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2023 Bookish Books Reading Challenge

My Progress:

24 / 30 books. 80% done!

20 Books of Summer 2023

My Progress:

17 / 20 books. 85% done!

2023 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (2)
- Alaska (1)
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (12)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut (3)
- Delaware (1)
- Florida (1)
- Georgia (1)
- Hawaii (1)
- Idaho (1)
- Illinois
- Indiana (1)
- Iowa (1)
- Kansas (1)
- Kentucky (1)
- Louisiana (1)
- Maine (3)
- Maryland (2)
- Massachusetts (3)
- Michigan (2)
- Minnesota (1)
- Mississippi (1)
- Missouri (1)
- Montana (1)
- Nebraska (1)
- Nevada
- New Hampshire (1)
- New Jersey (1)
- New Mexico (1)
- New York (12)
- North Carolina (4)
- North Dakota (1)
- Ohio (3)
- Oklahoma (1)
- Oregon (1)
- Pennsylvania (1)
- Rhode Island (1)
- South Carolina (1)
- South Dakota
- Tennessee (1)
- Texas (4)
- Utah (1)
- Vermont (3)
- Virginia
- Washington (6)
- West Virginia (1)
- Wisconsin (2)
- Wyoming
- Washington, D.C.* (1)


- Australia (3)
- Canada (7)
- Chile (1)
- England (21)
- France (2)
- Ireland (2)
-Italy (1)
- Scotland (2)
- South Korea (1)
- Sweden (1)
- The Netherlands (2)
-Vietnam (1)

My Progress:

45 / 51 states. 88% done!

2023 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

25 / 25 books. 100% done!

2023 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

48 / 50 books. 96% done!

Booklist Queen's 2023 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

51 / 52 books. 98% done!

2023 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

46 / 52 books. 88% done!

2023 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

35 / 40 books. 88% done!

2023 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

29 / 40 books. 73% done!

2023 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

16 / 25 books. 64% done!

2023 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

Book Bingo Reading Challenge

20 / 25 books. 80% done!

2023 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

93 / 109 books. 85% done!

Children's Book Reading Challenge...For Adults!

Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: And the Award Goes To...

Good Tuesday morning from rainy Arizona! I don't get to say that very often, but I woke up to loud thunder rumbles and now we've got rain. Yay! We need the moisture, plus the cooling effect. (It's ONLY 88 degrees outside right now.) Let's hope the stormy weather sticks around all day.* It's a nice change from the unrelenting sun and heat. Channeling my inner Al Roker, I just have to ask, "How's the weather in your neck of the woods?"

Today's TTT prompt is a great one: Top Ten Books I've Read/Want to Read Because of Top Ten Tuesday. I've added dozens, probably hundreds, of books to my TBR list over the many years that I've been participating in this fun meme. Unfortunately, though, I am absolute rubbish at remembering who recommended waht or even where I first heard about a certain title. I need to be better at this because I know there's nothing more satisfying than someone telling me they read a book I recommended and loved it. 

Since today's topic (wonderful as it is) would overtax my aging memory way too much, I'm going to go rogue. Book awards time is fast approaching. In past years, I've been involved in the CYBILS Awards as well as two different award programs for books produced by members of my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints): the Whitney Awards and the Association for Mormon Letters (AML) Awards. I'm not sure yet which I'll be a part of this year or in what capacity, but I will at least be nominating titles. Middle grade fiction is my favorite genre to read for awards season, so I'm going to give you eleven that I'm planning to read because they seem like worthy contenders for these book awards.

Please consider nominating books for both the CYBILS and the Whitneys. (The AML Awards doesn't accept nominations—all titles published by Latter-day Saints that fit the contest parameters are considered nominees.) The CYBILS public nomination period runs from October 1 to October 15, after which author/publisher nominations open. Nominations are already open for the Whitney Awards. If you've read a novel by a Latter-day Saint author that was (or will be) published between November 1, 2022, and October 31, 2023, nominate it here. You may not think you know of any authors who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but you do: Brandon Sanderson, Shannon Hale, Kasie West, Julie Berry, Amy Harmon, Brandon Mull, Jennifer A. Nielsen, Stephenie Meyer, James Dashner, Sarah M. Eden, Ally Condie, and many more.    

