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

September 2016 Wrap Up

This month has been a dud for reading. I’ve been so busy with work and moving…I’ve had very little time to read. In the end, I managed to read a total of THREE books.

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

  • Unexpected. Day of the Dead. Graphic Novel.
  • My rating: 4 stars

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

  • Lysandra. Manon. Elide. (Obviously what I love about this book is people. Female people.)
  • My rating: 4.5 stars

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

  • Unexpected. Creepy. Quick and easy.
  • My rating: 4 stars

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

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

ghosts

Synopsis from GoodreadsCatrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister’s sake – and her own.

Feelings: I’ve read Telgemeier’s 3 previous graphic novels (Smile, Sisters, Drama) as well as the first of The Babysitter’s Club graphic novels she’s done. My students LOVE the illustrations and the way the stories are told. This particular story caught me a little off-guard. I had no idea what it was about, honestly, though; I just bought it as soon as it came out, knowing it needed to be in my classroom library.

I wasn’t expecting the main character to have a sick younger sister or for it to have actual ghosts in it. (I don’t know what I was expecting from a graphic novel titled Ghosts…) It was really easy to read and unlike some illustrated books, it wasn’t silly or empty. Graphic novels don’t have to fit that mold! Telgemeier continues to prove that illustrations can add depth and complexity to a story.

Characters: I loved that we had a young character in this story dealing with a life threatening disease. (I don’t know how to word that without making it sound like I love when children are sick…that’s not what I’m saying!) I just feel like a lot of people can connect to the family in this book and the struggles of having a fragile younger sibling, wanting to constantly keep them safe and healthy. The characters wrestle with the question of what happens after we die and I love how the author approached answering it. When the ghosts started showing up, I thought it would all turn in a hokey direction, but in the end I think it was well done.

 

Final thoughts: I really enjoyed this story. I liked how different it was from the other books (because Smile and Sisters are really similar, especially considering they go together). I liked the author’s take on the death question and how she celebrated a holiday that we don’t see in literature too terribly often. I love the multicultural family and friends. Overall, it’s just a good, solid read.

Pick this up if you liked:

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Goodreads rating: 4.36/5

Amazon.com rating: 5/5

My rating: 4.5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

“Even telling you this much probably isn’t smart. But without my big mouth, no one would know that a seventeen-year-old who likes Death Cab for Cutie was responsible for the murders. No one would know that somewhere out there is a B student with a body count. And it’s important that you know, so you’re not next.”

unbecoming mara dyer

Synopsis from GoodreadsMara Dyer believes life can’t get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. It can. She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed.  There is. She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love. She’s wrong.

Feelings: I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. I don’t usually watch TV shows that are super creepy and I tend to shy away from creepy books. I’m very visual, so if it’s too descriptive, it’ll stay in my head for a while. With this book…let’s just say that when I was done reading for the night, I’d watch a couple episodes of Parks and Rec before I went to sleep. Ha!

There’s really not much I can say about this book without spoiling it or messing with its mystery. There were SO many hints about what was really happening and lots of AHA moments that I experienced from beginning to end. I really liked the small details that kept reoccurring and the way the meaning unfolded as it went along.

Issues: It was PRETTY CONVENIENT that Noah had oodles of cash on him (like in the thousands) and had KEYS to the most random places. Some things just kind of came together too easily for my taste.

Characters: At first, I felt sorry for Mara. Then I was suspicious of her. Then I didn’t trust her. Then I felt sorry for her again. I’m STILL not sure how I feel about her. This story is so confusing! (As in, it’s making me feel conflicted, not so much that it’s actually confusing and hard to understand.) I liked the way that we flipped back and forth between BEFORE and the now. It was really interesting how the author gave us pieces of the truth as the story unraveled. We learned about the BEFORE Mara and the now Mara simultaneously, bringing us to a better understanding of her in the end.

Immediately upon meeting Noah, I had a Why is he important? train of thought. It took me a while to understand him because he’s pretty complex and generally has a lot of layers. He started out as a creepy man-whore and ended up being actually likeable. I liked the way he was welcomed into the Dyer family, but I’m curious to see how that relationship will continue (or not) in the next book.

 

Final thoughts: This story is wrapped in mystery. I have a large number of lingering questions, but they’re the types that I really think will be answered in the next 2 books. At least, I hope so. I need some better understanding of what is actually happening… I thought this book was really great and I’d highly recommend it!

