Monday, December 16, 2013

What those stars mean

I am planning to do more reviewing on this blog in the upcoming year. I find that reviewing books helps me to remember what I liked and didn't like about a book, and gives me insight into future choices. I do review a few of my books on Goodreads, but not enough.

I do, however, give most of them a star rating. I've thought about those ratings a lot. I mean, any system that allows me to give Middlemarch the same four stars that I gave to the last James Patterson book I read requires some explaining.

So here, for anyone who cares, is the scoop.

Five Stars: I don't give five stars very often. To get five stars a book has to be very well-written. It has to be a classic or something that I think is likely a future classic. There has to be something about it that lifts it above the ordinary. And I have to have enjoyed it. For this reason, The Brother's Karamazov, the excellence of which I can recognize, is not--for me--a five star book. Off the top of my head, Remains of the Day; Kristin Lavransdatter; and The Ocean at the End of the Lane are among the more recent books that I've given five stars to. I will not struggle to remember a five-star book a year after I read it.

Four Stars: The aforementioned James Patterson does not even have the possibility of being a five star book. The highest it is eligible for is four. I have two kinds of four star books. The first is the sort that Middlemarch or My Antonia represent. They are very good books and I enjoyed them. But they are not books that, when I finished, I hated to leave behind. They didn't leave me thinking, "Wow," but they were well worth reading.
The second kind of four star book is the James Patterson kind, but few of his merit the four. These are the predictable books, often in a series, by a popular author: Michael Connelly, the Kellermans, Agatha Christie; Brad Thor, etc. Among these sorts of books there is a huge range of objective quality, but if they got four stars it means that for what they are, they were very good. It doesn't mean that that last J.D. Robb or Kristin Hannah are of the same quality as Nicholas Nickleby or the Moonstone. Obviously. It just means that they were very enjoyable.

Three Stars: I gave a lot of books three stars this year. I am guessing that there are some books that have gotten four in the past that would have gotten three this year. Three star books are the classics that I like well enough, but not all that well. They are the series books that are decent, but not among the best. A lot of the lighter non-fiction that I read ends up here.

Two stars: Two star books are mostly readable, but flawed. It seems like, at some point, a lot of the authors that write lots of books about the same character(s) will start to slide into two-star territory. These aren't horrible books, but there are often issues with the writing. Or the writing is okay, but the story is just not clicking. Sometimes they drag. Or never really quite get where they are going.

One star: These are invariably unfinished by me. Usually they are badly written enough that I just can't stand to continue.

Challenge wrap-up: A Little Help from My Friends Challenge

I really didn't think that I was going to get this challenge finished, which would have been embarrassing, since it was my challenge. But then, suddenly, it was done. I did read one of my alternates and I have put the one book that I didn't read on my list for next year.

Since these are books that my friends recommended, I'm going to do a quick review of them. The good news is that several of them are among the best books that I read this year and there isn't a single one that was a waste of time or that I wish that I hadn't read.

 Kristin Lavransdatter  by Sigrid Undset: This was a really, really good book. Well, really it's three books, but they are really, really good. It is one of the best works of historical fiction that I have read and I have read a lot. It also made me want to learn more--or actually SOMETHING--about Norwegian history. This one is worth the effort. I will very likely read it again. (Five stars.)
 
Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery: I enjoyed Emily; I gave it four stars when I finished it, but eleven months later I really don't remember the book. 

 My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok: I will definitely read this again. I gave it five stars. What a lovely book.

Tam Lin by Pamela Dean: I felt like this book was far longer than it needed to be. I loved the underlying story, but got bored waiting for it to be told. Three stars.
 
 The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin: This was an entertaining read. I just wish I'd read it when I was a kid, but it wasn't written yet. Four stars.

 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor: This is one of those books that I had been meaning to read for years, and I'm really glad that I finally did. This goes on my books-you-should-read list. Four stars.

Middlemarch by George Eliot: Another book that I am glad that I finally got around to reading. I enjoyed the writing, the characters, and the story. Four stars here, too.

My Antonia by Willa Cather: This book has been floating around my house for years. I finally read it for this challenge and am glad I did. I won't read it again, and it didn't especially make me want to read more Cather, but it was good. Four stars.

Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny: Can I say how glad I am that I picked this book, which I'd never heard of before, to read for this challenge? In fact, I've read three more in the series, and will read the rest this coming year. Four stars.

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander : This was an enjoyable quick read, with some pretty obvious LOTR parallels. I will read the others in the series. Four stars.

I am really looking forward to this year's books. If they're as good as this year's I'm in for a treat!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

2014 Challenge Collection

I'm choosing to ease up a bit on the challenges this coming year. Not the number, I think I'm doing almost as many, but the types of challenges and the books that I choose for myself to fulfill the challenges are going to be different.

I already know that 2014 is going to be busy. I have sons graduating from high school and college. I have another son transferring to a different college. I have a grandchild coming who is going to be born 1,800 miles from here. And I have decided to revive a business that I had let lie for the past several years in hopes that I will be able to afford private college tuition for son #2 and possibly also get my kitchen redone in this decade. And, no, I'm not quitting my job.

