2017 Reading Challenge

Happy New Year!

This year I participated in Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge and made it my personal goal to read more female authors. Succeeding in both rather easily, I figured there must be more that I’m missing – and looking at the map below, it’s hard to deny.


Each pin on the map represents a book read in 2016, and of course,  places such as New York, London, and Paris represent several. Looking at the map, you’d be right to assume I largely read American YA and European historical fiction, but in 2017, I’m hoping to change my reading habits, to consciously make the effort to seek out new voices. And, hopefully by the end of the year, my map won’t be so empty! I also have 20 individual reading challenges, listed below, to complete for 2017.

  • Read a biography of an important scientific figure.
  • Read a biography of an American president.
  • Read a collection of fairy tales from an Asian country.
  • Read a work of meta fiction.
  • Read a collection of essays, in translation.
  • Read a collection of poetry.
  • Read a book on modern philosophy.
  • Read a Gothic horror novel.
  • Read a work of military fiction.
  • Read a travel memoir.
  • Read a novel narrated by a non-human character.
  • Finish a new-to-me series. (Starting from book 1)
  • Read a book over 600 pages.
  • Read a Newbery Award winner.
  • Read a Man Booker Prize winner.
  • Read a Pulitzer Prize winner.
  • Read an immigrant story.
  • Read a classic novel over 500 pages.
  • Read a book on modern politics.
  • Read three books by the same author.

While I didn’t quite finish the Read Harder Challenge this year, the challenge was a helpful reminder to switch it up, and try new genres!

What are your reading goals for 2017?


2016: The Favorites

This week on Broke and the Bookish we’re asked the impossible question: What are you top ten books of 2016? I really have no idea how I’m supposed to pick 10 – it’s near impossible to pick 10 favorites from a single month! But, I’m going to try, and by try, I mean pick 20.


The Trees by Ali Shaw

“The world keeps no secrets. Look it in the eye if you can. Everything is there to see.”


All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

“All your life you wait, and then it finally comes, are you ready?”


Light Between the Oceans by M.L. Stedman

“You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things.”


The Sage of Waterloo by Leona Francombe

“Life cannot be lived secondhand, William… No one can truly describe a dandelion, you must experience one yourself – even if it means taking a risk. And you can’t say you’ve really lived until you’ve taken at least one risk. Can you?”


Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

“She had never entirely let go of the notion that if she reached far enough with her thoughts she might find someone waiting, that if two people were to cast their thoughts outward at the same moment they might somehow meet in the middle.”


Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye

“Oh, I knew who I was – a scarlet-toothed tigress, one forever burdened by the iron weight of her own black stripes.”


The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

“A singer learned her roles for life – your repertoire was a library of fates held close, like the gowns in this closet, yours until your voice failed.”


Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

“Two warring nations gripped Poland like girls fighting over a doll. One held the leg, the other the arm. They pulled so hard that one day, the head popped off.”


A Blessing On the Moon by Joseph Skibell

“…when you killed me, you took everything. My home, my wife, my children. Must you have my forgiveness as well?”


Court of Mist and Fury by Sara J. Maas

“He thinks he’ll be remembered as the villain in the story. But I forgot to tell him that the villain is usually the person who locks up the maiden and throws away the key. He was the one who let me out.”


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

“Ove had never been asked how he lived before he met her. But if anyone had asked him, he would have answered that he didn’t.”


The Hike by Drew Magary

“This future you live in… would I like it?” … “Honestly, it’s probably not that different from the world you know. Some people are happy. Some people are angry. There are wars. I don’t know if time makes much of a difference. The world changes, but people act the way people always do.”


City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg

“But I guess what I would want to leave each of you with finally — tender some Evidence of, against a life’s worth of signs to the contrary — comes down simply to this: You are infinite. I see you. You are not alone.”


Mischling by Affinity Konar

“Auschwitz was built to imprison us. Birkenau was built to kill us. Mere kilometers bridged their attached evils. What this zoo was designed for, I did not know – I could only swear that Pearl and I, we would never be caged.”


