New Year, New Reading Goal

Life in Iceland

Can we just take a minute to appreciate this sunrise! The sun may take its time arriving during the winter but when it does it certainly knows how to make an entrance!

Okay, on to today’s post.

Last year I set myself the goal of reading 50 books. The purpose behind this goal was to get me back into the habit of reading, something that I have always enjoyed but somewhere down the road stopped making time for. With 50 books to read I made sure to make reading a priority in my life, and not to long into my goal I found myself sneaking in reading a few pages whenever I could, my love for reading was back!

After reaching my goal in December I kept my reading mojo going all through the Christmas holiday, where I read five books in two weeks, it was pretty wonderful! Since then life has gotten busier, and most evenings my book is now being replaced with my Icelandic studies, but I am set on keeping reading a big part of my life in 2016.

To help make sure I keeping reading a priority (and choose my book over hours of reality tv) I have set myself another reading goal of 50 books for this year. I am keeping it at 50 books as I think more than that would be really pushing it with my current schedule (aka I am trying to tackle Icelandic this year).

With the first month of the year down I am off to a good start with my reading goal and have read some great books lately, a huge improvement from my past few months of book fails.

Here is a recap of what I have been reading lately.


The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker – ★★

A heartbroken PhD student, Nora, wanders off during a friends wedding weekend and ends up going through a portal to another world. This world is full of magic but what starts off as a happy ending for Nora turns into a fairytale gone wrong and she must learn magic to save herself. Recommend to those who loved the All Souls Trilogy, which I did, I thought for sure I would love this book. Wrong. Nothing really happened and the magical side of the story was actually really boring. I kept reading it hoping for something to happen, but this story just fell flat for me.

The Stranger by Harlan Coben – ★★★★

Finally my so so book streak has been broken, I could not put this one down. I love a good suspenseful story and this one did not disappoint! The ending caught me completely off guard, in a good way, and I enjoyed every page of this book. If you enjoy a good mystery add this to your reading list!

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty – ★★★★

I am a huge fan of Liane Moriarty and have loved all of her books that I have read. They are the perfect mix of humor, mystery and real life issues, once I start one of her books I can never put them down. “Liane Moriarty once again combines sharp wit, lovable and eccentric characters, and a page-turning story for an unforgettable” Seriously the perfect way to describe her books, if you haven’t read one of Liane Moriarty’s books yet add it this to your winter reading list.

The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – ★★★★

Another winning book. The best way to describe this book is The Hunger Games meets The Selection series. If you were of fan of either series check out this book. The story was really well written and the ending had some twists I didn’t see coming which has me counting down the days until the second book in the series is released later this month!

10% Happier by Dan Harris – ★★★

Dan Harris is a Nightline anchor who embarks on his own journey into the world of spirituality and self-help. As someone who finds the world of spirituality intriguing, but at the same time a bit hard to get into, I found this story so interesting. The author is completely honest about his experiences and at times had me laughing at the thoughts he had when he was attempting to mediate. This book wasn’t life changing for me as I have heard others say but it was a very interesting read.

The Dinner by Herman Koch – ★★★

Called the “ European Gone Girl” by the The Wall Street Journal this was the book my bookclub read for January. I really enjoyed the first half of this book, the story was unfolding and you were able to piece information together to try and figure out the mystery. But the second half lost me. I don’t mind a book that ends with an unclear ending so you can come to your own conclusions, but this book left so many things up in the air that I really wanted cleared up. It was a great book to read for bookclub though, we had lots to discuss!

Paris Letters by Janice Macleod – ★★★★

This book was added to my list after I saw it posted on World of Wanderlust. A story about a woman who has had enough of the corporate world and sets a goal of saving enough money to travel Europe for two years this book is perfect for anyone who dreams of traveling! While I really enjoyed this aspect of the book my favorite part of the story was her love story with her French man. Some of the things she wrote about her relationship and especially about learning a new language completely hit home for me.

Fingers crossed my good book streak continues! Currently I am reading All the Light We Cannot See for my bookclub, and am loving it, no wonder it has such great reviews! Any great books you have read lately that I should add to my list?? Let me know in the comments below!


If reading blogs is more your thing I have a wonderful blogger to introduce you to today! Meet Christina from Route Bliss , a lifelong Texan who takes some gorgeous photography and is always off on some adventure. Along with her beautiful pictures she has some great travel tips that all travelers should read!


