Tuesday, December 29, 2020

2021 Calendar of Crime Reading Challenge

Click HERE for Guidelines and Sign-ups.

HOST: Bev @ MY READER'S BLOCK 

DATES: January 1 - December 31, 2021


My favorite genre. And one of my favorite challenges. I'm signing up again for 2021, and hoping to do a better job with reviews next year. I'll be tracking my progress and keeping all my lists and links over on my challenge blog (HERE). 

 

Friday, December 25, 2020

2021 Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge

Click HERE for Guidelines and Sign-ups.

HOST: Carol @ Carol's Notebook

DATES: January 1 - December 31, 2021

For the Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge you can read any book from the mystery/suspense/thriller/crime genres. And since those are the genres I read more than any others, it's the perfect challenge for me. Somehow I missed out on last year's challenge, but I'm in for 2021. I'll be signing up at the "Amateur Sleuth" level (5-15 books). Not sure exactly what I'll be reading, but during the year I'll be tracking my progress and keeping all my lists on my challenge blog (HERE).


2020 Calendar of Crime Reading Challenge: The Wrap-Up

The Calendar of Crime Reading Challenge -- hosted by Bev Hankins at her MY READER'S BLOCK blog -- is one of the funnest challenges around, if you're a mystery fanatic like I am. Of course, I always hope I'll be able to read much more than I actually do; and in that, 2020 was no exception. But I did manage to read at least one qualifying book per month, even though I didn't get any reviews posted. 

Here's the category check-off sheet, and a list of what I read for each month:

JANUARY:
In the Last Analysis (Kate Fansler #1). Amanda Cross (Category #2: Author's birth month)

FEBRUARY:
A Fragment of Fear. John Bingham (Category #7: Book title has word starting with "F")

MARCH:
The Silent Speaker (Nero Wolfe #11). Rex Stout (Category #3: Primary action takes place during this month)

APRIL:
And Be a Villain (Nero Wolfe #13). Rex Stout (Category #7: Book title has word starting with "A")

MAY:
• Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage (Agatha Raisin #5). M.C. Beaton (Category #7: Book title has word starting with "M")

JUNE:
The Haunted Lady (Hilda Adams/"Miss Pinkerton" Mystery). Mary Roberts Rinehart (Category #3: Primary action takes place during this month)

JULY:
Where There's a Will (Nero Wolfe #8). Rex Stout (Category #3: Primary action takes place during this month)

AUGUST:
A Death Long Overdue (Lighthouse Library Mystery #7). Eva Gates (Category #9: Summer holiday setting - Nags Head NC)

SEPTEMBER:
The Suicide House. Charlie Donlea (Category #7: Book title has word beginning with "S")

OCTOBER:
Still Life (Inspector Gamache #1). Louise Penny (Category #3: Primary action takes place in this month)

NOVEMBER:
Knot of This World (Quilting Mystery #8). Mary Marks (Category #9: Family relationships play major role)

DECEMBER:
Snow (St. John Strafford #1). John Banville (Category #3: Primary action takes place in this month) 


Bev has announced the 2021 edition of the challenge, and you can see the rules and find the sign-up form HERE.


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

2021 European Reading Challenge

Click HERE for guidelines and sign-ups.

HOST: Gilion Dumas @ Rose City Reader

DATES: January 1, 2021 - January 31, 2022

Gilion's annual European Reading Challenge is always one of my favorite challenges, even though I don't always do as well as I'd like. But last year I signed up to read three books, and managed to get them all read. So for the 2021 challenge, I think I'll stick with that number, and sign up as a "Business Traveler" (the Three-Star Level).

The idea of the challenge is to read books by European authors or set in European countries. You can see the list of countries on the announcement page. I don't have any specific books in mind for next year, but I'm hoping to explore a couple of places I've never visited before.

During the year, I'll be tracking my progress and keeping my lists over on my challenge blog (HERE). 

 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Book Beginnings: An Artist of the Floating World

An Artist of the Floating World
by Kazuo Ishiguro

Vintage, 2012; First published 1986


Opening Lines
If on a sunny day you climb the steep path leading up from the little wooden bridge still referred to around here as 'the Bridge of Hesitation', you will not have to walk far before the roof of my house becomes visible between the tops of two gingko trees. Even if it did not occupy such a commanding position on the hill, the house would still stand out from all the others nearby, so that as you come up the path, you may find yourself wondering what sort of wealthy man owns it.


About the Book
In the face of the misery in his homeland, the artist Masuji Ono was unwilling to devote his art solely to the celebration of physical beauty. Instead, he put his work in the service of the imperialist movement that led Japan into World War II. 
Now, as the mature Ono struggles through the aftermath of that war, his memories of his youth and of the “floating world”—the nocturnal world of pleasure, entertainment, and drink—offer him both escape and redemption, even as they punish him for betraying his early promise. Indicted by society for its defeat and reviled for his past aesthetics, he relives the passage through his personal history that makes him both a hero and a coward but, above all, a human being. (Publisher's description)

Initial Thoughts
 
This is a book I've had on my must-read list for many years, and I finally pulled it out and started it last month. I'm enjoying it, but it's taking longer than I expected to finish. Ishiguro's style in this early novel is a bit meandering, very much like that opening paragraph, and tends to wander around and double back on itself. Enjoyable, but now and then I start wishing he'd just focus and get to the point. 


Have a good weekend, everyone.
Stay safe. Stay calm. And happy reading!



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.

 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Click HERE for Guidelines and Sign-Ups


The 2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge is being hosted by Marg @ The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader. I'm signing up at the "20th Century Reader" level (2 books), and hoping to do a little better than that. During the year, I'll be tracking my progress and keeping my lists on my challenge blog (HERE). 


2021 Finishing the Series Reading Challenge

Click HERE for Guidelines and Sign-Ups

I'm such a reading challenge junkie, if I'm not careful I'd be signing up for every single one that comes along. And, of course, that would be madness. 

But I'm signing up for this one. It's being hosted by Celebrity Readers, and you can click on the link above, for the announcement/sign-up page.

I have dozens of series started, and I'd really like to finish at least a few of them next year. Hoping this challenge will give me the nudge I need.

I'll probably aim for the "C-List" level (complete 1-4 series). Haven't decided exactly which ones to work on, but these are some of the possibilities:

During the year, I'll be tracking my progress and keeping all my lists on my challenge blog (HERE). 

Friday, December 11, 2020

2020 Children's and Teen Choice Book Award Winners Announced

As an enthusiastic reader of children's literature, I'm always interested in the various awards presented every year, and I hadn't heard about these before now. 

The Children's and Teen Choice Book Awards are handed out annually by Every Child a Reader, the charitable arm of the Children's Book Council, and are the only national book awards selected exclusively by young readers.

The awards are divided into four categories, and the seven finalists in each category are chosen by children from different regions of the U.S., with supervision by the International Literacy Association. The voting for the winners was held in classrooms, libraries, bookstores, and online at home, from September 14th to November 15th.

The 2020 awards were given to books published in 2019. Winners and honor books in the four categories are:

• K–Second Grade


 Winner: The Good Egg by Jory John, illus. by Pete Oswald (HarperCollins)

Honor: The Babysitter from Another Planet by Stephen Savage (Holiday House/Porter)

 
• Third–Fourth Grade

Winner: The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illus. by Kadir Nelson (HMH/Versify)

Honor: Mr. Posey’s New Glasses by Ted Kooser, illus. by Daniel Duncan (Candlewick)


• Fifth–Sixth Grade

Winner: Guts by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic/Graphix)


Honor: Pandora’s Legacy by Bones Leopard, illus. by Kelly Matthews and Nichole Matthews (BOOM! Studios/KaBOOM!)

 • Teen Choice Book Award

Winner: Mirror, Mirror: A Twisted Tale by Jen Calonita (Disney-Hyperion)

Honor: Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan (Bloomsbury)

(Information from Publisher's Weekly)


These all sound like books I'd like to read...even though I'm several generations past high school age!

 

Book Beginnings: Take a Look at the Five and Ten

 


Take a Look at the Five and Ten
by Connie Willis

Subterranean Press, November 2020


Opening Lines
Everybody has a traumatic Christmas memory, and mine was always Christmas dinner, partly because in my family (a term used very loosely), it's actually a series of dinners — Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner, and a New Year's Eve buffet, and if my one-time stepfather Dave had his way, we'd also have St. Lucia's Day and Boxing Day and Twelfth Night dinners, and who knows what else.


About the Book
Ori’s holidays are an endless series of elaborately awful meals cooked by her one-time stepfather Dave’s latest bride. Attended by a loose assemblage of family, Ori particularly dreads Grandma Elving—grandmother of Dave’s fourth wife—and her rhapsodizing about the Christmas she worked at Woolworth’s in the 1950s. And, of course, Ori hates being condescended to by beautiful, popular Sloane and her latest handsome pre-med or pre-law boyfriend. 

But this Christmas is different. Sloane’s latest catch Lassiter is extremely interested in Grandma Elving’s boringly detailed memories of that seasonal job, seeing in them the hallmarks of a TFBM, or traumatic flashbulb memory. With Ori’s assistance, he begins to use the older woman in an experiment—one she eagerly agrees to. As Ori and Lassiter spend more time together, Ori’s feelings for him grow alongside the elusive mystery of Grandma’s past. (Publisher's description)


Initial Thoughts
 
Well, my first thought was: That opening paragraph is just one very long sentence! But intriguing. It does make me want to keep reading.

Of course, it also makes me think about traumatic Christmas memories. Yeah, I guess we've all got 'em. Mine have more to do with Christmas travel. After I moved away from Texas and my family, coming home for Christmas usually meant hours of flying or driving in snowy, icy weather. Or, some years, not being able to get home at all. 

But I've got lots of wonderful Christmas memories, too. So I guess it all balances out. 

It's a little unusual for me to read Christmas-themed books during the holidays. Not by plan, just doesn't usually work out that way. Are you reading anything Christmas-y for the season? I'd love recommendations.


Have a good weekend, everyone.
Stay safe. Stay calm. And happy reading!



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.

 

Saturday, December 05, 2020

2020 European Reading Challenge: Wrap-Up Post

Now that December's here, I guess it's time to start wrapping up some reading challenges. I didn't join many challenges in 2020, so there's not all that much wrapping up to do.

First on the list is Rose City Reader's European Reading Challenge: always one of my favorite challenges, though I don't always do a great job with it. For 2020, I joined up at the "Business Traveler" level and committed to read just three books. And I was only half successful -- I did manage to read my three, but didn't get any reviews posted. (Sorry about that. Didn't really post many reviews to the blog this year. Must do a better job in 2021!) Here's what I read (links are to descriptions at GoodReads):

The Circus, by Jonas Karlsson (set in Stockholm, Sweden) 

Murder She Wrote: Gin & Daggers (Murder, She Wrote #1), by "Jessica Fletcher" and Donald Bain (set in UK, mostly London)

Snow (St. John Strafford #1), by John Banville (set in Ireland

Of those three, Snow was my favorite, although I enjoyed them all. I was just a bit disappointed in The Circus, only because I thought it didn't really come up to the quality of Karlsson's earlier two novels, The Room (which I loved) and The Invoice. But that's a high standard, and it was still a fun read. And I can't believe it took me so long to read my first Murder She Wrote mystery, since I loved the TV series so much. I can see a lot more Jessica in my future.

As I said, I do love this challenge -- it helps me discover new authors and read books I might otherwise ignore. Thanks so much to Gilion for doing the hosting. I'll definitely be joining up for 2021, if she keeps it going.