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Click on over to her blog and give her some love.

Top Ten Eleven Middle Grade Books I'm Planning to Read in Anticipation of Book Awards Season
- in no particular order -
- Asterisks indicate books that are eligible for the Cybils Awards, the Whitneys, and the AML Awards - 

1. Lasagna Means I Love You by Kate O'Shaughnessy—I just started this epistolary novel which is written in a series of letters from a grieving 11-year-old to her Nan, who has recently died. With no one else to care for her, Mo is thrust into the foster care system. She finds strength and healing in learning to cook and collecting family recipes from others, while secretly hoping one of her long-lost relatives will come out of the woodwork and share one from her family. Oh, and maybe adopt Mo while they're at it...

2. Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine—Written by a woman who grew up in Wuhan, this novel is about 13-year-old Mei, whose life in the city is turned upside down when COVID hits. As in the previous book, she's grieving the loss of a loved one and finds solace in cooking. Anxious to help with a situation that's fast growing desperate, Mei seeks to spread light in a dark situation. 

3. 102 Days of Lying About Lauren by Maura Jortner—When 12-year-old Lauren "Mouse" Suszek is abandoned by her mother at an amusement park, she knows the key to avoiding being dumped in foster care is to stay hidden. Then, a stranger named "Cat" comes looking for Lauren. Mouse's happiness depends on her avoiding "rescue"—or does it?

4. No Matter the Distance by Cindy Baldwin*—Taking care of her cystic fibrosis dominates Penny Rooney's life, but she doesn't want the disease to define her. Struggling to find herself beyond her CF, Penny discovers new purpose and identity in helping a sick dolphin make its way from the creek where its stuck back to its ocean home.  

5. Sincerely Sicily by Tamika Burgess—This debut novel stars Sicily Jordan, a proud Black Panamanian tween. When she starts attending a new school where no one knows her, she finds herself having to defend her dual ethnicity for the first time. Even some of the people close to her are questioning her seemingly divided loyalties. How can Sicily show them all that she's not one thing or another, but proud and happy to be both?

6. The Lost Year: A Survival Story of the Ukrainian Famine by Katherine Marsh—With a deadly pandemic sweeping the world, Matthew's father is stuck overseas, and his 100-year-old grandmother has just moved in with him and his mom. The 13-year-old is miserable. When he discovers a mysterious old photo in his grandma's things, he becomes intrigued by her past and the shocking family secrets she's been hiding. 

7. The Nightmare House by Sarah Allen*—This horror story is about a young girl who is crippled by nightmares about The Fear Maker, a red-eyed monster who lives in the woods, where he sucks out human souls and leaves his victims with hollow, empty eyes. When she starts seeing these hollow-eyed people in the real world, Penny Hope knows the only way to make it stop is to confront The Fear Maker. It's a terrifying prospect and she's a shaking ball of anxiety and terror. How can she possibly triumph against such a formiddable foe?

8. What Happened to Rachel Riley? by Claire Swinarski—I always love a good mystery and this one sounds compelling. It stars Anna Hunt, the new girl at East Middle School. A podcast enthusiast, she immediately sniffs out an intriguing story right at her school and decides to make her own podcast about it. Last year, Rachel Riley was the most popular kid at East Middle; now she's Public Enemy #1. What happened? None of her classmates will talk, so Anna has to dig deep to find out the truth.

9. Burglars and Bluestockings by Julie Berry*—Sequels rarely (never?) seem to win awards, but I don't care. I love Berry's Wishes and Wellingtons series. It's about an orphan girl who finds a djinni in a sardine can, opening up possibilities for her life that she never dreamed of. Even still, there are still things girls just aren't allowed to do in 1897. In this third installment, Maeve takes a field trip to Oxford and sees women attending college, inspiring a whole new dream to take shape in her mind. Before her imagination can even start firing up, though, thieves come for her djinni. Can she stop them? Can magic help her realize her many dreams and ambitions, despite all the restrictions in her life?

10. The Labors of Hercules Beal by Gary D. Schmidt—Although he's named after a legendary hero, Hercules Beal is anything but. He's scrawny, lonely, and just not very...heroic. So, when he's tasked with replicating Hercules' Twelve Labors for a school assignment, he's not exactly enthusiastic. As he plugs away at it, though, he discovers that he's stronger and more capable than he ever realized. 

11. Half Moon Summer by Elaine Vickers*—Two 7th graders embark on a grueling half-marathon that will test their grit, determination, and friendship. Along the way, it also just might be the thing that gives them both the hope they need to tackle the challenges they're facing in their individual lives.

There you are, eleven middle-grade books I'm excited to read in anticipation of the upcoming awards season. Have you read any of them? Which titles do you think will be contestants in the CYBILS and other upcoming book award programs? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

*Yeah, no such luck. It's bright and sunny again, although it's only 90 degrees outside, plus some humidity (which we only get during monsoon season).

Happy TTT!


  1. These all sound like wonderful reads. I hope you enjoy them, and I might just borrow a few for my own TBR list. :)

    I also enjoyed getting a peek at your work with book awards. I hope you’ll keep us updated on which one(s) you work with again this year. :)

    Here is my Top Ten Tuesday post.

    1. It's been a lot of fun being involved with the various awards over the years. They also involve A LOT of reading, so I like to get started early :)

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lydia!

  2. Very interesting list. I love it! I hope you're able to get to all these books soon. 😀

    1. I'm planning to read them all this month. We'll see if it happens or not. You never know! LOL.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Nicole!

  3. Interesting to see that an author has written a covid-related book for middle schoolers when so many adult-fiction writers are so reluctant to approach that topic.

    1. This is actually the third of fourth MG book I've read about COVID. I hadn't really thought about it before, but I haven't read any adult books about the pandemic. That is super interesting that children's authors are more willing to write about it.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Sam!

  4. Lasagna had me at "epistolary"--it's on my TBR now! Thank you!

    1. What's unique about LASAGNA MEANS I LOVE YOU is that it's written mostly in actual letters (with a few emails thrown in). Most epistolary novels these days use a combination of texts, online posts, podcasts, etc. I like the just letters format. The book is sweet and uplifting, but I think it's going to turn out to be a just okay read for me. We'll see.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lisa!

  5. You've found 11 great sounding books! I wish they all could win awards. Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier.

    Pam @ Read! Bake! Create!

    1. Right? It's tough when you're on an awards judging committee and the others judges don't love a book as much as you do. Sometimes, you have to make compromises and majority-rules decisions that mean a book you think is most deserving of the award doesn't get it. That's hard.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Pam!

  6. You are right, I would have said I didn't know any Latter-day Saints authors, but I do. Thanks for pointing that out, LOL! It's not really something you think about.

    1. You probably are familiar with a lot more of them, too. Latter-day Saint authors generally write squeaky clean books and often in the historical romance and sweet contemporary romance genres. Any list of authors who write clean books is going to include Latter-day Saint writers!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Cindy!

  7. I have heard even over here in Australia how bad it's been in Arizona and other areas lately! I'm glad you got some rain and it's cooled off. We are probably going to be in for a really crappy summer here as well after a few years of quite mild ones.

    1. Wow! We're making the international news. That's so sad. LOL. The heat is definitely intense here. I'm hoping we'll get some big monsoon storms soon as that always helps with the dryness and bringing the temperature down a wee bit. I hope your summer isn't too awful!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Bree!

  8. What an interesting post! I haven't heard of any of these, though there are some intriguing ones on the list. What Happened to Rachel Riley? is going on my TBR now.

    1. I just picked up WHAT HAPPENED TO RACHEL RILEY? from the library. I'm excited to read it. I hope we both enjoy it!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Kristi!

  9. Sincerely Sicily was a really great read. I enjoyed it so much.

    1. Oh, good! It sounds excellent. I have it out from the library right now. I'm excited to read it, especially since you liked it so much!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Alicia!

