Category: Challenges

Tolkien Reading Day 2017

I hadn’t really anticipated becoming wholly consumed by Tolkien during the month of March. But that appears to be what has happened.

First, I heard about this from the bloggers over at Pages Unbound. They put out a call on Twitter for bloggers to take part in their two-week Tolkien blog fest, which would feature posts they wrote plus lots of guest posts. I was happy to write a post about how Tolkien has influenced my work, which can be seen here. And there are lots of other posts about all things Tolkien, so get on over and check them out.

Then I saw a challenge on Instagram. I do a lot of photo challenges (which, if you don’t know, are basically lists of prompts that you interpret and then share with a hashtag), and this was to be a month-long Tolkien theme under the #MiddleEarthMarch tag. I thought that sounded like loads of fun, so I was eager to participate in that. This also included a Lord of the Rings read-along, which was preceded by a read-along of The Hobbit, where we followed along on #febandbackagain.

I had a blast with the prompts, and had fun going through my books and gathering together all my Tolkien-related titles. Come to find out that I actually have a pretty good collection! I am especially happy with a special edition I picked up at a con a year or so ago for $20 – it is the green leather one in a slipcase, with runes on the cover and spine. It’s gorgeous, and a lovely addition to my library (but really, I’m a sucker for anything in a slipcase or a boxset).

On my #RockMyTBR challenge, I had already ear-marked a Tolkien title, The Silmarillion, for April. But I substituted the above titles, which was handy because I found that either I do not own The Silmarillion or I simply couldn’t find it. I just swapped my previous March title with April. And then GoodReads changed its rules so that you could count rereads as part of your challenge goal, so that helped speed me along.

Before I saw the Pages Unbound post, I honestly didn’t even realize there was going to be a Tolkien Reading Day in March. March 25 is the anniversary of the day of the defeat of Sauron, in case you are wondering. The celebration is sponsored by the Tolkien Society, and there are lots of celebrations worldwide. This worked out perfectly for me, since I read that scene in the book on the night of March 24! I was able to keep on track with my reading in the read-along, though I am sad to say that I hardly read anything else during March. But it was worth it.

I never read The Lord of the Rings until after college. So this was only maybe my third time reading the series. The last time was when the movies came out. When I was in high school, fantasy was a class for stoners and slackers. I loved English and reading, so instead, I took Shakespeare and English lit. Well, let that be a lesson to you. Don’t skip a class if it sounds interesting! Had I taken fantasy in high school, I might have been a decade ahead on my Tolkien obsession!

And now I am well and fully hooked. I have always loved the movies, and my son and I did a binge watch of the extended version DVDs over the holidays. So that set me up nicely for all the reading. Now I am looking forward to The Unfinished Tales and The Silmarillion. I have been looking around, and it sounds like this is the order which is most recommended in reading Tolkien (that is, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, The Unfinished Tales and The Silmarillion).

I am very much looking forward to the upcoming Beren and Luthien, which is being released in May, and was edited by Christopher Tolkien and illustrated by Alan Lee. Many Tolkien fans will know that this story of star-crossed lovers was very close to Tolkien’s heart. He even had the name Luthien engraved on his wife’s headstone when she died, and then instructed that Beren should be engraved under his name (they share a headstone).

I’ve long had a wish to go to Oxford, and see his haunts. I would also love to go to New Zealand, where you can see the set for the Shire, and have lunch at the Green Dragon. So go ahead, Tolkien merch, take all my money! I don’t even care.

 

RockMyTBR Challenge

I love this challenge. I tried to do it last year, sort of. I made it maybe two months. But I didn’t have a plan, and I didn’t have a post. So here I am, holding myself accountable. Unfortunately, I am too late to link up with the intro post. This is hosted by Sarah at The YA Book Traveler and I am so glad she’s doing it again! It’s a great way to be sure your books are not languishing too long on the shelf! I tend to use my library a lot, so this helps me add to that.

Since last year didn’t go so well, I have laid out some rules for this year for myself.

My Rules for #RockMyTBR

You must make the TBR from books you already own, whether they are packed away, on your shelves or in piles on your floor does not matter.

You can put books anywhere on the TBR for the year, using whatever criteria you want to read whatever you want whenever you want.

You can switch out books for another on your TBR, but only WITHIN your TBR. If you trade a top book for a later book, you cannot trade that top book again. You must read it when you come to it.

You cannot add any newly purchased books to this TBR. This is only for books you owned at the beginning of the year.

I reserve the right to add any books from my shelves, but only in addition to the books already on the list.

