Forget resolutions, here are my 2016 book challenges

I used to be a real fan of resolutions. Get healthy, be successful, travel more, do fun things…but the problem is, resolutions aren’t measurable, attainable goals. Sometimes they are, but often they’re general. /rant over/

My 2015 Goodreads book challenge was to read 150 books. I was doing pretty well until we bought a house and I lost four weeks of reading time. I hit XXX books (or XXXXX pages), though, which I’m pretty damn proud of.

My 2016 book challenge goal is slightly more attainble — 125 books — but I’m also participating in Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge.

Read a horror book, a collection of essays, a food memoir, a book with a person who identifies as transgender. The list is pretty impressive, and will definitely challenge me to step out of my fantasy comfort zone.

ReadHarderChallenge2016_checklist-1

Anyone else participating?

L

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Thirty Day Book Challenge: Day 30

Day 30 (aka the last day!): Your favorite book of all time

6Asking me to choose a favorite book is like asking me to choose with arm or leg I’d rather lop off, or if I’d rather give up macaroni and cheese or Nutella for the rest of my life. You simply can’t make these decisions, it’s just cruel!

So, I will cheat. I will cheat and choose a series, because I cannot choose just one.

Drumroll, folks? Harry Potter. Yep, I am a diehard Harry Potter fan and I absolutely choose it as my favorite book(s). Do I care how “mainstream” this is? Hell no. I read the second Harry Potter book when it was released and lived my childhood years waiting for the next to release. My childhood was over when the last book was released, and I cried like a baby during the last chapter of the book, simply because it was over.

Can words do justice the number of times I’ve dressed up as a Harry Potter character for a book or premiere, the number of hours of sleep I’ve lost from staying up late reading HP, how many wishes I made on stars and candles that I would receive my letter on my birthday? I’ve eaten a vomit-flavored Bertie Botts jelly bean, flung around a replica of Harry’s wand, listened to Jim Dale’s voice for hours, and wished with every fiber of my being that J.K. Rowling is indeed a squib, who is actually truly detailing the life of Harry Potter to spite those who made fun of her and kicked her out.

Harry Potter was my childhood, and will always be my favorite.

Lauren11

1472878HOW CAN I ANSWER THIS?! It’s probably the hardest question in the entire world. My favorite books change often, it depends on my mood and what I’m wanting to read, or the person that I’m recommending them to. I feel like my favorite is constantly changing because I read new ones and love them so much…

I guess if I absolutely HAD to choose, it would either be Firefly Lane or The Things We Do For Love, both by Kristin Hannah. Each of these stand out in my mind and are books that I think about often and remember well.

Firefly Lane will always hold that special spot in my heart, the first adult book my best friend and I bonded over, the book that feels like it’s been ripped from our lives and the book that I will never, ever get tired of reading.

The Things We Do For Love sticks in my mind because it feels… so comforting and so hopeful. It reminds me that no matter what you go through, the things that are meant to be, will be. That things fall into place when you’re least expecting them but need them most.

I love them both for different but similar reasons, and it’s impossible for me to choose between them.

Kiesha

Thirty Day Book Challenge: Day 29

Day 29: A book everyone hated but you liked

18144115I’m judging “everyone hated” by the average rating on Goodreads, and the lowest rated book that received my highest rating was All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner…I was horrified.

I loved this book so, so much. Kiesha and I both reviewed it, actually, as our first review on this blog. Granted, it has an average rating of 3.62. That’s probably not hate, but still. I rated it 5/5, so 3.6/5 may as well be hate!

You can read our reviews, but in a nutshell, All Fall Down follows Allison Weiss through her prescription pill addiction and seemingly perfect life. Things aren’t always as they seem, though, and she goes into a downward spiral of addiction and self destruction. It was a very emotional and moving, and made me cry multiple times.

Lauren11

2336101Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch is the book that received my highest rating (5/5) but the lowest average rating (2.84/5) overall on Goodreads which is totally weird to me.