Maestra by L. S. Hilton

“Choices are made before explanations, whether or not we care to know it.”


Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

“I’ve seen so many versions you. With me. Without me. Artist. Teacher. Graphic designer. But it’s all, in the end, just life. We see it macro, like one big story, but when you’re in it, it’s all just day-to-day, right? An isn’t that what you have to make your peace with?”


A Wife of Noble Character by Yvonne Georgina Puig

“I don’t know everything, but I do think you’re confusing freedom with money… People compromise their integrity with that kind of thinking all the time.”


Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

“She wanted to be in control of her own life, and now, clearly, she wasn’t, and simply thinking about the fact that someone else was going to decide the direction of her future…the helplessness crushed her.”


A Monster Calles by Patrick Ness

“Who am I? the monster repeated, still roaring. I am the spine that the mountains hang upon! I am the tears that the rivers cry! I am the lungs that breathe the wind! I am the wolf that kills the stag, the hawk that kills the mouse, the spider that kills the fly! I am the stag, the mouse and the fly that are eaten! I am the snake of the world devouring its tail! I am everything untamed and untamable! It brought Conor up close to its eye. I am this wild earth, come for you, Conor O’Malley.”


City of Thieves by David Benioff

“They’re trying to burn down our city. They’re trying to starve us to death. But we’re like two of Peter’s bricks. You can’t burn a brick, you can’t starve a brick.”


My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

“He pretended to stretch his arms, in order to shift even closer to her. (this isn’t in the history books, of course, but we’d like to point out that this was the first time a young man had ever tried that particular arm-stretch move on a young woman. Edward was the inventor of the arm stretch, a tactic that teenage boys have been using for centuries).”

What were your 2016 favorites?


Last Minute Reads: A Holiday TBR

Happy Holidays!


I hope you all have a safe and merry Christmas! This year we’ll be driving a little more than usual, hopefully giving me plenty of extra reading time to finish up my holiday TBR. For this TBR, my choices were almost exclusively based on cover art – they are all gorgeous!! There’s nothing better than choosing a book by its cover to find an equally beautiful story within. I probably won’t get to all of them, but you can never have enough variety!


Some Kind of Happiness by Clair Legrand

Loosening the boundaries between reality and imagination, Some Kind of Happiness is a beautiful Middle Grade novel of family, magic, and frightening sadness. Her parents on the verge of divorce, Finley’s sent to her grandparents’ home for the summer, but never having met them, and afraid of what she might return to at the end of the summer, her blue days are quickly outnumbering the happy. Her one retreat is Everwood, a magical forest only found in the pages of her notebook, until she discovers the vast forest beyond her grandparents’ home full of mum pirates, trees covered in ash, and strange wizards. To save the dying woods, she’ll have to save herself first as the sadness within grows beyond her control.


Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin

Set in a future post-apocalyptic world, a devastating epidemic caused by electro-magnetic pulses has led to the abandonment of technology. Meanwhile, Nell Crane, always an outsider, struggles to connect with her peers and neighbors, especially now that her father’s always away in his lab, creating biomechanical limbs for survivors. Alone and misunderstood, how will she ever live up to her father’s reputation? But after finding a tattered old mannequin, she decides to take matters into her own hands, to create a companion of her own. Someone without judgment, or expectation. Surrounded by a growing fear of technology, she’ll push the boundary between humanity and technology once and for all.


To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin

The year is 1887 when Caitriona Wallace and Emile Nouguir meet in a hot air balloon, floating high over the glittering expanse of Paris, France. Cait, a widow, is in Paris as a chaperone to two wealthy siblings from Scottland, while Emile, working on the construction of the Eiffel Tower, is expected to take reigns of the family business and choose a suitable wife (i.e. wealthy). Neither is a match made in heaven, but circumstances aside, the attraction is clear. Raising questions on the importance of tradition in a changing world and the woman’s place in that world, to find their happiness Cait and Emile will have to look past duty, past controversy, to find the true worth of love.


The Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins

An epic tale of magic and lore, The Last Days of Magic lifts the veil on ancient kingdoms, when humans and magical beings lived side by side. From ruling goddesses to warring kings, to Celts and mystical faeries, the magical kingdoms of the Emerald Isle are under threat from Rome as the Vatican Commander is tasked with vanquishing the last remnants of magic and otherworldly creatures. Exploring the beginning days of Britain, Tompkins weaves a tale of impossible magic, quests for power, and inevitable change.

What will you be reading over the Holidays?


Weekly Reads: Week 50!

Happy Holidays!

Only two weeks left in the year! I can’t believe it! Ever since I hit my goal of 200 books in November, I haven’t had much desire to read. It’s been a long year, and especially with the Holidays rolling around, I needed a little bit of a break from my usual pace. But now with two weeks left, I can’t help but feel the thrill of competition – even if it’s just with myself! How many books can I read? How much faster could I read? It was just the push I needed to get back into the spirit of reading. So far I’ve read titles I’ve seen on my Overdrive feed for months, a few Middle Grade novels I’ve always wanted to read, and even a few historical fiction novels! It’s a reading-a-palooza!

Besides reading, most of my time has gone to Christmas prep – wrapping presents, mailing out gifts, ugly sweaters and baking cookies! How do you celebrate the season?


Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Beloved by her suitors and mocked by the women at court, Catherine couldn’t care less about the courtly gossip, unless it was about her infamous lemon tartes. Catherine would like nothing more than a shop of her own, to make the best pastries in all of Hearts, but her mother, of course, has other ideas, she’d like nothing more than to see her daughter as queen. Trying her best to pursue her dreams and please her parents, Catherine can’t deny she feels nothing for the dimwitted king, and perhaps too much for the mysterious court jester, but in a land of magic, madness, and monsters, she’ll find it difficult to escape the hands of fate.

“The easiest way to steal something, is for it to be given willingly.”

I absolutely adore Marissa Meyer – a brilliant story teller, she maintains the perfect balance between nostalgia and creativity. At first meeting, I couldn’t imagine sweet, innocent Catherine as the future Queen of Hearts, infamously known for her fondness of the phrase, “Off with their heads!” What could possibly go so wrong to turn such a lovely young lady into a cruel and heartless queen? Except something does happen: she falls in love. Jest is the perfect Wonderland love interest, though technically from Chess, he’s a mysterious character full of mischief and word play, with just enough tricks to keep Catherine both in and out of trouble. But, as we all know, love isn’t part of the Queen’s story, and so, the story must have an unhappy ending – and yet, I couldn’t help but root for Catherine, hoping she’d find a way to change her story, and finally, understanding that nothing could be done.

“Perhaps we know each other in the future and you’re only remembering backward.”

** There was ONE thing that still bothers me, though. Why in the world was the Caterpillar a cobbler?? He doesn’t have any feet! And a human shoe would be too impossibly large for him to make! **

Rating: 4 Stars       Goodreads

What have you read lately?


Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Leaving Under the Tree

This week on Broke and the Bookish we’re sharing the top ten books we’d love to find under the tree this year! Below is a mix of books I’ve read and absolutely LOVED (but haven’t purchased yet!) and books I know I’m going to love reading. Gifted or not, you bet these titles are sure to hit my shelves this coming year!

The Girl with Glass Feet and The Trees by Ali Shaw

I absolutely LOVED Ali Shaw’s The Trees – Adrien Thomas has never been the hero, but in the quick of the night, the world has suddenly, inexplicably grown into a monstrous woodland as the trees take back the world from man. Traveling over land and sea, battling wolves and a curious ancient magic, Adrien will find an inner strength he never knew he possessed in a world where his flaws are, in reality, perfections and nature a monster in disguise. I would love to have a copy of The Trees in my collection, as well as Shaw’s first novel The Girl with Glass Feet, a story of a young girl who slowly transforms into a glass figurine after spying on a mysterious monster of ancient lore.