When did you decide to start blogging / what inspired you to start blogging?

I’ve actually been blogging somewhere on the web since early 2001! I can’t really say what inspired me to initially start blogging, but the part of it where I started sharing images/travels was due to penpalling, it was an easy way to tell my penpals around the globe about where I’d been. Until I started my photography business, it was mostly personal ramblings that are pretty much gone from the web, thank goodness! Since 2007, I’ve been blogging either my portrait client work or my travels; I split the two up into separate websites about two and a half years ago and started focusing on my travel and personal photography work on Route Bliss.

What does your perfect weekend look like??

Sleeping in! I work 7 – 4 during the week, so I’m up and out of the house by 6 am thanks to a 40+ minute commute.

On a long weekend, I’d find a destination to either day trip to or make a quick weekend out of around the eastern half of Texas … or dart up to Little Rock to visit my best friend.

You traveled all over the USA and visited several National Parks too! What is one destination you would love to revisit?

Oh geez, that’s a tough decision! I’m not sure I can choose just one! From pre-2015 travels, I’d have to say Yellowstone. We barely saw half of the park (the eastern half) and missed out on one of the falls due to a jumper + wasn’t able to see Old Faithful erupt.

From last year, I want to go back to Yosemite. We’d planned two days in the park, but due to exhaustion, we spent day two exploring the nearby national forest instead of venturing further into the park. I still want to see the Tuolumne Meadows and Hetchy Hetch Reservoir areas (+ Mariposa Grove that closed for restoration 10-ish days before we arrived).

Any big travel plans for 2016?

Right now, my major travel plan is visiting Albuquerque during the annual balloon fiesta … gotta nail down reservations soon! I’m also planning a weekend trip to New Braunfels, Texas and one to Little Rock, Arkansas. I have some tentative plans for August, but its all up in the air at the moment (waiting on a friend’s plans + making sure I have the money and ability to take off work first). I also want to work in another national park if possible since 2016 is the centennial of the NPS and there’s some big celebrations going on throughout the year as well as in late August.

You take some stunning pictures of your travels. Any photography tips for us newbies out there?

Thanks :) The key is practice, lots of it. Get to know your camera; read the manual and find out what all those fancy features are/how to use them. Don’t be afraid to screw up when you have the ability to reshoot (at home, not while traveling). And if you’re unsure of your settings and aren’t able to take the time to get ‘the shot’ for whatever reason, there is nothing wrong with shooting in auto/program mode to capture the moment.

Before you go what are three of your favorite posts that you think everyone needs to read?

Getting Started as a Hobbyist Photography

Planning for and Saving Money While on the Road

10 Steps to Vehicle Readiness {RB Roadtripping}


And now you have lots of new reading material to keep you busy while we wait for summer to arrive!

Question of the Day?
What are you reading this month?

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  • Danielle Crouch

    I haven’t been reading much lately, at the moment just a novel in German that I’m having a hard time getting through, but around Christmas I read a great book called “Babel No More” by Michael Erard. In it he talks about his journey trying to discover the secrets of hyperpolyglots, or people who can speak a large number of languages. As well as writing about polyglottery in general, he finds some interesting insights into language learning in general and what goes on in the brains of people who speak multiple languages. One of the most interesting insights for me was that people who are gifted with languages tend to be introverts, which surprised me. If you are interested in languages and language learning I highly recommend this book.

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      How interesting! As I am currently studying Icelandic and doing my best to figure out how to learn a language I may have to check this out!

  • Beth | PacesAndPlaces

    I tend to go in spurts with reading. For a few weeks I’ll read all the books I can, then I’ll go a couple months with reading nothing. My dry spells of reading are often because I don’t have anything on hand to read. I’m saving this list and making it a goal to get some books to read. Thanks!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I used to do this as well, read a bunch and then not pick up a book for months. I still do this somewhat where I will read several books one month and then take weeks just to finish one book. Hope you get to read some of these there are some good ones on the list!

  • Melanie Fontaine

    Good luck with your 2016 reading goal! You did so awesome at your goal last year, that I’m sure that you’re absolutely going to smash it this year again! :) My goal for the year is to read 30 books. That may not sound much to some people, but with all my law school library hours it’s probably going to be quite the challenge for me – but I’m looking forward to getting some great recommendations from you! :)

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Thanks Melanie! I think 30 sounds like an awesome goal, especially when you are studying! Best of luck with it!

