2016 Reading Challenge

Last year (sounds so weird to say that) I participated in the 52 week reading challenge and I finished!! You can see what I read here. While I was really good about updating my blog, I wasn't so great about updating my Goodreads list. I vow to be better with that this year. 

So now.....Welcome to the 2016 challenge!


The main goal is for everyone to read books that they might not otherwise choose, thus expanding beyond their comfort zone. This year there is also a wild card category, because everyone reads books that just don't fit one of the categories - and those should count too! And audio books TOTALLY COUNT!!

Read a book from each of the 43 categories, plus 9 "wild cards" for a total of 52 books.


The Categories

Read a book that takes place on each continent, or is written by an author from that continent (fiction or non-fiction)

1. North America COMPLETED Still Life With Crows

2. South America
3. Africa
4. Antarctica COMPLETED Ice Limit
5. Europe Completed The Book of Life
6. Asia
7. Australia TB COMPLETED Truly Madly Guilty
8. A banned or challenged book
9. An award winning book (Pulitzer, Hugo, Man Booker, etc.) COMPLETED Grammy Award Winner A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety
10. Memoir/Autobiography/Biography
11. A dead author's last book
12. A book with LGBT matter or character(s) COMPLETED A Little Life
13. A book your favorite author loves
14. A retold fairytale COMPLETED The Royal We
15. A Young Adult book COMPLETED Blood Red Road
16. A history book (fiction or non-fiction)Salt to the Sea
17. A book where you have seen the movie, but not read the book
18. A book from the NYT Bestseller list COMPLETED Pretty Girls
19. A book with the point of view of an immigrant
20. A controversial book 
21. The first book you see when you walk into a library or bookstore COMPLETED As Night Falls
22. A classic
23. A debut novel COMPLETED. A Discovery of Witches
24. Published this year (2016) COMPLETED Beyond the Ice Limit
25. Based entirely on the cover COMPLETED The Royal We
26. Own but never read
27. A book by an author you never read before COMPLETED. Into the Wilderness
28. A book recommended to you by a friendly librarian COMPLETED. The Paper Magician
29. A book by a Nobel Prize winner COMPLETED A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety
30. Mythology (not just Greek) COMPLETED American Gods
31. A book written by someone born the same year as you COMPLETEDhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2...
32. Dystopia COMPLETED. The Girl with All the Gifts
33. Reread of a favorite book 
34. A book about books COMPLETED The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
35. Book published the year you graduated high school
36. A book a child/teen/someone younger than you loves COMPLETED Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes My daughter Haley LOVES this book!
37. A book about/set by the sea COMPLETED Wreckage
38. A book with two authors COMPLETED Crimson Shore
39. Author from your own state, province, or country COMPLETED Out of the Easy I was born in Detroit, and so was Ruta. 
40. A book about a trip (road, cruise, around the world)
41. A book with the name of a person in the title COMPLETED Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
42. Science Fiction COMPLETED Shadow of Night
43. Fantasy COMPLETED https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2...
44. Wild card COMPLTED. The Glass Magician
45. Wild card COMPLETED. The Master Magician
46. Wild card COMPLETED Bird Box
47. Wild card COMPLETED The Cabinet of Curiosities
48. Wild card COMPLETED The Last Anniversary
49. Wild card COMPLETED The Widow
50. Wild card COMPLETED Where They Found Her
51. Wild card COMPLETED The Luck Uglies
52. Wild card 

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What I've Been Reading

I haven't blogged about my current reads in over a month!! And I've certainly read a lot over the past 34 days.

Since my last post November 6, I've read:

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer

The Nightingale

The Night Circus

Serafina and the Black Cloak


and I'm currently reading Wildflower by Drew Barrymore. I love it when audio books are narrated by the author.

Cover art 

I also read quite a bit of Norse Mythology to help Haley with her National History Day project.

Of all the books I read this month, two really stand out; The Nightingale and The Night Circus. I loved them both so much and they are so different! But at the core they are both about the power of love.



The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

"The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead."

I loved this book! The imagery was amazing and I felt transported. I wanted to become a Reveur. The illusions that Celia and Marco created were awe-inspiring. The scene where Celia and Marco disappear into a sea of ink on a boat with sails made of books. “Only the ship is made of books, its sails thousands of overlapping pages, and the sea it floats upon is dark black ink.” I loved this imagery. And Celia's dresses sound just amazing! You can view the fan trailer for the potential movie below.


And now...The Nightingale. Sigh. So many feels.

"In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn't believe that the Nazis will invade France...but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne's home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

Vianne's sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gaetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can...completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women's war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France--a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women."
Having recently read All the Light We Cannot See I wasn't sure that I would like The Nightingale.  I'm so glad I gave it a chance. I actually enjoyed it more than All the Light.
This map features some of the locations featured in this remarkable tale of war time France. Touraine is in the Loire Valley where Carriveau is located in the novel.
Be prepared to weep when you read this book. What these women went through, what they suffered, what they saw. The brutality of it all and the unfairness of their situation – grabs you by the throat and never lets you go.
What the novel excels at is the stark portrayal of the decisions these women faced on a daily basis. Imagine having a Nazi soldier take over your home? Your children starving because of the rations, the inability to do and go where you want? The fear and the not knowing. The Nazis do everything to break the spirit of the French people and the death camps are in full operation. These scenes are amongst the most heartbreaking I’ve ever read.
I can't imagine the courage that these women had. They were so brave. I try to imagine a 20something ME leading downed RAF men through the Pyrenees Mountains like Isabelle did and I can't even.....
Though the cold winters, ice, snow. Minimal food. Ill fitting shoes. Not enough clothing. Hardly any sleep.
The Nightingale left me in tears. Sobbing. Gut wrenching. A must read.
What have you been reading lately?

Holiday Themed Books, Music, Movies and More!

Get into the festive spirit with this collection of holiday-themed music, movies, and more!



Rhys Bowen

Part of the Molly Murphy series. It's Christmastime in 1905 New York City, and for once, Molly Murphy Sullivan is looking forward to the approaching holidays. When a young boy is accused of stealing a purse, Molly intervenes on his behalf.



Debbie Macomber

Ashley Davison wants to spend the holidays with her family in Seattle; Dashiell Sutherland has a job interview in Seattle and must arrive by December 23. Both are out of luck: Every flight is full, and there's only one rental car available. Ashley and Dash reluctantly decide to share the car, but neither anticipates the ride ahead. Not only do they find they have a lot in common, but there's even a spark of romance in the air.



Richard Paul Evans

At thirty-two Kimberly Rossetti has had her heart broken more times than she wants to remember. Dreading another holiday alone, she signs up for The Mistletoe Retreat, a nine-day writing retreat in Savannah, Georgia. At one of her breakout sessions Kimberly meets another aspiring writer, Zeke, an intelligent man with a wry wit who seems as interested in Kimberly as he is in the retreat.



Shelley Shepard Gray

Part of the Amish Brides of Pinecraft series. When Beverly Overholt's beloved Orange Blossom Inn is broken into, she's shaken to her core. In the face of repairing what's been lost, Beverly calls Eric Wagler, the inn's handsome owner. As Beverly and Eric put the inn back together, prepare for Christmas, and even witness a new love blossoming for another couple, the trust, and love, between them grow.



Fern Michaels

Throughout the years, the ladies of the Sisterhood have delivered their own style of vigilante justice to those who most deserve it. But this Christmas, instead of finding and punishing bad guys, all Maggie Spitzer wants is to bring a little more joy to the world and especially to a beloved teacher from her past. And as the Sisters unite to find her, they learn that no holiday treat is as fulfilling as giving to others.




Placido Domingo

World-renowned opera star Placido Domingo releases a personal Christmas album featuring songs that are dear to his heart and that celebrate the warmth and magic of the season. Guests include Jackie Evancho and Idina Menzel.



Part of the Now That's What I Call Music series. Music's most popular series unveils a new double collection featuring favorite Christmas songs from the country music superstars of yesterday and today including Luke Bryan, Little Big Town, Reba McEntire, and more.



Chris Tomlin

Grammy and Dove Award winner Chris Tomlin rings in the holiday season with a mix of festive Christmas classics and original songs. There are also special guest performances from All Sons & Daughters, Lauren Daigle, Kristyn Getty, and more.



Dave Koz

With four highly successful holiday albums and seventeen consecutive years of the Dave Koz and Friends Christmas tour, Dave Koz returns to celebrate the holiday season with a new release featuring several guest stars.



Kylie Minogue

Global pop superstar Kylie Minogue rings in the season with her first ever Christmas album, which sees her put her own spin on a mix of holiday classics and originals. There are also duets with Iggy Pop and James Corden.




Starring: Malinda Williams, Brad James, Jason Weaver, Carl Payne, Gregory Alan Williams, Victoria Rowell

With her family constantly hounding her, a single woman pretends to be engaged for the duration of family Christmas.



Starring: Candace Cameron Bure, Jesse Hutch, Alan Thicke

Part of the Hallmark Entertainment series. A self-defined Grinch, Stephanie begins her stay at Snow Valley Lodge immune to Christmas sentiment. But as the lodge's festive traditions provide the Christmas Stephanie never had growing up with her distant father, Stephanie finds herself enjoying every minute. To complicate matters even further, the combative feelings she felt toward Brady turn into romantic ones.



Starring: Erin Galway-Kendrick, Robert James-Collier, Bronagh Waugh, Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, Kylie Minogue

Born under the Christmas Star, Noelle believes she has the gift to perform miracles. When her peaceful life is threatened by the developer McKerrod, she and her friends use this gift to thwart his plans and save their village.



Starring: Taraji P. Henson, AJ Ackleson, Cleo Anthony, Gary Craig

Part of the Lifetime Original Movies series. A romantic, soulful holiday drama about two people who struggle to find love against the odds, while reconciling with the past and learning the true value of family.




Starring: Lori Loughlin, Bailee Madison, Dermot Mulroney

Part of the Hallmark Entertainment series. Mackenzie is sensible in life and has long since abandoned childhood dreams. When she inherits her aunt's beautiful but antiquated hotel, she decides the reasonable thing to do is put it up for sale before Christmas. Little does she know the hotel plays an important role for Santa on Christmas Eve, and it now has the full North Pole's attention.


Disclaimer: I have not personally read or listened to any of the items mentioned in this list. This list was gathered via the PAC for Holiday themed materials.