Wednesday, 20 January 2021
Tuesday, 19 January 2021
I really was intending to cut back quite a bit on my reI'ading challenges this year, keeping up only the ones that helped me decide on books for the coming months and helped me push myself out of my comfort zone a bit. But when you start looking online, there are so many cool options and so many challenges I've enjoyed in the past. So the list for 2021 turns out to be just as long as the one for last year.
I've set myself a few general reading goals, just to try to stop the doom scrolling and get myself motivated to do what I enjoy doing the most, reading and reviewing books. So I'm going to try to read and/or listen to books for at least 30 minutes a day. I'm going to try to read more diversely, BIPOC and LGBTQIA-authors and characters. I'm going to try to listen more to audiobooks, as it's a great way to get reading done, while I also do other things, like knitting, commute, do chores, go to the shops, and so forth. I'm also going to try never being more than five books behind on my review backlog, but I fear that by the end of January, I'm already back to my old bad habits again. Finally, I'm going to try to be better about taking notes while and/or after I finish a book, to help me remember my thoughts when I sit down to review.
My reading challenge list for 2021 - just as ridiculous as last year:
1. The Cannonball Read - read and review 52 books.
2. Double Cannonball - read and review another 52 books, bringing my total to 104. This year, I hopefully won't have to resort to doing short reviews of my DNFs of the year to find enough books. Also hoping I'll at least finish in the top ten.
3. The Goodreads Reading Challenge - set to 100. They allow you to count re-reads now, but I've been burned in the past.
4. The StoryGraph Reading Challenge - also set to 100. What, you don't log all the books you read on multiple sites?
5. Cannonball Book Bingo - you can bet I'm going to be aiming to fill another bingo card this year.
6. 52 Books in 52 Weeks - This challenge was relatively easy to complete last year. All books have to be more than 100 pages, and no children's books are allowed.
7. Audiobook Challenge 2021 - I'm playing it safe and aiming for the same goal as last year. Socially awkward (don't talk to me) - how very fitting. 15-20 audiobooks, hopefully, I'll smash this goal.
8. Beat the Backlist - Read as many books as possible from my reading lists published in 2020 or earlier. The books have to be started and finished in 2021.
9. The Backlist Reader Challenge 2021 - I love me some challenges with an overlap. Pretty much exactly as the challenge listed above, only here the books have to be published before 2019 and earlier.
10. Books and Tea Challenge 2021 - This is a new to me challenge with 12 prompts that looked interesting and not too fiendishly difficult to complete. So onto the list, it goes.
11. Chunkster Challenge - this little challenge amused me, as the only goal seems to be that the books have to be 450 pages or above to be counted. As I read quite a few chunky books, it seemed like a fun one to add to my list. It'll also motivate me to not just read short books all year.
12. Colour Coded Challenge - since it became acceptable to read both books with a cover primarily featuring the colours in question, not just books with the colour in the title, this has become one of my must complete challeges every year. It's another one that allows me to chip off my TBR list gradually.
13. Diversity Reading Challenge 2021 - this year, as with previous years, I'm setting my goal to 40 books.
14. Fantasy Reading Challenge 2021 - This challenge gives 12 prompts (and helpful suggestions), one for each month, and will help me get more books of my ever-growing TBR list. Pretty sure the only prompt that will give me any difficulties is the "read a fantasy book from 50 years ago".
15. Finishing the Series 2021 - Once again, I'm going to have to go for the highest difficulty level, A-list finisher, 9+ series finished.
16. Historical Fiction Reading Challenge - This is another every year challenge for me, and I'm choosing to go for "Ancient History" - 25-50 books once more.
17. Historical Romance Book Bingo - This is another new challenge, with a high probability that I won't manage to finish it over the course of the year, I certainly don't foresee myself completing the entire bingo card, which comes to 30 different books. I haven't read that much historical romance in years, but it could be fun to try to motivate myself to read more of it.
18. Monthly Keyword Challenge - six keywords per month, with flexible interpretations for those who need it. Probably the best way for me to keep myself motivated for reading, as it helps me find books to read every month.
19. Monthly Motif Challenge - one motif or overarching theme per month. Also a lot of fun.
20. Mount TBR Challenge - As always, I'm picking challenge level Mount Vancouver - 37-48 books.
21. New Releases Challenge - Read books released in 2021. Like last year, I'm choosing level "New Releases Pro" - 31-60 books.
22. Tackle My TBR - this is pretty much exactly the same challenge as nr 20. Two challenges with one amount of reading. Win. This one has monthly challenges as well, will try to be better about completing those this year. My goal - Field Goal - 37-48 books.
23. What an Animal Challenge 2021 - This is a challenge I used to do all the time, as it only really required there to be an animal mentioned in the title or featured on the cover. Now, the animal has to feature prominently in the story. Luckily, it allows for all manner of supernatural beasties and shapeshifters, so I'm probably going to be just fine. I've signed up for level 2 - 7-12 books.
24. What's in a Name 2021 - 6 different book prompts, which looked fun again this year. So I'm back for another year. I've already completed my first book for this one!
25. R.I.P. 16 Reading Challenge - won't start until September, but I'll read some spooky books that qualify.
26. Reading Challenge Addict - Out of This World - 16+ Challenges entered and completed. I think we can all agree that I have a bit of a reading challenge problem, right?
Monday, 18 January 2021
New year, new challenges. I've had a lot of work already this year, which is why I'm already terribly behind on my reviews, and on writing this post, announcing my sign-up for the many challenges which will help me plan my reading lists over the course of 2020. By now, I've been doing so many varied challenges for so long that I'm not entirely sure how I'd plan my reading without various prompts. Just pick up any old book I fancy - that's just madness.
Challenges 1 and 2: The Cannonball Read. This is the primary reading challenge I take part in every year, to be the first to read and review 52 books. As I'm writing this, Vel Veeter, the winner of the last, I want to say three, years has already reviewed 24 books, so being number one isn't really going to happen. Still, it's challenging enough reading and reviewing 104 books by the end of the year, in 2020, I managed with an hour to spare. I finished in 8th place, which is all I can hope for these days. Hence I count this as two challenges, entered and completed.
3. Goodreads 2020 Reading Challenge: I signed up to read 100 books and managed to complete that goal.
4. 52 Books in 52 Weeks: Exactly what it sounds like. Read 52 books over the course of the year. Books counted need to be at least a hundred pages long. I finished this one by mid-July.
5. Alphabet Challenge: Read one book starting with each letter of the alphabet. For Q, X and Z, the word that starts with the letter can be anywhere in the title. This challenge proved tricky enough to complete (last book finished just before Christmas) that I won't be continuing it again this year - I need a year or two to "collect" suitable books.
6. 2020 Audiobook Challenge: I signed up for Level 4, Socially Awkward. 15-20 books. I ended up having read 31 at the end of the year, so I'm proud of that.
7. Beat the Backlist: Read as many books from your backlist/TBR as possible. As long as the books were published in 2019 or earlier, they are fair game. My final tally was 54 books.
8. The Backlist Reader Challenge 2020: For this one, you also read books from your TBR, but here the book has to be published in 2018 or before, and has to have been on your TBR list from before you actually read it. Here the final tally was 34
9. Colour Coded Reading Challenge 2020: This is a challenge I've been doing for years, and I really like it. Read at least nine books, one for each category with blue, red, yellow, green, brown, black, white, any other colour or which implies colour in the title or on the cover. Before the rules changed so the primary colour of the cover could count to fill the category, it was a much more difficult challenge to complete. This year, since the Cannonball Read Bingo Card also had squares that involved colour, I had additional motivation to complete this challenge. I only needed to read 9, I ended up reading 27 books.
10. Contemporary Romance Challenge: Here I signed up for 3rd base, 11-15 books, and since contemporary romance turned out to be the genre I read more than anything else last year, it wasn't very difficult to complete, even though no paranormal, historical, time travel, fantasy, sci-fi or mystery/suspense/thriller were allowed. I ended up hitting my goal in February, and read 31 books over the course of the year.
11. Diversity Reading Challenge: I strive to challenge myself and read more diversely, so challenges like these are good to make sure I hit my goals. For this challenge, the author and/or one of the main characters (preferably a POV character) has to belong to a diverse group, including, but not limited to LGBTQIA, native, people of colour, gender diversity, people with disabilities, ethnic, cultural or religious minorities. I challenged myself to read at least 40 by the end of the year, and managed by the end of October. In the end, I read 51 books that qualify for this list.
12. For the Love of E-books Challenge: I set myself the most difficult challenge level here, Legend Status, with 60 or more books, because I wanted to make sure I read more than in previous years. Since I listened to more audio books this year, it took longer to complete this challenge than I was expecting. I didn't actually finish it until Christmas Eve, and by New Year's Eve, I'd only read 62 e-books this year.
13. Finishing the Series: I read far too many multi-book series, and frequently get bored and/or distracted halfway through. To encourage me to actually complete some of the many series I read, I signed up for this challenge again, I've set myself a harder goal, going for A-list, to finish 9 or more ongoing series over the course of the year. Obviously, it doesn't count if you also START the series during the year (if it did, my total would be way higher). I ended up finishing 13 series, some are still ongoing.
14. Historical Fiction Reading Challenge: Once upon a time, I could easily finish the most difficult level of this (50+ books), but nowadays, I just don't read as many historical novels as I used to. Hence, my goal for this one was a more achievable 25-50 books (the Ancient History level). As it was, I only reached my goal in mid-December and only read 28 books that would qualify as historical fiction all year.
15. Literary Pickers Challenge: Making my romance reading that little bit more fun, this challenge is like a book scavenger hunt, where you are supposed to tick off a list of items in romances, or books with a strong romantic element. I signed up for level 2 - Garage Sale Guru, where I had to tick off 25 of the 100 items on the list. Some of the categories were absolutely more difficult this year, but I still managed to find 25 items by mid-April, and by the end of the years, I'd ticked 44 different items off the list.
16. Monthly Keyword Challenge: This is one of the challenges that really helps me get through a lot of the older books on my TBR and especially encourages me to read books I actually own, not just get them from other sources. It also allows me to start each month by making a long, comprehensive list, which I absolutely love doing. There are six keywords for each month, and you can be pretty creative in interpreting the words as well, so my selection of books is rarely limited. Obviously, the minimum amount of books to complete in a year is 12, I ended up reading 28.
17. Monthly Motif Challenge: Another list that helps me work through my ever-expanding TBR list. With each month given its own motif or theme, it gives the reader a pretty wide scope to choose from. I needed to read 12 books, I completed 29.
18. New Releases Challenge: This challenge was all about reading books released in 2020, and there are enough new and exciting books coming out any given that I was pretty certain I was going to manage level 2 - New Release Pro - 31-60 books. I finished my 31st book about a third of the way through December, and ended on 37 new releases at the end of the year.
19. Retellings Challenge: I exceeded my expectations for this challenge in 201, and so decided to do it again in 2020. I signed up for the level Warrior Princess - 6-10 retellings. Sadly, this is the only one of my many challenges that I completely failed at this year - I managed only three retellings over the course of the year, despite having so many worthy candidates that would have fit the bill on my TBR list. Guess my heart just wasn't in it.
20. Tackle my TBR list: For this challenge, I set myself the goal of 37-48 books (Field Goal). Until about halfway through the year, I also did pretty well on the various monthly challenges, but that fizzled out as the year progressed and my work became more demanding. I completed 37 books by the end of July and managed to cull 54 books from my TBR in total (I bet I added more than that to the list again - sigh)
21. Mount TBR Challenge: For this challenge, the various levels are named after various peaks and mountains. Matching my other TBR challenge, I chose 37-48 books, Mount Vancouver. I like when I can complete two challenges at once, with the same amount of effort.
22. What's in a Name 2020: This was a challenge that I took a break from for a few years because I didn't like the categories offered. In 2020, the list seemed achievable, and I'd finished it by the end of November.
23. The RIP 15 Challenge: This challenge, now hosted on Twitter, is one that I take part in every September to October because I like the genres it suggests you read, and it's another easy one to complete. I frequently do seven books for this one, but only did the minimum required of 4 this year.
24. The Cannonball Bingo: For the past two years, the Cannonball Read has arranged a Bingo in the latter half of the year to keep the readers interested and motivated and the reviews on the site from dwindling. I've managed to complete the full card each time and obviously set myself that same goal in 2020. I had filled my card with about three weeks to spare, so this one felt good.
25. Reading Challenge Addict: As with pretty much every year since I started doing reading challenges, I have chosen "Out of this world" - 16 challenges or more entered and completed. Since I entered 25 challenges and completed 24, this challenge is well and truly met.
That concludes my reading challenge round-up of 2020. Stay tuned for my announcement post for 2021!
Sunday, 10 January 2021
Thursday, 31 December 2020
Dear readers, I'm not going to lie, I'm racing against the clock to get all of my reviews finished in time for the CBR12 deadline (12 noon EST - or 6 pm Oslo time). I also need to finish 25% of the final novel I'm reviewing, co-parent my autocratic, demanding, and rather clingy almost-three-year-old, plan and prep a three-course New Year's meal, and possibly do some last-minute shopping. No pressure, right? So when fellow Cannonballer Pixifer posted a review with all of her DNF's for the year, I realised that that's the only way I'm going to reach my goal in time. I probably read enough of each of these books for the total of one whole one - possibly even quite a big one.
English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory.
But at Hurtfew Abbey in Yorkshire, the rich, reclusive Mr Norrell has assembled a wonderful library of lost and forgotten books from England's magical past and regained some of the powers of England's magicians. He goes to London and raises a beautiful young woman from the dead. Soon he is lending his help to the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, creating ghostly fleets of rain-ships to confuse and alarm the French.
All goes well until a rival magician appears. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative-the very opposite of Mr Norrell. Strange thinks nothing of enduring the rigors of campaigning with Wellington's army and doing magic on battlefields. Astonished to find another practicing magician, Mr Norrell accepts Strange as a pupil. But it soon becomes clear that their ideas of what English magic ought to be are very different. For Mr Norrell, their power is something to be cautiously controlled, while Jonathan Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic. He becomes fascinated by the ancient, shadowy figure of the Raven King, a child taken by fairies who became king of both England and Faerie, and the most legendary magician of all. Eventually Strange's heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens to destroy not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear.