Happy New Year, everyone!
It's time for the start of the 2017 Read & Watch Challenge. Yay! If you missed the initial post that explained how this works, check it out here. (There's also a free checklist and reading journal you can download.) But the basic premise is that each month there will be a theme word. You can choose how to interpret the theme word, but the challenge is to read a book and watch a movie/TV show each month that match the theme.
Also, each month, I'll be posting recommendations here if you're having trouble deciding what to pick. I'll offer my own recommendations and what I plan to read/watch for the challenge BUT I'll also be featuring tastemakers (authors, bloggers, editors) who offer recommendations AND a Reader of the Month who will offer her choices. So lots of reasons to stop by! :)
So, this month's word is BEGIN. I think this one is perfect for January and I hope you'll have fun with it.
Possible interpretations of the theme (but interpret how you like):
- Begin a series
- A story about beginnings
- A book or movie that has the word BEGIN in the title
- A non-fiction book about a habit you want to start
- A YA story because teens are beginning their adult lives
- A prequel
- A story about the beginning of an era
TASTEMAKER OF THE MONTH: Julie Cross
This month's tastemaker is my friend and NYT Bestselling YA/NA author, Julie Cross. She's got some great suggestions for us. But be sure to also check out her latest book, Chasing Truth, which also fits the theme of BEGIN. Kirkus reviews calls it, "An enjoyably twisty, romantic, and thoughtful prep-school mystery."
Now, on to Julie's picks!
Novel: Sex and Violence by Carrie Mesrobian
Julie's Thoughts: Open your mind a bit and let this very real, very BEGIN story inside you and I promise you will feel all kinds of things. After Seventeen year old, Evan is severely assaulted by the ex-boyfriend of a girl he hooks up, his father pulls him out of boarding school and the two escape to a family cabin in Minnesota. Evan must begin to mend--inside and out--begin to trust, and begin to love himself while learning to let others in. Lovers of romance, there is a love story here, but be aware, it doesn’t follow the traditional patterns however if you come prepared for a real and emotional journey, you’ll find that love story right alongside the hero.
Recommended for lovers of realistic teen stories, male narrator's, family drama, small-town quirks, friendships, and characters who make dozens of mistakes but grow tremendously throughout the story.
TV Show: Veronica Mars
Julie's Thoughts: I watched this entire series just last winter (free via my Amazon Prime membership) so don’t feel intimidated by the “Marshmellows” who were devoted to the series since it’s birth. Unlike the hero in my YA book recommendation, Veronica doesn’t have the luxery of moving to a new place despite the BEGIN she is forced embrace. Her best friend was murdered, her father was booted from his job as town sheriff, her mother has run off to God knows where, and Veronica has gone from popular cheerleader to daughter of the town outcast. She may be stuck in Neptune until graduation, but that doesn’t mean Veronica has to sit quietly and accept her new fate. She’s fierce, witty, hilarious, and very loyal to her father. The two of them have a great relationship and run a damn good P.I. business too. Veronica’s drive and constant curiosity will make you want to get up and BEGIN something of your own. After you binge watch all three seasons plus the follow-up movie, which is also fantastic.
READER OF THE MONTH: Dawn Alexander
One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
The first of the Stephanie Plum series, an all time favorite.
Naked in Death by JD Robb
First of the In Death series, also an all time favorite.
Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
For a little bit of a twist on a theme. It's a women's fiction about the beginning of summer as well as the beginning of everyone's secrets unraveling.
A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
My choice for my challenge is. I'm cheating a little here. It is the beginning of a series. A is the beginning of the alphabet AND it's the beginning of my Follow the Clues reading Challenge.
It's the beginning of the Star Wars Trilogy I grew up with. Not the prequels.
The beginning of a new life.
The beginning of adulthood.
Because January is all about beginnings, I find myself reaching for a lot of non-fiction, self-improvement type books. So if you’re looking for a fresh start, here are a few options:
The Happiness Project or Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
These are great books to reboot at the beginning of the year if you're looking to start new habits or to find some joy this year. I find myself picking these up for rereads in January.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
This is all about beginning a full, rich creative life without all the “artistic suffering”.
Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD by Susan Pinsky
Not just for those with ADHD. Super helpful organizing solutions that really resonated with me and I still use years after reading the book. So if one of your goals this year is to get yourself organized, this is a great place to begin.
You know what would also make excellent choices for BEGIN? Beginning one of my series. :) Here are my two series starters:
First in the Loving on the Edge series (kinky Texas men, BDSM, angst, romance)
First in the Pleasure Principle series (smart and sexy therapists and doctors, Grey's Anatomy of mental heath meets erotic romance)
This one is an easy one to start because there is only one season—one perfect, ended-too-soon season--and you can get it streaming. This is about the beginning of high school, adulthood, and contains ALL THE ANGST and super hot Jared Leto. If you grew up in the 90s, you’ve probably already seen it, but there’s a reason that it was picked as one of the top 100 shows of all time by the authors of TV (The Book.)
This is the perfect movie for New Year’s but is also about the beginning of a very long relationship. Plus, you get to see Carrie Fisher in a great role (she plays Meg Ryan’s sassy best friend.)
What I'll be Reading/Watching
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
A YA about the start of a relationship that only lasts one day (at least that’s what I think it’s about.) This was a Book of the Month Club pick, so I’m looking forward to it.
One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The is about beginning love again after a woman loses her true love in a helicopter disappearance. But after she finds a new love years later, her husband is found. Hello, conflict.
I’ve already started this one after hearing so many rave reviews about it. It goes with the BEGIN theme because it’s not just about how OJ ended up but where he started, bringing in the history of America and the influences that shaped him and what was to come. My husband and I watched The People vs. OJ, which was fantastic, and I didn’t think we needed to watch something else on the same topic, but so far this is a different angle on it and compelling.
So that's what I've got for you this month. Any of these suggestions spark your interest? I'd love to hear what you'll be reading and watching for this month's challenge! Leave a comment or use hashtag #readwatch17 to join the conversation on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. :)
Thank you to our monthly tastemaker!
At Holden Prep, the rich and powerful rule the school—and they’ll do just about anything to keep their dirty little secrets hidden.
When former con artist Eleanor Ames’ homecoming date commits suicide, she’s positive there’s something more going on. The more questions she asks, though, the more she crosses paths with Miles Beckett. He’s sexy, mysterious, arrogant…and he’s asking all the same questions.
Eleanor might not trust him—she doesn’t even like him—but they can’t keep their hands off of each other. Fighting the infuriating attraction is almost as hard as ignoring the fact that Miles isn’t telling her the truth…and that there’s a good chance he thinks she’s the killer. Grab a copy!