The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

A magical debut following Russian fairy tales, Vasilisa lives at the edge of the wilderness where winter lasts almost the entire year and snowdrifts grow taller than houses. Minding her step mother, Vasilisa and her siblings turn away from tradition, bringing nothing but failed crops and misfortune to the family, but as a grave soul rises from ancient lore, she’ll have to defy family and reason to save them all. Yes, this book isn’t set to release until January, but Santa could always leave a certificate under the tree, right?


The Hike by Drew Magary

From talking crabs, giant bugs, man-eating giants, to random gifts of champagne, nothing is predictable about The Hike. A magical journey with deadly stakes, the only answer you’ll find is “Stay on the path.” Most definitely the strangest, most rewarding story I’ve ever read, I’d love to have my own copy of Magary’s latest wonder.


Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

One second Jason is out on an ice cream run for family night and the next he’s knocked unconscious by an eerily familiar voice asking him, of all things, “Are you happy with your life?” He wakes surrounded by doctors in hazmat suits, by a man claiming to be his colleague and friend, at a state of the art, top-secret lab HE built, but he’s just a college professor, how could any of this be true? Exploring the possibilities of parallel universes and the unmeasurable consequences of the choices we make, Dark Matter is one of my top reads from 2016 and a definite reread.


The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Bringing the glimmer of the 1920s to a desperate and lonesome homestead in the Alaskan countryside, new arrivals Jack and Mabel discover their child-sized snowman magically transformed into the blonde-haired, and very real, Faina. Just as To the Bright Edge of the World, Ivey’s writing is full of mystery and magic, bringing to life the fierce mysticism of the Alaskan frontier.


Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

What would you do if the world surrounding you suddenly changed? If everyone you knew and loved disappeared without a trace? Would you cry? Would you fight? These are the questions that make Station Eleven such a compelling story, seamlessly exploring the choices we make in the wake of a changed world, and the connections bound to bring us together, it’s about time I reread this amazing tale of the human spirit.


The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

A complicated web of romance, courtly intrigues, espionage, and grandeur, The Queen of the Night is a beautiful, thrilling ride into the world of Lilliet Berne, a scrawny young runaway turned opera extraordinaire. While I only gave the book three stars, I can’t help but look back on my reading of it fondly.


The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

We all know and love The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but somehow in the jumble of moving and moving again over the last few years, I’ve lost my copy!! Clearly, this needs to be fixed!


The Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling – Illustrated Version

A long overdue reread, I’m hoping to collect the illustrated versions of this amazing series!

What are you hoping for this Christmas?


Film Adaptations: Winter 2017

Get your TBR ready! This winter we’ll see an amazing influx of film adaptations, from enchanting tales of man’s best friend to rallying underdogs to epic missions of faith, there’s a movie for all readers this season. Below are my most anticipated adaptations for the winter months – the one’s you’ll most definitely find me reading in anticipation!



A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness: Dec. 23rd

In the dark of the night, seven minutes past midnight, Connor O’Malley’s nightmares are brought to life, calling his name in the form of a mysterious Yew tree. With his father living with a new family in America, a pesky grandmother who doesn’t understand, a bully who won’t back down, and his mom undergoing another round of cancer treatment, it’s no wonder Connor suffers from such vivid nightmares, but what about the berries left on the floors? The root growing from under the floor boards? The monster must be real, but why is he there? Can he really help Connor face his fears before it’s too late? A heartbreaking tale of a young boy struggling to understand his changing world – this is not one to miss! Just be sure to bring enough tissues!!


Silence by Shusaku Endo: Dec. 23rd

Following the mission of Father Rodrigues, a devout Portuguese Jesuit priest, as he sets sail for Japan, the young priest hopes to aid the oppressed Japanese Christians, but finds his mission impossible as rumors that his teacher Ferreira has renounced his faith are proven true. Faced with the piercing realities of religious persecution, Rodrigues is forced to make the impossible choice between abandoning his flock or his faith. Starring Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, AND Adam Driver, I can’t wait to see this one!


Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly: Dec. 25th

Set in the middle of the Jim Crow South and the civil rights movement, Hidden Figures tells the never-before-told story of the African American female mathematicians who played a pivotal role in the American space program. One of the most popular book club reads around, I’m very excited to see their story take the big screen.



A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket: Jan. 13th

A new Netflix original series – I’m absolutely LOVING rereading A Series of Unfortunate Events! Following the three Baudelaire children after their parents’ tragic death in a fire, the children are passed from relative to relative, all the while chased for their fortune by the evil Count Olaf – played by none other, Neil Patrick Harris!!


A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron: Jan. 27th

Another tear jerker, A Dog’s Purpose follows the remarkable story of one dog’s search for purpose during his various lives, ultimately finding himself born again in the arms of his original owner, thirty years later. A true story of love and friendship.



Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach: Feb. 24th

Tulip Fever has been on my TBR for a while now, a beautiful tale of art, love, and deceit, set in the colorful world of 17th century Amsterdam. Starring Alicia Vikander as the wealthy merchant’s wife, it’s no wonder the artist hired to paint her likeness falls for her entirely.

What will you be seeing this winter?


Weekly Reads: Week 49

With my holiday shopping complete, I finally have time to read again! Between shopping, crafting and book swapping – I haven’t read very much at all. I started reading Heartless, but barely made it 30 pages in before I realized Moonglow by Michael Chabon was due back to the library in a few days! But, after a lot of force-reading, sadly, Moonglow was not for me – my first break-up in over a month. Perhaps I’d enjoy the novel more later, the characters are entirely unique and the jumbled plot a brave effort into capturing the prevailing spirit of the writer’s ailing grandfather.


Froelich’s Ladder by Jamie Duclos-Yourdon

Besotted by a decades old grudge against his brother, Froelich has permanently perched himself atop a giant ladder held up by his nephew, until the day he’s mysteriously discovered missing. His second nephew takes on the search, seeking his uncle high and low, encountering Confederate assassins, a general store tycoon, and a cantankerous girl out looking for trouble. A “fairytale twist on the American dream”, Froelich’s Ladder explores the difficulty in remaining loyal while seeking our own ambitions.

“Indeed, when a person spent all his days on a ladder, what did he covet above all else? The chance to lie down, of course.”

I received a copy of Froelich’s Ladder from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. Immediately starting the novel, I was dazzled by the author’s wry wit, quirky characters, and sense of place. From the magical mysticism of the forest to the dangerous grit of the Wild West to the unsettling winds of the American coast, the novel is very much a tall tale of epic proportions with an equally strange and telling message. Many of the characters are faced with the difficult decision of either leaving home or facing an unhappy, ordinary life at home fulfilling the needs of others – while the answer is simple, the follow-through proves more difficult. With an underlying theme of alienation, the characters find their solution in friendship, finding they can pursue their ambitions and still remain loyal, only now, on their own terms.

Rating: 4 Stars        Goodreads


The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook by Natalie Eve Garrett

An illustrated collection of personal, food-related stories and recipes shared by 76 beloved artists and writers from today, including authors Anthony Doerr, Joyce Carol Oates, Neil Gaiman, Curtis Sittenfield and even James Franco. From intimate narratives to foodesque fairy tales, The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook will surely make a unique Christmas gift for any reader on your list!

“The more I read, the more the connection between art, writing and cooking made sense: ideally all three are about something new. They all require some measure of vision, revision, faith, and magic, not to mention a high tolerance for disaster. All three also engage the senses, surprise and sustain us, and can be evocative. And, at their best, they can even be transformative.”

While I didn’t necessarily add any new recipes to my collection, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. What is a cookbook but a personal collection of stories – a family recipe handed down for generations made time and time again with your Grandma at Christmas, the dish you made to impress a new love, a college staple that leaves you wondering… why did I ever eat that! Every recipe has a story, and this delightful collection is no less. From Neil Gaiman’s eerie rendition of the omelet to Francesca Lia Block’s recipe for love, there’s no stone unturned in this comedic, heart-warming, and very personal collection of essays.

Rating: 4 Stars       Goodreads

What have you read lately?