What Reading Challenges I Picked This Year

At the beginning of every year, I choose a whole list of reading challenges, and I use them to direct my reading choices (to a degree) for the year. This week, I'm sharing which reading challenges I chose.

Last week I told you how excited I get at the beginning of the year, because the beginning of the year is time for a fresh new batch of reading challenges. Now that you know where to find them, and how to sign up for them, I’ll share what challenges I’ve signed up for this year.

I almost told you what books I’ve (theoretically) chosen, on the prompts that I’ve already (theoretically) chosen books for, but then I realized that would be a REALLY long post. So I leave this one up to you. If you want know what this looks like when I start picking the books, I’ll do a 2.0 version of this post, with all of the gnarly breakdown. 🙂

Monthly Motif – Sign up here

This challenge has 12 different prompts, one for each month. I won’t be choosing most of these in advance, because some of these prompts are best done off the cuff.

January’s prompt is Diversify Your Reading. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho has been on my list for quite some time. And as I’m neither male, nor Latino… this fits the challenge quite nicely.

Back To Classics – Sign up here

This one I’ve already mapped out my choices for the challenge… obviously these can change, but in the meantime I’ve made it pretty easy on myself to see what I already own, or can pick up inexpensively. I just have to decide which one to start with.

52 Books in 52 Weeks – Sign up here

Yes I know… 52 books, but again, these do a lot of crossing over with other challenges. Plus, I like to challenge myself. 😀 It’s also important to know that there’s at least one more of the 52/52 challenges, but this one has prompts, whereas the other one is literally just to read any 52 books.

Modern Mrs Darcy – Sign up here

I look forward to this one every year. It’s run by Anne Bogel, and her entire blog revolves around books… and it’s awesome. She also talks about personality type stuff, and capsule wardrobes.

What’s In A Name – Sign up here

This is another one I look forward to every year… it’s got 6 categories… and they’re fun things like…. “A fruit or vegetable”.


Alright I’d love to hear from you… which challenges did you pick this year?

Have You Ever Signed Up For A Reading Challenge?

It's a brand new year, and that means it's reading challenge time! Every year I pick a about a dozen, and completely overdo it, but it's so much fun that I do it again the next year! <3

Ahhhh the beginning of the year. New calendars, new goals, new reading challenges! I get so excited when the end of the year comes, because it means I’m about to be picking out the next batch of challenges I’ll be taking on.

You know I love me a good challenge, so this is always exciting to me… and there are so many to choose from. You can always guarantee that there will be TBR challenges, classics challenges, cozy mystery challenges, and YA challenges. And then there aresa ones with a variety of genres, and I always get a kick out of seeing what they picked this year…

So how do you get started?

Well, you can google reading challenges, or you can go check out A Novel Challenge and see all of their listings, or you can find listings on GirlXoXo.

It's a brand new year, which means it's time for a new round Reading Challenges... did you sign up for any? Click To Tweet

And believe me… you can spend hours going through those sites, because there are dozens, maybe hundreds of these reading challenges. Every year I think… ehhhh I’ll just sign up for a couple… and next thing I know I’ve signed up for a dozen.

The good news is, that most of them permit crossovers with other challenges. For example, let’s say one challenge asks you to read a book that’s been turned into a movie… and you choose Murder On the Orient Express. And then another challenge asks you to choose a cozy mystery, and another challenge asks you to choose a book involving travel, and still another says to choose a book with a 5 word title… your original selection works for all of those challenge prompts as well. Huzzah!

You have to read each challenge carefully though, because they all have their own rules. Some only allow physical books, while others allow physical, ebook, or audiobook. Some just want you to drop a comment as your sign-up, and others want you to write up a blog post. Some let you get away with a comment on the blog about which book you read for each prompt, while others want Goodreads reviews, and others want you to write a blog post for each book. What’s your limit? What are you willing to do? Choose accordingly.

Next week I’ll be sharing which reading challenges I’ve signed up for, but for now I’d love to know… do you do these too?