These kind of fall in line with what Sarah has already outlined, but I am really going to be strict with myself. That’s why I’m letting myself trade within the TBR, but making sure to put limits on that. I figure if I have a book that I want to trade more than once, then I probably don’t want to read that book anyway, and I might as well get rid of it.

Without further ado, here is my plan for #RockMyTBR for 2017!

January – The Star-Touched Queen (also for #DAReadathon and #boutofbooks) Done!

February – Sherlock Holmes box set (four books)

 

March – Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor (have read the first one)

April – The Silmarillion by Tolkien and The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth

May – Very Good Lives by JK Rowling

June – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

July – Game of Thrones book 1 by George RR Martin

August – Mary E Pearson Remnant Chronicles series

September – The Late Homecomer by Kao Kalia Yang

October – Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde (have read the first three but need to start over)

November – A Breathtaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

December – Potluck Supper with Meeting to Follow by Andy Sturdevant

Wish me luck!

 

Dumbledore’s Army Diverse #DAReadathon Wrap-Up

I finished the #DAReadathon!

I had a great time reading these books. Oh my gosh. They were SO good. I didn’t complete my whole TBR but I made a sizable dent and I am very happy with that. You can see my original post here.

I started with The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, which I had always heard was very beautifully written. Well, I’m here to tell you that it is not only beautifully written, but it is an utterly beautiful story. This book is gorgeous in every way. I gave it five stars on GoodReads (and I never give star ratings!). I had received this book back when it was released in May. I actually won it from a GoodReads giveaway – so thanks GoodReads and Griffin Teen!

I found this story to be breath-taking. I don’t want to say too much because Spoilers but just trust me. It envisioned a world bigger than imagination. This book takes place in a Persian-inspired world, and it is full of cultural references. I loved that, and I loved the world and the characters. There are themes of love, and life, and death and what it all means. The writing is LUSH. I am very glad that I finally read this one! This also Rocks My TBR because I’ve had it since May. This was for the Impedimenta prompt. Here’s a taste:

“Neither the secret whirring song of the stars nor the sonorous canticles of the earth knew the language that sprang up in the space between us. It was a dialect of heartbeats, strung together with the lilt of long suffering and the incandescent hope of an infinite future.”  p332

Then it was on to Labyrinth Lost, by Zoraida Cordova, which I had won in a chat on Twitter in early November. This fit perfectly into the Protego prompt – #ownvoices. I really had to be restrained waiting this long to read it. It takes place in Brooklyn, but the MC is a bruja, which is a sort of melded cultural group that has aspects of Santeria and pagan ideals coupled with the Mexican Day of the Dead rituals. I loved Alex, and I loved the way this story wove itself around a completely new world and claimed it as its own. It felt rich and satisfying.

I then picked up The Upside of Unrequited, which was fantastic. This is outside my typical oeuvre, because I rarely read YA contemporary, but I’m glad I read it. This was for the Reducto prompt. I had been talking with someone on Twitter – or some such thing – and Becky Albertalli chimed in and I liked her so much I moved this right up my TBR (I received my copy at the Heartland Fall Forum). It was funny and bittersweet, saved from being saccharin by amazing insights and deadpan humor. I found myself laughing out loud quite a bit! The young love aspect is enriched by the non-traditional family and Molly’s issues with her own body image and questions about life. I loved this book so much that I offered to trade it to another blogger so it could get more love, and in return I get a copy of History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera! I am so excited to read that, thanks to Kendice, who blogs with Emily at EmilyReadsEverything.

The books I didn’t get to were The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig (Expecto Patronum prompt) and The Forbidden Wish (which was my blogger rec under the Lumos prompt). And The Sun Is Also a Star, for the Stupefy prompt, which was buried in my Christmas booktree. I also didn’t get a book for the Expelliarmus prompt. I really should have thought more about this. I’d like to do it again!

I did a little bit of score-keeping, and here is what I came up with for House Points. Go Ravenclaw!

  • I read 913 pages so at 1 point per each 10 pages, that gives me 91.3 House Points. (I was on page 235 of Unrequited when the challenge ended.) 336 +342 +235
  • I completed two books so I get 5 points for each, which is 10 House Points.
  • I reviewed two books on GoodReads. I don’t know if that counts. But if it does, that gives me 10 House Points. If it only counts for blog reviews, then I did not get any of those posted yet, but look for my upcoming reviews!
  • I posted an image of my #DAReadathon ID on Twitter for 1 House Point.
  • I tweeted using the hashtag at least five times. That’s how I got the blogger rec (two different people recommended the same book!). I posted a picture of my TBR on Instagram for an additional point (with 70 Likes, tyvm). So that makes 6 House Points for social media (which is unbelievably low of the 20 points possible).

