Welcome to the 16th annual What’s in a Name reading challenge!
In years past, this challenge was hosted by Charlie at The Worm Hole. I took over in 2019 and I’m excited to host again this year!
The challenge runs from January 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023. You can sign up any time, but only count books that you read between those dates.
Read a book in any format (hard copy, ebook, audio) with a title that fits into each category.
Don’t use the same book for more than one category.
Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed, it’s encouraged!
You can choose your books as you go or make a list ahead of time.
Sign up using the Mr Linky below with a link to your WIAN challenge page/post, not your main blog URL. Feel free to save and use the graphic at the top of the page! Also, link back to this sign up page in your challenge post so others can join too.
The categories below are links to each category sign up link. Add your book review for each category so we can see what you’ve read and discover ideas as needed.
In 2023, choose 6 books that have titles that contain: (Click on the links for more examples and info)
Click the Mister Linky graphic above to enter your name and/or blog name (many people use this format: Andrea @ Carolina Book Nook) and the URL to your challenge post. If you have any issues, email me through the contact menu at the top of my blog and I’ll manually sign you up.
Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions! Thanks and happy reading!
By: Scott Thomas Published: 2017 # of pages: 416 Challenge: R.I.P. XVII Quote: “There’s something about letting another person lead you into darkness that is both unbearably terrifying and exquisitely thrilling.”
At the end of a dark prairie road, nearly forgotten in the Kansas countryside, is the Finch House. For years it has remained empty, overgrown, abandoned. Soon the door will be opened for the first time in decades. But something is waiting, lurking in the shadows, anxious to meet its new guests…
When best-selling horror author Sam McGarver is invited to spend Halloween night in one of the country’s most infamous haunted houses, he reluctantly agrees. At least he won’t be alone; joining him are three other masters of the macabre, writers who have helped shape modern horror. But what begins as a simple publicity stunt will become a fight for survival. The entity they have awakened will follow them, torment them, threatening to make them a part of the bloody legacy of Kill Creek.
This has been on my TBR list for a couple of years and I finally picked it up, not expecting anything extraordinary, but I was wrong! I loved it and I thought it would be a 5 star read…up until the last fifth of the story. So close!
Most of the story is a subtle horror and suspense. The story follows four horror authors, who each have their own style of writing the genre. At one point they are asked what horror means to them and they each have a different answer, but each answer is correct. I believe the author of Kill Creek is also incorporating different styles into one book. The reader will experience Gothic, indirect, dreams, supernatural, evil, subtle and graphic descriptions, etc, all in one story.
I personally appreciate subtle and Gothic style horror, but others may like the more graphic, spelled out horror. What disappointed me was that the ending of the book felt a little rushed. After all the build up and intricate details, the end was very “basic.” However, that also made me wonder if it was planned to be that way, because of one of the plot lines of the authors becoming “slaves” to their writing. Maybe Thomas felt the same way about Kill Creek!
Anyway, I was very impressed with how deep the characters and plot were many times throughout the novel. I do wish it had stayed that way to the end, but the very end redeemed itself.
I recommend this to fans of horror. It definitely had a Stephen King feel, so if you enjoy his books I think you’ll like Kill Creek as well.
By: Jennifer Lynn Barnes Published: 2020 # of pages: 376 Series: The Inheritance Games (#1) Challenges: Alphabet Soup
Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.
Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.
This was a fun read and the mystery was better than I was expecting! For some reason when I checked this out from the library I was thinking it was going to be a mixture of The Hunger Games (Suzanne Clark) and Legend (Marie Lu). Obviously I just skimmed the description and looked at the title! However, rather than taking place in the future and involving an organized and widespread competition, this book takes place in present day and the “game” is within a family.
I liked the character of Avery and the teenage angst and love interests didn’t bother me as much as some YA books do. It is the first in a series, but it could also work as a standalone because it wraps up at the end and doesn’t leave the reader too desperate to read the next. I will be reading the second book because of how much I enjoyed this book. Overall I recommend this to those who enjoy YA and/or these type of mystery/puzzle stories.
