Thursday, November 30, 2017

2018 Reading Challenge@ Linz the Bookworm

I will be doing as many of the categories on this one as I can. I seriously don't think I'll get all of them and some seem a little hard for me. But the blogger said we can skip around if we wish.

In 2016 I tried a couple of reading challenges that were floating around the internet, I did okay with them. What I really liked was the idea of challenging myself to read different things. It sort of made me plan out what I had to read. In 2017, I made my own reading challenge. I was pretty proud of it, and it can be seen here. I think that I definitely learned a lot, but ultimately I took on way too much with it and it needed some fine-tuning. Throughout it all, my amazing friend Tress was trying to do the challenge right alongside me. While 2017 is not over yet, I'll be honest and admit I'm not even going to finish half of it. That's okay though because what it did do was give me a lot of ideas for 2018. I started out this list just consulting with Tress on her thoughts on 2017's list. What ended up happening is we ended up collaborating on a massive reading challenge the past couple of weeks. Tress has been talking to a lot of members on a website called Dragonmount that we're both apart of (her far more than I am. I've never been outside the Mafia game thread there) about my previous reading challenge. I think She may have even referenced it on her own blog which can be found here. I'm incredibly proud of the work we put into this, and I think it's going to be a lot of fun. Before I show off the challenge, I want to explain it a bit.

This challenge is actually several challenges in one. The way it is designed is that you work through one level and then move on to the next. It's comprised of five different challenges of 12 books each, or 60 books total. We tried to arrange it in a way that shows what we thought would be the easiest in the first few levels, and then gradually gets harder. We also wanted to spread it out a bit, so the same types of challenges aren't in each level. Ultimately, I think we both wanted a challenge that's going to really make us have to think ahead and plan to complete it. Tress and I are both really into organization and bullet journaling, so for us, this is just an extension of that. I'm not sure what goals Tress has set for herself within the challenge, but my goals are to work it in order and try to see how far I can get. Last year, I kind of read a book and then tried to fit it into a category on the challenge. This year, I'd like to plan ahead and see if I can read more because of it. I've already got some books in mind for some of the items, so I'm really excited to see what I can accomplish on this list.

2018 Reading Challenge
Level 1: Book of the Month Club
1A book from Project Gutenberg:
Sailing Alone Around the World--Joshua Slocum
2A book that costs less than $5:
The Zone of Interest--Martin Amis
3A Cozy Mystery:
Mum's the Word--Kate Collins
4A comedy or a satire book:
Binge--Tyler Oakley
5Read a book by Nora Roberts:
Irish Dreams
6A book that has been turned into a movie or TV show: Lord of the Flies--William GoldingX
7A book on a best seller list:
Born a Crime--Trevor Noah
8A book under 300 pages:
The Ice Queen--Alice Hoffman
9A book that takes place around a holiday:
Love Walked In--Marisa de los Santos
10A book with a one word title:
Loved--P.C. Cast
11A book you first read when you were a teenager:
Little Women--Louisa May Alcott
12A children's book:
Castle in the Mist--Amy Ephron 
level 2: Casual Reader Club
13A book by a new author:
Children of Blood and Bone--Tomi Adeyemi
14Reread a favorite book:
Prozac Nation--Elizabeth Wurtzel
15A book with a cover that's in your favorite color:
The Last Letter From Your Lover--Jojo Moyes
16A book published in 1993:
Girl, Interrupted--Susanna Kaysen
17A book recommended to you on social media or by a friend:The Best of Me--Nicholas SparksX
18A book with a number in the title:
32 Yolks--Eric Ripert
19A book with pictures in it:
The Acorn People--Ron Jones
20A retelling of a fairy tale: A Court of Mist and Fury--Sarah J. MaasX
21A book that involves a mythical creature:
Carmilla--J. Sheridan Le Fanu
22A book about witches:
The Alchemyst--Michael Scott
23A book by an author named Chris or Christopher:
Charles I--Christopher Hibbert
24A book you got from a used bookshop or site:
The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and Cafe--Mary Simses
Level 3: Dedicated Reader Club
25A book about space travel, aliens, or other planets: Zita the Spacegirl--Ben HatkeX
26A book with an animal in the title:
The Red Pony-John Steinbeck
27First in a series you've wanted to start:
A Court of Thorns and Roses--Sarah J. Maas
28A book with music or song in the title:
She's Come Undone--Wally Lamb
29A book with a purple cover:
Jazz--Toni Morrison
30A cult classic:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy--Douglas Adams
31A book about a Teacher:
My Teacher is an Alien--Bruce Coville
32An action adventure book:
Havana Bay--Martin Cruz Smith
33A book that takes place before 1900:
Barnaby Rudge--Charles Dickens
34A book about friendship:
Black and White--Paul Volponi
35A book by Michael Crichton:
Pirate Latitudes
36A book about a Queen:
Victoria--Daisy Goodwin
Level 4: Speed Reader Club
37A book by Agatha Christie:
Murder at the Vicarage
38A book that takes place in Australia:
Three Wishes--Lianne Moriarty
39A book that has a title starting with the letter Y: Y is for Yesterday--Sue GraftonX
40Read a compilation of short stories:
The Last of the Menu Girls--Denise Chavez
41Read a book from the Guardian's 100 greatest Novel list
42A book with the word thief in the title:
Thief of Words--John Jaffe
43A banned book:
The Namesake--Jhumpa Lahiri
44A book published in 1968
45A book about a doctor:
Pandora's Daughter--Iris Johansen
46A book involving food:
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant--Anne Tyler
47A book with a male main character:
Banana Twist--Florence Parry Heide

