Reading Challenges

As you’re thinking about your goals for 2019, I thought I’d write a quick plug for our Reading Challenges. We have three: 

  1. Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Challenge- This is a 30 book challenge intended to challenge readers to try new subjects, new authors, new genres, and new publishers. It is divided into three sub-challenges, so you can zero in what you’re most interested in.
  2. Diverse Narrators, Diverse Stacks– This reading challenge is meant to focus on subject matter, allowing readers to use books as windows to the world
  3. Diverse Authors, Diverse Lives– This reading challenge is meant to focus on authors. The idea was to challenge ourselves to be thoughtful in whose words we’re reading and to think about how our choice of material affects the book industry. 

If you do one of our challenges, let us know! Hashtag in #StackXLifeX so we can find you! 

Kate’s Top 5 of 2018

top 5 2018

Beth has already given her list, so it’s time for me to do mine. I probably finished enough books this year to justify a Top Ten but Beth made me a graphic and I want to use it! Also, some of my favorites overlap with Beth! I feel like I don’t usually get to books when they first come out, so its been a wild and crazy year!


  1. Dread Nation By Justina Ireland


 dread nation

I liked this book so much, I read it twice. Well, read it once and then listened to the audiobook (read by Bahni Turpin) with my Mom while we prepared for Christmas. In this alternative history, Jane McKeene, a black woman, is born two days before the dead walk at Gettysburg. I was interested in the politics presented in this book and also in the zombies. Oh, and the romance. There are some book boyfriends in this, oh my yes.

2. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

children of blood and bone

It took me forever to finish this book, I parceled it out because I didn’t want it to end. The magic in this story was so interesting, I wanted to know more about each of the different types of magic. The world Adeyemi weaves in this novel is complex and lush and I’m so looking forward to the next book.

3.When Dimple Met Rishihi by Sandhya Menon


This novel was just so sweet. I loved it so much. In it, Dimple is excited to go to a summer program that, if she wins, means she’ll get to meet her hero. She doesn’t know that her parents have agreed to let her go because they’re trying to arrange her marriage with the son of a family friend who just happens to also be in the same summer program. I loved both Dimple and Rishi. I loved Rishi’s brother. This is such a heartwarming romance.

Last Black Unicorn by Tiffani Haddish


Tiffany Haddish herself reads the audiobook of Last Black Unicorn, which is a collection of autobiographical essays. It was funny, it was heartbreaking. I loved this and now I’m obsessed with Tiffani Haddish and seeing all of her movies.

Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black


Ah, the vampire tale that launched the re-reading a bunch of other vampire tales for me. There was a lot to like in this book. I liked the relationships. I liked Tana’s relationship with her ex-boyfriend Aiden and her budding relationship with vampire Gabriel. I liked her relationship with her sister. I also enjoyed the vampire mythology. This is the second book on this list that I read twice this year. I really liked it.


Honorable Mentions


The Mortification of Fovea Munson by Mary Winn Heider: I loved Fovea, the talking heads, and her budding friendship with a boy at school! This was such a fun middle grade read! But, I also know the author so it feels weird putting it in the top five.

Tikka Chance on Me by Suleikha Snyder.  You shouldn’t choose a book by its cover, but as soon as I saw the cover, I knew I needed to read this. Pinky Grover moved home (and dropped out of grad school. I always have time for books about grad students) to help her parents while her Mom was sick. She’s working on her parents Indian restaurant and lusting after Trucker Carrigan, member of a local biker gang who happens to eat a lot of Indian food. This book was so cute. It was just a fun, totally hot romance. This is the first thing I’ve read by Suleikha Snyder and I already started another book by her.

2. Bellamy and the Brute by Alicia Michaels. this was only a 3 star for me, but I loved Bellamy, she is such a kickass character. She was just so hardworking and thoughtful. I wanted her to succeed. So, this wasn’t the best thing I read this year, but I am looking forward to reading more about this character and by Alicia Michaels.

3. Head on by John Scalzi: This was on impulse pick that I grabbed walking through the library’s “No Holds! No Renewals! Get if if you can!” shelves. I love the author’s twitter presence, and this is the first book of his I’ve read. The premise was engaging, the world he’s built is interesting, and based on this I so need to read more set in this world.

Review: Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber


Here is the description from amazon:

Ashley Davison, a graduate student in California, desperately wants to spend the holidays with her family in Seattle. Dashiell Sutherland, a former army intelligence officer, has a job interview in Seattle and must arrive by December 23. Though frantic to book a last-minute flight out of San Francisco, both are out of luck: Every flight is full, and there’s only one rental car available. Ashley and Dash reluctantly decide to share the car, but neither anticipates the wild ride ahead.

At first they drive in silence, but forced into close quarters Ashley and Dash can’t help but open up. Not only do they find they have a lot in common, but there’s even a spark of romance in the air. Their feelings catch them off guard—never before has either been so excited about a first meeting. But the two are in for more twists and turns along the way as they rescue a lost puppy, run into petty thieves, and even get caught up in a case of mistaken identity. Though Ashley and Dash may never reach Seattle in time for Christmas, the season is still full of surprises—and their greatest wishes may yet come true.


This book was terrible. So terrible I almost didn’t review it. The whole premise of the plot is that Ashley Davison has the same name as someone on the FBI’s most wanted list and the no-fly list and that’s a huge roadblock to her getting home for Christmas.  This premise seems in poor taste, at the very least, because it does happen and hurts people, most often people who are racial and/or religious minorities in this country. I decided, for the sake of a quick Christmas read that I’d read it anyway.

I should have gone with my first instincts.

Ashley and Dash have sparks? I guess? But, It seems more like he’s the grown up looking after a well-meaning and slightly-irresponsible younger person. (And, for possibly obvious reasons, I really resent any characterization of a graduate student that way.) The FBI agents who follow them are ham-fisted and stubborn-to-a-fault. It is not a very flattering caricature. They also don’t seem good at their jobs? I feel like there were other clues that could have gotten them to Dash and Ashley faster, and while this would have made for a less exciting novel it also would have made for a shorter one and I would have been cool with that?

Oh, and they adopt a puppy at some point on their rental car road trip. This seems slightly irresponsible but big-hearted. Guess who’s idea it is.

The puppy is great. Not great enough that you should read it for the dog, though.

Ugh. this book. It was just terrible. I was hoping for something light and fun with a cute happily ever after and that’s not what this was. The nicest things I can say about this are that there was a dog and that it was a quick read.


Dracula Chapter 9



So, this is totally embarrassing. I recorded this more than a week ago and I’m just now getting to posting it. Sigh. Apologies.


In today’s installment, a flurry of activity happens as documented in various diary entries, letters, and telegrams! It is so exciting!


Chapter 9 can be found here.

You can get caught up here.


The music for the recording is Oppressive Gloom by Kevin MacLeod ( (Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License And, the text is by Bram Stoker.


Dracula, Chapter 8

In which we discover what has happened to Jonathan Harker


In today’s installment, we find out what happened to Jonathan Harker. We also hear more about Dr. Seward’s most interesting patient and Lucy starts keeping her own diary!






The music for the recording is Oppressive Gloom by Kevin MacLeod ( (Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License And, the text is by Bram Stoker.


Previous chapters can be found here.



Dracula Chapter 7

This just in! The news from Whitby!


The music for the recording is Oppressive Gloom by Kevin MacLeod ( (Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Previous chapters can be found here.

Vampire Month Bonus! Let’s talk Twilight!


As a fun bonus for Vampire month, Beth and I got together and discussed the gateway drug of Vampire books for a generation of readers, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.


We had a really good time discussing the novel, and we only digressed a couple of times into other things (like the movie Soapdish and The Red Queen books by Victoria Aveyard). We hope that you enjoy our little chat, too.

It can be found here.

You can catch up on Dracula, the centerpiece of Vampire Month, here.

Dracula Chapter 6


Cemetery in Whitby, England. Photo by Chris ( Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license)

In today’s installment, we hear more from Mina Murray and Dr. Seward! The chapter ends with some creepy foreshadowing! What will happen next?

The music for the recording is Oppressive Gloom by Kevin MacLeod ( (Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Hear from Mina and Dr. Seward here.

Previous chapters can be found here.