Monstrous March – Reading Challenge

Kathy over at Books & Munches hosts a monthly reading challenge, and this month is Monstrous March. This simply means that you include at least one book on your TBR for March that qualifies as a “monstrous” book. This could be a book with monsters, characters behaving like monsters, or even a monstrously large book. Thrillers, suspense novels, horror, ghost stories and the like, all are fair game for March!

This challenge seems particularly timely for me as I have several thriller/suspense types coming up on my list that I can’t seem to get especially excited about. This challenge could prove just the thing to get me over this suspense novel slump and make room for more of the books I really want to read.

On my to-read list I have several books that will meet this challenge, including:

  • Several of the Kinsey Milhone books by Sue Grafton
  • The Last Innocent Man, by Phillip Margolin
  • A handful of Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware books
  • Or how about a monstrous nonfiction – Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, by Jeremy Scahill

I will not get through all of them, but it would be nice to mark a few off the list. This is assuming, of course, that I don’t get completely sidelined by John Ringo’s Black Tide Rising series. Though, to be fair, these books also fit very neatly into this monstrous challenge. What isn’t monstrous about a zombie apocalypse?

Year of Clear Vision: 2020 Reading Challenge

I have decided to call 2020 the Year of Clear Vision. Seems obvious, and not very clever, I suppose. When I first had the idea, I wasn’t sure what exactly this meant for me, and so I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. The thought wouldn’t leave me, however, and I think I may have come up with a plan.

Clear vision means to me that I should have clearly defined goals I hope to accomplish in the year 2020. As this post specifically refers to my new reading challenge for 2020, I will list my clearly defined reading goals.

1. Finish reading all the books on my list of 100 books to read that I created in 2015.
In 2015 I was invited to join a group on Facebook, the premise of which was to create a list of 100 books to read before acquiring more. I filled my list with books on my overcrowded shelves, trying to focus on the ones I’d had the longest. I started out not really anticipating that I could possibly read 100 books in a year, but I was going to give it an honest try.

Well, I failed miserably at the original goal. The Facebook group in the meantime has all but disappeared. My list, on the other hand, has not. I still have 47 books on my original list that I have not read yet. As I have managed to read over 100 books each the past two years, I don’t see it as impossible to finish this list once and for all. It’s about time to move on to the next 100 unread books sitting on my shelves!

2. Complete the 2020 Popsugar Reading Challenge by December 15.
If I plan things well and don’t allow myself too much distraction, this should not be impossible. I completed the Popsugar challenge in 2018, but it took me right up to December 31. In 2019, I was behind on the reading challenge all year, and failed to complete the challenge by 3 books. That’s because I foolishly took on a second reading challenge which made it very difficult to allow for “extra” books. And that’s just no fun.

3. If I start a series, I will give myself permission to finish it.
One drawback to the yearly reading challenge is that it isn’t always possible to include an entire series in the challenge. This often means that I will read one book in a series, but be unable to continue with it if I hope to stay on target with my reading challenge. I want to have the flexibility to finish reading an entire series if the mood strikes me. Without feeling guilty about it.

4. Write the review within a week of finishing the book.
The biggest issue I’ve had this year with trying to read so many books, is I haven’t been able to keep up with writing and posting reviews. In 2020 my goal is to write and post my review within a week of finishing the book in question. With a smaller challenge, this should be very doable as I won’t feel so much pressure to immediately pick up the next book in line, without taking the time to write my thoughts about the first one.

So, there are my clearly defined reading goals for the new year. I’ve already planned my list of books I’ll read for the 2020 Popsugar reading challenge, and I’ll post that soon.

In 2019, I failed to complete my reading challenge. Because of that, I’ve really tried to keep this year’s goals simple and manageable. I overextended myself last year and it made things less fun. I’d like for this year to be more fun, while still challenging.

What are you reading in 2020? Are you participating in any reading challenges? What are your specific reading goals?

