Monday, 24 February 2020

#CBR12 Book 8: "Sweep with Me" by Ilona Andrews

Page count: 140 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Spoiler warning! This is the fifth story in the Innkeeper Chronicles series, and this review may contain spoilers for previous installments. If you want to start at the beginning, Clean Sweep is the first book.

For Innkeepers, the biggest and most sacred holiday of the year is the Treaty Stay, which commemorates the ancient treaty between the first Inns, their intergalactic guests, and the agreement to keep humans safe and completely unaware of the presence of alien visits to Earth. During a Treaty Stay, Inns have to open the doors to anyone who seeks lodging, which is how Dina and Sean, who have only barely managed to recover from the last very dramatic events at Gertrude Hunt, find themselves preparing to host not only a large flock of philosophically minded and argumentative space chickens (no, really) but an extremely powerful and notoriously difficult to please space warlord, who has some sort of important meeting she needs to attend to on Earth.

Orro, Dina's neurotic perfectionist of a chef drives himself nearly mad trying to produce the food request that the warlord has asked for as her first meal. He's also gotten himself addicted to fast-paced reality cooking shows. Sean is having fun upgrading the inn's defenses, which is urgently needed, considering the ruthless businessman that their alien guest is meeting with keeps trying to send mercenaries to break into the inn. Dina still feels a bit lost and out of touch with her Inn after the near-death experience she's still recovering from. She worries that she won't have the full control and power she requires to see to the safety and well being of all of her guests during the Treaty Stay.

This was a holiday novella that Ilona and Gordon (the writing team that make up Ilona Andrews), as always first released in free installments on their website and then published for fans to buy. It made my Christmas and New Year's holidays a happier place to be, certainly.

I love how, even in a fairly short story, the authors manage to balance humour, romance, friendship and the importance of family (Caldenia and Orro's presence at the inn is clearly a given for Dina, and I suspect she considers them family just as much as Maud, Helen and now Arland), with suspense and action. As always, there were laugh out loud bits, and there were some action sequences that would make your jaw drop if you saw them play out on a movie screen.

These are bonus stories that IA generously bestow on their fans, in between writing their other ongoing series, and I've come to really enjoy the extended cast and the strange little fantasy/sci-fi blend they contain. I don't want to become complacent and take these books for granted, but I hope the authors continue to occasionally release new installments, especially now that they've teased us with the possibility of Klaus, the elusive, missing Demille brother.

Judging a book by its cover: The covers for the Innkeeper Chronicles continue to be among the best that Ilona Andrews have for their books, probably because they pay someone to make them, so they have full creative control. While I think Sean looks uncharacteristically pouty, I like Dina's powerful stance and her sweeping (see what I did there) robe, as well as the festive (and plot appropriate) lanterns in the background.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

#CBR12 Book 7: "A Fake Girlfriend for Chinese New Year" by Jackie Lau

Page count: 104 pages
Rating: 4 stars

After the active interference of his parents and grandparents with the matchmaking extravaganza over Thanksgiving, Zack Wong is very worried that something similar will be repeated for Chinese New Year, especially since two of his brothers now have girlfriends, and the family seem determined that all four Wong children end up in happy couples. To make sure his family can't meddle in his personal life a second time, he talks his good friend, Jo MacGregor, into posing as his fake girlfriend. They even go on a couple of fake dates around town so the story will be more believable.

Jo MacGregor, Mosquito Bay's dentist, doesn't really miss her lackluster fiancee and has tried really hard not to pine over Zach Wong when they meet at the pub once a week to chat and commiserate over their continued single status. She can't really refuse when Zack asks her to pose as his girlfriend, considering her fondest wish is that he ask her to be his for real. If she can't have him forever, she'll settle for being his pretend girlfriend for a short while - it's better than nothing, right?

Of course, with this being a romance, the fake dating between two people with a close friendship and obvious chemistry, soon turns into something a lot more real.

In these very cozy novellas that focus heavily on family and togetherness as well as romance, Jackie Lau keeps playing with popular romance tropes. In this story, she covers the fake dating plot, as well as long-time friends to lovers. Zach has convinced himself he's very happily single after his fiancee left him years back. He doesn't really have time for dating, working as a high school teacher and football coach, but cherishes his friendship with Jo.

