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2024 Bookish Books Reading Challenge (Hosted by Yours Truly)

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My Progress:

11 / 30 books. 37% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

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

- Australia (1)
- Canada (1)
- England (8)
- France (1)
- Indonesia (1)
- Ireland (2)
- Italy (1)
- Scotland (2)
- The Netherlands (1)

My Progress:

23 / 51 states. 45% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

16 / 50 books. 32% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

21 / 50 books. 42% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

43 / 50 books. 86% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

38 / 52 books. 73% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

25 / 40 books. 63% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

15 / 40 books. 38% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

9 / 25 books. 36% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

My Progress

6 / 26.2 miles (second lap). 23% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

My Progress

22 / 100 books. 22% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

58 / 104 books. 56% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

42 / 52 books. 81% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

60 / 165 books. 36% done!
Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books By Black Authors On My TBR Mountain Chain

Today's TTT topic is all about our favorite fictional heroines (Top Ten Favorite Heroines [Or Heroes, If You Like]). Since my aging brain is pretty much rubbish at remembering specifics about characters and would likely revert to leading ladies I've already talked about a million times, I'm going to go in a different direction today. February is almost over and I've yet to talk about Black History Month at all. So, today, I'm going to dish about books on my TBR list by Black authors. 

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Click on over there and give her some love, won't you? If you want to join in the TTT fun, all the details are on her blog.

Top Ten Books By Black Authors On My TBR List Pile Mountain Mountain Chain
- in no particular order - 

1. Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson—Woodson is one of my long-time favorite authors. She's a prolific writer who pens books in a variety of genres for readers of all ages. She's written dozens of books, so it's not surprising that I've yet to read all of them. Harbor Me is a middle-grade novel about a group of kids who are required to meet every week for a group therapy chat sans adults. As they create a safe space for each other, they are freed to talk about the things that are really bothering them—from fears of deportation and racial profiling to money worries to family drama and everything in between. Sharing their worries makes them feel not just seen but also brave enough to tackle whatever comes their way. Sounds like an uplifting, empowering read!


2. The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray—This historical novel has been on my radar ever since I first heard about it. It tells the true story of Belle da Costa Greene, a powerful woman who was hired by J.P. Morgan to curate a collection of books and art for his newly-built library. Unbeknownst to most people, Greene had a closely-guarded secret. She was a light-skinned Black woman who passed as white—a risky business in America in the early 1900s. 

This duo's forthcoming novel, The First Ladies, which publishes on June 7, also sounds like an excellent read. 


3. The Davenports by Krystal Marquis—I'm not much for romance novels, but this YA historical has been popping up all over the place and it does sound entertaining. Inspired by real people, the book revolves around a Black family whose formerly enslaved patriarch made a fortune through the carriage company he founded. By 1910, the Davenports are enjoying a glamorous lifestyle with all the glitzy trimmings. As various members of the family deal with love, loss, and life's daily dramas, they will learn and grow together.


4. A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 by Claire HartfieldHelen reviewed this middle-grade non-fiction book on her blog a few years ago and I knew it was one I needed to read. It recounts the true story of some young Black teen boys who accidentally swam too close to a "white" beach on Lake Michigan. A incensed white man began throwing rocks at one of them, causing the young man to drown. The police refused to arrest the man. Tensions stemming from the incident led to days of violent race riots in Chicago. 


5. Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson—A contemporary adult novel, this one concerns a matriach's death and the secrets she leaves in her wake. When Eleanor Bennett leaves her two children a strange inheritance—a black cake baked from a secret family recipe and a puzzling voice recording—they're left to grapple with secrets they never could have imagined. Will piecing together their family's true history bring them together or tear them apart forever?


6. The Reformatory by Tananarive Due (available June 27, 2023)—This horror novel is getting mixed reviews so far, but it sounds intriguing to me. Set in 1950, it's about a Black boy named Robert Stephen Jones, Jr., who is sent to a reform school after he kicks a white boy's leg. Robert soon discovers that the Gracetown School for Boys is a segregated institution that is haunted by the ghosts of boys who have died there. 


7. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds—I discovered Reynolds' impactful books last year and am working on reading them all. The winner of numerous awards, this YA novel-in-verse is about gun violence and the puzzling mystery that unexpectedly brings three teens together on one very tense elevator ride. 


8. My Lord, He Calls Me: Stories of Faith by Black American Latter-day Saints by Alice Faulkner Burch (editor)—A writer, entrepeneur, advocate, and faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Burch compiled this collection of essays by active Black Latter-day Saints. I just bought this book and can't wait to dive into these faith-filled stories by people whose experience with the Church has been unique to say the least. It promises to be an enlightening read.


9. On Air With Zoe Washington by Janae Marks—I loved From the Desk of Zoe Washington, so I'm all in for this sequel. After Zoe's work in the first book, her birth father has finally been exonerated and released from prison. His dream now is to open his own restaurant, which is a goal baking-obsessed Zoe can definitely get behind. Turns out, it's not easy to turn a dream into a reality. Nor is it simple for an exoneree to reenter society. Zoe decides to start a podcast to bring light to the issue, but is anyone really listening?


10. What Never Happened by Rachel Howzell Hall (available July 11, 2023)—Obituary writer Coco Weber has moved back to Catalina Island to start over. Her friend, the owner of a local newspaper, assures her she'll have plenty of work to do in a place so full of elderly residents. Turns out, a lot of people are dying on the island. And some of those deaths are downright suspicious. When Coco receives a sinister threat in the form of her own obituary, she knows she's on to something. Determined to find the truth, Coco finds herself tracking down a serial killer and researching her own tragedy for answers.


There you go, ten books by Black authors that are on my TBR mountain chain. Have you read any of them? What did you think? Which literary heroines/heroes did you feature today? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog. 

Happy TTT!

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: "Heart" Books On My TBR List

Freebies always stump me and today's is no exception. I wracked my brain to come up with a creative topic for the Valentine's/Love Freebie, but nothing came to mind. In the end, I just decided to go with books on my TBR with "heart" in the title. I'm not much for romance reading, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover I had ten (but not many more) on my want-to-read list.

If you want to join in the TTT fun, head on over to That Artsy Reader Girl for all the details.

Top Ten Books On My TBR List With "Heart" in the Title 
- in no particular order - 

1. Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country in the World by Sarah Smarsh—The product of generations of Kansas wheat farmers on her paternal side and generations of teenaged mothers on her maternal side, Smarsh is well-acquainted with the effects of intergenerational poverty. This close, intimate look at what it means to be part of America's working class poor sounds fascinating.

2. The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee—I'm a big fan of Lee's YA historical novels. This book is the only one the author has written that I haven't read yet. It's a contemporary story about a 16-year-old girl who uses her ability as an aroma expert to help others find true love. As much as she longs to be a normal high school kid, she knows that if she falls in love, her gift will disappear. When she finds herself falling for the perfect guy, her whole life begins to change...Sounds like a cute love story! 

3. The Metal Heart: A Novel of Love and Valor in World War II by Caroline Lea—Following the Allies' win in North Africa, a large group of Italian soldiers are shipped to a remote island off the Scottish coast until the end of the war. When Dorothy and Constance—sisters who have been orphaned—volunteer to tend to the sick and injured men, Dorothy finds herself drawn to one of the prisoners. Their forbidden friendship causes strain between Dorothy and her sister as well as Dorothy and her community. When she is faced with an impossible choice, Dorothy must decide where her true loyalties lie.

4. Heart of Fire: An Immigrant Daughter's Story by Mazie K. Hirono—As a genealogist and the descendant of Europeans who immigrated to America in the 1800s, I'm endlessly fascinated by immigration stories. This one is written by a woman who was born in Japan, immigrated to Hawaii as a young child, and is now a U.S. Senator. 

5. Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert—This YA novel sounds odd, but intriguing. It concerns a teenaged girl who is experiencing strange occurrences that seem to be linked to her mother's mysterious past. With the help of the boy next door, she starts digging into the secrets her enigmatic parent is clearly hiding.

6. Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier—When the remains of a woman missing for fourteen years are discovered, it leads to the reopening of a cold case that stirs up the lives of three best friends, forcing them to reckon with dark secrets and terrifying truths.

7. A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan's Plot to Take Over America and the Woman Who Stopped Them by Timothy Egan—I've never heard of Madge Oberholtzer, but her story sounds intriguing. Her deathbed testimony outed KKK leader D.C. Stephenson, which brought the organization to its knees. 

8. The Key to My Heart by Lia Louis—Louis' books sound like romances I would actually like to read. This one revolves around a grieving widow who finds solace in playing music in a London Tube station. When someone begins leaving the sheet music for her dead husband's favorite songs on the station's piano, the widow is incredulous, curious, and, for the first time in a long time, hopeful. Could this—whatever it is—be her second chance at life and love?

9. Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng—I still haven't read Ng's newest, which is about a boy who embarks on a quest to find the mother he has never had a chance to know except through her banned poetry.

10. Heart Spring Mountain by Robin MacArthur—When Vale, a bartender in New Orleans, is informed that her estranged mother is missing after a violent tropical storm ravaged her Vermont town, she feels compelled to go home. As she looks for her mom, she digs deep into her family's roots and history, revealing shocking secrets that change everything.

There you go, ten "heart" books on my TBR list. Have you read any of them? What did you think? What did you do for today's Valentine's/Love freebie? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT! 

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: 2023 Debuts in the Queue

I love the buzzy beginnings of a new reading year when we're all atwitter with excitement and anticipation about the books we're planning to read over the next 365 days. So far this year, I've made two (Part One, Part Two) Top Ten Tuesday lists of Most Anticipated Books Releasing in the First Half of 2023 and one about New-to-Me Authors I Want to Try in 2023. This week's prompt goes right along with its predecessors: 2023 Debut Books I'm Excited About. After digging into my TBR list and doing some Googling, I've found ten I'm looking forward to reading.

As always, this fun weekly meme is hosted by the lovely Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Give her some love, won't you? While you're there, you can get all the deets about TTT so you're ready to hop on board the TTT party bus!

Top Ten 2023 Debut Books I'm Excited About
- in order of publication - 

The Sisters We Were by Wendy Willis Baldwin (available now)—Stories about sisters always appeal to me (having three of my own) and I've heard good things about this one. It's about Ruby and Pearl Crenshaw, very different sisters who have long been estranged. Hundreds of pounds overweight, Pearl is in desperate need of some life-saving weight loss. After a devastating mistake, Ruby reluctantly reunites with her sister, forcing a reconciliation that will either bring them together or tear them apart for good.

2. The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz (available February 21)—This locked-room mystery/thriller has been getting tons of buzz. It does sound good! It's about a group of writers attending a month-long retreat in an isolated locale who receive the surprise news that they must pen an entire novel in the next 30 days. The best one will receive a lucrative publishing deal. The competition gets tense, then deadly when one of the writers mysteriously disappears in the middle of a violent snowstorm. 

3. The Last Carolina Girl by Meagan Church (available February 28)—I've read several books about eugenics in the U.S. over the last few years. It's a disturbing, but fascinating subject. This debut novel examines the topic through a 14-year-old girl on the Caroina coast whose life takes a troubling turn after her father dies. She's taken in by a wealthy family who treats her as a maid. It soon becomes apparent that the family is hiding a terrible, dangerous secret that could threaten her future and her life.

4. The Secrets of Hartwood Hall by Katie Lumsden (available February 28)—I love me a Gothic family secrets novel, so this one is right up my alley. It's about a young widow who takes a position as a governess at a remote English country house. It doesn't take long for her to notice strange things happening at the home. Hartwood Hall is full of secrets and the governess is determined to discover them all.

Ascension by Nicholas Binge (available April 25)—I'm not much for sci-fi, but this debut sounds super intriguing to me. When a giant, snowy mountain appears suddenly in the Pacific Ocean, a group of scientists is hired to investigate. As they climb the mountain, strange things start to occur. They experience odd time distortions, limbs going numb, and memories slipping away, all of which cause paranoia to set in, causing even more danger. Just what, exactly, is this mountain? A miraculous discovery that will turn them all into legends or a deadly weapon that will kill every last one of them? The premise of Ascension reminds me of Sphere by Michael Crichton. I'm down!

