2017 Reading Challenge

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I am so excited to share this post with you all! I didn’t read as much as I would have liked to last year. However, I’m ready to stay motivated with a challenge my best friend and fellow blogger over at  SupNerd, created and shared with me. The more I got into the list, the more excited I became. Below I am sharing with you the categories and books I have chosen. I will be sharing my reviews on each book as I finish them.

Please feel free to join in and add the hashtag, #supnerdsRC2017, so we can check out what books you’ve chosen!

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A Book You Haven’t Read Since High School

Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree

flyy-girl  Tracy Ellison, a young knockout with tall hair and attitude, is living life as fast as she can. Motivated by the material world, she and her friends love and leave the young men who will do anything to get next to them. It’s only when the world of gratuitous sex threatens heartbreak that Tracy begins to examine her life, her goals, and her sexuality.

A Book of Poetry

Twenty Love Poems and A Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda.jpg   Drawn from the most intimate and personal associations, Pablo Neruda’s most beloved collection of poetry juxtaposes the exuberance of youthful passion with the desolation of grief, the sensuality of the body with the metaphorical nuances of nature. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W. S. Merwin’s masterly translation faces the original Spanish text. This edition also features an insightful Introduction by Cristina Garcia. More than eighty years after its publication, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair stands as an essential collection that continues to inspire lovers and poets around the world.

A Book with A One Word Title

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

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Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself.

A Memoir

(I chose two for this category)

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When breath becomes air.jpgAt the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor making a living treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. Just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air, which features a Foreword by Dr. Abraham Verghese and an Epilogue by Kalanithi’s wife, Lucy, chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a young neurosurgeon at Stanford, guiding patients toward a deeper understanding of death and illness, and finally into a patient and a new father to a baby girl, confronting his own mortality.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

Elena Vanishing by Elena Dunkle and Clare B. Dunkle

elena-vanishingSeventeen-year-old Elena is vanishing. Every day means renewed determination, so every day means fewer calories. This is the story of a girl whose armor against anxiety becomes artillery against herself as she battles on both sides of a lose-lose war in a struggle with anorexia. Told entirely from Elena’s perspective over a five-year period and co-written with her mother, award-winning author Clare B. Dunkle, Elena’s memoir is a fascinating and intimate look at a deadly disease, and a must read for anyone who knows someone suffering from an eating disorder.

A Book You Can Finish In A Day

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay.jpg   

Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.

Stay, he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.

If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.

A Book From The Year You Were Born

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

howls-moving-castle   Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

A Science Fiction Novel

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae.jpgThis morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

A Popular Authors First Book

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

The Joy Luck Club.jpgIn 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. With wit and wisdom, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between these four women and their American-born daughters. As each reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined… New York Times Book Review: “Beautifully written… A jewel of a book.” Los Angeles Times: “Powerful… full of magic… You won’t be doing anything of importance until you have finished.” San Francisco Chronicle: “Wonderful… a significant lesson in what storytelling has to do with memory and inheritance.”

A Book Set During Christmas

What Light by Jay Asher

what-light   Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it’s a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other.

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb’s past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.

What Light is a love story that’s moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.

A Graphic Novel

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Through The Woods.jpg  ‘It came from the woods. Most strange things do.’

Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of?) the eerie abyss.

These chilling tales spring from the macabre imagination of acclaimed and award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll.

Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there…

A Book A Friend Recommended

The House of The Spirits by Isabel Allende

The House Of The Spirits.jpgIn one of the most important and beloved Latin American works of the twentieth century, Isabel Allende weaves a luminous tapestry of three generations of the Trueba family, revealing both triumphs and tragedies.

Here is patriarch Esteban, whose wild desires and political machinations are tempered only by his love for his ethereal wife, Clara, a woman touched by an otherworldly hand. Their daughter, Blanca, whose forbidden love for a man Esteban has deemed unworthy infuriates her father, yet will produce his greatest joy: his granddaughter Alba, a beautiful, ambitious girl who will lead the family and their country into a revolutionary future.

The House of the Spirits is an enthralling saga that spans decades and lives, twining the personal and the political into an epic novel of love, magic, and fate.

A Book Where The Protagonist Has Your Occupation

Heart of the Matter by Emily Griffin

Heart of the Matter.jpgTessa Russo is the mother of two young children and the wife of a renowned pediatric surgeon. Despite her own mother’s warnings, Tessa has recently given up her career to focus on her family and the pursuit of domestic happiness. From the outside, she seems destined to live a charmed life.

Valerie Anderson is an attorney and single mother to six-year-old Charlie—a boy who has never known his father. After too many disappointments, she has given up on romance—and even to some degree, friendships—believing that it is always safer not to expect too much.

Although both women live in the same Boston suburb, the two have relatively little in common aside from a fierce love for their children.  But one night, a tragic accident causes their lives to converge in ways no one could have imagined.

In alternating, pitch-perfect points of view, Emily Giffin creates a moving, luminous story of good people caught in untenable circumstances. Each being tested in ways they never thought possible. Each questioning everything they once believed. And each ultimately discovering what truly matters most.

A Satirical or Funny Book

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The Princess Bride .jpg    As Florin and Guilder teeter on the verge of war, the reluctant Princess Buttercup is devastated by the loss of her true love, kidnapped by a mercenary and his henchmen, rescued by a pirate, forced to marry Prince Humperdinck, and rescued once again by the very crew who absconded with her in the first place. In the course of this dazzling adventure, she’ll meet Vizzini – the criminal philosopher who’ll do anything for a bag of gold; Fezzik – the gentle giant; Inigo – the Spaniard whose steel thirsts for revenge; and Count Rugen – the evil mastermind behind it all. Foiling all their plans and jumping into their stories is Westley, Princess Buttercup’s one true love and a very good friend of a very dangerous pirate.

“Buttercup’s Baby” is at the end of this edition.

A Book Based On A True Story

Spilled Milk by K.L. Randis

spilled-milkBrooke Nolan is a battered child who makes an anonymous phone call about the escalating brutality in her home.

When social services jeopardize her safety condemning her to keep her father’s secret, it’s a glass of spilled milk at the dinner table that forces her to speak about the cruelty she’s been hiding. In her pursuit for safety and justice Brooke battles a broken system that pushes to keep her father in the home.

When jury members and a love interest congregate to inspire her to fight, she risks losing the support of family and comes to the realization that some people simply do not want to be saved.

Spilled Milk is a novel of shocking narrative, triumph and resiliency.

A Book Under 150 Pages

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness.jpegDark allegory describes Marlow’s journey up the Congo River and his meeting with, and fascination by, Mr. Kurtz, a mysterious personage who dominates the unruly inhabitants of the region. Masterly blend of adventure, character development, psychological penetration. Considered by many Conrad’s finest, most enigmatic story.

A Book Based On The Cover

Born of  Illusion by Teri Brown

Born of Illusion.jpgA gifted illusionist, Anna assists her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums, and mentalists in 1920’s New York. As the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini—or so Marguerite claims—sleight of hand illusions have never been a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her own gifts secret from her opportunistic mother. Because while Marguerite’s own powers may be a sham, Anna possesses a true ability to sense people’s feelings and foretell the future.

But as Anna’s powers intensify, she begins to experience frightening visions of her mother in peril, which leads her to explore the powers she’s tried so long to hide. And when a mysterious young man named Cole moves into the flat downstairs, introducing Anna to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, she is forced to confront her past and rethink everything she’s ever known. Is her mother truly in danger, or are Anna’s visions merely illusion? And could the great Houdini really be her father, or is it just another of Marguerite’s tricks?

From Teri Brown comes a world bursting with magic, with romance, and the temptations of Jazz Age New York—and the story of a girl about to become the mistress of her own destiny.

A New York Times Best Seller

The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Selection.jpgFor thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

A Book At The Bottom Of Your Reading List

Love Bites (The Vampire Kisses Series BK 7) by Ellen Schreiber

love bites.jpgAs a mortal girl dating a vampire, Raven knows that love isn’t always easy.

And will Alexander ever make their love immortal?

Now that Alexander’s parents have returned to Romania, Raven and her dreamy vampire boyfriend are happy to resume their cryptic romance. But soon another visitor comes knocking: Sebastian, Alexander’s best friend, arrives for a stay at the mansion. At first Raven is wary, and then thrilled–this is the perfect chance to learn more about her darkly handsome boyfriend and his past! Sebastian could be her guide to the love habits of Alexander and his kind. But when Sebastian falls for a particular Dullsvillian, will another mortal beat Raven to the bite?

A Self-Improvement Book

No Excuses!: The Power of Self Discipline by Brian Tracey

no-excuses   You don’t need to have been born under a lucky star, or with incredible wealth, or with terrific contacts and connections, or even special skills…but what you do need to succeed in any of your life goals is self-discipline. Unfortunately, most people give in to the two worst enemies of success: they take the path of least resistance (in other words, they’re lazy) and/or they want immediate gratification: they don’t consider the long-term consequences of the actions they take today.No Excuses! shows you how you can achieve success in all three major areas of your life:

1. Your personal goals.
2. Your business and money goals.
3. Your overall happiness.

Each of the 21 chapters in this book shows you how to be more disciplined in one aspect of your life, with end-of-chapter exercises to help you apply the “no excuses” approach to your own life. With these guidelines, you can learn how to be more successful in everything you do—instead of wistfully envying others who you think are just “luckier” than you. A little self-discipline goes a long way…so stop making excuses and read this book!

A Previously or Currently Banned Book

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

to kill a mockingbird.jpg   The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

 And that concludes my reading list.! I’m nearly half way through my science fiction book and can’t wait to dive into the rest! 🙂

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Happy reading!!

x Steph

**Note: All blurbs taken from Goodreads.com**

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New Year, New Beginnings

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Happy New Year !

2016 was a tough year for many people all around the world. I for one, have slacked quite a bit, I admit that. However, I am lucky enough to still be in well enough health to move forward and do better. I don’t blame the year for whatever has kept me from accomplishing the things I want or for what ever bad thing that has happened in general. It’s not the year’s fault. Things happen, period. It’s up to us to change them and to live and own the year, not simply letting the year own us. Like so many people waking up on New Year’s day, I woke up inspired and wanting to change things. I fell off of my daily movement this past year but I am pushing forward now and hoping to gain a healthier mind and body. I am starting with a yoga challenge hosted by Yoga With Adriene. I’ve always liked her style of movement and the way she inspires you to “find what feels good”. Letting you know that you don’t have to follow the rules of a yoga book, if you will. You find what moves and poses your body enjoys and simply make it your own. Yoga is a journey, a discovery, an adventure! This is something I look forward to and building a strong foundation for myself this year. Cheers to everyone and I hope you all have a beautiful start to this year!

Namaste

x Steph