This gives me a Grand Total of 27 + 91.3 = 118.3

All in all, I’m pretty happy that I stuck to my TBR and got to read some really good, culturally rich books. I think this was a fantastic challenge from beginning to end. I loved the Harry Potter element and being a member of Dumbledore’s Army, as well as the spell prompts. I also loved that you had a specific prompt to get recommendations, and that it really made you think about what you were reading. Very fun, and I would do this again in a heartbeat!

This weekend I’m nibbling at the #24in28 Readathon, but I am really not doing a good job at that. I was all set to get in a good hunker-down reading day yesterday, but somehow it didn’t happen. Next up I’ve almost got my #RockMyTBR Challenge list. More reading today!

#DAReadathon + #RockMYTBR Challenge + #BoutofBooks Readathon + TBR

What better way to start the New Year than with a reading binge? I saw the announcement of the #DAReadathon Challenge on Twitter just before Christmas and while I had it in my head I simply couldn’t sit down to sort it all out. This is one of the more complicated challenges I have seen, but since it involves Harry Potter and reading more diverse books, I simply couldn’t pass it up without at least trying.

Many of you know that the diverse books movement has been a big thing throughout the past year. It would be nice if we could say that it wasn’t needed, or that it had been going on a lot longer than that. But judging from some major faux pas recently by major published books, it is still needed, and we need to realize that those from marginalized groups need to have their own voices, and need to have representation in the publishing industry.

Publishing is just telling stories, after all, and how can we say we are doing a good job of that when we aren’t telling all the stories – just select ones that are curated by one race, one gender or one worldview?

So in my own small little way, I’m going to be working on this. I’m doing this challenge, and I’m sad to say that for some of these prompts, I’m not sure what I will read. I wish I could readily answer each one. Clearly, I have some work to do.

The challenge began yesterday (oops!) and goes until January 15. Each of the books should fit in with one of the prompts, which are named after spells in the Harry Potter fandom. Since this is one of my favorite fandoms, I was very attracted to this idea. Also, for those of you who don’t know, the DA in the challenge name stands for Dumbledore’s Army. Well, we need this more than ever now, don’t we? I like everything about the way this is set up.

Here are some of my picks. I’ll need help with this one, so if you have suggestions, please let me know in the comments! Or find me on Twitter or Instagram. I want to hear recs, people!

Expecto Patronum – diverse book featuring issue of personal significance to you or a loved one – I’m going with The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig – because it deals with a girl’s relationship to her father. I imagine that Nix’s is more complicated than mine, since her father wants to return to where her mother died, and possibly could. And mine, well, can’t. But it sounds eerily familiar and I am sure this will bring up some long-buried feelings for me. Plus, all the cultures involved just sound fantastic. And I have an ARC of the sequel, so must read this first!

Expelliarmus – diverse book featuring a marginalised group you don’t often read about – So maybe this would be LBGTQIA? Because I’ve not read much in that area.

Protego – Read an #ownvoices book for this prompt – Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova – I won this in a Death Day chat back in early November. I really have been paying much more attention to the traditions of Day of the Dead lately and I am very excited to read a book by someone who grew up in that culture and has a story that centers around it. I had to resist picking this up earlier to save it for this challenge, so now it’s time!

Reducto – a book that empowers women from all different walks of life – Here we have The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. I received an ARC of this at Heartland Fall Forum, and then I interacted with Becky on Twitter a bit, and well, bam, this shot up to the top of my TBR. This features an overweight teen who is a bit confused about her sexuality, and has a twin sister. I am going out of a limb a bit here to say that it empowers women, but if there is an Upside to Unrequited Love, it has to be empowering, right? This releases in April so I am excited to be reading it so early.

Impedimenta – a diverse book that has been on your TBR for far too long! – This has to be The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. I have had this since it released and it is so beautiful, and I have heard so much about it, but I have only picked it up once. And now that the sequel is coming out, I really need to get on it. I love following her on Twitter and Instagram so I am really looking forward to finally reading this!

Stupefy – a diverse book that has stunned the internet with all its well-deserved hype – The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon – this is a contemporary, which I don’t often read, which is also good for me to do once in a while. This title has landed on many year-end best lists, and I have heard it compared to Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, so of course that piqued my curiosity. Then I won a copy, and well, here it is!