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: Officially Unofficially Participating

I didn’t actually sign up officially to participate in the Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon. Though I had a blast with it when I’ve participated before, I wasn’t sure I was up for the challenge this time. However, as the opening hour approached, I found myself still awake. I decided what was the harm in trying? All it really means is reading as much as possible. Which is something I’d like to do anyway.

So, here I am, reading along again with countless other Dewey’s participants. I don’t have an official TBR. I’ll only read what I was already reading before making the decision to participate. That would be:

  • Mad Ship, by Robin Hobb (physical book) – currently on page 241
  • The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt (ebook) – currently at 11%
  • The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy (audio) – 9 hr 24 min remaining

There are always other random books and things I’ll read throughout the 24 hours. My day always starts with Bible reading and a short devotional. I have a separate book I’m currently reading with each of my three children. I will read emails, tweets and blogs about Dewey’s and other things.

As usual, life will intervene and I will be unable to read for an entire 24 hours. Soccer season opens today with the first games. With two playing this season, I’ll spend a good chunk of time on the field. In the rain. Without reading material.

I’ll get tired. And I’ll get hungry. My family will need things from me. I’m supposed to write 500 words today for my Camp NaNoWriMo project. I will do these other things, but I will also read. A lot. But unofficially, because I’m not really signed up for this.

Are you participating in Dewey’s Readathon? What are you planning to read?

The Color of February

It’s February 14th – Valentine’s Day. A day of red heart boxes filled with chocolate, red roses, red balloons and red cards filled with sappy sentiments. Red is the color of February. Right?

Well, it turns out, red is the color of my reading list this month. It wasn’t intentional, but I’m really loving the red this month.

Shadowheart, by Tad Williams – the one I should be reading, but haven’t started yet
Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – the library book I’m actively reading
Ship of Magic, by Robin Hobb – the one I just can’t leave alone
Bloodwitch, by Susan Dennard – the brand new release I couldn’t wait to get my hands on

It’s the perfect line-up for February, don’t you think? (Yes, I added the sappy decorations to the already gorgeous covers.) Red really is the color of February.

What have you “red” so far this month?

Happy Valentine’s Day! And happy reading!

Fantastic February – Fantasy Reading Challenge

Thanks to Kathy over at Books & Munches, for hosting this mini reading challenge! The plan is to read anything fantasy or paranormal while working to whittle away at the TBR. Good news for me, my TBR is full of fantasy fiction!

I’m currently working my way through Tad Williams’s Shadowmarch series. I’m on book three at the moment, hoping to finish it soon. More than likely, book four, Shadowheart, will carry over into February.

I’ve also been reading the Realm of the Elderlings series, by Robin Hobb, along with a Goodreads group I’m part of. I’ve fallen behind the rest of the group, but I’m still working my way through the books. I’ve fallen hard for Robin Hobb, and I have no doubt I’ll keep reading no matter how far behind I get. I’ve just started the second trilogy, The Liveship Traders, so I expect I’ll still be reading Ship of Magic in February. Hopefully, I’ll manage to move on to Mad Ship before the month ends.

I will also continue reading Eragon, by Christopher Paolini. I’m reading this with my youngest son who is completely in love with dragons right now. It’s possible I’ve encouraged this obsession just a little.

Some other fantasy books I am super excited about, though I may not get to them in February, are:

Bloodwitch, by Susan Dennard (due for release February 12!)
Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi

If I need a break from the massive series books above, I can pick up one of these for a bit instead.

Hooray for fantasy fiction!

The Year of Finishing: 2019 Reading Challenge List, Part Two – Popsugar

Though the ATY Reading Challenge caught my attention for 2019, the Popsugar Reading Challenge captured by interest first. And so, I couldn’t set it aside completely in favor of the ATY. As it turns out, the two lists work pretty well together in helping me to complete or continue several of the book series I’ve started in recent years. Between the two, I will be able to read many books I’ve been looking forward to for awhile.

