Tag Archives: challenges

Renamed: The Oddly Satisfying Exercise in Futility Challenge

Every now and again, out of boredom or necessity or pure whimsy I set myself odd little reading challenges. That’s part of the joy of having a book blog, I can do that. And I’ve done it again.

I have a book hoarding problem. I just do. Usually I can limit it to ebooks, so it’s not too disruptive. But at the moment, my physical book shelves are stacked two deep and literally overflowing. My office is becoming a bit of a death trap. So, I have to read some of them.

The problem is that my Kindle is so easy to schlep around. Plus, I’ve promised myself that once a book is read I won’t keep it unless it is signed or an absolute favorite. So, though I always want to read, I sometimes don’t want to do the thing that means I have to give the book away afterwards. I know, it’s weird. But I keep bringing books into the house, so now I have to set some free.

I mean, that was part of the point of building a Little Free Library in my front yard. Well, that and it’s just cool. I have no excuse to not be filling it with finished books.

This brings me to my challenge. I went through and pulled out all the itty-bitty books. I don’t usually pick up novellas, but I have several. And I know reading them won’t clear as much space as reading some bigger books. But I figure each of them should only take a couple hours to read, so it’s a good way to do a bit of a clear-out without committing weeks to the task. (Nope, I’m not rationalizing this at all.)

There are 18 little books there. Most, though not all I won and it’s a pretty diverse pile. There’s some bizzaro in there, as well as some inspirational stuff, a memoir, some non-fiction, humor, short story collections, horror, poetry, lit fict, political satire, even a freakin’ play. I figure I can finish one a day for the next few weeks, along with my normal reading and feel like I’ve accomplished something significant. (Hush, that’s what I’m going with.)

In case you can’t read all the titles, the stack includes:

Anyhow, between these, the book bundle I’m currently reading (Carole Cumming’s Wolf’s-Own), the bundle I’m listening to (Sarah Noffke’s Vagabond Circus) and the Netgalley books I’ve committed to for the next couple months, not to mention I need to read review request book, I aught to be kept busy in the near future.

I think I’ll start with B. R. Sanders book, because I’ve loved everything I’ve read by them so far. But beyond that, I’m open for suggestions on what I should move up or down the pile.


Not pictured, but added to the challenge after the fact (because I keep getting more books):


Edit May 5, 2018: I set this challenge and then it quickly fell off my radar. If anything, the stack has grown, as I’ve added to it. (See the 8 unpictured books.) So, I’m starting again, recommitting to finishing it. Below is the new stack (what’s left of the first and what I’ve added to it since, but not read before the second picture). The vertical ones, I’ve pulled out because it turns out that they’re all poetry.

I won’t re-list anything above and the few that I read before taking this second picture will have to do without visual evidence of their existence. But, here are the additions.

  • Kaleidoscope, by Chip R. Bell
  • The Slave, by Anand Dilvar
  • Morningstar, by Ann Hood
  • Tuesday With Morey, by Mitch Albom
  • Escape Routes, by Johann Christoph Arnold
  • Another Fine Mess, by Pope Brock
  • Consciousness Archaeology, by Maximus Freeman
  • Welcome to my Chair, by Lee Holland
  • Loving Violet, by Steven Lewis
  • You Can’t Kill the Dream, by And Yanks/Daniel Brannan
  • Bring Out the Dog, by Will Mackin
  • Undivided Lives, by Robert Lampros
  • Unmarked Trails, by Jane Flink
  • My Amazing Transformation of Love, Courage, and Wisdom, by Marty Cole
  • The Best Chronicles of Rubem Alves, by Rubem Alves/Glenn Alan Cheney
  • Sweet Justice, by Andrew Smith
  • My Diary, by Annan Jazz Von
  • Memory in Silhouette, by T. L. Cooper
  • Life in the Slow Lane, by Ruth Anderson
  • The Purity of Jazz…, by James R. Campbell
  • District and Circle, by Seamus Heaney
  • A Mother’s Love, by Mia Henry
  • The Corpses of the Future, by Lynn Crosbie
  • Dead Monochrome Doggerel, Dominique Cypres

Edit July 22, 2019: Don’t laugh, but in a marked departure from what I’d intended to do (and in fact have been doing), I’m updating this again. Several books I’ve bought or won, read and reviewed recently (such as Take a Chance on Me, Kill Me Now,  The 5th Gender, Silver Moon, Persepolis, Spring, The Nose from Jupiter, The Long Walk to Water, and Diamond Fire) would have fit this challenge and I could have added them. But after the third edit, I told myself I wasn’t allowed to add to the stack anymore, or it really would never ever get done. However, I ordered new bookshelves, which will be delivered today. 

This means that I’ll finally have more room for my books. The shelves, most of which are double lined, will finally be reduced to a single row. I’ll be able to actually see what I own. So, in preparation to the larger task of reorganizing my books (I have wanted to do this for SO LONG), I’ve started pulling and categorizing books. And in and amongst all of this, I decided I might as well grab all the new smallish books out and add them to the existing small-book stack (which may become a small-book shelf. (I mean, giving this challenge up might be easier, but I’m a stubborn cow when I want to be.)

So, here’s the new list of small books. The left-hand pile is the carryover, the middle is poetry, and the right-hand stack is what I just added.

As above, I won’t re-list anything that already is, and I can’t guarantee that once I really get into the meat of moving books, I won’t add more. But as of right now this is it. 

