Category: challenge

2018 Reading Challenges

2018 Reading Challenges

I haven’t done year long reading challenges in a while. When I’ve done them previously, I’ve either not really paid attention to them and have just ended up failing miserably or I’ve found them a hindrance to reading because I feel like having something I’m supposed to be reading makes me avoid reading completely if I end up not being in the mood for it. Earlier this year, though, I took part in the Reading Quest and actually went out of my way to pick books that fitted the prompts. I had a lot of fun doing it and I read some books I wouldn’t have read otherwise so win-win. After that, I started keeping an eye out for 2018 challenges and here we are!

Science Fiction v Fantasy Bingo: Hosted by Ellie at Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

I loved the idea of this as soon as I saw Ellie mention it on Twitter. There’s a bingo card full of different Science Fiction and Fantasy…themes? Things. I’ll be aiming to complete the board but given that’s 25 books and I only tend to read 52ish a year, that’s probably a bit hefty. I’ll be happy if I get a couple of lines done! I have plenty of fantasy titles but please do drop me some recommendations for science fiction because I definitely have fewer ideas for those.

The TBR Pile Challenge: Hosted by Roof Beam Reader

I currently have 453 unread books on my TBR pile. Not all phsyical (I have loads on my Kindle) but still. That’s a lot. This year, I really want to reduce that number, ideally by reading some of my own flipping books and buying less than I’m reading but I may also do a bit of a cull. I’m using the reading spreadsheet that Sophie at Portal in the Pages has posted this year (SO excited about this!) and populating it made me realise not only how many unread books I have but how long some of them have been on my shelves. With the TBR Pile challenge, you pick 12 books (plus two alternates in case there are duds) that you’ve had for at least a year and then you read them. Simple!

1. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch – owned since 24 September 2011

2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – owned since 09 July 2012

3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – owned since 16 August 2012

4. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – owned since 25 December 2012

5. Among Others by Jo Walton – owned since 26 March 2013

6. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen – owned since 12 November 2013

7. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins – owned since 22 December 2013

8. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith – owned since 30 December 2013

9. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo – owned since 16 August 2014

10. Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters – owned since 23 August 2014

11. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi – owned since 04 January 2016

12. The Prestige by Christopher Priest – owned since 16 August 2016

Alternates…

13. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel – owned since 16 August 2016

14. Shinju by Laura Joh Rowland – owned since 28 October 2016

Beat the Backlist: Hosted by Novel Knight

In a similar vein to the TBR Pile challenge, this challenge is all about reading the books that you already own. I’m absolutely not on a book buying ban because that would make me sad but I do need to start reading more of the stuff I own. That will become easier when my books are shelved (a state that is mercifully imminent) and I can see what I have. When I’ve been compiling my spreadsheet, I’ve been reminded just how much I already own that I’m excited about.

I’m going to aim for 50% of the books I read in 2018 to be books that I own as of today. Well, technically yesterday. I’m quietly hoping that I’ll do much more than that but I have a few new publisher subscriptions this year and I just know that I’ll be buying more books and I don’t want to restrict myself too much or this challenge will become a chore. Nobody wants that. So 50% it is! Or roughly 25 books.

Let’s do this, 2018!

Checking in with The Lucky No. 14 Challenge

It occurred to me the other day that I actually signed up for the Lucky No. 14 challenge in January and then promptly forgot all about it. As in, I read a couple of books that didn’t fit and then sort of forgot about checking back at the categories after that. Before we barrel straight into Christmas and other end of the year shenanigans, I figured a recap was in order in the vain hope that I have inadvertently read my way to success. While we’re at it, I’m going to wave two fabulous read-alongs in your face so that you can get all signed up too. Challenges and read-alongs seem to fit well together in my head for some reason so let’s go with it. 
[UPDATE: I just finished writing about the Lucky No. 14 challenge and this post was looking kind of long. The read-alongs in question deserve more than me just scrappily copying and pasting text into an already lengthy ramble so we’ll pick those up tomorrow. Or at some other point this week]
1. Visit The Country: Read a book that has setting in a country that you really want to visit in real life. Make sure the setting has a big role in the book and it can make you know a little bit more about your dream destination.

