2016 Challenges: January Update

You might remember that I decided to participate in a few challenges this year: I want to read more debut authors, diverse books, and fantasy books.

In the month of January I read 15 books, and I think I’m off to a good start in terms of my challenge goals.

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I read 6 debuts in January, and I really liked all of them!  I’m eagerly anticipating second books from these authors.  Here are the books I read:

The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin-I’ve heard mixed reviews of this one, but I really enjoyed it.  I think comps to Sarah Dessen are accurate, and I loved the cast of characters in this book.

The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt-I found one particular trait of the main character’s to be fairly off-putting, but in the end the story was so cute that I had to look past it.

Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira-I did a lot of yelling in my head at the characters in this book, who, had they just communicated with each other, could have gotten together a lot faster!  But I suppose that wasn’t really the point…it was still a fun story and an interesting concept, and I LOVED Dev.

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch-I have a compulsive need to read all books set in Europe, and this one did not disappoint.  At times I found the teenagery behavior to be mildly irritating, and if anything I would have loved to see MORE travel in Italy, but it was still an interesting story, a cute love interest, etc.

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro-This one isn’t out until March, but I definitely recommend it.  Though I don’t know if I’ve ever read an actual Sherlock Holmes story, I love all the YA retellings that have been coming out lately, and this one was fantastic.  I’m eagerly anticipating the sequel.

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin-I was really happy to pick up a copy of this at ALA Midwinter; a student at my school has recently come out as gender fluid, and I was glad I could read this and quickly hand it off to them.  Such an important story, but also funny and interesting too.

Total: 6/24

diverse challenge1

I read 4 books with main characters who are part of diverse groups in January.  Here they are:

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler-I am a giant Sarah Ockler fan, but the idea of this book didn’t really sound interesting to me.  I finally decided to pick it up, and it did not disappoint.  The main character, a girl from Tobago who is now living in small town Oregon, is coming to terms with losing her voice and her dreams.  Also, there’s a pirate regatta.  I would definitely pick this one up, if you haven’t already.

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan-Persian-American lesbian trying to fit in at New England prep school and in her own very traditional family.  The love story is super cute, but the book is interspersed with serious themes as well.  I liked it, but wanted more.

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz-Holy voice, Batman.  This is possibly my favorite read of January. Etta is bisexual, black, and has an eating disorder, and doesn’t feel like she fits in anywhere in her Nebraska town.  She ends up making some great new friends along her journey to get out of Nebraska, and they make the story 100x better, but honestly, Etta’s voice is so amazingly authentic, funny, and perfect, there could be no other characters in the book and I’d still read it.

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin-See above.  Would definitely recommend.

Total: 4/50

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I only read one fantasy book in January, but it was a big one:

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard-I liked, but didn’t love, Red Queen.  But after the ending, I was certainly curious about what would happen next.  Glass Sword was certainly action-packed, and went in directions I didn’t expect.  Again, though, we’re left hanging, and my heart hurts just thinking about it.

Total: 1/35

It’s clear that I’ve really been enjoying debut books so far in 2016, but I think I’m going to need to work a bit harder on the other challenge categories.  Still, I’m happy with my reading in January, and I feel like as long as I’m finding books that are enjoyable, I’m not going to worry so much about numbers.

What was your favorite read in January?  Are you participating in any challenges?