2016 Reading Challenges

2016 Reading Challenges: April Recap

Welcome to my reading challenges recap for 2016!  This is a monthly post where I’ll be updating my progress throughout the year by challenge so you (and I) can see a breakdown of what I’ve read and which goals those books apply to.  I’m always open to suggestions in the comments as well!

GOODREADS

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Goal: 100

Read so far: 48

FLIGHTS OF FANTASY

flights of fantasy

Goal: 30

Read so far: 22

Books that Qualify:

January: Truthwitch (review), Red Queen (review), Clockwork Angel (review), Fablehaven

FebruaryGrave Mercy (review), Poison Study (review), The Storyspinner (review), The Assassin’s Blade (review), Reign of Shadows (review), Stars Above, Shadow and Bone

MarchThe Crown and the Arrow, A Fierce and Subtle Poison (review), The Fellowship of the Ring, The Skylighter (review), Clockwork Prince (review), Dark Triumph (review), Madly, The Shadow Queen

April: The Winner’s Kiss, The Rose and the Dagger, The Raven King

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE READING CHALLENGE

contemporary romance reading challenge

Goal: 21+

Read so far: 13

Books that Qualify:

January: Meant to Be (review), Pivot Point (review), Summer of Sloane, Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (review)

February: Firsts (review), Boomerang (review), The Love that Split the World

MarchSplit Second (review), Tiny Pretty Things (review), Catching Jordan

April: Wild Swans (review), The Distance Between Us (review), Summer of Supernovas (review)

THE RE-READ CHALLENGE

re-read challenge

Goal: 10

Read so far: 2

Books that Qualify:

January: N/A

FebruarySuperboy: Smallville Attacks (review)

March: The Fellowship of the Ring

April: N/A

2016 TBR PILE READING CHALLENGE

TBR Pile Reading challenge

Goal: 50

Read so far: 22

Books that Qualify:

January: Meant to Be (review), Mitosis, Firefight (review), Pivot Point (review), Red Queen (review), Clockwork Angel (review), Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (review)

February: Grave Mercy (review), Boomerang (review), Poison Study (review), The Storyspinner (review), The Assassin’s Blade (review), Shadow and Bone 

MarchThe Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (review), Split Second (review), Clockwork Prince (review), Dark Triumph (review), Tiny Pretty Things (review), Madly, Komomo Confiserie Volume 1, Catching Jordan (review)

AprilThe Distance Between Us (review), Sword Art Online Girls Ops Vol 1

2016 FINISHING THE SERIES CHALLENGE

finishing the series challenge

*This challenge will fluctuate throughout the year based on whether a new book in the series has been released. A star denotes that I am either finished or current with the series.

Goal: 3-6 series

Series completed so far: 5

Series current with so far: 9

Books that Qualify:

January: Mitosis, Firefight (review), Pivot Point (review), Truthwitch* (review), Red Queen (review), Clockwork Angel (review), Fablehaven

February: Grave Mercy (review), Boomerang (review), Into the Dim* (review), Poison Study (review), The Storyspinner (review), The Assassin’s Blade (review), Reign of Shadows* (review), Shadow and Bone, Ranma 1/2 volume 3

MarchThe Crown and the Arrow*, The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (review), Split Second* (review), The Skylighter* (review), Clockwork Prince (review), Dark Triumph (review), Tiny Pretty Things* (review), Madly*, Komomo Confiserie Volume 1, The Shadow Queen*, Catching Jordan

AprilThe Winner’s Kiss*, Archie Volume 1: The New Riverdale*, Sword Art Online Girls Ops Volume 1, Map of Fates*, The Rose and the Dagger*, The Raven King*

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Kristin
My Book Bag

My May Pre-Orders!

My Book Bag is a monthly feature where I’ll be sharing all of the books that I preordered for the month.  There are so many amazing stories to look forward to this month so wn be found down below if you’d like to read the synopsis.  May is my biggest book month of the year so far!1 - May 3 2 3 4

BOOKS MENTIONED

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson (Goodreads)

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas (Goodreads)

The Crown (The Selection #5) by Kiera Cass (Goodreads)

The Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider (Goodreads)

The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude (Goodreads)

The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood (Goodreads)

Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood (Goodreads)

Unrivaled (Beautiful Idols #1) by Alyson Noel (Goodreads)

Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins (Goodreads)

Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes (Goodreads)

The Fireman by Joe Hill (Goodreads)

The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman (Goodreads)

Wanderlost by Jen Malone (Goodreads)

The Inside of Out by Jenn Marie Thorne (Goodreads)

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Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting.  This week I’m choosing Caraval by Stephanie Garber.  I talked about this book in a Top 10 Tuesday a little while back but the cover was just recently released and it’s super pretty!  The book doesn’t come out until January of next year, but the film rights have already been purchased by the same studio who adapted Divergent.  Caraval has a definite Night Circus vibe going on but it falls into the YA genre and it involves two sisters who get caught up in a game (… or is it?!) of love heartbreak and magic.  You can read an excerpt from the book on EW.

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Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever. (via Goodreads)

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Fashion

Fashion Find: Wonder Woman Cosmetic Cases

I was so thrilled when London Soho New York reached out to me to see if I wanted to review their new line of Wonder Woman cosmetic bags and I’m pleased to say that upon opening the parcel they sent me, I fell completely in love with each of the products they sent me.  This limited edition line is exclusive to Walgreens and they’ll be available starting in May of 2016.  While the overall outside aesthetic of the bags are really appealing, it’s the details that really won me over.  My favorite piece in the line is the clear case with the Wonder Woman logo on the front because I love the little cape! The blue star background isn’t part of the case but I’ll be keeping that insert in because I like the way it looks there.  Each case has beautiful gold mirror star zippers and gold trim which matches the accessories Diana wears with her costume.  I also love the blue star lining in the other two cases (each of these are a satin material and they’re part of the case).  The biggest case is perfect for storing lesser used eye shadows, while the other two are perfect to throw in your purse when you’re on the go.  I’m even planning on using the adorable tags (seen in the first photo) as bookmarks! Each case will retail for $7.99 – $11.99 so they’re really affordable and it’s easy to justify picking each of them up.

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outfit of the day

Book Look OOTD: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

This summery outfit is ideal for today because I have the day off of work and in a few short hours I’ll be leaving to go to my Bachelorette Party! The girls (and guys – Andrew and I decided to have a combined Bachelor / Bachelorette party) rented a house on a beach and I’m so excited for our weekend of board games, beach bummin’ and wine drinking.

As soon as I got this ice cream cone shirt from Wildfox (another design that’s made for little girls) I knew it would be the perfect book look for Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson since the main character Emily spends some of her summer working at an ice cream shop.  I also wanted to wear something on the trendier side hence the lace on my denim shorts and the fringe on my sandals because the cover models are oh so fashionable!  When I think of summer, I often think immediately of SYBG.  It has all the elements I love in YA contemporary and I definitely plan on re-reading this one<3

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Outfit Details: Shirt (Wildfox)  |  Shorts (Forever 21 – Similar

Necklace (House of Harlow – NA)  |  Bangles (House of Harlow – N/A)  

Shoes (Sam Edelman – Similar)  |  Sunglasses (Choies – Similar)

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Tea & Book Chat

Tea & Book Chat: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Ever since I read and loved Pivot Point and Split Second, I knew I had to read all of Kasie West’s other books, past and future.  I started with The Distance Between Us because I happened to have a copy on my Kindle but I was later told that was the best thing I could have done because some of The Distance Between Us characters show up in On the Fence.  I ended up loving this one and I can honestly say I am a full blown Kasie West addict at this point.  The Distance Between Ustells the story of Caymen, a sarcastic girl who lives above a struggling doll shop with her single mother, and a boy named Xander who happens to walk into the shop one day.

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I have to start by saying that Caymen is one of the funniest main characters I’ve read about.  Her sense of humor is very dry and her sarcasm is on point.  I can totally see her enjoying British television.  Caymen is the kind of girl who uses sarcasm as a coping mechanism since she’s stuck helping her mom in a creepy doll store that she has no interest in inheriting but it’s also just her sense of humor.  She even takes half days at school so she can spend more time working and she does it all without complaining or ever asking for the chance to have a social life of her own.  Then in walks Xander and the slow burn romance commences.  Xander is tall, dark and handsome and he comes from a family with a ton of money.  Caymen and Xander don’t initially hit it off (especially from Caymen’s perspective) but the evolution of their relationship is one I really connected to.  They’re the cutest couple and I was rooting for them throughout the whole book.  Xander is being groomed to take over his father’s hotel business which is something he’s not interested in so the pair start having career days where they try to figure out a future for each other.  It couldn’t have been cuter! There’s also a whole subplot going on with Caymen’s mom and the doll store but what really hooked me is the romance.

Final Thoughts:  The Distance Between Us by Kasie West is a witty contemporary romance that’ll have you swooning.  Caymen and Xander are some of my favorite YA characters and their slow burn romance really speaks to my heart.  I loved the banter, sarcasm and each character’s journey to self discovery.  If you’re looking for a love story with a funny lead, The Distance Between Us should be on your list!

Rating 5

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she’s beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about. (via Goodreads)

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Art Gallery

My Favorite Betty & Veronica Variant Covers

I’m so excited about the new Betty and Veronica comic that Archie comics is launching this July! Archie comics has been really appealing to me lately.  They’ve gotten a number of wonderful creators working on their books which has made everything feel new again.  I think it’s enticing for people from younger generations to start getting involved in these stories, especially when there are such great artists drawing characters is the most realistic and fashionable clothing.  Plus, there’s that Riverdale show that will be debuting on the CW this fall so it’ll be a great opportunity for newbies to have a starting point to jump in from.

I recently read the first volume of the newly rebooted Archie comic (written by Mark Waid with artwork by Fiona Staples, Annie Wu and Veronica Fish) and I was honestly laughing out loud and making Andrew look at certain panels because I loved them so much<3  I also really loved The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina but since there was such a long hiatus between issue #1 and issue #2 (seriously, it might’ve been over year) I’m waiting to catch up on that one until it’s available in trade.  Same goes for the second volume of Afterlife with Archie, the Riverdale zombie comic. I have yet to read Jughead but the trade is coming out soon and as a huge Chip Zdarsky fan, I have no doubt I’ll love that series as well.

But anyway, I’m here to talk Betty & Veronica.  I love thie frenemy duo and as I previously mentioned, their fashion choices!  I’m so happy that Archie Comics is celebrating their launch with 25 variant covers and I wanted to share my favorites here.

Will you be picking up Betty & Veronica? Or have you been reading any of the other Archie Comics series I mentioned?

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Jenn St. Onge

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Audrey Mok

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Genevieve F.T.

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Erica Henderson

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Tom Bancroft

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Rian Gonzales

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Cliff Chiang

8

Colleen Coover

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat

Tea & Book Chat: Summer of Supernovas by Darcy Woods

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This is no way swayed my opinions.*

Summer of Supernovas is Darcy Woods’s debut contemporary YA novel. It follows a girl named Wil as she tries to live her life according to the stars.  Her deceased mother was very interested in astrology which is why Wil feels such a strong connection to the zodiac and she becomes involved in a love triangle where she’s torn between her perfect astrological match and what could be her worst astrological downfall.  I have to say that I seem to be the odd woman out when it comes to this book.  There were aspects of it that I enjoyed but overall I took issue with the story and I never found myself excited to pick up and read from where I left off.

Summer of Supernovas

My first gripe is the sibling love triangle.  I’m rarely a fan of love triangles but when the triangle involves siblings (brothers Seth and Grant in this case) it’s even harder for me to get behind.  Wil is torn between the two after being “saved” from a tower by Grant and meeting Seth at a club the next night.  Grant and Seth come from money but while Seth is flashy, Grant is more down to Earth and in tune with the world around him.  Both guys seem sweet enough but it’s obvious that Wil has feelings for Grant.  She soon learns that his brother Seth should be her perfect astrological match and that dating Grant is destined to be a disaster so she decides to follow her star chart instead of her heart.  This is my second issue.  It was really challenging to get behind Wil’s decisions (despite the deceased astrology buff mother) when she had to convince herself every single time she saw either brother that she should be with Seth.  I’m not someone who puts much story in astrology so it was probably harder for me than it may be for other people.  Now for the elements I enjoyed; I loved Wil’s relationship with her Gram and her best Irina, I love Wil’s retro 1940’s style and the fact that her Gram bakes gourmet cupcakes for work, and I especially enjoyed Darcy Woods’s writing.  I wouldn’t be opposed to reading a future book of hers since I enjoyed her storytelling skills but unfortunately this book didn’t resonate with me.

Final Thoughts:  Summer of Supernovas by Darcy Woods is a contemporary romance about a girl named Wil who trusts the stars over her own instincts.  She finds herself in a love triangle with two brothers who compete for her attention and while she clearly has feelings for one, she sticks with the other because of her star chart.  I’m not one for sibling love triangles or astrology so I struggled with this story as I read.  I would read another book by Darcy Woods because her writing has so much potential but this story just wasn’t for me.

Rating 3

As the daughter of an expert astrologer, Wilamena Carlisle knows that the truth lies within the stars. So when she discovers a rare planetary alignment, she is forced to tackle her worst astrological fear – The Fifth House of Relationships and Love. But Wil must decide whether a cosmically doomed love is worth rejecting her mother’s legacy, when she falls for a sensitive guitar player hailing from the wrong side of the chart.

Debut author Darcy Woods explores love in all its complexities and how to best honor the loved ones who have passed before us, in a novel packed with both humor and heart. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday: Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken (Passenger #2)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting.  This week I’m choosing Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken which is the follow up and conclusion to her Passenger duology.  Passenger was one of my favorite books of 2015 and I am so eager to get my hands on a copy of Wayfarer.  We were left with a major cliffhanger and I cannot wait to see how the story continues and resolves itself! Plus the cover was recently revealed and it is a thing of beauty<3

Wayfarer

All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them. (via Goodreads)

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Tea & Book Chat

Tea & Book Chat: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider

**This lent to me in exchange for an honest review – thanks so much Andi for lending me your ARC!**

Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider was one of my most anticipated contemporary releases for 2016, largely because the plot synopsis reminded me of Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  Who can resist a complicated YA fiction book set in Hawaii?! I know I couldn’t! I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of Summer of Sloane in January thanks to Andi who attended ALA and sent me her ARC to borrow (Thanks again Andi!)!  I really enjoyed reading Summer of Sloane despite the terrible situation the main character finds herself in within the first two pages of the novel.  This is one book that hooked me right away and held my interest until the very end.  I even think reading Summer of Sloane in January enhanced my experience since I was craving the beaches being described while I read on the train in my winter coat and scarf.

Sloane McIntyre is a character that it’s impossible not to feel empathy for right off the bat.  Within the first two pages of the book we find out that Sloane’s best friend is pregnant.  Then we find out that the father of her baby is Sloane’s boyfriend of a year, Tyler.  Within a moment Sloane loses the two people closest to her in her life and she’s forced to handle her feelings and the situation without having a best friend to confide in which is something I could never begin to imagine.  Lucky for Sloane, she leaving the next morning with her twin, Penn, to stay with her mother who lives in Hawaii for the summer.  Sloane gets to put off her problems a bit by decreasing her proximity to them, but as you’d imagine, she can’t completely leave them behind.  I have to say that I loved Sloane as a character.  She is a lot more mature than an average teenager would be in her situation and with all of the betrayal she’s faced, her instincts still lead her to put others before herself.  I found myself rooting for her from page one.

Summer of Sloane

I also really loved how prominent Sloane’s relationships with her mom, dad and brother are.  I wish she would’ve spent more time with her Hawaiian best friend Mia but since the book is heavily about her romantic relationship, it’s understandable that her friendship took a backseat to her new love interest.  And speaking of love interests, Finn is such an awesome guy! He definitely has his flaws but the positives outweigh the negatives in his case.  Again, he has a great relationship with his little sister Luce and Sloane even forms a relationship with her as well.  (I feel like inserting the ohana means family quote from Lilo and Stitch here).  Summer of Sloane has classic instances of miscommunication between characters and in some cases, the deliberate lack of communication altogether.  There was a slight predictability throughout the novel, especially one half of the ending (the other half, I did NOT see coming) but I still managed to be surprised at other points.  For the most part, everything wrapped up nicely at the end so a sequel isn’t necessary although I would love an epilogue of some sort or a short story told in Tyler or Mick’s POV.

Final Thoughts: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider is a cute, beachy contemporary with it’s fair share of drama.  The main character loses the two people closest to her within the first couple of pages and she spends the remainder of the novel trying to find herself in Hawaii while visiting her mother along with her twin brother.  The Hawaiian setting had me wishing for a beach visit of my own and the characters worked their way into my heart.  If you’re a fan of Gayle Foreman but appreciate a bit more humor, I would suggest reading Summer of Sloane.

Rating 5

Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.

These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.

Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to find as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself. (via Goodreads)

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