I’ve done an appalling job of reading outside of the UK/the USA this year. Shame on me. I do want to fix this but the difficulty is in choosing somewhere that I actually really want to visit in real life and that features heavily in a book, since it’s impossible to know that until you’ve read it (I’m a lawyer – I can’t help but follow the letter of the law). I really want to visit Japan though and am hoping to fix that when I turn 30, which is in a not very long amount of time so I think I’ll fix this with Nagasaki by Eric Faye. I bought it after Ellie Bookworm reviewed it but I’ve still not read it. I have no idea whether the setting has a big role in the book so I suppose we’ll have to keep our fingers crossed!

2. Cover Lust: Pick a book from your shelf that you bought because you fell in love with the cover. Is the content as good as the cover?

This was always going to be tricky. I don’t really tend to buy books just because of their cover, especially seeing as I read a lot of ebooks and therefore don’t even really see the cover. There might be some that I picked up because of the cover but I would never pick something up because it was pretty and then buy it without reading the blurb or having a nosey through to see if I’m interested in the content. And can I remember which books are in my house because I thought “Ooh, pretty”? Not even a little bit. So I’m just going to pick something that I own in hard copy that has a nice cover and that I haven’t seen online on the basis that it will be a reasonably safe bet for this one.

3. Blame it on Bloggers: Read a book because you’ve read the sparkling reviews from other bloggers. Don’t forget to mention the blogger’s names too!

This happens with SO MANY books. I am one of the easiest people to influence when it comes to things to read. Most recently, I picked up World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks. This definitely qualifies because if Laura hadn’t reviewed it so glowingly, I would almost certainly never have read it (because zombies are horrifying). Let’s put aside the fact that I didn’t like it and instead revel in it being a tick for this challenge.

4. Bargain All The Way: Ever buying a book because it’s so cheap you don’t really care about the content? Now it’s time to open the book and find out whether it’s really worth your cents.

I bought Life After Life by Kate Atkinson in a mad Kindle rampage after I acquired my new Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas because it was 99p. I adored it and it was more than worth the lowly 99 pence that I paid for it.

5. (Not So) Fresh From the Oven: Do you remember you bought/got a new released book last year but never had a chance to read it? Dig it from your pile and bring back the 2013.

I was all ready to write out an excuse for this one and then I remembered that I bought Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas last year not long after the latter was released, intending to get to them right away. Then I ignored them until the third one was due out and only managed to get to Crown of Midnight in July this year, which was foolish because the series is OUTSTANDING but has the hidden benefit of being able to do another tick.

6. First Letter’s Rule: Read a book which title begins with the same letter as your name (for me, Astrid means A, and I can read anything that started with the letter A). Remember: Articles like “a”, “an” or “the” doesn’t count.

Ah ha! Another one done! I was aiming for a C (for Charlotte) and finished Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein in early September. Winning (both because of this and because it’s brilliant).
7. Once Upon a Time: Choose a book that’s been published for the first time before you were born (not necessarily has to be a classic book, just something a little bit older than you is okay. You can read the most recent edition if you want to)
DONE! We could allocate any number of books to this one because I’ve focussed a lot more on reading classics this year. I think my favourite one has been Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne and, since I was born after 1873, it conveniently knocks off this part of the challenge. Actually, maybe Villette by Charlotte Bronte is my favourite classic for the year. And it was published in 1853 so all is safe and well on that front.

8. Chunky Brick: Take a deep breath, and read a book that has more than 500 pages. Yep, the one that you’ve always been afraid of!

Boom – we’re on a roll! This one isn’t actually too much of an achievement since I tend to read a lot of epic fantasy so a book topping 500 pages doesn’t tend to put me off. I finished Allegiant by Veronica Roth on January 26 so this was an early (and unintended) score, coming in as it does at a weighty 526 pages. Shame it wasn’t that great…

9. Favourite Author: You like their books, but there are too many titles. This is your chance, choose a book that’s been written by your fave author but you haven’t got time to read it before.

I never know what to say when someone asks me who my favourite author is. I’d almost definitely (maybe) include Agatha Christie though seeing as I always turn to her books when I’m in need of a banker of a book. Something that I can pick up and settle into knowing that I’ll love it. I turned to Murder on the Orient Express when we were on holiday recently because I’ve never read this even though I knew it was an utter classic AND I had managed to make it 28 years without having the ending spoiled. It was everything I’d hoped it would be.

