Blog| 2017 Reading Challenge

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I love books. I wanted to be a writer so it’s a given that I’m an avid reader. When I was little, before I had a lot of friends, I’d read constantly to escape into other worlds and forget how lonely ours could be. Stories haven’t stopped being my escape, but the way I consume them have.

Time is precious now. I am always busy which makes sitting down and reading hard. So I mostly listen to audio books at work during the day and will read a bit at night or on the weekends. I give a lot of money to Audible.

Every year I try to make myself a Reading Challenge. I usually start it at 12 books a year and then will extend it once I reach the goal. I’ve already hit 12 books for this year so I thought I’d break down my reading list!


2017 Reading Challenge: First 12

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1. Heartless by Marissa Meyer

I am a huge fan of The Lunar Chronicles so when I found out she was doing an Alice in Wonderland inspired book I pretty much instantly pre-ordered. I’m a sucker for retellings and fairy tale based books. This one kept me hooked and took me on a whirlwind of a ride. Sometimes I was frustrated with the main character but other times I was completely entranced by the world. The characters are completely engrossing and I was in love with Jest. It did not disappoint, even when it broke my heart sometimes. It was a great book to start the year on.

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2. Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

Besides fairy tales, I love Urban Fantasy. It’s the genre I love writing. This is the latest in the Kate Daniels series and though I really liked the story, it felt like the series hit the climax a few books back before even getting to fighting the big boss. The conflicts are still interesting and I love Kate and Curran, but it doesn’t feel as tense as it previously did.

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3. Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

I have mixed feelings about this book. In one aspect, I liked the world and lore behind everything. But it all felt very messy, hopping from region to region and feeling more like world building than a build towards the climax. The main characters love for her childhood best friend annoyed me because at no point was I told why she loved him enough to go through everything in the book for him. And there’s like a love square thing going on. I may read the sequel because I did like the magic and world.

 

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4. The Big Life by Ann Shoket

I like reading memoirs and motivational books. It’s a good boost for me to get off my ass and get work done. The Big Life is the book that told me about the Badass Babes Dinners and the struggles other ambitious women go through and how to balance it all. Ann Shoket goes through different topics that she’s discussed at these dinners and tells you about the experience of the women that attend to hopefully help you pursue your own side hustle. It was more self-help than I usually go for, but did the job of motivating me to do more.

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5. Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

I went on a memoir trend and found this book. It’s a darker, more depressing memoir than the others but I related with a lot of the experiences Jessica Valenti talks about and it was engrossing hearing her talk about her struggles. If you didn’t know, Jessica Valenti is a feminist blogger and writer and founded Feministing. She talks about dealing with awful comments and her sexual experiences and a lot of hard moments, but it’s worth the read.

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6. You’ll Grow Out Of It by Jessi Klein

A much lighter memoir, You’ll Grow Out of It is essentially the struggle of trying to find yourself and navigate being a woman without having all the instructions. I related to it a lot. My teenage years were spent living with my dad who knew nothing about dressing a teenage girl or teaching her about makeup. There were a lot of bad style choices. This book is hilarious and takes me back to those awkward confusing moments in my life and definitely a good read!

 

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7. You’re Better than me by Bonnie McFarlane

Bonnie McFarlane is a comedian and talks a lot about her pursuit of writing and touring and being on Last Comic Standing while also sprinkling in stories about the people she’s met. She’s not always the good party in the stories, but she tells them well and there are more than a few laughs.

 

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8. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Real talk, I’ve been waiting for this book for like a year. I LOVE the Court of Thorns and Roses series. Like I’ve listened and read them more than a dozen times, literally. When I can’t think of what to listen to, I put on Court of Mist and Fury on. This is the last book in the trilogy and I was dyyyyying to find out what happened. If you listen on audiobook, a heads up though. The narrator changed. Yeah, I know, what the hell. If you look at the reviews, a LOT of people are pissed but apparently the previous narrator didn’t want to do the 3rd. BUT if you give the new one a chance, she actually ends up sounding really similar. The voices are almost the same and she does a really good job. You just have to give her a chance.

Some parts of the book were a little slow and of all three, it’s the most dispair-filled and emotionally draining. The big battle constantly is tugging your heart and emotions around and it feels chaotic. But there are so many good moments and I love the characters so much. Not everything gets tied up nicely, but apparently there are going to be 3 more books following a different character. In the end, I was happy but still craving more from the world. I wasn’t disappointed and it’s definitely my favorite series.

 

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9. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

If you love the movie The Labyrinth, this book is for you. Like, really, the author talks heavily about how David Bowie and that movie inspired the book. It features a Goblin King and Labyrinth and all that good stuff, but the world she builds is much more detailed and interesting. There’s so much lore and when you think the story is going one way, it goes another. There’s very much a Hades/Persephone vibe going on mixed in with heavy influences of music and folklore. Sometimes dark, sometimes playful, it kept me interested even when the story flow felt a little off. I’m definitely going to pick up the sequel!

 

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10. Depravity by M.J. Haag

So the last set of books are actually all in a series, but I kinda feel they should have been put altogether into one book. They’re pretty short and the story is almost like it was chopped into three parts. The series is like an adult version of Beauty and the Beast with more sex and for some reason, a lot of the men are pretty brutal and dark. It doesn’t shy away from the problems a small, poor family in a small, poor village face and Benella’s sisters will drive you nuts with irritation. But it’s an interesting world and this one is a good set up for what’s to come.

 

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11. Deceit by M.J. Haag

Book 2 in the series takes a weird turn. The “rose” is actually a witch who cursed the beast and the spell is weird. The beast has to spend the whole night “pleasing” the witch to break the curse. She’s old and it’s been 50 years. Yeah, that’s the premise. It turns weirdly sexual (like the curse is heavily based on sex) and the Beast is an ass, but I applaud Benella on taking on everything in stride. In spite of all that weird stuff, I still really like the world and a lot of the characters. Benella is interesting and the world is intriguing. But yeah, there’s some sexual assault in this book and in general, awful people.

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12. Devastation by M.J. Haag

And then there’s book 3. I don’t know what happened, but book 3 took a weird turn and ended up feeling extremely long and drawn out and I wasn’t even sure what the problem was besides “emotions are fickle”. The beast is still an ass but getting better and there’s a lot of angst. Her sisters are the woooooooorst, but there’s a good supporting cast and more character development. A lot of it could have been cut out and there’s not as much sex stuff, but the end isn’t bad. It’s just not as interesting as what was presented in book 2. Not a bad series, but it’s got a lot of weird moments and in the search for something fresh in a fairy tale retelling, they went for a weird sex adult version.


 

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There’s my first 12 books of the year. I moved the goal to 24 so whenever I finish the next 12, I’ll do another reading list! I’ve already got a couple under my belt. Let me know if you liked this type of post! My Goodreads Currently Reading is at the bottom of the Home page if you want to follow along!.

What books are you reading?

-Sam <3

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