April Reads – 2016 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

I’m participating in the 2016 POPSUGAR reading challenge. The list includes 40 books, and my goal is to check off just one item per book. Here’s an overview of what I read in April that fit the list (purple check marks). You can also see what I’m reading right now via the Goodreads widget to the left. I’d love to hear your book recommendations—especially if they check something off this list.

April 2016 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

April – 2016 Reading Challenge

  • A Book That’s Becoming a Movie This Year: Jennifer Niven’s All The Bright Places is actually slated to hit theaters in 2017, but I figured that was close enough! In the book, Violet and Finch meet atop the school bell tower where they’re both contemplating suicide. Violet is there because she misses her sister who was killed in a car accident, and Finch has an odd preoccupation with death. These two individuals who seemingly have nothing in common bond over a school project—and much more. Honestly, this book was a bit too depressing for me, but I found the characters interesting.
  • A Book Recommended By A Family Member: My sister-in-law is a big fan of Mary Campisi’s books and encouraged me to read her Paradise Found. The book centers around two people who shouldn’t like each other—the wealthy playboy who’s gone blind after an accident and the less flashy but still beautiful psychologist sent in to help him regain his life. I’m betting you can *see* where this one is going! While the book was a fun read, it was too predictable for me.
  • An Autobiography: Okay, so Mary Karr’s Lit is more memoir than autobiography, but I figured it was close enough for this challenge. Karr is the master of memoir these days, and this book focuses on her relationships with her parents, husband, and son as well as her alcoholism and her attempts to pull herself out of many dark psychological places. While I found Karr’s writing beautiful, the subject matter was too heavy for me this month.
  • A Book About a Culture You’re Unfamiliar With: I know the Amazons are a mythical culture (maybe?), but I’m still counting Ann Fortier’s The Lost Sisterhood in this category. I didn’t know much about the Amazons, other than their “warrior woman” status. I learned quite a bit about their interconnectedness with the Trojan War. While this book takes liberties with history, it’s a fast-paced read that connects ancient history (mythstory?) with contemporary philology.
  • A Book About a Road Trip: David Arnold’s Mosquitoland tells the story of a girl who does what so many other teens would like to do: She skips out on her dad and stepmother in Mississippi (a.k.a. Mosquitoland) and hops a bus. Her destination is Cleveland, her former home and where her mother is sick. Of course, along the way, she encounters an array of people who teach her about life—in lessons that aren’t very pretty or comforting. If you’re looking for a coming-of-age meets road-trip novel, this is a great pick!
  • A Book That Takes Place On an Island: Emily Bleeker’s Wreckage was my favorite book read this month. The irony is the only reason I read it was because I saw it took place on an island and I knew I had to fill this category with something. I lucked out with this one! This novel focuses on picking up the pieces—on trying to move on after a tragic, traumatic event. Lillian and Dave are two people who have nothing in common except for the fact they are stranded together on an island when the plane they’re traveling on goes down in the ocean. When they’re rescued, they are thrust into the media spotlight, but neither is eager to talk about the experience. The novel discusses what happened on the island, but it emphasizes the question we hear in all the Las Vegas commercials: Does what happens on the island stay on the island?

Honorable Mentions

(I couldn’t find places to fit this one in the Challenge list, but I thought it was worth including here anyway.)

  • I read another “blue cover book” this month, but I already used that category and couldn’t find another place to put Sarah Dessen’s Saint Anything. In the novel, Sydney feels invisible in her own family—always in the shadow of her older brother Peyton. When Peyton’s string of bad behavior lands him in prison, Sydney changes schools in an attempt to begin fresh. Although she can’t escape her family’s focus on her brother, she manages to find a group of friends who just might be what she needs to help her stand out on her own. This is the first of Dessen’s many books I’ve read. Although I know she’s widely popular, I didn’t feel as strong an emotional connection to these characters as I’ve felt in other YA books.

What was the best book you read this month?

February Reads – 2016 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

I’m participating in the POPSUGAR reading challenge. The list includes 40 books, and my goal is to check off just one item per book. Here’s  an overview of what I read in February that fit the list (green check marks). You can also see what I’m reading right now via the Goodreads widget to the left—if you have any ideas on what item a particular book could check off the list, let me know in the comments. I need all the help I can get!

February – 2016 Reading Challenge

  • A Book with a Protagonist Who Has Your Occupation: Strange Love by Lisa Lenzo is a book I picked up because it’s a 2015 Michigan Notable Book. The nine collected stories in the book focus on Annie Zito (a bus driver/writer–it’s the writer part that earned the check mark) and her daughter Marley as the two navigate the complicated world of dating. These stories would appeal to anyone who’s struggled to find his/her soulmate, and I loved reading stories set in West Michigan.
  • A Self-Improvement Book: Structuring Your Novel by K. M. Weiland is one of several writing craft books I’m working my through right now. Weiland teaches the basic concepts of novel structure without getting bogged down in technical jargon. This is a useful book for new writers and experienced ones as well.
  • A New York Times Bestseller: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff was one of the big “IT” books of 2015–and deservedly so. The language is lush, and Groff’s portrayal of a complicated marriage leaves readers wondering how much they know about their own significant other.
  • A Book Recommended by Someone You Just Met: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica was discussed in the forums of the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association, a group I’ve just recently joined. I’d heard this book compared to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, two books I didn’t like, so I wasn’t sure I’d like it. However, I found Kubica’s story of a kidnapped woman suspenseful and a gripping read–better than the other two because I could empathize with the main character.

What have you been reading this month? Anything you’d recommend that would help me check off some more items on the list? 

January Reads – 2016 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

Each year, the creative people over at POPSUGAR publish a reading challenge. I printed the challenge and sort of haphazardly checked things off of it last year. I also printed the 2016 list, but it got shuffled into a pile of other papers on my desk. As I was reading the blog over at A Reading Writer, I saw that challenge again.

Inspired, I’ve decided I’m going to attempt a monthly reading challenge check-in here on my blog. The list includes 40 books, so my goal is to check off just one item per book. Here’s the challenge and an overview of what I read in January that fit the list. You can also see what I’m reading right now via the Goodreads widget to the left—if you have any ideas on what item a particular book could check off the list, let me know if the comments. I need all the help I can get!

January – 2016 Reading Challenge

  • A book set in your home state: Freshwater Boys by Adam Schuitema is a collection of eleven short stories set in west Michigan. The protagonists are all male, which got a bit monotonous for me, but I loved reading about places I know and love.
  • A book set in Europe: Juliet by Ann Fortier is a book I read for my book group. Our mission was to read a book about a place we want to travel, and this book is all about the city of Sienna, Italy. Sienna is definitely on my dream travel list.
  • A book that is published in 2016: Leaving Blythe River by Catherine Ryan Hyde is a book I received in a giveaway from the Facebook group Reader’s Coffeehouse. The book will be published in June 2016, so I got a sneak peek. The book is a great story of a teen boy who learns important lessons about himself and human relationships as he attempts to find his father who is lost in the Blythe River Range.

I didn’t get off to a great reading start in January. I started several books, but these were the only three I started AND finished in January. Here’s to a more productive February!

What was the best book you read in January?