Reading Challenge Update #1

Hey friends! This week, I wanted to update you on my reading challenge. In case you missed it, I decided to shake up my reading goals for this year. I usually create a list of challenges and then force books to fit the list by the end of the year and that totally defeats the point.

My goal this year is to travel in my reading. I want to learn about other cultures and perspectives and to also just experience life somewhere else. Reading is a great way to accomplish this. I’ve also decided to not limit myself to one year. I’ll reach this goal when I reach it! You can also keep track with me on the tab above. I track places my reading takes me that actually exist. I do read a lot of fantasy, so unless these stories start out in the real world somehow, they won’t count.

Here are where my reading travels have taken me so far this year!

Travels Completed: 8/80


Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (South Africa)


– Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai (Vietnam)

The Secret of the India Orchid by Nancy Campbell Allen (Bombay, India; Modern Day Mumbai)


London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton (London, England)

– May I Have Your Attention, Please? by James Corden (London, England)

North America

– March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell (Washington, D.C.; Troy, Alabama)

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer (Brooklyn, New York)

It Started With Goodbye by Christina June (Alexandria, Virginia)

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

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

January 2017 Wrap Up

This is what I was able to read in January…I read 2 books, listened to 3 audiobooks, and read 1 graphic novel, for a grand total of: 6!

London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton

  • Living my dream. Cute Irish boy. Fandoms.
  • Around the World in 80 Books Challenge: London, England
  • My rating: 4 stars

The Secret Loves of Geek Girls by Hope Nicholson

  • Skipped around. Wasn’t what I hoped. Fun art work.
  • My rating: 2 stars

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood (audiobook) by Trevor Noah

  • Hilarious. Narrated by the author. Educational.
  • Around the World in 80 Books Challenge: South Africa
  • My rating: 4.75 stars

March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

  • Historical. Relevant. Packs a punch.
  • Around the World in 80 Books Challenge: Washington, D.C.; Troy, Alabama
  • My rating: 4 stars

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai (audiobook)

  • Middle grade. Great narrator.
  • Around the World in 80 Books Challenge: Vietnam
  • My rating: 4 stars

May I Have Your Attention, Please (audiobook) by James Corden

  • Smithy. History Boys. Comic Relief.
  • Around the World in 80 Books Challenge: London, England
  • My rating: 3 stars

What did you read in January? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

November 2016 Wrap Up

My goal on Goodreads was to read 75 books this year and I reached it this month! When the month started, I still had a ways to go. Then I heard about the app comiXology and read a bunch of graphic novels and comics. Now I’m all set! I got into quite a kick! They upped my wrap up numbers for the month because they’re just so easy and quick to read.

This is what I was able to read in November…I read 4 books, finished 1 audiobook, and read 10 graphic novels and comic books, for a grand total of: 15!

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

  • Hamilton fans. American Revolution. Daughter of a president.
  • My rating: 5 stars

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

  • Great picture of history. Strong writing. Eye opening.
  • My rating: 3.5 stars

Cat Burglar Black by Richard Sala

  • Had potential. Interesting art. Quick read.
  • My rating: 2 stars

Boxers by Gene Luen Yang

  • New to me. Chinese history. Mystical.
  • My rating: 4 stars

Saints by Gene Luen Yang

  • Companion to Boxers. Captivating. Tragic.
  • My rating: 4.5 stars

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

  • Alice in Wonderland prequel. Anti-hero. Made me hungry.
  • My rating: 4 stars

Lumberjanes, Vol.1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooke A. Allen

  • So sassy. Fun cast. Second read.
  • My rating: 4 stars

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (audiobook) by JK Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale

  • Better than the movie. Remember Cedric.
  • My rating: 5 stars

Red Sonja, Vol. 1: Queen of Plagues by Gail Simone

  • Warrior in a bikini. Comic book. Pretty ok.
  • My rating: 3.5 stars

Saga, Volumes 2-6 by Brian K. Vaughan

  • Kindle book sale. For adults. Wild storyline.
  • My rating(s): Vol. 1-4 & 6: 4 stars, Vol. 5: 3 stars

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth

  • For fans of the show. Eye opening. Really interesting.
  • My rating: 4.5 stars

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

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

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

August 2016 Wrap Up

Goodbye, summer. Goodbye, months of vacation time. Goodbye, sleeping in. Goodbye, hours a day of reading time. Back to reality!

