Aaaaand, we’re back. That was fast. January: the list

The funny thing about book blogs blowing up with end-of-year posts on what they loved, reading stats, and memes is it seems like something is over. But it’s not. Here we are. Still reading. Did you stop just because you finished your 2018 reading goals? I didn’t. LOL at us.

In 2018, I devised a reading challenge that I loved and will do again in 2019. Basically, my problem is that I buy new books and get excited to read them, but feel guilty that I have old books. So I read other books. And the pile gets all wonky. I also have a more recent goal at Grab the Lapels: read any kind of book in which fat women are treated with dignity and don’t have to date or diet their way to happiness. The solution? Four categories:

#1 Read the oldest book I own.
#2 Read the newest book I own.
#3 Read a book about a fat woman.
#4 Read any damn book I want.

In 2018, I 100% finished my challenge! #Celebrate! So I’m doing it again in 2019, except my “Read any damn book I want” category is going to be filled up by a series of books by Mercedes Lackey. Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku and I are doing a buddy read — and you’re welcome to join!

January Reads: the list

#1 Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey. What a coincidence! The oldest book I own is also part of my Mercedes Lackey buddy read! But seriously, my mom bought me this book for Christmas circa 2001.

Brief Description: Chosen by the Companion Rolan, a mystical horse-like being with powers beyond imagining, Talia, once a runaway, has now become a trainee Herald, destined to become one of the Queen’s own elite guard. . . .But as Talia struggles to master her unique abilities, time is running out. For conspiracy is brewing in Valdemar, a deadly treason that could destroy Queen and kingdom.

#2 A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Men and Women Fighting Extremism in Africa by Alexis Okeowo was purchased December 28, 2018 with a Christmas gift card.

Brief Description: . . .Okeowo weaves together four narratives that form a powerful tapestry of modern Africa: a young couple, kidnap victims of Joseph Kony’s LRA; a Mauritanian waging a lonely campaign against modern-day slavery; a women’s basketball team flourishing amid war-torn Somalia; and a vigilante who takes up arms against the extremist group Boko Haram.

#3 Mammoth by Jill Baguchinsky starring fat lead Natalie Page. We even have the same last name!

Brief Description: The summer before her junior year, paleontology geek Natalie Page lands a coveted internship at an Ice Age dig site near Austin. Natalie, who’s also a plus-size fashion blogger, depends on the retro style she developed to shield herself from her former bullies, but vintage dresses and perfect lipstick aren’t compatible with prospecting for fossils in the Texas heat. . . And then there’s Chase the intern, who’s seriously cute, and Cody, a local boy who’d be even cuter if he were less of a grouch.

#4 Arrow’s Flight by Mercedes Lackey, reading as part of my #ReadingValdemar challenge with Jackie. Since there are 15 books in the series, we’re frontloading 2019 and doing two per month for three months.

Brief Description: Set in the medieval fantasy kingdom of Valdemar, this unique and exciting novel continues the story of Talia. Having mastered the powers necessary to a guardian of the kingdom, she faces the final preparation for her initiation as adviser and protector of the Queen.


  1. You are amazing! I love your approach and that it 100% worked. I’m motivated to get my book house (spreadsheet) in order so I can start reading my own books.

    Also A Moonless, Starless Sky sounds very interesting. I’m tempted to go get it at the library now but I’ll just add it to my library list.


    • It helps that I could use Goodreads and a general idea of when I purchased a book to give me a sense of what is the oldest vs newest. For instance, there was no Goodreads when I got the Arrow books, so I didn’t log when I got them, but I do remember that it was my sophomore year and it was a Christmas gift, so that helped to add some dates into my “when did I buy this book?” category.


  2. I can’t believe it’s already been a year since you started this (new) way of choosing books!

    A Moonless, Starless Sky looks stunning – and I hope it’s as good as it sounds!


  3. Reading more about fat women is a worthy goal. And that you’ve accomplished it in itself deserves congrats. 🙂 I’m also challenging myself to read more pan African and Asian literature this year. “A Moonless, Starless Sky” sounds like a very promising book.