All that said, here they are:
--The Vintage Mystery Bingo Challenge
--The Eclectic Reader Challenge
--The Foodies Read Challenge
--Read it Again, Sam Challenge
--Cruisin' Thru the Cozies
--Meet the Protagonist Challenge
--A Little Help from My Friends
--Dystopia Reading Challenge
--What's in a Name?
--Arthurian Lit Challenge
--2014 TBR Pile Challenge (Pre-set list)
--2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge
--You Read How Many Books?

I've also added a new two year challenge: A Century of Books.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Century of Books


One book for each year of the 20th century. I'm giving myself until the end of 2016. I will put some possibilities here and note when I finish books.

1905-------The House of Mirth----------(suggested)
1906-------The Jungle--------------
1901- Tale of Peter Rabbit
1902-Typhoon by Joseph Conrad (2/15/2016)
1903- Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (reread 2015)
1910-Lady Molly of Scotland Yard by Emmuska Orczy (4/17/2014)
1912-Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster (12/2016)
1915- Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters (5/24/2016)
1923-Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers (6/15/2014) 
1925-Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Wolff (4/30/2015)
1927-Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (10/27/2014)
1928-Grey Mask by Patricia Wentworth (1/29/2014)
1929- The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley (7/2/2014) 
1930-Enter the Saint by Leslie Charteris (8/24/2014)
1931-The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (11/20/2016) 
1933 - Lost Horizon by James Hilton (10/2017)
1934-A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh (11/16/2014) 
1935- It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis (4/5/2017)
1936-Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (4/22/2016)
1939-The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (10/4/2014)
1940-Betsy-Tacy by Maude Hart Lovelace (8/8/2016)
1942-Embers by Sandor Marai (1/28/2014)
1945-The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis (10/10/2014)
1946-Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey (3/1/2014) 
1950-Henny Penny by Paul Galdone (8/16/2015)
1951-The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1/18/2014) 
1952-Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (5/16/2014) 
1953- The ABC of Canapes by Edna Beilenson (11/22/2014)
1954-I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (3/24/2014) 
1957-The Wonderful O by James Thurber (10/21/2014) 
1958-Night by Elie Wiesel (9/24/2016)
1959 - The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut (1/7/2017)
1960- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
1965-The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander (2/13/2014) 
1966- The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein (6/10/2014) 
1969- Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (5/24/2016)
1971- Luvvy and the Girls by Natalie Savage Carlson (6/12/2014) 
1972- Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile by Bernard Waber (8/16/2015)
1973- Rendevous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke (9/2017)
1974- The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (8/20/2014)
1979- The Spring of the Tiger by Victoria Holt (9/3/2014)
1980-Wild Seed by Octavia Butler (8/4/2015) 
1981-Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (6/5/2016)
1982-The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (5/8/2014)
1985-Death of a Gossip by M.C. Beaton (12/19/2014)
1986-Redwall by Brian Jacques (11/22/2014)
1987-Lincoln's Dreams by Connie Willis (8/15/2014) 
1988-The Queen's Head by Edward Marston (8/14/2015)
1989-The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon (1/2014)

1990-A Life Worth Living by John Holt (1/15/2014) 
1991-Neither Here Nor There:Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson (12/14/2014) 
1992- Sabine's Notebook by Nick Bantock (2/1/2015) 
1993-Wouldn't Take Nothing for my Journey Now by Maya Angelou (1/2015) 
1994- Blind Justice by Bruce Alexander  (8/8/2015)
1995- Invader by C.J. Cherryh (7/8/2016)

1997- Midwives by Chris Bohjalian (7/7/2014) 
1998- The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and Women's Work by Kathleen Norris (9/24/2014) 
1999-King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild (11/28/2014)
2000-Brunelleschi's Dome by Ross King (1/9/2015)



You Read How Many Books? 2014

This is the challenge where I get to make my book list for the year. If there weren't a challenge, I would make a list anyway. The list is for me.

I am going for Level One, which is at least 100 books. That isn't really a challenge, normally, but some years life goes crazy and it is. (See 2011)