Top 10 Yummy Foods Mentioned In Books

Top 10 Yummy Foods Mentioned In Books | When I was a kid, I was enchanted by the descriptions of Turkish Delight in "The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe"...

When I was a kid, I remember reading The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe and thinking that Turkish delight must be the most delectable thing in the whole wide world. I picked some up later from one of those stories that has an ever changing assortment of gourmet goodies, and I was distraught at it’s cloying perfuminess.

Don’t get me wrong… I knew that the original version has rosewater.. that wasn’t news to me. But I drink tea with rosehips, hibiscus, and other floral elements. This was awful though… chemically awful. Perhaps because it was store-bought. I’d love to get some made from a lovely Middle Eastern couple, along with some baklava in case the Turkish Delight still lets me down.

So without further ado, here are my top 10 delicious foods from books. (Fun fact, my 2 year old says “dee-wish-us” and it’s the cutest thing ever.)

1. Oooey Gooey Melty Cheese – Heidi

“When the kettle was boiling, the old man put a large piece of cheese on a long iron fork, and held it over the fire, turning it to and fro, till it was golden-brown on all sides.”

Upon some research, I discovered that many people believe this is referencing raclette. It’s a (usually) cows milk Swiss cheese, although likely his was made of goat’s milk. He browns it on all sides, which makes it soft and spreadable like butter, which they then spread on bread. Oh. My. Yes.

2. Roasted Eggs – The Secret Garden

“Dickon made the stimulating discovery that in the wood in the park outside the garden where Mary had first found him piping to the wild creatures there was a deep little hollow where you could build a sort of tiny oven with stones and roast potatoes and eggs in it.”

I’ve had eggs just about every which-way, but roasted. I’ve seen a lot of people mention that they are insanely delicious though, so I’ll have to give them a try sometime!

3. Lembas – Lord of the Rings

“Eat little at a time, and only at need. For these things are given to serve you when all else fails. The cakes will keep sweet for many many days, if they are unbroken and left in their leaf-wrappings, as we have brought them. One will keep a traveler on his feet for a day of long labour, even if he be one of the tall men of Minas Tirith.”

Lembas is an Elvish bread… delicious, nutritious, and stays fresh for months. Perfect! And a little goes a long way… unless you’re a hobbit (which probably applies to growing boys too).

4. Toffee/Toffee Dates – Chronicles of Narnia

“The fruit was delicious; not exactly like toffee – softer for one thing, and juicy – but like fruit which reminded one of toffee.”

Diggory and Polly bury a toffee candy in Narnia, and overnight it springs up into a tree bearing dates with a taste reminiscent of toffee. If I thought that it worked in our world, I would bury sooooo many toffees.

5. Cox’s Orange Pippin – Danny the Champion of the World

“I’ve brought an apple for each of us,’ he added, fishing into one of his pockets.
‘A Cox’s Orange Pippin,’ I said, smiling. ‘Thank you very much.’
We sat there munching away.
‘One of the nice things about a Cox’s Orange Pippin’, my father said, ‘is that the pips rattle when it’s ripe. Shake it and you can hear them rattling.’ ”

Being in the States, I’d never heard of this varietal, so I was under the assumption that it was made up for the book. Imagine my delight as an adult, when I discovered it exists… but in the UK… womp womp. I’ve seen references to it having hints of cherry & anise flavors, so I’m totally intrigued!

6. Chocolate – Chocolat

“The air is hot and rich with the scent of chocolate. Quite unlike the white powdery chocolate I knew as a boy, this has a throaty richness like the perfumed beans from the coffee stall on the market, a redolence of amaretto and tiramisù, a smoky, burned flavor that enters my mouth somehow and makes it water. There is a silver jug of the stuff on the counter, from which a vapor rises. I recall that I have not breakfasted this morning.”

Full disclosure: I haven’t read the book yet, but I did see the movie. Her chocolates have a magical, medicinal quality, healing anything that ails you, and mending broken communities.

