Friday, November 25, 2016

2017 European Reading Challenge

Hosted by: Rose City Reader
Dates: January 1, 2017 - January 31, 2018

This is always one of my favorite challenges, so I figured I might as well go on and sign up for 2017 even though I haven't wrapped up the 2016 edition yet.

I'm signing up at the "Five Star (Deluxe Entourage)" level, so I'll be reading five books by different European authors, or set in five different European countries. I don't have a list of books to read, but during the course of the challenge, I'll be tracking my progress and doing all my list-keeping over on my challenge blog (HERE).

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Can't Resist a Challenge

All right, I have to admit I sort of bombed out with my reading challenges this year. For various reasons (some good, some not so), I just never really got going. Well, to be honest, I had a pretty "meh" year when it comes to reading in general and blogging too.

And since I had so much trouble with my 2016 challenges, I really shouldn't be paying any attention to all those shiny new 2017 models being rolled out. But I'm incorrigible and just can't help myself. (Sort of a challenge junkie, I guess.) And naturally I'm hoping to do MUCH better next year. (Where have I heard that before?) Also, I really like to use reading challenges as a way to nudge myself into spending more time reading, and less time in front of the TV/computer screen. And at my advanced age, anything that helps exercise the old brain cells is definitely of value.

So, I'm watching the new challenges beginning to appear and getting very excited. BUT I'm also trying to keep myself a little more realistic for next year. I really don't want to go overboard again, really want to hold it down to just a few challenges I'll be able to keep track of and stick with all year. Right now, I haven't signed up for anything, but these are some I'm looking at.

Actually, there are a few I'm pretty sure about.

The European Reading Challenge, hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader, is always one of my favorites — I usually do manage to read all the books for the challenge, even if I don't get all the reviews posted. Barring any disasters, I'll be signing up again for 2017.

Bev at My Reader's Block hosts several challenges every year. All of them are interesting, but there are a couple I love. I didn't do very well on either the Mount TBR Challenge or the Vintage Mystery Cover Scavenger Hunt for 2016, but I'm still thinking of signing up for both of them again in 2017 and trying to improve my record.

And here are a group I'm interested in, but haven't really decided about yet:

I tried the Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge (over at Escape With Dollycas) once, a few years back, and had fun but never actually finished it. I love the idea of an alphabet challenge and matching up titles, but I have such a backlog of books I want to get to in 2017, I'm just not sure I'm ready for that much structure. Still, it's very tempting.

The Retellings Reading Challenge (hosted by Jo at Once Upon a Bookcase) has a very intriguing theme — retellings/reworkings (and prequels or sequels) of well-known stories, in addition to works that use real people or well-known fictional characters in new stories. But again, I'm afraid the focus might be just a little too strict for me. Of course, there's a basic level of just 1-4 books, which sounds doable. So ... a definite maybe.

The Wired Into Sci-Fi Reading Challenge (at Sci-Fi and Scary) caught my eye because I'm planning to read more science fiction next year. But the basic level ("Dabbler") calls for reading ten books, and I'm not sure I'll want to read that much sci-fi. Also, the books have to come from a set list, and I really prefer to choose my own challenge books. So that one is interesting, but probably not for me. Probably.

The You Read How Many Books? Challenge is being hosted back at Book Dragon's Lair for 2017. This a pretty simple challenge (which I love) — just read as many books as you can, and keep a public list somewhere (blog, GoodReads, etc). The thing is, the goal is to read at least 100 books, and that's just not realistic for me — my best number in recent years is just barely over 50. So I'd go into the challenge knowing I'd never be able to truly complete it. But that lofty goal might be just what I need to spur me on. Ya think? So, another maybe?

Well, that's enough for now, though I'm sure I'll be coming up with more lovely possibilities for my 2017 challenge list. But right now, I gotta get back to my reading.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Book Beginnings: Knots and Crosses

Knots and Crosses, by Ian Rankin (first published 1987). First of Rankin's Inspector Rebus mystery series. I'm reading this one for a couple of challenges — the Vintage Mystery Cover Scavenger Hunt, and the Read Scotland Challenge over at GoodReads (haven't read anything for that one yet). Here are the book's opening lines:
The girl screamed once, only the once.
Even that, however, was a minor slip on his part. That might have been the end of everything, almost before it had begun.

About the Book:
"... the brutal abduction and murder of two young girls. And now a third is missing, presumably gone to the same sad end. Detective Sergeant John Rebus, smoking and drinking too much, his own young daughter spirited away south by his disenchanted wife, is one of many policemen hunting the killer.
And then the messages begin to arrive: knotted string and matchstick crosses – taunting Rebus with pieces of a puzzle only he can solve."
(from the official Ian Rankin website)

Initial Thoughts:

Definitely not a "cozy."

I've never read anything by Ian Rankin, although he's been on my "must-read" list for many years. Haven't gotten very far into this one, but so far I'm enjoying it a lot.

Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Friday.  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 06, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Finally got some reading done last week! After a really loooong dry spell, I finished two books:

The Girls, by Emma Cline
(Random House, June 2016)


The Nightwalker, by Sebastian Fitzek
(Sphere, January 2016; first published 2011)

I started The Girls back in June or July; don't know why it took me so long to finish, since I actually enjoyed it quite a lot. The Nightwalker was a real page-turner, so I was able to read it a lot faster. Planning to do short reviews of both sometime this week.

I have several books on my list for this week, but first up is...

Cruel Beautiful World, by Caroline Leavitt
(Algonquin Books, October 2016)

... it's another book I started a month or so ago and had to put aside. I've read one other book by Caroline Leavitt and really admire her writing, so I'm looking forward to getting into this one.

So far, I've read 32 books this year. My goal was to read at least 50, and right now that number seems pretty unattainable. But that's OK — my reading goals are always very flexible. But I am hoping November doesn't zoom right by — the way October did. If I could slow things down a bit, I think I might be able to get a little more reading done!

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 01, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: The Nightwalker

This week my teaser lines come from The Nightwalker, by Sebastian Fitzek. In this snippet (from Kindle Location 1118), young Leon Nader's father is telling his son a tale about the Ghosts of the Twelve Nights:
'They are the opposite of guardian angels. Misfortune befalls the houses they live in. And during these days they are on the search for new families.'
'Will they come to us, too?'
'Only if we use the washing machine.'

Haunted washing machines? And a ghost that would require me to STOP doing laundry? That doesn't sound like real misfortune, does it? Actually, it sounds like a pretty handy spirit to have around. Now if I could just find a ghost that would do the laundry FOR me — that would really be exciting!

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Jenn at Books and a Beat. 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.