Happy Friday my friends!!! Well it’s halfway through January and I finally got organized enough to come up with my Better reading and Diversity Challenge prompts. Because I like to fly by the seat of my pants I am not sure how I will go about tackling these prompts and probably will just picks the books as I go or read them. My main goal is to find books that fit the prompts I have decided on and I might not know that till after I read the book. I also would like to look at the books I have read in 2020 and find some that fit the prompts as well. So kind of look at 2020 and then challenge myself to read more in 2021. I hope this will help me get to those books I have that I picked up in 2020 in my quest to challenge myself to read better.

This is a combined challenge for reading better and reading more diverse books. My goal is to read at least one for each prompts however I am setting my goal to read half my reading challenge amount of 80 books from the list below. So here are my prompts.

  • Books that explore racial social justice by a black author
  • Books that explore social justice for women
  • Books that explore social justice for black women that challenge white feminism
  • Books with a theme for a cause or movement I believe in
  • Books that implores an immigration experience
  • Books by an author color that explores their challenges and social justice
  • Books that explore sexual identity
  • Books that explore poverty and wealth or classism
  • Books with a good representation of mental health
  • Books that explore loss/grief
  • Books with a character with a physical disability
  • Books that explore women’s health
  • Books with an older character or explores generation gap or aging
  • Books with unseen characters that explores loneliness
  • Books with a strong female character using her voice
  • Books that challenges gender expectations and roles
  • Books that challenges toxic male masculinity
  • Books that avoid harmful tropes while exploring multiply themes
  • Books that explore rape culture
  • Book by an author of color set in a country I would like to visits
  • Books that challenge or explore women gender oppression
  • Books that help the environment or explores the concerns for our environment
  • Books that explore a part of history
  • Books that teaches something about the past that is still relevant today
  • Memoir on a subject I feel strong about
  • Books of essays on a subject I would like to challenge my thoughts on and see society do better with

That’s it for now! I might add more as the year progresses. I hope to keep track of my journey through my challenge here on our blog. Have any suggests? Read any that you think might fit my prompts? Want to cheer me on? Want to join in? Drop me a comment below!!

Brenda’s review

Hot Emotional Diggity Dang! If you haven’t read this one, it is one you don’t want to miss! Put on your lounge pants and lock yourself in a room because you won’t want to put it down once you start it. It’s one you will want to talk about!! It is a book I am so excited to share with everyone. I want to stand in a book store and hand it to everyone who comes in and tell them they have to read it. It has been a long time since a story has made me feel like this one did—that feeling of being spent emotionally yet completely satisfied. It’s the best way to feel after reading a book.

We are expected or think we are good mothers, have the perfect children, and the ideal relationship with them, right? Well, Ashley Audrain boldly challenges that expectation here and shows us a compelling, complex story that explores the bonds of mother and daughters and motherhood’s dark, uncomfortable, emotional realities. The things we hide, burying our heads and don’t push by talking about it. She weaves a well-layered, emotionally intelligent story with suspense elements to create an absorbing psychological drama that is not to be mistaken for a psychological thriller. I went in thinking this was going to be a dark, twisted, entertaining psychological thriller and I started to worry it would go in the direction of those bad mother and psychology tropes and that the over thinker in me would come raging out. Thanks to my reading twin Jen who picked up on some things I didn’t, I started thinking differently about this one. Thank you, Jen!! I had nothing to worry about! It would be easy for this story to fall into those harmful tropes; however, Ashley Audrain pushes for better here.

The story is told almost entirely in second-person narrative from Blythe to her husband, Fox. Ashley Audrain creates one of the best opening scenes I have read to set up suspense, a sense of foreboding, and an ominous feel to the story. I wished from the start I would have checked that thriller mind of mine and paid more attention to Blythe’s tone to the story and picked up more of her feeling of self-doubt. Blythe is a relatable character and Audrain does a good job of putting us in her shoes allowing us to feel with her.

The title is brillant and worth thinking about and we spend some time talking about it and how it relates to the story.

There is so much more to this story to talk about, and so much I want to say, but I will leave it at this. I recommend this one to readers who love a well, developed psychological drama with depth layers.

This was a Traveling Sister read and one we all highly recommend!!

Lindsay’s review

Even better than I had hoped. Gut wrenching. Most emotional and amazing book I’ve read in years!

“A mother’s heart breaks a million ways in her lifetime.”

Blythe struggles to connect with her newborn daughter and worries that her own traumatic childhood has damaged her ability to properly bond and nurture as a parent. She battles these thoughts on a daily basis and pushes herself through the endless stress-filled days of parenting a young child. Things seem to be easier once her son is born.

Emotionally draining and compulsively readable. This is one of the most intense and amazing books I’ve read in years. I was quite literally addicted to this book….to this mother’s pain and her struggles. I was rooting for Blythe. My heart broke every time hers did which was a constant ache from start to finish.

The writing! I don’t know how to adequately describe the beauty of the writing. The writing flowed directly into my heart and had me feeling as though I was experiencing the heartache and struggles right alongside Blythe. My connection and investment in Blythe’s situation was so strong due to the exceptional writing that I felt as though it was happening to me. Quite simply — I was Blythe while I read this. I have no personal experience with what Blythe went through but I feel like a changed person after reading this. This moved me so deeply.

This is not a happy book. It is brutally honest and raw. It will rip your heart out. It will make you feel the pain of a mother fighting her own thoughts and worries.

I know it’s very early in the year, but I think this will be my favourite book of 2021. This will be extremely hard to top. I usually move right on to the next book once I finish reading but the intensity of this one forced me to take a break to think and truly absorb the situation. Major book hangover! I feel bad for whatever book I pick up next….

We received a copy form the publisher through NG

Brenda’s review

The Pretty Little Wife here has had enough, and she is not to be underestimated. When she finds out what her husband has been hiding, she takes matters into her own hands. Things get complicated for her and us in more ways than one.

When Lila’s husband goes missing, she is under suspicion, of course. Lila is one smart woman, and so is the detective on the case, Ginny. They are not going to let the other one outsmart them. This added some fun dynamics and banter between the characters, and I had to chuckle to myself a few times. I didn’t know who to root for as each one was entertaining. I also enjoyed their inner banter with the men in the story who thought they were smarter than the women.

Darby Kane brings us one twisty domestic thriller here with enough unlikeable red herrings to keep you guessing right up to that entertaining, action-packed climax to the story. I was a tad bit disappointed with how Darby Kane to wrap things up, however, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story. She doesn’t just use red herring to throw us off-track or rely on layering those clues. She held back some details, and that left me a bit unsatisfied with the ending. The ending requires some suspension of disbelief, but that added to the story’s entertainment for me.

There is a bit of a feminist side to the story here with the strong, stand on their own women here; however, the ending did kind of take away from that. lol

Overall this is a fun, entertaining twisty page-turner. I highly recommend it when you need to escape the world with a thrilling story.

This was a Traveling Sister read and made for a fun one to discuss those red herrings!!

Lindsay’s review

Lila’s husband, Aaron, teaches at the small town local high school where a student went missing. Months later Aaron disappears without a trace. Lila was the last person to see Aaron. Police investigate to determine if there could be a link between the disappearances.

This one started off strong! I loved Lila’s character and what her perspective brought to the story. The writing and storyline gripped me initially and had me curious to see how it would all play out. The podcast was a fun added element.

Something seemed to change around halfway. The writing lost its spark and took an unfortunate turn into unrealistic territory. I lost my connection with Lila’s character and I wasn’t as invested in the outcome of the storyline.

Overall, it was an entertaining, fast paced and easy read that was good but not great for me.

We received a copy from the publisher on EW

Brenda’s review

Hot Popping Dang! Literary popcorn! J.D. Barker describes his writing as literary popcorn, and I am not sure what that means, but that popcorn was popping all over the place here in this convoluted, dark, twisted horrifying action-packed psychological thriller with more twists and turn then I could keep up with. If I were holding a bowl of popcorn while reading this one, it would be flying all over the place with those graphic violent details.

With authors like James Patterson and J.D. Barker, I knew I was in for one “deeply deranged killer with a dark and twisted appetite” well, dang, this was some deeply twisted psychological sh*t going on here!! I am one picky reader when it comes to delving into psychology and twisting it for the plot and twists to the story. At times I was worried I would end up disliking this one, and that overthinker was going to come out in all her nastiness. However, I was in some skillful hands here, and only talented authors like this could make up this level of dark and twistiness and make it work for this picky overthinker!

It’s all about the action here with this twisty ride coast to coast, and at times, it’s was so intense I had to get off and take a mental break before getting back in this ride. I listened to this one, and with 560 pages and 14 hours of listening, I have to admit I was ready for this road trip of terror to end, but those deranged twists keep coming right up to that last page.

Now that ending left me thinking you got to be kidding me! They weren’t!!!

I received a copy from J.D. Barker through NG.

Brenda’s review

The Exiles explores a part of history I had no idea about. Christina Baker Kline brings us a well-researched powerful, emotional story that weaves history, real-life people, and fiction as she captures the hardship of four women set in 19 century Australia.

The story centers around three English female convicts being transported to a prison in Australia by boat and an orphaned Aboriginal girl Matthina. An English governor’s wife takes her in out of curiosity to see if she can turn a savage into a proper lady.

It’s all about the strong female characters here as we follow them as they struggle to leave behind their old lives and adapt to the new ones that are forced on them. There are many well-layered themes of social justice, oppression and survival quietly weaved into the beautiful story. At first, I struggled a bit with the story, and I needed to quiet my mind to focus on the themes. Once I shut the noise in my head, I was consumed with the journey of these unforgettable women. My heart broke for them with vivid details of the conditions they lived under, and at times I had to look away and let my mind skim over it. It’s not all dark as there are themes of hope, friendship, motherhood, and loyalty.

The story explores social justice here for women, at a time in history when women were seen as “less than” and a society that was entitled to discriminate against indigenous people. We don’t see much of Matthina’s story, but she captured my heart and pulled at my heart strings with the way she was seen and treated.

The story takes a brave, bold, and sudden turn that left me thinking did that just happened, and I almost didn’t believe it did. I had to go back and reread it, and Christina Baker Kline shows us just how talented she is by pulling off that turn to the story.

It’s inspiring stories like this that remind us how strong women were at a time when they were grounded by men and a society that viewed them as lesser. They faced fear and survival not by looking away but by facing it head-on. It’s an empowering story that celebrates women’s strength, courage, and resilience that we can carry over today. I highly recommend it.

Lindsay’s review

This novel follows several brave and inspiring women on a journey that weaves their lives together in unexpected ways. It is a story about the strength, determination and endless drive found deep within a woman’s soul. It is a powerful depiction of how women hold each other up in this world.

Told through multiple perspectives, I was invested in every character from start to finish. I loved what each character brought to the storyline, each narrative added a deeper layer of intensity and detail which all brilliantly weaved together in unexpected ways. These characters will stay with me a long time.

The elegant and beautiful writing pulled me in completely. Many powerful sentences made me stop and think. This is one of those books that I so thoroughly enjoyed reading that I didn’t want it to end. I truly cherished and enjoyed the experience of reading every single word.

Orphan Train, by this author, is one of my favourite books and while this was not an intense as Orphan Train, it was equally impactful. It is a quiet but captivating story. Not gripping or suspenseful, but beautifully unique and unforgettable.

This novel has confirmed my love for this authors writing. I absolutely must read A Piece Of The World soon.

We received copies from the publisher on EW

One book, Three Challenges!

I love to listen to audiobooks while multi-tasking especially when I am cooking. It makes those chores around the house a little easier to get to, however I still find ways to avoid doing them. I often listen and read the same book but then I usually end up reading most of it and never finishing the audiobook. So this year I have decided to join an audiobook challenge and set a goal to listen to those audiobooks from start to finish. Maybe if I only listen to a book it will motivated me to get those chores more often.

#2021AudiobookChallenge

My Level

Stenographer (can listen while multi-tasking) 10-15

The first audiobook on my list is The Nowhere Man (Orphan X, #2) by Gregg Andrew Hurwitz. I also decided to join a challenge to finish those series I have started but haven’t finished. When I decided to join the challenge this one was not on my list however I am now going to add to it. I am also going to use this one for my action thriller in my sub-genre thriller challenge if it’s exciting, suspenseful, keeps my attention from start to finish with it’s action packed thrills.

2021 Finishing the Series Reading Challenge #FinishingTheSeries2021

This challenge is focused on finishing those series that you’ve started but not yet completed. I have decided to go with C-List Series Finisher- Complete 1-4 series.

The series on my list to complete

  • Orphan X by Gregg Andrew Hurwitz
  • DI Kim Stone by Angela Marsons
  • Kate Burkholder by Linda Castillo
  • Grant Country/Will Trent by Karin Slaughter. I feel like that is pretty ambitious of me since I am only on the second book in the Grant Country series.

Interested in joining the 2021 Audiobook Challenge? Check it out at That’s What I’m Talking About or Caffeinated Reviewer.

Interested in joining 2021 Finishing the Series Reading Challenge? Check it out at Celebrity Readers

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