Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best of Reading 2013

I was thinking of doing this earlier, but after seeing this on a number of blogs that I subscribe to, I thought it might be time to do this.  Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner has offered the 4th annual end of year book survey and here is my attempt at this.  I will link up where I can.

1. Best Book Read in 2013
That is a difficult one to determine as there were a number of books that could qualify, but it would have to be a tie between The Book Thief and A Game of Thrones.

2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love but didn't?
This is one is a little easier because I have had some time to think about it and it would have to be Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple.  I had heard so many good things about this book, but I was a little disappointed in the book; felt confused by the nature of the book.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?
The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.

4. Book that you read in 2013 that you recommended the most in 2013? 
It probably was The Book Thief and A Game of Thrones.

5. Best series that you discovered in 2013
Even though I have only read the first book in the series, I would have to say A Song of Fire & Ice and the Flavia de Luce series.

6. Favourite new author you discovered in 2013
As with most people in the blog world, I would probably have to say Rainbow Rowell, but a close second would have to be George R.R. Martin.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
I am not a big fantasy fan, but I would have to say A Game of Thrones.

8. Most thrilling unputdownable book of 2013
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (read it in 3 days).

9. Book that you read in 2013 that you are going to reread next year
Northanger Abbey; its my bookclub's selection and I should refresh myself with the book and it won't take that long to read. 

10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2013

11. Most memorable character of 2013
For me it would be Flavia de Luce; she's such a spunky gal and even when I am not reading one of the books, I still think of her.

12. Most beautifully written book of 2013
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka; it was short and to the point.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.  While I didn't have the home life that Eleanor had (mine was more like Park's), I was teased and talked behind my back when I was in my teens.  In fact, somebody called me a fat pig in front of me, but I can imagine that there was worse that was said behind my back.

14. Book you can't believe you waited until 2013 to read
That would have to be The Book Thief by Markas Zusak.  I had purchased a copy of the book a few years ago and it had been on my TBR list and on my shelf for a number of years and I am so glad that I read it.

15. Favourite Passage/Quote from a book that you read in 2013
I think it was a passage in Dearie in which it mentioned how Julia Child loathed all the fat-free foods that were coming onto the market and that eating fatty foods in moderation was probably a good thing.

16. Shortest & Longest book you read in 2013
Shortest - A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (about 100 pages)
Longest - A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (837 pgs; while Anna K was longer by one page, I read the vast majority of the book in 2012)

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? Other than Hilly eating the pie in The Help, there really wasn't, although the scene in which the bombs landed on Himmel Street in The Book Thief was pretty close.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
For me it was the relationship between Eleanor & Park, but the second one was the relationship between Liesel and her foster father.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You Read Previously
Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen.

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else
This is a hard one, as there are a number of books, but I would have to say Longbourne by Jo Baker.

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?
Historical Fiction

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013
Robb Stark and Jon Snow (yes I know what happens to Robb in the end...)

23. Best 2013 debut you read?
I am going with Rainbow Rowell

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
The world that George R.R. Martin created in A Game of Thrones; doesn't hurt that I love the show as well.  But the world created in Crime and Punishment would be a close second.

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?
Probably the books in the Flavia de Luce series.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?
The Book Thief and The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy.

27.Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?
Can't think of one; sorry.

And then looking forward....
1. One Book You Didn't Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel; I was hoping to get around to it this year, but just couldn't.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014?
See #1.

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?I hope to read a few more of the books that have been on my shelves for a number of years and finish War & Peace.

So what did I review in 2013?  (Links leads to posts)
  Blizzard of Glass by Sally M. Walker
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era by Jessica Fellowes and Matthew Sturgis
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth
The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Titanic : Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson
The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates
The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
A Red Herring without Mustard by Alan Bradley
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
The House Girl by Tara Conklin
The Whole Truth by Kit Pearson
The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Epstein
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Where'd You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple
The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau
The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
The Life and Times of Call the Midwife by Heidi Thomas
The Dinner by Herman Koch
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Dearie : the remarkable life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz
Emma by Jane Austen
Wives & Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
Moby Dick by Herman Dick
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Longbourne by Jo Baker
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber
Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey by Emma Rowley
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Lady Catherine and the Real Downton Abbey by Fiona, Countess of Carnarvon
Thunderstruck by Erik Larsen
The Dogs of Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron
The Winter of Red Snow by Kristina Gregory
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Monday, December 30, 2013

Mailbox Mondays (Dec. 30)

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their homes during the past week. Mailbox Monday, for December, is being hosted by Rose City Reader.

