A Reading Challenge for 2016

n-BOOK-COFFEE-628x314

vintage books and a cup of coffee

I keep seeing reading challenges pop up on different sites and blogs, and I love the idea so much, I thought I’d create my own version! I tend to pick my next book based on mood or recommendation or what’s handy at the moment. So I hope that having a list like this will inspire my 2016 reading a bit, and maybe focus my TBR pile some as well. I’m going to make it a fairly short list though, so I can leave myself lots of room for reading what strikes my fancy along the way. Fair enough, right? So here goes…

  1. A book set in a foreign country
  2. A retelling of a fairy tale or legend
  3. A book with a season in the title
  4. A book based on a true story
  5. A book that’s about to be made into a movie
  6. A debut author
  7. A book with a colour in the title
  8. A classic that I’ve never read
  9. A book with water of some kind on the cover
  10. An indie author
  11. A book featuring a MC from a different culture
  12. A book with a music theme
  13. A book with a one-word title
  14. A book with a title of at least six words
  15. A retelling of a Shakespeare play
  16. A book with a holiday as a central element
  17. A book with a purple cover
  18. A book set in space
  19. A book released in 2016
  20. A sequel to a book I read more than a year ago

Okay, I think that will do it. I’m excited to have a list to cross things off of! Anyone else challenging your list this year? Let me know, we can compare notes!

 

 

What is your STOPPING point?

start-stop

In the final throes of editing and proofreading before hitting that “Publish” button, I am once again re-visiting my opening paragraphs. I have two that I like, one that I’m leaning towards, and I’m 90% certain I’m leaving it alone. However, in the past few months, I’ve been hyper aware of how other authors choose to start their novels. It’s fascinating.

I recently began reading a book that had been highly anticipated, and then highly recommended by several blogs that I follow. I’ve found some great books this way in the past, and have rarely been disappointed when a book has this much positive buzz. So I bought it, started it, and at the end of chapter one I thought.. eh. Not really into this yet, I have zero connection with the main character (and first person narrator). But it was so highly talked about, I’ll give it another chapter.

I ended up giving it three more chapters. I still had no connection at all with the main character, didn’t understand a lot of what was going on plot-wise or love-interest-wise, and wasn’t particularly blown away with the writing in general. When the next night came around, I anxiously picked up my Kindle, ready to settle into a great book… and then I remembered. It was that book. My heart sank. And that’s when I knew it was time to give up. I downloaded another book from the top of my TBR pile, and never looked back.

Last fall, I read a whole book that I wasn’t connecting with (mediocre writing, unrealistic character choices, not even edited well grammatically), but this book is a thing. It’s a big popular series–so it can’t be bad, right? I just wasn’t getting it? I still don’t know.

So here’s the thing… how much is too much? Or maybe more appropriately, how little is too little? When do you stop reading a book you’re just not connecting with? Do you give a book a chapter? Two? A single page?

Fast Five Friday strikes again!

FFF badge

Friday again already? How did this happen? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining – I love me some Fridays! Okay, so here we go. Today’s topic is Top Five Favourite Authors. This one is tricky, folks. Too many years, books, genres, memories… how to decide? So I think for me, the key is just to go with my gut and don’t over think this (as I am often wont to do). Knowing that there are many many many more hiding behind the scenes, here are my top five favourite authors. In no particular order.

1. A.A. Milne. Author of Winnie the Pooh and the House at Pooh Corner. You would think that this is a throwback from childhood influences, but really, these are still some of my favourite books. Not only are they full of wisdom and complex thoughts hidden in simple stories, but A A Milne taught me how to play with language & to not be intimidated by the simplicity of words. (By the way, A A stands for Alan Alexander, in case you wanted a little trivia with your blog reading.)

pooh

2. Stephen R Lawhead. I suppose when you’ve read every book an author has written, it only makes sense to list them among your favourites. The first books I read of his were a trilogy called the Song of Albion (the first book is the Paradise War). They’re a beautiful blend of reality and mythology, magic and religion. Fantastic characters, world-building, they’ve got the works. A few great stand alone books are Byzantium and Patrick. 

paradise war

3. Margaret George. She writes historical fiction in the form of ginormous 1000 page opuses. My personal go-to is Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles but a very very close second is the Memoirs of Cleopatra. I love historical fiction as a general rule, but hers are on a whole other level.

mary queen of scots

4. Veronica Roth. This is bound to be a controversial answer, since she only has one trilogy out in the world and no one knows what will be next. But I’m confident. Divergent pulled me in so thoroughly and still, years later, has not released its hold on me. I keep all three books in my desk at work because I loan them out so often. I have the calendar of movie photos over my desk (okay, mainly for pictures of Theo James, but still…). And so, she gets a place in my top five.

divergent book

5. Tamora Pierce. When I was in junior high, I stumbled upon the Alanna series. It changed my life. I’ve read several of her books since then, and always enjoy them. But those books hold a special place in my heart. A girl disguising herself as a boy to join the army, learning to fight with a sword and face her fears and foes head-on… it sounds formulaic today, but at the time, in my little tween brain, it was revolutionary. It started me on a path of seeking out fantasy books and strong female characters. And look at that, [undisclosed number of] years later, here I am writing a light fantasy book with a strong female main character. I’d definitely call that influential.

alanna

Okay, so lots of others I love who didn’t make the list, and through no other reason than I didn’t happen to think of them at the moment. But this is a good sampling, for sure. And there we go! Who are your faves?