A Little Reading Challenge

EDIT: I am still getting comments on this post from people wanting to join. Please visit the official challenge sign up here or click the Bloggers Recommend Challenge Tab above for the latest posts.

Since its inception earlier this year, I’ve looked forward to my Bloggers Recommend email each month. Twenty upcoming books to look forward to.

But then I realize that I can’t read 20 books a month, so the excitement quickly turns to anxiety and I feel the weight of all the books I will never read.

Well I’m going to do something I can do. I am going to read one book from the Bloggers Recommend list each month.

So what should it be in August? (I was already going to read Night Film, so I want to pick something else).

PS – If other people are interested, I can turn this into an official challenge. Let me know.

The Sunday Salon [10.7.12]

The Sunday Salon.com

I thought I was going to be spending my weekend prepping for a trial tomorrow but it went away (as trials often do) so I am enjoying a nice relaxing weekend home with the boys. We did a few things around the house yesterday, so I am hoping today is a real day off. Evan has a little cold, but nothing really phases my happy little baby. Next weekend will be busy. While you all are readathon-ing, we’ll be spending some time with Ben’s parents. As fun as that will be, I could definitely use a relaxing day (and maybe a nap or two).

Reading My Own Books

I am a complete failure at Reading My Own Books so far. I actually had one last book from September to finish up and I only just finished it last night. I’m a little cheater. Even when I make the rules. But I’m really starting today with City of Bones. I swear.

Pin It and Do It

I thought I completed a pin. But it turns out I never pinned anything like this. But I think I have permission from Trish to count this anyway. See, I cheat no matter who makes the rules. So I give you my mason jar cotton swab holders:

I put a set in each bathroom. This was a super simple project – it took me about 5 minutes and $6 to do, but it makes me happy to see them. I love playing house.

Tell me, are you a rule-follower or a cheater like me when it comes to these things?

 

Betsy in Spite of Herself [A Belated Review]

I didn’t quite finish Betsy in Spite of Herself in time to complete the Maud Hart Lovelace Challenge hosted by A Library is a Hospital for the Mind, but I am hoping Sarah will forgive my tardiness.

Once again I was completely enchanted by Betsy Ray. Betsy in Spite of Herself follows Betsy through her sophomore year of high school.  She faces challenges at school, a trip to the big city of Milwaukee to visit Tib, and her First Big Love Affair (as Tacy calls it). She makes great attempts to change her personality throughout but the real Betsy comes shining through.

Again, I am struck by the similarities of Betsy’s high school life in 1908 to mine in 1998. Apparently the passing of almost a century is not enough to change the high school experience of boys, friends, parties, grades, and the self-conscious worries all teenage girls must have.

Reading the Betsy-Tacy books is like curling up with a blanket and a big mug of hot chocolate on a cold night. Even though I didn’t read them when I was younger, there is something comforting about it. I can’t believe I let an entire year pass between reading Heaven to Betsy and Betsy in Spite of Herself. I will not make that mistake again, so stay tuned for more Betsy-Tacy posts this winter. In the meantime, you can read the other challenge posts here.

The Return of the Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge

I have essentially given up on challenges. I’m not good at them. As soon as I sign up, I lose all interest in the books I’m supposed to read. But I actually finished this challenge last year and I love that Sarah is hosting it again.

Here are the rules (taken from the host, A Library is a Hospital for the Mind):

1. Select which Lovelace book (or books) you wish to read during the coming month.

2. Write a post announcing your plans to participate in the challenge. You can include your reading list or just use the post to spread the word about the reading challenge to your readers. Then sign up here by linking your name and blog to the challenge (see Mr. Linky below).

3. Email me if you would like to post the MHLRC button on your blog or website. (libraryhospital AT gmail DOT com).

4. Return throughout the month to learn more about the opportunities to win either Emily of Deep Valley or Carney’s House Party/Winona’s Pony Cart thanks to the generosity of HarperCollins Publishers who have offered to mail complimentary copies to the winning participants in this challenge. The other give-aways will include Betsy-Tacy themed totes and other Maud Hart Lovelace related gifts. Check back each Sunday during the month of October to see what is being given-away and how to enter for a chance to win.

5. Visit around the blogs of other MHLRC participants. It’s a great opportunity to get to know fellow bibliophiles and find out what books they love.

6. Come back on Sunday, October 31, 2010 and link up your final Maud Hart Lovelace related posts/reviews or reading challenge wrap-up.

I am going to be really easy on myself this time and only sign up to read one book – Betsy in Spite of Herself. But, I will give myself extra credit if I can also read the next two Betsy-Tacy books: Betsy was a Junior and Betsy and Joe.

If you’ve never read any Besty-Tacy, this is a great opportunity to start. I was a newbie during this challenge last year. If you haven’t revisited the books in awhile, why not sign up and read a couple? And if you haven’t read the newly reissued (thanks once more, I believe, to Book Club Girl) companion books, Emily of Deep Valley or Carney’s House Party/Winona’s Pony Cart, this is a perfect opportunity.

I hope you all sign up. Betsy-Tacy fans are kind of awesome and I promise you will have fun.

The Writing on My Forehead [Book Review]

“I thought of my mother’s stories. Of Big Nanima’s and Belle’s.
Their voices echoed in my head, along with Razia Nani’s.
Here were more family secrets that no one had ever bothered to share.”

Title: The Writing on My Forehead
Author: Nafisa Haji
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
ISBN: 0061493856
Pages: 306
Year: 2009
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Source: I received a review copy as part of the TLC Book Tour
Rating: 4.5/5

Plot summary (from the publisher):

A free-spirited and rebellious Muslim-American of Indo-Pakistani descent, willful, intelligent Saira Qader rejected the constricting notions of family, duty, obligation, and fate, choosing instead to become a journalist, making the world her home. But when tragedy strikes, throwing Saira’s life into turmoil, the woman who circled the globe to uncover the details of other lives must confront the truths of her own. In need of understanding, she looks to the stories of those who came before—her grandparents, a beloved aunt, her mother and father. As Saira discovers the hope, pain, joy, and passion that defined their lives, she begins to face what she never wanted to admit: that choice is not always our own, and that faith is not merely an intellectual preference.

Other Books I’ve Read By Author: None

Why I Picked Up This Book: I am lucky enough to be participating in the book tour for TLC Book Tours.

It also counts as my first book for the South Asian Authors Challenge!

My thoughts:

I absolutely enjoyed my journey through this novel. In the first half, the reader is plunged into a series of stories and family history with 14-year-old Saira as she journeys from Los Angeles to London to Pakistan for her cousin’s wedding. I felt as though I were sitting in a room full of Saira’s family members, drinking tea and listening to each of them tell me their story. The second part of the novel is Saira’s story of growing up and finding herself in spite of -  or because of – her family’s rich history.

The family history is only possible through the story of the Partition of India (the splitting of British India into sovereign India and Pakistan on the basis of religion). Saira’s Muslim family is forced to scatter. First to Pakistan and then to England and the United States and must eventually deal with the difficulties of being second-generation immigrants and the prejudice of Post-9/11 America. I found myself learning about this culture in a way I hadn’t through basic facts.

Haji writes beautifully. The language had a rhythm to it that propelled me forward as much as the plot and brought the stories to life. Haji did a wonderful job of creating memorable and unique characters. I grew to love Big Nanima like Saira does and appreciate Mohsin’s courage and ideals. I celebrated on happy occasions and cried for the losses along the way (I probably shouldn’t have put my eye makeup on before sitting down to finish the book). I even got so caught up in the characters and their stories that I had forgotten how the novel started and was surprised as the inevitable events unfolded.

I highly recommend this book to everyone because who doesn’t like a little story-telling?

Memorable Passages:

No story worth telling should ever be about blame or regret. What happened was what was meant to happen. Kismat. 67

My mother’s lips pursed at the sight of him, something that tickled the slightly wicked sense of humor that I was developing as I waded deeper into adolescence. 183

I have survived the night, the memories of what has led me to now. But the past is catching up with the present, both of them only partially deposed. There are left-out details to reckon with yet – facts in the forest that I have chosen not to hear. 281

Will I Read This Author Again?: Definitely

Other Tour Stops:

Buy It Now: Amazon; Powell’s; Book Depository

Personal Note: After I finished The Writing on My Forehead, I set it down on the nightstand next to me and my eye caught the envelope of pictures my aunt had given me over Christmas that I had never put away. The first picture is one of my mom and my dad standing outside my grandparents’ house in 1981. They are my age in this picture. Then I thought of all the stories that took place which brought them to that spot, to that picture. The stories of their parents and grandparents, of their childhoods. And of all the stories that have happened since that have propelled my mom, my dad, my brother, and me to the separate places we are all in now. I hope I remember to ask about all of those stories and remember to tell the ones that are my own.