I’m not much for chocolate, but I’ve always heard that high quality chocolate is nothing like picking up a Hershey’s bar. When we were going to move to Asheville, I was looking forward to visiting the French Broad Chocolate. It’s a bean-to-bar venue, which means it would be like nothing I’ve ever tried.

I didn’t end up moving to Asheville, but I’m perhaps 5ish hours away? Or maybe there’s a chocolaterie here in Richmond. 🙂

7. Paprika Hendl – Dracula

“I had for dinner, or rather supper, a chicken done up some way with red pepper, which was very good but thirsty. (Mem. get recipe for Mina.) I asked the waiter, and he said it was called “paprika hendl,” and that, as it was a national dish, I should be able to get it anywhere along the Carpathians.”

Chicken, pasta, paprika… I’m in. 🙂

8. Snow Candy – Little House in the Big Woods

“Grandma stood by the brass kettle and with a big wooden spoon she poured hot syrup on each plate of snow.  It cooled into a soft candy, and as fast as it cooled they ate it.”

I have a dream of someday visiting Vermont during maple season, and partaking in this experience… I kinda want a cabin in Vermont, or Connecticut, or New Hampshire anyway… this is just one of the many reasons why.

9. Marmalade – Paddington books

“Seagulls don’t know everything … I always keep a marmalade sandwich under my hat, just in case!”

I absolutely adored the Paddington books when I was a kid (and no I haven’t seen the movie, so don’t ask my opinion)… everything was so wonderfully described, from his wellingtons, to his duffle coat & toggles, to his yellow mackintosh.

But the obsession with orange marmalade always amused me. Bears were always depicted with honey, so the marmalade was a funny departure. I’ve had orange marmalade many a time, and every time I do, I think of a very polite spectacled bear.

10. Johnnycakes – Unknown

Alright. I can’t give a quote, because I don’t even remember what book I read about these in. Johnnycakes are kind of like pancakes, but with cornmeal… they’re really good with butter and a bit of molasses. I very clearly remember reading a book when I was a kid, talking about making Johnny cakes over a fire, but I’ll be darned if I can remember what book. I just remember that it left an impression on me, and I couldn’t wait to try them when I was an adult. (And they’re dee-wish-us.)

Alright what about you? What are your favorite edibles from literature?

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

Top 10 Book Boyfriends

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It’s National Boyfriend Day, and The Broke & Bookish is celebrating with the Top Ten prompt “Top Ten Book Boyfriends”.

Though I was brief in my explanations, I thought long and hard about this list… it’s funny noting the ways that my taste has changed since I was a teen, and the ways it stayed the same. Growing up is weird dude.

1. Brian Belden

One of my earliest… he was so handsome, and mature, and responsible. Not to mention loyal, protective, and studying to be a doctor.

2. Laurie

Jo may have blown him off as merely a boy, but as a teenager, I was taken by his charm.

3. Johnny Tremaine

To this day, the crucible scene still pisses me off.

4. Calvin

Sweet Calvin is one of the first people to make Meg Murray feel beautiful. What girl doesn’t want that?

5. Rhett

Not the healthiest example of masculinity, but he’s suave, knows how to dance, and treats Mammy better than almost anyone else in the book. And he’s just about the only person who can go toe to toe with Scarlett.

6. Maxon

Prince Mason from the Selection… a tortured soul, aiming to be better than his father.

7. Ze’ev/Wolf

I’m already a big fan of werewolf stories, and in typical Lunar Chronicles fashion this is an interesting twist.

8. Han Solo

Courtship of Princess Leia… that’s all I’m saying.

9. Riker

Imzadi… that’s all I’m saying.

10. Gilbert Blythe

Hilariously, I actually married. someone who’s very Gilbert-esque. Mischievous (sometimes taking it too far), hard-working, confident, and persistent.  

Who are your bookish crushes? I’d love to hear down in the comments! <3

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.