  10. I love the sound of Burglars and Bluestockings. Happy reading

    1. I'm really enjoying the series. It's just fun!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Vero!

  11. These all have such wonderful titles and covers!

    1. They do, don't they? I'm excited to read all of them. Hopefully, they're all as good as they look/sound.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Louise!

  12. Morning Sun in Wuhan looks particularly good to me. I am excited for you that you have rain. Here in Zanzibar it is mid 80s and humid. The humidity is killing me!

    1. Same! MORNING SUN IN WUHAN has been on my TBR list ever since I first heard about it. It sounds excellent.

      Wow, the heat + humidity sounds miserable. We always joke about our "dry" heat here in Arizona, but I'd definitely rather have that than heavy humidity. Ugh. I hope you're enjoying your trip otherwise.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Helen!

  13. They look like fun reads! I don't read a lot of YA. I'm not sure what age middle grade is, but they look interesting and something I might try!

    Over here in the UK the weather has been wet then sunny. Thankfully it hasn't been too hot. I was worried that we would have another heatwave but it hasn't materialised!

    Have a great week!

    Emily @ Budget Tales Book Blog

    1. Middle grade is actually a very wide-ranging genre. The age range is from about 8 to 12. Most of the protagonists in a MG novel seem to be 11 or 12. Generally, these books are shorter, cleaner, and lighter than YA books, but a lot of them deal with serious issues. The quality of MG books just keeps getting better, so I totally recommend reading them. If you go to, you can look at past award winners, which will give you a good place to start.

      Sounds like you're having nice weather! I'll be in the U.K. in March and I'm wondering just how rainy it will be...hopefully, not too much.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Emily!

  14. These all look terrific! I don't typically read middle grade, but some of these are really eye-catching. Enjoy!

    1. You should give MG books a try! I love them when I'm in the mood for shorter reads that are nonetheless well-written and impactful.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lisa!

  15. All of these look like cute middle grade reads. I've got Half Moon Summer on my TBR list already. Happy reading! :D

    1. I didn't even realize Sarah Allen had a new book coming out until just the other day. I'm excited to read it. I hope we both enjoy it!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lark!

  16. I used to love when it rained in AZ. The smell reminded me of home! I hope you love all of these books. They look fun.

    1. Same! I'll never not love overcast, rainy days thanks to living in the PNW. The only thing I still can't get used to is having that kind of weather and, yet, it's still so...warm. Ugh. I'll take it even still, though. Lots of people find the PNW's constant dreary weather depressing - I'm actually the opposite!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Deanna!

  17. Replies
    1. I hope so, too. I've read two of them so far and both have been enjoyable. So far, so good!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Jo!

  18. I love reading middle grade books too especially the creepy horror-ish ones.

    1. Yes! They're like horror lite. You get some scary bits, but nothing as freaky as what you find in adult ones. I'm a wimp :)

      Thanks for popping by, Rissa!

  19. Rain sounds ah-ma-zing! I don't think we've seen rain in at least a month. Great twist this week. I need to read more MG!

  20. I hope you enjoy all of these, and how fun that you feature some award programs! That's always an important thing to do for these award programs and the people who pour so much time into them. :) Thanks so much for visiting my website this week - hope those cooler temps stuck around, too!

  21. Oooh, I love stories about kids on their own trying to evade detection/foster care. Very interested in 102 Days of Lying About Lauren! No Matter The Distance looks good too, as much for the dolphin aspect as for the fact that CF treatments (and life expectancy) have progressed SO MUCH since I first started reading novels about it from the 80s; can't get much more up to date than this. I'd be interested to see how it's portrayed since I think the last such book I read was from 2008.

  22. I'm glad it cooled down a bit for you guys; I have no idea how you manage in that kind of heat. This is such a cool and varied list, and I hope you really enjoy them. A few of these caught my attention, which is cool because I don't read much MG.

  23. I just added the first one to my TBR last week. I am always looking for new books for my kids. Thanks for sharing!

  24. I hope you enjoy your awards reading!


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