1. The Whole Enchilada by Diane Mott Davidson (1/6/2014) (Eclectic) (Cozies) (Foodie) (Protagonist)
2. The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon (1/7/2014) (Foodie) (Century)
3. The Narcisscism Epidemic by Jean Twenge (1/13/2014)  (Book Group)
4. S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst (1/15/2014)
5. A Life Worth Living by John Holt (1/15/2014) (Name) (Gaps) (Century) (Nonfiction) (TBR)
6. Murder on Monday by Ann Purser (1/17/2013) (Cozy) (Protagonist)
7. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1/18/2014) (Gaps) (Century) (Protagonist)
8. Allegiant by Veronica Roth (1/23/2014) (Dystopia)
9. Portrait in Death by J. D. Robb (1/25/2014) (Protagonist)
10. Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis (1/26/2014) (Friends) (Name) (TBR Pile) (TBR) (Gaps)
11.  Embers by Sandor Marai (1/28/2014) (Historical Fiction) (Protagonist) (Century) (Book Group)
12. The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston (1/28/2014) (TBRPile) (TBR) (Eclectic)(Nonfiction)
13. Grey Mask by Patricia Wentworth (1/29/2014) ( Vintage Mystery) (Century)
14. Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins (1/30/2014) (Friends)(Name)
15. After : Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia ed. by Ellen Datlow (2/3/2014) (Dystopia) (Eclectic)
16. Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins (2/5/2014)
17. Happiness Like Water by Chinelo Akparanta (2/5/2014)
18. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (2/7/2014) (Historical Fiction) (Friends)
19. Belle Cora by Phillip Marguiles (2/11/2014) (Historical Fiction) (Eclectic) (Protagonist)
20. The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander (2/13/2014) (Friends) (Eclectic) (Century)
21. Appetite for America by Stephen Fried (2/20/2014)
22. The Beach House by  Jane Green (2/21/2014) (Protagonist)
23. Cell by Robin Cook (2/24/2014) (Eclectic)
24. Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen (2/26/2014)
25. A Christmas Hope by Anne Perry (2/26/2014)
26. Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey (3/1/2014) (Vintage Mystery)(Century) (Cozies)
27. Where Monsters Dwell Jorgen Brekke (3/7/2014)
28. Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson (3/9/2014) (Historical Fiction) (Eclectic)
29. The Prince of Risk by Christopher Reich (3/11/2014)
30. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (3/13/2014) (Gaps)(Dystopia)
31. Midnight at Marble Arch by Anne Perry (3/16/2014)
32. Imitation in Death by J.D. Robb (3/20/2014)
33. Blind Justice by Anne Perry (3/23/2014)
34. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (3/24/2014) (Gaps)(Century)
35. The Ghost of the Mary Celeste by Valerie Martin (3/29/2014) (Historical Fiction)
36. The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne (3/31/2014)
37. Divided in Death by J.D. Robb (4/2/2014)
38. Comfort me With Apples by Ruth Reichl (4/4/2014) (Foodie) (Non-fiction)
39. Nefertiti by Michelle Moran (4/7/2014) (Historical Fiction) (Friends)
40. The Line by J.D. Horn (4/9/2014) (Ebook) (Eclectic)
41. Perfection by J.L. Spelbring (4/13/2014) (Eclectic) (Dystopia)
42. My Family and Other Hazards by June Melby  (4/13/2014)
43. Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid (4/16/2014)
44. Lady Molly of Scotland Yard by Emmuska Orczy (4/17/2014) (Vintage Mystery) (Century)
45. Sycamore Row by John Grisham (4/21/2014)
46. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (4/25/2014)
47. To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink (4/29/2014)
48. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (5/8/2014) (Arthurian) (Name) Century)
49. Jamestown: First Contact by Cecelia Holland (5/9/2014)
50. Crossing the Heart of Africa by Julian Smith (5/13/2014) (Eclectic)
51. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (5/16/2014) (Gaps) (Century)
52. Justice Denied by J.A. Jance (5/17/2014)
53. My Name is Resolute by Nancy E. Turner (5/19/2014) (Historical Fiction)
54. A Sunless Sea by Anne Perry (5/24/2014)
55. Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff by Matt Kibbe (5/25/2014)
56. Pretty in Ink by Lindsey  Palmer (6/1/14)
57. Unlucky 13 by James Patterson (6/5/2014)
58. Eats, Shoots, & Leaves by Lynn Truss (6/5/2014) (Read It Again)
59. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein (6/10/2014) (Century)
60. Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella (6/12/2014) (Eclectic)
61. Luvvy and the Girls by Natalie Savage Carlson (6/12/2014) (Read It Again) (Historical Fiction) (Century)
62. Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers (6/15/2014) (Read It Again) (Vintage Mystery) (Century)
63. World of Shell and Bone by S.K. Falls (6/17/2014) (Dystopian)
64. NYPD Red 2 by James Patterson (6/20/2014)
65. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (Friends) 6/22/2014)
66. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (6/28/2014)
67. The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley (7/2/2014) (Vintage Mystery) (Century)
68. Midwives by Chris Bohjalian (7/7/2014) (Century)
69. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (7/9/2014) (Dystopian)
70. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (7/9/2014) (Dystopian)
71. Visions in Death by J.D. Robb (7/20/2014)
72. Cress by Marissa Meyer (7/25/2014) (Dystopian)
73. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (8/8/2014)
74. Lincoln's Dreams by Connie Willis (8/15/2014) (Century)
75. Lutheran Purgatory: Pastors Without Calls by Alan Kornacki (8/15/2014)
76. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (8/20/2014) (Century) (Dystopian)
77. Beware Dangerism by Gever Tully (8/24/2014)
78. Enter the Saint by Leslie Charteris (8/24/2014) (Century) (Vintage Mystery)
79. Silent Echo by J.R. Rain (8/28/2014)
80. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (8/31/2014)
81. The Spring of the Tiger by Victoria Holt (9/3/2014) (Read It Again) (Century)
82. Survivor in Death by J.D. Robb (9/6/2014)
83. Invisible by James Patterson (9/8/2014)
84. Personal by Lee Child (9/10/2014)
85. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (9/21/2014) (Gaps) (TBR) (TBR Pile) (Friends)
86. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis (9/24/2014) (Protagonist) (TBR Pile)
87. The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and Women's Work by Kathleen Norris (9/24/2014)  (Century)(Nonfiction)
88. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (10/4/2014) (Gaps) (Century) (Vintage Mystery) (1001)
89. Defenders of the Faith: Charles V, Suleyman the Magnificent, and the Battle for Europe, 1520-1536 by James Reston, Jr. (10/9/2014) (Gaps) (TBR) (TBR Pile)(Nonfiction)
90. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis (10/10/2014) (Gaps) (Century)
91. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (10/13/2014) (Cozy)
92. Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. (10/21/2014)
93. The Wonderful O by James Thurber  (10/21/2014) (Century)
94. Death Comes for the Archbishop (10/27/2014) (Gaps) (Century) (Historical Fiction)
95. Deadline by John Sandford (10/30/2014)
96. Start Your own Personal Concierge Service by Entrepreneur Press (11/1/2014)
97. One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern (11/4/2014)
98. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (11/13/2014) (Friends) (Historical Fiction)
99. A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh (11/16/2014) (Vintage Mystery) (Cozy) (Read it Again) (Century)
100. The Concierge Manual by Katherine C. Giovanni (11/17/2014)
101. Redwall by Brian Jacques (11/22/2014) (Friends) (TBR) (TBR Pile) (Gaps)(Century)
102. The ABC of Canapes by Edna Beilenson (11/22/2014) (Foodie) (Century)
103. King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild (11/28/2014) (Century) (TBR) (TBR Pile) (Nonfiction)
104. The Fall of  Arthur by J.R.R. Tolkien (11/29/2014) ( TBR) (TBRPile) (Arthur)
105. Rooms by Lauren Oliver (12/1/2014)
106. Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder (12/5/2015) (TBR) (TBR Pile) (Nonfiction)
 107. Burn by James Patterson and someone else (12/7/2014)
108. Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen (12/8/2014)
109. Worth Every Penny: How to Charge What You're Worth When Everyone Else is Discounting by Sarah Petty (12/9/2014)
110. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (12/10/2014) (Eclectic)
111. Neither Here Nor There:Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson (12/14/2014) (TBR Pile) (TBR) Century)
112. Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (12/18/2014)
113. Death of a Gossip by M.C. Beaton (12/19/2014) (Cozy) Century)
114. The Shoemaker's Wife   by Adriana Trigani (12/23/2014) (TBR) (TBRPile)
115. All Seated on the Ground by Connie Willis (12/24/2014)'
116. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (12/27/2014)
117. Venezia by Tessa Kiros (12/28/2014) (TBR) (TBR Pile) (Foodie)
118. Origin in Death by J.D. Robb (12/30/2014)
119. Departure by A.G. Riddle (12/30/2014)