10 of My Favorite Curmudgeonly Characters

There are a good many misconceptions about curmudgeons... we're not evil, just grumpy. And they're not even anti-social... we're selectively social. And those we choose to socialize with? We will be unwaveringly loyal to them. 

As this is a post for the Broke.& Bookish, this post won’t be including delightful representations from film and television, such as Dr. House, or the span of indomitable Dame Maggie Smith curmudgeons.

There are a good many misconceptions about curmudgeons… we’re not evil, just grumpy. And they’re not even anti-social… we’re selectively social. And those we choose to socialize with? We will be unwaveringly loyal to them.

We are not only the ones most likely to yell at the neighbor kids for cutting through our lawns, but we are also the ones most likely to grouse for another hour about the lack of respect children have these days. Some people’s kids.

So here are some of my faves…

1. Sherlock

Sherlock definitely meets the above criteria… he’s rude, arrogant, and demanding. But he connects with Watson in a way that no one else does.

2. Nero Wolfe

What is about all that time introspecting, that makes one a good detective? Nero Wolfe is a gourmand who investigates the cases his assistant brings his way. Unlike Sherlock, he rarely leaves his home, but when he does, the game is most definitely afoot. 😉

3, Professor Snape

Like many curmudgeon’s Snape gets a bad rap. If you’re still confused about whether Snape is good, just watch this video where his scenes are placed in chronological order. (Spoilers ahead, so don’t watch if you’re not done with the series.)

4. Professor McGonagall

Let me set the record straight… women are most definitely capable of being a curmudgeon. For some reason the majority of the examples are male… but the definition doesn’t say male anywhere.

Let’s see… acerbic… Dame Maggie Smith has it doesn’t to an artwork.
Good? Hell yes, and she’s a badassssss.
Loyal? The most.

5. Trumpkin

This cranky little dwarf from Narnia, is red-haired. So by the rules of C.S. Lewis, he is one of the good dwarves. But many a dwarf before and after him, he is cranky! He earns the nickname Dear Little Friend, which is later shortened to DLF much to his annoyance. However once the Pevensies earn his respect… they have it for the rest of his very long life.

6. Marilla Cuthbert

Another fantastic lady example. Marilla is a classic grouch with a heart of gold. In true curmudgeonly form, she’s abrasive to Anne in the beginning… partly because she’s guarded, and partly because she’d sent off for a boy. We kind like to have our way…

7. Gandalf the Grey

“Fool of a Took!”  I rest my case.

8. Haymitch Abernathy

I was kinda feeling like he’d qualify, so on a whim I googled “Haymitch” “Abernathy” “curmudgeon” and immediately pulled up a reference to him as a curmudgeonly alcoholic mentor. There you have it, Lord Google knows all. Seriously though… crabby-butt who’s secretly nice, with a soft spot for someone? Ting, ting, ting, we have a winner.

9. Ben Weatherstaff

This is one you might not recognize by name, but he’s been a favorite of mine since I was a child. He’s the cantankerous gardener of Misselthwaite Manor in The Secret Garden. His loyalty to the late Mrs. Craven was so intense, that despite her husband locking the garden up, he’s continued to tend it in her memory.

10. Ove

Okay this is a wee bit of a cheater, but I can’t resist. A good many of the curmudgeons I thought of were from TV & film, so I started scribbling those down for a future list, but I couldn’t get back on track. So while researching for more literary ones to job my memory, I came across innumerable references to A Man Called Ove. Cue a quick diversion to find out how his name is said… apparently it’s “ooh-veh”.

Anyway… no matter what term I used… curmudgeon, grumpy old man, cantankerous, literary grump…. all roads led to Ove. I have heard of the book in brief passing, but am not entirely familiar. Seeing as he’s apparently our most current literary curmudgeon, he’s now been added to my TBR stack. 🙂

Who is your favorite literary curmudgeon? I’d love to meet more!
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.