10. It’s Been There Forever: Pick up a book that has been there on your shelf for more than a year, clean up the dust and start to read it now

This applies to an appalling amount of the books in my house. More shame on me. Even worse, it doesn’t seem as though I’ve read anything that I had owned for longer than a year at the time that I read it. How awful! In fact, it looks like I’ve been well and truly distracted by shiny new things this year and hadn’t even noticed. Something to focus on before the end of this year, I think! From a quick scan of my Goodreads ‘To Read’ list, it seems as though I’ve had Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor since July 2012. Hanna recently made me want to dig it out so I guess that might end up being my pick for this one.

11. Movies vs Books: You’ve seen the movie adaptation (or planned to see it soon) but never had time to read the book. It’s time to read it now, so you can compare the book vs the movie

And we were doing so well! Another one not tackled. I do both want to read and want to watch The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky though so that combo could see me win out the day here. And the book comes highly recommended by Blonde Ellie so there is no cause for this dawdling.

12. Freebies Time: What’s the LAST free book you’ve got? Whether it’s from giveaway, a birthday gift or a surprise from someone special, don’t hold back any longer. Open the book and start reading it now

This is kind of a weird one to interpret because obviously the LAST free book that I got will change at various points in the year (and given the proximity of Christmas to the end of the year means that I will almost definitely not have read the last free book that I got as at 23:59 on 31 December). So I’m going to read it as meaning that it was the last free book that I had acquired at the time that I read it. Confused? Me too. I could be over-thinking this. Regardless, Hanna bought me Parasite by Mira Grant for my birthday on 16 August and I finished reading it on 27 August so at the time I finished it, it qualified. Hurrah.

13. Not My Cup of Tea: Reach out to a genre that you’ve never tried (or probably just disliked) before. Whether it’s a romance, horror or non fiction, maybe you will find a hidden gem!

I…did not want to do this one. I’ve read at least a few books from every genre that I have even a vague interest in and am pretty clear on what I don’t like. BUT I’ve read two sports memoirs this year, which I have never even been vaguely interested in reading before so lets say that’s a genre. I loved one (Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley) and was utterly infuriated by the other one (Running Away: A Memoir by Robert Andrew Powell). You can’t win ‘em all.
14. Walking Down The Memory Lane: Ever had a book that you loved so much as a kid? Or a book that you wish you could read when you were just a child? Grab it now and prepare for a wonderful journey to the past. Comic books or graphic novels are allowed!
I never thought I’d do this one since I never re-read. Like, never. Too many books, too little time, blah blah. Then I bought the final instalment in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series and realised that I couldn’t even quite remember where I’d read up to and could remember even less of the intricate epic plot. On a day when I was in dire need of comfort, I picked up my very battered, very well loved and loaned out copy of The Eye of the World, which is the first book in the series. I’m reading it now and I adore it. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and I just love getting back to the characters that I left drifted away from so many years ago. So very shortly I’ll have knocked this one off to.

So that’s 9 complete, 1 under way and a mere 4 to go! Not at all the train wreck that I’d been anticipating when I started typing! Does it count if it’s been largely accidental? Of course it counts! Did anybody else sign up for this and completely forget to keep track? Just me?!

