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

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April 2016 Wrap Up

Within the first few days of this month, I’d finished off a few books. I was already more than halfway done with the first book by the end of March, so that was kind of cheating. The next 2, I gobbled up during a stay-in weekend. (Oh, you know those…the ones where you make excuses so you don’t have to see other people and stay in your PJs all weekend? Introverts unite.) Then I had an ear infection and was basically glued to my bed for 2 days. So much reading time!

This month, I managed to read a total of TEN books! Wow! I’m impressed by myself, but I also realize how badly I need to get a life…ahh nah. I’m good. This month isn’t even over, yet! I can still squeeze a book in. However, I predict that next month, I’ll read like 2 or 3 books because that’s how reading rollercoasters roll.

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (Technically, I finished this on March 31, but my March Wrap Up had already been posted! I’m not counting it for April, though. I’ll be fair!)

  • Novellas. Variety. Favorite characters.
  • Rating: 4.5 stars

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

  • Better than the first. Spies. Intrigue.
  • Rating: 4.5 stars

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

  • Music. Compelling. Unique.
  • Rating: 4.75 stars

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

  • Perfection. Addicting. Action packed.
  • Rating: 5 stars

Wolf by Wolf  by Ryan Graudin

  • Truly unique. Action packed. WWII alterate ending.
  • Rating: 4.5 stars

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

  • Second read. Book club. Music.
  • Rating: 4.25 stars

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

  • Audiobook. Lin-Manuel Miranda. Need I say more?
  • Rating: 4.25 stars

That Summer by Sarah Dessen

  • Second read. Uneventful. Meh characters.
  • Rating: 2.5 stars

Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen

  • Friendship. Great lead characters. Real talk.
  • Rating: 4.75 stars

The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright

  • Prince & Me vibes. Quirky. Easy read.
  • Rating: 3.5 stars

Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

  • Friendship. Self-confidence. Beach.
  • Rating: 4.25 stars

What books did you read this month? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare

**Well, friends…the WordPress app betrayed me and posted this review like a month early. Oh well! Rolling with it, Shadowhunter style. 

*There will be spoilers, if you haven’t read pretty much everything Cassandra Clare has written. Lol.*

shadowhunter academy

Synopsis from Goodreads: The series follows the adventures of Simon Lewis, one of the stars of Cassandra Clare’s internationally bestselling series The Mortal Instruments , as he trains to become a Shadowhunter. Throughout the course of Simon’s education, characters from the Mortal Instruments and the The Infernal Devices will make appearances, as will characters from the upcoming The Dark Artifices series and Last Hours series. Once a mundane, then a vampire, Simon prepares to enter the next phase of his life: Shadowhunter. 

I checked out most of these eBooks from my local library’s Overdrive system, but some of them I had to buy for my Kindle. They aren’t released in a hardback binding yet, so if you want to read them, you have to read the novellas one at a time.

  1. Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy – 4 stars [I liked this as an introduction to the academy and how Simon is now that his memories are gone. Some of the other characters were interesting to meet, knowing their ancestors from the other books.]
  2. The Lost Herondale – 4 stars [I really love all the history and long, interconnected family trees in this world. So for me, this novella was like candy that I gobbled right up. Then I’d get bored for a little while. And repeat. I desperately hope this lost Herondale shows up at some point! Ahh, the possibilities!]
  3. The Whitechapel Fiend – 4.5 stars [More Shadowhunter history! Wahoo! This was especially interesting, but that’s really all this story had to it. Plus some of Jace’s sass, which I do enjoy occasionally. And Tessa. Sweet, sweet Tessa.]
  4. Nothing But Shadows – 4 stars [I was pretty bored at first, but I later enjoyed learning some more information about Will and Tessa’s family and the kids of other Infernal Devices characters that I love. Seeing how Tessa’s demon blood manifested itself in her son was really intriguing. I hope we get more info on James!]
  5. The Evil We Love – 3.5 stars [Well, I still hate Robert Lightwood. But again, you gotta love getting some more back story and character back-development! Even if there’s a bit of  meh mixed in.]
  6. Pale Kings and Princes – 4.5 stars [Ooohhhh! This one was really good! I loved that we got to see Helen again, but we also got to hear more of the story of her parents and the twisty truth! And two thumbs up for some Sizzy reconciliation.]
  7. Bitter of Tongue – 4 stars [I really hope that Clare’s new series leads to some kind of rescue for poor Mark and some faerie reconciliation. I loved getting an update on all the Blackthorn kids and this novella made me even more excited for Lady Midnight!]
  8. The Fiery Trial – 4.25 stars [A liked this one a little more than some, but not as much as others. I’m really excited to see where Clary and Simon’s bond goes and that he’s getting some memories back!]
  9. Born to Endless Night – 4 stars [Loving what’s happening with Malec & fam! Also nice to see different sides of sommeee people. ]
  10. Angels Twice Descending – 4.75 stars [I loved this from start to finish…a great ending to this novella collection. Plus, it has me really excited for the series to continue!]

Final thoughts: If you’re “all in” with this series, like I am, then you have to read these. Sure, some were way better than others, but each one added to the Shadowhunter world. 

