Cheerful "BAM"blings

Of What's-Her-Face

My 2019-2021 Book Challenge: Full Overview

Alright, it’s time to review the entire 25 books in my now-completed challenge! As a reminder, I asked for book suggestions for 5 different categories: Non-Fiction, Character Stories, An Unknown Book By a-Known-For-Something-Else Author, Modern Fiction, and Something Unusual. I had 5 books in each category with a total of 19 different submitters; people could submit up to 2 books for any 2 categories, but they had to label them in preference of #1 or #2; that way I could make sure I got 5 in each category and at least 1 from each person, and the extras submitted that I didn’t read this time can get first dibs in my NEXT challenge (if I don’t read them leisurely first).

Anyway, these 25 books were a varied combination of familiar and new genres, authors, and style of writing, and I really liked something about every single book. So let’s get this overview started!


1. Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell (Hannah’s only)
2. Bonhoeffer- Biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Travis’ #1)
3. The Reason by Lacey Sturm (Bethany’s #1)
4. Conversation With God by Samuel Nathanson (Dad’s only)
5. The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs (Jennie’s only)

How likely am I to read more by this author/style of non-fiction? I would definitely read more Rob Bell and A. J. Jacobs; I am not as likely to recreationally read Samuel Nathanson but his book was one I liked so if I wanted to read more of that style I would keep him in mind; I know that Lacey Sturm has some more books and I would be semi-interested to read those but it’d probably get put on the backburner. As for the Bonhoeffer biography, I am more open to reading these kinds of in-depth biographies than I was before, especially about people I should know about but don’t.

Which ones am I likely to read again or buy? I own Conversation With God so I’m sure I’ll read it again; I would like to own Velvet Elvis, and I would probably own The Year of Living Biblically. I am unlikely to read The Reason or the Bonhoeffer book again, although I tend to be willing to buy big books I read to brag on the fact that I finshed it, so if I saw a good version of Bonhoeffer somewhere that was cheap I’d probably grab it.

Which was the most surprising? I know I was not much looking forward to the Bonhoeffer book because of how intimidating it was, but I was surprised how much I understood it and was drawn in by it. The others might have had some surprising moments but were otherwise roughly what I expected.


1. The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis (Calista’s #1)
2. Mister God, This Is Anna by Fynn (Kristin’s only)
3. Appointment With Death by Agatha Christie (Naomi’s only)
4. Joe Picket by CJ Box (Julia’s only)
5. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (Emma’s only)

Which character was my favorite? Deza Malone is the definite top, since she’s got so much spunk and spirit; then I think I’d go with Joe Pickett and Claire tied for second, as Joe was subtly interesting but didn’t blow me away, and Claire had traits that were more frustrating but she also had a lot of intelligence and adaptability; Hercule Poirot and Anna tied for third, as I think Hercule is a potentially great character but in this book he felt a little flat to me, and Anna had a very sweet charm that was somewhat overplayed by the storytelling.

Which one did I relate to the most? Gosh, I didn’t really relate to any of them too much… but if you combine Deza’s spirit and inner-monologuing with Joe’s self-consciousness and good-heart, that’s probably the closest

What were the words I would use to describe each character? Deza is imaginative and gutsy; Anna is free-spirited and thoughtful; Hercule is analytical and cautious; Joe is discerning and humble; Claire is passionate and quick-thinking.

Would I want to read more about them? I think there might be a sequel (or a prequel) for Deza Malone, which I should definitely seek out; I am potentially interested in reading more Outlander; I would read more Agatha Christie for the mystery and more Joe Picket for the character; and I would be okay with having Anna show up in a story with more depth in it.


1. The Willoughby’s by Lois Lowry (Calista’s #2)
2. The Partner by John Grisham (Travis’ #2)
3. Tietam Brown by Mick Foley (Wayne’s #2)
4. Skipping Christmas by John Grisham (Beth’s #2)
5. The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie (Nathan’s #2)

Which authors did I know before reading this book? Lois Lowry was the only author for whom I had read other books of hers before starting the challenge; I’d heard of John Grisham, and I obviously know Hugh Laurie as an actor, but I’d never read any books by them, and this was the first I’d heard of Mick Foley.

Which were the most unexpected stories from what I knew of the author? The Willoughby’s was much more goofy and flippant than I had expected (the recent Netflix movie is fine but not as good), and Hugh Laurie’s was more complicated than I would’ve guessed. But I didn’t really have expectations for the others.

Which authors am I most likely to revisit based on this book/s? Lois Lowry because she’s just great anyway and I liked her versatility here, and John Grisham because both of his stories were solidly entertaining. I have no idea if Hugh Laurie and Mick Foley have written anything else, but due to the former one’s wit and the latter one’s character writing, I would definitely be willing to read something else by either of them.


1. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (Bethany’s #2)
2. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken (Kaitlyn’s only)
3. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by John Green (Micah’s only)
4. The Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith (Beth’s #1)
5. Spirit Circle by Satoshi Mizukami (Nathan’s #1)

Which genre was the most new to me? Definitely the manga genre of Spirit Circle since I’d never read any manga before; the genre I’m most familiar with is probably the Passenger genre because I’ve read a lot of YA style sci-fi/adventure stuff.

Which style of writing felt the most compelling? I really enjoyed the Sarah Dessen book and I have actually read a lot of her stuff since then due to her relatable characters in interesting but realistic plots; I also love the way Alexander McCall Smith writes, and John Green’s book was very intriguing (although I’m not sure if that was due to plot or writing style).

Which modern character would I most want to keep following? The main character in The Italian Bulldozer and the main girl in Just Listen; I definitely need to look for the sequel for An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, but the MC in that is not my favorite.


1. Thinner Than Thou by Kit Reed (Holly’s only)
2. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Jacob’s only)
3. Tales of the Unexpected by Roald Dahl (Maria’s only)
4. Daggerspell by Katherine Kerr (Wayne’s #1)
5. Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Kathy’s only)

Which was the most unusual? These stories were all very fitting for this category so it’s hard to choose! Thinner Than Thou was the common genre of dystopian but the path it used to get there was more unique than I’d read; Ancillary Justice and Daggerspell both had it in the writing style and the creation of the world; Tales of the Unexpected had weird plots, and Mrs. Peregrine was probably the least unusual in its genre, but the inspiration was intriguing; I’m gonna say it goes Tales of the Unexpected, Ancillary Justice, Thinner Than Thou, Daggerspell, and Mrs. Peregrine.

Which had the best world-building? Gosh, except for the short story book by Roald Dahl, they all did this well, too. Ancillary Justice and Daggerspell both had the most complex story that you just got immersed into without explanation, but Daggerspell was easier to follow so it goes higher; and Mrs. Peregrine and Thinner Than Thou can be tied for third because the first one has more elements that it builds over a series while the second one delves deeper into one subject.

What were the oddest distractions to the story? Ancillary Justice was really hard to follow at times due to the immersion without explanation (and the lack of pronouns was very new to me so that took me a while to get used to), and Tales of the Unexpected and Thinner Than Thou were often gross and disturbing, which meant I remembered them but with mixed emotions.


Favorites? The Mighty Miss Malone, The Willoughby’s, Just Listen, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, and The Italian Bulldozer are the top 5 that I most thoroughly enjoyed and would actively read again/look to purchase; runner-ups Velvet Elvis, Tietam Brown, and The Spirit Circle all had aspects about them that I loved

Least favorites? I will probably never read Thinner Than Thou and Tales of the Unexpected again due to my visceral reaction against certain scenes/stories; I would rank Mister God, This Is Anna and The Reason low just because they were less interesting than the rest/weren’t my favorite style of story; and Ancillary Justice and The Gun Seller had aspects I really liked but frustrated me with the percentage of time that I couldn’t follow what was going on

Most rewarding category? Modern Fiction was the most thoroughly engaging group of 5; I liked every one of those books and loved most of them

Which books have influenced me the most? I have gotten really into Sarah Dessen since I read her book in this challenge and I like her a lot as an author; after reading Bonhoeffer, Spirit Circle and Daggerspell, I am more open to reading their genres than I was before; I had the strongest emotional reactions (both good and bad) to Tietam Brown, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, and Thinner Than Thou.

Which series did I continue/am I likely to? I read the sequel to Passenger, the entirety of Spirit Circle, and am caught up on Mrs. Peregrine; I am looking out for the sequel to An Absolutely Remarkable Thing; I am potentially interested in reading more of Daggerspell, Agatha Christie, Outlander, and Joe Picket (in roughly that order)

What will I be doing next? I am going to finish Charlie Bone first, and then create a list of “books I’ve been meaning to read but have been waiting for my book series to finish” and go through those. At the same time, my plan is to read through everything I own! I usually only buy books I have already read, but even so, over the years I’ve collected a surprisingly large amounts of books that I haven’t read at all (I recognized the author, it’s a classic, I know someone who liked it, etc.) I will be sure to let you guys know when I’m ready for my next challenge. Thanks everybody for contributing to my 2019-2021 Book Challenge… I had a blast!

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