Challenges / Memes / Greetings


June 20, the last day of my two challenges has come and gone.  I hang my head in failure of completing Once Upon A Time IV and Spring Reading Thing 2010.    Shame, shame as only a half read book stands in the way of a satisfying finish.   Mortal Love by Elizabeth Hand is my Waterloo.

Blame should not fall on this book.  On the contrary, Mortal Love is very intriguing and seems to be well written; however it is the kind that demands more than the usual attention and a certain amount of concentration I could not give.  Reading a few pages at a time isn’t the right way to approach this novel.

It would be unfair to review a book  one has not thoroughly read down to its last page.  So I shall set this book aside for a better time and mood.

In the meantime, there is still no getting away from the fact that I did not complete challenges which I undertook to goad me to read what was on my shelf.  Nevertheless, despite my failure to stick to the challenge list, I deviated to light reading borrowed from others in these hectic months so as not to miss out on a good hobby.  At least I still got some reading done.  🙂  Guess I now have to get down to brass tacks with my Chunkster Challenge.  Only about seven more months to go!  Yeah, there’s still time but with a mountain of pages and my schedule, good luck to me!

Since I’m on a roll here with challenges, I decided to add just one more to get around to reading what has been forever in my TBR — my chunksters.   Every time I look at those daunting mountains of pages, I silently give them a promise of tomorrow. Tomorrow for these doorstops, though,  never comes.

February 1, 2010 - january 31, 2011

Hence, the 2010 Chunkster Reading Challenge for all those lazy bones, too weary to read a 500-page tome from their pile!  This challenge runs from February  1, 2010 ’til January 31, 2011.  Although this post is over a month late, there’s still time to hunker down with our thick, fat books and get reading them over and done with.  Who knows, six hundred pages  may just not be enough if you’re loving the story.

To participate in this challenge, you need to pick an option (with their funny titles) and commit to  them for the year :

1.  The Chubby Chunkster — at least 3 books

2.  Do These Books Make my Butt Look Big? — at least 4 books

3.  Mor-book-ly Obese — at least 6 books  OR 3 tomes of 750 pages or more

Not any thick volume , though, qualifies as a chunkster.  A chunkster in this challenge is an ADULT fiction or non-fiction book ,450 pages or more if printed with an average typeset or 525 pages or more if done in large fonts.  A book categorized as YA then does not qualify as, being light and easy reads, do not really fit in the host’s idea of a challenge.  Tee hee!  Tough luck, huh?

Since I’ve been eyeing my tomes with trepidation, I choose the easiest option, The Chubby Chunkster.

My three picks for this challenge are :

1108 pages

Review :  The October Horse — Colleen McCullough

650 pages

Review :  Wolf Hall —- Hilary Mantel

900 pages

Review :  The Crimson Petal and the White — Michel Faber

Ok, no turning back now….

March 20 - June 20, 2010

Since I signed up for the Once Upon A Time reading challenge, I wondered what Callapidder Days, another blog where I joined last year’s Fall Into Reading Challenge 2009, had up for this season.  I was delighted to find out that it started Spring Reading Thing 2010. Its time period of March 20-June 20, 2010 coincides nicely with my other reading challenge.

Although spring is non-existent where I’m at, and instead I’m right smack in the middle of a burning summer, this challenge is still right up my alley because one has the choice of piling on the pressure or not. That and the fact that I love to collect pretty buttons for my sidebar.  😀

All this challenge wants is that you set your reading goals, whatever they may be, and simply enjoy your books.  No pressure for reviews, blog posts, number of books to read, and all that.  Hopefully on the way, this challenge will help you discover new books and authors through reviews posted by more blog-inclined members.

For this challenge, I shall use the same list of books I have set in  Once Upon A Time IV .  Kill two birds with one stone, and all that…

Again, my list :

1.  Anansi Boys —- Neil Gaiman  

2.  Last of the Amazons —- Steven Pressfield 

3.  The Secret Ingredient — Jane Heller 

4.  Mortal Love —- Elizabeth Hand

5.  Hush, Hush —– Becca Fitzpatrick 

I’ll definitely be adding more if I get to be done with this list before time’s up, my ultimate goal being to reduce ze TBR pile.  In this vein, another self-imposed law then is necessary:  no new books! Everything must come from my pile as of this date, March 23.

