Monday, November 30, 2015

What's In A Name Challenge 2016

Host: Charlie @ The Worm Hole
Dates: January - December 2016
See the challenge announcement/sign-up post HERE

I haven't participated in the What's In A Name challenge for a couple of years, but I'm signing up for the 2016 edition. It's always fun matching up books with categories, and it's going to allow me to read a few of the books that've been on my TBR pile for quite a few years now.

Although Charlie says it's preferred that books don't overlap with other challenges, she also says it's not a requirement. Which is good, because I'm pretty sure I'll be doing quite a bit of overlapping. This list is very likely to change during the year, but here's what I'm thinking about reading for each of the six categories:
  1. A country in title: From Russia With Love, by Ian Fleming
  2. An item of clothing: Death in a White Tie, by Ngaio Marsh 
  3. An item of furniture: The Cabinet of Curiosities, by Preston & Child
  4. A profession: The Nine Tailors, by Dorothy L. Sayers  
  5. A month of the year: The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim 
  6. A title with the word "tree" in it: Silver on the Tree, by Susan Cooper 
During the year, I'll be tracking my progress over on my challenge blog (HERE).

Sunday, November 29, 2015

2016 Finishing the Series Reading Challenge

Host: Bea's Book Nook
Dates: January 1 - December 31, 2016
See the announcement/sign-up post HERE

Another challenge I decided to pass up in 2015, and lived to regret it. The Finishing the Series Reading Challenge was originally hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates' Book Reviews, but is now being taken on by Bea @ Bea's Book Nook.

In the coming year, I'm hoping to read more of the books I already own; and I'd really like to finish up at least one or two of the many, many series I have going (many, many, MANY series). So this challenge is perfect for me. Another good thing: reviews, at least short ones, are a requirement -- and I have so much trouble getting reviews posted, maybe that will be the added incentive I need.

I'm being very conservative and signing up at Level 1 (Novice series reader: complete one series), and I'm not going to choose which series right away -- but it will likely be one of these:
  • The Mrs. Malory mystery series, by Hazel Holt: 21 books in series / I have 4 to read
  • The Flavia de Luce mystery series, by Alan Bradley: 7 books in series / I have 4 to read
  • The Lord Peter Wimsey mystery series, by Dorothy L. Sayers: 15 books in series / I have 9 to read
  • The Inspector Barnaby mystery series, by Caroline Graham: 7 books in series / I have 4 to read
During the year, I'll be tracking my progress and keeping my list of books read, over on my challenge blog (HERE).

Saturday, November 28, 2015

2016 Mount TBR Reading Challenge

Dates: January 1 to December 31, 2016

For all the info and guidelines, see the announcement/sign-up post HERE.

I'm still dithering over which reading challenges I want to sign up for in 2016, but I already know I want to do this one. I didn't sign up for the 2015 edition. BIG mistake!

I have literally thousands of books on my various to-be-read shelves/piles/lists. You can take a look at some of them over at GoodReads (HERE), or Library Thing (HERE). In 2016, I really want to reduce the mountain at least a teensy bit and I'm hoping this challenge will help keep me on track.

To start off, I'm signing up at the Pike's Peak Level -- 12 books. But if all goes well, I'll be looking to upgrade as the year goes on. I'm not going to commit to an official list of books I'll read, but I have a fairly long unofficial list of possibilities, some of which might be:
  • Afternoon Men, by Anthony Powell. I think this is the only one of Powell's novels I've never read.
  • Three cozy mysteries by Hazel Holt: Mrs. Malory and a Death in the Family; Mrs. Malory and a Necessary End; Mrs. Malory and the Lilies That Fester. If I get those read, I'll be all caught up with the series. I think.
  • Several books I've been trying to read for decades: Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte; Daisy Miller, by Henry James (one of those books I was supposed to read in school but never actually did); The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins; The Berlin Stories, by Christopher Isherwood.
  • A few classic sci-fi novels, including: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick; Foundation, by Isaac Asimov; and Time and Again, by Clifford D. Simak.
  • Silver on the Tree, by Susan Cooper. Last book in Cooper's The Dark Is Rising sequence; I really need to see how the Drew children manage to save the world from all those dark forces.
During the year, I'll be tracking my progress, and keeping all my lists over on my challenge blog (HERE).

Friday, November 27, 2015

Book Beginnings: The Myths That Stole Christmas

The Myths That Stole Christmas, by David Kyle Johnson (Humanist Press, November 2015). Subtitle: Seven Misconceptions That Hijacked the Holiday (and How We Can Take It Back). First lines of the book's Introduction:
What's Wrong with Christmas? 
The fact that you are willing to consider this question at all reveals something because the question is loaded -- it assumes that there is, in fact, something wrong with Christmas. So, if you formulated an answer, instead of objecting to the assumption, you are willing to break one of the harshest social taboos and admit that Christmas isn't perfect. Christmas is not a holiday during which everyone is always happy and nothing is ever wrong.
Initial Thoughts:

One of my Early Reviewer wins from Library Thing; I was intrigued by the idea that someone would actually dare to criticize Christmas in today's cultural climate. Haven't officially started reading this one yet, and I actually have several other books I need to finish before the end of the year. But since we're in the midst of the holiday season now, I thought I might bump this one ahead in the line-up. The subject is decidedly controversial, of course; but I like to think I still have at least a partially open mind in such matters.

Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays. As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Reading Update

I really haven't been doing a huge amount of reading lately. Last week I had oral surgery, and since then I've been on pain meds of one sort or another. So when I'm not actually sleeping, my brain is so fuzzy it's hard to maintain focus on anything for more than a few minutes. The good news is that I'm beginning to have less pain, so I've been reducing the amount of medication and the fog seems to be lifting. The fact that I can actually put a blog post together is really a good sign, I think.

I did manage to finish one book last week. I read Elizabeth Berg's What We Keep in one day -- something that's very unusual for me. Will try to get a short review up very soon. 

This week -- if I can stay awake long enough -- I'm hoping to get back to the other books I've got going:

Crimson Shore, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

The Last September, by Nina de Gramont

In between naps, I've been engaging in one other bookish activity -- figuring out which new reading challenges I might want to sign up for in 2016. I've been keeping a list of likely (and a few unlikely) candidates (see the list here), but haven't made any final decisions yet. Probably won't until I've written some wrap-ups for my 2015 challenges. 

But right now .... I think it's time for another little nap.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. If you want to let the world know what you're going to be reading this week, head on over to her blog and leave your link. It's also a great way to discover new books and new blogs.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Teaser Tuesdays: South of the Border, West of the Sun

This week my teaser lines come from Haruki Murakami's novel, South of the Border, West of the Sun (first published in 1992; translation by Philip Gabriel). This quote is from page 4 of the Kindle edition:
...I was an only child. I had an inferiority complex about it, as if there was something different about me, that what other people all had and took for granted I lacked.
I detested the term only child. Every time I heard it, I felt something was missing from me -- like I wasn't quite a complete human being.
I suppose this passage resonated with me because I'm an only child, too. I don't really think I'd say it gave me an inferiority complex, but the term did always sound a little accusatory. Sort of like: If you'd been a better kid, maybe your folks wouldn't have stopped with YOU.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Jenn at A Daily Rhythm. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Book Beginnings: Crimson Shore

Crimson Shore, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Grand Central Publishing, November 2015). First few lines:
When the doorbell chimed, Constance Greene stopped playing the Flemish virginal and the library fell silent and tense. She glanced in the direction of Special Agent A. X. L. Pendergast, sitting by a dying fire, wearing thin white gloves, having gone quite still while leafing through an illuminated manuscript, a glass of Amontillado half-finished on the side table. Constance recalled the last time someone rang the doorbell at 891 Riverside Drive -- the rarest of occurrences at the Pendergast mansion. The memory of that awful moment now hung in the room like a miasma.
Initial Thoughts:

Well, the Flemish virginal caught my attention right away. Who plays a Flemish virginal in the modern world? Who even knows what a Flemish virginal is? Also, that mention of Amontillado has me thinking there's bound to be a connection with Edgar Allan Poe somewhere along the line, and I love that. And then there's an illuminated manuscript, right? OK, they've definitely got me interested.

But I've read several of Preston/Child's "Pendergast" novels (this one is #15 in the series), and I've come to expect that sort of appealingly arcane detail. Also lots of action, convoluted plots, and a fascinating protagonist in Special Agent Pendergast. So I've been quite looking forward to getting started on this one. Of course, at just over 460 pages, it's a book I'm likely to be reading for quite a while.

So, what say you? Does this one sound like it's worth all that reading time?

Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays. As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.