This year I did the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I set a goal for myself in January that I would read at least 30 [new] books. This was a really good thing for me because I have a "bad" habit of re-reading the same books over and over. Granted, I did do a bit of that this year, especially when I needed a break from some of the more intense books. I re-read the Fablehaven series (again... so good) and a few individual books that I've enjoyed before or wanted to refresh my memory.
I also thought 30 was an ambitious but reasonable number. Some of my Goodreads friends set goals of 50 or more books and, a week or so out from the new year, they haven't yet neared that goal. On the other hand, one girl set a goal of 127 books and has read 125, so I guess anything is possible!
I did do a book review post over the summer, so I'm not going to review those books here again. : ) Instead they are listed in bold, and I'll just skip over them to the next set!
1. Peter and the Shadow Thieves (Peter and the Starcatchers Book 2) - Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
This book series is based on the story of Peter Pan... but it's mainly meant to be prequels. Only the 4th book takes place with Wendy and the Darlings, the story most are familiar with. I read the first book in the series last year because of the play that was released on Broadway (with Christian Borle... my fav). This book, the second in the series, was very good, and I gave it 4 stars.
2. The First Phone Call from Heaven - Mitch Albom ... I gave this one three stars. It's not my favorite Mitch Albom book. I think after reading "Have a Little Faith" I was expecting more.
3. Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1) - Marissa Moyer ... I got this out of the school library after seeing it reviewed online. I gave it 3 stars because while it was an okay story, it wasn't really for me.
4. Bossypants - Tina Fey
I really enjoy Tina Fey and her writing. I gave this one 5 stars. A. and I also watched the first season of 30 Rock on Netflix over the summer and we found it very funny. : )
5. Seeds of Rebellion (Beyonders, #2) - Brandon Mull
I know I've said this before, but I really love Brandon Mull's storytelling abilities. His Fablehaven series is one of my all-time favorites, and while the Beyonders series took place in an entirely fictional world, I still really sunk my teeth into it. The second book was just as enthralling as the first and I gave it four stars... I think only because there were a few slow parts that were tough to get through.
6. Chasing the Prophecy (Beyonders, #3) - Brandon Mull ... I gave this one five stars. It was a really excellent end to the series, and again, I admired Brandon's talent of creating a new world and weaving this exciting tale around it.
7. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett ... I thought it was about time I actually read this book. I watched the movie when I was younger and I had a picture-book version, but never read the real story. I thought it was a very good children's book and gave it four stars.
8. Hollywood Stories: Short, Entertaining Anecdotes about the Stars and Legends of the Movies - Stephen Schochet ... This was a Kindle Lending Library Read, and while there were some neat epithets, I only gave it two stars. A lot of the stories were repetitive and overall it just read like a bunch of compiled IMDB.com Trivia sections.
9. I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban - Malala Yousafzai
My gosh... I can only dream that I would ever have the courage and eloquence of this girl. This book was extremely enlightening and I am so glad that I read it. It really made me realize how fortunate we are in "the West" and how we take education for granted. This was a five-star book.
10. Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card ... I recently re-read this one. It's a very captivating story and might not be for everyone, as it's very sci-fi and a little violent to imagine these little kids getting into the situations Card has invented. I gave it four stars.
11. The One and Only - Emily Giffin
12. The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
13. Redfield Farm: A Novel of the Underground Railroad - Judith Redline Coopey
14. An Abundance of Katherines - John Green
15. 11/22/63 - Stephen King
16. The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing - Melissa Bank
17. The Giver - Lois Lowry
18. The Happiness Project - Gretchen Rubin ... This was a book my friend C. lent me. It was interesting, but after a while I got kind of sick of Gretchen's preaching and all of her brilliant ideas. There was some good stuff in here but by the end of Gretchen's year I was ready to be done with her book. : ) Three stars.
19. If I Stay - Gayle Forman
I also recently re-read this book. As a musician, I found all of the musical references throughout very interesting. The love story was captivating, but my favorite character was probably Gramps. I think one of things I liked most about this book was the description of a happy family - one where the kids and parents generally get along, and the kids don't always know better than the parents. Be warned: you will need Kleenex. Four stars.
20. Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage - Molly Wizenberg ... This was another loaner from C., and I gave it four stars. It was a very interesting read and I enjoyed Molly's writing style. It was entertaining and informative.
21. Where She Went - Gayle Forman ... The sequel to "If I Stay." This time, written from Adam's point of view instead of Mia's. It was very good and I like that the author didn't romanticize Mia's or Adam's lives after the accident. Four stars.
22. A Homemade Life - Molly Wizenberg ... I thought I would enjoy this other book by Molly since I liked Delancey, but I didn't like it as much. There are a lot of recipes involved if you're into that sort of thing. Three stars.
23. The White Queen - Philippa Gregory
I love Philippa Gregory's books, but I feel like they are starting to get a little repetitive. I understand it's historical fiction (which I like to read)... but with all the focus on the same time period and country, I am starting to lose interest, Philippa, I'm sorry. This one had an added element of witchcraft, I guess. I gave it three stars.
24. Peter and the Secret of Rundoon (Peter and the Starcatchers, Book 3) - Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson ... This was supposed to be the last Starcatchers book and I gave it five stars because it was action packed and very exciting to read. (It probably should have stayed as the last Starcatchers book, haha.)
25. The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy - Vicki Iovine ... My bff M. found this in a bookstore and sent to me after I announced my pregnancy. Some people give it really scathing reviews because they consider it anti-feminist, blah blah whatever. I found the entire book hysterical, especially after trying to get through How to Expect When You're Expecting, which can be a little frightening. Additionally this book is from the nineties, so the section about maternity fashion is now unintentionally hilarious. Four stars.
26. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger ... Another one I felt I should read because I never had. I found this book so stupid and pointless. Maybe if I had been reading it with a purpose in a literature class I would have found it more interesting, but I really hated whiny jerkface Holden and his stupid controversial language by the end of the book. One star.
27. Birnbaum's 2015 Walt Disney World: The Official Guide ... Surprise! I'm going to Disney again. (Or not surprise, I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it.) I got this to get the updates on Magic Bands and Fast passes... which I also could have read about online. It's nice to have the guide. I didn't rate it.
28. Looking for Alaska - John Green ... Another John Green book. For some reason I wasn't expecting the plot twist in the middle of the book; I guess I didn't read the book jacket or look too far into the chapter titles. It was a good story, but another one about death, and I needed a break after this one. Four stars.
29. Winter Garden - Kristin Hannah
I borrowed this from my grandma and it's probably one of my favorite books I read this year. I really like historical fiction, and last year I read a few very interesting books about World War 2. However, what was really interesting about this book was that instead of learning about World War 2 England (War Brides by Helen Bryan) or WW2 Japan (Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden), there was a lot of insight to WW2 Soviet Russia. Five stars. Go read it!
30. Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell ... Two of my cello students are avid readers and this was on their "best book" list from last year, so I wanted to check it out. It was very entertaining to me, a Harry Potter fan. Also, it took me back to college life, which I miss. Five stars.
31. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn ... I really wanted to like this book, but it was so strange! I didn't find any of the characters likable and the end of the story was just... eh. Three stars after all the hype.
32. Peter and the Sword of Mercy (Peter and the Starcatchers, Book 4) - Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson ... Remember when I said the third one should have just ended the series? This book just dragged on and on. There were some good bits but on the whole I found the entire book unnecessary to the series and was glad when I finally finished it! Three stars.
Right now I am reading "The Life of Pi" ... I literally just started it two days ago and it's been a busy few days so I don't have much of an opinion on it yet. I also got two more library books for over Christmas break and am hoping to get some more new books for Christmas. : )
I know I won't be reading as many new books this year because I will be busy once the baby comes, but I am always up for new recommendations. Leave them in the comments!
And Merry Christmas! : )