Saturday, October 29, 2022

2022 Reading Challenge Completed


This was a year for reading once again. The minute the covers met each other for the last time, my hands found a new set of covers to part and explore. Little could I know that this was the surge before the drought. The next 18 months will be filled with text books and required readings. I will still find time to read for pleasure and I would love to make another challenge with my friend Jay, but I doubt I will make this much progress. But who knows! Maybe short stories will count.
 I keep my reviews short and the rating system is as follows: 
*- Meh, you could skip it.
**- Not bad, you might enjoy it.
***- Loved it! I recommend you give it a whirl.

 1. Join the Resistance- whether subverting Nazis in WWII-era France, opposing a current oppressive state or ideology, or fighting the patriarchy in a dystopian future, be a rebel with a cause.

I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Conde is written by a French novelist from Guatemala who explores slavery and colonialism. She gives Tituba a voice here and does a phenomenal job of it. **


2. The lost art of handwriting- choose a book with the title written as script.

Changeling by Philippa Gregory has been on my shelf for ages. I finally got around to reading this story about a young couple who investigate evil in the name of the Pope in Italy in 1453. There is magic, secret cults, and constant adventure, but the characters felt flat and I was never truly engaged. I had the second and third books but didn't feel the need to read them. *

3. Daughters- explore the complex sibling relationships so often a theme in literature.


Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews has been on my TBR list quite some time. I finally tracked it down at a used book store and the horror did not disappoint. Talk about complex sibling and daughter relationships. Yikes. ***


4. Atomic Elements- book with an element from the periodic table in the title (carbon, oxygen, gold, silver, neon...)

Banners of Gold by Pamela Kaufman is actually a second book in a series, but it was easy to read as a stand alone. Set during the Crusades and the time of King Richard, it had the potential to be enchanting, but was rather silly. The verbiage got on my nerves and the heroine was namby-pamby. *



5. Mist, haze, or fog-like cover.

Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianna Wiggins was a comet to the heart. A love story that melds science, illumination and human nature into a finely crafted tale that spans generations. If you only read one book from this list, let it be this one. I would give it four stars. Heck. I will. ****

6. Reuse, recycle, regift- a thrifted book.

The Twilight Wife by A. J. Banner is a thriller about a woman who has a diving accident and how the resulting amnesia is throwing a pall of suspicion over her marriage. I just didn't really care what happened. Never bought in. *

7. Back to the future- bridge time and distance with a dual timeline narrative.


The Fortune Teller by Gwendolyn Womack is a tale of mysticism and relics, where a tarot deck spans the past and the present and is mysteriously important. It was a decent story for a fun quick read, but nothing ground breaking. **


8. Neurodiversity- seek to gain a better understanding of mental health and the diverse abilities of those who process the world differently, in fiction or non-fiction.

Me Talk Pretty Someday by David Sedaris. I usually enjoy David's tongue-in-cheek memoirs, but this one was not one of my favorites. David is a gay middle aged guy with OCD and a jaded past who shares snippets of his childhood through his adulthood. He often makes me laugh out loud, however I barely smirked with this one. *


9. Protagonist over 50.

How To Stop Time by Matt Haig definitely counts as a protagonist over 50, the lead character looks 41 but is centuries old. And he isn't even a vampire. It is a crafty and clever story. It took me on an enjoyable journey. Worth checking out for sure. ***



10. Summon your familiar- read from an animal character's perspective or from its close human companion.

The Gorgon and Other Beastly Tales by Tanith Lee is a compilation of several short fantastical stories. Many involve tales from the beasts' point of view. I fell down a Tanith Lee rabbit hole and don't regret it for one minute. I love her Bradbury-esque feminine take on the surreal. ***

11. Book maze-get lost in a twisty plot that keeps you on edge.


In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware is a twisty plot for sure. Another one of those popular thrillers that keep you guessing and read like a sprint. This one revolves around a lonely outcast and her unexpected invitation to a bachelorette party in the woods. ***




12. Heartsqueezer.


Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison didn't simply squeeze my heart, but mashed it to a pulp. This tale may be extremely triggering to some, so beware. It was worth the gritty read for me though. ***




13. Inner child- pick up a children's or youth book.

The Book of Three by Llyod Alexander is a children's fantasy book about a boy who was supposed to be the caretaker of a prophesy telling pig, who somehow got loose. It was charming and I could see myself reading the rest of the tales on day. **



14. Memoir or Biography- dive into someone else's journey.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Yes, this really was my very first time reading it. It broke my heart and refreshed my soul all at once. It reminded me of the inner thoughts and feelings of my own girls and myself. It crushed me that this vibrant soul endured so much. I will probably re-read it again in the future. ***



15. Opening sentence hook that reels you in.

Verity by Colleen Hoover was literally everywhere I turned. I figured there had to be something to it. Another popular thriller with a spin. It started strong but then petered out for me. I could see things coming and didn't really buy into it. It wasn't terrible, but it was a case of over hype for me. **



16. Green. Because it is an amazing color.

Backwoods Witchcraft by Jake Richards was a fun and enlightening read. I love the Appalachian tales of folklore and magic and this fed into that a bit. I liked the merging of Christianity with the paganism, the gardening songs and the down-home perspective. **



17. Read your bliss- any topic or genre that makes you happy. 


My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix was a Barnes & Noble pick by my oldest. She saw that rocking 80's cover and fell head over heels for it. The tale ended up being pretty awesome. It was a spooky story about a possessed teen and how her best friend deals with the fall out. ***


18. We might not get out of here alive- Survival fiction or non, fantasy or reality.

12 Years A Slave by Solomon Northup was a tale of survival that was harrowing yet hopeful all the same. It is the true story of a free black man who was drugged and kidnapped and sold into slavery and his quest to regain his freedom and his family. ***

19. Book of secrets- whether the international intrigue of a spy novel abounds, or dark family secrets are waiting to be unlocked; there's destined to be subterfuge afoot.

The Likeness by Tana French is from a series that follows several different detectives who all work or have worked together. They easily read as stand alone novels. This one follows a female detective who has to work undercover and live with a group of suspects but gets sucked too far into her role of deception. Quite thrilling. **

20. Gothic horror- I'm not saying it's haunted, but there's something going on in with house...


Devil's Day by Andrew Michael Hurley is British gothic horror in a folktale setting. Andrew does a phenomenal job of creating a slow burning spooky mind game. Is there foul play? Are the characters unstable? Are there other forces at work? I have thoroughly enjoyed all three of his books so far and highly recommend them for his melancholy English settings and maze-like relationships. ***


21. Missing link- a book that you want to read to finish up or continue a series.

The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker is the sequel to a much beloved story, The Golem and the Jinni. It carries on the tale of two seemingly mismatched lovers and how they navigate a world of humans and misunderstandings. ***

22. Hearth & Home- nesting, homesteading, tending.

Old Wives' Lore for Gardeners by Maureen and Bridget Boland was a fun and fast read. It is a teeny tiny book about burying things in the night, planting by the moon, and all sorts of silly yet timeless things. ***



23. Memento Mori- death, grief, mourning.

From The Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury is a collection of short stories that has been sewed neatly into a novel that follows a supernatural family and how they navigate death and life along with their adopted human child. ***

24. Booktok, Booktube, or Bookstagram-discover what real readers recommend, and find out if that book is worthy of all the hype.


Year of the Witch by Temperence Alden came from a podcast I listen to. I quiet enjoy following along with Invoking Witchcraft with J. Allen Cross and Britton Boyd, and they often do guest interviews and one was Temperence. I picked up her book and it was a quick read about some basics regarding the Wheel of the Year. I did find it sparse and very introductory, probably fitting for some but I didn't really glean much from it. *


25. #Ownvoices- books about characters from underrepresented/marginalized groups in which the author shares the same identity. 


An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is the story of a black marriage in middle class America and how culture, norms, and expectations weave their influences over it. It is written by a black author and provides an eye opening perspective. **


26. The moon as muse- inspired by the moon; depicting moonlight, the night sky, or heavenly bodies on the cover. 


Turtle Moon by Alice Hoffman. There are a few authors that I will forever pick up if I see their names upon a book spine: Bradbury, Atwood, Poe, and Hoffman. I love Alice's magical and lyrical take on life. This is the story set in Florida about a recently divorced mom and her teenage son adapting to this foreign, sometimes savage peninsula swollen with alligators, mosquitoes, and a moon that can induce madness.***


27. Never have I ever...-read a book about ___. Fill-in the blank with a new topic or genre.


Gudrun by Alma Johanna Koeing was a random book I picked up in St. Augustine at a tiny used book store. It is an ancient tale based off of a German epic (I believe?) and follows along a royal family for a few generations and how their choices in love and battle unfold upon one another. ***


28. Honoring ancestors- reading deeper about native lands or personal lineage.

Song of the Harp: Old Welsh Folktales by Linda Barrett Osborne intrigued me as I didn't really know much about Welsh folktales and I am about a quarter Welsh. These were translated tales and I found them charming, strange, and unique, of a bit rushed feeling. **

29. Dark Academia- An academic aesthetic that can be found in many genres, including contemporary fic, historical, mystery, fantasy, or horror. Book Riot categorizes DA as this: "The definition of it can be broad, but it requires some kind of an academic setting and a dark undertone or overtone to its story."

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo seemed to be everywhere on the internet. I actually googled "dark academia" for this prompt and this book was always the first choice. It had great marketing, what can I say? It follows the tale of hidden occult clubs in underground Yale and how an unlikely outsider is sent to infiltrate them. It made for an interesting read and I will definitely read the second book when it comes out. ***

30. Forged in friendship. A story about companionship.


The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson fits this bill perfectly. It follows a young concubine and her gay male best friend who has the gift of making any map he draws come to life. They have to escape their kingdom once his lifestyle comes to light and they aim for the shelter of an island born of myths. ***



I had fun reading this year! I also had a great time adding to my book collection and giving some away as I read them. Books are my favorite souvenirs and I certainly picked a few up. So far I have read 58 books and I hope to squeeze in a couple more before the year tuns over into a new one. 

Of these books, I must say it again, please do yourself a solid and read Evidence of Things Unseen if you enjoy a meaty well written novel. How has your year been going in the realm of reading? Any authors you have fallen in love with? Any books I should pick up?

1 comment:

  1. Yes, ma'am! I'm game for another challenge if you are. Perhaps we can lighten the list a bit to lessen the load this upcoming year:) I was in the same boat as you will be, over the summer, as I spent most of my days furiously studying Cataloging and classification texts and manuals and missed out on a lot of leisure reading. I hope to catch up again someday.
    These photos are fab, I'm especially drawn to the colorful 80s cover of My Best Friend's Exorcism. Diary of a Young Girl has stayed in my heart always, truly inspiring no matter how many years pass since Anne's time. I've wondered about Britton's podcast, will have to check it out sometime, I loved her Patreon and blog/vlogs.

    Gtk about Verity; since assuming the fiction cataloger position at the library, I cannot complete uploading Hoover's books fast enough, multiple holds everyday, which is rare for titles from 6-8 years ago. I expect t the same underwhelm from It Ends With Us, which I just started for our Booktok/Bookstagram hype prompt. So far, so meh.
    Congrats on smashing our Reading Challenge, again. You have totally inspired me to pick out a thrift bookshop on all of our travels the last few years. It's one of my favorite bookish activities now:) I'll DM you on Insta in a day or two to make sure I have the correct email this year, too. Talk soon, friend.

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