Top 10 Books On My Fall TBR List

As we usher in the season of boots, cowls, and mulled cider, it's time to choose our fall reading list. So with my mug of spiced (or spiked, ha!) cider in hand, here are the 10 books on my Fall TBR List.

As we usher in the season of boots, cowls, and mulled cider, it’s time to choose our fall reading list. So with my mug of spiced (or spiked, ha!) cider in hand, here are the 10 books on my Fall TBR List.

1. The Roses of May (Kindle) by Dot Hutchison

This is actually one that I’m partially into, but it’s not even halfway done, so I’m including it. It’s the 2nd book in the Butterfly Garden series from Dot Hutchins. So far, I’m not enjoying it as much as the first one, but I’m trying to give it a shot.

2. Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine (Kindle)

I love a well done thriller, and this is getting some great reviews… It’s about a Midwestern wife & mother who discovers that her husband (now ex-husband) is a serial killer. He’s in jail, she’s moved to a quite new town, but then a body turns up in the lake….

I’m crossing my fingers that it’s a solid win… I only like psychological thrillers if they have a likable character in them. I absolutely despised Girl on the Train, because I couldn’t find one single character I liked.

3. 11/22/63 by Stephen King

I’ve never read one of Stephen King’s books before, and this definitely isn’t one of his typical books. This involves a man who travels back in time to prevent the assassination of JFK. I’ve always found the conspiracies fascinating, and I can’t resist a time travel read.

4. Copycat by Alex Lake

I’m not familiar with this author, so I have’t read her first book. This popped up on a list of upcoming releases (it’s only been out a few weeks at this point), and it’s a psychological thriller about a woman who discovers there’s another social media account with her name/face/info… even recent pictures that have been taken inside her house.

I actually had this happen, years ago. Not to this extent, and it was more of a spoof, but it was immensely disturbing. I was about 15-16 years old, and someone got peeved with me, so they set up a fake account using my photo/demographics, and turned it into this crazy over the top hyper-religious caricature of me.

Thankfully it was someone being petty, and not a creepy stalker. Nevertheless, the premise of this is creepily familiar, and therefore, creepily intriguing.

5. Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Full disclosure, I’ve also started this one… but I’m all of one chapter in. So I’m putting it on the list. I’ve never read magic realism before, so I’m super excited to stretch myself!

6. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Honestly, the cover is what drew me in… it’s SO pretty! But when I saw this described as Labyrinth meets Beauty and the Beast…. how can I resist?

7. Winter by Marissa Meyer

Okay this one has given friends and my sister a heart attack. I read all of the Lunar Chronicles until Winter came out. Something was going on in my life (I don’t remember what) and I was super busy. Then I had a baby. Then I was eyeballs deep in trying to sort through my houseful of belongings to prep for a move halfway across the country.

Meanwhile my sister has been dying that I haven’t read it yet. So I’m about to relieve her anxiety.

8. Heartless by Marissa Meyer

I absolutely couldn’t resist a book about Alice (of Wonderland fame) from the author of the Lunar Chronicles, but I’ve been a very good girl and waited until I finished the Lunar Chronicles series first (see above). And that cover is just stunning.

9. Caraval by Stephanie Garber

I’m just going to drop the description here…

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.

10. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Political fiction isn’t my usual genre, but I was still subscribed to the Book A Month club, and I wasn’t remotely interested in any of the other choices that month. I could, of course, have just skipped the month, but I chose to stretch myself instead.

It tells the tale of a Russian count who’s deemed an “unrepentant aristocrat” by a Bolshevik tribunal, and sentenced to house arrest during a tumultuous time in Russia’s history. And while I don’t always care about reviews, this has insanely high reviews on both Amazon, and Goodreads.

Those are my 10… I’d love to hear from you… what are your planned reads for fall?

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. 

As we usher in the season of boots, cowls, and mulled cider, it's time to choose our fall reading list. So with my mug of spiced (or spiked, ha!) cider in hand, here are the 10 books on my Fall TBR List.