Lucky No. 14 Reading Challenge

In 2013, I swore off challenges and boldly went where my reading whims took me.  It was fun and I read some fantastic books that I’ve been meaning to get round to for years.  Towards the end of the year, though, I took part in a couple of read-alongs and remembered how much fun it was sharing a common goal with other bloggers.  I started this blog in the first place as a way to connect with other book lovers and to babble aimlessly about reading, thoughts on reading, what I was reading and…well, everything to do with reading and books.  I’m only choosing one but, even if I fall flat on my face, I thought it’d be fun to try out doing a challenge again and to see how it goes!
Although I am by no means quite the eager bean that I was when I first started blogging and won’t be taking on too many challenges, I really liked the sound of this one when Hanna signed up and decided that the Lucky No. 14 Challenge would be my book blogger challenge for 2014.  I’ve also recently signed up to The Classics Club but since that spans five years, I’m not counting it as a 2014 challenge as such…I know, I know, I’m not dilluding anybody but myself.
So what’s this Lucky No. 14 Challenge all about?  Read one book in each of the following 14 categories.  Easy peasy, right?  😐
1. Visit The Country: Read a book that has setting in a country that you really want to visit in real life. Make sure the setting has a big role in the book and it can make you know a little bit more about your dream destination.
2. Cover Lust: Pick a book from your shelf that you bought because you fell in love with the cover. Is the content as good as the cover?
3. Blame it on Bloggers: Read a book because you’ve read the sparkling reviews from other bloggers. Don’t forget to mention the blogger’s names too!
4. Bargain All The Way: Ever buying a book because it’s so cheap you don’t really care about the content? Now it’s time to open the book and find out whether it’s really worth your cents.
5. (Not So) Fresh From the Oven: Do you remember you bought/got a new released book last year but never had a chance to read it? Dig it from your pile and bring back the 2013.
6. First Letter’s Rule: Read a book which title begins with the same letter as your name (for me, Astrid means A, and I can read anything that started with the letter A). Remember: Articles like “a”, “an” or “the” doesn’t count.
7. Once Upon a Time: Choose a book that’s been published for the first time before you were born (not necessarily has to be a classic book, just something a little bit older than you is okay. You can read the most recent edition if you want to)
8. Chunky Brick: Take a deep breath, and read a book that has more than 500 pages. Yep, the one that you’ve always been afraid of!
9.  Favorite Author: You like their books, but there are too many titles. This is your chance, choose a book that’s been written by your fave author but you haven’t got time to read it before.
10. It’s Been There Forever: Pick up a book that has been there on your shelf for more than a year, clean up the dust and start to read it now
11. Movies vs Books: You’ve seen the movie adaptation (or planned to see it soon) but never had time to read the book. It’s time to read it now, so you can compare the book vs the movie
12. Freebies Time: What’s the LAST free book you’ve got? Whether it’s from giveaway, a birthday gift or a surprise from someone special, don’t hold back any longer. Open the book and start reading it now
13. Not My Cup of Tea: Reach out to a genre that you’ve never tried (or probably just disliked) before. Whether it’s a romance, horror or non fiction, maybe you will find a hidden gem!
14. Walking Down The Memory Lane: Ever had a book that you loved so much as a kid? Or a book that you wish you could read when you were just a child? Grab it now and prepare for a wonderful journey to the past. Comic books or graphic novels are allowed!
Fancy signing up too?  Head HERE!

2013: The Year of No Challenges

Image found here
I had originally planned to write and post a review today but really?  New Year’s Day?  Who was I kidding?  I have instead read part of my book, felt queasy, gone for a walk, drunk a lot of coffee and mulled over the fact that I’m back at work tomorrow.  No reviewing going on here, then. 

Still, it’s a new year and a new year deserves a new post.  

2012 saw me sign up for 3 challenges that committed me to read a total of 28 books.  My official “books read” total for the year was 58.  If I’d completed all of my challenges, nearly half of my reading would have been pre-determined.  Put another way, I would have had to read at least 2 challenge books per month.  If I’d thought it through a little bit more, I think I would have realised that that was a little silly.

2013 will be started with a clean slate and will be a year of no challenges.  Not even a target number on GoodReads!  I’ve actually seen a few posts over the past few weeks with challenge-fatigued bloggers bowing out of the fray for this year. I have very nearly succumbed over the past few weeks but I realised that it was actually the browsing through my shelves and making lists of the fabulous books that I own and can’t wait to get to that I enjoyed the most.  Once those lists are ready?  I’m not too fussed about reading from them…:-/

I do have some general thoughts about what I want to get out of my reading in 2013, though.  For one, I want to read more classics and literary fiction.  Reaching for the YA is fun and easy but it isn’t overly fulfilling all the time and I want to read more of the books that give my brain something to chew on.  Also, I want to read more epic fantasy. I used to think nothing of picking up 1,000 page tomes but in the quest for a higher number of books read in a year.  This year, I haven’t set a target for the number of books that I want to “get through” and, although I will of course keep track, it won’t be any kind of driver in what I choose to read.

I will still be taking part in a few read-a-thons and will be keeping an eye out for a read-a-long or two.  Just those that are a little more…relaxed 🙂

So that’s it: 2013 – more classics, more tomes and less fuss.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, FELLOW READERS!  I hope you all have superb years!