Lumos – a diverse book that was recommended by one of your fellow book bloggers – I would like this to be the forthcoming History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera, recommended recently by the always-reliable Brittany at Brittany’s Book Rambles, but alas, it does not come out until January 17 and I don’t have an ARC. In her last BBTC chat, she featured this book and Adam took part. It was a delight. But I must find me something else so I’ll be asking my blogger friends!

From the website of Aente, Read at Midnight, the host of this challenge, here is her brief definition of what a diverse book is: “Any book that features a diverse experience such as LGBTQIA, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender diversity, indigenous, neurodiversity, people with disabilities.”

I still have two slots to fill, so I’ll be actively looking for those books which can fulfill these areas. I would love to find something with Native Americans (I really love all I’ve read by Louise Erdrich and Sherman Alexie), or something that I perhaps hadn’t thought about reading at all. I don’t know, it could be anything. The bottom line here is that this challenge is already a win for me, because it has me searching my book piles (and my booktree, because there is The Sun Is Also a Star, about halfway down! Which is why it is not pictured above!) for those stories.

There is a points component to this challenge too, but I won’t be worrying about that. I honestly have enough to do in the next two weeks. But this is a great start to my year and I’m really looking forward to it! What are your favorite diverse reads?

Bonus: For this challenge, I finally went to Pottermore and found out what my Patronus is! And while it was quite a process, I discovered that it is the “unusual” Patronus of a Leopardess!

I’m also going to try this year again to do the #RockMyTBR challenge from Sarah at The YA Book Traveler. I fell off the wagon on this one last year. And this week I’m doing the #BoutofBooks readathon (which is only one week, from Jan 2 to Jan 8). Here is the info on the #Bout of Books Readathon, for which I will be using the same books as for the #DAReadathon, and then if I run out of books, I will just add more! The stack helps me to put blinders on and means that I really will complete the books that I have listed.

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 2nd and runs through Sunday, January 8th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 18 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog– From the Bout of Books team

 

 

My Book Blogvember Challenge

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Well, it’s that time of year again! It’s time for NaNoWriMo. I have only done this once. It was a long time ago and it didn’t go well. But since then, I have simply been writing. I started a novel last year, and I am almost finished with my Zero Draft. Does that mean I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo again this year? Um, no. I just want to finish the book I’m writing, and it is not at NaNo stage!

Still, it’s fun to do something that is coordinated with a group. I follow someone on Instagram who is local and who said she was doing the writing meetups for NaNo. I am sad that I can’t partake in that fun. But then I found this! Jade over at Bedtime Bookworm is hosting a blogging challenge! And unlike the A to Z Challenge which I have participated in, this one is for book blogs!!

I need this. My book blog, as you can see, has been sorely neglected of late. I posted only one post per month during the summer. Ugh. So now, it’s time to kick this into high gear. And challenges are a great way to do that!

This is the Book Blogvember Challenge! Jade asks that anyone participating write enough during November to create 30 blog posts. I am in. And here are some other things I hope to do:

  • I want to create some posts that are not reviews. I have two big event recaps from this summer (actually, last spring) that I still want to post. I need to write those. And I’d love to do some more Author Q&As.
  • I will try to batch content because I know it works. Sunday seems to be a good day to write blog posts!
  • I also want to post some discussion-type posts. I have a lot of industry experience that I think might be helpful to other bloggers, but I would like to talk about other things too.
  • I want to get through my review backlog. I have several good books that I have read recently that deserve reviews!
  • I can’t say that I will schedule 30 posts, but I would like to get the content down, and maybe schedule 15 posts. I have only scheduled two posts in my blog’s history, and that has to change.
  • My one year blogaversary will be in December, too, so I am hoping to do something fun for that. In doing this challenge, I hope to churn through some ideas of what I can do to celebrate! 🙂

I don’t know if I’ll post every day, but I have found one thing true about writing – any kind of writing: if you put it first thing on your list, it will get done. This is what I took away from the A to Z Challenge. I also need to finish my book, so that’s going to come into play here. I am so close!

It’s time to dust off my list of blog post ideas and get writing. Join me! There’s a Twitter chat at the end on December 2, and there will be a giveaway – a signed copy of Wink, Poppy, Midnight! Jade is using the hashtag #bookblogvember so use it all month long for multiple entries in the giveaway, and to join the conversation. This is going to be fun!

Bloggiesta Wrap-Up!

I know, I am late with this. But I really wanted to give a final wrap on it. Bloggiesta is a really cool idea, and I will definitely do it again. As it happens, I kind of get a Fail in execution this time, though.