  • Kayla Whitter

    Good luck with your reading goal. I got into the same position. In high school, I would read multiple books each week, and then college came and I lost the time and interest in reading for pleasure. This year I made a goal to read 40 books and get back into reading. I’m doing a reading challenge, which you can find here, which is really helping me along the way. I’ve already gotten through 3 books this year!
    Also, I use goodreads to track my books and find other suggestions. Feel free to follow me at kaylakedavra if you have an account, as well.

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Thank you Kayla! Good luck with your reading challenge, I really like setting these goals to help me keep reading a priority :)

  • Eric Brink

    I’ve turned into much more a newspaper and magazine reader unfortunately. And Gayle loves her Kindle for books. She reads like you do and also belongs to a book group, which is a nice group of friends. How about adding an “easy” book in Icelandic to your list? How about taking a shot at writing a book yourself? That’s Gayle’s goal.

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I love my kindle for books as well! And one day who knows maybe a book of my own will happen :)

  • Helen @ Hel On Heels

    Wow! Great job! You are killing it with the reading goal. I’m so happy I’ve read three this year. I’m so impressed with your list.

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Thanks so much Helen! Three this year is awesome! I have slowed way down and am still struggling through the same book for the past couple weeks.

  • Aimee

    I love hearing what others are reading! I, too, have started off the year with a couple of awesome books. First, I read The Girl From The Train, which was AMAZING (not to be confused with Girl On the Train). Next, Zoo by James Patterson. That was a nail biter that was hard to put down! Afterwards, I was sure my dog was going to eat me! Following that, Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham. I loved her unique storytelling voice, and if you’re a fan of her TV show, Girls, it’s even better because you can hear her telling the stories in her own unique voice. I just started Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life, and so far it’s really good. I’m not very far into it, but I’m looking for a new perspective on food and health, something besides the usual health self-help books. I think this might deliver.


    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      So many great recommendations thank you Aimee! I am going to have to check out the last book, I am very interested in food and healthy eating so this sounds right up my alley!

      • Aimee

        I hope you enjoy it! I am definitely very excited to make some changes after getting all the info from Savor. I woke up an hour earlier this morning for yoga, and I feel great and really motivated and energized! Hoping I can keep it up.

  • Amanda Elizabeth

    I love getting engrossed in a good book! I always save these posts when I’m trying to find books for the plane!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Me to! Nothing better than getting completely lost in a good story :)

  • Sarah

    I nearly picked up The Red Queen at Barnes and Noble the other day, but I had What Alice Forgot to finish, I’m re-reading the whole Harry Potter series for the umpteenth time, and I have The Paris Wife waiting in the wings! Paris Letters comes after that. I’m determined to finish HP and both Paris books before my trip in April. I’m 1/3 through the 5th HP book!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I have What Alice Forgot next on my list. I really need to re-read the Harry Potter series it has been far too long!

  • Kate

    Obviously you can’t go wrong with Liane Moriarty! If you like fantasty/magic stuff, I recommend Libba Bray’s Rebel Angels series or the Diviners series. They’re both YA, and re-reading them now that I’m almost 30 some of it does seem kind of juvenile, but I still love them! Also, if you’re into stuff like Lord of the Rings, I recommend the Wheel of Time series. It’s looonnngg, and the books are loooonngg, but it’s one of my favorites and will keep you occupied for a while!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Right, she is such a fantastic author! I will have to check out these series, thanks for the recommendations Kate I am always on the lookout for a new series to get lost in!

  • Pippa Vague

    50 books in a year is impressive! I think I only managed 20 last year – Netflix gets in the way! I’m currently reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett which is wonderful.

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Thanks so much! Sometimes Netflix wins over the book :)

  • Caitti

    I’m currently reading The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. He also wrote Cloud Atlas which was made into a movie. I highly recommend his work!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I will have to check out his work, thanks for the recommendation Caitti!

  • Kristen @ SYIAP

    oh fabulous, i am SO glad you enjoyed the red queen, it’s been on my list for ages but i kept reading so-so reviews, so i’m glad to hear it because i really do want to read it lol. good luck with your goal of 50! you are totally going to rock it.

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I always get so many great recommendations from you! I hope you enjoy it I loved it.

  • Carly @ Let Us Wanderlust

    50 books is impressive! I hardly ever manage to read nowadays – my free time is severely lacking! I’m still reading the Book Thief and loving it though. I really want to read Paris Letters too! It reminds me of another book I read when I was 14 and living in France called Almost French. It just hit home in so many ways and I still think about it all the time (it’s also got a pretty sweet love story in it too, if I remember correctly, and lots about being an expat etc!). xx

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I think you would love Paris Letters, it was such a good book! If only we had more time to read all the books we wanted!

  • Jenn

    50 books is a great goal :) I loved Red Queen as well and can’t wait for the second book to come out in a few days! Paris Letters sounds great and I’m definitely adding it to my to-reads list! I’m so happy you’re loving All the Light We Cannot See! It’s such a fantastic book and keeps getting better.

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I am so excited for the second book to come out! I am about halfway through All the Light We Cannot See and it is definitely getting better and better.

  • Emma @ AdventuresofaLondonKiwi

    Oooooh, I need to get hold of a few of these!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      There were some good ones!

  • Sara Rose

    I love reading updates! Good for you for doing 50 books again! While I completed my goal of 50 books last year I’m only doing 40 this year… Only because it is SO hard for me to pick a book I’m actually interested in!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Thanks so much Sara! That is something I struggle with to, finding books that I am actually interested in reading. Are you reading anything good now?

      • Sara Rose

        I’m currently read ‘What She Knew’ which is a mystery set in Bristol. I love reading a book with Bristol as the setting!

  • Cherie Jamison

    I just finished reading The Last Anniversary this week! It’s my first Lianne Moriarty book and I was impressed. Going to have to tackle the rest of her works!

    Good luck with your goal. I set mine at 40 this year because I didn’t hit the 50 that I set as my goal last year. I’m actually way ahead so far this year, so we’ll see!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I absolutely love all of Lianne Moriarty book’s! They all just suck me in. Good luck with your goal too Cherie:)

  • Amanda MeeMee

    I think 50 is a great number to aim for. You’re almost at one a week but you don’t have to push yourself as tightly as you would if you aimed for 52. I don’t know how some people read multiple books in a couple days. lol

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I think so too, although I am already behind on my goal for the year! But I tend to catch up in the warmer months when all I want to do is sit outside and read:)

  • Courtney {Alkeks Abroad}

    Did you read 10% happier after hearing him on the Happier podcast? I was thinking about reading it as well. I’m adding The Stranger to my list now!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I actually read it after reading about it on another blog. It was an interesting read, it was one I picked up in between books and read a few chapters so it took me awhile to read but I enjoyed it. The Stranger, absolutely loved that book!

  • Mrs Suvi

    I think I tried 50 last year as well.. I didn’t make it. This year I decided to try for 40. Good luck with your challenge!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      Good luck to you as well with your challenge!

  • Cynthia

    I so failed my book challenge last year…. but this year I am already “5 books ahead of schedule” according to Goodreads. This is going to be the year! haha. And yes, I loved All the Light as well – couldn’t put it down!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      New year fresh start! Good luck with your reading goal this year! I think I am already behind according to Goodreads.

  • Betsy

    I LOVE book review posts because I read constantly and always love new suggestions. Are you on Goodreads? I’m happy to add The Red Queen to my list! I’m also a Liane Moriarty fan. I have tons of recommendations. All the Light We Cannot See was incredible. Such a beautiful book. My book club also loved The Nightingale if you want another WWII book. I just finished Happiness for Beginners and loved it. I’ve loved all of Kate Morton’s books, and they’re great if you like a bit of mystery with different time periods (start with The Secret Keeper). (My book club read The Dinner and it was one of overall least favorites. I kind of hated it. ;))

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      So glad to hear you like reading book review posts, I do too! I love The Nightingale such a great book. I will have to check out Kate Morton’s books thanks for all the suggestions!

  • Hayley | Hayley on Holiday

    Thanks for The Red Queen recommendation. So downloading that for my trip to Bali at the end of the month!

    • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

      I really liked it and can’t wait for the next one in the series to come out! Have a great time reading and in Bali!

  • Teawashere_

    Good to see a Dutch book on the list, I agree that ending of The Dinner was a bit toooo open.

    I’m reading Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris on my way to work and Passengers at home.

    Do you think you’ll add an Icelandic book in 2017?

  • Camila @ AdventitiousViolet

    Aw I loved the Red Queen! I’ve just been given the second book and I can’t wait to read it!! :D

  • Jeannie | Life With a View

    That was generous to give The Dinner three stars ;)
    So glad we picked a winner for this months book club book!