2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge


Yes. I do have another TBR challenge, but this one is different.

For this one the books can be from 2013, but to keep my pile clean, I'm leaving it at 2012 or earlier. I don't need to list the books ahead of time, and I'm hoping to knock off a few additional books.

I am planning to go for a friendly hug: 11-20 books from my TBR pile. (I'm aiming for the high end.) Wish me luck.

I will list them here as I complete them.
1. Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis (1/26/2014)
2. The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston (1/28/2014)
3.The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (9/21/2014)
4. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis (9/24/2014)
5. Defenders of the Faith: Charles V, Suleyman the Magnificent, and the Battle for Europe, 1520-1536 by James Reston, Jr.(10/9/2014)
6. Redwall by Brian Jacques (11/22/2014) 
7. King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild (11/28/2014) 
8. The Fall of  Arthur by J.R.R. Tolkien  (11/29/2014) 
9. Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder (12/5/2015) 

10. Neither Here Nor There:Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson (12/14/2014)
11. The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana  Trigani (12/24/2014)
12. Venezia by Tessa Kiros (12/28/2014)
 

Arthurian Literature Reading Challenge

I went back and forth on this one, and finally decided to go for it, because it is an interesting challenge.


I will take part at the level of Squire: read 3 - 4 works.  One may be Recent and one must be Old. (The requirements for these are on the hosting site.)

I welcome your suggestions!

1. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (5/8/2014) Recent
2.  The Fall of  Arthur by J.R.R. Tolkien(11/29/2014)

TBR Challenge 2014

This is such a necessary challenge for me. My TBR pile is huge.