  • My Little Ikigai Journal, by Amanda Kudo
  • Good Body, by Eve Ensler
  • Only Dead on the Inside, by James Breakwell
  • You Can’t Kill the Dream, by And Yakstis & Daniel Brannan
  • Just Ella, by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • The Housekeeper and the Professor, by Yoko Ogawa
  • Guesswork, by Martha Cooley
  • Hank, by Claudette A. Peck
  • My Journey Through War and Peace, by Melissa Burch
  • Twenty-First-Century Jim Crow Schools, by Sanders, Stovall & White
  • Zan-Gah, by A. R. Shickman
  • The Driftwood Diaries, by Ava Wilson
  • Queen Moxie, by Hank Quense
  • Upsize Woman in a Downsize World, by Deborah Lynn Darling
  • Bedside Book of Bad Girls, by Michael Rutter
  • There is a Generation III, by WH Buzzard
  • Stone Sisters, by Sarah Ward
  • Infinite Hope, by Anthony Graves
  • Not Quiet So Stories, by David S. Atkinson

Several of these are actually sequels in series. So, I imagine I’ll have to find and read first books before I get to them. But, as has been the case for about two years now, these are the lists of books I intend to read. If you remember, I initially set them aside because I thought I could get them read quickly. That had turned out to be a joke. But I’m committed now. Wish me luck

#ReadDiverse2017 Update

One of my challenges this year is #ReadDiverse2017, which is hosted by the Read Diverse Book blog. It’s fairly self explanatory, as far as challenges go. The idea is to read and review diverse books.

Eligibility being (and I’m quoting the RDB blog, here):

  1. Books written by people of color or Native/Indigenous Peoples
  2. Books about people with disabilities (physical, neurodiversity, etc.)
  3. Books with LGBTQIA protagonists or about LGBTQIA issues 
  4. Books with practicing Muslim, Jewish, Hindu (i.e. non-Christian) MCs
    • Please prioritize #ownvoices for this category

Marginalized authors take priority for #ReadDiverse2017. At all times, please consider reading books written by POC, Indigenous, LGBTQIA, and Disabled authors, #ownvoices whenever possible.These will always qualify, whether they are #ownvioces or not. If a straight, white, able-bodied author writes a book with a straight, able-bodied POC protagonist, the book will not qualify. UNLESS that book is intersectional. For example, if the protagonist is a POC and Queer or disabled, then the book will qualify. I make this distinction because books with Queer/disability representation are more rare than books with POC/Indigenous rep and there are some great books out there with Queer/disability rep by non-mariginalized authors. I also encourage you to seek out books with plus-sized/fat protagonists, especially if they have other marginalizations, such as plus-sized+POC/Queer/Disabiled.

Today’s little update is to say that I earned my 5 point badge. (See that shiny badge above?) Meaning I’ve submitted five eligible reviews of diverse books. I could maybe have submitted more, I read enough M/M romance after all. But I personally have a little trouble seeing ‘white boys kissing’ (that’s quoting someone, I just don’t know who) as qualifying. So many such books are written for a cis-gendered, white, straight female audience. So, in the spirit of the challenge, if not the explicit rules I haven’t submitted them.

These are the ones I did:

 

Review of The Siren (Laments of Angels & Dark Chemistry #1), by Meg Xuemei X

I picked up a free copy of The Siren (by Meg Xuemei X) at Amazon.

Description from Goodreads:
Two boys tied to her irrevocably. One offers life disguised as death; the other leads to death with unfathomable love. Her choice decides whether the world turns or ends.

Lucienne Lam, born to rule as the last of the Sirens, is running out of time. If she fails to find the TimeDust, an ancient power, her enemies will have their wish—her head on a spike. And she’ll never know the love promised by Vladimir, a fierce warrior of the Czech royal bloodline.

Except Ashburn, a genius ‘farm boy,’ has found the TimeDust first, and its power binds Lucienne to him. She must convince him to sever this forced bond so she can return to her first love. But breaking the link seems insurmountable when the TimeDust launches its own ominous agenda and the two boys prepare to duel to the death over her.

Review:
Not great. Not super bad either, but not particularly good.

Here’s my issue with it. It feels VERY much like it was written as a serial. The chapters are episodic and there is a certain amount of repetition that suggests plot recaps. Plus, since it is (or feels like it is) a serial, it doesn’t actually end. Reading this was very much like watching a television show that you follow, but only catch every other show. You know the plot, but bits are missing that you just have to roll with. Characters showed up with no history or explanation, simply inserted in the plot. Characters who had existed suddenly have hobbies or habits that the reader is never told about until they are incorporated. Even the romance happens off page and feels like it’s just been grabbed willy-nilly.

The whole ‘it must be a serial’ feeling is exacerbate by the fact that the book’s blub isn’t accurate to the events of this book. I can see how some of that might come up in the next, but it doesn’t here. The book ends before it gets to, “She must convince him to sever this forced bond so she can return to her first love. But breaking the link seems insurmountable when the TimeDust launches its own ominous agenda and the two boys prepare to duel to the death over her.” Nope, that doesn’t happen IN THIS BOOK. Looks like the author chose at least one less episode for this volume and one or more for the next…or just doesn’t know where the ongoing story split for the ‘books.’

The result of all this is a group of characters I didn’t feel I knew well, a romance I wasn’t invested in, a plot that feels fragile and anchor-less and a book with little beginning and no end.

I also had serious trouble believing that these were teens. They spoke, had skills and acted much older. Even worse were the flashbacks when the main character was supposed to be a child. It was nowhere near believable, even for a genius. Plus, she was just too smug to like and too perfect at everything.

The writing itself is fine. But as a BOOK, with all the elements a reader expects in a BOOK, it’s kind of a barely pass.