Challenges from 2012: Conceding Defeat

Over the past few weeks, a whole host of challenges for 2013 have been emerging and waving their little challenge-y arms around to lure in unsuspecting bloggers.  Before I get all carried away and sign up for some, I thought it was about time that I drew a line under those that I gallantly signed up for this time last year.

To complete the challenges that I signed up for (including my GoodReads target of reading 75 books this year), I’d have to read a grand total of 43 books in December.  Even if I were to quit my job and stay at home all day everyday, I still wouldn’t be able to read enough books!  Hence my bowing out early…

hosted by Hanna @ Booking in Heels

I was the most excited about this challenge and the books that I’ve read out of the bunch (albeit maybe not this year…) are fantastic!  It’s a list that I really do plan on keeping hold of and will hopefully finish some time during 2013.  They coincide nicely with my aim to read more literary/classic fiction next year.  Anyway, the challenge was to read the stories that inspired the quirky characters in the film ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ during 2012.  The 9 books were:

1.  King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard (Allan Quartermain)
2.  Dracula by Bram Stoker (Mina Harker)
3.  20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (Captain Nemo)
4.  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (Tom Sawyer)
5.  The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (Dorian Gray)
6.  The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde)
7.  The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells (Rodney Skinner)
8.  The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (The Phantom)
9.  The Final Solution by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (James Moriarty)

I read Dracula by Bram Stoker (review here) towards the end of 2011 and Hanna being the kindly soul that she is allowed me to count it.  I read Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux back in July but was too busy chastising myself for how far behind in reviewing to actually write a review.  I will post on before the end of December so that I don’t end up with my “official” total being ONE.  

I have read The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (review here) and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louise Stevenson (review here) during the lifetime of Lit Addicted Brit and had meant to post something to freshen up the reviews but…well, you know how it is :-/

Sorry, Hanna!!

hosted by Adam @ RoofBeamReader


This is probably the challenge that would have been the most “valuable” to complete because I have some almost certainly truly great novels sat patiently on my shelves that for an array of rubbish reasons I never seem to get to.  Looking back over the list that I put together, I have been an idiot not to get to any of them.  Maybe my mistake was not looking back at my list often enough, because now that I have, all I want to do is rush upstairs and grab one of these and get stuck in.  I might be a little bit cheeky and use the exact same list for 2013 but actually READ them this time!  There’s an outside chance that we might be moving house and if we do, I’m fairly sure that my money will be going on paint and soft furnishings, rather than books…

1.  The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams
2.  The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
3.  Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
4.  The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
5.  The Boy I Love by Marion Husband
6.  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larrson
7.  Arthur and George by Julian Barnes
8.   Dark Angel by Sally Beauman
9.  A Changed Man by Francine Prose
10.  December by Elizabeth H. Wainthrop
11.  The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
12.  Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann
I might get to one before the end of this year but it’s more likely that these will be rolling on to 2013…

Again, this is one that I was super excited about.  I meant to read more classics this year but never really got enthusiastic about that aim until later in the year.  After a little break over the summer and a few misguided bookish choices, I read The Secret History by Donna Tartt (review here) and had an “OH MY GOSH – THIS IS WHY I READ” moment that re-kindled my desire to read some wonderful literary/classic fiction.  I’m thinking of signing up for the super aim of reading 50 classics in 5 years but whether I do or I don’t, the following will be ones that I WILL GET TO.  Soon.
1.  The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
2.  Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
3.  Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
4.  Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
5.  1984 by George Orwell
6.  Turn of the Screw by Henry James
7.  The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Soon.

So that’s the catalogue of my failures this year!  I’m not too sad about it because May/June were strange months that had a more lasting impact on my reading than I’d anticipated even at the time.  I’ve got back into reading really fantastic books over the past couple of months and am genuinely looking forward to whatever 2013 has in store!  

What about you?  How have you fared in the reading challenges that you took on?  I hope a little more successfully than me!!  🙂

Roof Beam Reader’s Magical March Reading Challenge

So it seems that Adam at Roof Beam Reader has a knack for coming up with challenges that I find near impossible to resist! This time it’s the… 




Purpose: To read and review works of Fantasy, Science-Fiction, or Magical Realism (for my literary folks).

Details:

From now until March 4th, the Mister Linky widget will be available so people can sign-up to p
articipate in the Magical March Reading Challenge. 


Throughout the month of March, a Mister Linky will be available for pre-registered challengers to link-up their qualifying reviews. There are different “classes” of magician, outlined below, and completion of the various levels could earn you a prize!

Other: There will be “Weekly Wand Mini-Challenges” posted on each Saturday of the month. These could be trivia challenges, random tasks, blogger treasure hunts, etc. Winners of each challenge will earn a Wand, and those Wands will be tracked to be entered to win another magical prize!

The Levels:


Magician’s Class: 1-2 Books Read & Reviewed 1 Book $10 or Less

Sorcerer’s Class: 3-5 Books Read & Reviewed 1 Book $12 or Less

Wizard’s Class: 6-7 Books Read & Reviewed 1 Book $15 or Less

Grand Merlin Class: 8+ Books Read & Reviewed 1+ Book(s) $20 or Less


You don’t have to visit here too often to work out that fantasy is my favourite genre.  If I’m feeling in a slump or in need of a comfort read, it’s where I turn.  My reading and blogging in 2012 so far has been haphazard, which is irritating me, so it makes sense I suppose that I turn to a fantasy based reading challenge to get back “in the zone”, as it were.

I’m going to aim for Sorcerer’s Class and, although I will no doubt change my mind (I’m contrary like that), my current plan is to read:

Beyond the Shadows by Brent Weeks

The Ranger’s Apprentice 1: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan 
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett 


For the rules and the sign-up post, head over here. You know you want to!

The 2012 TBR Challenge: Sign-up Post

Last December, I eagerly signed up for the 2011 TBR Challenge, hosted by Adam at Roof Beam Reader.  As I posted a few weeks ago, I wasn’t too successful!  I managed a paltry 4 out of the 12 books on my list before I got distracted.

To temper the shame, I figured I would give it another try.  All 4 of the books that I finally read as part of the 2011 challenge were fantastic and I just know that there must be a ton of other hidden gems lurking on my shelves.

SO what’s the challenge about?

The Goal:  To finally read 12 books from your “to be read” pile (within 12 months)

Specifics:  Each of these 12 books must have been on your bookshelf or “To Be Read” list for AT LEAST one full year.  This means the book cannot have a publication date of 1/1/2011 or later (any book published in the year 2010 or earlier qualifies, as long as it has been on your TBR pile – [Adam] WILL be checking publication dates).  Caveat:  Two (2) alternates are allowed, just in case one or two of the books end up in the “can’t get through” pile



For more of the rules and the part where you SIGN UP – click here
My choices for 2012 are:  

1.  The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams
2.  The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
3.  Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
4.  The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
5.  The Boy I Love by Marion Husband
6.  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larrson
7.  Arthur and George by Julian Barnes
8.   Dark Angel by Sally Beauman
9.  A Changed Man by Francine Prose
10.  December by Elizabeth H. Wainthrop
11.  The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
12.  Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann

A couple of these are reappearances from last year but I suppose that just means that they’ve been hanging around that little bit longer.  The vast majority have moved house with me at least twice, meaning they have been in my company since at least 2009.  It’s more than past time I let them see some action!

Here’s to hoping my attempt for 2012 goes better than my woeful try in 2011!

2012: A Classics Challenge

Every year, I tell myself that I will be a “better” reader and that I’ll read more classics.  Every year, I do manage to read a couple and, on the whole, really enjoy them.  So why don’t I read more?  Who knows?  This year will be different! 

There are a few classics challenges around but this one over at November’s Autumn is part challenge and part blog hop, which is a combination I love the sound of!  In Katherine’s own words, the challenge will go something like this:  

Read seven works of Classic Literature in 2012

Only three of the seven may be re-reads

How Does it Work?

I’ve organized this challenge to work a little like a blog hop. I hope this will make it more interactive and enjoyable for everyone.

Instead of writing a review as you finish each book (of course, you can do that too), visit November’s Autumn on the 4th of each month from January 2012 – December 2012.

You will find a prompt, it will be general enough that no matter which Classic you’re reading or how far into it, you will be able to answer. There will be a form for everyone to link to their post. I encourage everyone to read what other participants have posted.

