Final Book Reviews for the To Be Read Pile Challenge

2015tbrbuttonThe end of another year means that reading challenges are wrapping up all over. For the last three years I’ve participated in the TBR (To Be Read) Pile Challenge hosted by Adam at Roof Beam Reader. The goal is to read 12 books off your bookshelf that have been sitting there for more than a year.

Not a bad way to save money too! 

I’m proud to report I completed the challenge by finishing my book list.

My 2015 TBR Pile Challenge List:

  1. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1890)
  2. Persuasion by Jane Austen (1818)
  3. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (1905)
  4. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1965)
  5. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin (1969)
  6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling (1999)
  7. Insurgent by Veronica Roth (2012)
  8. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (2013)
  9. The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry (2011)
  10. The Secret History by Donna Tartt (2004)
  11. Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James (2013)
  12. Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher (2012)

My favorite read was probably In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I hadn’t read it before and his attention to detail really makes you feel like you’re in the room with the characters. Plus, it’s based on a true crime, a despicable crime, and yet the way he writes it, the reader is drawn to the story of the killers and what happens to them.

The final two books I have to report on are: 

ketchup_clouds_pitcher_novelKetchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

I loved this book. It’s the story of a teen girl who starts writing letters to a death row inmate. And in her letters, she confesses to a crime that she got away with.

I listened to this one on audiobook and highly recommend the audio version if you’re into them. While being a YA book, it deals with a lot of serious themes such as family dynamics, first love, finding oneself, and guilt.

What’s interesting about this book is we never actually meet the death row inmate. He’s a key character as Zoe, the teen girl, tells her story to him, revealing aspects of his own crime as she reads about it. We learn about him, but we never actually meet the inmate. I thought this book was exceptionally well written and very interesting.

29044The Secret History by Donna Tartt

On the literary end of things, Donna Tartt’s Secret History also deals with a murder.

The book opens with a group of college freshman narrator. We know a body was found beneath the snow, and that the narrator was somehow involved, but we don’t know how.

Then the book zooms back to his first days at college, making friends, scraping money together for bills, and how Richard, the narrator, gets involved with a select group of students in a greek language class.

The students in the greek class are nothing like Richard. They come from wealthy families with summer homes in Europe and wear expensive suits to class and dine at fancy restaurants multiple nights a week. But Richard does his best to fit in.

Everything has a cost. And that’s all I’ll tell you about this one.


For those of you that are looking to join up with a reading challenge in 2016, I must sadly report that Adam is not continuing the TBR Pile Challenge, but will have other reading challenges available you can check out on his blog.

So I partnered with Adam and some of my favorite book bloggers to find another reading challenge that focused on the stacks that no longer fit on my bookshelf. Here’s what they recommended.

2016 Reading Challenges

In 2016, I’m joining forces with Andi from Estella’s Revenge for the #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge and Maren from The Worn Bookmark for her #2016ReadMyBooks challenge.


Both challenges focus on reading books you already own, but that can be actual paper copies as well as ebooks.

There is no set number you have to read, it’s up to you to decide what is manageable and what you want to achieve.

Andi and Maren are both setting goals of 100 or more! I am shooting for 24. That’s 2 books/month. So truly, go as big or as small as you want!

Another bonus, you don’t have to pick the book titles ahead. (This is helpful to me since my reading varies on my mood. I like that these challenges allow for flexibility.) I’ll be adding a page soon with my full library to list all my reading options. Feel free to share your recommendations with me in the comments too!


If you have a blog, the hosts encourage you to write reviews of the books you read and share them with the hashtags above. You can also catch them on Instagram!

The first thing you have to do is count up how many unread books are on your bookshelf…and floors and desk and bedside table. 

I have a grand total of 161 unread books. 

And I asked for more for Christmas!

I’ll be kicking off the challenge with my gluttonous consumption of the Outlander series. I’m working on Voyager now.

So who’s with me?
Are you participating in reading challenges in 2016?
If you did any this year, how did they go? What was your favorite read? 


P.S. Need help writing a book report? Check this out! 😉


P.P.S. In case you missed it, I guest blogged at Coach Daddy last week, hanging out with my pal, Eli Pacheco! I shared 3 books, 3 songs, and 3 quotes to inspire the world! Eli is always writing honest and inspiring blog posts. He just did a great one this weekend about gratitude. Stop by and hang out with us, it’s a fun group!

coach daddy

15 responses

  1. So honored to have you on the CD, Jess. Not only for the awesome words and shares in the post, but in the conversation afterward. That’s where the magic happens.

    1. Awww right back atcha, Eli! Keeping you on the list to send vibes your way!

  2. I love the idea of reading what you already own! I’m afraid to look at my Kindle…

    The challenge for me is, uh, I work in a library and so many books. Just that. So many books! But, since I love this idea–I will not join a challenge, but I will promise myself to read 3 (maybe 5) books that I already own right this minute.

    P.S. I loved your list of books read this last year!

    1. Good plan! Tell me what you read! And yah, libraries. Love em, but my list of books never ends!

  3. Great idea!! Thanks for the challenges. I really do need to take time to read the books I already own, so I think I may join you on this one…

    1. I’ve really appreciated doing so. Especially this year when I hope to tackle a few series and finish them up.

  4. What a fun challenge! I can’t say that I am as dedicated to reading as you, but I definitely love reading others’ suggestions and when the time is right, then I follow through and finish a book. Right now I’ve got a pile of books to read and am currently reading about 3. Too much for my little brain to handle at one time. haha! Good luck to you! Can’t wait to read your reviews!

    1. I think I have 5 going at the moment! LOL. But one is letters and another essays, so I only read a few here and there. I always have one book and one audiobook going. I do most of my reading via audiobook and listen while I get ready for the day or when I’m driving.

      Share your favorite reads when you come across them!

  5. I just added a bunch of books to my Kindle. Lauren Groff’s “Fates and Furies” was voted best novel of the year by a bunch of people, so that’ll probably be next on my list. As far as my favorite book of 2015, I’d probably have to go with “Beautiful Ruins.”

    1. I haven’t read that one but I know what it is. My favorite read of 2015 might be The Boys in the Boat. Or anything by Laurie Notaro.

  6. Read your own books? What a novel idea! Lol. I am trying to get through stuff in my TBR pile, but so many other books also call to me from the wild. I should at least count what I have and haven’t read and figure out a plan to lower than number substantially in 2016. I usually aim for about 40 books in a year. We’ll see!

    1. My sister in law had a good plan too. All the women in my family are obsessed with the Outlander series right now and we’re all reading the books. She made a rule to read at least one book she owns in between. I thought that was a good idea.

  7. I have a pile of books here and I need to try to make more time to read. Tricky to juggle tons of things at once. Love your post!!!

    1. Join in! And happy reading! What will read first?

      1. Well I am currently reading “Here Comes Trouble” by Dona Kauffman.

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