Pick this up if you liked:

The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare (see my review of the first book, the TV show, and the movie HERE)

The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare

Goodreads rating: 4.24/5

My rating: 4/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

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

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

*This review does contain spoilers, especially if you haven’t read the other books in the Lunar Chronicles.*

“Maybe the princess could save herself.”
“That sounds like a pretty good story too.”

fairest

Synopsis from GoodreadsIn this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told. Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Feelings: Now, you have to understand that this is technically a novella. It’s numbered as 3.5 in the series, which I find odd. In publication order, that number is correct, but the story itself is most definitely a prequel to the entire series. It was 220 pages long, so I don’t think that’s technically a novella. So it’s really just a full length prequel, and this series desperately needed some background information. This book nailed it right on the head. When I heard this book was coming out, I was afraid it was just going to be a bunch of justifications for why Levana acts the way that she does and that I’d end up feeling sorry for her. I felt pity towards her for about 10 pages, then the Levana I know and hate reared her ugly head again and knocked some sense into me.

Issues: I didn’t love how it was just one, long narrative. It really needed some separate chapters. Also, I was really missing the humor that the other books had. Since I’m marathoning the series, it was really hard for me to transition from Cress, which is really funny, to this serious kind of tone. It just felt a little off, but I know that’s because our narrator is not the humorous type that our heroes from the other books are.

Characters: Don’t worry folks, Levana is still bat crap crazy. I mean, seriously. 1) She likes the idea of infecting Earthens with a deadly disease, then holding an antidote over their heads. 2) She’s at the hospital with Evret, wondering how long he’ll wait after Solstice’s death until he goes after her. 3) She tells Evret after Sol’s death that his wife had “served her purpose.” 4) She’s annoyed that he’d take 2 weeks off work to mourn and get his affairs in order. 5) When she saw the results of the nursery fire, her first thought was on how she would be queen. Those are just 5 of like 142 examples of how cruel she really was. It seemed like she wasn’t so bad at first because her sister, Channary, was a freaking lunatic…but nope. They’re both crazy and evil and selfish and horrible. One major piece of this novel was the glamouring/mind control element. While this explains why Levana wears a veil during her appearances, it just felt like a huge chance to touch on themes of identity and self-worth. But, Levana doesn’t have either of those things, so it was like this weird, antagonistic POV thing that I didn’t love.

Evret Hayle, you poor fella. Part of me really pitied him, but then the other part was like dude…you’re married to a queen…chill the heck out and be happy. He totally could have left after Channary died. Levana wouldn’t have killed him and I think he knew that. So instead, he tortured himself and stuck around.

I loved the plugin of Jacin Clay. I assume we’ll see much more of him in Winter, so it was interesting to see how he fits into this whole Lunar dynamic. It was also different to see Dr. Tanner’s role in Selene’s “death” and Dr. Darnel’s disappearance from Luna after his daughter, the Shell, was taken away.

Final thoughts: Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was fast paced and packed in a lot of information that readers need, going forward in the series. I suppose you could read this book first in the series, but I highly recommend going in publication order: CinderScarletCressFairest, then Winter. Next week, I’ll finally get to my review of Winter, which was one of my most anticipated books of 2015!

My reviews for the other books in the series:

Book 1: Cinder

Book 2: Scarlet

Book 3: Cress

Book 4: Winter (coming next week!)

Goodreads rating: 4.04/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.2/5

My rating: 4.5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

5 Noteworthy Novella Collections

Apparently novellas are the new black. If you’re unfamiliar with a novella, it is a longer short story that accompanies a larger novel in some way. Sometimes you’ll see them listed as a “0.5” of a series, like a prequel, or a “1.5”, meaning that it comes after the first book, but before the second. I find that they tend to be hit or miss. I’ve compiled a list of 5 novella collections that I enjoyed reading.

four

Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth

This is probably my favorite novella collection. I enjoyed the Divergent series, but I strongly disliked the main character  – Tris. To my complete joy, Allegiant switched back and forth between Tris and Tobias’ POV, giving my favorite character – Four – some spotlight time. I was excited to read Four because I knew it would give me more insight into Tobias’ life before he met Tris. The Initiate was my favorite.

assassins blade

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

When this book was first released, it was just there for some bonus background information. Now that Queen of Shadows has released, I have to say that these novellas are just as important as the other books. I recommend to people when they start the Throne of Glass series, that they read The Assassin’s Blade after the third book, Heir of Fire. There are some things in QoS that you won’t be able to follow without having read these novellas. Overall, I really felt like I understood Celaena better because of these novellas. The Assassin and the Desert was my favorite.

bane chronicles

The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare

This book has ELEVEN novellas. I have mixed emotions about these stories. I love Magnus’ character, I really do, but I didn’t feel like these novellas told me anything about him that I didn’t already sort of know. It just didn’t thrill me. Plus, I had just finished The Assassin’s Blade and was all in love with it, so I couldn’t help but compare these stories to those. But in the end, I just liked getting to read some more of Clare’s writing and spend some more page time with Magnus. The Midnight Heir was my favorite because I love Will, Tessa, and Jem.

auggie and me

Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories by R.J. Palacio

I flew through the first of these novellas (titled The Julian Chapter), but then it took me forever to want to read the other two. While the others had interesting information and offered different points of view to the happenings of Wonder, I wasn’t thrilled by them. The Julian Chapter was fascinating to me for a few different reasons. It’s enlightening to get into the mind of a bully, but also his grandmother’s WWII story was SO interesting! This novella was clearly my favorite.

happily ever after

Happily Ever After: The Selection Novellas by Kiera Cass

I haven’t read this hardback edition (because it releases later this month), but I read the novellas individually as they were released as eBooks. I will probably read this at some point, in case there are new stories in it. The Guard was my favorite because I love Aspen.

How do you feel about novellas? Some people hate them, some like them…what about you?

Happy Reading! – Caitlyn