Here is my list for the 2019 Popsugar Reading Challenge:

A book becoming a movie in 2019: Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer
A book that makes you nostalgic: The Black Stallion, by Walter Farley
A book written by a musician: The Reptile Room, by Lemony Snicket
A book you think should be made into a movie: Firefight, by Brandon Sanderson
A book with at least one million ratings on Goodreads: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J. K. Rowling
A book with a plant in the title or on the cover: The Witchwood Crown, by Tad Williams
A reread of a favorite book: The Dragonbone Chair, by Tad Williams
A book about a hobby: Otherland: City of Golden Shadow, by Tad Williams
A book you meant to read in 2018: Ship of Magic, by Robin Hobb
A book with “pop,” “sugar,” or “challenge” in the title: Pawn of Prophecy, by David Eddings
A book with an item of clothing or an accessory on the cover: Scarlet, by Marissa Meyer
A book inspired by mythology, legend or folklore: Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth, by Rick Riordan
A book published posthumously: The Girl Who Played With Fire, by Steig Larsson
A book you see someone reading on TV or in a movie: Red Mist, by Patricia Cornwell
A retelling of a classic: Second Star, by J. M. Sullivan
A book with a question in the title: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick
A book set on a college or university campus: A Slow Regard of Silent Things, by Patrick Rothfuss
A book about someone with a superpower: Calamity, by Brandon Sanderson
A book told from multiple character POVs: A Storm of Swords, by George R. R. Martin
A book set in space: A Soldier’s Duty, by Jean Johnson
A book by two female authors: Marked, by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
A book with a title that contains “sweet,” “bitter,” “salty,” or “spicy”: Sweet Myth-tery of Life, by Robert Asprin
A book set in Scandinavia: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, by Steig Larsson
A book that takes place in a single day: The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon
A debut novel: Elantris, by Brandon Sanderson
A book that’s published in 2019: Bloodwitch, by Susan Dennard
A book featuring an extinct or imaginary creature: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J. K. Rowling
A book recommended by a celebrity you admire: Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh
A book with “love” in the title: Love That Dog, by Sharon Creech
A book featuring an amateur detective: The Mystery of Ghost Island, Paul Moxham
A book about a family: A Dance with Dragons, by George R. R. Martin
A book written by an author from Asia, Africa or South America: Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A book with a Zodiac sign or astrology term in the title: The Well of Ascension, by Brandon Sanderson
A book that includes a wedding: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling
A book by an author whose first and last names start with the same letter: Cress, by Marissa Meyer
A ghost story: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J. K. Rowling
A book with a two word title: Grave Peril, by Jim Butcher
A novel based on a true story: A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
A book revolving around a puzzle or a game: Warcross, by Marie Lu
Your favorite prompt from a past PS Reading Challenge – 2015: A book with magic: Legacy of Kings, by C. S. Friedman
our favorite prompt from a past PS Reading Challenge – 2016: A book that’s more than 600 pages: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J. K. Rowling
Your favorite prompt from a past PS Reading Challenge – 2017: A book with a red spine: Mad Ship, by Robin Hobb
Your favorite prompt from a past PS Reading Challenge – 2018: A book set at sea: Ship of Destiny, by Robin Hobb
A “cli-fi” book: Parable of the Talents, by Octavia Butler
A “choose your own adventure” book: Space and Beyond, by R. A. Montgomery
An “own voices” book: Aru Shah and the End of Time, by Roshani Chokshi
Read a book in the season it is set in: Summer Knight, by Jim Butcher
A LitRPG book: Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
A book with no chapters / unusual chapter headings / unconventionally numbered chapters: Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman
Two books that share the same title: The Gunslinger, by Stephen King and Gunslinger Girl, by Lindsay Ely
A book that has inspired a common phrase or idiom: A Clash of Kings, by George R. R. Martin
A book set in an abbey, cloister, monastery, vicarage or convent: The Red Sister, by Mark Lawrence

The Year of Finishing: 2019 Reading Challenge List, Part One – ATY

The Popsugar Reading Challenge grabbed my attention toward the end of 2017 as I was finishing up my second year of reading challenges. I decided to give it a go and had a blast with it in 2018. So, when the time approached for the new list of prompts to be released, I waited anxiously along with thousands of other readers who follow the Popsugar group on Goodreads. I didn’t wait patiently, however, and I got drawn away by the 2019 Around the Year in 52 Books (ATY) reading list that had already been released. I told myself I would just take a look, see what the fuss is about. Well, I didn’t “just take a look” and I ended up signing on to do both reading challenges in 2019.

Here then, is the list of books I plan to read for the 2019 ATY Reading Challenge:

A book that was nominated for, or won an award in a genre you enjoy: The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman
A book with one of the 5 W’s in the title: The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill
A book with an author whose name contains A, T and Y: Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
A book with a criminal character: The Hero of Ages, by Brandon Sanderson
A book written or inspired by Shakespeare: The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt
A book with a dual time line: Dragon’s Triangle, by Christine Kling
Two books related to the same topic, genre or theme: Shadowrise and Shadowheart, by Tad Williams
A book from one of the top 5 money making genres: The Subtle Knife, by Philip Pullman
A book featuring a historical figure: Enchantée, by Gita Trelease
A book related to one of the 12 Chinese Zodiac animals: Eragon, by Christopher Paolini
A book about reading, books or an author/writer: The Clinic, by Jonathan Kellerman
A book from a New York Public Library’s Staff Picks list: The God of Small Things, by Arundati Roy
A book with a title, subtitle or cover related to an astronomical term: Time and Stars, by Poul Anderson
A book set in or by an author from a Mediterranean country: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne
A book told from multiple perspectives: Stone of Farewell, by Tad Williams
A speculative fiction: Otherland: River of Blue Fire, by Tad Williams
A book related to one of the elements on the periodic table of elements: Iron Gold, by Pierce Brown
A book by an author who has more than one book on your TBR: Otherland: Mountain of Black Glass, by Tad Williams
A book featuring indigenous people: Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor
A book for a suggestion from the ATY 2019 polls that was polarizing or a close call – A book where the protagonist enters another world: Otherland: Sea of Silver Light, by Tad Williams
A book with a number in the title or on the cover: Four, by Veronica Roth
A book inspired by the wedding rhyme #1 – something old: The Secret of the Old Clock, by Carolyn Keene
A book inspired by the wedding rhyme #2 – something new: New Spring, by Robert Jordan
A book inspired by the wedding rhyme #3 – something borrowed: The Borrowers, by Mary Norton
A book inspired by the wedding rhyme #4 – something blue: Something Blue, by Emily Griffin
A book from the 1001 books to read before you die list: War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
A book related to something cold: Winter, by Marissa Meyer
A book published before 1950: The Aeneid, by Virgil
A book featuring an elderly character: Gallow’s Hill, by Charles F. French
A children’s classic you’ve never read: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry! by Mildred D. Taylor
A book with more than 500 pages: To Green Angel Tower, by Tad Williams
A book you’ve owned for at least a year but haven’t read: Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse, by Rick Riordan
A book with a person’s name in the title: Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine
A psychological thriller: Twisted, by Jonathan Kellerman
A book featured on the NPR Best Books of the Year list: Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue
A book set in school or university: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J. K. Rowling
A book not written in traditional novel format: A Joyful Noise, by Paul Fleischman
A book with a strong sense of place or where the author brings the location/setting to life: The Rose and the Dagger, by Renee Ahdieh
A book you stumbled upon: The Tombs of Atuan, by Ursula K. LeGuin
A book from the 2018 Goodreads Choice Awards: The Martian, by Andy Weir
A book with a monster or monstrous character: Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters, by Rick Riordan
A book related to S.T.E.M.: I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
A book related in some way to a TV show/series or movie you enjoyed: The Black Panther Epic Collection, by Don McGregor
A multi-generational saga: There There, by Tommy Orange
A book with a (mostly) black cover: Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian, by Rick Riordan
A book related to food: A Feast for Crows, by George R. R. Martin
A National Book Award finalist or winner from any year: Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
A book written by a Far East Asian author or set in a Far East Asian country: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See
A book that includes a journey: Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne
A book published in 2019: The Empire of Grass, by Tad Williams
A book with a weird or intriguing title: The Last Innocent Man, Phillip Margolin