6. The Perfect Ones by Nicole Hackett (available May 2)—A group of popular influencers travel to Iceland for a fabulous promotional trip. One of them ends up dead. Who killed her and why? The Icelandic police are on the case. 

7. The Housekeepers by Alex Hay (available July 4)—This novel sounds clever and fun. It stars Mrs. King, the offspring of tricksters and con artists, who has escaped her checkered past to become a respected housekeeper in a posh Mayfair home. When she is unceremoniously dismissed, she vows to get revenge by robbing her former employees of all their possessions on the night of their much-anticipated costume ball. Mrs. King hires an eclectic group of women to help steal all the family's treasures—and their secrets. 

8. Her Little Flowers by Shannon Morgan (available July 25)—Billed as an "irresistible" read for fans of Kate Morton and Eve Chase (both of whom I adore), this Gothic ghost story sounds like a perfect match for me. It revolves around a 55-year-old woman who has lived in the same haunted manor house for her whole life. When her estranged sister returns home bearing unbelievable tales about their family's troubling past, everything she thought she knew is shaken to bits. Rattled to her core, she must find out the truth for herself.

9. Into the Sunken City by Dinesh Thiru (available Fall 2023)—This YA dystopian adventure is a retelling of Treasure Island "with an Ocean's 11 twist." Count me in! It's about two sisters who are just trying to survive in their harsh world. When a mysterious stranger clues them in to a massive treasure to be found under the sunken ruins of a Las Vegas casino, they vow to make it theirs.

10. Up in Flames by Hailey Alcaraz (available October 3)—When a California wildfire destroys everything wealthy, entitled Ruby Ortega has, she is forced to confront a much different reality than anything she's previously known. Her family and her hometown are in desperate need of help. Can self-centered Ruby step outside herself long enough to help rebuild their ravaged world? This timely YA novel riffs on themes of resilience, change, and compassion.

There you are, ten 2023 debuts I'm excited to read. Have you read any of them? What did you think? Which debuts are you looking forward to? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog. 

Happy TTT!

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

The Bookish Books Reading Challenge: February Book Ideas and Linkup for Reviews

It's hard to believe the first month of 2023 has already passed us by. How did your January go? Did you read any bookish books? I read these four:

I enjoyed all of them, with Dead and Gondola being my favorite of the bunch. It has a fun mountaintop setting, complete with a gondola and a charming bookstore. The mystery is entertaining, too. Of these four, I only managed to review The Blackout Book Club here at BBB, but you can see my quick reviews of each on Goodreads. Hopefully, I'll get at least a couple of these reviewed here in the next few weeks. We'll see.

My goal is to read 2-3 bookish books a month. I rocked it in January. Here's what I'm thinking of reading in February:

The Air Raid Book Club by Annie Lyons doesn't come out until July, but I've got an e-ARC of it from NetGalley. It's about a widow in London who doesn't have the heart to keep her bookshop open after the death or her husband. When she decides to take in a Jewish girl fleeing Nazi Germany, she finds new purpose in helping her and in the book club they run together. 

Smile Beach Murder is the first installment in Alicia Bessette's cozy Outer Banks Bookshop Mystery series. It stars Callie, a laid-off journalist who returns to her hometown to lick her wounds. She finds a job at a local bookstore. When a suspicious death rocks the town, it's eerily reminiscent of Callie's mother's own unexplained demise. Are the two related? What really happened to the dead women?

I've been wanting to read this bookish memoir for years. The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap by Wendy Welch tells the story of the bookstore she and her husband opened in a little Applachian mining town. Against all odds (a declining economy, the growing popularity of e-books, no knowledge of how to actually run a bookstore, etc.), Welch and her husband managed to create not just a successful business but also a powerful sense of community.

I've heard nothing but good things about Sara Nisha Adams' The Reading List. It tells the story of two lonely souls, each very different from the other, finding a connection through a list of recommended reading. Sounds uplifting and heartwarming!

Have you read any of these? What bookish books are you planning to read this month?

For those of you who are participating in the Bookish Books Reading Challenge, here's the Mr. Linky to use for linking up February reviews. If you've not yet signed up for the challenge, what are you waiting for? Join us in this low-key challenge that celebrates a genre we all love: books about books. It will be fun, I promise!


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