By: Anna Jean Mayhew Published: 2019 # of pages: 352 Challenges:Alphabet Soup
In 1961 Charlotte, North Carolina, the predominantly black neighborhood of Brooklyn is a bustling city within a city. Self-contained and vibrant, it has its own restaurants, schools, theaters, churches, and night clubs. There are shotgun shacks and poverty, along with well-maintained houses like the one Loraylee Hawkins shares with her young son, Hawk, her Uncle Ray, and her grandmother, Bibi. Loraylee’s love for Archibald Griffin, Hawk’s white father and manager of the cafeteria where she works, must be kept secret in the segregated South.
Loraylee has heard rumors that the city plans to bulldoze her neighborhood, claiming it’s dilapidated and dangerous. The government promises to provide new housing and relocate businesses. But locals like Pastor Ebenezer Polk, who’s facing the demolition of his church, know the value of Brooklyn does not lie in bricks and mortar. Generations have lived, loved, and died here, supporting and strengthening each other. Yet street by street, longtime residents are being forced out. And Loraylee, searching for a way to keep her family together, will form new alliances—and find an unexpected path that may yet lead her home.
As a geography major at a university in this city, I learned about the gentrification of Second Ward in the city of Charlotte, so when I saw that this book was the local library’s book club choice I was eager to read this version of history!
The story follows Loraylee, a young woman who lives in the neighborhood of Brooklyn, a black community that happens to be close to uptown Charlotte. The neighborhood is segregated for decades until local developers, government, and wealthy citizens decide that it’s a “blight” (aka: prime real estate from which they can’t monetarily gain.) In their eyes the best way to handle the run down sections is to bull doze the entire ward and rebuild it as more upscale and worthy of the new image wanted to change “downtown” Charlotte into “uptown” Charlotte. Yes, around that time Charlotte was rebranded and one major way of doing that was referring to the main area as “uptown,” which it is still referred to as now.
Loraylee is an interesting character, mainly because of how progressive she is while still appreciating her family and neighbors and their traditions. Other characters whose POVs were included were a preacher in Brooklyn dealing with the destruction of his church and its graveyard and a white woman who doesn’t live in Brooklyn, but whose husband is a member of the board in charge of the Brooklyn redevelopment. Was it super realistic to have so many characters who were open minded during that time? Maybe, or maybe not. But obviously there were people living at that time who were progressive and taking risks by interacting with other people of different races. I’m grateful they did so and set the stage for where we are now and where we will hopefully continue as a country.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and was excited to read about the city and countryside (now suburbs!) of the area I call home. At the end of the book the author clarifies what was true and what was fiction in her story. I was disappointed to read that much of the preacher character’s story about the church and graveyard mystery was fiction. I wonder if there was another cemetery that really existed in Charlotte that was affected by the gentrification. I don’t know, but it would be cool if another author would tackle the same subject from different angles!
I know this is a controversial subject, but I always appreciate authors of any gender/race writing about minorities as long as they make a visible effort to do the characters/subject justice and respect. It’s totally fine for others to disagree because I understand feeling otherwise, but that’s my personal feeling about the matter. This was an original, important, and interesting subject to write about as a historical fiction book and I’d love to see others do the same… Either about the same subject, Second Ward in Charlotte, or about gentrification in other cities. And I’d love to see authors of color write about the subject, especially if they had ancestors affected by displacement.
So overall, I recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, if only to add to knowledge and fuel the quest for other books about similar subjects.
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? The Once and Future Witches by: Alix E. Harrow
3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read? Red Dog by: Louis de Bernieres – It was my son’s book club read and I read it out loud to him, but the whole family started listening and it was actually funny, adventurous, and emotional whereas I expected it to be hokey and something only a child would enjoy.
4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)? I gave my copy of A Tangled Web by: Leslie Rule to a friend and maybe she read it?
5. Best series you started in 2021? Best Sequel? Best Series Ender of 2021? Started: Thorn, #1 in The Dauntless Path by: Intisar Khanani Sequel: The Throne of Fire, #2 in The Kane Chronicles by: Rick Riordan
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2021? T. Kingfisher
7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? Non-fiction is my least read genre, especially memoirs, but I really enjoyed Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by: Jenny Lawson. I also discovered the book genre of true crime and was fascinated by A Tangled Web by: Leslie Rule.
8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? The House Next Door by: Anne Rivers Siddon
9. Book You Read In 2021 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year? The Midnight LIbrary by: Matt Haig
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2021?
11. Most memorable character of 2021? Rocky from Project Hail Mary by: Andy Weir
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2021? The House in the Cerulean Sea by: T.J. Klune
13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2021? The Midnight Library by: Matt Haig
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2021?
We don’t have to play every game to know what winning feels like. We don’t have to hear every piece of music in the world to understand music. We don’t have to have tried every variety of grape from every vineyard to know the pleasure of wine. Love and laughter and fear and pain are universal currencies. We just have to close our eyes and savour the taste of the drink in front of us and listen to the song as it plays. We are as completely and utterly alive as we are in any other life and have access to the same emotional spectrum.
The Midnight Library by: Matt Haig
16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2021? Shortest: Sarah, Plain and Tall by: Patricia MacLachlan (64 pages) Longest: Dune by: Frank Herbert (890 pages)
17. Book That Shocked You The Most: A Head Full of Ghosts by: Paul Tremblay
18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!) (OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar) Alyrra & Kestrin in Thorn by: Intisar Khanani
19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year: Rocky and Ryland in Project Hail Mary by: Andy Weir
20. Favorite Book You Read in 2021 From An Author You’ve Read Previously: The Throne of Fire by: Rick Riordan
21. Best Book You Read In 2021 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.: The House on the Cerulean Sea
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2021? Lovis in Queens of the Wyrd by: Timandra Whitecastle There isn’t any fan art that I can find, but she’s super badass, loyal, and strong.
23. Best 2021 debut you read? I don’t think I read any 2021 debuts.
24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year? This is a hard one! I think it would have to be The House on the Cerulean Sea.
25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read? Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by: Balli Kuar Jaswal
26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2021? The Midnight Library, maybe? I try to avoid books that make me cry!!!
27. Hidden Gem Of The Year? Thorn by: Intisar Khanani
28. Book That Crushed Your Soul? Apples Never Fall by: Liane Moriarty – the narrator being a mom who feels forgotten and left behind.
30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)? In Broad Daylight by: Harry N. MacLean – the American “justice” system repeatedly letting down basically an entire town of people.
1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2021 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2022? The next book in the Kane Chronicles. My son loves it that I read the Rick Riordan series, but I really slacked off in 2021 and I need to finish this series and read the Norse gods series in 2022.
2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2022 (non-debut)?
3. 2022 Debut You Are Most Anticipating? N/A
4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2022? I try not to start series that don’t have all the books published! Is Winds of Winter coming out this year!? Or the next Patrick Rothfuss book!? I just looked and the second book of the Shades of Grey series by Jasper Fforde is set to publish this year so if that happens I’d be happy!
5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2022? Blog more! Read more!
6. A 2022 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable): N/A
By: Timandra Whitecastle Published: 2019 # of pages: 414 Series: Shieldmothers Saga (#1) Challenges:Alphabet Soup, Book Bingo (Love Typography) Quote: “Never trust a silence around children. It is as unnatural as a sudden calm on the tempestuous sea, and as much a herald of unpleasant surprises to come.”
Raise your shield. Defend your sisters. Prepare for battle.
Half-giant Lovis and her Shieldmaiden warband were once among the fiercest warriors in Midgard. But those days are long past and now Lovis just wants to provide a safe home for herself and her daughter – that is, until her former shield-sister Solveig shows up on her doorstep with shattering news.