Although I might change my mind as I go, my initial seven choices are these:  

1.  The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

I’ve read many a review of this one and all of them have been glowing.  An adventure novel set across France, Italy and the Mediterranean sounds perfect for reading in the summer.

2.  Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

While studying for my degree, I did a lot of legal theory modules and loved them.  Call me crazy but I find the philosophy and theory behind law and how/if systems reflect social norms and morality.  I guess this means that I should read this sooner or later…

3.  Tess of the D’Urbevilles by Thomas Hardy

I got a really lovely book about Thomas Hardy from a UK publisher that I’m looking forward to getting into.  Before I do, though, I think I should read something written by him…this is my random choice because it’s the one I’ve heard of the most!

4.  Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Does this count?  I hope so!  I know that generally it’s lauded as a great book and it’s about 50 years old so that’ll do for me.  Plus, it’s sci-fi and I like sci-fi.

5.  1984 by George Orwell

My dad has been bugging me to read this for years.  It would be nice if I could actually read it and make him happy.  Plus, it’s another of those books that I know I should read.  

6.  Turn of the Screw by Henry James

I had planned on getting to this when I did a readathon in October.  I’m still kind of in the mood for ghost stories because it’s gloomy and blustery and they seem appropriate for that kind of weather.  I have this on my eReader and quite fancy it (despite some less than glowing reviews that I’ve seen recently…).  

7.  The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

I went to see a film at the cinema a few years ago (that I think was called ‘Easy A‘) that referenced this book throughout.  It was an amusing enough film and made me want to read this.  Then I never got round to it.  Described as a “romantic work of fiction in a historical setting” – sounds nice!  Apparently it also explores legalism, sin and guilt.  I think I’m looking forward to reading this the most!  

So those are my choices (for the time being)!  If you fancy joining in this challenge too, the sign-up post is here 

2011 Challenges: Some success and some idiocy

At the start of this year, I signed up for three challenges:  The 2011 TBR Challenge hosted at Roof Beam Reader; The 2011 eBook Challenge hosted at The Ladybug Reads…;and, The 2011 Outdo Yourself Challenge hosted at The Book Vixen. 

Of course, it isn’t the end of 2011 yet so I can’t definitively say how I’ve done but, seeing as the sign-ups for 2012 challenges are coming up thick and fast, it seemed about time to have a quick review of where I am!

The 2011 TBR Challenge

The twelve books I chose were:  

1.  Arthur and George by Julian Barnes
2.  The Night Watch by Sarah Walters
3.  Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
4.  The Girl at Lion D’Or by Sebastian Faulks  Finished 23 February
5.  Possession by A.S. Byatt
6.  Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke Finished 12 September
7.  To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
8.  The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde Finished 3 April
9.  A Changed Man by Francine Prose
10.Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann
11.Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier Finished 19 January
12.Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

As is pretty clear, I’ve done a woeful job of getting through these.  But every one of them that I have read has been brilliant, so I have high hopes for those that remain.  I may well get to a couple of them before the year is out but I’m thinking that the best case scenario for me will be half of them read.  Not great but could be worse, I think. 

The idiocy part:  I had actually convinced myself that Dracula by Bram Stoker and The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde were both on this list.  I’m a fool, that’s all there is to it.  Both of those also turned out to be wonderful too so I don’t begrudge them their spots on my Read List for 2011. I’m not proud of that…

Overall:  Not great…is it wrong that I might re-join this challenge for 2012 and re-use some of the books I didn’t get to?  :-s


The 2011 eBook Challenge


When I joined this challenge, I was a fledgling eReader user.  I signed up, however, for the top level of reading 20 eBooks in the year.  

So far this year I’ve read 24 eBooks, including a recent run of 6 in a row (an all-time high, if you’re interested).  

Overall:  Success!  Hurrah!!


The 2011 Outdo Yourself Challenge

The idea was simple:  read more in 2011 than you did in 2010.  Again, I can’t quite say how I’m going to do on this as it’s purely a numbers game.  

In 2010, I read 48 books.  I aimed to read at least 11 books more than that.  So far this year, I’ve read 43 books.  

That gives me 5-6 weeks (or something like that…) to read 16 books and hit my goal of 59 books.  

