13. A book with a blue spine or cover – Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (read my full review HERE)
  14. A book with a horrible/ugly cover – Nothing But the Truth by Avi
  15. A book picked for you by someone else – Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (read my full review HERE)
  16. A favorite book you read for a second time – A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers (read my full review HERE)
  17. A book you feel that everyone has read but you – Wolf by Wolf  by Ryan Graudin (read my full review HERE)
  18. A book recommended by a famous person – For the Love by Jen Hatmaker (read my full review HERE)
  19. A book you know nothing about – Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  20. A book set in the country of your ancestors – An Honest Heart by Kaye Dacus (read my full review HERE)
  21. A book with a child as the main character – Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  22. A book with an unreliable narrator – The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (read my full review HERE)
  23. A book whose main character shares your name (first, middle, or last) – Dreamland by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  24. A book set during a war (historical or fictional war) – Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
  25. A chick-lit book – This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  26. A book written before you were born – Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (read my full review HERE)
  27. A collection of poems – The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan (While it may not be a “collection” of poems, there were poems throughout it. So I’m counting it. Ha!) (read my full review HERE)
  28. A book outside your comfort zone (genre, topic, number of pages, etc.) –The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin (read my full review HERE)
  29. A book about second chances – Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe by Max Lucado (read my full review HERE)
  30. A prequel to a book series – Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (read my full review HERE)
  31. A book that has more than one author – Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
  32. A book by an author who is from a different country – City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (read my full review HERE)
  33. A book that’s an author’s debut novel – That Summer by Sarah Dessen
  34. A book that you got for free – Ms. Marvel, Vol. 4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson
  35. A book that was made into a movie, TV series, or mini-series – Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen [Movie version = How to Deal] (read my full review HERE)
  36. A play that was adapted into a musical or a movie – Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw
  37. A book that’s on the bestseller list – Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  38. A book spun off from another book – The Shadowhunter’s Codex by Cassandra Clare and Joshua Lewis
  39. A book that made you laugh out loud – Let’s All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs (read my full review HERE)
  40. An audiobook –Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (read my full review HERE)
  41. A book your grandma (or other family member) loves – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  42. A book with a nonhuman protagonist – A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (read my full review HERE)
  43. A book that takes place at a university – The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright (read my full review HERE)
  44. A mystery or thriller – I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
  45. A book recommended by a blog or Booktube video – Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, & Maureen Johnson (read my full review HERE)
  46. A book that takes place during a holiday – Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier (read my full review HERE)
  47. A book you own, but haven’t read – The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  48. A book that you’ve “been meaning to read” – Ms. Marvel, Volume 3: Crushed by G. Willow Wilson
  49. A book you read with a friend or a book club – Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (read my full review HERE)
  50. A book you saw someone reading – Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs (read my full review HERE)

 Are you working towards completing a reading challenge? Do you have any recommendations for a 2017 Reading Challenge? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

June 2016 Wrap Up

Helloooo summer! I have a ridiculously impossible TBR ahead for the rest of this summer. But so far, I’ve managed to polish off the following SEVEN books! I’m continuing on with reading Sarah Dessen’s books, reading 3 this month, and made my way through some unexpected gems as well. If you haven’t listened to the Harry Potter audiobooks narrated by Jim Dale, then you have not been LIVING.

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

  • LOL funny. Unexpected. Fun.
  • Rating: 4.5 stars

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

  • Nostalgic. Second read. Just what I needed.
  • Rating: 4.75 stars

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (audiobook)

  • Better than the movie. SIRIUS. Hermione’s sass abounds.
  • Rating: 4.5 stars

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

  • I cried. Very real. Interesting storytelling.
  • Rating: 4.75 stars

Looking for Lovely: Collecting the Moments that Matter by Annie F. Downs

  • Same struggles. Funny. Relatable.
  • Rating: 5 stars

Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen

  • Full circle story. Dessen Easter eggs galore. Better than I thought it would be.
  • Rating: 4.25 stars

Let’s All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have by Annie F. Downs

  • Easy to read. Memorable. Inspiring.
  • Rating: 4.5 stars

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

“Things can turn out differently, Apollo. That’s the nice thing about being human. We only have one life, but we can choose what kind of story it’s going to be.”

trials of apollo

Synopsis from GoodreadsHow do you punish an immortal? By making him human. After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favor. But Apollo has many enemies – gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go . . . an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.