My list was not long, or every complicated. What I managed to do was this:

I participated in three Bloggiesta chats, which were very helpful! And I met some cool folks, so that’s always good. Each chat was on a different topic, and I would like to go back and read the chats for the topics I missed, but not sure if I will be able to do that. Twitter only goes back so far sometimes. (I actually participated in five chats total and that was probably a little bit of overkill on my part, because the other two were purely for fun.)

I rearranged my widgets, bringing some of them up from the footer into the sidebar, so that they would be more visible. I didn’t add any new ones, though.

I looked into the documentation on UBB, and read through some of it. I even got a specific answer to one of my questions from NoseGraze herself, because she was participating in one of the chats! So thanks, Ashley, for the link to how to create a Book Review Archive! I will have to implement much more of the UBB plugin, because I know it will help me manage my blog.

Sadly, I did not finish my Q&As, write two blog posts, or set up my email. I also didn’t order the tote bag but I’m working on that tonight! I organized a little bit of my reading schedule but I could always use more of that, right?

So the bad news is I didn’t do what I set out to do. The good news is that part of the reason for this is that I suddenly got three writing assignments, so I had to step up my work schedule to get some things done earlier than I had thought, to get them out of the way. So it was a busy week last week, and this week is even busier. It’s always something, right? I am not complaining! The life of a freelancer is fraught with those kinds of situations.

I do have some wonderful things planned, though. So please check back soon! Or better yet, you can either subscribe to the blog (see that handy widget in the sidebar? “Join five other subscribers!”), follow me on BlogLovin’, or follow me on Twitter! If you have participated in Bloggiesta or any of the other blog challenges, leave a note, let me know how you did!

Oh, and speaking of Challenges – I will be participating in two Instagram Challenges during the month of April! I’ve just started my bookstagram, but I really do love it. It combines two of my favorite things: books and photography! So check out my posts under the hashtags #BookApril, hosted by @rac.onteur or #AmpersandApril16, hosted by @commasandampersands or heck, just follow me on Instagram! I’m @LindaBookMania there!

Now I’m off to read the galleys that just arrived. I’ll be interviewing three authors next week for the BEA PW Show Daily. Look for my articles there if you go to BEA!

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(Bloggiesta buttons courtesy of bloggiesta.com)

Bloggiesta Spring 2016 To-Do List!

I have high hopes for this blog – and here it sits, languishing in stagnant anonymity. So I need to get on the ball and here comes the Bloggiesta Challenge to the rescue! I had heard of this over the last year or so, but it was blogger MC of Blame It on the Books who kind of cheerleaded me to check it out. (Check out her post and you will see what I mean!) And it will suit my purposes just fine!

Bloggiesta-ButtonM21I just have to figure out what to do. Okay, one, make a list of things to accomplish this week. Two, write a post. Three, link it up (um, okay? Not sure how to do that but I’ll figure it out). Participate in chats – because we all know chats are where it’s at, and that is where you really get the support, encouragement and advice that you need. I missed the first chat today (stupid work) but there is another one tomorrow night so I will be there!

Now, I just need to schedule my time this week so that I ACTUALLY HAVE TIME TO WORK ON MY BLOG! I have been toying with the idea of a book blog for a long time. I side-stepped the issue by writing a column on Examiner.com for five years. Yes, folks, I was the Minneapolis Books Examiner. Never heard of it? Exactly. So it’s high time I took the matter into my own hands.

Enter BookManiaLife! I have my brand spanking new custom banner from wonderful illustrator Rebecca McConnell, I have the UBB plug-in from NoseGraze, and I have many piles (stacks, bags, boxes) of books. I just need to sort this all out and get it turned into blog posts! Right? Right.

To-Do List:

  • Organize reading schedule, including Way Back Wednesday feature twice monthly, and specifically blocking off reading time during the week.
  • Work on two author Q&As for which I have already read the books. Get them done already!
  • Complete two blog posts.
  • Set up my email with my blog domain.
  • Rearrange my widgets on my blog, add new ones as needed.
  • Explore UBB plug-in. What the heck is all this stuff?
  • Order custom tote bag that I won from Emily Reads Everything, with blog logo emblazoned on it!

Whew. Okay, that’s enough. The list is obviously longer, but I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew. I also have actual work to do, and those folks are paying me, so I better get that done too. However, it is Holy Week, and a lot of people are off, so I am hoping my email calms down FOR JUST A MINUTE so I can catch up and have some free time on the weekend. This is how we rock this blog!

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(Bloggiesta buttons courtesy of bloggiesta.com)

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