A book by two or more authors:
I Hate Everyone But You--Gaby Dunn & Allison Raskin
Level 5: Overachiever Club
49A book published the year one of your parents was born:
The Door in the Wall--Marguerite de Angeli
50A book over 500 pages:
Ready Player One--Ernest Cline
51A book about traveling:
The Gathering of Zion--Wallace Stegner
52A book with a flower on the cover:
Girls in White Dresses--Jennifer Close
53A Non-Fiction book:
Hunger of Memory--Richard Rodriguez
54A book that takes place during a war:
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas--John Boyne
55A book involving a culture different than your own:
Night--Elie Wiesel
56A book that takes place in Canada:
Surfacing--Margaret Atwood
57A book that was originally published in a foreign language: Metamorphoses--OvidX
58A book about a character who has your dream job:
Small Great Things--Jodi Picoult
59A book with woman or girl in the title: Wintergirls--Laurie Halse AndersonX
60A book about a main character that has the same hair color as you:
Nightshade--Andrea Cremer

2018 Newbery Reading Challenge

I'll be doing this one again, trying for the first level, more if time permits.

Welcome to the fifth year of the Newbery Reading Challenge! (Wow, five years already!) Newbery and Caldecott books are fun to read - whether it's our first time experiencing them, or we're revisiting them from our childhood. If you want to challenge yourself to read more Newbery and Caldecott books this year, then you have found the right place!

Here are the rules:
Each book you read is worth points. You get:
  • 3 points for a Newbery Medal Winner
  • 2 points for a Newbery Honor Book
  • 1 point for a Caldecott Book (Both Medal winners and Honor books are worth a point.)

In addition to that, you pick a level to aim for:
  • L'Engle: 15 - 29 points
  • Spinelli: 30 - 44 points
  • Avi: 45 - 59 points
  • Lowry: 60 - 74 points
  • Konigsburg: 75+ points

You can get to this level with any combination of points you want. You can read all Newbery Medal winners. You can throw in a few Honor Books. If you want, you can even read 75 Caldecott Medal winners! How you get to your point level is totally up to you.

Also, anywhere in the point range for your level counts as completing that level. So for example, if you signed up for the Avi level and read 46 points' worth of books, then you have completed that level!

List of Newbery Medal Winners & Honor Books
List of Caldecott Medal Winners & Honor Books

Challenge Guidelines:
  • Rereads count (because you were probably a kid when you read it last, and your perspective on the story just might have changed since then).
  • Audiobooks and ebooks count.
  • And paper books count, too. :)
  • All books must be read between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2018. Books begun before January 1 don’t count.
  • Books can be used for other challenges as well.
  • You don’t have to have a blog to participate. You can link up reviews from Amazon, Goodreads, etc., or just hang out with us in the comments!
  • Reviews are encouraged, but not necessary.
  • Choose your point level. You can always aim for a higher point level, but you can't move to a lower one.

Here is what I am reading:

  1. They All Saw a Cat--Brendan Wenzel (1 point)
  2. One Cool Friend--Toni Buzzeo (1 point)
  3. Catherine, Called Birdy--Karen Cushman (2 points)
  4. If I Ran the Zoo--Dr. Seuss (1 point)
  5. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH--Robert C. O'Brien (3 points)
  6. The Egg Tree--Katherine Milhous (1 point)
  7. Millions of Cats--Wanda Gag (2 points)
  8. The Door in the Wall--Marguerite de Angeli (3 points)
  9. Roller Girl--Victoria Jamieson (2 points)
  10. Amos Fortune Free Man--Elizabeth Yates (3 points)
  11. Lily's Crossing--Patricia Reilly Giff (2 points)
  12. Island of the Blue Dolphins--Scott O'Dell (3 points)
  13. Sarah, Plain and Tall--Patricia MacLachlan (3 points)
  14. Smoky Night--Eve Bunting (1 point)
  15. The Cat Who Went to Heaven--Elizabeth Coatsworth (3 points)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Getting Back to Story Editing

After about two weeks away from editing, I got back to editing my memoir last week, doing at least one chapter a day. Someone said staying away from your writing then going back later can give a you a fresh perspective on your work. That appears to have been true for me. From what I have looked over so far, I found errors I had not previously caught and some phrases and details I decided could be deleted.  And some things I wanted to add now that I had not thought of before. This is all part of the process, I have come to see.

editing quote 3
I'm beginning to feel I've gotten stronger with writing, as the above graphic states. It sounds like a good idea to believe.

editing quote 6
Another statement I can agree with.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Dreaming of a White Elephant Christmas

So much hype lately has been on sales that started after Thanksgiving last Friday, and even before then. But aside from going to Goodwill last Friday to look for a pair of pants, I stayed away from shopping that day. They had a discount that day, called "Blue Friday." By the time I got to the store, after 1PM, the clothes racks were ransacked and clothes were piled all over the floors and seats of the fitting rooms. I only found one pair I liked. I didn't even do any online shopping yesterday. And so few small businesses exist in my home town anymore, but those that do were blocked off on Saturday for the parade that night.

Thankfully, I don't have to do a lot of shopping for Christmas. Most of the Christmas parties I'll be attending will be "White Elephant" exchanges. One will be the party at work and another at the local bar.  My book club will be doing an ornament exchange at our December meeting, and I'm sure I can find an inexpensive one somewhere. They didn't say it had it be a new one. As for the others, I will probably look around the house for items I don't want anymore, such as the books I've already read and don't intend to keep any longer. And there may just be something else I'm willing to give as a present, thus not needing to buy one. But if I must buy one of the gifts, I can get something cheap since it's a "White Elephant" game.

My mom's family has also done the White Elephant game for Christmas, for about 20 years now, but skipped it last year. No word yet on what we are doing this year.

If you've ever wondered how the term "White Elephant" came about, here is some info:

What's the meaning of the phrase 'A white elephant'?

A burdensome possession; creating more trouble than it is worth.

What's the origin of the phrase 'A white elephant'?