Jo keeps herself busy, having taken over her father's dentist's practice in the little town. She doesn't really feel the need to live anywhere more exciting or vibrant, having gone away for a few years for college and work training. For the past four years, she and Zack have had a "support group" as such, meeting up for drinks and chatting about everything at the local pub. Unbeknownst to Zack, however, Jo has been crushing on him for the past two years, but since she knows full well he wants to stay single, she's not going to reveal her true feelings and ruin their solid friendship.

It obviously doesn't take long before the fake dating becomes a lot more like real dating, but Zach takes quite a while to realise his true feelings for Jo, because otherwise, where would the complication be? There are some pretty adorable and hilarious scenes involving Zack and Jo and the extended Wong family, especially a laugh out loud moment during a competitive game of Pictionary. Jo certainly has more of a drive to win than I would.

Only one more of these novellas to go - little sister Amber's turn.

Judging a book by its cover: These little cartoon covers continue to be really nice, this one with lots of amazing food to tempt me, just in case the description of the food over the course of the novella wasn't enough. Just look at that spread, doesn't it make your mouth water?

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

#CBR12 Book 6: "Unsung Heroine" by Sarah Kuhn

Page count: 121 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Official book description:
Lucy Valdez is many things: fight trainer/bodyguard to superheroines, fabulous vintage fashion plate, undisputed karaoke queen at local joint, The Gutter. She is also one of the toughest fighters in all of San Francisco without superpowers. So why can't she seem to confess her feelings to her longtime crush Rose Rorick, head of the San Francisco Police Department's Demon Unit?

Well.... actually, she knows why. She's afraid Rose won't like the real Lucy, the Lucy underneath all the fabulous bravado. (She is still fabulous underneath that bravado--just in a different way.)

When a mysterious new karaoke star rises up at The Gutter and eclipses her, Lucy finds her confidence further shaken--and when strange, seemingly supernatural happenings threaten both this new star and The Gutter's very existence, she must rise to the challenge and investigate alongside Rose. Will Lucy be able to vanquish the demonic threat to her beloved karaoke haven, confess her true feelings to Rose, and reclaim her karaoke throne?

Back in August 2018 (my, how time flies) I read and very much enjoyed the Heroine Complex trilogy, a series of romantic, paranormal fantasy books featuring superheroes in an alternate version of San Francisco. It seems Sarah Kuhn is going to be writing a second trilogy and this novella is a bridge between them, as well as giving readers more background and time with Lucy, Aveda Jupiter, and Evie Tanaka's personal trainer and bodyguard. There are cameo appearances from Aveda and Evie, as well as their husbands, and even Evie's little sister Bea, but mostly this story is all Lucy, trying to figure out why there appear to be strange demon possession events at her local karaoke joint, while also fighting her feelings for police detective Rose Rorick.

While it seems pretty obvious to all around Lucy that Rose is crazy about her, Lucy doesn't believe she could ever be good enough for Rose, and thanks to some serious baggage, Lucy is also convinced she could never be the settling down type. So she keeps trying to set Rose up with someone else, trying desperately to ignore the chemistry and obvious attraction between them. Luckily, her friends (and Rose) are having none of that, and work to make sure that the two women find their happy ending, while also solving the mystery demon attacks at the Gutter.

While this was a cute little novella (there really isn't all that much f/f romance out there), I'm not entirely sure how it works as a bridge to the next series of books, but that may become more clear once book 4, Haunted Heroine, is released in July. I'm certainly very excited to see where Ms. Kuhn takes our various heroines next.

Judging a book by its cover: I really like the brightly colourful, cartoony covers for Sarah Kuhn's books. Her cover artist has a very distinct style and it suits the books and the series well. It's a really good collaboration, and I hope the style continues with the new series.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

#CBR12 Book 5: "What I Did for a Duke" by Julie Anne Long

Page count: 384 pages
Audio book length: 9 hrs 23 mins
Rating: 5 stars

I first read and reviewed this book back in 2011 (when it came out), during Cannonball III. My original review, which among other things contains a plot summary, can be found here.

If you do take a look at my previous review (or just check my rating of this book), you can see that the rather unlikely romance between Miss Genevieve Eversea Lord Alexander Moncrieffe, the Duke of Falconbridge is one of my absolute favourites. I loved it utterly when I first read it back in 2011 and when re-reading several times since then. While I used to be a bit unnerved by listening to romance in audio format, I have had a change of heart in recent years, and especially like owning books I particularly enjoy in audiobook as well, so I can listen to the book when I want a comfort re-read.

Sadly, this has not been possible with Julie Anne Long's popular historicals before now. For years, literally, I've been looking for and bemoaning the fact that Julie Anne Long's Pennyroyal Green books were not available in audiobook. However, this changed towards the end of 2019, when once a month, another book in the series became available, and at the end of December, What I Did for a Duke was finally released (you had better believe I clicked that pre-order button the second the news was announced).

Checking Goodreads, I could see that when I started my current re-read, I hadn't really revisited this favourite for over five years. Many romances have been published since then, would it still retain its coveted position as one of my all-time favourites? Would Justine Eyre's narration add to or take away from my enjoyment?

I'm relieved to say that the book was just as good as I remembered it, if maybe a bit slow in the set-up (I mean, who really cares about dumb Ian Eversea?) and Ms. Eyre's narration is great. Considering how long I've been wanting an audio version of this book, it's good that I can have one that I can listen to repeatedly.

The quality of Julie Anne Long's Pennyroyal Green books is variable. Some of them are merely ok, some are a delight, and a very few are absolute romance classics. This may be my favourite of the entire series (although I may have to revisit It Happened One Midnight and The Legend of Lyon Redmond when they come out as audiobooks too.

Judging a book by its cover: Goodreads didn't seem to have an image for the cover that accompanies my audiobook version (and is utterly dreadful), so I'll just comment on the original paperback cover for this instead. I don't even know where to begin with the WTF here. Not sure who these people on the cover are, but they seem very unlike the way Alex and Genevieve are actually described in the book. There is also no scene at any point where they make out in what appears to be a wind tunnel, with Gen wearing a sheet? A weirdly bunched up chemise?  Something else entirely? It's such a bad cover - so, so bad.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

#CBR12 Book 4: "Red, White & Royal Blue" by Casey McQuiston - audio book edition

Page count: 425 pages
Rating: 12 hrs 15 mins
Rating: 5 stars

My original, and extremely enthusiastic review of this book, can be found here.

This was my first re-read (of what I'm sure will be many) and this time, I chose to listen to the audio book. When I first listened to the sample available on Audible, I was honestly not sure if I liked Ramon de Ocampo's narration, but after seeing the audio book of this highlighted on a bunch of best of the year lists, I decided to give him a chance. Of course, the samples never really turn out to be representative, as I always listen to the books in 1.5 speed (it takes far too long to get through the books otherwise). The long and short of it is, I needn't have worried, he turned out to be a great narrator. If I wanted to be super picky, I could note that some of his British accents were a bit less consistent and could have been better in places (note that I'm married to an Englishman and lived in the UK for six years, so I possibly have higher standards than some for this).

Re-reading this book just brought home once again that I was entirely correct to choose this as my top book of 2019. It's funny, touching, emotional, deeply romantic, very sexy. I didn't know that much about the author when I first read the book, and having since read more about her, it's great to see how pleased and surprised she is about the staggering success of her debut novel. The (frankly hilarious) chapter where Alex is coming to terms with his bisexuality and in the end realises that "straight people usually don't spend this much time telling themselves they're straight" is in part based on her own realisations in her early twenties that she was queer and she's had a lot of very positive responses from readers about it too, which just proves that the book reads true to a lot of people. I love that part of what she wanted with the book was to subvert the image of the perfect Prince Charming, and created Henry, who uses his looks and charm to hide to the world how conflicted, gay, rebellious and prone to depression he is.

Of the two protagonists, I love Henry the most. I just want to wrap him up in a warm hug and tell him everything is going to be ok, and he needs to stay brave, because everything WILL work out in the end. Alex is a bit much and can absolutely get a bit exasperating at times, but the two guys are just so perfect together and the semi-epistolary sections towards the second half of the book, when they communicate through text messages and poetic e-mails to one another make me swoon.

I mentioned in my original review that pretty much every single supporting character is solid gold as well. I would quite happily read whole novels about Alex' sister June, their best friend Nora, Henry's sister Bea or his best friend Pez, as well. I would happily read a book about President Ellen Claremont and how she met her husband, or the romance between Henry's parents, the princess with a doctorate and the actor who played James Bond. Even tertiary characters like the White House Chief of Staff, Alex' bodyguards or Henry's equerry are fully fleshed out and interesting to me. That barely ever happens in a novel and I both love and slightly hate McQuiston for giving me this perfect cast of characters and then never letting me find out what happens to all of them after Alex and Henry find their happy ending at the end of the book.

This book ended up not just on my (and tons of other) best of the year list, but won both the "Best Debut novel" and "Best Romance" at the 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards. It's an utter delight and very good escapist literature during these dark days of ours. I cannot recommend it warmly enough.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

#CBR12 Book 3: "The Unhoneymooners" by Christina Lauren

Page count: 432 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Olive Torres loves her twin sister Ami, but while her sister, the eternal winner has been able to finance her entire wedding through various contest winnings, Olive is eternally unlucky. The bridesmaid dress she's going to have to wear is a truly luminous green monstrosity (but it was free!), she has just been laid off from her job, and the best man, who she'll have to spend much of her sister wedding day alongside, is the groom's brother, Ethan Thomas, probably Olive's least favourite person on the planet.

The catering at Ami's wedding is a seafood buffet (won in yet another contest), but Olive has a shellfish allergy and Ethan refuses to eat buffet food. Consequently, they are the only two people not affected by the horrifying, crippling food poisoning resulting from said seafood. It also means that the all-expenses-paid honeymoon is up for grabs, and Ami wants Olive to go in her place. While Olive has qualms, she's certainly not going to let Ethan have the dream vacation to himself (he has no hesitation in accepting his brother's place), even if it means spending ten days in the same resort as the man she loathes. It's not like they'd need to spend that much time together, right?

Of course, the honeymoon is technically non-transferrable and non-refundable, so Ethan and Olive have to pretend to be newlyweds. While they have access to a luxury suite, there's only the one bedroom (and bed). Most of the complementary activities are couples-orientated. And through a series of unlucky (or are they secretly lucky) coincidences, both Olive and Ethan run into people they need to keep up the pretense in front of. As they keep being thrown together during their luxury vacation, Olive and Ethan discover they don't mind the other's company all that much and start actively looking for excuses to spend time together. Also, that the source of their mutual animosity may have been fuelled and encouraged by an unlikely source.

New reading year, a new set of reading challenges. As per usual, I am doing the Monthly Motif Challenge, which for January is "Winter Wonderland" - read a book set in a place you've always thought was wonderful. Maui (where Olive and Ethan travel on their fake honeymoon) most definitely qualifies here. Added bonus, the theme for Ami's ill-fated, ends in food poisoning wedding is, in fact, Winter Wonderland. It also didn't hurt that the book has been on my TBR list since it came out, Christina Lauren's books are usually a treat, and the enemies to lovers trope is a favourite of mine.

While this was a fun read, and both Olive and Ethan were likable protagonists, there were things that annoyed me. Ethan's complete inability to remember Olive's name (he keeps calling her Olivia). As the story progresses, it becomes apparent that this may, in fact, be a defence mechanism to hide how much he actually likes her, and Olive starts fighting back in her own way, beginning to call him pretty much any random guy's name beginning with E. It began reminding me a bit of Colin and Minerva in Tessa Dare's A Week to Be Wicked, and suddenly it wasn't that much of a problem anymore.

I don't agree with the authors' choice of villain, so to speak, without wanting to go too much into detail here, because it's a huge spoiler. While I understand the narrative need for some third act complication to keep our lovers apart for a while, I really didn't like what was revealed, and how it had such major repercussions not just for Olive and Ethan, but other characters in the book, as well. I wish they'd chosen to go in a different direction entirely here.

 If you've enjoyed Christina Lauren's more recent entries (where they seem to be moving away from really steamy and rather graphic love scenes, and more towards the more vanilla mainstream), you're probably going to like this too. It's a sweet book and made me very much want my own tropical vacation.

Judging a book by its cover: While it's bright, cheerful and fun-looking, there's nothing much, except the title to hint at this actually being a romance novel. I'm not sure I wouldn't have preferred a book cover that related to the contents a bit more than random tropical flowers and birds.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

Reading challenge wrap-up post 2019

While I may not have completed as many books, or read as many pages as I entirely would have liked (I may just have to accept that I simply don't have as much time to read anymore - sob) in 2019, I signed up for a wide array of Reading Challenges (they really do help me read more diversely and get through more of my infinite TBR list), and I can happily say that I completed most of them. Now, some might say that counting my first and second Cannonball as separate challenges is cheating, but since I honestly didn't know if I was going to make it to 104 reviews this year, I'm going to say it counts.

Total list of Reading Challenges for 2019 - all of these challenges have separate lists on Goodreads, which I simply cannot be bothered to all link here. Anyone who searches for me on there can find them, though:
1. The Cannonball Read: As I said, I'm going to count this as two separate challenges. I finally completed my first Cannonball, 52 reviews on the 23rd of July, which I think is the latest in the year that's ever happened. So I feel I deserve to count 52 more as an added achievement, finally reached on the 29th of December. As it turned out, I managed to finish in the top 10 of reviewers, which considering the winner read and posted reviews for a staggering 730 books, I count as a win.

2. The Goodreads Reading Challenge: I signed up for 104 books (I'm so glad Goodreads finally counts re-reads towards your total tally) and hit that goal towards the end of December.

3. The Audiobook Challenge 2019, hosted by Caffeinated Reviewer:  I really wanted to motivate myself to listen to books more this year, and to help myself along, I signed up for "Socially Awkward" - 15-20 books. As it turns out, I listened to a whopping 25 in total, hitting my lower goal of 15 on the 20th of July.

4. The Backlist Reader Challenge 2019: For this challenge, books have to be published in 2017 or earlier and they have to have already have been on your TBR. In the end, I read 41 books that qualified for this list, and completed it on New Year's Eve.

5. Beat the Backlist: This one is obviously rather similar to the one above, but books have to be from 2018 or earlier. I love challenges that overlap heavily. The books had to be started and finished in 2019 to count, and I completed my last one on New Year's Eve.

6. #Bookiary 2019 Challenge: Read and review at least 52 books in a year. Books have to be more than 100 pages long. Reviews have to be at least 150 words long. Comics and graphic novels don't count. I really liked it when Cannonball Read decided that you could read whatever you wanted, short or long, as long as you could write 250 words about it. Still, this challenge didn't ask me to do anything I wasn't already going to be doing - I completed it on the 7th of August.

7. Color Coded Reading Challenge: This is one of the reading challenges I pretty much do every year. It's become slightly easier to complete since the rules were changed so the colour can be the main one on the book cover, rather than one that has to be mentioned in the book title (seriously, green and brown were super hard to complete before that change). The challenge is to read at least nine books, one per category (blue, red, yellow, green, brown, black, white, any other colour, implies colour). The book's title has to feature the colour, or dominate the cover of the book. This year, I completed the challenge on the 30th of April.

8. Contemporary Romance Challenge: I was always going to do well in a contemporary romance challenge, even one that doesn't let you count anything from a sub-genre like elements of historical, paranormal, time travel, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/suspense/thriller) The  books/novellas had to be at least 100 pages. I signed up for "3rd base" - 11-15 books, and ended up reading 21 books that qualified. I completed it on the 26th of May.

9. Diversify Your Reading 2019: This one actually pushed me out of my comfort zone, I really doubt I would have read poetry without it. Each month of the year was given a different category and genre, and the goal is to read at least one book from each of them. Ironically, December's prompt of fantasy should have been an easy one to complete, and then I became super busy with work (and knocked out by illness) and in the end, I only managed to read one book that would straight up qualify as fantasy, completed, you guessed it, on New Year's Eve.

10. 2019 Diversity Reading Challenge: This challenge does exactly what it says on the tin: read more diversely. Read books featuring characters with or by authors including, but not limited to People of colour/non-caucasian background, Native American or other indigenous background, LGBTQIA, gender fluid/transgender/non-binary, refugees, ethnic or religious minorities, mental illness, neurodiversity, feminist issues, physical/mental disabilities. I'm a white, cis-gendered, coming up on middle age, lower middle class woman (who to be fair, after I realised I was asexual fits in on the queer spectrum, but that's about it). I need to challenge myself in my reading. I set myself a goal of 40 books and completed it at the end of October. In the end, I read 51 books that qualify for the list, so a bit under half of my total for the year. I'm happy with that.

11. E-book reading challenge: Read e-books. I signed up for the "Terabyte" - 75 books, and this is one of the few challenges I didn't manage to complete. At the end of the year, I was on 71 e-books, close, no cigar. So while I surpassed my audiobook goal, I failed on this one.

12. For the love of E-books Challenge: I did manage to complete this one, where the goal was simply  40+ e-books. This one, I completed at the end of July.

13. Finishing the Series: The goal was to finish series you've already started before 2019. For an ongoing series, the goal was to catch up to the most recently published book by the end of 2019. I signed up for the "B-list" - finish 5-8 series over the course of the year, and ended up completing 24 whole series in the end. I think that's pretty good.

14. Historical Fiction Reading Challenge: As a big fan of historical fiction (especially romance), this is one of my favourite challenges. This year, I aimed a bit lower than in previous years, and signed up for "Ancient History" - 25-50 books. I hit my goal of 25 on the 12th of August, but would never have managed the next level up of 51 or more books - as I ended the year on 38 historical novels.

15. Literary Pickers Challenge 2019: This is one challenge that I've really enjoyed in the past few years, it's pretty much a literary scavenger hunt of sorts. The books need to be romance or have a strong romantic element. Only one item per book is allowed. As in previous years, I signed up for level 2- "Garage sale guru" - 25 items or more. I completed the challenge requirements at the beginning of August, and managed to tick off 47 items on the list at the end of the year.

16. Monthly Keyword Challenge: This is another of the challenges that I do each and every year, because it helps me read from my TBR list. Each month, you get a bunch of keywords. The goal is to read at least one book per month that features one (or several) of the words. At the beginning of every month, I make a long list of potential books (some months make for VERY long lists) and then I do my best to read as many as possible from it. This year, I managed 33 books, finishing the last on New Year's Eve.

17. Monthly Motif Challenge: Very similar to the one above, and another challenge that helps me read from my TBR list. Each month is assigned a motif or theme. The goal is to read at least one book a month that fits. For December, I finished the challenge on New Year's Eve and I read 20 books over the course of the year that fit into this challenge.

18. 2019 New Releases Challenge: To make myself feel slightly less guilty about reading new and shiny books, I signed up for this challenge. I chose level "New Release Pro" - 31-60 books. For a long while, I wasn't sure I was going to hit my goal, but I managed 38 books from 2019 by the end of the year.

19. Outdo Yourself Challenge 2019: I so wanted 2019 to be a better reading year than 2018. I signed up for the "Breaking a Sweat" category - to read 11-15 more books or 2750-3999 more pages than in 2018. This is one of the challenges I failed, and rather spectacularly too. I read fewer books and pages in 2019 than in 2018, I will need to step up my game in 2020.

20. Pages Read 2019: I seriously doubted I would be able to complete this challenge, where I chose  "Dwarf Peach" - 36 000-48 000 pages. In the end, I only just managed to clear 36 000 pages, but I managed, and since I thought I would fail, that feels extra satisfying. Once again, this challenge was completed on New Year's Eve itself.

21. Pick a Theme: For this challenge, I picked historical romance as my theme, and because I read enough of that each year, I couldn't really aim lower than the highest level, "Expert" - 8+ books. I completed the challenge my mid-June and by the end of the year, I had read 16 historical romances in total during the year, which long-time readers of my blog will know is a shockingly low number.

22. 2019 Retellings Challenge: I absolutely love retellings of all kinds, and had so many on my TBR list already. So this challenge pretty much seemed made for me. I signed up for level 2 - "Warrior Princess" - 6-10 retellings and hit my goal at the beginning of March. By the year's close, I'd read 11 books that qualified for the challenge, and I think this is one of the reading challenges I'm going to repeat in 2020.

23. #Tackle My TBR: My TBR list is always out of control (it has more than a thousand books on it now) and as a result, I always strive to cut down a bit on it every year. Hence this challenge, where I signed up for level "Field Goal" - 37-48 books. I completed my 37th book by the 20th of July and read 54 books (about half of my total) from my TBR list this year. I'm very happy with that.

24. Virtual Mount TBR Reading Challenge: Overlapping challenges are the best, I get twice the credit for doing exactly the same thing. "Mount Munch" 36-48 books, again completed by mid-July.

25. You Read How Many Books? - I signed up for "Teen" - 104 books, which a few years ago would have been low-balling it. This year, I only got that far by the very end of December. If I repeat the challenge, I probably have to aim for an even lower number.

26. RIP 14 Reading Challenge: A autumnal challenge where readers are encouraged to read books from the mystery, suspense, thriller, dark fantasy, gothic, horror and supernatural genres. I always sign up for 7 books, and completed the challenge by the 26th of October.

27. Cannonball Read Book Bingo: For the second year in a row, my book blogging buddies launched a Bingo Card in the second half of the year to keep review numbers fairly stable even in the months when a lot of people are losing their motivation. The Bingo ended on the 31st of October this year, and mainly thanks to the fact that my husband kept promising to read the books we were going to co-review and then failing to do so, I only got my last reviews in just before the deadline.

28. Reading Challenge Addict: Out of This World - 16+ Reading Challenges signed up for and completed. As you can see, I signed up for WAY more, and even with two failures, I more than adequately completed this goal, by the 31st of October.