Got a bunch of books for Christmas (I requested each of them).  The bottom two were from a secret Santa exchange on Elfster and the top book was from my parents.

I hope to read each of them during the next year (sorry about the quality of the photo; it was done with low light and I probably was a little too close to the books).

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2nd Annual Classics Readathon

Due to popular demand, The Classics Club is holding its own 24-readathon, classics style.  Its pretty simple and since its the start of a new year, why not start the year with that classic that you have been staring down for the past while.

Here are the details:

The readathon will take place on Saturday January 4th, 2013 and will take place over the course of 24 hours and will start at 8 am ET (its very early for those of us out west).

I can probably go until about 7ish and then after I come back, as I have been invited to a party that night (and yes, I did say I would go before I said that I would do this).   But I will attempt to read as much as I can.  If you are interested, you can sign up here.

These are the books that I am going to attempt to get more done:
• The Count of Monte Cristo
• War & Peace

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Dec. 30)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a fun weekly meme that is hosted by Shelia at Book Journey, in which we share what we've read and reviewed and what we plan on reading in the coming week.

Books finished this week:
• The Dogs of Christmas
• The Winter of Red Snow
• A Christmas Carol

Books reviewed this week:
• The Dogs of Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron (review)
• The Winter of Red Snow by Kristiana Gregory (review)
• A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (review)

Books I am hoping to read this week:
• War & Peace
• The Count of Monte Cristo
• Life after Life
• Starry Night
• Christmas Bliss
• Moon over Manifest

Also Shelia is hosting First Book of the Year, which I am planning on participating this coming Wednesday and The Classics Club is hosting their 2nd annual Classics Club readathon, which I will also be participating on Jan. 4.  If you are interested in either event, there is still plenty of time to sign up.

Sunday Salon - Favourite reads of 2013

As the turning of the year approaches, people and organizations are putting out best of lists.  And book bloggers are no different, putting out their favourite reads during the year.  And this book blogger is feeling the pressure to do this as well.

As I look on my favourite reads board on my Pintrest page (and yes this is a bit a plug for my Pintrest page), I realize that there were a number of books that I read that captured my imagination this year.  It was a surprising mixture of books that were my favourite books and there were books that while I quite enjoyed them and would recommend to other people, they weren't exactly favourites.  So without further ado, here are my favourites:

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley - 2nd in the Flavia de Luce series. Didn't like it as much as the first book, but once one got into the story, it was quite enjoyable and didn't want to put it down when reading it.

The Giver by Lois Lowry -  Second read of this particular book, as I read it when I was in my late teens. Felt that it was a lot like The Hunger Games, but better written.  I am curious to see how the movie adaptation compares to the book.

A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley - 3rd book in the Flavia de Luce series.  I think I liked this book more than the 2nd book and like how the author integrated characters from the 2nd book and how one got to explore more around the area Bishop's Lacey.

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin - 1st book the Song of Fire and Ice series.  I can see why people like this series so much.  I particularly like how the TV series incorporates a lot of what goes on in the book (the author actually has written an episode in the first season of the TV show and apparently is a fan of the show himself).  Surprisingly I gave up on the book 200 pages in about a year earlier, but once I discovered the audiobooks, there was no looking back.

Dearie : the remarkable life of Julia Child  by Bob Spitz - I had tried to read this book in 2012, but for some reason just was unable to do so.  And it was well-worth the wait to read this book.  I know that some people don't like reading biographies or memoirs, but this is one of the better books out there and even if you not the biggest foodie out there, you would be aware of Julia Child.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling - Of all the books in the Harry Potter series, this is my least favourite of the books.  I think the reason is that you have a brooding Harry Potter and a world that seems to get worse and worse over time.  But overall it was an enjoyable book and I know that the book will eventually pay off.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - Loved, loved, loved this book.  I had heard that this was an excellent book and it really did live up to the hype.  I loved it so much that I finished it within 3 or 4 days.  Still haven't seen the movie adaptation of the book, but I will have to wait for the video to come to see how it was done (from some critics, it wasn't as good as the book, but it had a lot to live up to).

