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2012 Best of the Best Reading Challenge check in #8

Not signed up for YALSA’s 2012 Best of the Best Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since April 1 counts, so sign up now!

I have to say, I’m loving this challenge. Each year, I vow that I will read as many of the award winners and top picks that I can get my hands on … and then I get dragged into endless other directions as the lure of this or that book tempts me away from my goal. But with this challenge, I’m making some happy progress on the YALSA lists (even with my expected non-goal reading distractions :) ).

As of update #7, my total had grown to 14 titles. I’m still a little worried about at least hitting 25 titles by June 30th, but I’ve got my fingers crossed. As of this update, I’ve completed #15-18:

young fredle
My Boyfriend Is A Monster, vol. 1
Zahra's Paradise








  • young fredle – Cynthia Voigt (audio). SO charming. I really loved it, from start to finish.
  • My Boyfriend is a Monster, vol. 1 – Evonne Tsung/Janina Gorrissen (graphic). What can I say? The start of a really sweet high school romance … interrupted by hords of zombies. Needless to say, I enjoyed it :)
  • Zahra’s Paradise – Amir & Khalil (graphic). A challenging read. I wanted to like this more than I actually did. I loved being exposed to fairly recent events in Iran, but I had trouble connecting with, or immersing myself in the culture described — I felt too far beyond my own sphere and there weren’t enough footnotes to help me with the language (endnotes never really serve the same purpose for me). I will say this: the list of victims names at the end of the book is CHILLING…
  • Geektastic – various (short story collection). I’m a geek through-and-through, so this book felt like coming home :)

I’ve also started in on the audio book for Rotters, which is VERY DEPRESSING, but still captivating, so I’m going to hang in there to the bitter end with Joey (whatever comes our way)…

What have all of you been liking/not liking?

–Nicole, currently listening to Rotters and reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone


If you’ve finished the challenge by reading 25 books, fill out the following form to let us know. (The information you provide is what we’ll use to send you your Challenge Finisher badge, contact you about your reader’s response, and notify you if you win our grand prize drawing, so pick an email address you actually use!) Do not fill out this form until you have completed the challenge by reading 25 titles.


  1. Since the last update, I have finished Ready Player One and Infinite Kung Fu, two love letters to enormous histories of nerdy genres. Naturally, I loved both, though Ready Player One got a little too caught up in making references for their own sake (especially in the last act) while Infinite Kung Fu was better at telling its own story.
    My total count is up to sixteen, and I am confident that the remaining nine will be a cinch.

  2. Lily Lily

    4 more this week:
    31. Thor: The Might Avenger, Vol. 1-2 – Roger Langridge, Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson [review]
    32. The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens – Brooke Hauser [review]
    33. The Lover’s Dictionary – David Levithan [review]
    34. The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures – Caroline Preston [review]

    I thought I’d like all of these more than I actually did. The New Kids was the best of the bunch, while I pretty much hated Frankie Pratt.

  3. Thought I’d be doing great this week, but not so much…. And now I was just about to start My Friend Dahmer and Zahra’s Paradise, but really don’t want to read them. So I’m off to check the list and go to the library and get something that tickles my fancy a bit more.

  4. I finished four more this week bringing my total to 24. There are still plenty more titles that I want to read even if I don’t get to them before the end of the challenge.

    Likes: I wasn’t going to listen to the audio of The Scorpio Races since I had already read the book. But in the end I couldn’t resist. I think I loved it even more in the audio! I returned to The Dark is Rising sequence and read Greenwitch. I really like this series and will finish the remaining titles before the end of June. Another title this week that I liked was The Influencing Machine by Brooke Gladstone, illustrated by Josh Neufeld.

    Not so much: In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard. It wasn’t bad. I just never connected with any of the characters.

    Since I’ve made such good progress, I feel no guilt about diving into my long-awaited copy of Bitterblue. Meanwhile I am listening to Rotters which is definitely depressing. One reason it is depressing is because I have already connected to Joey and care about what happens to him. So I will have to stick with it because I need to find out what happens to him. The one thing about an audio book is that you actually have to listen to the whole thing to get to the end. If forces me not to skim through the book just find out what happens.

    Full update with mini-reviews at:

  5. Penny Johnson Penny Johnson

    This week I finished the audio book “Rotters” (wow!) plus the books “Under the Mesquite” and “Shine”. Oh, and “Thor” books as well! So my total is up to 18. Seven more to go, and we have five weeks, right? Whew, I just might make it!!

    This week I hope to listen to “Chime” and read “Leverage.”

  6. Sara Ray Sara Ray

    I finished two books this week: Enclave and Middle School: The Worst Years of my life. This puts me at a total of 15. I am hoping to get a couple of quick reads done by the end of my long weekend :) Enclave was okay. Really slow moving for me and definitely not as good as many other dystopians I’ve read. Middle School was cracking me up until half way where it felt like a requirement to finish (which I just did 5 mins ago). Onto something better I hope…

    I agree with Nicole about Zahra’s Paradise. I wanted to like it more than I did. I’m glad My boyfriend the monster was liked. I just ordered it through system hold. I should be a short read to get me one more ahead.

  7. Ariel Cummins Ariel Cummins

    Oh man, I totally fell off the map for this one!

    But now I’m back!

    Since last I checked in, I knocked out
    Here Lies Bridget
    Why We Broke Up
    and Brain Jack.

    That brings my grand total to 14. I thought that Enclave, Here Lies Bridget, and Brain Jack were all fun and super fast reads. I think they’ll be great for summer reading because they don’t feel too much like assigned reading — they would all be perfect for reading next to the pool.

    Totally back on track, guys!

  8. Yikes I just realized my total is only at 9. I’ve always been good at procrastinating and finishing at the last minute though! I’m currently reading Scorpio Races which I am madly in love with. I’m also reading Zahra’s Paradise which I think is a really important read. I’m looking forward to re-reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone which I just ordered in the paperback edition that has a sneak peak of the upcoming sequel!

  9. Amy Amy

    The holiday weekend threw my reporting off. This week I finished books 16 and 17 on my list. I finally had time to finish Robopocalypse. Really enjoyed it, although it was quite reminiscent of World War Z. There’s a part of me that really wants to give it to my Luddite coworker, but he would probably take it as a true prediction.

    I also read Wheels of Change, and as someone who had a life-changing experience by completing a century ride a few years back I very much enjoyed it.

    I’m a little more than halfway through the audio of The Marbury Lens and am reserving all judgement until I hit the end.

    Also just downloaded Salvage the Bones, and have Bootleg and Geektastic checked out.

  10. Robin Robin

    Last week I brought my total up to 13 by reading the first volume of A Bride’s Story. It was interesting to read about an unfamiliar region and era, but I had a hard time latching onto any of the characters.

    Yesterday I started Salvage the Bones, and already feel engrossed at a mere twenty pages in.

  11. Brenda Schwarz Brenda Schwarz

    This week I finished A Monster Calls and Under the Mesquite. A Monster Calls was a really good read in my book and Under the Mesquite was an interesting way to tell a story. I am almost finished with Paper Covers and am working on Young Fredle. This will put me at 10 books so I need to speed it up a little to get the 25 finished. I think I may keep reading books even after the challenge because I am finding some really good books.

  12. Jennifer Hitchcock Jennifer Hitchcock

    I finished 3 books this week bringing my total to 22. They are:

    My boyfriend is a monster- I thought this was a really cute story and loved it. I’ll probably read the rest of the series.

    Sidescrollers- I thought this was ok but I bet a lot of teen boys out there would love it. I thought the storyline had been done so many times, though.

    Here lies Bridget- I liked this pretty well. It’s not nearly as good as Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver but it was a nice, quick read. I felt that Bridget needed a little more introspection before she changed, but it was still good.

    I just started reading The Talk Funny Girl and will probably try to read The influencing machine and Zahra’s paradise this week.

  13. Tiffany Bronzan Tiffany Bronzan

    Slow week for me because I took a break to read an adult book for my bookclub. I finished 2 books, bringing my total to 17. I’m still hoping to make it, but it’s going to be a close one.

    This week I finished:

    Sugar Changed the World-I thought this would be better than it was. It was just ok.
    Why We Broke Up-(Audiobook) I liked it, but didn’t love it.

  14. Library.Lil Library.Lil

    I didn’t get to check in last week due to vacation, but I have only finished 2 books since the last check in, bringing my total to 14. I’m a little nervous about making it to 25 in time, but I am determined!

    Perfect Chemistry: had been curious about the series but would have started at the beginning (no time to go back and catch up!) I liked it okay. Completely understand the appeal to teens.
    Girl of Fire and Thorns: had planned to read; really liked it a lot

    Still really behind on goodreads reviews but hope to get caught up this week.

  15. I’ve finished three more, bringing me to 17. There is now a slim chance that I’ll finish, but I’m not getting my homes up. I read:

    * Pavement Chalk Artist, which was interesting although the text was far overshadowed by the incredible pictures.

    * Infinite Kung Fu got huge raves from my seventh grader but left me a bit cold; I’m not that much into comics or kung-fu movies so it wasn’t really my cup of tea.

    * The Influencing Machine was a very interesting meditation of perspective, reporting, and responsibility.

  16. Cheryl Gladfelter Cheryl Gladfelter

    I only finished one book last week, The Notorious Benedict Arnold. While it took me a surprisingly long time to read it, I LOVED this book. Every night when I would put it down I would turn towards my boyfriends and start talking about how interesting Benedict Arnold was. I feel like it rearranged information in my head and now I want to read many books about the Revolutionary War. Check it out!

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