2018 Book Challenges- Week 4

Popsugar Challenge

(5/50) 10%!

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A female author who used a male pseudonym: The Inheritance, by Louisa May Alcott– This was LMA’s first book, when she was 17. It wasn’t published until 1997, long after her death. Apparently she refers to it in Little Women, as Jo wrote the same book. For what it is, it’s a good book. It’s a gothic/ sentimentalist romance of the time, complete with saints and sinners. The main character is so virtuous and perfect that the shine from her halo blinded me. But honestly, I enjoyed it. Sometimes it’s nice for things to be black and white and to know good will prevail.

While I Was Reading Challenge

(0/12) No progress

The Unread Shelf

Total: 1

5 Classic Books

(0/5) No progress

Miscellaneous Reading

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Girl of Nightmares, by Kendare Blake (YA Horror): This book is a reread for me, the sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood (which I read last year). I loved them both when I first read them several years ago, and I loved them just as much with the second reading. Cas “kills” bad ghosts, the ones who kill people. But when he meets Anna Dressed in Blood, it’s not so easy to just kill her. After Anna makes a sacrifice for Cas, in Girl of Nightmares, he’s consumed by guilt and wants to find a way to rescue her from the hell she becomes stuck in.

2018 Running Total: 9

For me, that’s a pretty slow start to the month, but I know it’s because my sister-in-law and her husband were visiting. Next month will be better. (At least, that’s what I’m telling the books staring accusingly at me from my bookshelf.)

Have you made any progress on your TBR or book challenges?

2018 Book Challenges- Week 2

Popsugar Challenge

(4/50) Considering how long book 3 was, I’d say that’s good progress.

Sorry for the really long review of this one, but I can’t do it justice in a paragraph.

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1. A book with an ugly cover– A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara (literary) I got interested in this book after Ramona over at While I Was Reading put it on her list of books she refuses to read. She said it was supposed to be gut wrenching, which was enough for me. I like a good gut wrenching from time to time. A mutual reader friend and I decided to read it together, because if it’s really that intense, it’s best to read it with a friend. After I started reading, I retroactively put it in this category because the cover is awful. I never would have picked it based on that.

I’ll be honest, it was hard to get into at first. Around 20% (according to my Kindle), it started to hit its stride and hook me. This is a looooong book.

I don’t think it emotionally affected me as much as it would most people. First off, I knew it was supposed to be depressing. Second of all, I worked for Child Protective Services, and although I’ve never seen as awful of things as happened to Jude, once you’ve seen awful stuff, degree almost doesn’t matter any more. Third, I knew what was going to happen by the time I hit 30%. I hoped I was wrong…

I also felt like this book played with my emotions a bit, like it was trying to be gut wrenching, rather than the author just telling a story. Like I said, the ending was telegraphed early, but the fact that it’s not revealed until the end lessened the impact for me. There was a large twist I didn’t see coming that particularly hit me, but in retrospect, I really should have seen it.

The language isn’t especially beautiful. Often, in literary fiction, I highlight passages I love for their beauty. In this book, I did still highlight, but for concepts I wanted to revisit rather than language. It’s a lovely book for the way it evokes emotions and its portrayal of life.

Still, with all its flaws, it’s a wonderful story about life and love and friendship, how hard it is to recover from a crushing childhood. I do recommend this book, but with reservations. If you’re too sensitive to weighty emotional material, or you don’t want to commit to reading the first 150 pages of a long book before it gets good, it’s probably not your thing.

But if you love literary fiction and love an emotional ride, this may be one to put on your TBR.

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2.  A book about grief- Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum (YA)- This was exactly what I needed after reading A Little Life. It wasn’t quite “light,” but it was a fast read with light-hearted and humorous moments. To be totally honest, I teared up with this book more than I did with A Little Life. All the emotions in this book were because of the main character telling her story and me feeling bad for her, not because I was supposed to.

It’s about a teenager grieving the loss of her mother, but also about friendship and falling in love. It was a super fast, refreshing read. It was totally predictable, but that was exactly what I needed.

While I Was Reading Challenge

(0/12) No progress

Clearing Off My Shelf Reading

No progress

5 Classic Books

(0/5) No progress

Miscellaneous Reading

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  1. Secrets in Death (In Death #46), JD Robb (Romance, light science fiction, murder mystery) I can’t keep up with JD Robb’s/ Nora Roberts’s output. I know some people find these to be all the same, and in some ways they are. Eve Dallas, with her husband Roarke, solve every mystery and always get the bad guy. But I enjoy the stories and it’s always a familiar, comforting, fun ride. They’re different enough to keep me interested, and while I like some more than others, none of them disappoint.

2018 Running Total: 6

Have you made any progress on your TBR or book challenges?

Book Challenges 2018

I acquired a lot of books in the last year and read still more from the library. Part of the reason for this was that I did the Popsugar challenge for 2017, and probably due to poor planning on my part, I had to get a lot of the books in order to complete the challenge.

I read and planned as I went along, which is why, of the 52 books on the list, I have 6 left to read with less than a month left in 2017. (Yikes! But I’m pretty sure I can do it… wish me luck.)

I like some things about book challenges, and dislike other things. But I’m going to participate in two challenges for 2018: the Popsugar challenge and the While I Was Reading challenge.

This time around, I’m going to give myself an extra layer of challenge (that I think will actually make it easier). I’m going to plan all the books to read ahead of time, and I’m going to try to read books I already own. There are some categories for which that won’t be possible. (Nordic noir, anyone?)

Here’s my list of books and categories. If you see any blank categories, feel free to suggest books.

Wish me luck; I think it’s going to be a great way to cull my shelves. Hopefully I’ll find some books to donate and some I love and want to keep.

Are you doing any book challenges for 2018?

Guest Post from While I Was Reading

Today’s post is a guest post from Ramona Mead over at While I Was Reading. She’s here to talk about her reading challenge for 2018.

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I’ve known the author of this blog since elementary school. We lived on the same street, and when a move in junior high took me to the other side of the school district, we lost touch. But thanks to the wonders of technology (ie Facebook) we reconnected several years ago and have rekindled our friendship, bonding over our shared passions for writing, reading, and having what others consider “too many” pets.

At the start of 2015, I followed the lead of another bookish pal, jumping into Book Riot‘s first annual Read Harder Challenge . It sounded easy enough for a nerd like me: read a book to fit into each of the 24 categories. Two books a month? Piece of cake.

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I approached my book shelves with my challenge list in one hand and a pencil in the other. I scanned through categories such as: a book that takes place in Asia, a book by an author from Africa, a book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture, and a book by or about someone who identifies as LGBTQ.

I came to a startling realization, my book shelves are not exactly diverse.

2017 is the third year I’ve participated in the challenge, and to be extra nerdy, I did a second one, the PopSugar 2017 challenge (including the advanced categories, of course!) The challenges have expanded my horizons as both a reader and a writer. They have pushed me far out of my reading comfort zone and busted many of the misconceptions I had about certain genres such as fantasy and romance, and YA writing.

As the years have gone on, I’ve become increasingly frustrated with Read Harder’s categories. This year I’ve found them to be painfully specific. I’ve had a hard time completing some of the categories as they’re written so I’ve put my own spin on them to be able to mark it off.

It was this frustration that led me to create my own reading challenge for 2018. I enjoy categories that are more personal to the reader.

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I’ve come up with 12 categories, because while Doree and I can finish a ridiculously large number of books in a year, this isn’t realistic for the majority of readers I know. I have a few friends who have been intrigued by my completion of challenges past but too intimidated by the large number of categories to give it a try.

All you have to do is read, no other participation is required. If you start and don’t finish, that’s okay. However if you do complete the challenge, you can email me your list to be entered to win a prize at the end of 2018!!

  • Read a book that takes place in one day.
  • Read a memoir or biography of a musician you like.
  • Read a collection of poetry.
  • Read an audio book with multiple narrators.
  • Read a self published book.
  • Read a book you received as a gift.
  • Read a book about a historical event you’re interested in (fiction or non).
  • Read a book written by an author from the state where you grew up.
  • Read a book recommended by one of your parents (in-laws count).
  • Read a book with your favorite food in the title.
  • Read a book with a child narrator.
  • Read a book you chose based on the cover.

If you wish to participate in the challenge, please let me know either by commenting on this post, contacting me via Facebook, or you can shoot me an email at grazona@live.com.

You can download a printable list of the challenge categories here.

I’ve created a Facebook Group and a Goodreads Group for participants to gather for discussion and brainstorming!

I am excited to have you all along with me on this new venture! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions, ideas, or suggestions.

Why I Didn’t End Up Doing a Book Challenge This Year

img_7065In 2015, I did the reading challenge, and I enjoyed it.  There was a different theme every month, and I did about 10 months out of 12.  In 2016, I started the Read Harder challenge, and ticked a couple categories off.

And then I lost interest.

I ended up reading a book I didn’t like.  I tried and tried and tried to get through it, and I couldn’t.  As of this writing, I haven’t finished it, though I still want to.  It wasn’t that I hated the book; it was more that it had no discernible plot.

After putting that book aside, I thought about going back to the Read Harder challenge, but I’d lost my taste for it.  I realized that I have a lot of book lists I’m working on.  I have a classics list I’m working my way through, a book club, and a friend and I who choose books together.  That’s not including the fact that I read a lot of YA books to stay current on what’s being published (since I write YA) and reading books for fun.

While I liked the idea of the Read Harder challenge, in the end it just didn’t work for me.  I may look at the challenge for 2017, and if I like it, I’ll give it a try.  Or maybe I’ll look for a challenge that doesn’t have as many books on it, or fits with my tastes a little better.

I think I lost sight of the fact that the challenge was meant to be a game instead of a task. It became work, rather than a scavenger hunt. I love books that make me think or books that make me see the world differently. I love discovering books I wouldn’t have read on my own. But I don’t like taking it all to seriously, and that’s what I did for a little while.

What do you think of book challenges? Are you planning to join one for 2017?