Pick this up if you liked:

The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings (for the Florida + death side of things)

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (for the teenager with powers side of things)

Goodreads rating: 4.10/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.2/5

My rating: 4.5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

5 Terrible Book to Movie Adaptations

I have always been a big movie fan, just as much as I’m a reading fan. However, I’m not an expert on film making. I can cook a mean breakfast and I have great handwriting, but I’m not a filmmaker. It’s just not one of my gifts. I’m also one of those strange book-reading-individuals that doesn’t hate book to movie adaptations. I love seeing how someone else interpreted a story that I’ve read. Sure, I play it all out in my head and have a dream cast all picked out, but I’m not married to those ideas. I’m open!

With that said, I know a terrible adaptation when I see one. I may still watch it and find it entertaining, but I recognize its shortcomings in comparison to the original work. Here are 5 book to movie adaptations that I’d categorize as “terrible”. I’m categorizing them that way based on the quality and adaptation of the book. You may disagree. I’m totally okay with that! In a couple of weeks, I’ll tell you which adaptations that I LOVE!

bones movie

The Mortal Instruments series (City of Bones, in particular)

I’ve already reviewed the first book in this series, as well as the movie and the TV show HERE. I think the movie is pretty terrible. Even if I think about it objectively, not comparing it to the book in any way, it’s pretty meh and mostly confusing. The casting was 50/50 and it was just a big jumble. Magnus was a let down, Alec was kind of a creep, and Valentine was a freaking weirdo.

twilight

Twilight saga (but mostly the first movie)

You guys, I can’t. It’s super terrible, on a scale of terrible to super terrible. Even if you can get past the crap acting (which I can’t), it’s so hokey. Oh, you’re not familiar with that word? It comes from the word “hokum”, meaning nonsense. Nonsense, I say! With the vampire sparkle and ugh…granted, how could they have done that in a non-silly way? The book has some pretty nonsensical lines that are cheesy and all, but I didn’t really understand just how cheesy they were exactly until I heard them said by these actors.  (They did get better as the others were released, in some ways. The first movie is still pretty bad, though.)

lightning

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Ok, friends…I love this book series. I have this exact movie poster in my classroom and I refer to the books all the time. But I don’t like the adaptation of the first book. As an individual movie, without any ties to the books, I like it okay. As an adaptation, it’s mildly terrible. There are quite a few events that played out differently in the movie than it did in the book, changing the entire direction of the plot line, making things all fall together in a strange way.

ella

Ella Enchanted

Now that you know the meaning of the word “hokey”, let’s also apply it here. It’s…a…musical? This is almost a completely different story. In the book, the central conflict is Ella’s curse and how she’s going to break it. In the movie, she has multiple characters that are against her, jumbling up what the core story is really about. I think the movie has it’s entertainment value, sure. I just think it needs a different title, because it’s not the same story as the book.

hp az

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I didn’t realize how terrible of an adaptation this was until I recently re-read this book. You guys…SO MUCH information is missing from the movie! It’s like they took all of the blood pumping moments and left the other important bits behind. The depth of the story and a huge chunk of the Potter family backstory was left out, which is a shame because it’s so interesting. I like the movie, on its own, but I was really disappointed when I realized how much was left out.

What are some book to movie adaptations you don’t like? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading and watching! – Caitlyn

Spring Cleaning – Books to Unhaul

I’ve done a few book hauls here on my blog before, but I’ve never done an UNhaul before! It’s that time of year where we make ourselves clean up our spaces – offices, houses, apartments, cars, you name it. (Or at least, we tell people that’s what we’re doing #OnTopOfThings.) I took a look at my bookshelves the other day and realized it’s time to get rid of some books. I have some that have just been sitting there, literally collecting dust and I don’t know that I will ever read them. Those spaces could be used for books that I have already read and are just sitting on my kitchen table, eager for a home of their own. So here are 5 books that it’s time for me to unhaul and then haul off to Goodwill or Half Price Books.

lux

Lux: Beginnings by Jennifer L. Armentrout

This is a combined edition which has both Obsidian and Onyx in one binding. Sitting here, I couldn’t even tell you what this series is about. I want to say maybe that an alien moves in next door to a girl? At this point I also have the second combined edition. So now I have a lot of alien and no intention to read it. Goodbye, Lux. Sorry I can’t get excited about aliens living in the neighborhood.

life and death

Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined by Stephanie Meyer

Recently, the 10th anniversary of Twilight rolled around and this reimagining was released. This book is the story of Twilight but with the gender roles switched. Meyer wanted to show that this story wasn’t about a damsel in distress and that the gender roles could be swapped and the story would stay the same. I haven’t read it yet because I just haven’t cared enough at this point, honestly. Goodbye, switched up Twilight. Sorry that I’m too scared to read you.

coldtown

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

This is another example of I kind of maybe know what this is about question mark. A vampire? In…a place with other vampires? or maybe no other vampires? This book could actually be about a female freezer in a freezer junkyard for all I know. Sounds dark. I have a hard time getting into dark books. Goodbye, Coldest Girl. Sorry that I wouldn’t journey to Coldtown for you.

never fade

Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

I liked The Darkest Minds. I enjoyed it. But I’d have to reread it in order to read this sequel because all I remember is that I liked it. I don’t remember the characters or what was happening. Isn’t this the one with the people who have abilities? Maybe? Since I didn’t love the first book, I can’t imagine myself rereading it just so I could then read the sequel. I know a lot of people love this series, so maybe the peer pressure will get to me. Then again, maybe not. Goodbye, Never Fade. Sorry that your predecessor didn’t wow me enough.

death to

Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James

I had every intention of reading this book…then the BBC mini series came out. I watched it, enjoyed it, now I’m done with this story. This one is a little tricky though, because I’m not going to actually get rid of the book. It looks great on my Jane Austen shelf, because I definitely have one of those. If you like new interpretations of classic stories, this one is ok. Goodbye, Death and Pemberley. Sorry that I fell victim to the TV interpretation of you.

Do you have any books to unhaul? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading (and unhauling)! – Caitlyn

Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins

*This review contains spoilers, especially if you haven’t read Rebel Belle.*

“Honestly, not enough people know how to use good manners as a weapon.”

miss mayhem

Synopsis from GoodreadsLife is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and her best friend, Bee, has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can focus on the important things in life: school, canoodling with David (her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie), and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant. Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her . . . or make her more powerful than ever.

Feelings: I recently posted a list of book series that I gave up on and Rebel Belle was #8 on said list. When I saw the sequel was available to check out at my local public library, my gut said to grab it, so grab it I did. It reminded me a lot of the first book in this trilogy because it was entertaining and really funny. I love Hawkins’ writing style and the narrating character’s voice. However, I was somewhat disappointed in how this story didn’t completely come together.

Issues: #1: So if Alexander died, what was the purpose of the whole book? The main goal throughout the book was for Harper to survive the Peirasmos so she could become a full-on Paladin. But then…Alexander called it off after the second trial, David ran off, and Alexander died? So…is she not a full Paladin or is that something we just aren’t worried about anymore?

#2: I was confused on why they lost their powers in the end. Was it just because David was so far away from them, so their power was gone? It all comes down to a lack of plot development. The ending left me with questions, but not in a good cliffhanger way. It’s more like there were too many plot holes and things that didn’t add up.

#3: The “trials” shouldn’t have been advertised as “trials.” Instead, they should have been called “checkpoints” or something less dangerous. The first “trial” (which is a term I’m going to continue using loosely) had her saving David from a fire that he wasn’t really in danger from. Also, what kind of fire marshal lets a school have a darkroom in which the occupants can’t hear the fire alarm? How is that a thing? In the second “trial”, she had to see her worst fears in a mirror…then…walk away. When I read that she was going to be tested, I expected her to at least break a sweat.

Characters: Harper is my fictional spirit animal. She is sass personified. However, as much as I love her character, the Harper-David relationship time loop is not something I love. I get that they want to decide what their relationship really IS (just Paladin/Oracle or “boyfie/girlfie”…whatever that means…) but they decided to break up, but then they spent more time together and that line was further blurred.

I honestly thought something was up with Bee for 92% of the book. I thought she was working for Alexander or was brainwashed or something. The writing made it seem like she was full of secrets, but she wasn’t…not until the very end. That bothered me. I felt like Hawkins was leading me towards something that didn’t exist. That just confuses me.

I was pleasantly surprised to see some character development for Ryan. We got more of his real person-ness in this book. In Rebel Belle he annoyed me because he seemed too perfect and yet too fake at the same time. In this book, however, he had a little more depth to his character and personality.

Genre: If you aren’t usually interested in fantasy or paranormal books, this is a great way to peek into the genre. The characters and the writing are top notch, it’s fast paced, and entertaining – a great ride.

Final thoughts: While this book wasn’t as good as Rebel Belle, I’m invested in these characters and I know I’ll read the third installment when it comes out next year. I just want to see how it all ends and if my questions get answered. If you read Rebel Belle and you aren’t sure if you want to read Miss Mayhem, I would recommend that you pick it up. I enjoyed it, overall, and I read flew through it – it’s a really easy read.

Pick this up if you liked:

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Goodreads rating: 3.57/5

Amazon.com rating: 3.8/5

My rating: 3.75/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn