Reading Challenge 2021

I enjoyed the 2020 Reading Challenge so much, that I plan on doing another reading challenge this year too. The focus for this challenge will mostly be on different genres. Since 2021 promises to be another socially distanced year, why not travel through the pages of books?

I hope you are inspired to complete the challenge with me!

Reading Roundup 2020

If you recall, at the beginning of the year, I set myself a reading challenge. In case you missed it, I thought I’d recap the books I chose for this challenge that I wrote reviews for. 2020 was kind of a wild year, so I didn’t get nearly as many books from this list read as I would have liked. But, that’s ok. I have a whole new year in which to read, while socially distancing during 2021. So without further ado…

January

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester chronicles the lives of the two men instrumental in compiling the Oxford English Dictionary.

February

In honor of Women in Horror month, I read Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, which is nothing like the movies based on it.

March

In March, I read Queen of America by Luis Alberto Urrea, the sequel to The Hummingbird’s Daughter. Both books were based on the life of Teresita Urrea, the Saint of Cabora, the girl who inspired a revolution.

April

I choose a book that was written by an author with my middle name rather than one with my initials or last name. A Love to Mend Her Broken Heart: A Historical Western Romance Novel by Etta Foster was not my usual genre, but that’s the point of a challenge right? To experience something new?

May

June

I belong to an online book club and This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel was the selection of the month. What a discussion we had about this book about a transgender child.

July

I’ve been following the author Lisa Sell for some time on social media. She has funny posts about writing and cats. I finally got around to reading her mystery novel Hidden.

August

September

October

November

I always wanted to visit Spain and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon was an excellent romantic mystery set in Barcelona in the 1940s.

December

For December, I read Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller, a memoir about her childhood in Africa.

I enjoyed my reading challenge so much that I’m going to do it again next year! Be on the lookout for the 2021 reading challenge in the next few days.

Harness the Power of the Invincible Mind: Spatial Strategy to Success and Happiness by Alex Neumann

I enjoyed reading Harness the Power of the Invincible Mind: Spatial Strategy to Success and Happiness by Alex Neumann for a variety of reasons. First, there were the CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) references throughout. Then, the parables were apt. Finally, the references to real life individuals who beat the odds were inspiring. 

If you are interested in becoming your best self, then this is a book that should be in your library. The author attacks several “givens” found in society that hinder us from reaching our full potential, such as commercialism, not saying no, self-limitation, and having a negative mindset. Each chapter has several parables illustrating a better course of action and at least one example of someone who succeeded where others failed. 

NOTE: The author had his editor fix these issues in the book that is now available on Amazon. 😉

That being said, I would have liked to have seen a little bit more attention to detail by the author. There were a handful of typos and some inaccurate information. For example, Helen Keller was not born blind and deaf. You don’t have to be naked to procreate. There aren’t nine planets anymore in our solar system. Sarah Breedlove was not born on a plantation in Pennsylvania. And the phrase “fake it til you get it” should be “fake it til you make it” and actually is more in line with what the author suggests (having an optimistic mindset which helps realize goals) than not.

Despite those oversights in the proofreading, I found Harness the Power of the Invincible Mind: Spatial Strategy to Success and Happiness by Alex Neumann to be both positive and practical.

I received an advanced reader copy from the author.

Einstein’s Last Message: Saving Our World by Changing How We Think by Dr. Rod O’Connor

This year has brought several baffling concepts to light for me. These include: Why does a racist con-man have 74,122,580 registered supporters? Why are children kept in cages for years and women and girls given forced hysterectomies? Why are governments around the world unable to agree to a course of action that would reduce the spread of COVID-19? Why have 1,508,906 died already from this virus when this isn’t human’s first experience with a plague? Why black and indigenous lives don’t matter to the vast majority? Why extreme weather, wildfires, and drought are not seen as evidence of climate change caused by humans? Why are we rushing to get things back to “normal” when “normal” is what brought us to this precipice in the first place?

Dr. Rod O’Connor had some answers for me in Einstein’s Last Message: Saving Our World by Changing How We Think. This meticulously researched book discusses the flaws in thinking that are preventing us from making lasting changes in order to avert the total world destruction we are on the verge of enacting. Not only that, it provides some key adjustments we can make in our thinking to literally save the world. Scientists have already told us exactly what actions we need to take to save our planet and ourselves. It’s up to us to prioritize these actions and change our thinking about our place in the world. (See also Our planet is on the brink. Here’s how we save it, Saving Life on Earth: A Plan to Halt the Global Extinction Crisis, and Why we’ll succeed in saving the planet from climate change)

Dr. O’Connor presents an overwhelming topic in manageable parts. He uses the metaphor of Russian nesting dolls that contain our thoughts and actions about the world, people, self, and right and wrong to explain how and why we are where we are in history. With personal anecdotes, scientific research findings, and examples from individuals throughout history, including Einstein), the author lays it all out for us. In addition, the appendix has a checklist for decisions about the material world, involving people, gaining happiness, and our individual sense of right and wrong to help everyone make better choices going forward. The second appendix gives suggestions on ways to improve ourselves through personal reflection. 

As you can see, there is an unbelievable amount of useful information between the covers. The book isn’t long but it does delve into deficiencies we all have. Once I began, I could not put it down. Unfortunately, some readers may not be ready to hear what Dr. O’Connor has to say and that’s a shame, because until we are of one mind, there will be no future for us or our children or grandchildren or great-children. But if you are up for it, I invite you to pick up a copy of Einstein’s Last Message: Saving Our World by Changing How We Think by Dr. Rod O’Connor. It’s a book everyone should read.

I received an ARC from Reedsy Discovery. You can read my review here.

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller

Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller is the childhood memoir of a girl born in the UK who grew up in Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe in the 1970s and 1980s. The internal strife and racial conflict were almost a constant background noise to Bobo and her sister Vanessa. She describes Mum using an Uzi to kill a snake and hearing mine detonations that have killed either an African or baboon as if they were not so out of the ordinary things.

Poverty and alcoholism spawn tragic events which little Bobo internalizes. I don’t want to spoil the book for you, but there are some horrific episodes. It’s definitely not a feel-good type of book. Yet, you can’t help but laugh at some of the stories, especially the typical sisterly interactions of childhood.

And it seems that Africa has a way of invading your blood. After being forced to leave due to civil unrest, Bobo longs for her home and the descriptions in this memoir are saturated with that longing.

Honestly, after reading this emotionally powerful book, I have no desire to ever visit any country in Africa. The heat, dust, racial divide, and the LIONS make it a place I will happily avoid for the rest of my life. However, I loved reading about it through Bobo’s eyes. So if you enjoy being an armchair traveler like me, then Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller is a must-read!

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

If you are looking for a quick and entertaining holiday read, then look no further than The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. The Herdman children make the traditional Holy Child reenactment one that no one will EVER forget. 

Every town has one of THOSE familes, a rowdy brood of trouble makers. The Herdmans are every teacher’s bane and every student’s worst nightmare. Setting fires, blackmail, bullying, are smoking in the girl’s bathroom are minor compared to what happens during the Christmas Pageant.

If Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie, and Gladys’s unbelievable antics during the Christmas pageant aren’t enough, then you can continue to enjoy rolling your eyes as you read The Best School Year Even and The Best Halloween Ever.

Children and adults will laugh out loud at the too-real descriptions of those Herdmans.

Early Black Friday Shopping Deals 2020 for Book Lovers

Books are my favorite thing to buy, both for myself and as gifts. Take a look at these early Black Friday deals for book lovers!

Herbal Academy

Get your favorite herbalist a book from Herbal Academy. Herbal Academy Goods Shop products are 20% off with coupon code GIVETWENTY now until November 30. Textbook sets are excluded. My favorite item in the store is the Self-Care Journal, because we all need a bit more of that this year!

Amazon

Amazon is another place that you can get your Black Friday book deals now. The Countdown to Black Friday: Load up your Kindle with 150+ top reads section is certainly worth taking a look at!

For Reading Addicts

Be sure to take a look at what For Reading Addicts has to offer. From coffee mugs to shower curtains, show your love for books with any one of these amazing products! There’s even a Christmas themed section to put you in the holiday spirit!

EyeBuyDirect

Every reader needs a new pair of glasses every once in a while. I just ordered myself some new frames from EyeBuyDirect. I love that I can pay using Amazon Pay. They are offering an early Black Friday sale. Buy 1 get 1 free + 20% discount with the code SNEAKPEEK. You can also get $10 off your first order with the code IFJBT2LGL1. Not only are there some gorgeous frames on sale but you can get Ray-Ban & Oakley glasses for 30% off frames and 70% off lenses with the code GIFT4U.

Zulily 

Zulily has discounted books! Just type “books” in the search bar and see what awaits! The selection available changes daily, so it’s worth spending a few days checking out what they’ve got. 

C.E. Flores

Last, but not least, I’m offering my own early Black Friday deals for readers. 

A Woman’s Survival Guide to Disasters in Rural Mexico: A Framework for Empowered Living Through Crisis and Book Building: A Beginner’s Guide to Crafting Your Book are just 99 cents if you get them today. That is 81% off their regular price. Over the next few days, the price will go up just a little bit until they return to their regular price on November 30. 

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The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The day that Daniel’s father took him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books changed the course of history for more than one person. That was the day that Daniel Sempere lay to claim the last unburnt copy of The Shadow of the Wind written by an obscure author with the name of Julian Carax. 

Set in Barcelona immediately after the Francoist dictatorship, this novel of intrigue and suspense will carry you away with its precise descriptions and well-developed characters as Daniel sets out to unravel the mystery of Julian Carax, formerly from Spain who published poorly sold books in Spanish from Paris.

Along with eccentric book lover Gustavo Barcelo and beggar turned secret agent Fermin Romero de Torres, Daniel searches for clues and stumbles upon intersecting histories that include Don Federico the watchmaker, who every now and then dons a diva costume and performs at an underground variety show in drag, Clara, the lovely, blind daughter of Gustavo who steals Daniel’s heart and the notorious giggling Inspector Fumero. 

The Shadow of the Wind doesn’t hold back on romance either. From the tragic story of Daniel’s widowed father to the heedless entanglements of Daniel’s own love life, there are overlapping stories of unrequited love, forbidden love, and eternal love with catastrophic results. 

I must warn you that the complexity of the story and the formal Spanish tone and vocabulary choices mean this isn’t a light beach read even in translation. You may need to take a break every now and then to wrap your head around the mystery or ponder the clues. However, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (not the one by Julian Carax) was one of the best romantic mystery novels that I’ve read in quite some time. 

Ultimate Bundle Herbs and Essential Oils 2020 and Traditional Mexican Herbal Remedies

I’m pleased to announce that my latest herbal compilation Traditional Mexican Herbal Remedies is part of the Herbs and Essential Oils 2020 bundle! It includes 20 herbs, or rather 19 and miel sagrado (sacred Melipona honey) and their medicinal use by Mexican healers as well as scientific research on their effectiveness in treating a variety of ailments. This little book is ONLY available through Ultimate Bundles which will ONLY be available November 16 – 20.

In addition to my little contribution, you’ll get 18 ebooks, 11 courses, 6 printables and workbooks, worth a total of worth $684.36 for $37. If you love herbs like I do, then this is the bundle you’ve been waiting for!

Countdown Timer Herbs and Essential Oils Super Bundle 2020

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