Monthly Key Word Reading Challenge [January Check In]

Welcome to the first round of the 2020 Monthly Key Word Reading Challenge! Each month we’ll be publishing these check-in posts with book recommendations that fit the key words for that month. So let’s get started! Here are January’s Key Words:

Water, This, Hello, Sun, Six

Here are a handful of book recommendations that fit for this month if you need some ideas:

Into The Water, Paula Hawkins

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone.

Daisy Jones & The Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six: The band’s album Aurora came to define the rock ‘n’ roll era of the late seventies, and an entire generation of girls wanted to grow up to be Daisy. But no one knows the reason behind the group’s split on the night of their final concert at Chicago Stadium on July 12, 1979 . . . until now.

Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen

When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, drifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. A veterinary student who almost earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her.

SEAL Team Six Outcasts, Howard E. Masdin & Stephen Templin

The team’s mission: Take out the seven terror merchants vying to take Bin Laden’s place. The team’s status: Expendable.

The Sun is Also A Star, Nicola Yoon

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

This is How You Lose The Time War, Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. And thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Except discovery of their bond would be death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war. That’s how war works. Right?

Hello, Goodbye, & Everything in Between, Jennifer E. Smith

On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan have only one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be.

This Tender Land, William Kent Krueger

1932, Minnesota—the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.


  • Your task is to read at least 1 book for any of the keywords
  • Post about what you’ve read anywhere online – your blog, Goodreads and / or social media using the hashtag #MonthlyKeyWordGXO
  • Come back to our check-in here in the comments leave a link and/or tell us which book(s) you read and what you thought.

If you have any other book suggestions please drop them in the comments. Also- we’d love to know which book you picked for this month!


// Comments //

  1. I read The New Girl by R.L. Stine

  2. I read The Shape of Water by Guillermo Del Toro and Daniel Krauss. I was pretty excited to read this but it ended up being okay. It wasn’t exactly what I expected. I wrote a short review on it on my January wrap up at

  3. Christine Brady

    Feb 01

    I loved my January book – “A Yellow Raft in Blue Water” by Michael Dorris. Really enjoyed the three POVs. Each character had her shortcomings but don’t we all?

  4. Jen

    Jan 31

    I was really surprised to find that I didn’t have a book with any of these words, so I used “River” for “Water.” I read “A River Runs Again” by Meera Subramanian. My review is on my blog:

    Thanks for hosting. I enjoy this challenge.

  5. Emma

    Jan 31

    With just over an hour of January left (in New Zealand), I have managed to read a book for EACH of the six key words!

    Water: “The Light On The Water” by Olga Lorenzo
    This: “This is Frog” by Harriet Evans, illustrated by Jacqui Lee
    Hello: “Hello Hello” by Brendan Wenzel
    Sun: “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway
    New: “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley
    Six: “Six Little New Zealanders” by Esther Glen.

    A fun mix of adult and children’s books, old and new, an old favourite and some new discoveries

  6. Julie

    Jan 23

    Done with my second January book: Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly! It was absolutely wonderful! I loved the friendship between the kids. So pure. ^_^ There’s also hearing-impaired and POC representation. Win!

    • @Julie I’m listening to this one right now. Really enjoying it!

      • Elba M Sosa

        Jan 31

        Hello and here in Puerto Rico are celebrating New year’s eve today because everything that have been going on here. My January book was Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge. Is an e-book. Highly recommend it.

  7. Sofie

    Jan 21

    I read “Into the water” by Paula Hawkins, an exciting read, but I don’t think the plot will stick with me for long. Nice to read, but easy forgettable.

  8. I read “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson. Here is my review

  9. Julie (@_julietearjerky)

    Jan 13

    I finished my first January book: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
    Just started my second one: Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly ^_^

  10. Elba M Sosa

    Jan 08

    I am very in in joining this challenge. I already have my January pick. But being my first non Facebook challenge , I don’t understand how to post my books. Can I use # in Goodreads? Help

  11. Emma

    Jan 04

    I read a New Zealand classic, “Six Little New Zealanders” by Esther Glen. When I have a better internet connection, more details will be posted on Instagram @lemonemmalemon.

  12. Finished my January book: Mystery of the Haunted Pool by Phyllis A. Whitney [Pool of Water]

  13. I’m ready to go with this challenge! Still brainstorming about what book I have/will get with one of those words. Thanks for hosting.

    • Jen

      Jan 31

      Hi Cleo, I tried to check out your blog post, but it’s coming up with an error.

// Trackbacks & Pingbacks //

  1. […] order of these books was chosen using Girl XOXO’s three reading challenges: Monthly Motif, Monthly Keyword, and Monthly Book Award. I’m not actively participating in those particular challenges […]

  2. […] Survival, Bernd Heinrich for the January Monthly Motif Challenge, and learned so much! For the Monthly Key Word Reading Challenge I read This is How You Lose the Time War, Max Gladstone. It’s a time travel story set in […]

  3. […] JANUARY – Water, This, Hello, Sun, New, Six […]