Reading Challenge

In January, I challenged myself to read more. In 2022, I read 12 books total. As a writer, I knew I needed to up my reading game. So far in 2023, I’ve read 18! I want to share my monthly books here. I’ll catch up another time with Jan-Apr. Here are May’s books . . .

bookmory app, elaina avalos may 2023 books
The calendar is a feature from the Bookmory app. The book appears on the date you finish the book. I didn’t read all of these in one day.
may 2023 books read, elaina avalos books, goodreads may 2023

I included Daisy Jones & The Six in the list since I was pretty disappointed in Malibu Rising. Maybe it was a fluke. Although I did take Carrie Soto is Back off my TBR, based on her appearance in Malibu Rising. Daisy Jones & The Six is a must read – especially if you’re a fan of the Fleetwood era of music. I was hopeful I’d enjoy all of Reid’s books because of it. But Malibu Rising wasn’t great. In part, I couldn’t fully care for or like any of the characters. There’s an extreme amount of telling vs showing and while I didn’t entirely hate this book, I really struggled through it. There were some sweet moments between the siblings – I will give the book that much.

On the four-star end are Me Before You & Someone Else’s Shoes. I thought Someone Else’s Shoes was tons of fun and a great female friendship kind of book. It would be a fun movie. Me Before You totally broke my heart. I cried. I don’t like spoilers so I don’t intend to give it away. If you want to know more and you’re sensitive to certain subjects – particularly surrounding death, maybe don’t read this one or read up on it. It was made into a movie I’m looking forward to seeing with Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin (from Daisy Jones on Amazon) and I’ve now started book 2 in the series. I loved the sarcasm and joking between Will and Lou. I genuinely loved Lou and lately, I haven’t cared for many of the female protagonists in the books I’ve read. Lou was endearing and weird. But the book made me stupidly emotional. You’ve been warned.

Finally, The Dead Romantics is super weird. This isn’t my norm. It’s dark and kind of morbid (the family owns a mortuary). And weirdly, I read part of it while home in California for my dad’s funeral. The book is enjoyable. But I won’t tell a lie, I wished the two main characters had been together – physically – a little longer. You’ll understand if you read. It was fun otherwise, but I could quite get to four stars. Although, I may have to rethink that as it’s light years ahead of Malibu Rising. Maybe it’s a solid 3.5 stars…

Slightly South of Simple – 2020 Reading Challenge

reading challenge january 2020 kristy woodson harvey1

I admit it. I started Slightly South of Simple before starting a Reading Challenge in January. The theme for January was a book related to your New Years resolution. Since I don’t do resolutions, I decided finishing a book that was in my Kindle queue or on my bedside table, was close enough to a resolution.

First up was Kristy Woodson Harvey’s first book in the The Peachtree Bluff Series. I started this book during a very chaotic time last summer, as my foster son was preparing to be moved. As much as I love reading, you would have thought it would have been a little self-care. But I couldn’t bring myself to do much of anything but watch comedy specials on Netflix.

As a result, the book sat on my Kindle without being read. I read the author’s first book Dear Carolina, and loved it – especially the ways in which it incorporated Eastern NC – this place I’ve called home for so long. So I knew Slightly South of Simple had to be the first book I read for the challenge.

What did I think of it? I loved the book. But as I’m not a book reviewer, I don’t intend to dive terribly deep into the plot. What I will say is that I find her writing to be honest, heartfelt, and funny. While the book is technically not set in North Carolina, the town Peachtree Bluff is said to be modeled after Beaufort, NC. If you’ve been around a while, or read my book, you know how much I love that quirky, beautiful town.

I think Harvey writes relationships genuinely. She approaches complexities in those relationships in a way that I appreciate as a writer and reader. There were a couple of things I didn’t care for so much in this book. One of which was an obsession that a couple of characters appeared to have with body image/size.

While it rings very true that this might be something women in certain spheres are focused on, it did frustrate me as it didn’t really seem necessary to the plot itself. Who knows? Maybe I’ll come to understand that particular issue better, in the next two novels? That said, it didn’t alter my overall view of Harvey’s writing.

Elaina Avalos Reading Challenge Kristy Woodson Harvey Novel

If you’re wondering what my February book is, it’s My Twenty-Five Years in Provence, by Peter Mayle. Mayle was a wonderful writer. He wrote joyfully about his life in France (and about food & wine – my favs). You may have seen a movie made about one of his novels – A Good Year? Mayle passed away recently. I think this is the perfect book for this month’s theme.

Here are the other books in this challenge:

January: Book Related to Your New Year’s Resolution
February: Biography or Memoir
March: Book in a Series
April: Try an Audio Book
May: Feels Like Falling! (Obviously… Then Join Us May 15 for a FB Live Discussion)
June: Classic Beach Book
July: Thriller So Scary You Have to Read on the Beach in Daylight
August: Historical Fiction
September: Book That Has Been in Your TBR Pile Forever
October: New Release Impulse Buy
November: One of Your Family Member’s Favorite Books
December: Holiday-Themed Book

What have you read so far in 2020?