Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge Completed


Nearly 12 months ago I shared my desire to complete the 2016 Goodreads Reading Challenge!! I set a goal of 104 books and today I hit that goal!! Not all of the books I read are listed below, but rest assured, I have read well over 104 books this year. About 10 of those 104 books are longer children's books that I LOVE and read this year to my story time crowd. But if I included each and every book I read aloud to my kids, and kids I read to in the library, I'd be well over 300 books this year!!

1. North America COMPLETED Still Life With Crows
2. Africa COMPLETED The Birth of a Nation: Nat Turner and the Making of a Movement
3. Antarctica COMPLETED Ice Limit
4. Europe Completed The Book of Life
5. Australia COMPLETED Truly Madly Guilty
6. A banned or challenged book COMPLETED And Tango Makes Three
7. An award winning book (Pulitzer, Hugo, Man Booker, etc.) COMPLETED Grammy Award Winner A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety
8. A book with LGBT matter or character(s) COMPLETED A Little Life
9. A book your favorite author loves COMPLETED Things Fall Apart Lin-Manuel Miranda's favorite book :)
10. A retold fairytale COMPLETED The Royal We
11. A Young Adult book COMPLETED Blood Red Road
12. A history book (fiction or non-fiction)Salt to the Sea
13. A book where you have seen the movie, but not read the book COMPLETED Me Before You
14. A book from the NYT Bestseller list COMPLETED Pretty Girls
15. A book with the point of view of an immigrant COMPLETED Hamilton: The Revolution
16. The first book you see when you walk into a library or bookstore COMPLETED As Night Falls
17. A debut novel COMPLETED. A Discovery of Witches
18. Published this year (2016) COMPLETED Beyond the Ice Limit
19. Based entirely on the cover COMPLETED The Royal We
20. Own but never read COMPLETED The Girl in the Red Coat
21. A book by an author you never read before COMPLETED. Into the Wilderness
22. A book recommended to you by a friendly librarian COMPLETED. The Paper Magician
23. A book by a Nobel Prize winner COMPLETED A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety
24. Mythology (not just Greek) COMPLETED American Gods
25. A book written by someone born the same year as you COMPLETED
26. Dystopia COMPLETED. The Girl with All the Gifts
27. Reread of a favorite book COMPLETED What Alice Forgot
28. A book about books COMPLETED The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
29. A book a child/teen/someone younger than you loves COMPLETED Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes My daughter Haley LOVES this book!
30. A book about/set by the sea COMPLETED Wreckage
31. A book with two authors COMPLETED Crimson Shore
32. Author from your own state, province, or country COMPLETED Out of the Easy I was born in Detroit, and so was Ruta.
33. A book with the name of a person in the title COMPLETED Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
34. Science Fiction COMPLETED Shadow of Night
35. Fantasy COMPLETED
36. Wild card COMPLTED The Glass Magician
37. Wild card COMPLETED The Master Magician
38. Wild card COMPLETED Bird Box
39. Wild card COMPLETED The Cabinet of Curiosities
40. Wild card COMPLETED The Last Anniversary
41. Wild card COMPLETED The Widow
42. Wild card COMPLETED Where They Found Her
43. Wild card COMPLETED The Luck Uglies
44. Wild card COMPLETED Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City
45. Wild card COMPLETED Hamilton: The Revolution
46. Wild Card COMPLETED Finding Jake
47. Wild Card COMPLETED The House Girl
48. Wild Card COMPLETED Alexander Hamilton
49. Wild Card COMPLETED The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers
50: Wild Card COMPLETED The Nest
51. Wild Card COMPLETED A Dog's Purpose
52. Wild Card COMPLETED My Best Friend's Exorcism

And additional books read:

53. Wild Card COMPLETED Calling Me Home

54. Wild Card COMPLETED The Underground Railroad

55. Wild Card COMPLETED The Invisible Library

56. Wild Card COMPLETED Like A Charm

57. Wild Card COMPLETED The Lilac Girls

58. Wild Card COMPLETED The Gates of Evangeline

59. Wild Card COMPLETED The Portable Veblen


How did you do with your 2016 reading challenge??

Books to read BEFORE they hit the theaters

Books to read BEFORE they hit the theaters!

Tony and Susan by Austin McGiffert Wright

Movie titled: Nocturnal Animals starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal – release date December 9, 2016.

By framing a crime story within a domestic novel, Wright, an English professor and author of three previous novels, dissolves the fragile civility that often conceals violence. He also scrutinizes the institution of marriage, considers the nature of memory, and documents the potential impact of one's choices, both large and small--all without sacrificing pace. At Edward Sheffield's request, Susan Morrow reads his first novel, Nocturnal Animals, in which an impulsive change of plan delivers Tony Hastings and his family into the hands of strangers who terrorize them. Passages from Sheffield's novel alternate between Susan's memories of Sheffield (her ex-husband), to details of her current marriage, to her speculations about the writer's and the reader's obligations. By counterpoising the eroding compromises of Susan's daily life with the sufferings of the Hastings family, Wright demonstrates that macho posturing, cruelty, and the refusal of individual responsibility infect both sexes and all classes.

Live By Night by Dennis Lehane

**FUN FACT: Dennis Lehane is an alumnus from my undergrad Eckerd College and is a writer in residence at the College.**


Starring Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Zoe Saldana and Sienna Miller – expected release January 13, 2017. During Prohibition in 1926, Joe Coughlin defies his strict upbringing by climbing a ladder of organized crime that takes him from Boston to Cuba, where he encounters dangerous characters who are all fighting for their American dream. Before I fall by Lauren Oliver Starring Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage and Jennifer Beals – expected release March 3, 2017 Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity and the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

Before I Fallby Lauren Oliver Starring Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage and Jennifer Beals – expected release March 3, 2017
Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity and the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.


The Zookeeper's Wife : A War Story by Diane Ackerman

Starring Jessica Chastain – Expected release March 31, 2017 When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw—and the city's zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen "guests" hid inside the Zabinskis' villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

**I have read this book and it is nothing short of AMAZING. Eye opening, and at times the content is very difficult to read. But I am so glad that I read it because I learned so much about WWII that I didn't know.**

Movie titled: Ashes in the Snow starring Martin Wallstrom, Bel Powley and Sophie Cookson – expected release 2017. In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother, and brother are pulled from their Lithuanian home by Soviet guards and sent to Siberia, where her father is sentenced to death in a prison camp while she fights for her life, vowing to honor her family and the thousands like hers by burying her story in a jar on Lithuanian soil. Based on the author's family, includes a historical note.

HHhH by Laurent Binet Starring Rosamund Pike, Mia Wasikowska and Jack O’Connell – expected release 2017. HHhH: "Himmlers Hirn heisst Heydrich," or "Himmler's brain is called Heydrich." The most lethal man in Hitler's cabinet, Reinhard Heydrich seemed indestructible―until two exiled operatives, a Slovak and a Czech, killed him and changed the course of history. In Laurent Binet's mesmerizing debut, we follow Jozef Gabcík and Jan Kubiš from their dramatic escape from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia to their fatal attack on Heydrich and their own brutal deaths in the basement of a Prague church. A seamless blend of memory, actuality, and Binet's own remarkable imagination, HHhH is at once thrilling and intellectually engrossing―a fast-paced novel of the Second World War that is also a profound meditation on the debt we owe to history.

The Glass Castle : a memoir by Jeannette Walls Starring Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson – expected release 2017. The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family. The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

The Circle : a novel by Dave Eggers Starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson – expected release April 2017. When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

The Long Home by William Gay Directed by and starring James Franco – expected to release in 2017. In a literary voice that is both original and powerfully unsettling, William Gay tells the story of Nathan Winer, a young and headstrong Tennessee carpenter who lost his father years ago to a human evil that is greater and closer at hand than any the boy can imagine - until he learns of it first-hand. Gay's remarkable debut novel, The Long Home, is also the story of Amber Rose, a beautiful young woman forced to live beneath that evil who recognizes even as a child that Nathan is her first and last chance at escape. And it is the story of William Tell Oliver, a solitary old man who watches the growing evil from the dark woods and adds to his own weathered guilt by failing to do anything about it. Set in rural Tennessee in the 1940s, The Long Home will bring to mind once again the greatest Southern novelists and will haunt the reader with its sense of solitude, longing, and the deliverance that is always just out of reach.

The Yellow Birds : a novel by Kevin Powers Starring Jennifer Anniston – expected release 2017. In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city. Bound together since basic training when Bartle makes a promise to bring Murphy safely home, the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for. In the endless days that follow, the two young soldiers do everything to protect each other from the forces that press in on every side: the insurgents, physical fatigue, and the mental stress that comes from constant danger. As reality begins to blur into a hazy nightmare, Murphy becomes increasingly unmoored from the world around him and Bartle takes actions he could never have imagined.

Which of these books have you read? Which do you think sounds like a good movie adaptation?


Saving More for College with Florida Prepaid

This post is sponsored by the Florida Prepaid College Board through my role as a Believer Blogger. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 Open enrollment for Florida Prepaid College Plans started October 15th and will continue through February 28th, 2017.

 The #TampaTrio all have Florida Prepaid accounts, I've discussed that many times on the blog. I've also discussed how the plan can be transferred if one of the kids decides to go to an out-of-state school or heck, maybe no college at all.

But recently I've begun thinking more about what we would do if one of the kids showed great academic promise our Florida Prepaid wasn't enough. And if she/he was able to get a scholarships/grants would that really be enough?

I would really like to be able to help my kids graduate from college debt free. Did you know that students who earned a bachelor’s degree in 2015 left school with an average of $28,100 in debt. That's a lot of money. I know it. I lived it. Had it not been for some wise financial decisions I would still probably be paying off my own student loans rather than being able to save for my kids. And I did have scholarships and grants. But it wasn't enough (though the fact that I earned multiple advanced degrees might have something to do with it too, but we won't go there Money Mouth).

As my oldest daughter is now nearly 1/2 way through her middle school years, and her academic talent is beginning to emerge. Last year in 6th grade she earned a perfect score on the ELA (English Language Arts) State Assessment Test. That score triggered Duke University to invite her to take the SAT or ACT as a 7th grader. No pressure. Just to see how she does. We chose the ACT over the SAT because I took the ACT back in the day. I scored a 32, cold. No test prep. One and done. 


But here's the thing. Students with the highest scores may be eligible to receive a scholarship to attend TIP’s Center for Summer Studies!! And by highest scores I mean the top 5 percent of academically talented students in their grade level. 

And just check out the courses they offer! 

If she qualifies and gets a scholarship, we can afford to pay the difference and send her. But that's a 2 week summer program. Not a 4-year degree. And she's not my only kid.

I also have Ronin who is showing a lot of skill with computer programming. He was able to spend a week this past summer living in a dorm on a college campus and coding coding coding. He had the time of his life. But again, a 1-week summer program. Not a 4-year degree. And I still have one more kid. 


Ella's first year in Middle School has been good. She's making friends, she's learning how to manage her time. And she tried out, and was awarded a part in the school play. She is dramatic, and funny, and wants to be an actress when she grows up. She's passionate and determined and when she sets her mind to something she is unstoppable. Perhaps this summer she will want to attend a unique theater camp. I can do that. But what if she wants to attend The Julliard School? Yearly tuition is currently $41,310. 

The #TampaTrio are curious little people. And curiosity makes learning more effective and enjoyable. 


I want to foster that little bit of weirdness that is inside each of them as they travel on their life path. 

How am I going to do that?

i want to open a Florida 529 Savings Plan.

From their site "The funds in your Florida 529 Savings Plan can be used for any qualified higher educational expense, including tuition, room & board, textbooks, graduate school and much more. This gives you extreme flexibility to use the funds as you see fit, for whatever your child may need. And should those needs change during his/her college years, you’re free to adjust as well."

A 529 Plan will help me to pay for all those summer academic excursions and (if needed) additional expenses not covered through their current Florida Prepaid plans.

Are you fully prepared? Are you ready to open plans for your kid(s)?? If you open an account no later than February 28, 2017, you can save 50% off the application fee!!  The promo code will save you $25.


 Promo Code: BLOG1617

Open Enrollment period (Oct. 15 through Feb. 28), is NOW and prices are low! 

in addition to the 529 plans there are other options available too!


  • 2-Year Florida College Plan
  • 4-Year Florida College Plan
  • 2+2 Florida College Plan
  • 4-Year Florida University Plan

And there is also a new plan available! The Florida Prepaid College 1-Year Florida University Plan. You can purchase one year, or 30 credit hours, at a time according to your budget and timeline, without feeling the pressure of having to buy all four years at once. The plan also allows multiple purchasers to buy a plan for the same child. So now you can team up with other family members to help pay for your child’s higher education. For example, let Grandma and Grandpa buy one year and you purchase another. A child can have up to four 1-Year Florida University Plans.

Learn more about Florida Prepaid College Plans in this video.

Follow Florida Prepaid College Plans on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube to stay up to date with information on not only the scholarship program and open enrollment but get tips on college and more.