I wish I had a better excuse but, really, it’s just come down to me being a heck of a lot busier in my professional life than ever before, my choosing some whopping books this year (e.g. the 1,000 + page Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell) and moving house.  Although that was at the beginning of the year, the weekends of decorating and DIY took their toll early on.  

Overall:  Lets have a little positive thinking – it’s not even December yet!  I can totally make the result a little less embarrassing in that time!  YEH!

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I hope you’ve all had fun with the challenges you chose and (maybe) did a little better than I did 🙂  But the fun’s the main thing, everybody says, so I hope that mostly you had that!

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Book Challenge 2012

Putting aside my general horror that it’s already time for 2012 challenge posts for a moment, I wanted to post my sign-up to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Book Challenge 2012 hosted at Booking in Heels before it got to January and I realised that I’d forgotten…

I couldn’t put it better than Hanna herself so, straight from the sign-up page, is a summary of the challenge:  


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Welcome to the first ever book challenge hosted by Booking In Heels!

This is a challenge I’ve not seen anywhere else and was something I was planning to do on my own next year anyway, so I figured the more the merrier!

For those who don’t know, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was a film released in 2003 based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore (of Watchmen fame). The movie features various classic book characters who all form a League to stop various classic villians from taking over the world. 

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read the original book featuring each of the main characters and post a review of each between 1st January 2012 and the 31st December. 

Every single one of these books is out of copyright (which is how they could be used in the first place) and so are free for download on most e-book readers. 

Even if you don’t complete the challenge, it’s great fun watching the film and knowing a little more about the characters! 

The main characters and their books are:

Allan Quatermain from King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard
Allan Quatermain actually features in a number of books by this author, but King Solomon’s Mines is the first. It tells of a search of an unexplored region of Africa by a group of adventurers led by Allan Quatermain for the missing brother of one of the party.  

Quite obviously, he’s played by Sean Connery in the film.

Mina Harker from Dracula by Bram Stoker

  Mrs. Harker is the only woman in the League. As the widow of Jonathon Harker, she is left with vampiric abilities that come in useful when dealing with nefarious plots to take over the world.

She’s played by Peta Wilson.

Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne

Nemo is the enigmatic Captain of the Nautilus, the technologically advanced submarine that provides transport for the League.

I read this book earlier this year (looks like I’ll be rereading it next year…) and loved it.

Tom Sawyer from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Sawyer is my least favourite member of the League and the last member to join. As a young American go-getter, is adopted as a kind of protege by Quatermain.

He’s played by Shane West, I believe.

Dorian Gray from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Excuse me while I run off to drool… If I could nuzzle and lick this man, trust me I would. Anyway, this is Dorian Gray and his Picture.

In the film, Mr. Gray is played by Stuart Townsend and is a snide, suave, sophisticated cad who is only roped into the League to get closer to Mina.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

This is probably the most famous book used in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but it’s an excellent one. Dr. Jekyll (right) is an innocuous, moral Doctor until he takes a formula of his own invention which transforms him into the violent, brutal Mr. Hyde (right).

His/their services are offered to the League in return for a pardon for their crimes committed in London.

Played by Jason Flemyng in the film.  

Rodney Skinner from The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells (kind of)

 Skinner is the only member of the League not to be taken directly from the pages of a book. The Invisible Man is still copyrighted so the characters from that book couldn’t be used directly. Instead, Skinner claims to have stolen the Invisibility Formula from the character in the book, which makes it all nice and legal.


The Phantom from The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
And now we’re onto the villains. Yay villains!

love how they’ve done the Phantom in the film – it’s a step away from the traditional white mask and black cape combo. It just works so well.

James Moriarty from The Final Problem by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The ultimate baddie, the mastermind behind it all, the ‘Napoleon of Crime!’

No photo for this one, but if you’ve seen the film, you’ll know who I mean.



Right then. That’s nine books to read in twelve months.


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I’m not the fastest, as you may have noticed, but there are more than a few books on this last that I really want to read so I figure it’s well worth squeezing these 9 into 2012.  Plus, it gives me an excuse to dig out the film again!  Every time I’ve watched it in the past, I’ve annoyed my boyfriend by bleating/wondering about who is who and who wrote them and what book they were in. Now at least I won’t be doing the wondering part!  

Even if you’ve never seen the film, the books that it draws from look awesome so go over and sign up!  🙂