The Reagan Arthur Books Challenge

It turns out I’m not very good at reading challenges. I think they sound like fun and I have only the best intentions, but once the time comes to read those books – I fail. But it also turns out that there are these things called “perpetual challenges” and they have no end date (I know, who would have figured from the name). And because you can’t fail something that doesn’t end, I feel perfectly safe announcing that I am joining

I really enjoyed reading The Unnamed and if it is any indication of the other books from this imprint then I know I won’t regret it.

The rules are simple (taken from challenge website):

  • Grab a button and write your Reagan Arthur Book Challenge post and then sign up with Mr. Linky here. If you don’t have a blog, you can still participate! Just leave a comment on the sign up page.
  • Read the Reagan Arthur Books. Order doesn’t matter and we are defining “reading” as print, audio, or e-book.  You don’t have to read all of the books, but we encourage you to read all of those that appeal to you!
  • Begin the challenge when you write your challenge post. The challenge is perpetual and does not have an end date.
  • Submit the links to your reviews (or your reviews if you don’t have a blog) to rabookschallenge(at)gmail(dot)com.
  • Help spread the word. We will be using the hashtag #rarthurbooks on twitter.

And if you sign up by February 28, you are entered to win this awesome prize pack.

That's How I Blog Challenge

As much as I want to join every challenge I see, I am trying to pick and choose carefully. I’m trying to pick challenges that actually align with my 2010 reading goals.  So I think this is going to be the last challenge I sign up for.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been enjoying Nicole from Linus’s Blanket‘s weekly That’s How I Blog interviews with other book bloggers. I’ve also mentioned that there is a 20-min book club at the end up each show. And I think I’ve even mentioned that there is a challenge associated with this. Do you really not know where I’m going with this? (reference anyone?). So here it is in Nicole’s words:

The tweeps have spoken!One of the things that I love about Twitter is that you get to mingle with other book bloggers and fab book people, and you always have the opportunity to get involved- whether it’s in a discussion on the topic du jour or in on the planning stages of the next book event.  The latest on Twitter, it’s a mind reader.

For each That’s How I Blog! show that I do, there is a Twenty Minute Book Club.  I love having the opportunity to discuss what I’m reading with other readers- any chance I get- so I am so excited that this part of the show has been such an overwhelming success.  The idea for a challenge had scurried across my brain and then scurried right on out.  I really wasn’t sure that there would be enough interest, but this past week I logged onto Twitter and found that a challenge had been requested for Twenty Minute Book Club! Fabulous!

Yay! for people wanting to read along with me, since I have bascally committed myself to potentially 52 books next year, guests willing!  Of course, you don’t have to participate at the same level.  There will be five different levels of participation for this challenge, which will run December 29, 2009 until December 29, 2010.

Why This Challenge?

The purpose of this challenge will be to read the books being discussed for the Twenty Minute Book Club portion of That’s How I Blog! It’s a great opportunity to share a reading list with your fellow readers.  In addition to the show there will be a Google Wave for each book we discuss (no cliques here, contact me for wave participation) and twitter discussion with hashtag #20minbc.

Challenge Dates

December 29, 2009 until December 29, 2010. Sign-ups to end on March 29, 2010.

Reading List

Here you will find the most up-to date Reading List for That’s How I Blog!. Check back at the beginning of each month for 4-5 new additions to the list.

Levels of Participation

Once you choose a level of participation you’re locked in- that is unless you want to read more books!- then you can go up a level. :-) (I borrowed that from S.Krishna’s Books, so choose carefully!)

I will post a MckLinky so that you can link to 2009 which you have read and reviewed and want to use as substitutions.  Make sure you get your links up before the end of 2009.

Aluminum Level – 4 Books (2010 Only, No Substitutions)

Silver Level – 13 Books (May substitute 1 book from 2009)

Gold Level –  26 Books (May substitute 4 books from 2009)

Diamond Level – 39 Books (May substitute 7 books from 2009)

Platinum Level – 52 Books (May substitute 10 books from 2009)

Other Stuff

You might want to:

Crossover with other challenges, that is perfectly fine.
Print and unabridged audio books are acceptable.
Participate even if you don’t have a blog- just leave a comment to let me know that you are playing along.
Post reviews on your blog, or e-mail me your thoughts on the book.
Re-read a book that you have read before.
Count a book that you have read before as long as you have a review for it.
Not feel obligated to read the books in any particular order.  You may complete the books at anytime during the year.
Call-in and participate in The Twenty Minute Book Club.
Watch for mini-challenges and the prizes for each category to be announced at the start of the challenge.
E-mail me or leave a comment saying you’d like to be a guest on the show, thereby contributing to the book list.
Ask me lots of questions because I am totally winging this challenge thing.

    You must:

    Have fun!

      Sign Up, yes?

      Link to your post or a post where you mention your intention to join this challenge and your participation level.  You may also include books you have already read and will possibly use as substitutions and/or a list of books that you are particularly looking forward to reading so far.  Easy peasy!

      I am going to join at the Aluminim (4 book) level with hopes that I read more.

      And with that, my 2010 challenge-joining has come to an end (unless of course I find some awesome challenge in the middle of the year).  Now on to challenge reading and living vicariously through those of you who are able to join all the other fabulous challenges.

      Seriespalooza

      Michelle at Galleysmith is hosting Seriespalooza this week – a week dedicated to finishing the series we’re in the middle of or starting new series we’ve been meaning to get to.  Here is what she has to say about it:

      One of my very favorite things about reading is reading books in a series.  I adore getting to know characters and watching as they progress from point A to point Z over time.  But, if you are anything like me, as much as you’d like to read all the books in a particular series you also run into other obligations or constraints.Well, I’m here to tell you that now there’s going to be a time to dedicate yourself, and your reading habits, *only* to the books in a series (or multiple series).

      For the week starting December 14  through December 20 I’ll be holding Seriespalooza, where participants will read only books in a series they are either currently reading or are wanting to start.  It’s a relaxed affair where you can read at your leisure so there isn’t any pressure. It’s just a great excuse to dip into the pile of books you want to read instead of those you may have scheduled to read as a result of other obligations.

      As part of the fun, over the course of the week I’ll be posting exclusively about series books and authors.   Not only that but you can follow all the fun using the Twitter hashtag #seriespalooza. Oh and because no party is complete without presents I’ll also be dipping into my bag of tricks to award prizes for people who are participating!

      So as soon as I finish Hate List today (a book recommended by Michelle actually), I will begin The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray. It’s been bothering me that I never finished this series. I didn’t love the first two books as much as everyone else, but I do want to see what happens. This week is giving me the push I needed to finally read the third and final book.  As it’s 800+ pages, I don’t think I’ll be getting to anything else during the week but I’ll keep you updated if I do.

      Canadian Author Challenge 2010

      Jennifer from Mrs. Q: Book Addict is hosting her first challenge.  Here is what she has to say:

      Canada is a culturally diverse country with two official languages and many ethnicities. Many of these influences are found in Canadian Literature. There are a number of notable writers and I thought this challenge would be interesting.

      This challenge will run from January 1 2010 -December 31, 2010.

      There will be four different commitment levels.

      3

      5

      8

      10

      When signing up please specify which reading level you plan to challenge yourself with. You do not have to be a book blogger to accept the challenge.

      You do not need to specify a list when signing up, the goal is to find new books and authors to read.

      I’m hosting this challenge, because it’s one I would want to join myself. I am Canadian and I’ve read a lot of great Canadian literature. I also have a lot of Canadian books on my shelves and I thought this would motivate me to get them read.

      I am not Canadian, but I did grow up less than hour from the border so I feel some connection to Canada and I have been meaning to check out some Canadian authors.  Most notably, Margaret Atwood, which I amazingly have yet to read.  I am going to sign up at the 3 level because I’m afraid of planning all my 2010 reading through challenges, but I hope to hit a higher number.

      Everyone go sign up and join me!

      South Asian Author Challenge

      It is time to start picking challenges for next year and the first one I’m joining is S. Krishna’s South Asian Author Challenge.  I have always enjoyed the South Asian novels that I have read and I am embracing this opportunity to read some more.  The two requirements are: (1) The author must be of South Asian descent and (2) The book must be about South Asia in some way.   The rest of the rules can be found here and the sign up can be found here.  I am joining at the 5 book level and it runs throughout 2010.  Some of the books I’m considering are:

      Books I’ve had lying around the house

      • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
      • White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
      • Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

      (Note: I cannot for the life of me get a good closeup with my camera. Anyone want to buy me a new one for Christmas?)

      I also want to read something by Salman Rushdie and at this moment I’m thinking it might be Midnight’s Children.  So that leaves me with one more.  If you have a favorite South Asian author  or book, let me know in the comments.

      I’m also trying to get Ben to join because he loves South Asian literature as well.  And I’m hoping he can guest blog for his reviews.