Flights of Fantasy Challenge 2016

Perhaps I should have made scheduled posts for these, but I’m too excited for my 2016 reading year that I’m getting them all out now! The second blogosphere challenge I’m participating in is the Flights of Fantasy challenge hosted by Alexa and Rachel! There aren’t any categories for this one, but I’m challenging myself to read at least 12 new to me fantasy books (and review them)!

I have a few choices for this challenge, like Anne Lyle’s Night’s Masque series, the rest of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series (I’ve only read the first two!), Natasha Pulley’s The Watchmaker of Filigree Street among others! I’ll come back to this post with a tentative list and a final list as books are finished and reviewed!

  1. Moth and Spark – Anne Leonard
  2. Truthwitch – Susan Dennard

Back to the Classics Challenge 2016

I want to have a more focused reading year because 2015 seemed somewhat lackluster and all over the place, so I’m participating in a few challenges in 2016! The first one is the Back to the Classics challenge hosted by Books and Chocolate. There are twelve categories, and I think that’s a reasonable amount to do. I have a personal goal to read 24 classics with 12 of them new to me, so this will be a nice challenge in conjunction with it. Aside from the one reread, each of the books read for this challenge will be ones I’ve never read but have always been meaning to read!

Here are the categories:

1. A 19th Century Classic – any book published between 1800 and 1899.

I’m not sure if Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd fits this one as it was revised in the early years of 1900, but as it was first published in the 1870s, I’ll probably count this one toward this point.

2. A 20th Century Classic – any book published between 1900 and 1966. Just like last year, all books MUST have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify. The only exception is books written at least 50 years ago, but published later.

Because I’m still surprised at myself for never reading his works before, I’ve picked John Steinbeck’s East of Eden for this bit.

3. A classic by a woman author.

There are a few I’d like to read for this bit, so it’s a toss up right now between Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. I’ll read you Wuthering Heights for once and for all this year. I’ve tried so many times to finish it, but I’ve never been able to.

4. A classic in translation. Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language.

Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is fitting the bill for this one.

5. A classic by a non-white author. Can be African-American, Asian, Latino, Native American, etc.

I feel like a terrible reader because I’ve realized lately that I don’t read many works by diverse writers, so I’m going to fix that. For this challenge I’ve chosen James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room.

6. An adventure classic – can be fiction or non-fiction. Children’s classics like Treasure Island are acceptable in this category.

I think for this one I’ll be reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World.

7. A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic. Dystopian could include classics like 1984, and children’s classics like The Hobbit are acceptable in this category also.

I’ve picked Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World for this bit.

8. A classic detective novel. It must include a detective, amateur or professional. This list of books from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction is a great starting point if you’re looking for ideas.

There are two Sherlock Holmes novels I’ve not read… so it’ll be one of those.

9. A classic which includes the name of a place in the title. It can be the name of a house, a town, a street, etc. Examples include Bleak House, Main Street, The Belly of Paris, or The Vicar of Wakefield.

James Joyce’s Dubliners will fit!

10. A classic which has been banned or censored. If possible, please mention why this book was banned or censored in your review.

D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover!

11. Re-read a classic you read in school (high school or college). If it’s a book you loved, does it stand the test of time? If it’s a book you disliked, is it any better a second time around?

I read Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth for a Women Writers course I took for my undergrad degree, so I think after taking my masters and having a bit more life experience, I’m ready to come back to it for a second time and see if it’s still as striking to me now as it was then.

12. A volume of classic short stories. This must be one complete volume, at least 8 short stories. It can be an anthology of stories by different authors, or all the stories can be by a single author. Children’s stories are acceptable in this category also.

I have a book of Henry James’ New York Stories, but it’s a bit big, so I might have a look through my collection once it’s unpacked. But as this is a challenge, I’m going to stick to a larger title!

I’m really excited about this challenge, and it’s because I’m excited about reading all of the books. Well, most of them. As mentioned above, Wuthering Heights has always been a challenge for me, but I am determined to finish it this year.

The Keen Rapunzel, Marissa Meyer’s Cress

cress

The Keen Rapunzel, Marissa Meyer’s CressTitle: Cress by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Published: February 4th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 550
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Goodreads

 

I first read this book as an e-copy while studying in England, and I plowed through it in a day. I couldn’t bring myself to do much else. I love Rapunzel as a fairy tale. Cress embodies that role perfectly – innocent, yet intelligent and intuitive. She grows throughout the entire book in a way that I never found forced or false. Her budding relationship with Thorne is perfect too. They’re probably my favorite relationship in the series because Thorne (the charming scoundrel) learns to love Cress without being able to see her (and it’s a nice reference to the fairy tale itself with him being blinded after a fall).

One of the things I am really liking about this series is the way Marissa Meyer can add new characters to the plot and not have it feel like those additions are too much or too confusing. Each character adds their own flavor to the story and round it out nicely. On some occasions it does tend to drag out a little bit, which may be the only downside to multiple POVs, and that makes it for a weaker novel if you’re looking at it from a standalone perspective. I honestly cannot wait to see how everything is resolved in the last book!

The Renegade Red Riding Hood; Marissa Meyer’s Scarlet

scarlet

The Renegade Red Riding Hood; Marissa Meyer’s ScarletTitle: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #2
Published by Feiwel and Friends
Published: February 5th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 452
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Goodreads

As I’m rereading The Lunar Chronicles in preparation for Winter, I’m taking a closer look at each of the books. I studied fairy tales in college, and I’ve always been interested in reinterpretations and retellings of the stories. I love that this series has a lot of science fiction elements woven in with the traditional magic elements often found in fairy tales.

This second one rates just a slight bit higher than the first because there’s more action, there’s a bit more world development, and a lot more character development. I won’t write out many spoilers, so I’ll touch on things I liked and didn’t like. Out of the new characters introduced, I really like Thorne. He reminds me of a younger, more rash Han Solo. Scarlet is the sort of heroine I want to see more of in books marketed toward younger readers because she’s quite open-minded about a lot of things, especially with regards to Wolf. Something that I found a little unbelievable was everyone’s utter blindness to Cinder’s true identity. The obliviousness left in that blind wake made for sort of clunky storytelling, so if anything could be remedied about this series would to either make a bigger deal of Cinder’s identity or withhold it until a more climactic reveal. Because honestly, why else would Levana be so adamant about killing Cinder?

Meyer’s writing and characterizations are stronger in this second novel of the series, and it ends with a great lead-in to Cress.

2016 Challenges and Goals

I know a lot of people set goals and resolutions for the new year, but it’s such a great time to do it! I’m moving at the end of this month (ick, timing), so being in a new place in the new year will be absolutely a great time to start reinforcing good habits and practices. I won’t list my personal goals as they don’t really fit in with the bookish theme I want to keep with this blog, tf

READING GOALS

  • Read a minimum of 100 books (tracked by Goodreads and my spreadsheet). 100 is a good number for me. I don’t feel too bad if I just read a hundred, but when I read more than that, it feels like a real accomplishment.
  • Read all of (or at least a majority of) the ARCs I’ve been approved for (on Netgalley and Edelweiss). There are fewer than 15. Sometimes about a third of them I don’t finish because I don’t like them, but I want to be better about this and get my percentages to 75% or higher. I get approval happy and have had a few books sitting on my iPad from… over a year now. I’m going to start with the oldest first and move forward. It doesn’t necessarily help that I just got a little download/request happy and filled up my queue with a bit more. I’m just really excited about these titles and need to read them now!
  • Use my library more. I want to save a good amount of money in 2016 to travel and to pay off some lingering bills, so instead of buying a lot of books (not working at a bookstore currently helps with that) I want to use my library!
  • Purchase no more than two books a month. The only times I can purchase more are when I’m taking books to my local used bookstore and have the credit for them, when I finish one of the Penguin Drop Caps and want to read the next letter, or during my birthday month (April).
  • Write about the books as I’m reading them. I started doing this last year when I started Madame Bovary (which I currently haven’t finished but I remember everything that happened). I paused every three or four chapters and wrote something about it: a summary of what happened and/or my thoughts about it, even if it’s just a few sentences. This also ties into my own personal goal of writing in a journal more. I’m going to use a journal as a catch-all for everything rather than have individual journals for different things.

BLOG GOALS

  • Post at least three times a week (hopefully Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, but whenever I feel like it because sometimes scheduling these things doesn’t always line up with my work schedule). If it makes it easier for me, I might have “writing days” in which I write a lot of posts and schedule them to be posted at a later date. Scheduled posts would work well with ARC reviews, too, because I wouldn’t want to post reviews too early.
  • Comment on blogs I like and use social media more! I visit a lot of blogs but I never comment, mostly because I feel like I have nothing to say but most of the time I feel too shy to say anything. Oops.
  • Use more images in my posts! I’ve been teaching myself Canva because it makes it really easy and helps make everything uniform!

READING CHALLENGES

I’ll make specific posts for these soon! Some of them are happening around the book blog world and some of them are my own personal challenges.

  • Flights of Fantasy – read at least 12 new to me fantasy titles.
  • #RockMyTBR – read at least 40 books I already own, cannot combine with other challenges.
  • Classics Challenge – personal challenge; read at least 24 classics, 12 must be new to me.
  • Star Wars/Star Trek – personal challenge; read at least 5 Star Wars novels and 5 Star Trek novels and review them.
  • Strips/physical ARCs – personal challenge; working for a bookstore allowed for stripped titles and ARCs to be taken home. I have quite a few of these so I’d like to read at least 10 of these and review them.

If I finish my above challenges, that puts me really, really close to my 100 title goal for 2016. I’m ready for it!