Feelings: I picked this book up right after finally finishing The Heroes of Olympus series and I’m so glad that I did. How interesting to get the perspective of someone that’s thousands of years old?! His take on everything was so much fun. One of my favorite parts of the book was when Apollo was having a conversation with Rhea and the way they were mixing up time periods and people…it had me laughing out loud.

Issues: This is the second Riordan book in a row that features a “talking” weapon. I just want to say that I found it weird in The Sword of Summer and I think it’s weird in this book, too.

I was a liiitttlllee unsure about the central conflict for a while. Issues with the oracles, check. Some guy in a purple suit is the baddie, check (but vague). I got so distracted by how entertaining everything was, that after I while I was just along for the ride. I gave up on looking for issues, really. By the end of the book, everything had clicked and I was ready for more. That’s what matters, right?

Characters: Apollo is hilarious. His POV is so different from the previous narrators in Riordan’s books, which made this a breath of fresh air. Apollo is arrogant (I mean…he’s a god…) and it’s so entertaining to see him navigate the mortal world as an acne-prone teenage boy. I knew that Apollo had children at Camp Half-Blood, so I wasn’t really sure how that would all play out once he got there, but it came together really nicely. I can see Apollo having a really cool (albeit strange) relationship with his young offspring. This situation brings parent-child friendship to a whole other level.

I loved getting to see some of my favorite characters from the other books! I think Riordan did a great job at making the story all about Apollo (as the god would have wanted) and yet also allowing some other characters to come alongside him. We actually had some character growth from a god, which was cool, all thanks to his new (and old) friends (and children).

Final thoughts: Honestly, this was a really fun read. It was light and very Riordan-ess, without being a repeat of the same old same old. I would recommend that you read his previous Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, as well as The Heroes of Olympus in order to fully catch everything. But you could probably pick this up without any prior reading and still be ok!

Pick this up if you liked:

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

Goodreads rating: 4.47/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.6/5

My rating: 4.5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

*This is the last book in the Heroes of Olympus series, so there are bound to be spoilers if you aren’t caught up!*

“Some pain shouldn’t be wished away so easily. It had to be dealt with, even embraced.”

blood of olympus

Synopsis from GoodreadsThough the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen—all of them—and they’re stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens…The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance [of Camp Half-Blood]. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it “might” be able to stop a war between the two camps. The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east…How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea’s army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.

Feelings: It has been a couple of years since I read anything to do with this series. I was hesitant to read this book because I wasn’t sure if I’d remember anything, but honestly, I dove in and read this book very quickly. There were some things that came back to me and others that just passed me by and I’m okay with that. The reason I ultimately decided to finish this series is because I want to start Riordan’s new The Trials of Apollo series! I knew that in order to catch everything in that book, I needed to finish this one.

I thought this book was a fun time. Riordan’s characters are always hilarious and witty, lovable and charming.(For some, it takes a while for them to get to that point, but we get there eventually!) His writing is really smart with lots of twists and turns. I always enjoy reading his books.

At first, I wasn’t satisfied by the ending and I was ready to rant and rave about it. But…the more I thought about it, the more I’m ok with it. I’m ok with it because Riordan is still writing in this world. We haven’t heard the end of these characters, so yes…I’m over my frustration. Now I’m ready for a new Riordan book!

Characters: There are so many characters in this book. It didn’t take me long to remember all of their “deals” or get reacquainted with them. I love their different personalities and struggles, it really makes the whole cast balanced where it could easily be chaotic and dramatic.

Even though I came into this book with a time gap, I could see all the character development. Characters like Nico and Hazel have changed so much, growing into their abilities and their identities. Frank and Leo’s journeys took some twists and turns along the way and we found them as leaders in this book. Percy and Annabeth are growing up and Jason and Piper are growing closer. It’s just all really lovely.  I’m glad this series introduced us to the Roman side of things; we met so many great characters! (Like Reyna. Can’t forget Reyna.)

Final thoughts: I thought this book was really fun! I blazed through it and enjoyed every second. The storyline was really engaging and interesting, I learned some new things about mythology (like I always do with Riordan books), and it was a nice break from heavy, adult books I’ve been reading lately. I’m not going to rave about it for a year (which is why I’m not giving it 5 stars), but I’m glad I read it.

Pick this up if you liked:

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Goodreads rating: 4.41/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.6/5

My rating: 4.5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn