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2022 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
- Alaska (1)
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (4)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut
- Delaware
- Florida
- Georgia (1)
- Hawaii (1)
- Idaho
- Illinois (1)
- Indiana (1)
- Iowa (1)
- Kansas
- Kentucky
- Louisiana
- Maine (1)
- Maryland (2)
- Massachusetts (4)
- Michigan (2)
- Minnesota (1)
- Mississippi (1)
- Missouri
- Montana
- Nebraska (1)
- Nevada
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York (7)
- North Carolina (3)
- North Dakota
- Ohio (1)
- Oklahoma
- Oregon
- Pennsylvania (2)
- Rhode Island (1)
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Tennessee (1)
- Texas (2)
- Utah (2)
- Vermont (2)
- Virginia (1)
- Washington (4)
- West Virginia
- Wisconsin (1)
- Wyoming
- Washington, D.C.* (1)

International:

Antarctica (1)
Australia (2)
Egypt (2)
England (11)
Greece (1)
Italy (1)
Nepal (1)
Romania (1)
Scotland (3)
Sweden (1)
Wales (1)

My Progress:


29 / 51 states. 57% done!

2022 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:


19 / 50 books. 38% done!

2022 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:


20 / 25 books. 80% done!

2022 Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge

My Progress:


47 / 53 books. 89% done!

Booklist Queen's 2022 Reading Challenge

My Progress:


40 / 52 books. 77% done!

Aussie Author Reading Challenge 2022


1 / 24 books. 4% done!

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge


3 / 20 books. 15% done!

2022 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

My Progress:


31 / 50 books. 62% done!

The 52 Book Club's Reading Challenge 2022

The 52 Book Club's Reading Challenge 2022

My Progress:


39 / 52 books. 75% done!

2022 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:


34 / 50 books. 68% done!

2022 Support Book Bloggers Challenge

2022 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

Friday, December 31, 2021

Goodbye, 2021. Hello, 2022!


Happy New Year! I usually do this annual wrap-up/stats on January 1, but I want to have the blog all turned over and ready to go for 2022 before tomorrow, so...here we go. I had an excellent reading year, at least as far as numbers go. Let's see how it all broke down:

Total Books Read:  203—for the first time ever, I reached my goal of reading 200 books in a year. Yay! Last year, I read 191, so a definite improvement.

Number of fiction books read:  193 (95%)—I made a tiny bit more of an effort to read more non-fiction this year...

Number of non-fiction books read:  10 (5%)—I read two more non-fiction books than I did last year. Go, me!

Number of adult books read:  121 (60%)—As much as I love children's literature, the bulk of my reading is always in the adult category. This has remained very consistent over the years.

Number of YA books read:  21 (10%)—I'm reading fewer and fewer teen books every year, it seems. 

Number of MG books read:  61 (30%)—Thanks to the Cybils Awards and another book award program I help judge most years, I read a lot of middle-grade novels. 

Number of books by female authors:  177 (87%)—Another thing I remain very consistent on is reading mostly female authors. I guess it's mostly women writing in the genres I like?

Number of books by male authors:  26 (13%)—My percentage rate on this one is actually a teensy bit higher this year than last.

Number of books by male/female combo:  1 (.005%)

Number of books read, personal collection:  25 (12%)—Oops! I did not do a very good job in this category.

Number of books read, review copies:  52 (26%)—This percentage is down from last year. 

Number of books read, borrowed from library:  126 (62%)—I love the library! Last year, 53% of my reads were from the library. I'm glad to see that this number has gone up.

Number of books read, paper:  141 (69%)—I'll always be a fan of "real" books!

Number of books read, electronic:  44 (22%)

Number of books read, audio:  18 (9%)—I only listened to 6 audiobooks last year. This year, I had one going all the time, hence the elevated number.

Number of reading challenges joined:  9

Number of reading challenges completed:  5

For my own records, I like to record the titles of the books I read every year. Here are my books for 2021 (asterisks denote favorites):

  • 1. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (Jan)
  • 2. When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain (Jan)
  • 3. Murder at Marble House by Alyssa Maxwell (Jan)
  • 4. The Caretakers by Eliza Maxwell (Jan)
  • 5. The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman* (Jan)
  • 6. Egg Drop Dead by Vivien Chien (Jan)
  • 7. Strike Me Down by Mindy Mejia (Jan)
  • 8. The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill* (Jan)
  • 9. The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (Jan)
  • 10. Toxic Toffee by Amanda Flower (Jan)
  • 11. Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling [audio] (Jan)
  • 12. Dark August by Katie Tallo* (Jan)
  • 13. The Stills by Jess Montgomery (Jan)
  • 14. Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan [audio] (Jan)
  • 15. The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner* (Jan)
  • 16. To Kill a Mocking Girl by Harper Kincaid (Jan)
  • 17. The Stranger Behind You by Carol Goodman (Jan)
  • 18. A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Mayhem by Manda Collins (Jan)
  • 19. Alone by Megan E. Freeman (Jan)
  • 20. Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda (Jan)
  • 21. Death in the Family by Tessa Wegert (Jan)
  • 22. Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green (Jan)
  • 23. Home Before Dark by Riley Sager (Feb)
  • 24. Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green (Feb)
  • 25. The Family Ship by Sonja Yoerg (Feb)
  • 26. Beginners Welcome by Cindy Baldwin (Feb)
  • 27. In the Deep by Loreth Anne White (Feb)
  • 28. On These Magic Shores by Yamile Saied Méndez (Feb)
  • 29. The Family by Louise Jensen (Feb)
  • 30. 96 Miles by J.L. Esplin* (Feb)
  • 31. The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson (Feb)
  • 32. The Missing One by Lucy Atkins (Feb)
  • 33. The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel (Feb)
  • 34. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott* [audio] [re-read] (Feb)
  • 35. The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths (Feb)
  • 36. The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs* (Feb)
  • 37. The Survivors by Jane Harper (Feb)
  • 38. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (Mar)
  • 39. The Mountains Wild by Sarah Stewart Taylor (Mar)
  • 40. The Lost Family by Libby Copeland (Mar)
  • 41. The Dead Season by Tessa Wegert (Mar)
  • 42. The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen [re-read] (Mar)
  • 43. The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Mar)
  • 44. A Trail of Lies by Kylie Logan (Mar)
  • 45. After Alice Fell by Kim Taylor Blakemore (Mar)
  • 46. The Elephant's Girl by Celesta Rimington (Mar)
  • 47. The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse (Mar)
  • 48. A Distant Grave by Sarah Stewart Taylor (Mar)
  • 49. Willa and the Whale by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown (Mar)
  • 50. The Answer Is... by Alex Trebek* [audio] (Mar)
  • 51. The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Mar)
  • 52. The Captive Kingdom by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Mar)
  • 53. Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson (Mar)
  • 54. Killer Kung Pao by Vivien Chien (Mar)
  • 55. The Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley (Mar)
  • 56. Any Sign of Life by Rae Carson (Apr)
  • 57. The Fire Thief by Debra Bokur (Apr)
  • 58. Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce* [audio] (Apr)
  • 59. Bluebird by Sharon Cameron* (Apr)
  • 60. The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton (Apr)
  • 61. Until I Find You by Rea Frey (Apr)
  • 62. The Boy From the Woods by Harlan Coben (Apr)
  • 63. The Second Life of Mirielle West by Amanda Skenandore (Apr)
  • 64. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein [audio] (Apr)
  • 65. The Cold Vanish by Jon Billman* (Apr)
  • 66. All the Children Are Home by Patry Francis (Apr)
  • 67. The Glass House by Eve Chase (Apr)
  • 68. We Are All the Same in the Dark by Julia Heaberlin (Apr)
  • 69. Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto (May)
  • 70. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery* [audio] [re-read] (May)
  • 71. The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake (May)
  • 72. The Wrong Family by Terryn Fisher (May)
  • 73. Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee (May)
  • 74. American Baby by Gabrielle Glaser* (May)
  • 75. Go to My Grave by Catriona McPherson (May)
  • 76. Flower Net by Lisa See (May)
  • 77. Starfish by Lisa Fipps (May)
  • 78. Dive Smack by Demetra Brodsky (May)
  • 79. Atomic Habits by James Clear* (May)
  • 80. Hems & Homicide by Elizabeth Penney (May)
  • 81. Shiver by Allie Reynolds (May)
  • 82. Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood (May)
  • 83. She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge (May)
  • 84. A Deadly Fortune by Stacie Murphy (May)
  • 85. Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery [audio] (May)
  • 86. Margot by Jillian Cantor (May)
  • 87. The Wilding Sisters by Eve Chase (May)
  • 88. Along a Storied Trail by Ann H. Gabhart (May)
  • 89. The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes (Jun)
  • 90. The Light of Luna Park by Addie Armstrong (Jun)
  • 91. You Belong Here Now by Diana Rostad (Jun)
  • 92. An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn (Jun)
  • 93. Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery [audio] (Jun)
  • 94. The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny* (Jun)
  • 95. A Solitude of Wolverines by Alice Henderson (Jun)
  • 96. Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson (Jun)
  • 97. The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustain (Jun)
  • 98. The Disappearing Act by Catherine Steadman (Jun)
  • 99. The Next Ship Home by Heather Webb (Jun)
  • 100. A Distance Too Grand by Regina Scott* (Jul)
  • 101. Dear America: Behind the Masks by Susan Patron (Jul)
  • 102. Nothing Short of Wondrous by Regina Scott (Jul)
  • 103. The Lion of Mars by Jennifer L. Holm* (Jul)
  • 104. The Girl Beneath the Sea by Andrew Mayne (Jul)
  • 105. The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton (Jul)
  • 106. Open for Murder by Mary Angela (Jul)
  • 107. A Girl From Yamhill by Beverly Cleary (Jul)
  • 108. The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson (Jul)
  • 109. Boston Jane by Jennifer L. Holm* (Jul)
  • 110. Boston Jane: Wilderness Days by Jennifer L. Holm (Jul)
  • 111. Boston Jane: The Claim by Jennifer L. Holm (Jul)
  • 112. Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan (Jul)
  • 113. The House By the Sea by Louise Douglas (Jul)
  • 114. Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton (Jul)
  • 115. In the Same Boat by Holly Green (Jul)
  • 116. Murder Most Sweet by Laura Jensen Walker (Jul)
  • 117. After Anna by Lisa Scottoline (Jul)
  • 118. Deep Water by Watt Key (Jul)
  • 119. Dear America: All the Stars in the Sky by Megan McDonald (Jul)
  • 120. No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert (Aug)
  • 121. The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan (Aug)
  • 122. We Are Not Free by Traci Chee (Aug)
  • 123. Dead Wake by Erik Larsen [audio] (Aug)
  • 124. Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty* (Aug)
  • 125. The Distant Dead by Heather Young (Aug)
  • 126. Westering Women by Sandra Dallas (Aug)
  • 127. Shiner by Amy Jo Burns (Aug)
  • 128. A Dark and Stormy Murder by Julia Buckley (Aug)
  • 129. Ophie's Ghosts by Justina Ireland (Aug)
  • 130. Missing Okalee by Laura Ojeda Melchor (Aug)
  • 131. The Stillwater Girls by Minka Kent (Aug)
  • 132. The Third Pole by Mark Synnott (Aug)
  • 133. True Grit by Charles Portis* [audio] (Aug)
  • 134. Eat Your Heart Out by Kelly deVos (Aug)
  • 135. If It Rains by Jennifer L. Wright* (Aug)
  • 136. The Indifferent Stars Above by Daniel James Brown (Sep)
  • 137. A Soft Place to Land by Janae Marks (Sep)
  • 138. Need by Joelle Charbonneau (Sep)
  • 139. Marshmallow Malice by Amanda Flowers (Sep)
  • 140. Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara (Sep)
  • 141. I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel (Sep)
  • 142. The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave (Sep)
  • 143. All Systems Red by Martha Wells (Sep)
  • 144. Kiss Me Now by Melanie Jacobson (Sep)
  • 145. A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny* (Sep)
  • 146. Unquiet Ghosts by Glenn Meade (Sep)
  • 147. What Beauty There Is by Cory Anderson (Sep)
  • 148. Willodeen by Katherine Applegate (Sep)
  • 149. Survive the Night by Riley Sager* (Sep)
  • 150. Bottomland by Michelle Hoover (Sep)
  • 151. Glass Houses by Louise Penny* [audio] (Sep)
  • 152. Still Life in Blood by Crystal Heidel (Sep)
  • 153. The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James (Sep)
  • 154. Across the Desert by Dusti Bowling (Oct)
  • 155. The Hidden by Melanie Golding (Oct)
  • 156. Beyond the Mapped Stars by Rosalyn Eves (Oct)
  • 157. In a Flash by Donna Jo Napoli (Oct)
  • 158. To Tell You the Truth by Beth Vrabel (Oct)
  • 159. An Occasionally Happy Family by Cliff Burke (Oct)
  • 160. The Last Bear by Hannah Gold (Oct)
  • 161. All You Knead is Love by Tanya Guerrero (Oct)
  • 162. Death at Greenway by Lori Rader-Day (Oct)
  • 163. Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh (Oct)
  • 164. A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins (Oct)
  • 165. A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus* (Oct)
  • 166. Breathing Underwater by Sarah Allen (Oct)
  • 167. When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Peach Pie by Erin Soderberg Downing (Nov)
  • 168. Fly Away by Patricia MacLachlan (Nov)
  • 169. The Losers at the Center of the Galaxy by Mary Winn Heider (Nov)
  • 170. Dead and Breakfast by Kate Kingsbury (Nov)
  • 171. Linked by Gordon Korman (Nov)
  • 172. The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Nov)
  • 173. War and Millie McGonigle by Karen Cushman (Nov)
  • 174. The Silver Blonde by Elizabeth Ross (Nov)
  • 175. Take Back the Block by Chrystal D. Giles (Nov)
  • 176. Taylor Before and After by Jennie Englund (Nov)
  • 177. How to Get Away With Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce* [audio] (Nov)
  • 178. What the Dead Leave Behind by Rosemary Simpson (Nov)
  • 179. Clues to the Universe by Christina Li (Nov)
  • 180. Houdini and Me by Dan Gutman (Nov)
  • 181. Cuba in My Pocket by Adrianna Cuevas (Nov)
  • 182. As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson (Nov)
  • 183. Cold-Blooded Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce* [audio] (Nov)
  • 184. Violets Are Blue by Barbara Dee (Nov)
  • 185. The Lines Between Us by Amy Lynn Green* (Dec)
  • 186. Flight of the Puffin by Ann Braden (Dec)
  • 187. A Quiet Life in the Country by T.E. Kinsey* (Dec)
  • 188. My Name is Layla by Reyna Marder Gentin (Dec)
  • 189. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens* [audio] (Dec)
  • 190. Favorite Poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow* (Dec)
  • 191. The Long Weekend by Gilly Macmillan (Dec)
  • 192. Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva (Dec)
  • 193. Many Points of Me by Caroline Gertler (Dec)
  • 194. Into the Wind by William Loizeaux (Dec)
  • 195. Poison Lilies by Katie Tallo* (Dec)
  • 196. Sorry For Your Loss by Joanne Levy (Dec)
  • 197. The Disinvited Guest by Carol Goodman (Dec)
  • 198. Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson* [re-read] (Dec)
  • 199. The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley [audio] (Dec)
  • 200. Yusuf Azeem is Not a Hero by Saadia Faruqi (Dec)
  • 201. The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan (Dec)
  • 202. A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw (Dec)
  • 203. The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson (Dec)
Thursday, December 30, 2021

Too Many Reading Challenges? No Such Thing!

One last post for the day...I promise! 

You all know how much I adore my reading challenges. I love seeing new ones pop up this time of year. There are so many great ones out there for 2022; believe you me, I wanted to join them all! I managed to limit myself to *just* ten. Before you all stage an intervention, recognize that the first five aren't all that challenging because they encompass what I usually read and track anyway. The last five, though? Well, we'll see how I do.

1.  2022 Literary Escapes Challenge hosted by Lori @Escape With Dollycas Into a Good Book


This is probably my favorite challenge ever, so I do it every year. It requires reading one book set in each of the 50 U.S. states, plus D.C. You also get points for reading books set in other countries.



Since I rocked this challenge so hard this year, I'm going to join at the highest level once again. I'm going "Prehistoric" by pledging to read 50+ books.



I'm still enjoying my cozy reading, although I didn't read as many as I wanted to in 2021. For 2022, I'm going to join at the "Peckish" level once again. That involves reading 1-25 cozies, so that shouldn't be too tough.



I always enjoy doing this yearly challenge, so I'm signing up again. Let's see if I can beat 11th place in 2022!



I'm not sure why I've never joined this annual challenge before since it's right up my alley. All you have to do is read mystery books (including suspense/thriller/crime, etc.). Easy peasy! I'm joining at the highest level—Sherlock Holmes (naturally)—which requires you to read 56+ mystery books.


This challenge requires you to read books from 52 different reading prompts. There are lots of fun ones this year.



I'm super excited for this one, which requires reading books by Australian authors. There's even a lucrative prize for the person who posts the most reviews of books that fit the challenge requirements! I can always use book money, so I'm going to go for the "Emu" level. It's described as follows: Read and review 24 books written by Australian Authors of which at least 10 of those authors are female, at least 10 of those authors are male, and at least 10 of those authors are new to you; Fiction or non-fiction, at least 4 different genre. Sounds fun!

8.  2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge hosted by Shelleyrae @Book'd Out


I didn't read tons of non-fiction this year, but I quite enjoyed the ones I did read. So, I'm thinking taking on this challenge will be a good way to push me to read more in this genre. I'm going to do the "Nonfiction Grazer" level, which involves reading any nonfiction books and setting your own goal. Since I only read ten non-fiction books this year, I think I'll push myself a bit and set my goal at 20.



As the title suggests, this challenge has 50 prompts to fulfill. 


Prompt-based challenges are my jam, as you can clearly see! This one has 40, all of which have something to do with having an adventure.

Whew! What do you think? Can I finish all these? Since I can use one book for prompts on multiple challenge lists, I think it's doable. Even if I totally fail, at least I'll have fun finding new books to read. Wish me luck!

If you're looking for a reading challenge (or ten) to join for the new year, check out my other blog by clicking here or on the banner below. I keep a running list of challenges being hosted all over the book blogosphere. If you're hosting one and you don't see it listed on my site, please let me know. I'm happy to add you to the database.


Boo and Yeah: A (Mostly) Successful Year With Reading Challenges

So, book lovers, what are your thoughts on reading challenges? Obviously, I adore them. Even when I don't finish them (which is most of the time), I still have a ball finding books that fit prompts, making check marks on challenge lists, and seeing others challengers' progress. It's just...fun. This year, I'm patting myself on the back a bit because I actually did pretty well with all of my challenges. Just because I only completed a few of them doesn't mean I didn't expand my reading horizons, find some great books to read, and have myself a good ole time. My kids say I have no idea what real fun is. I can't imagine why...

Let's start with my successes. My biggest one is first:

2021 Reading Challenge

2021 Reading Challenge
Susan has completed her goal of reading 200 books in 2021!
hide

Boom! For the first time ever, I met (and surpasses, thank you very much) my goal of reading 200 books in a year. I love tracking my reading with Goodreads


The Literary Escapes Challenge is one I enjoy doing every year. This time around, I read at least one book set in every state in the U.S. plus D.C. I also read books set in 14 different countries. 

My Top Five most traveled to U.S. destinations were:

1. New York (12 books)
2. California (11 books)
3. Illinois, Ohio, and Texas (tie—7 books each)
4. Washington (6 books)
5. Pennsylvania and Vermont (tie—5 books)

My Top Five most traveled to international destinations were:

1. England (21 books)
2. Canada (8 books)
3. Australia (3 books)
4. China, France, and Ireland (tie—2 books)
5. The rest tied with one book each.


Let's be honest: I read so much historical fiction anyway that the annual Historical Fiction Reading Challenge isn't really a challenge for me. Still, I pledged to complete the "Prehistoric" level, which involved reading at least 50 historical novels and I ended up reading 61. Boo yeah!


Same goes with mysteries. I read tons of them, so the Medical Examiner Mystery Reading Challenge is a yearly no-brainer for me. According to Rick's meticulous notes, I read 82 murder mysteries and tied 433 toe tags (meaning I recorded that many fictional deaths, at least those that included names and causes of deaths). Incredibly, this only put me in 11th place for this challenge. The winner tied a total of 1782 toe tags. Wow!


Update:  I thought I hadn't reached my goal with this year's Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge, but then I took a closer look at the rules. I signed up for the "Peckish" level, which requires reading 1-25 cozies. With 12 read, I'd say I met my goal. Sweet.

I didn't do quite as well on these:



Sadly, I did not finish my own challenge. For shame! You can read my wrap-up post for all the deets on this one.


I've yet to ever complete this yearly challenge. It features 50 main book prompts and 10 advanced ones. How did I do with the 2021 challenge? 


42 / 52 books. 81% done!

Not too shabby, thank you very much. There are A LOT of prompts in this one and I'm kind of anal about fulfilling them with exactness. So, yeah.


Booklist Queen's annual challenge has 52 prompts. How many did I complete?



44 / 52 books. 85% done!

Again, not too bad. 

As its name indicates, the 52 Club's annual reading challenge involves knocking out 52 reading prompts. How many did I get?



48 / 52 books. 92% done!

So close!

All in all, I did pretty well with my reading challenges. I'm proud of my 2021 efforts.

Stay tuned to see which reading challenges I'm tackling in 2022. Also, if you're a reading challenge fanatic like I am, definitely check out my other blog, where I list all the reading challenges I can find in the book blogosphere. If you're hosting one that I haven't mentioned there yet, please let me know so I can add it to the database.



The Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2021 Wrap-Up Post


One of the goals I made for my 2021 blogging year was to host my own reading challenge. I did it and, although it wasn't a terrible success, it wasn't a total failure either! I learned some things (like don't make the prompts so hard that no one can finish them), which is always good. Thank you to the two lovely ladies who took the challenge with me. None of us quite completed the challenge, but that's okay. I think we at least read some good books.

Since I don't plan on doing any more reading for the challenge today or tomorrow, I'm admitting defeat. Here's what I ended up reading/not reading:

About a war other than World War II Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh

Takes place before 1800 The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley

Set in a country you do not live in Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Main character travels on a ship, train, or covered wagon Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Set in a decade you don't usually choose to read about Cuba in My Pocket by Adrianna Cuevas

A major holiday is celebrated A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus

Takes place in a city or region where you have lived The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Features time travel to the past Houdini and Me by Dan Gutman

About a historical disaster, natural or otherwise Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee

With a proper noun in the title Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce

- Features a real female hero from the past

Book that relates somehow to your own family history (the main character emigrates from the same country your ancestors did, the MC participates in a historical event your family member did, about someone you're related to, etc.) Beyond the Mapped Stars by Rosalyn Eves

Written by a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) author We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

Features a main character with a different ethnicity, religion, or culture than your own The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman

Has an animal on the cover Bluebird by Sharon Cameron

A ghost story Ophie's Ghosts by Justina Ireland

- Features a castle or an old house

- Set in South or Central America

A mystery The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill

Set in the decade that one of your parents was born in War and Mollie McGonigle by Karen Cushman

- Concerns an event of historical significance that happened during your lifetime (or your parents' lifetimes if you were born after 2000)

Features a search for gold or other kinds of treasure Behind the Masks by Susan Patron

A person in period clothing on the cover Boston Jane by Jennifer L. Holm

Based on a true story Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood

- A main character who is Native American, Alaska Native, or Native Hawaiian The Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley 

21 out of 25 isn't bad at all, so I'm not going to be too hard on myself for not finishing my own challenge. Ha ha.

For the one of you who asked, no, I will not be bringing the challenge back next year. I wasn't a very good hostess this year and I've got other projects to focus on in 2022. We'll see what happens in 2023!

For the two other participants in the challenge, here's a final Linky to use for posting any reviews or wrap-up posts related to the challenge. Thanks again for hanging in there with me. I appreciate the support! Oh, and if you did finish the challenge and I owe you a book, please let me know.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: My Best Books of 2021


I don't know about you, but I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea that 2021 is almost over. It's been a good year for my family with lots of fun memories made. We're gearing up for an eventful 2022, so I'm excited to ring in the new year! 

The end of the year is also a good time in book blogger land. I always enjoy reading people's wrap-up posts and best-of lists. Today's TTT prompt goes right along with that: Top Ten Best Books I Read in 2021. Of the 202 books I've read so far this year (I'll probably still get through another one or two before Saturday), I marked 33 as favorites. It was a little tough to whittle that list down to the ten best, even after I disqualified re-reads. Even then, I couldn't decide what order they should go in, so I didn't rank them. 

I'd love to see your list of faves, so please join in the TTT fun. All you have to do is head on over to That Artsy Reader Girl for all the details, make your own list, then click around to other people's blogs. It's a great way to spread the love around our wonderful book blogosphere and get some great reading recommendations while you're at it!

Top Ten Best Books I Read in 2021


1. Atomic Habits by James Clear—If you're determined to make your goals into realities this year, you want to get your hands on a copy of this book. It's motivating, helpful, and very readable. I enjoyed it when I read it earlier this year. It's so inspiring that I might re-read it this week to jump-start my goal-reaching in 2022.


2. The Lion of Mars by Jennifer L. Holm—I loved this uplifting middle-grade sci-fi novel. It's a space adventure, but it's really more of a family/community drama. It just made me smile.


3. Bluebird by Sharon Cameron—I'm a big Cameron fan and this YA World War II novel is a perfect example of why I love the author so much. It's a riveting story filled with page-turning action, interesting historical details, and sympathetic characters. 


4. The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner—Meissner is another hist-fic author whose books I really enjoy. This novel, set against the backdrop of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, tells the story of a mail-order bride with a secret past. It's super compelling.


5. The Answer Is... by Alex Trebek—This memoir was a delight to listen to. It's not as serious or melancholy as I thought it would be. In fact, it's funny, inspiring, and life-affirming. The chapters narrated by Trebek (most are read by Ken Jennings) are especially enjoyable. 


6. A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny—Like many mystery lovers, I can't get enough of Penny's popular series starring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. I read three installments this year, of which A Great Reckoning is my favorite. It has an intriguing premise, which makes for a compelling and thought-provoking novel. I loved it.


7. How to Get Away With Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce—I discovered the Myrtle Hardcastle mystery series this year and it is all kinds of charming! I've listened to all three of the books that are out and had the most fun with this, the second one. It tells an exciting story that has plenty of twists, humor, and action. 


8. A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus—Another middle-grade novel, this one features three recently orphaned siblings who are sent to the English countryside while London is being bombed in World War II. As they search their new village for a family to call their own, they find refuge in the town library and its unconventional librarian. Funny, poignant, and hopeful, this is a truly lovely book!


9. Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty—Not everyone loved Moriarty's newest, but I adored it. It's different from her others...in a good way. 


10. The Cold Vanish by Jon Billman—I found this non-fiction book about the many people who go missing in North America's federal land every year absolutely fascinating. 

There you have it, my ten favorite reads of the year. What do you think? Do we have any in common? What are the best books you read in 2021? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I'll gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: My Christmas Favorites


Happy Tuesday! How's everyone doing? I'm swell, especially because I have exciting news—on Sunday, I finished my 200th book of the year, meaning that, for the first time ever, I met my goal of reading 200 books in a year. Cue the confetti! I don't know how you tally up your totals, but I count books finished (not including picture books or anything under 50 pages) and not pages read, so it's possible I've read more pages in other years, just not this many actual volumes. I'm so proud of myself :) We won't talk about all the other more productive things I could have accomplished with all those hours...moving along...

Today's TTT topic is Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings/Bookish Wishes. It has this addendum, that I find kind of odd but others might enjoy: This was so popular when I did it in June that we’re doing it again for the holidays! List the top 10 books you’d love to own and include a link to your wishlist so that Santa can grant your wish. Make sure you link your wishlist to your mailing address [here’s how to do it on Amazon] or include the email address associated with your ereader in the list description so people know how to get the book to you. After you post, jump around the Linky and grant a wish or two if you’d like. You can make your identity known or be someone’s secret Santa! Please don’t feel obligated to send anything to anyone! If you would rather not include your wish list, just share the books you hope you find under your tree on Christmas morning. I can't imagine asking people to buy me books, so I'm going to skip this topic altogether. Instead, I thought it might be fun to share some of my favorite Christmas things—books, music, movies, etc. Before we get to that, though, be sure to click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl and give our hostess, Jana, some love.


My Top Ten Christmas Favorites

1.


I think everyone is aware of how much I love A Christmas Carol by now. I re-read it every December to get me in the holiday spirit. It's wise, witty, and just wonderful. It also happens to be the only Dickens book I've ever read. Yay for novellas!

2.



There's nothing more festive than listening to Christmas music. I have many favorite holiday songs, but O Holy Night is the one I hands-down love the best. Which version do I most enjoy? I don't even know—I love it that much! As far as more jazzy Christmas tunes go, I dig God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Go Tell It On the Mountain.  

3.

I've mentioned before that I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known as Mormons). One thing people of my faith revere is the Sabbath Day, which we try to keep holy. To this end, Mormons don't generally shop on Sundays or attend things like sporting events. Growing up, my father was adamant about us kids only watching uplifting things on the Sabbath. Other than videos produced by our church, he had two others he deemed appropriate: The Sound of Music and It's a Wonderful Life. My siblings and I viewed both so many times that we can still quote them word-for-word all these years later. My love for It's a Wonderful Life started then and continues now. It remains my all-time favorite Christmas movie. 

4.


You can't go wrong with the classics! Also, the Prep & Landing movies are just fun.

5.


Back to the Mormon thing...we don't drink alcohol. My mom made eggnog every Christmas Eve by mixing a carton of the stuff with a block of vanilla ice cream and a bottle of Sprite to create a yummy eggnog punch. I'm lazy, so I pour eggnog straight out of the carton into a glass and enjoy. No one else in my family cares for the stuff, which is perfect. More for me!

6.


My husband and I have both been trying to lose weight this year (he's dropped around 40 lbs.—we won't talk about how much I may or may not have lost/gained), so I actually have not made many of our usual treats this year. However, my stepsister gave us several pounds of vegan Wood Nook fudge that I just couldn't stop eating. I love me some dairy and I still found it addicting! I've never met a fudge I didn't like... 

7.


The Mesa Temple is a sacred, historical building owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It opened here in the city where I live in 1927. Every year, it hosts a large Easter Pageant on the lawn as well as an incredible display of Christmas lights strung all over its grounds. Both are popular, well-attended community events. The temple has been closed for the last few years for extensive remodeling and I've missed it for many reasons. Now that the renovations have been completed, the temple has been rededicated and will resume normal operations today. Unfortunately, there are no lights this year. Next year, though, my family and I will definitely be visiting the temple grounds to enjoy the display, as we have many times over the years.

8.


I talked about decorations in my last Top Ten Tuesday post. Although I don't have tons of them and the ones I do have aren't particularly unique, I love nativities. Why? A couple weeks ago, I visited a free nativity display in a woman's home. When I asked her why she started collecting nativities forty years ago, she said, "I just love Jesus!" That about sums it up for me as well.

9.


Even though stamps are expensive and writing dozens of addresses out cramps my hand, I still love to send out Christmas cards every year. A few years ago, in the middle of a particularly exhausting December, I announced that I wouldn't be sending out cards. My mom called me to make sure I wasn't dying. That's how serious I am about my card-sending! Even better is receiving cards from family and friends. I love looking at their family pictures, reading their letters, and displaying all the cards we receive. It just makes me happy.

10.


Russell M. Nelson, the prophet and president of my church, is a retired heart surgeon, a dynamic leader, and a powerful speaker. I love the video messages he shares. Many of you enjoyed his Thanksgiving address from last year, which I posted here, so I thought I would share his Christmas message from this year. Enjoy!




Happy TTT!

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