Solveig’s warrior daughter is trapped on the Plains of Vigrid in a siege gone ugly. Desperate to rescue her, Sol is trying to get the old warband back together again. But their glory days are a distant memory. The Shieldmaidens are Shieldmothers now, entangled in domestic obligations and ancient rivalries.
But family is everything, and Lovis was never more at home than at her shield-sisters’ side. Their road won’t be easy: old debts must be paid, wrongs must be righted, and the Nornir are always pulling on loose threads, leaving the Shieldmaidens facing the end of all Nine Realms. Ragnarok is coming, and if the Shieldmaidens can’t stop it, Lovis will lose everyone she loves…
Fate is inexorable. Wyrd bith ful araed.
God, I loved this book! I bought it on my Kindle when it was on sale just because I liked the cover, but it ended up being one of my favorites I read this year!
Lovis wakes up one morning to the same old, same old. Take care of her somewhat wild and willful daughter Birke and make some money at the job she works in the evening. Little does she know life is about to change…back to the way it used to be for her and her former band of shieldmaidens. Everything is familiar and yet different as she is reunified with her old friends with Birke in tow.
I loved that the protagonist is a mother. There were so many insightful quotes and observations made by Lovis and her mom friend Solveig about being a mother and balancing work/motherhood/social life, etc. I also enjoyed the characters and settings as well as the Norse mythology.
I also loved that each chapter was prefaced with a quote from modern sources cited as “The Wisdom of the Volur.” The writing style was so casual, but also descriptive. There’s a section at the end of the book that has a pronunciation guide that could be useful to read while or before reading the story, but of course I didn’t discover it until I was through. But I feel like I pronounced everything correctly inside my head and it didn’t matter.
I recommend this to lovers of fantasy and mythology. It’s geared towards adults with adult characters, but I think young adults would also enjoy the story.
From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change forever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.
In Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro looks at our rapidly changing modern world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator to explore a fundamental question: what does it mean to love?
Ishiguro is one of my favorite authors and I was happy this title could count for the What’s in a Name challenge for the outer space category!
The story is about an AI (artificial intelligence) named Klara who wants to be picked from dozens of other AIs in the store to be a human child’s friend so badly. She watches customers and people outside and muses about what it’s like to be human, how she compares to other AIs (both her own model, older models, and newer models), and emotions and interactions.
Klara ends up exactly where she and all her fellow AIs want to be, but nothing is perfect, right? Klara has a journey to take and a choice to make. She does everything correctly, but nothing is perfect, right?
Overall this story is about love, sacrifice, and humanity from a robotic memory point of view. What does it mean to be human and what does it mean to love? This would be a great book club read because it’s thought provoking and I imagine different readers would have different interpretations of what was happening throughout the novel.
I found it confusing at times and disconcerting in general. It would have been good to read it again after finishing, but ain’t nobody got time for that! I wish I could discuss more on here without spoilers. Hmm, maybe a secret post somehow that I can link from here? I will look into doing that!
Seventeen-year-old Iris Hollow has always been strange. Something happened to her and her two older sisters when they were children, something they can’t quite remember but that left each of them with an identical half-moon scar at the base of their throats.
Iris has spent most of her teenage years trying to avoid the weirdness that sticks to her like tar. But when her eldest sister, Grey, goes missing under suspicious circumstances, Iris learns just how weird her life can get: horned men start shadowing her, a corpse falls out of her sister’s ceiling, and ugly, impossible memories start to twist their way to the forefront of her mind.
As Iris retraces Grey’s last known footsteps and follows the increasingly bizarre trail of breadcrumbs she left behind, it becomes apparent that the only way to save her sister is to decipher the mystery of what happened to them as children.
The closer Iris gets to the truth, the closer she comes to understanding that the answer is dark and dangerous – and that Grey has been keeping a terrible secret from her for years.
Something rare happened to me, which is I just found a random book from my library on the Libby app. Since I’ve switched to mostly ebooks, I don’t usually browse shelves anymore. I find all my books from blogs, Goodreads, and recommendations. However, while searching for a completely different title, this book popped up in the search results and I was fascinated by the cover and checked it out.
I was pleasantly surprised to find a unique and interesting story that was also well-written! The book is about teenager Iris Hollow, who tries her hardest to live a boring life in spite of her traumatic past and spotlight searching older sisters. However, she spends a day with her next oldest sister, Vivi, and her structured life comes tumbling down. The oldest sister, Grey, is missing and the two younger sisters set out to find her.
I was impressed at how well the story ran together. There weren’t holes or things that didn’t make sense later in the timeline. If something was mentioned in passing it would very well come up again later. The dark, modern fairytale vibe isn’t usually my thing, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am adding it to my favorites list for this year.
By: J.A. Andrews Published: 2020 # of pages: 614 Series: The Keeper Origins (#1) Challenge:What’s in a Name? (Possessive Noun) Quote: “’That is the curse of life. Judging your past actions in the light of what you know now.’ She tilted her head. ‘Give your past self grace, my child. She did the best she could.’”
Sable, a reluctant thief from the slums, can feel truth when people speak. For years she’s been using that skill to try to break free from the vicious gang boss she’s indebted to.
Escape comes in the form of an odd set of companions: -a dwarf running from the past, -an actor with a magical, glowing tree -a too-helpful kobold, -a playwright with a knack for getting stories out of people, and -a man and woman with suspicious, magical powers.
But Sable’s freedom is short lived.
On the edges of civilization, they discover hidden, terrifying lies in the offers of peace from the brutal Kalesh Empire.
Now, she must return to the city she fled, and along with her companions, attempt an impossible task—convince everyone, including the powerful Dragon Prioress, of the truth.
Except the Kalesh web of lies has ensnared everyone. With her land, her people, and everything she loves hanging in the balance, Sable is the only one standing between freedom, and certain death.
Don’t ask me how I found this book, but it’s been on my TBR list for a while. I was picking out a book to match the What’s in a Namepossessive noun category and here we are: a possessive noun in the word “Dragon’s.”
I was very pleasantly surprised by this first book in a series! Yes, it’s a typical fantasy, but I still found it refreshing and interesting. I enjoyed the author’s take on “common” fantasy species like elves, dwarves, magicians, but I also liked the inclusion of a kobold (basically a house elf from the Harry Potter series!)
Sable is living a life of crime to protect her sister, but she’s been waiting for a way to remove herself from the crime boss she works for in her part of the city and move to another neighborhood to live an honest life. Soon her big chance arrives, but of course nothing can go the way she planned. Before she knows it, she’s on the road with a traveling troupe and soon discovers that nothing about her country and its religious and political structure is what she belives to be true.
The characters are likeable and relateable, the backstories and world building aren’t overwhelming or boring, and the plot is interesting. I recommend this to both young adults and adults who enjoy fantasy.
By: Oyinkan Braithwaite Published: 2018 # of pages: 226
When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…
I bet there are a lot of us out there who have younger sisters who are so favored (and spoiled) they could “get away with murder.” So what if someone took that concept literally and wrote a novel about the subject? Then you would have My Sister, the Serial Killer.
I haven’t done so yet, but I’d like to see if there’s any blog posts or interviews by the author that discuss her inspiration for this story. I have to say, as someone who is at this moment having some sister drama, I was reading it I was thinking, huh. Yeah, I could see this. I mean, not REALLY, but you know.
The unconcerned, impulsive, act first think (maybe) later, expecting others to clean up after them… And no one would ever suspect after seeing the smile, the bubbly personality. Especially compared to the not so fun older sister’s all business personality.
There’s not much else to say without spoilers, so you should just check it out yourself if you know what I’m talking about! I thoroughly enjoyed this, I just wish it had been a little longer and perhaps moved a little slower towards the end.
I recommend this to lovers of crime fiction along with some family drama. Content warning: domestic abuse.