With these two goals in mind, it’s on with the challenge…

Pat of Here, There and Everywhere (2nd Edition) writes about another reading challenge by Stainless Steel Droppings.  A great site with a very gothic feel to it,  it hosts the annual  R.I.P.  Challenge which leads readers to discover new books in the gothic, horror, mystery, thriller, suspense, and dark fantasy genres.

This year, between March 21 to June 20, the site poses the Once Upon A Time IV reading challenge.  To get into the spirit, the “challengee” must settle on a book or books on any or all four categories :  fantasy, folklore, mythology,  fairy tale.

As with the other challenges of the site, Once Upon A Time IV strives to be flexible.  From allowing  just a one-book read for the entire period to demanding a tackling of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” in addition to four books,  the challenge permits readers  to choose just how much pressure they would like to take on.

My option of choice,  Quest the First, challenges me to read a total of five books in any of the four genres mentioned.

I’ve chosen my five to be :

Genre : Fantasy

Review :  Anansi Boys — Neil Gaiman   

Genre : Mythology

Review :  Last of the Amazons — Steven Pressfield 

Genre : Fairy Tale

Review :  Mortal Love — Elizabeth Hand

Genre : Fantasy

Review : Hush Hush—Becca Fitzpatrick

Genre : Fantasy

Review : The Secret Ingredient — Jane Heller  

A red check mark indicates that the book  has been read.   You may find the links to my reviews just below each one.

I’m looking forward to an escapist summer.  Hope I get a vacation to go with my books.

smiley

Before New Year’s Eve is upon us, let me list my reads for 2010 on my On The Shelf page.  See them here.

I shall only list a few first then simply add as I go along.

As a personal challenge, I intend to stick to these reads and purchase new books sparingly.  My goal for this coming year is to make a serious dent in my TBR pile.

Now that I have made a New Year’s resolution, let me wish you all :

Peter of KyusiReader suggested that I post my best and worst books for 2009.  So, for this year’s wrap-up, here’s my list of faves and flops (in no particular order):

Most Enjoyable:

1.   Gates of Fire ————————-   Steven Pressfield

2.   The Historian ————————   Elizabeth Kostova

3.   Before The Dawn ———————  Nicholas Wade

4. Exile ———————————–  Richard North Patterson

5.   Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell —Susanna Clark

6.   Memoirs of a Geisha —————-  Arthur Golden

7.   The Book of Joe ———————  Jonathan Tropper

8. The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters – Gordon Dahlquist

9.   The Shack —————————–  William P. Young

10.  The Eyre Affair ———————   Jasper Fforde

11.   Remember Me? ——————–    Sophie Kinsella

12.   Good Omens ————————   Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

13.   The Last Time I Saw Mother ——-   Arlene J. Chai

Most Disappointing :

1.    Full Bloom —————————   Janet Evanovich and Charlotte Hughes

2.    Danse Macabre ———————-   Laurell K. Hamilton

3.    Day of Confession ——————     Allan Folsom

4.    The Scot, The Witch and The Wardrobe — Annette Blair

In terms of discovering great stories and authors, I must say 2009 has been quite a profitable reading year for me with only four duds to mar the good streak.

As we approach the end of this year, let me make an assessment of my reading progress  before I turn to greet the New Year armed with another set of resolutions.

With only about forty three books reviewed,  I’ve been very slow indeed.  A lot of  books on my ON THE SHELF page are still waiting to be picked up (those not bordered in red) as my choices have diverted from the list from time to time.

This year has not seen too much reading and blogging activity on my part, with major slacking during the summer months.  I had a reading slump early this year which I attribute to distraction from other interests.

This is also a year where I’ve discovered that reading challenges actually do me good.  They goad me to stick to my reading list and finish them within the deadline.  So for 2010, I shall be joining more.

No formulated New Year resolutions yet except to exceed this year’s dismal reading record.   But the most important thing I should remember before racing toward that goal is enjoyment.  No point reading without it.  🙂

That being said, let me wish all of you :

KyusiReader posted a fun meme which I’d like to get into as well.

7 things I lve (aside from books):

Freshly Baked Bread — Nothing beats the aroma and texture of a bun straight out from the oven.  Just slather on butter and indulge.  Simply divine.

(Photo from My Recipes)

Soft, fluffy fur — Running my hands through fluff is tactile heaven.  That’s why I love my pomeranian.

My Ipod Classic —  With almost 4,000 tunes from a variety of genres, I need hefty storage.  Plus, I can’t survive gym without this baby.

Presents ! —  Shopping for and receiving as well.  So, you can guess that Christmas is my favorite time of the year.

(Photo from XmasGifts.co.za )

Budgies —- They’re cute, lovable,  great companions.   My grandmother had at least one flying around in her room all the time; so, I’ve grown up pretty much around them.

A lovely cold glass of tart margarita —- The salt and slice of lime really make a perfect visual topping to my fave cocktail.

(Photo from According To Nina)

Herbs —- I especially love the smell of basil, mint, and lemongrass.

(Photo from Delish)

Everyone is tagged.  What are your 7 favorite things?  I’d love to see your list. 

Another good challenge completed satisfyingly earlier than the deadline.  I’ve enjoyed the no-pressure to read challenge although I took it upon myself to stick to the list I created and not deviate.  I started with eight titles and added two more to total 10 books (my list here) —actually a very lazy count given the generous three months the challenge runs on.    But at least I’ve made a small inroad, albeit a miniscule one, in my TBR pile and also in my On The Shelf books I’ve listed since I started this blog about a year ago.

As far as the Fall Into Reading 2009 is concerned, I have finished it; but I know my efforts are mediocre at best (in terms of volume)  and I hope to do better next time this challenge comes around.  So, I should have to dive into more books for next year’s Fall Into Reading challenge or pile on the pressure by joining more challenges, aside from this one.

For this exercise, I discovered wonderful Gothic authors like Elizabeth Kostova and Tobsha Learner with their books, The Historian and The Witch of Cologne, respectively,  as two of the best books I’ve read .   Both have exceptional writing styles and concepts that are worth your time imbibing.  But Richard North Patterson’s Exile comes out at the top as well being one of the best contemporary thrillers I’ve read in a long time for its current relevancy and well-researched, impartial presentation of the Mid-East crisis.   This is definitely a very informative book written to encourage your interest in very real world issues with a well-written exciting legal drama, that anyone concerned with the Arab-Israeli crisis should read.

A close second to these three would be William Young’s The Shack presenting deep Christian philosophies made simple for the average person, rendering the concepts even more inspiring with better understanding.

To Callapidder Days : a huge thank you for hosting the challenge.  I’ll certainly be back for the next.

Now that I’m done and done early, I promise to list several more next time this challenge comes around.

Yes! I’ve done it!  Finished my first challenge and just in a few days before the deadline, October 31st.

I read a total of five books.  See my list here.   Perhaps, I shall add to the list next time around.  Because of this challenge, I’ve discovered two authors I’ve added to my roster of favorites.   I’ve rated my best reads for this challenge to be The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dalhquist and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.   These novels are so original they are just in a league of their own.

It was a great experience and a lot of fun immersing myself  in the gothic / horror genre.  Next year will certainly see me in the R.I.P. challenge again, if only to get my hands on their next beautiful logo. Tee hee! 😀

My thanks to Stainless Steel Droppings for developing and hosting this annual event.

And to all of you:

HAPPY ALL HALLOW’S EVE!

I hadn’t realized until yesterday that last October 2nd, I had reached one year of blogging about books!

My 1st Bloggiversary!

I’m glad to note how far this blog has come in terms of readership.  It started out simply as a guilty exercise, a sort of purging by sharing what I’m reading to justify all those books for which I  suddenly had the compulsion to buy.   That and the fact that  I was casting around for a new hobby as well.

After a dearth of reading—I mean sparsely reading—for a number of years, I suddenly had this urge to know all about authors and the stories I’ve missed all this time.  I’ve been catching up since then.  But, I’m having the time of my life doing so!

I’ve discovered some really good authors, know whom to avoid, and actually widened my reading preferences by trying books recommended by other book-loving bloggers.

I’ve also managed to snag author William Napier‘s (Christopher Hart’s) thanks for my positive reviews on his Attila series:  The Gathering of the Storm (Book 2) and The Judgement (Book 3) . Wasn’t I flattered!

Best of all, though, I’ve come to meet other book lovers and know them bit by bit through their blogs, which I believe are as interesting as their personalities.

Writing is a chore (for me, that is).   I hadn’t flexed my pen since the formal theme days in highschool, which was an unmentionably looong time ago.  So for encouraging me to stick to this blog, thank you all very much!   I’m having so much fun!


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