2015 Popsugar Reading Challenge

Monday, December 28, 2015

I wrote here how I plan to do the 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge.  Well, here is the 2015 challenge and what I read for each category.  I didn't finish partly due to the fact that I forgot about this challenge about halfway through the year and partly due to the fact that there were a few categories that I just wasn't excited about.

A book with more than 500 pages: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
A book that became a movie: If I Stay
A book published this year: Love and Other Theories
A book written by someone under 30: My Life with the Walter Boys
A book with nonhuman characters: Crown of Midnight
A book by a Female author:  All I Need
A Mystery/Thriller: Cartwheel
A book with a one-word title: Fangirl
A book set in a different country: If I Die
A nonfiction book: A Stolen Life
A book from an author you love that you haven't read yet: The Girl Who Chased the Moon
A book a friend recommended: Dorothy Must Die
A Pulitzer Prize winning book: All the Light We Cannot See
 A book at the bottom of your to-read list: The Boy Next Door
A book your Mom loves: The Chocolate Thief
A book that scares you: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
A book based entirely on it's cover: The Secret Sky
A Memoir: We'll Always Have Paris
A book you can finish in a day: First Love
A book with antonyms in the title: Lock and Key
A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit: The Nightingale
A Trilogy: The Delirium trilogy
A book from your childhood: Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone
A Book with a love triangle: Heart of the Matter
A book set in the future: The Heir
A book set in high school: The DUFF
A book that made you cry: The Garden of Letters
A book with magic: Throne of Glass
A book by an author you've never read before: Girl on the Train
A book you own but have never read: I am the Messenger
A book that was originally written in a different language: The Reader
A book set during Christmas:  Call Me Mrs. Miracle
A book written by an Author with your same initials: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
A banned book: The Giver
A book you started but never finished: The Guardian

A Classic Romance
 A book with a number in the title
A funny book
A book of short stories
 A popular author's first book
A book based on a true story
A book more than 100 years old
 A book you were supposed to read in school but didn't
 A book that came out the year you were born
A book with bad reviews
A book with a color in the title
 A graphic novel
 A book that takes place in your home town
 A play
 A book based on or turned into a TV show

ABC Reads Challenge

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Earlier in December, Andrea and Mia announced that they would be hosting a reading challenge in 2016.  This challenge is pretty self explanatory; you have to read one book for each letter of the Alphabet.  They will be hosting a link-up at the end of each month so that participants can share what they've read.  There is even a prize for the first person to finish.  I don't think I'll be the first, but I definitely intend to finish. Again, recommendations are definitely more than welcome.

A: Avalon High by Meg Cabot
B: Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult
C: Cinder by Marissa Meyer
D: Deeper Than The Dead by Tami Hoag
E: The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
F: Fairytale Beginnings by Holly Martin
G: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
H: Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas
I: I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
J: The Jewel by Amy Ewing
L: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
M: The Maze Runner by James Dashner
O: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
P: The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
Q: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas
R: The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
S: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
T: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
V: Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult
W: The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige
Y: Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige
Z: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

For 2015 I decided to give the Popsugar reading challenge a try.  I kept seeing it pop up on Pinterest and figured, why not.  I knocked out a good bit of the books on that list, which I will be posting on the 28th,  but didn't finish.  This year, I hope to put a bit more effort into finishing this challenge.  Listed below are some of the books that I plan to read for this challenge.  Of course, if there are any recommendations you have for any of the categories, I totally want to hear them!

A book based on a fairy tale: The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige
A National Book Award winner: Sophie's Choice by William Styron
A YA bestseller: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
A book you haven't read since highschool:  TBD
A book set in your home state: Avalon High by Meg Cabot
A book translated to English: Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (Swedish)
A romance set in the future: Cinder by Marissa Meyer
A book set in Europe:  The Last Van Gogh by Alyson Richman (France)
A book that's under 150 pages:  The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
A New York Times Bestseller: TBD
A book that's becoming a movie this year: The Royal We by Heather Cocks
A book recommended by someone you just met: TBD
 A self improvement book: TBD
A book you can read in a day: TBD
A book written by a celebrity: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer
A political memoir: My FBI by Louis J. Freeh or I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
A book at least 100 years older than you: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (1876)
A book that's more than 600 pages: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas (648 pages)
A book from Oprah's book club: What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman or The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman
 A science fiction novel: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
A book recommended by a family member: The Rainmaker by John Grisham (mom)
A graphic novel: TBD
A book published in 2016: Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige
A book with a protagonist who has your occupation: TBD
A book that takes place during Summer: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
A book and it's prequel: Legacy Lost, and Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
A murder mystery:  Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoag
A book written by a comedian: TBD
 A dystopian novel: Cress by Marissa Meyer
A book with a blue cover: TBD
A book of poetry: Robert Frost Poetry
The first book you see in a bookstore: TBD
A classic from the 20th century: TBD
A book from the library: TBD (most of my books come from the library, so this could be anything)
An autobiography: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
A book about a road trip: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson or Paper Towns by John Green
A book about a culture you're unfamiliar with: TBD
A satirical book: TBD
A book that takes place on an island: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
A book that's guaranteed to bring you joy: Mr. Miracle by Debbie Macomber