It’s one of those books that is set in the South that I love so much,about a girl named Sarah Walters. Here is a partial summary from Goodreads:┬áSarah Walters is a less-than-perfect debutante. She tries hard to follow the time-honored customs of the Charleston Camellia Society, as her mother and grandmother did, standing up straight in cotillion class and attending lectures about all the things that Camellias don’t do. (Like ride with boys in pickup trucks.) When life’s complications become overwhelming, Sarah returns home to confront with matured eyes the motto “Once a Camellia, always a Camellia”- and to see how much fuller life can be, for good and for ill, among those who know you best.

I obviously really liked it, but I like most books set in the South. It was funny and lighthearted, a nice break from all the heavy mysteries/thrillers that I read so often.

Kiesha

Thirty Day Book Challenge: Day 27

Day 27: The most surprising plot twist or ending

17802724The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. I LOVED this book, and part of my loving it was because the ending totally shocked me. I’m sure that some people saw it coming, but I definitely did not! Moriarty did such a good job of showing the mystery and steering you in a certain direction, then she blows your mind with the truth. Super impressive!

Kiesha

 

18844839I combed through my Goodreads read shelf for thirty minutes before coming to a single realization: nothing stands out as surprising. Not a single book jumped out and screamed “I was surprising, remember?!” and not a single book came to mind with an “Aha!”.

I suppose The Deep End of the Sea had some surprising bits, but they were all pretty forced when the twist came. I guess I better add “read a book with a surprising plot twist” to my list!

Lauren11

 

Thirty Day Book Challenge: Day 26

Day 26: A book that changed your opinion about something

4890817We’re going to fly out into non-fiction left field today. Before reading The New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler, I was all about cardio. Running, biking, elliptical-ing, stair stepping—I hated plodding away on the treadmill, but I did it in the name of “being fit”.

I was terrified of bulking up and looking like a dude, the only weight machines I would touch were the ones that promised tight glutes and inner thighs. That is, until I read this book, which essentially explains how women really don’t bulk up, at least not on a regular person’s weight training regimen. I’ve now been lifting for nearly five months and won’t go back!

Lauren11

6945037There for awhile, I stopped reading fantasy YA and focused more on mystery/thriller/dystopian/contemporary/chick lit type books. Then Lauren lent me Dark Moon of Avalon by Anna Elliott and it totally sucked me back into that fantasy world that I hadn’t even realized I missed.

Now that I’ve read it and am working on the Study Series by Maria V. Snyder, I can honestly say it changed my mind about fantasy. As I got older and left high school, I felt like I could read YA but not fantasy, that adults didn’t really need to read that kind of book with everything else that is out there and honestly, I thought it was kind of immature. I was wrong though! Fantasy is for every age, every gender, no matter what. If you want to read it, then read it. I’m really glad I got back into it!

Kiesha

Thirty Day Book Challenge: Day 25

Day 25: A character you can relate to the most

5139I can absolutely identify with Andrea Sachs from the Devil Wears Prada. She’s a small-town, naive girl who starts her career at a top-notch fashion magazine, where’s she’s completely out of her league. Though I cannot identify with having a psychotic boss, extremely shallow co-workers, or living in New York City, I really identify with her fashion sense (or lack thereof) and having a hectic work life.

Okay, so perhaps we don’t have that much in common. But after reading the book twice, I really feel like I’m similar to Andrea. Perhaps it’s her ability to adapt to a changing work and social environment, her love of literature, or her people pleasing ways. Maybe it’s the extremely supportive significant other or the work ethic. Either way, I love this book, and I’m definitely an Andrea Sachs at heart.

Lauren11

60510This is a very, very hard question for me to answer. I’ve been pouring over my Goodreads lists looking for something to jump out at me, to speak to me and tell me the answer but that hasn’t happened. There are so many characters from different books that I love that I relate to certain parts of them, or the way they react to certain things, but I cannot honestly say that there is one character that I relate to more than anyone.

There are girls like Yelena and Luna Lovegood and Katniss that I can see part of myself in, but everyone can. That’s why they’re written the way they are. I feel like the characters that I see myself in more than others, like Angela from The Things We Do For Love, are more characters that I’m afraid of becoming or afraid of being in their positions than actually relating to them.

So, I don’t have an answer for this one – but I’ll obviously keep reading, and hopefully will one day find that character that speaks to me more than any others.

Lauren11