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.


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


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?


Challenging Myself in 2016

Although I don’t really blog regularly, I’ve long been a follower of many bookish blogs, and have seen the variety of reading challenges that take place each year.  I’ve never really been tempted to jump in; the only challenge I’ve participated in is the one I set for number of books on Goodreads.

This year, I finally met my Goodreads challenge goal of 200 books after trying and failing for several years.  Looking back on the books I read (end of year survey soon to come), I definitely noticed some trends.  Although I would say this was probably my most diverse reading year, I still read mostly contemporary realistic fiction, and mostly white women.  I want to continue to branch out in my reading in regard to genres, authors, and representation in the books I read, so I am finally jumping into a few different reading challenges this year.  (As a side benefit, hopefully staying on top of these challenges will actually make me write more regularly.  But I make no promises.)

So here are the challenges I’m planning to participate in this year:

That Artsy Reader Girl
I love learning about new authors, and one of the things I look forward to each month is Kelly’s list of debut titles over at Stacked.  Although I didn’t participate in a challenge last year, I did read 25 books by debut authors in 2015; I’d love to keep better track of them, and spread the word about amazing new authors, so participating in Jana’s challenge seems like a great way to do that.  I set a goal of reading 24 debuts, but honestly, with all the great ones coming out this year, I’m hoping to exceed that number.

After contemporary, fantasy is probably the genre I read most frequently, but there is still so much more within the genre to explore, and 2016 especially looks like it will be an excellent year for YA fantasy.  I read 29 fantasy books in 2015, so I’m going to set a goal of 35 books for the Flights of Fantasy challenge.

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Finally, the last official challenge I’m planning to take part in is Mishma and Shelly’s challenge to read more diverse books.  I read 35 books by and/or about people of color and/or the LGBTQIA+ community, but as a percentage of the 200+ books I read, it’s…something I could improve upon.  I would like to read at least 50 books that can be considered diverse in 2016.

While these three are the only official challenges I’m planning to participate in, I’m also hoping to read more adult fiction and nonfiction (YA or adult) this year.  I don’t tend to read much of either, so I would like to read at least one adult book and one nonfiction book each month, for a total of 24 books.

And, of course, I’ll be trying to reach my Goodreads challenge goal of 200 books again this year.

What challenges are you participating in this year?  Do you set a yearly reading goal?  Do you plan out the books you’ll read each month, or are you a mood reader?  Let me know!