50 States Reading Challenge

Monday, December 21, 2015

I started this challenge back in 2014 and have really not put too much pressure on finishing it.  However, I have added finishing this book challenge to my 101 in 1001 list.  That being said, I would have to finish this challenge by August of 2018, but I fully intend to finish it before that.  I may not finish this challenge in 2016 but I do want to make an effort to put a rather large dent in it.  Also, unlike the other challenges where I will be filling in the books that I intend to read, for this challenge I have filled out the books that I have already read.

Alaska: Into the Wild by Jon Krakaur (02/02/15)
California: A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard (11/11/15)
Colorado: My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak (03/16/15)
Connecticut: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick (02/18/15)
Florida: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (12/05/15)
Georgia: Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen (09/11/15)
The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (10/30/14)
Maine: Lost and Found by Jacqueline Sheehan (05/09/14)
Missouri: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (05/15/14)
Montana: Vampire Academy by Rachelle Mead (07/01/14)
Nebraska: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (09/25/14)
New Hampshire: Dashing Through the Snow by Mary Higgins Clark (12/13/15)
New Jersey: One For the Money by Janet Evanovich (06/21/14)
New Mexico:
New York: Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham (07/17/14)
North Carolina: The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks (06/15/14)
North Dakota: 
Oregon: If I Stay by Gayle Forman (03/05/15)
Pennsylvania: Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian (10/25/15)
Rhode Island:
South Carolina:
South Dakota: 
Tennessee:  Jesse's Girl by Miranda Kenneally (10/22/15)
Virginia: My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares (01/01/15)
Washington: Home Front by Kristin Hannah (11/06/14)
Washington DC:
West Virginia:
Wisconsin: The Recipe Box by Sandra Lee (12/14/15)

I have also been keeping track of the books I've read that take place in different countries. Again, this only goes back to 2014 when I decided to start the 50 states challenge.  The only books I didn't include were the 13 Little Blue Envelope books because they go to multiple countries and I wanted to track books that take place in only one or two countries. 

Afghanistan: The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi (08/05/15)
Argentina: Cartwheel by Jennifer du Bois (11/21/15)
Australia: Stolen: A Letter to my Captor by Lucy Christopher (11/15/15)
Canada: When Calls the Heart by Janette Oke (02/04/15)
Czech: The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman (05/19/14)
England: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (12/13/14)
France: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (09/08/15)
Germany: The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (01/15/15)
Ireland: Thanks for the Memories by Cecelia Ahern (12/31/14)
Italy: The Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman (09/28/15)
Nepal: Sold by Patricia McCormick (01/14/14)
Russia: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah (05/01/14)

Book Week!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Since 2016 is coming up, and I'm super busy with work and have not time to post, I figured now would be a fun time to share the three book challenges I plan to participate in, in 2016 and the books I plan to read for those challenges.  Also, the following week I will be posting a recap of one of my 2015 reading challenges. 

For 2016 I plan to participate in:
The 50 States Reading Challenge

I haven't chosen books for every category yet so if you have any suggestions for me please leave them in the comments next week!!  Also, I should note that there are books which overlap in each challenge ... I am allowing myself to do that but the book can only be used in two challenges (including the Semi-Charmed challenges I do each season).

Book Reviews: February 2015 (Part 1)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

After a less than stellar start to my reading year, I became a reading machine in February.  I really enjoyed most of the books I read this month which definitely made up for January!

It's really hard for me to review this book.  I liked learning about Chris and his life and once I was done reading and reflected back on it, I really did like it.  I liked that the author included his opinions about Chris's life and thoughts, mostly because he was telling the truth - Chris was naive and unprepared.  But I don't think the author was tactless about it.  The author also clearly educated himself about Chris and about the Alaskan Wilderness.  My issue while reading this book was that I have a hard time with non-fiction.  This book read more like a text book than a story which is hard for me.  As hard is it could be to get through, I'm really glad I read it.  It was very educational and insightful.  This is definitely a book I'd recommend to anyone.  
I gave this book a 4/5 on my GoodReads

Love, Love Love!  I'm not a religious person and don't usually read books that involve religion, but I made an exception for this book because I really liked the movie.  Luckily for me, the religious aspect was very subtle and I really enjoyed the book.  I loved all of the characters and found myself cheering Elizabeth on, laughing at her mishaps, and loving what a Gentleman Wynn is.  This was a sweet, light, and easy read - I read most of it in one sitting.  I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction or an adorable romance.   I really want to read the rest of the series but they're really hard to find :(
I gave this book a 5/5 on my GoodReads.

  I'm not going to lie, I was really reluctant to read this book because I liked the way the first one ended - but my curiosity won.  I ended up really liking this book and being really glad that Ginny's journey continued.  I really loved the travel aspect of this book as well as all of the colorful characters that Ginny meets throughout her travels. I was worried that this book would take away from or over-complicate the plot from the first book (because lets face it, a lot of sequels do) but I don't feel like it did.  Now, if there were to be a third book, I probably wouldn't read it because I was completely satisfied with the ending of this book. This book was fun and quirky and I would definitely recommend it (and the first book) to anyone, especially if you love travel.
I gave this book a 4/5 on my GoodReads

 I'm going to start this by saying that I am not a huge fan of James Patterson, like at all.  However, my Mom loves his books and told me I would really like this one.  She knows my taste so I trusted her and I'm glad I did.  Although at times I felt like I was re-reading The Fault in Our Stars, I still really enjoyed the story and the adventures that Axi and Robinson went on.  This is by no means a masterpiece but it was a quick and easy read; I read it in one evening.  It is definitely a tear jerker but if you're OK with that then I would definitely recommend this book.
I gave this book a 3/5 on my GoodReads.

 Wow, this book sure made me feel glad high school is over.  Luckily my high school wasn't like this and we never had anything like this go on, but still.   I really liked how she broke the book up into chapters by person so that we could see the reactions and effects of the list as they were felt by each person.  I also liked that when we find out who made the list, she gives her reasons for choosing each person - and they sort of make sense.  By having so many different voices, it really broke the book  up well - my only issue was that there were some characters I really wanted to know more about.  Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I'd recommend it to anyone who doesn't mind reading about high school.
I gave this book a 4/5 on my GoodReads.

I picked up this book randomly at Barnes and Noble; I'd never heard of the book or the author.  Major win for my randomness because I loved this book.  I loved the main characters and I loved that Sam and Jase were fairly mature for their age so there was really no stupid teenage drama.  I also liked that they were both very realistic characters and that we slowly got to know them and the rest of the characters; it felt very natural.  Another thing I really liked that I find lacking in a lot of books was the emphasis on family, especially in the Garrett household.  I really loved everything about this book and could not recommend it enough. 
I gave this book a 4/5 on my GoodReads.

Christmas in NYC

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

In December of 2008, my friend Kristin and I took a bus trip up to NYC to see NYC at Christmastime.  Her Mom, Aunt and Cousin went too and we stayed with them for a bit but mostly headed out on our own.  The bus ride to NYC from Maryland is about 3 hours.  We were lucky and didn't hit much traffic (we left super early) and made it in almost exactly 3 hours.

We started off by Radio City Music hall before heading towards Rockefeller Center to see the skating rink and Christmas Tree.   I had heard it was huge but my God, that thing is ridiculous!  Our next stop was time square where we ran into the Naked Cowboy and checked out stores such as Toy's R Us and the M&M store.  The last place on our list was Central Park which we had a great time exploring; it was probably my favorite spot in the city.  We totally wanted to do a horse and carriage ride but the price was just a little too high for us at the time!  We ended our time in NYC by heading back to Rockefeller Center and seeing the tree at night.  We had a great time and it was a fantastic first visit to NYC for me!




This is a Bucket List Item:

Philly Comic-Con

Monday, December 14, 2015

Lets talk about the day I was the best wife ever.   I was having a really hard time trying to figure out what to get Josh for a first anniversary present.  The first anniversary is Paper so I was trying to cleverly stick to that theme while also getting him a great gift.  It was actually my friend Kristin's post on Facebook about the Comic Con in Phoenix that got me thinking.  I looked up Comic Con in Baltimore but it was the same week as our cruise so I was bummed.  Then I thought maybe we could do Philly for the day.  I was super excited about it because the first thing that popped up on the site was Stephen Amell's face.  Josh and I are both HUGE Arrow fans - I could not pass up the opportunity to meet him and Katie Cassidy.  I bought the tickets that day (and printed them out - paper!) and had to give his present to him early (along with a Deadpool comic book, also paper) so he could take off work and because the event was 3 weeks before our actual anniversary.   Josh also saw that JDF, one of the original Power Rangers was going to be there, so we got tickets to see him, too.  Josh also wanted to meet Nathan Fillion, but he had to back out at the last minute.  I'd definitely say this day was a success and I'm not sure how I'm going to top this for our next anniversary.   (I should also mention that I got exactly 2 hours of sleep before this because I was on overnights at the time).

This is a Bucket List Item:
Hayley Larue Design