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck - This one took me about half the book to get the point of the book, but once I was able to get the point of the book, I really quite enjoyed it.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley - 4th book in the Flavia de Luce series.  As one can tell, I am a big fan of the series.  One of the things that I enjoyed about this particular book is the fact that it takes place primarily on the de Luce estate and not really anywhere else.  It was a nice break from my usual reads and got me into the Christmas spirit.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - I had hear lots of talk about this one earlier in the year and was not disappointed (there were a number of books that I had heard about in 2012 and early 2013 that seemed not to live up to their hype, at least according to me).  Even though I have never had a boyfriend, I could quite easily put myself in Eleanor's position.  I really enjoy Rowell's writing of the book and am looking forward to Fangirl, which I heard is really good as well.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - Until a few years ago, I had never read straight through this book and this re-read only confirmed the fact that I enjoyed it the first time I read it.  Considering that there are only 5 chapters in the book, it is quite detailed and you can almost feel the panic that Scrooge experiences and you realize how good a writer Dickens was.

1) The Winter of Red Snow by Kristiana Gregory (review)
2)  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (review)

Friday, December 27, 2013

2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

I know that some of you are thinking that didn't I sign up for a TBR Pile Reading Challenge sometime recently and you would be correct.  But I thought I would be a little bit crazy and sign up for another TBR Pile Reading Challenge.  So here I go.

Here are the guidelines:

1.  This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2014 – Dec 31, 2014.
2.  Anyone can enter! You don’t have to be a blogger, as long as you review the book you’ve read! (On your blog, Amazon, Random Buzzers or Goodreads/Shelfari!)
3.  Any genre, length or format of book counts, as long as it is a book that’s been sitting on your shelf for some time now. Short stories and novellas are OK, too! Only books released in 2013 and earlier! NO 2014 ARCs and 2014 fresh-off-the-press releases allowed!
4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
5.  When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the 2014 TBRPILE Reading Challenge. (If you don’t have a blog, post about it on Facebook or Tweet!
6.  You can move up levels, but no moving down.
7.  Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2014, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
8. On the 20th of each month we will post a wrap-up post on BOOKISH. Every wrap-up will have it’s unique theme, a mini-challenge, a giveaway and place for you to link up your reviews from this month. For each review you link up, you will get one entry in a drawing of one book of choice from Book Depository. It’s open to INTERNATIONALS. The giveaway will be open until the next wrap up post goes up! (i.e. the entire month)
9.  If you miss a wrap-up post + giveaway, you can link up your reviews next month. Do not, however, try to link up one review twice – we will be checking ;
10.  December is a wrap-up for the whole year. All the book reviews you linked up January-November + the ones you’ll link up in December will be entered into a GRAND PRIZE giveaway
11.  You don’t have to follow Bookish Blog to join the challenge, but you do have to follow us to be entered in giveaways!

Here are the levels:

(how many books you're planning to read for this challenge in 2014)

1-10 - A Firm Handshake
11-20 - A Friendly Hug
21-30 - First Kiss
31-40 - Sweet Summer Fling
41-50Could this be love?
50+Married With Children

I hope to do the Friendly Hug level

I realize that naming the books isn't required, but because I have books that I have said I will read on the one hosted by Roof Beam Reader, I will do it here as well, in addition using the books that I have as alternates:

• War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1868)
• The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas (1844)
• The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (2012)
• Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (2010)
• The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
• The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
• The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (2003)
• Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson(2010)
• The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (1372)
• The Passage by Justin Cronin (2010)
• Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2009)
• Runaway by Alice Munro (2004)

• Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (2005)
• A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin (1996)

I might add two of the books that aren't here that I got for Christmas (Dear Life and The Luminaries) and the one the new Flavia de Luce paperback (Speaking from Among the Bones) that I purchased before Christmas.

2014 Love Library Books Reading Challenge

I love libraries and books that they offer. But I do have a tendency to bite more than I can chew. But that being said, most of the books that I read throughout the year are more than likely a library book and  therefore this challenge is perfect for me.  Here are the details as given by the host, Book Dragon's Lair:

  • choose a level - you may move up as needed, just not down.
  • check books out of the library
  • books may overlap with other challenges
  • any format allowed (print, ebook, audio)
  • reviews are not necessary but a list of books read is. (post with review linky is coming)
  • a blog is not necessary, just comment that you want to join in.

  • board book - 3
  • picture book - 6
  • early reader - 9
  • chapter book - 12
  • middle grades - 18
  • Young adult - 24
  • adult - 36
  • just insert IV - 50  

I am going to aim for Middle grades (18 books) and will link up my reviews here.  The linky for the reviews will be posted on Book Dragon's Lair's site, probably in the early part of January, and I will post a link to that page when it becomes available.