This TBR challenge requires that the books be from 2012 or earlier--they need to have been on my pile for a year--and I need to list specific titles. I will be adding to my TBR master list for a day or two and then I will complete this list. My requirement is that these be books I own, either physically or on my Kindle. I am also NOT using many of the several books from last year that I didn't get to, because I am tired of seeing their names. (This list may still change if I get any of these read by the end of this year.)

1. The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston (1/28/2014)
2. King Leopold's Ghost (11/28/2014)
3.The Child from the Sea by Elizabeth Goudge
4. The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
5. Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis (1/26)
6.A Life Worth Living by John Holt
7. Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder (12/5)
8. Redwall by Brain Jacques (11/22)
9. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (9'21)
10. Defenders of the Faith: Charles V, Suleyman the Magnificent, and the Battle for Europe,   1520-1536 by Reston (10/9)
11. Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson (12/15/2014)
12. The Fall of Arthur by JRR Tolkien (11/29/2014)

Alternates:
1. Venezia by Tessa Kiros(12/28/2014)
2. The Art of the Commonplace by Wendell Berry


What's in a name 2014

Yay! I was afraid that this challenge was gone for good, but it's been picked up by another blogger. This is one of those challenges that often forces me to read something that I might have missed otherwise. It's interesting what you come up with when you are trying to find titles with specific words.

The challenge runs from January to December. During this time you choose a book to read from each of the following categories (examples of books you could choose are in brackets):
  • A reference to time A Life Worth Living by John Holt
  • A position of royalty Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis (1/26/2014)
  • A number written in letters The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (6/28/2014)
  • A forename or names Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins (1/30/2014)
  • A type or element of weather The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (5/8/2014)
I will put my titles beside the categories as I read them.

Dystopia Reading Challenge 2014

I did a dystopia challenge in 2012, and missed having one for 2013, so I was glad to find this challenge.

I'm going to go for the second level, Rebel, which is 7-12 books. I will list them here when I am done. It will be more of a challenge this time, because I have read so many of the classics of dystopian literature.

1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth (1/23/2014)
2. After : Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia ed. by Ellen Datlow (2/3/04)
3. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (3/2014) I am listing this as marginally dystopian. I think it is more strictly post-apocalyptic, and in a way, post-dystopian. But it's listed as dystopian so many places, that I'll take it.
4. Perfection by J.L. Spelbring (4/13/2014)
5. World of Shell and Bone by S.K. Falls (6/17/2015)
6. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
7. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
8. Cress by Marissa Meyer
9. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (8/20/2014)

A Little Help from My Friends Challenge 2014

I have enjoyed doing this challenge this year, even though it looks like my own challenge will be the one that I don't manage to finish.

But it's a good challenge, so I'm doing it again.



So here's the challenge:
--In some way, get a list of book suggestions from your friends.
--From those suggestions choose between five and ten books that you will read in 2014.
--Make a list of the books that you will read and a few alternates. (I like some flexibility.)
--Copy the picture above, if you like, and post it on your blog. If you don't blog, join us anyway. Just let us know in the comments what you are reading and when you are done.
--Make a post on your blog where you will keep track of the books for this challenge, and link back to this post.
--Please post a comment below with  link to that blog post. Come back and post again when you've finished. Reviews aren't required but they're always fun!
--No book started before 1/1/2014 counts. Books can be used for other challenges.
--There will be prizes including an Amazon gift card.

1. Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis (1/26)
2. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (6/22/2014)
3. The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander(2/13/2014)
4. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (11/13/2014)
5. The Dragon's Tooth by N.D. Wilson
6. The Princess Bride  by William Goldman
7. Gregor the Overlander by Susan Collins (1/30)
8. Nerfertiti by Michelle Moran (4/7)
9. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (2/7)
10. Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card

Alternates:

1. Redwall by Brain Jacques (11/22)
2.  The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (9/21)

 

Meet the Protagonist Challenge

This challenge is different. The categories all have to do with characteristics of the main character in the story.
The Protagonist Categories:
  • A woman who is a mother--The Whole Enchilada by Diane Mott Davidson (1/6/2014)
  • A real life person who written into a fictional story-- Belle Cora by Phillip Marguiles (2/11/2014)
  • A person that changes forms. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis (9/24/2014)
  • A person who is from a country different than the one you currently live in--Murder on Monday by Ann Purser (1/17/2014)
  • A person who lived before WW1-- Embers by Sandor Marai (1/28/2014)
  • A person who lives by a body of water--The Beach House by Jane Green (2/21/2014)
  • A person younger than 18--The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1/18/2014)
  • A character that is in a book series-- Portrait in Death by J. D. Robb (1/25/2014)
The one that is--right off the top of my head--the biggest challenge will be the third category. Hmmm.

I will list the books here when I finish.

Cruisin' thru the Cozies Challenge 2014

Cozy mysteries. How I love them.

And after a couple of years of really pushing myself to read things that make me think, I'm cutting myself some slack this year, because this year I will also be trying to make money, and thus will have less time to read. (That is what happens when you have multiple children in college and one decides to transfer to a private college!)