White (albino) elephants were regarded as holy in ancient times in Thailand and other Asian countries. Keeping a white elephant was a very expensive undertaking, since the owner had to provide the elephant with special food and provide access for people who wanted to worship it. If a Thai King became dissatisfied with a subordinate, he would give him a white elephant. The gift would, in most cases, ruin the recipient.
white elephantReferences to Indian and Thai veneration of white elephants dates back to at least the early 17th century. The first reference in English to the idiomatic meaning of the term 'white elephant' comes in 1851 G. E. Jewbury's Letters, 1892:

"His services are like so many white elephants, of which nobody can make use, and yet that drain one's gratitude, if indeed one does not feel bankrupt."

Here are the basic rules for the game and some variations as defined by  A White Elephant Gift Exchange is a popular Christmas event where people vie to walk away with the best present. It also goes by Yankee Swap, Dirty Santa, and a plethora of other names. The White Elephant game is played by a lot of different rulesets – some dead simple and others confusingly elaborate. Here are the basic rules:

1. Each player brings one wrapped gift to contribute to a common pool. The gift exchange organizer should provide information on what type of gift people should bring.
2. Players draw names to determine what order they will go in. Alternatively, everyone can draw from a hat, or have their order set by the organizer prior to the event.
3. Players sit in a circle or line where they can see the gift pile. To make things easier, everyone should sit in the order in which they will take their turns.
4. The first player selects a gift from the pool and opens it. Make sure everyone can see the gift!
Santa Claus standing next to a stack of gifts, pointing5. The following players can choose to either pick an unwrapped gift from the pool or steal a previous player’s gift. Anyone who gets their gift stolen in this way can do the same – choose a new gift or steal from someone else.
To keep things moving along, there are a couple of limits on gift swapping:
  • A present can only be stolen once per turn, which means players who have a gift stolen from them have to wait to get it back.
  • After three swaps, the turn automatically comes to an end (otherwise things could drag on for a long time).
  • See “Popular Variations” below for other possible twists.
6. After all players have had a turn, the first player gets a chance to swap the gift he or she is holding for any other opened gift. Anyone who’s gift is stolen may steal from someone else (as long as that person hasn’t been stolen from yet). When someone declines to steal a gift, the game comes to an end.Note that for this last “extra” turn, the three-swap rule doesn’t apply. Players can keep swapping until someone decides to stand pat, or there are no other eligible people to steal from.
This is basically how I have seen it done at the parties I've gone to, although rather than drawing names, we draw numbers instead. 
And the variants mentioned on the site:

Popular Variations

While the above rules are as close to the “vanilla” version of the game as you can get, there’s really no right or wrong way to play. Over the years, many new ideas have been incorporated into the gift swap game, with the aim of keeping the game moving and/or making it more strategic. Here are some rules tweaks many people use:
Three Swaps and You’re Out. If you get stolen from three times during the game, you are out of the game and can no longer be stolen from.
Three Swaps and the Gift is Out. If a present gets stolen three times, it’s out of the game and the person who holds it gets to walk away with it.
No Extra Turn/No Extra Swapping. Some people don’t allow the first player to swap at the end. Or, if they do, the first person simply gets to swap once with no additional swapping allowed.
Poem/Story. Instead of following the same set of rules each turn, players follow instructions given to them through a Christmas-themed poem or story. One type of White Elephant story tells players to pass their gift left or right until the end, when they get to keep whatever item they’re holding.
Gift Themes. The organizer may require people to bring a gift that fits a certain theme. The most common one is a re-gift (i.e., an unwanted item that people have lying around the house). However, the theme could be anything – ornaments, coffee table books, candy, do-it-yourself crafts, etc.

In most of the times I've done the game, the "three swaps and the gift is out" rule has been used.  At work, however, we only allowed the present to be stolen once, just too keep the game from running all day long. 

I've never heard of the poem idea. Sounds a little weird, in my opinion.

One year my family did a themed White Elephant party, with "As Seen on TV Products" as gifts.

How many of you have done this?