1. Starry Night by Debbie Macomber (review)
2. Christmas Bliss by Mary Kay Andrews (review)

2014 Shakespeare Reading Challenge

This one appealed to me on a number of levels, the most of which was the fact that I have a number of plays that I need to complete for my Classics Club challenge and it seemed a good way in getting a number of plays out of the way.  Here are the details of the challenge:

  •  This reading challenge runs from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2014
  • You can join at any time
  • Any of William Shakespeare’s works are acceptable–his plays and his sonnets–so long as it is a text. No movie or television adaptations or theatre performances (unless you read the text first and then watched an adaptation…that’s okay) ;)
  • Linking your reviews to the Linky Widget that I will be posting later this month is optional but strongly recommended just so that we can share titles and thoughts with other bloggers and get to know each other in the process :)
Levels (sorry, not feeling very creative coming up with these levels, lol; I’m pretty laxed about this):
  • 1 – 4 plays — Occasional theatre-goer
  • 5 – 9 plays — Frequent theatre-goer
  • 10 – 12 plays — Regular theatre-goer

I am going to aim for 1-4 plays (Occasional Theatre-goer), as I have a number of other challenges on the go as well.  I will link up to the plays here as I review them.


The host will be putting up a master post on 31 December 2013 for people to link reviews to and I will post a link to that page on my sidebar.

2014 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

If there is a challenge that I am a sucker for, it has to be this one.  I didn't finish this one in 2013, at least I don't think I did (will have to count up the books that I did read for the challenge before I can say if it was a bust or not), but in any case I do enjoy this challenge.

The challenge is run by the wonderful ladies who run Historical Tapestry.   And this year is no exception, even though there was a little bit of doubt that they would not run it.  But in any case they are and I hope you can join me.  Here are their rules and guidelines for the challenge:

Each month, a new post dedicated to the HF Challenge will be created. To participate, you only have to follow the rules:

  • everyone can participate, even those who don't have a blog (you can add your book title and thoughts in the comment section if you wish)
  • add the link(s) of your review(s) including your name and book title to the Mister Linky we’ll be adding to our monthly post (please, do not add your blog link, but the correct address that will guide us directly to your review)
  • any kind of historical fiction is accepted (HF fantasy, HF young adult,...)
During the following 12 months you can choose one of the different reading levels: 

20th century reader - 2 books
Victorian reader - 5 books
Renaissance Reader - 10 books
Medieval - 15 books
Ancient History - 25 books
Prehistoric - 50+ books

You can tailor the challenge to suit you in whichever way you like! For example, last year I was only counting books by Australian authors for my own participation in the challenge just to make it a bit harder for myself. I also know of one participant who over the last couple of years has only read historical mysteries as it suits their own reading tastes!

To join the challenge you only need to make a post about it, add your link in Mr Linky below or just leave a link to your blog if you are not yet ready to post about it yet. If you don't have a blog you can just leave a comment for this post saying that you are joining.
The challenge runs from 1 January to 31 December 2014.
We look forward to having you join us in reading and enjoying the best in historical fiction over the next year.

As for me,  I am going to aim for the Victorian reader (5 books), given that I have a lot of other books that I need to be reading this coming year.  I will be updating this page as I read various pieces of historical fiction.


2014 Finishing the Series Reading Challenge

Like some of the other reading challenges I have signed up for this coming year for the first time, I found this one while just browsing around on A Novel Challenge and it looked appealing and actually pretty doable.  Here are the guidelines and levels as put up by the host, Socrates Book Reviews:

Here are the rules guidelines.

1) All books that are part of a continuing series qualify (i.e. Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove, Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum, James Patterson's Alex Cross, etc. etc.)

2) It doesn't matter if you have 1 or 10 books in a series to complete it, it qualifies (i.e. if you only need to read one more Sookie Stackhouse book to complete the goal, that's fine) The goal is to complete a series from wherever you are up to until the last published book.

3) The qualification period is January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014. Books must be read during this time frame to count.

4) Take the button above and post about it. Use the Mr. Linky below to sign up and make sure you link it directly to your post about this challenge.

5) If you don't have a blog, that's fine. Just leave a comment to sign up and tell us what you are reading. Or you can join my Goodreads group for this challenge by clicking here.

6) Any format of book counts - audio, ebook, etc.

7) You should choose the series you want to finish before the challenge begins, but it isn't necessary. It's fine to change series during the year - as long as you complete whichever series it is.

8) Choose a level....

Level 1 - Complete 1 series.
Level 2 - Complete 2 series.
Level 3 - Complete 3 or more series.

I am going to do Level 1, as I want to complete the Harry Potter series, again.  I may select another series or two to complete, but I will see how the reading goes.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Eclectic Reader Challenge 2014

I was perusing the challenges on A Novel Challenge and this looked interesting.  I don't know what did it for me, but I think it was the categories that were included in the challenge.

To sign up, go to Book'd Out.  Details of the challenge are below copied from the blog:

 In it’s third year, the aim of The Eclectic Reader 2014 Challenge is to push you outside your comfort zone by reading up to 12 books during the year from 12 different categories.

Join in:

  • The challenge will run from January 1st to December 31st 2014. Participants may join at any time up until December 1st 2014
  • Create a blog post committing to  your participation in this challenge.
*  If you don’t have a blog you are still welcome to sign up. You can create a shelf for the challenge at Goodreads or LibraryThing or a similar site Just include your name and a link to your shelf.
  • Post your name, blog name, and the direct link to your challenge post in the Linky using the link below

Click here to enter your link to sign up for the challenge

  • Select, read and review a book from each genre listed below during the year for a total of 12 books. A book may be in print, electronic or audio format.
*  You can choose your books as you go or create a list in advance. You may combine this challenge with others if you wish.
*  Where a book is identified by more than one genre eg historical romance, it may only count for either the historical fiction or romantic fiction genres – not both.
*  You can read your chosen titles in any order, at any pace, just complete the challenge by December 31st 2014 to be eligible for the prize drawing.


  1. Award Winning
  2. True Crime (Non Fiction)
  3. Romantic Comedy
  4. Alternate History Fiction
  5. Graphic Novel
  6. Cosy Mystery Fiction
  7. Gothic Fiction
  8. War/Military Fiction
  9. Anthology
  10. Medical Thriller Fiction
  11. Travel (Non Fiction)
  12. Published in 2014
If you need some ideas for what to read in the above categories I suggest you search Listopia at Goodreads for example click here for a list that includes Alternate History titles
  • Each time you read and review a book as part of this challenge, make sure you identify it by adding either a direct statement  and /or the challenge image badge to the post. If you tweet use the tag #eclecticreader or @bookdout
  • Share your review with other challenge participants by posting your name/blog name and title of the book with a direct link to your review in the Linky.

The Foodies Read 2014 Challenge

I did this one and actually managed to complete my goal of reading 1-3 foodie books this past year (think I read 2, but I know for sure I read 1).  I know some of you are wondering what qualifies as a foodie book, but as the host describes, its a book that "is centered around food and/or drinks. That could be a cookbook, a food biography or memoir, a non-fiction book focused around a specific food, wine, chef or restaurant, or a fictional story in which food plays a major role."

I am hoping to read at least one food-related book, maybe 2.  If you wish to sign up, click the photo above.  So in other words, I hope to obtain the level of Short-order cook.

Pre-Printing Press Challenge 2013-2014 Edition

I have never done this sort of a challenge, but I think I could easily do this one, especially since I have been hoping to read at least a couple of them that were mentioned.  My goal is to read The Oresteia and Homer's The Odyssey.  If you wish to join, here are the guidelines:

  1. All books must have come out before 1440, when the printing press was first invented.
  2. Books chosen for this challenge can overlap with other challenges.
  3. Books can be translated into the language of your choice.
  4. All the books you've chosen must be read by December 31, 2014.
  5. You can read 1-3 books, 4-6 books, 7-9 books or 10 or more books if you're feeling particularly ambitious.
  6. The choice of books is up to you. There are no set reading lists, and you don't have to set one when you join.
  7. Post your blog address where you'll be posting your comments on your choice of books in the comments of this post when you join, and tell me how many books you've chosen. I'll set up a link to participating blogs from here.
  8. Above all, Have fun.
This particular challenge started on December 1 of this year, but I am going to start in January.  If you wish to join, click the photo.

2014 War Through the Generations Challenge with a Twist


I was able to finish last years challenge on the American Revolution through my Dear America book and this one looks interesting.  Here are the guidelines and levels:

Here’s the schedule:
  • Jan./Feb.: Gulf Wars (Gulf War/Operation Desert Storm and Iraq War/Operation Iraqi Freedom)
  • March/April: French and Indian War
  • May/June: Korean War
  • July/August: WWI (100th Anniversary)
  • Sept./Oct.: WWII
  • Nov./Dec.: Vietnam War
Level of Participation:
  • Dip Your Toes: Read 1 book for any war
  • Novice: Read 1 book per war throughout the year for a total of 6 books on 6 different wars
  • Intermediate: Read 2+ books for 1 war, and 1 book for each of the others for a total of 7 books
  • Expert: Read 2+ books for each war for a total of 12 books
I will aim for the Dip Your Toes level.  If you wish to join, click the photo above to sign up.  As of this moment I have no clue as to what I am going to read.  And yes, there are books in each section...

2014 Ebook Reading Challenge

I did this one this past year and believe I finished it.  Here are the guidelines and levels associated with this challenge:

Challenge Guidelines:
  1. This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2014 – Dec 31, 2014.
  2. Anyone can join, you don’t need to be a blogger. If you don’t have a blog, feel free to sign-up in the comments. You can post reviews to any book site (i.e. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Goodreads, etc).
  3. Any genre or length of book counts, as long as it is in ebook format.
  4. You can plan your books in advance or as you read them.
  5. When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the E-Book Reading Challenge.
  6. Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2014, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
  1. Floppy disk – 5 ebooks
  2. CD – 10 ebooks
  3. DVD – 25 ebooks
  4. Memory stick – 50 ebooks
  5. Hard drive – 75 ebooks
  6. Server – 100 ebooks
  7. Human brain – 150 ebooks
If you wish to join me, you can click on the photo above and join in.  I am planning on doing the CD level.  I will be adding links to reviews on this page as I read throughout the year.

1. Villette by Charlotte Bronte (review)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

Title: A Christmas Carol
Author: Charles Dickens
File size (Pages): 939 KB (104)
Published: 2010 (originally published 1843)
Challenges: Christmas Spirit, e-book, The Classics Club
Genre: Christmas, Classics, Fiction
Edition: E-book
Source: Personal

Description: The beloved holiday classic with illustrations by John Leech. A Christmas Carol is Dickens' haunting cautionary tale about Ebenezer Scrooge a miserly businessman who dismisses charity and holiday cheer with an icy "bah humbug!" One night Scrooge finds himself visited by the ghost of his late business partner Jacob Marley returned from the dead with a trio of spirits and a plea for his old friend Ebenezer to change his ways and open his heart to the true meaning of Christmas... before it's too late. (via kobobooks.com)

Thoughts: This is my second time reading this short Christmas novel.  And reading it the second time, I had new appreciation for the book.  Even though it is quite simple, it is also quite complex, in that I suppose we all have a bit of Scrooge in us and all need to be reminded from time to time we could easily become like him, due to our fallen nature.  And I suppose it is always a good reminder that being bitter and miserly does nobody any good.

While I did feel that the chapters were a little on the long side, Dickens did a masterful job in showing how we as humans beings can easily become like Mr. Scrooge and that bitterness from a number of events can leave us in a similar position.  It is truly a book that should be read by most people at some point.

Bottom line: It is a book that I would recommend that people read at least once in their lifetime, but I think fans of either novellas or Dickens would probably appreciate this book a bit more.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.75/5

Pages for 2013: 19, 559

A Christmas Carol (1951)

Title: A Christmas Carol
Director: Brian Diamond Hurst
Running time: 86 min
Released: 1951

Description: An old bitter miser is given a chance for redemption when he is haunted by ghosts on Christmas Eve. (via IMDb.com)

Thoughts: This is probably my favourite Christmas movie and has been for some time.  I know for a lot of people its something else, but because my dad would often seek out this version of the film, we would usually watch it at some point during the Christmas holidays, usually Christmas Day or Boxing Day.  While I do like the Disney animated version, this is the version that I grew up with as a kid, mind you it was the colour version, but when we did watch the black & white version, it always creeped me out, especially since the shadows seemed more sinister, and it is always the one that I will have a special kinship towards.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year; may all your bookish dreams come true!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Winter Of Red Snow - Kristiana Gregory

Title: The Winter of Red Snow: The Revolutionary War Diary of Abigail Jane Stewart, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, 1777
Author: Kristiana Gregory
Pages: 192
Published: 2010 (originally published 1996)
Challenges: Historical Fiction, War Through the Generations
Genre: Historical Fiction, Children's literature
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: Eleven-year-old Abigail Jane Stewart's fictionalized diary about her life, family, friends, and neighbors, and the sides they have to choose in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, during the height of the Revolutionary War, renders a vivid portrayal of one of the most memorable and crucial winters in American history.

Abby's life with her family is quickly upended when they are awakened by the unfamiliar sound of drums. General George Washington is leading the Continental soldiers into their winter encampment at Valley Forge, PA. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: For myself as an adult, this was a book that I got through during the course of an evening, but for a younger reader probably around 9 or 10 years of age, this book probably would take a bit longer to read, but if they are good readers, they will probably enjoy them. 

I like how the author put enough facts into the book to make the reader intrigued to further research, if they are interested in such a thing, but also put enough fiction so that the reader can actually enjoy the story.  It also is fairly clean enough, with the exception of a few scenes in which there are some amputations, etc, but nothing too graphic, to parents not worry about the content of this particular series.

Bottom line: I would recommend this book and possibly the other books in this series to those readers that are the middle grades, probably starting around grade 3 or 4, depending on the reader, and those that may have an interest in historical fiction. Recommended.

Rating: 4/5

Pages for 2013: 19, 455

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday Salon - Right Now (12/22/13)

I hope some, if not all, of you are finally able to relax and take sometime with your family and/or friends.

Time:  5:24 pm Pacific
Place: Home, in the same place I was last week.
Listening to: Listened to a couple of podcasts this morning (one was a book podcast and the other was a history podcast)
Eating: a salad.  I am off to church in a bit and just came back from seeing the middle Hobbit movie and needed something to eat, other than candy.
Watching: the Canucks/Winnipeg Jets game.
Reading: Read a bit of War & Peace while waiting for the movie to start this afternoon; its great having a book app on my phone (mine is Kobo)
Making: Other than a bunch of mess, nothing much, although I decided that making Waikiki Meatballs was a great idea at 11 pm yesterday (the meatballs were premade)
Planning: What to pack for my short Christmas trip to the mountains
Feeling: Rushed.  That could also be the caffeine talking, but I am feeling rather rushed with all that I need to do before I leave for my mini-break from home for a few days.
Loving:  That I will have a white Christmas; hopefully it won't be as cold as last years and that I will be able to see my sister for the first time since a Skype chat in October (or was it November).  In otherwords, its been sometime since I last saw her.
Wanting: To calm down. I have been feeling anxious for the last few days and it seems that the harder I try to calm down, the more I feel anxious.
Thinking:  Not much, other than how I am going to get packing done, which will be done by tomorrow morning.
Looking forward to: Spending time with my parents and sister and the pressies that await me.

• The Dogs of Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron (review)

The Dogs of Christmas - W. Bruce Cameron

Title: The Dogs of Christmas
Author: W. Bruce Cameron
Pages: 233
Published: 2013
Challenges: Christmas Spirit
Genre: Fiction, Christmas
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: While nursing a broken heart, Josh Michaels is outraged when a neighbor abandons his very pregnant dog, Lucy, at Josh’s Colorado home. But Josh can’t resist Lucy’s soulful brown eyes, and though he’s never had a dog before, he’s determined to do the best he can for Lucy—and her soon-to-arrive, bound-to-be-adorable puppies. 

Soon in over his head, Josh calls the local animal shelter for help, and meets Kerri, a beautiful woman with a quick wit and a fierce love for animals. As Kerri teaches Josh how to care for Lucy’s tiny puppies and gets them ready to be adopted through the shelter’s “Dogs of Christmas” program, Josh surprises himself by falling for her.

But he’s fallen even harder for his new furry family, which has brought incredible joy into Josh’s life. He barely has time to sit down, between chasing after adventurous Sophie and brave Oliver, but when he does, his lap is quickly filled by the affectionate Lola. And Rufus and Cody’s strong bond makes Josh wonder about his own relationships with his family.

With Christmas and the adoption date looming, Josh finds himself wondering if he can separate himself from his beloved puppies. At odds with Kerri, Josh isn’t willing to lose her, but doesn’t know how to set things right. Can a surprise litter of Christmas puppies really change one man’s life? (via Goodreads)

Thoughts:  I really quire enjoyed this book, even though I am not a dog person myself.   Its the sort of read that one can easily get through in a day or two, but for some reason it took me about 2 weeks to get through.  But that is besides the point.  Even though the book is a easy read, it isn't overly sappy; it has the right amount of sappiness that allows one to quickly get through the book.

Bottom line:  It's a nice light story that allows the reader to be engaged with the story through out the book and is appropriate for readers that wish to get some reading during the busy and chaotic holiday season.  Recommended.

Rating: 3/5

Pages for 2013: 19, 263

Saturday, December 21, 2013

History Reading Challenge 2014 – A Sail to the Past

As some of my readers know I love history and so much so, I slaved away on a 4-year BA history degree.  I realize that its nothing to sniff at, but in the almost 10 years since getting my degree, I have barely picked up a historical text, even though I have read lots of historical fiction in the intervening years.

So when I stumbled across this challenge, I thought that this would be a great way of reading some of the books on history that are accumulating dust on my shelves.  I may only get to one of them, but that is better than most years.

The person in charge of this challenge has some very specific guidelines so if you are interested in the challenge, you can click the photo and find out more.

As for me, I plan on doing the student level.

Back to the Classics 2014

I am going to try this one again and I think that I may actually get this one completed, considering the books I am possibly going to do for this year.  There is a new host this year, but it is somebody who is familiar with the challenge.  Click the photo above to get yourself to the sign up page.

The main rule is that you have to chose a book that is published before 1965; so basically anything up to 1964.

Here are the main guidelines from the host at Books and Chocolate:
  • All books must be read in 2014.  Books started prior to January 1, 2014 are not eligible.  Reviews must be linked by December 31, 2014.
  • E-books and audiobooks are eligible!  Books can count for other challenges you may be working on.  However, books may NOT crossover categories within this challenge.  You may NOT count the same book twice for different categories in this challenge.  
  • If you do not have a blog, you may link your review from Goodreads or other publicly accessible online format.  
  • Please sign up for the challenge using the linky below BEFORE MARCH 1, 2014.  Please link to your sign-up announcement post (if possible/applicable).
  • You do not have to list your books prior to starting the challenge, but it is more fun that way :).  You can always change your list at any time.  You can read the books in any order (including mixing in the optional categories at any time).
  • You can decide to attempt the optional categories at any point (you can also bow out of the optional categories at any point as well).
  • Please identify the categories you've read in your wrap-up post so that I can easily add up your entries for the prize drawing! 
And finally. . . . The 2014 categories: 

  1. A 20th Century Classic
  2. A 19th Century Classic
  3. A Classic by a Woman Author
  4. A Classic in Translation  If English is not your primary language, then books originally published in English are acceptable.  You could also read the book in its original language if you are willing and able to do so.
  5. A Wartime Classic  2014 will be the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I.  Any book relating to a war is fine -- WWI, WWII, the French Revolution, the War of the Worlds -- your choice.
  6. A Classic by an Author Who Is New To You This can be any author whose works you have not read before.  It doesn't necessarily have to be an author you've never heard of.  
Optional Categories:
  1. An American Classic
  2. A Classic Mystery, Suspense or Thriller 
  3. A Historical Fiction Classic.  This is any classic set at least 50 years before the time when it was written.  For example, Margaret Mitchell published Gone with the Wind 70 years after the end of the Civil War; therefore, it is considered a historical novel.  A Tale of Two Cities and The Scarlet Letter are also historical novels.  However, older classics set during the period in which they were written are not considered historical; for example, the novels of Jane Austen.
  4. A Classic That's Been Adapted Into a Movie or TV Series.  Any period, any genre!  This is practically a free choice category.  However, it's a separate category than the required categories.
  5. Extra Fun Category:  Write a Review of the Movie or TV Series adapted from Optional Category #4.  This should be some kind of posting reviewing the book read for the previous optional category above.  It can be any adaptation -- does not have to be adapted before 1964.  For example, if you chose Pride and Prejudice as your the optional classic above, you could review any adaptation -- 1940, 1980, 1995, 2005, etc. These two optional categories go together, but this must be a separate blog posting -- no fair just mentioning it in the book review!
Here are the books that I plan on reading for the challenge in each of the categories

1. 20th Century Classic To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
2. 19th Century Classic Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
3. Classic by a woman author North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
4. Classic in translation Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
5. Wartime classic All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
6. Classic by an Author who is new to you The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

Optional Categories
1. An American Classic The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
2. A Classic Mystery, Suspense or Thriller  The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
3. A Historical Fiction Classic A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
4. A Classic That's Been Adapted Into a Movie or TV Series Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
5. Extra Fun Category:  Write a Review of the Movie or TV Series adapted from Optional Category #4.

I hope everything passes the sniff test and I look forward to start my list in the new year!

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