This month, as my summer ended and my work-life began again, I managed to only read a total of FOUR books!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: -Parts One and Two by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

  • Nostalgia. Tears. Questions.
  • My rating: 4 stars

An Honest Heart by Kaye Dacus

  • Sweet romance. Historical fiction. Strong characters.
  • My rating: 4 stars

Nothing But the Truth by Avi

  • Full of irony. Flat. Thought provoking.
  • My rating: 3 stars

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

  • Second read. Interesting superpower plot. Lacked…something. 
  • My rating: 4.25 stars

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

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Summer Sundays with Sarah Wrap Up

I decided to read all of Sarah Dessen’s books in publication order because it’s summer. Anytime I ask fellow avid readers for summer book recommendations, there’s always someone that says Sarah Dessen. Some people love her, some people think her books are just okay, and some people don’t really get the whole Sarah love-craze. One thing I like about her books is how they’re connected. They aren’t sequels, but they have strings that connect them – a character here, a phase there…I love that. I knew that if I didn’t read them back to back, I’d never be able to catch those little Easter eggs. Note, this is a long post. I wanted to include the connections across the books for those of you that have read her books, but maybe didn’t see all the little references.

After reading all 12 of Sarah Dessen’s books, I can honestly say that I’m a big fan. Her books are not perfect or groundbreaking literature, but they feel so real. She’s a master of dialogue and character development, making a 400 page book seem like nothing. Sometimes even when the storyline didn’t grip me, I still didn’t want to put the book down because I was invested in her characters and later on, in the world she’d built. Dessen writes great love stories, yes, and all of them are different. They’re great beach reads, yes. But they’re also about real life issues. They certainly aren’t fluff pieces – they’re gritty and some of them are heartbreaking. I’m glad that I read them the way that I did, building on each other. I enjoyed seeing her writing change a little bit over time. Sarah Dessen is now one of my auto-buy authors. I’m ready for the next one!

That Summer – published 1996

  • My rating: 2.5 stars
  • It had moments of thoughtfulness, but mostly it was kind of boring. This is the only book I didn’t write a full review for, frankly because I just didn’t want to think about it anymore.

Someone Like You – published 1998

  • My rating: 4.75 stars
  • I really enjoyed this one. I loved the characters for so many different reasons and found the ending to be empowering.

Keeping the Moonpublished 1999

  • My rating: 4.25
  • This book was so great. This, similar to Someone Like You, deals mostly with friendship. But what makes this book different from her previous one is that it’s a bit more about self discovery, strength, and confidence.

Dreamland – published 2000

  • My rating: 3 stars
  • This book kind of went up and down for me. I was a little bored at first, then I was intrigued, then it was slow, then it was the climax of the story and I was concerned, then I was bored again.

This Lullaby – published 2002

  • My rating: 4.25 stars
  • I didn’t really like it until the end. I liked how everything came together and how the main character grew.
  • Connections: Scarlett from Someone Like You works at the local coffee shop and one of the boys from Dexter’s band has a crush on her

The Truth About Forever – published 2004

  • My rating: 4.75 stars
  • This was the second time that I’ve read this one. I connected with Macy on so many levels and I really enjoyed the progression of this story.
  • Connections: (From Keeping the Moon) The family’s beach house is in Colby and there’s mention of the Last Chance diner. (From This Lullaby) A random lady is seen reading one of Barbara Starr’s  books. (From That Summer) At the end, we get a weather report from Haven’s step-mom.

Just Listen – published 2006

  • My rating: 4.75 stars
  • I read this book in ONE DAY – I was hooked from start to finish. Great, dynamic characters, very real issues dealt with in a very realistic way, and really strong writing. This may be my favorite.
  • Connections: (From This Lullaby) Owen has a Truth Squad CD (Hate Spinnerbait!) in his car and Sophie goes to the club Bendo. Later on, Owen and Annabel go to Bendo to see Truth Squad play and meet with them backstage (including both Dexter and Remy).

Lock and Key – published 2008

  • My rating: 4.25 stars
  • I expected this book to take me a while, but just like with all her books I plowed through it. This one felt different from the others. It felt more grounded and unpredictable. Interesting twist on the guy-saves-girl trope.
  • Connections: (This book had the most, I think!) (From Dreamland) Creepy Rogerson makes a small appearance and we get a reference to his abuse charge. (From Just Listen) Nate listens to a radio show that Annabel runs. Also from that book, we had what sounded like Owen’s sister and her friends show up at the jewelry stand and Owen helps Jamie make a mix CD for Cora. (From The Truth About Forever) Kristy and Bert also make an appearance at the jewelry stand. (From multiple books) We see both Jackson High and Perkins Day. (From This Lullaby ) Cora helped Barbara Starr through one of her divorces.(From Keeping the Moon.) Laney saw one of Kiki Sparks’s workout videos and decided to run a 5K.

Along for the Ride – published 2009

  • My rating: 4.5 stars
  • This book reminded me a lot of The Truth About Forever, but it still had it’s own flavor and style. I really enjoyed the character growth, but hated the parents in this story. I felt like a grumbling teenager towards them. Ha!
  • Connections: (From Lock & Key) Auden had Calculus with Nate and had a crush on him. At Clementine’s, they got in a shipment of key necklaces with gems on them and Auden has a account. (From The Truth About Forever) Maggie talks about a time when they went to World of Waffles. Also, Auden almost went to prom with Jason…twice. (From multiple books) Auden went to Jackson High for a little while and also attended Perkins Day. (From Keeping the Moon) Heidi is best friends with Isobel and Morgan and when Auden goes to Last Chance, she’s waited on by someone who sounds like Colie.

What Happened to Goodbye – published 2011

  • My rating: 4 stars
  • This book was good. It didn’t move along as well as some of the other books, you know what I mean? It was pretty stagnant for a while; I wasn’t really sure what we were building up to. The romance is different in this book, too. Dave and Mclean have a totally different dynamic; nothing crazy, just slow and sweet.
  • Connections: (From a couple different books) Mclean’s parents went to Defriese University and her step-dad is the coach for their basketball team. Also, Mclean went to Jackson High. (From Lock & Key) Mclean has a account. (From Just Listen) At lunch, Mclean sees what sounds like Owen and Annabel, sharing earbuds. (From The Truth About Forever) JASON has dropped out of Harvard and works at Luna Blue. Brain Camp Jason! Also, he and Dave went to Brain Camp together. Later in the book, Mclean runs into him at the library where he worked in tTAF, too. (From Along for the Ride) Mclean’s mom is friends with Heidi, who brings Mclean some swimsuits from Clementine’s. (From Keeping the Moon) Mclean and her parents go to Last Chance Diner while in Colby.

The Moon and More – published 2013

  • My rating: 4.5 stars
  • I really enjoyed this one! Little bit of a different family dynamic and love interest than the other books. I was engaged and invested early on!
  • Connections: (From a couple different books) We’re back in Colby! (From Along for the Ride) They stop at the Gas/Gro a few times and Ivy and Theo are doing a documentary on Clyde. We get flyers to Tallyho and Maggie tells Emaline, outside of Abe’s Bikes, “No no no to Tallyho!” Then Emaline and Daisy go into Clementine’s where they see Heidi and Auden. Also, Esther helps Ivy film for the documentary. (From The Truth About Forever) Luke is cousins with Wes and Bert, and Emaline mentions the Gotcha game that they play. (From This Lullaby) Spinnerbait is playing at the  Pavilion…Hate Spinnerbait! (From What Happened to Goodbye) We see Gerts bracelets, as well as the shop that they come from and the girl who makes them.

Saint Anything – published 2015

  • My rating: 4 stars
  • This one was good! There was a lot going on, in terms of conflict, and I don’t feel that all it was resolved or even hinted at resolution. As per usual, Dessen gives us a great friend group and some strong character development.
  • Connections: (From a couple different books) Sydney went to Perkins Day, then transferred to Jackson. At the beginning of the book, Sydney’s family has to sell their beach house in Colby. (From What Happened to Goodbye) Sydney’s family went to Luna Blu after her brother’s graduation and Deb greets Sydney on her first day at Jackson.Also, Dave works at Frazier Bakery and sells coffee to Sydney. (From Lock & Key) Sydney mentions that the creator of funded a remodel of Perkins Day. (From This Lullaby) Layla invited Sydney to Bendo to hear the band play. We also hear about the record label that signed both Truth Squad and Spinnerbait. Mac reminds us, “Hate Spinnerbait.” (From Dreamland) Rogerson Biscoe is in the same hall as Peyton in prison.

Have you read any (or all) of Sarah Dessen’s books? Do you have any favorites? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn