Category Archives: Challenges

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2022 Winter Reading Challenge

It’s that time of year again, time to set out my yearly Winter Reading Challenge. OK, it might be a stretch to call it yearly. I did a big one last year and a small one in 2017. But I’m aiming to make it yearly. How about that?

Here’s a little history/housekeeping first. In those past posts, I’ve called this my Christmas Reading Challenge. Then, at some point last year, I had an ah-ha moment and realized that was problematic. It excludes all the other holidays occurring at around the same time.

For me, Christmas is Santa and elves and shiny bows. I simply wasn’t thinking nativity scenes versus yule logs or menorahs. But once I realized even my secular use of the word Christmas was excluding other people’s celebration of the season, I swapped over to Holiday Reading Challenge (trying to be more inclusive). But that left me with consistency issues, as I’d said Christmas for the first half of the challenge, which annoyed me.

snowflake-Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from PixabaySo, this year I’m avoiding the issue altogether and going with Winter Reading Challenge. This has a second bonus benefit too. I read a ton of holiday books and stories last year (44)! Which is great, since the whole point of a holiday challenge is to clear holiday-themed books off my TBR. I tend to pick them up throughout the year, but find that I almost never want to read a holiday book in, say, June. So, it’s read them this time of year or not at all. And I enjoyed the heck out of it overall.

But, honestly, I also got really tired of holiday-themed books toward the end. This is partly just too much of a good thing. But it was also a symptom of the fact that a lot of the holiday-themed books I had on my shelves were/are contemporary romances, and I simply haven’t been craving contemporary romances lately.

So, the secondary bonus of making this a Winter Reading Challenge instead of a Holiday Reading Challenge is that I got to pick out books that give me Winter Vibes in general. That gives me a lot more books to choose from and, I hope, will avoid the holiday theme burn-out. There are some cons to this, though.

  • I own a lot of wintry books. So, the challenge pool is huge.snowflake-Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay
  • Clearing Winter books off the TBR isn’t accomplishing quite the same thing as clearing holiday-themed books off it.
  • There is a much bigger chance of accidentally reading books as part of the challenge, that turns out not to actually meet the qualification of the challenge.

This last one deserves a moment of consideration. I had to sit and think about what to do with such books. The manner in which I chose the books for this challenge was by going through my Goodreads shelves—only books I already own qualify—and picking out anything that gave me a wintry vibe, be it from the title, plot, or cover. I’m aware that there will be cases in which some element I took as snow-like (for example) might actually be stars or rain on closer examination, and the book might not be wintry at all. So, I thought on it…and decided that I get to make the rules, and they count anyway (though having an author named Winter does not). Giving me wintry vibes is pretty loosy-goosy, but I’m running with it.

As a result, my challenge reading pool currently has 12 short stories (anything under 100 pages) and 165 Wintry books (couple of those are compilations). Obviously, I’ll only read a fraction of these. Even starting as early as I am this year, with my current school schedule, I’m aiming for all the short stories (some of which are in series that require me to read books before reaching them) and 20 books from the challenge list; giving precedence to anything left over from last year’s challenge and physical books. (I need the shelf space!) Plus, some of these have been on my TBR for a long time. So, I’ll give a thought or two to age.

And yes, I do realize that it’s ridiculous to pick out 165 books, in order to choose 20 from that list. But it’s my challenge and makes me happy. So, just roll with it.

Ok, that was a lot of words to explain a simple idea. Let’s get to the actual books, shall we? It should be noted that (in most cases) if the wintry book was later in a series, I only added it to the list, not the preceding books. And if a whole series seemed wintry, I only added the first book in the series to the list (even if I might end up reading more than that first one).

Here are the short stories.

Winter short stories

Miss January
Paddy’s Power
Careened
Ozoni and Onsens
Illicit Activity
Counting Fence Posts
A Trial of Ice Blood
His Curious Mate
Deck the Demons
One Charmed Evening
The Greatest Gift
Family

Some of those are left over from last year. I pulled them from the running because they were 3rd or 4th in series. It’s my goal to read them this year. But we’ll see what actually happens.

Now for the bulk of the challenge, the full-length books. Last year I broke them up by length. I didn’t this year. I’ve simply ordered them by author. But I’ve clustered them just a little bit, to avoid a wall of text. (And let’s be honest, I’ll still probably read the shorter books first. Just to trick myself into feeling like I accomplished more if nothing else.)

Here we go:

2022 winter reading challenge 1

Gingerbread Mistletoe
Mountains Wanted
Only Gold
Blue Skies
Winter Rising
The Last Sky
Lady at Last
The Rising Tide
The Perfect Place
A Wedding in Twinkle Falls
Hint of Danger
Stealing the Wind
A Dance of Water and Air
Cursed: Broken
Intrigued
Cold Attraction
Decadence
Black Briar
Carried Away
Bring Me Edelweiss
Mistletoe in the Marigny
Impact Winter
Quest of the Dreamwalker
Christmas Spirit
Training Season
Will and Patrick Do the Holidays
Mr. Naughty List
Valor
The Dashing Widow
Blood Bound
League of Vampires
The Cold Beneath
The Ducal Detective
Mating the Omega
A Taste of Seduction
Star Found

2022 winter reading challenge 2Enchanted
Magic & Murder
Witching for Grace
Cedardale
The Cardinal Gate
Mystic Invisible
Witch Myth: Wildfire —> Review
The Alien Bride Lottery —> Review
Destiny Awaits
The Storm and the Darkness
Caleo
Mischief & Mistletoe
Shadow & Poison
Hara’s Legacy
Frost
Mistress of the Wind
Between Shades of Gray
Trapped
Cold Grey
The Coventry Carol
The Winter Duchess
Cherishing the Goddess
Once Upon a Midwinter’s Kiss
Dragon Dilemma
Quantum Cannibals
The Last Winter of Lonely
Cold Magic
Long Winter
Believed
Rule of Claw
Night In His Eyes —> Review
His Christmas Bride
Demon Slave
Winter Knights
Living In Ether
Song at Dawn

2022 winter reading challenge 3Murder Wears Mittens
Three Dog Night
Whiteout
Bits of the Past
Saving Eira
Chains of Frost
Spark of Lightning
The Skin
Wynter
Jonathan’s Hope
The Fallen Angels of Karnataka
Unbonded
Unwrapping Ainsley
Cabin Love
The Compeer
Winter Blom
Naughty & Nice
Once Upon an Academy
The Gentleman Devil
Handsome and the Yeti
Wolves and Daggers
The Fallen Snow
It’s You
Other Side of the Stars
The Unseelie Prince —> Review
Fallen Lady
Passing Strange
Lucky in Loveland
Withered + Seer
Shinigami
Kodiak’s Claim
Academia of the Beast
Fallen Empire
Lullaby
Taming Teddy
The Raven’s Flight

2022 winter reading challenge 4Academy of Magical Creatures
Winter’s Edge
A Beautiful World
London Holiday
Iron
Moroda
Pure & Sinful
Once Upon a Forbidden Desire
Devil’s Backbone
Tuyo
Cold Feet
Winter’s Heat
Murder in an Irish Churchyard
The Alps
Curse of the Wolf King
Snow Kissed
Black River Pack
Snowbirds of Prey
Snow
Minerva
The Power of Three
The Longing of Lone Wolves
Falling for a Rake
The Storm Glass
Princess of Lost Memories
Fae’s Prisoner
Darkling
Winter’s Fury
Ice Cold Death
The Tarot Witches
Winter’s Blood
The Distance Between
Parker
Coldheart
A Case For Christmas
Cold From the North

2022 winter reading challenge 5Cecilia
Spirits of Falajen
Alexi
Drunk, Blind, Stupid Cupid
What the Stubborn Viscount Desires
A Moment After Dark
Chasing the Duke
Shrewd Angel
The Dragon Warrior and the Princess
Awakened
Dust of Snow
Snowblind
A Very Shifter Holiday Boxed Set
Angeli
Skinner Luce
Boy Toys
Dragon Song
Eight Kinky Nights
Santa’s Wolves
Daughters of the Storm
From Out in the Cold
Blood Hunter
Seeking Snow Falls
To Catch a Fae

snowflake-Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from PixabaySoooo, that’s a lot, right? There are several genres in there, plus books of various lengths, ebooks, audiobooks, and physical books—so, lots of variety. And that’s assuming I don’t come across one or two I missed on my Goodreads shelves or pick up a new one (which I’ve promised myself I won’t do and, even if I do, it won’t count, but…we’ll see if I can stick to that).

As I said, I expect I’ll only accomplish a fraction of these. But this gargantuan list is what I’ve set aside to choose from. I think I’ll come back and link reviews as I post them. To make them easier to find. Anyhow, there you have it, my 2022 Winter Reading Challenge.

What do you think? Too much? Do you do reading challenges?

Creating Some Shelf Space

I am creating a new reading challenge for myself, a two-part one. I have several long-term ones running at the moment. So, what I obviously need is one more. But I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, and it’s time.

My physical book shelves are out of control; completely overflowing their bounds, and this is entirely my own fault. I am really bad about putting a book on the self and then—out of sight, out of mind—totally forgetting about it. I end up reading almost entirely from newer books that are fresher in mind and older books sit around getting older.

So, what I did this morning was pick out five of the oldest books I’ve won over the years (be it from Goodreads, author websites, twitter, whatever). Some of them I’ve owned long enough to have packed and shipped them to England AND BACK with our international moves. It’s time to get them read and reviewed.

This turned out to be:

five oldest won books

  • Nikolai 2, by Roxie Rivera (I reviewed book 1 here)
  • A Weak American in Russia & Ukraine, by Walter Parchomenko (which seems especially timely given the state of Russia and the Ukraine right now)
  • Broken Point, by Donna K. Childree & Mike L. Hopper
  • Noughts & Crosses, by Malorie Blackman
  • The Angel of History, by Rabih Alameddine

Then, since physical shelf space is what is lacking, I grabbed the longest, most epic of epic books on the shelf. I accomplished this with the super scientific method of looking at the shelves and pulling out the fattest ones.

longest

For the epic stack I pulled out six books. (I suppose, technically, Nikolai could cross over and fit either stack.) But the six I’m counting here are:

  • The Black Prism, by Brent Weeks
  • Dragon Mage, by M.L. Spencer
  • The Icewind Dale Trilogy, by R.A. Salvator
  • Macbeth, by Jo Nesbø
  • The Empire of Gold, by S.A. Chakraborty
  • The Newcomer, by Mary Kay Andrews

And of course, The Empire of Gold is actually 3rd in its series. So, I’ll need to read the previous books first.

This is obviously a challenge that will take a while. I can’t even dive into it right away. I’ve committed myself to several reviews with deadlines that I have to get done first. But I’ve pulled the books from the anonymity of the general book shelf, which means I’ll hopefully remember to grab them when looking for my next read.

Plus, I’ve been reading a lot of short stories lately. Which Goodreads just counts as a book. So, I feel like my Goodreads Challenge numbers are inflated. Reading some epics will balance the scales a little. Right?

I figure this aught to keep me busy for a while and free up a collective 2-foot, or so, of space. Success!


Edit: I’ve decided to simply add links to the reviews as I finish these books, rather than do a separate wrap-up post.

christmas 2021 reading challenge wrapup

Wrapping up 2021’s Christmas Reading Challenge

Oh man, this Christmas Reading Challenge turned out to be huge and I hadn’t really realized that it would when I came up with the idea. I just blithely thought, “Oh, I’ll read all those Christmas books that have been hanging out on my TBR for several years.” What I didn’t consider is that the list of Holiday books hanging out on my TBR has been growing every year for several years, as I randomly add one here or there, then one more, and then just one more.

The result was that I had close to fifty (including the short stories). So, I reassessed and said, “Well, I’ll aim to post one review a day between December 1 and Christmas Day and just try and read an many of them as I can.” That felt more manageable and would still put a dent in the list of Holiday books I have apparently been hoarding.


If you need a reminder, here is a link to my initial Challenge post where I set out my goals.

A Christmas Reading Challenge


Here’s the thing about reading challenges. Once you set one, you tend to subconsciously be on the lookout for books that match it (or at least I do). I told myself not to add anymore Christmas books to the list (no more Hanukkah or Yule or Solstice books either). I had enough. But I have so little self control in the book department. So, I ended up adding to the list this year too. I rationalized this mostly by telling myself that the majority of the books I’d had for a while were contemporary romances, from back when I used to read more of that genre (which I don’t now-a-days). I wanted some variety, so I picked up some historicals and some paranormals.

By the time Christmas (today) rolled around, I had 62 stories or books to read. No way could I read all of them, even if I did start way back in something like September! Not even once I removed the five I opted to not read. christmas stories removed (I removed A Wedding in Twinkle Falls, Careened, Illicit Activity, The Greatest Gift, and Family because they are all latter books in series and I’ve not reached the point where they fit in those series yet. I would have needed to read multiple books before getting to them. I didn’t have the time to do that. So, I set them aside. That left me 57 stories/books—still a mighty challenge.)

Here’s the thing though, I got close . I got SO close. Much, much, much closer than I thought I would. As of today, I have 14 books left on the list. That’s still a decent number. But only having 14 left, out of 57, is impressive, if I don’t say so myself (which I do).

I feel like this is so close to actual completion that if I hadn’t added any this year (like I said I wouldn’t) I would have managed to read them all. I considered extending the challenge to New Years Eve and finishing it off. In fact, I did. I told myself it was OK to do that. But then I decided to clean off my short story shelf instead. So, there will be 14 Christmas books on the list for next year’s Holiday Reading Challenge.

***

Outside of just my absurd tendency to collect more books than is reasonable, the challenge was also just a lot of fun. When you sit down and read 44 Holiday stories almost in a row (mostly Christmas) you start to see similarities and differences. Of course, how an author depicts a holiday isn’t necessarily indicative of their own traditions. But it was fun to see so the holidays celebrated in many different ways. Different foods eaten, different times to open presents, different ways to acquire and exchange them, different ways to decorate and times to do so, different levels of formality, different prayers (or none), different customs, attire, costumes (or not), and amusements. Characters traveled, stayed home, and went to events. Characters visited family or found new ones, went to the beach or built sled courses, found new love or clung to old.  There was such a variety, even when ostensibly reading about the same thing. I appreciated the heck out of that.

I also got the chance to read several books that had been featured on Sadie’s Spotlight, which is something I make an effort to do. Both because “Ah, back-links are so satisfying” and because it’s a little something I can do for those who have been on the blog. I don’t offer reviews over on Sadie’s Spotlight. But that doesn’t mean I don’t pay attention to what’s there to review here.

Do you want to see what I actually read? I read and reviewed 14 short stories (which is what I categorized as anything under 100 pages) and 30 books, which I’m linking in the order I read them. Here they are in the order I posted the reviews, which is largely the order I read them.

2021 Reading challenge: Short Stories (<100 pages)

 

Book Review: Holiday Haunts, by Imogen Markwell-Tweed & Wendy Dalrymple

Book Review: Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop, by Jenny Colgan

Book Review: Smokin’ Hot Cowboy Christmas, by Kim Redford

Book Review: Where We Begin, by Janey King

Book Review: The Remaking of Corbin Wale, by Roan Parrish

Book Review: Second Chances, by Kiska Gray

Book Review: Sleigh Spells, by Bella Falls

Book Review: A Christmas Date, by Camilla Isley

Book Review: Mine To Five, by Tara September

Book Review: In Case Of Emergency, by Keira Andrews

Book Review: A Christmas Promise, by K. C. Wells

Book Review: A Wolf Is Not Just For Christmas, by J.F. Holland

Book Review: A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong, by Cecilia Grant

Book Review & Giveaway: Last Blue Christmas, by Rose Prendeville

Book Review: Christmas Lites II, edited by Amy Eye

Book Review: Merry Elf-ing Christmas, by Beth Bolden

Book Review: The Plight Before Christmas, by Kate Stewart

Book Review: A Hopeful Christmas, by Walker, Bessey, Kelly & Jensen

Book Review: Mr. Frosty Pants, by Leta Blake

Book Review: The Christmas Lights Battle, by Skylar M. Cates

Book Review: Dreaming Of a White Wolf Christmas, by Terry Spear

Book Review: Solstice Surrender, by Tracy Cooper-Posey

Book Review: Charley’s Christmas Wolf, by C.D. Gorri

Book Review: The Problem With Mistletoe, by Kyle Baxter

Book Review: Fighting For Us, by Bella Emy

Book Review: To Linzer & to Cherish, by Jen Fitzgerald

Book Review: Frosting Her Christmas Cookies, by Alina Jacobs

Book Review – Bittersweets Christmas: Arvin & Tina, by Suzanne Jenkins

Book Review: Christmasly Obedient, by Julia Kent

Book Review: Highland Stranger, by Kerrigan Byrne