So:

This challenge will be great fun. I will be taking part at the Snoop level, which is only six books. But like I said, I'm taking it easy this year.

1. The Whole Enchilada by Diane Mott Davidson (1/6/2014)
2. Murder on Monday by Ann Purser (1/17/2014)
3. Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey (3/1/2014)
4. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (10/13/2014)
5. A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh (11/16/2014)

Read it Again, Sam






I re-read a couple of books every year. Some years I re-read a few. I was thinking that a re-reading challenge would be fun, especially since I may want to revisit the Harry Potter books this year. So this challenge is perfect.

I am going to go for the Deja Vu level, which is four books. I may do more.

I will list them here when I am done.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynn Truss (6/5/2014)
Luvvy and the Girls by Natalie Savage Carlson (6/12/2014)
Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers (6/15/2014)
The Spring of the Tiger by Victoria Holt  (9/3/2014)
A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh (11/16/2014)

Vintage Mystery Bingo Challenge


To complete this challenge, I need to get a bingo.
I do get one free space, meaning I can use a book that fits any of the categories to fill one space.

All of the books need to have been written before 1960.

1. Grey Mask by Patricia Wentworth (1928) (1/29/2014)  (G1, G3, O4, L3, E5, N5)
2. Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey (3/1/2014)(G5, O6, D1, E5, N5)
3. Lady Molly of Scotland Yard by Emmuska Orczy (1910) (4/17/2014)(O6, L3, D1, E4, E5, N2)
4. Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers (6/15/2014) (1923) (L3, D1, E5, N4)
5.  The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley (7/2/2014) (1929) (03, O4, O5, L3, E5, E6)
6. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (10/4/2014) (G3, O4, L2, D4, N3, N6)
7. A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh (11/16/2014) D4
I use Whose Body to fill my free spot: O2. 

Eclectic Reader Challenge 2014


This challenge is right up my alley. Variety.

But I can tell from the categories it will probably make me read something that I wouldn't have otherwise, too. That's always a good thing. It will be interesting to see what I come up with for a few of these. I will list them here when I am done.

Categories

  1. Award Winning--The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander (2/13/2014)
  2. True Crime (Non Fiction)--The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston (1/28/2014)
  3. Romantic Comedy--Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella (6/12/2014)
  4. Alternate History Fiction--Perfection by J.L. Spelbring (4/13/2014)
  5. Graphic Novel--Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (12/10/2014)
  6. Cosy Mystery Fiction--The Whole Enchilada by Diane Mott Davidson (1/6/2014)
  7. Gothic Fiction-- The Line by J.D.Horn
  8. War/Military Fiction-Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson (3/9/2014)
  9. Anthology- After ed. by Ellen Datlow (2/3/2014)
  10. Medical Thriller Fiction--Cell by Robin Cook (2/24/2014)
  11. Travel (Non Fiction)--Crossing the Heart of Africa by Julian Smith (5/13/2014)
  12. Published in 2014-- Belle Cora by Phillip Marguiles (2/11/2014)

Foodies Read Challenge 2014

It's that time again! Time to set up a new year of reading challenges. The first for this year:

Foodies Read 2014

Foodies Read. I did a challenge like this in 2012 and enjoyed it. I like reading food-related books. This is going to be a low-pressure challenge, because I am only going for the Pastry Chef Level, which is 4-8 books.

I will list them here when I finish. If I list ideas I will put a date by them when I finish them.

1. The Whole Enchilada by Diane Mott Davidson (1/6/2014)
2. The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon (1/7/2014)
3. Comfort me With Apples by Ruth Reichl (4/4/2014)
4.  The ABC of Canapes by Edna Beilenson (11/22/2014)
5. Venezia by Tessa Kiros (12/28/2014)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A New TBR list 2015

2015 Version of my TBR list.



Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
North and South by Gaskell
Law and Gospel by CFW Walther
Churchill by Paul Johnson
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
The Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther
Dead Souls by Gogol
The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek
Immortal Wife by Irving Stone
The Great Shame by Thomas Keaneally
Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer
1491 by Charles C. Mann
The House of Morgan
The First Tycoon
The Fate of Africa
The Decline and Fall of the Ottoman Empire

Courage and Consequence
Known and Unknown
Decision Points by George W. Bush
Statecraft by Margaret Thatcher
Theodore Rex (or any of the Teddy Roosevelt books by Morris)

Wodehouse: A Life
John Adams by David McCullough
Thunderstruck by Erik Larsen
A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: The Life of William Dampier: Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer by Diana Preston
Don Quixote
Anything Goes by Theodore Dalrymple 
The Examined Life by ""
Second Opinion by  "   "
The Policeman and the Brothel by  "  "
The Economics of Freedom by Bastiat
Typhoon by Joseph Conrad
She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
The Shoemaker's Wife by Trigiani
Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo
Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin
An Account of Egypt by Herodotus
The House of the Whispering Pines by Anna Katherine Green
Evelina by Fanny Burney
The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden
Containment by Christian Cantrell
Twice Told Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton
Summer by Edith Wharton
 The Oregon Trail: Sketches of prairie and Rocky Mountain Life by Frances Parkman
A Journal of the Plague year by Daniel Defoe
Shoeless Joe by Kinsella
Catherine the Great by Robert Massie
The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt
Nicholas and Alexandra by Massie
River of Doubt
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
The Things They Carried
The President and the Assasin
Lost States
How the States Got their Shapes
Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible
Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson
Ethan Frome
Sixpence in Her Shoe
Faust by Goethe
The Dark Monk by Oliver Potzsch
Collapse by Jared Diamond
The Path to Tyranny by Michael Newton
Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks
Happy Days Were Here Again by WF Buckley, Jr.
Never Dies the Dream by Margaret Landon
The Child From the Sea by Elizabeth Goudge
Natural Law: A Lutheran Reappraisal
Women Pastors?

The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien
Any Narnia aside from TLTWaTW
Land and Property Research in the United States
Venezia by Tessa Kiros
Mrs. Dalloway
The Art of the Commonplace by Wendell Berry
Broke by Glenn Beck
Cowards by Glenn Beck
The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan
The Dragon Reborn "
The Shadow Rising "
The Fires of Heaven "
Lord of Chaos " etc, etc, etc.
Dust by Hugh Howey
Shift by Hugh Howey
The COurts of Chaos by Roger Zelazny
Trumps of Doom by "  "
Blood of Amber by  "  "
Signs of Chaos by    "  "
Knight of Shadows by "  "
Prince of Chaos  by  "  "
Agatha H and the Airship City
The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
Watership Down
History of Tom Jones, A Foundling
The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough
Parallel Roads: Lost on Route 66 by Dennis Higgins
All Seated on the Ground by Connie Willis
No Name by Wilkie Collins
My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass
Island of the Swans by Ciji Ware
Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices
Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
Twice Told Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer
Towards yesterday by Paul Jones
The Mine by John Heldt
The Time Traveler's Apprentice by Kelly Grant
Ishmael, or in the Depths By Emma Southworth
Danielle Kidnapped by John Silviera
Daybreak by Ingolfsson
The Gauguin Connection by Estelle Ryan
The Sea beggars by Cecelia Holland
Beautiful Day by Elin Hildebrand
The Group by Mary McCarthy
Anthem by Ayn Rand
The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
Salt
Collapse by Jared Diamond
The Time Traveler's Guide to medievall England
Everything's Eventual by Stephen King
The Gunslinger by Stephen King
Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
A Voyage Long and Strange
The Good, the Bad, and the Mad
Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims
Gregor books 3,4,5
The Art of the Commonplace















































































Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Filling in the Gaps update

I've been at this challenge for two years and nine months now and have fallen a bit behind, having only read 47 of my 100 books. I have decided that I am going to take the liberty of swapping out up to five books, two for books that I have attempted and decided that I am just not interested in, plus up to three others. I subbed a book once before, when I decided that Three Cups of Tea needed to go because of the dishonesty in the book.

I will mark my substitutions in red. I'm not going to chicken out and sub for Karamazov  or Les Mis, as much as I would like to take the easy way out.
 
 So here is my list:

  1. Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (2/13/2012)
  3. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  4. Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  5. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
  6. North and South by Gaskell
  7. Dune by Frank Herbert (3/19/2011)
  8. Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
  9. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
  10. Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
  11. Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
  12. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (3/16/2012)
  13. Law and Gospel by CFW Walther
  14. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset (3/17/2013)
  15. Beach Music by Pat Conroy (3/22/2012)
  16. The Children of Hurin JRR Tolkien
  17. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  18. The Frontiersmen by Allen Eckert
  19. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
  20. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (12/5/2011)
  21. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2/21/2012)
  22. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  23. The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling (1/27/2012)
  24. The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov (2/5/2013)
  25. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (4/29/2011)
  26. Death Comes for the Archbishop  by Willa Cather
  27. Churchill by Paul Johnson
  28. The Conquest of Gaul  by Julius Caesar, subbing The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
  29. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
  30. The Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther
  31. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas (11/4/2012)
  32. Summerland by Michael Chabon (6/25/2012)
  33. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  34. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
  35. The House on the Strand by Daphne DuMaurier (5/19/2011)
  36. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler (6/28/2012)
  37. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
  38. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Miller (2/9/2011)
  39. In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
  40. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  41. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (4/12/2011)
  42. A Life Worth Living by John Holt
  43. Defenders of the Faith: Charles V, Suleyman the Magnificent, and the Battle for Europe, 1520-1536 by Reston
  44. Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
  45. The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois (12/13/2012)
  46. Life at the Bottom by Theodore Dalrymple (3/20/2011)
  47. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (1/7/2011)
  48. Desolation Road by Ian McDonald (7/10/2012)
  49. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (9/25/2012)
  50. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren (4/3/2012)
  51. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
  52. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  53. Faust by Goethe
  54. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (5/29/2013)
  55. Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington (4/7/2013)
  56. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (4/24/2012)
  57. Redwall by Brian Jacques
  58. The Guns of August by Barabara Tuchman (just can't get into the military history), subbing Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut 
  59. Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
  60. Life of Pi by Yann Mertel, subbing Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  61. Aeneid by Virgil
  62. The Complete Poetry of  John Donne
  63. Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, T.S. Eliot (4/23/2012)
  64. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
  65.  My Antonia by Willa Cather (1/15/2013)
  66. Dead Souls by Gogol
  67. The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek
  68. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (9/28/2011)
  69. East Lynne by Ellen Wood (6/18/2011)
  70. Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle
  71. Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery (1/6/2012)
  72. The Hobbit JRR Tolkien
  73. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald (12/26/2010)
  74. Robinson Crusoe (9/9/2013)
  75. The Once and Future King by T.H. White
  76. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (7/18/2011)
  77. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  78. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  79. Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (3/25/2013)
  80. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
  81. The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton, subbing Middlemarch by George Eliot
  82. Introducing Father Brown by GK Chesterton (10/6/2011)
  83. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming (5/2/11)
  84. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fennimore Cooper
  85. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  86. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
  87. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann (5/6/2013)
  88. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (7/2/2012)
  89. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1/20/2013)
  90. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
  91. Foundation by Isaac Asimov (3/6/2011)
  92. The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes (12/30/2012)
  93. The Warden by Anthony Trollope (1/28/2013)
  94. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  95. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
  96. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  97. Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin, (I have read other works by LeGuin this year) subbing The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  98. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  99. Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman
  100. The Histories by Herodotus

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What do I still need to read this year?

Given the fact that I have read almost 90 books this year, I still have some specific reading to do to finish my challenges.

First, to finish the "What's in a Name" Challenge, I need to read one book with "lost," "found" or something related in the title. I need to read one 18th or pre-18th century classic and one classic adventure for the "Back to the Classics" challenge. I still need to read two pre-1960 mysteries and six works of historical fiction.

The two challenges that I need to really get to work on are my TBR pile challenge and the "Help from My Friends" challenge. Since these require specific books, they are proving to be more, well, challenging. For the TBR challenge, these remain:  


-The President and the Assassin:Terror and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century by Scott Miller
- Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
- The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
-In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
- Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
- Decision Points by George W. Bush
- Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Redwall by Brain Jacques

Alternates:
1. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
2. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
3. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

For the "Friends" challenge:

4. Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
5. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
7. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
8. Middlemarch by George Eliot

Alternates:
--Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
--The Passing of the Armies by Joshua Chamberlain
--The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
--Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
--Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome


Guess I need to get busy.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

April wrap up

I read 13 books in April. This is a relatively large number for me. A couple of them were the food equivalent of potato chips: easy, delicious, and slightly embarrassing. Two were volumes of short stories. One was expected to be chick lit--Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale--but was surprisingly serious and one--How (Not) to have a Perfect Wedding--was chick lit, as expected. I managed three non-fiction books, one of which also was on my Gaps list.

Margin was the most useful book I read. In the Garden of Beasts was the most interesting. A Little Folly was the most disappointing/biggest waste of time. It wasn't bad; it just wasn't that good. And when you invoke Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer in your description, you should be GOOD.  I realized about halfway through that I had read Up From Slavery in high school. (So much for gaps!) 

I knew that Body in the Library was a re-read because I've read the entire Christie corpus, (ba-dum-bum!) but I really can't do a Vintage Mystery Challenge and not throw in Dame Agatha.

Is it horrible that I may have enjoyed the two J. D. Robb books the most out of the books I read this month? I'll blame it on post-Lent-and-Easter-church-secretary-brain-exhaustion.

33. Alex Cross, Run by James Patterson (4/2/2013) (Library) 
34. How (Not) to Have a Perfect Wedding by Arliss Ryan (4/3/2013) (Library) (Genre Variety)(Name)
35. The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories Volume 2 by Ursula K. LeGuin (4/3/2013) (Library)
36. The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie (4/4/2013) (Library) (Vintage Mystery) 
37. Margin by Richard A. Swenson, M.D. (4/5/2013) (Genre Variety) (Nerdy) 
38. Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale by Lynda Rutledge (4/6/2013) (Library)
39. Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington (4/8/2013) (Classics) (Gaps) (Nerdy)
40. In the Garden of Beasts by Eric Larson (4/12/2013) (Genre Variety) (Nerdy) (Nonfiction) (Name)
41. Witness in Death by J.D. Robb (4/14/2013) (Library)
42. Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler (4/16/2013) (Genre Variety) (Library) 
43. A Little Folly by Jude Morgan (4/19/2013) (Library) (Historical Fiction) 
44. Judgment in Death by J.D. Robb (4/22/2013) (Library)
45. Two of the Deadliest ed. by Elizabeth George (4/26/2013) (Library)