The 2018 Monthly Motif Reading Challenge @ Girlxoxo

It’s that time of year when book challenges are starting to post for 2018.  Sign me up!

Are you joining in this year?  Any particular challenges or themes that appeal to you?  Last year was my first time signing up with lovely Kim and Tanya at Girlxoxo and I’m pleased to be joining them again.   The 2018 Monthly Motif Reading Challenge linkup may be found HERE so hop over and sign up.


 Here are the categories for next year

JANUARY – Diversify Your Reading
Kick the reading year off right and shake things up. Read a book with a character (or written by an author) of a race, religion, or sexual orientation other than your own.

Read a book with a one word title.

MARCH – Travel the World
Read a book set in a different country than your own, written by an author from another country than your own, or a book in which the characters travel.

APRIL – Read Locally
Read a book set in your country, state, town, village (or has a main character from your home town, country, etc)

MAY- Book to Screen
Read a book that’s been made into a movie or a TV show.

JUNE- Crack the Case
Mysteries, True Crime, Who Dunnit’s.

JULY – Vacation Reads
Read a book you think is a perfect vacation read and tell us why.

AUGUST- Award Winners
Read a book that has won a literary award or a book written by an author who has been recognized in the bookish community.

SEPTEMBER- Don’t Turn Out The Light
Cozy mystery ghost stories, paranormal creeptastic, horror novels.

OCTOBER- New or Old
Choose a new release from 2018 or a book known as a classic.

Books where family dynamics play a big role in the story

DECEMBER- Wrapping It Up
Winter or holiday themed books or books with snow, ice, etc in the title or books set in winter OR read a book with a theme from any of the months in this challenge (could be a theme you didn’t do, or one you want to do again).

Sign up HERE !


Halfway Through the 2017 Monthly Motif Challenge

This past December I joined a few book challenges.  This helps me form reading lists, adding books I definitely plan to read in 2017.   This year I joined in on a new challenge.  The 2017 Monthly Motif Challenge.  Here is my 6 month update and so far, I am on track!


If you haven’t checked out Girlxoxo you may want to drop by.  I had fallen in love with this site and the life hacks, the book reviews and organizational tips.


Anyway………..this Monthly Motif Challenge  has me reading outside of my typical favored genres.  Here is a shameless copy and paste job of the themes (books read are added along with the links for the review). It’s not too late to sign up if you are interested!

JANUARY – Diversify Your Reading
Kick the reading year off right and shake things up. Read a book with a character (or written by an author) of a race, religion, or sexual orientation other than your own.
Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals that Brought Me Home by Jessica Fechtor

FEBRUARY – Undercover Thriller
Read a book involving spies, detectives, private investigators, or a character in disguise. Watching the Dark by Peter Robinson

MARCH – Time Traveler
Read a book set in a different dimension, a book in which time travel is involved or a dystopian or science fiction book where reality looks very different than what we’re used to. 11/23/63 by Stephen King

APRIL – Award Winners
Read a book that has won a literary award or a book written by an author who has been recognized in the bookish community.  And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

MAY – Book to Movie or Audio
Read a book that has a movie based off of it. For an extra challenge, see the movie or listen to the audio book as well.  The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

JUNE – Destination Unknown
Read a book in which the character(s) take a trip, travel somewhere, go on a quest, or find themselves on a journey toward something.

I started Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker.  The journey is about wine, learning how difficult it is to become an accomplished sommelier and there is most certainly a bit of travel too.

Here are the categories for the next 6 months.

JULY – Believe the Unbelievable
This month it’s all about fantasy. Epic fantasy, urban fantasy, fairy tales, magic, etc.

AUGUST – Seasons, Elements, & Weather
Read a book in which the season, the elements, or the weather plays a role in the story.

SEPTEMBER – Creepy, Chilling, & Frightful
Cozy mystery ghost stories, paranormal hauntings, murder mysteries, weird and scary creatures- it’s up to you!

OCTOBER– Games, Challenges, & Contests
Read a book that involves a game of some sort. Video games, war games, psychological mess-with-your-mind games, characters who participate in a contest, or a story in which the character takes on a challenge.

NOVEMBER – Last Chance
Read a book you’ve been meaning to get to all year but haven’t yet or read the last book in a series you started.

DECEMBER – Picking Favorites
Read a book by one of your favorite authors or read a book that Girlxoxo has recommended this year.

So there it is, folks.  I am almost to the halfway mark.  It’s been enjoyable.

 Join in, it looks like fun!2017-reading-challenge-sign-ups-1

The Tastemakers by David Saxon

tastemakers The Tastemakers by David Saxon was an interesting and humorous read.

This insightful book delved into food crazes and their origins, how the agriculture and marketing parts fit in and how they weave together.

Cupcakes dominate the beginning chapter. I never thought of the reason they seemed so popular these days. In some cases, they are a popular choice for weddings instead of a traditional wedding cake. How does that happen? Well, David Saxon will tell you. It’s a craze that started before Sex in the City (a misconception I had about the cupcake popularity). His research is well done and not a dry recounting of facts. He’s quite humorous actually. As you read about the accidental popularity of the cupcake and it’s rise to fame you’ll find you want one more than ever.

Marketing and business sections explain the economics of bacon. Yes, the meat that has become a star ingredient in its own right in everything from breakfast to dinner to desserts. An explanation of marketing and pork belly futures isn’t boring. Well, not the way Saxon presents it. Usually I hear the word bacon and someone (me included at times) will quote Homer Simpson; “Mmmmmm……..bacon….” in a dreamy tone.

I liked this part in the book where he talks about people embracing a particular food or diet because another culture, who eats XYZ, is healthy and long lived.

“We also buy into a narrative…that simplifies a complicated lifestyle down to a single ingredient. The seductive power of many of these super foods lies in their place in remote, somewhat mystical cultures. Whether it’s the longevity of Greek goat herders, Okinawan fisherman, Amazonian tribesmen, or Mexican tribal joggers, the tremendous difference between their health and ours has a hell of a lot more to do with the fact that we drive cars, sit at computers, and have access to super-sized sodas than the fact that they eat yogurt, salmon, acai, or chia…”

Right?! I am not a goat herder. I drive to work and sit in front of a computer a good portion of my day. While I limit my intake of fast foods and convenience foods, my American lifestyle is vastly different from an Okinawan fisherman. Back when the Mediterranean diet was all the rage there were always the folks who thought adding olive oil and drinking red wine would transform their health and waistline.

This non-fiction appraisal of food trends is an easy read. It also had me go to one of the popular local cupcake shops. Smallcakes in Tallahassee Florida has it going on!

They have some amazing cupcakes and different specials every day. After reading The Tastemakers I was aware of 3 different specialty cupcake shops in my area. Didn’t even think about it before reading this book.

Let’s hope this doesn’t become a habit!

Coincidentally, Tallahassee Florida is mentioned in the last chapter where Saxon talks about fondue. The Melting Pot restaurant has been in business here for as long I remember living here. It started in the underground section under a popular seafood/oyster joint called Barnacle Bill’s. Now it’s located in a big stand-alone restaurant on Monroe Street in Tallahassee.

What Saxon write about the fondue restaurant is absolutely true. It seems a by gone fad but it is the place I think of for celebrations and very special events. As our 30th wedding anniversary is approaching (this June) we may just enjoy a long evening at The Melting Pot.

Kudos to David Saxon for producing an informative and enjoyable book about the food fashions and trends. Will have to check out his other books now.

Adding my review to Goodreads and Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking Series. This book was on my list for the The Eclectic Reader Book Challenge

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.