  4. I love the way you choose books and I’m still wondering about doing it that way myself. I mean, eventually I will get to the middle, right? And I had such enticing books for Christmas …

    I feel nervous about you getting to Mammoth now. I do read YA although not masses of it now as a lot of it is genre YA I don’t choose to read. But it appealed on a lot of levels so hopefully you’ll find something to enjoy there. It only seemed as simply written as a lot of lighter fiction I read, it’s just the characters are a bit younger. There are cool aunts etc. though.


    • You got a LOAD of books for Christmas, Liz! It would take you all year and one whole column to get through them! 😂 I think reading the way I do also keeps me reading at a steady pace because I always know what’s next and want to get through a book per week.

      Every book about a fat character is a risk, especially if the author is not fat. We’ll see! And if I don’t like the book, that says nothing about your reading preferences, of course. We all focus on different elements when we read.


      • I read 115 books last year and got 15 for Christmas so that would get through them in about 3 months. But who knows. I think I’ll concentrate on just reading MORE and seeing how much of a dent I can make in the pile for the first few months of the year! And I know, but there’s that feeling of responsibility when you’ve got someone all keyed up about a book you like …


        • If there is anything reading books about fat women has taught me in the last year, it’s to put my expectations way, way low. Most are hurtful, short-sighted, and don’t suggest they were written that way with a malicious intent. Just….a writer who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.


  5. Mammoth is a surprising title for Fat Lit, I hope it works out ok! I was going to write I’m not sure I’d leave unread a book my mum gave me for 18 years, but then realised there’s a biography of John Cleese she gave me which has sat five years unread on my bedside table and might easily sit there another fifteen.


  6. We are back indeed. 🙂

    Love your plans for this month. When in January are you planning on reading Arrows of the Queen please? Will there be a schedule or can we post our reviews during January whenever we finish the book? So many questions… I know, sorry! 🙂

    Happy reading, your schedule does look really interesting. 🙂


  7. Oh man. It wasn’t until this post and I saw the covers for the first two Heralds of Valdemar books that I realized… our female protagonist looks absolutely TERRIFIED on both these covers! XD Gosh, I hope that she kicks some butt and takes some names amongst all that fear.

    You have some awesome books, Melanie! I cannot wait to do this read along with you. I have so many ideas! 🙂 Good luck with your other reads too. I hope they can hold a candle to this awesome.


  8. Your category of ‘read any damm book” is so refreshing to hear about. We get so wrapped up in goals that are rather prescriptive and for me that often takes the fun out of reading


  9. I bought A moonless, starless sky at a writers festival last year – but I still haven’t read it.

    I love your self created challenge – I’ve been thinking of something similar for each month for me but it would be (if I did it): 1. Reading group book; 2. Review copy; 3. TBR book; 4. Any damn book I want (which would probably mostly end up being another Review copy so my “want” wouldn’t be more “need”! No. 3 though is the one I’d like to achieve. If I read 12 TBRs this year, that would be wunderbar. Last year I read 6 from the TBR (which is double the previous year’s.)

    Oh, and congrats on achieving your challenge.


    • Thanks much, Sue! It’s my hope that many people adopt my method because it has worked so well and prevented me from entering a reading slump. The four categories can be anything you want, and if you get your four books done early, you can read more. Since I don’t review books by men on my blog, I always have a “secret” column of books I own written by men that I want to get to before the month is done.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Glad to hear you’ve developed a reading system that works for you. I really need to work on cutting down my TBR pile as well, and I like the idea of reading the oldest book owned each month. Wishing you all the best as you start your year of reading and looking forward to seeing you start your buddy read!


  11. I JUST finished Arrows of the Queen today! I cannot believe this book was published in 1987!!! I feel like it was WAY ahead of it’s time.

    Now have you read any of these books before? I remember you saying you liked the author when you were younger… Did you read any of the series on the read along, or did you read some of her other works?


    • I read the next trilogy, all three beginning with the word “Magic.” IT JUST SLAYED ME. I really enjoyed Arrows of the Queen, too, and am going to write my book review right now to make the deadline Jackie and I set.


  12. I really need to get more fantasy in my life. I read a lot of what I see online, but recently found an older writer, C.J. Cherryh who writes both sci-fi and fantasy.


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