Thursday, December 31, 2020

My Year in Reading

 





I just completed my last book for this year. As I said two days ago, I was surprised to learn I read fewer books this year than I had last year, with all the time off I had this year during quarantine. Before the library began curbside pickup in June, I was forced to read from home and to begin reading more digital books, as well as order from the library's Zip book program (when the library was shut down). I was glad to have turned in all the books I'd had out in March just before the shutdown began.

I was not surprised that The Stand ended up being the longest book. Even though I read it in March after quarantine began (not knowing what was lying ahead), I was certain it would be the longest one I read all year. I could not envision reading anything longer than that. And no surprise that the most popular was Harry Potter, which I never read until now (it was offered on Overdrive without any waits throughout April and May). There is a typo on the site, Tigress is definitely NOT only 10 pages. How this slipped past the Goodreads administrators is beyond me. The shortest book I read has to have been this picture book. And it was no surprise that only three other people read this book

Now tomorrow I will begin my challenges for next year. I was sad not to see the Retellings challenge I had been doing the last two or three years not being offered.This was announced earlier this month. Even though I only got nine books this year, I like reading retellings. I cannot find anything else that has the same theme. Also, the contemporary romance challenge I have been doing for several years was discontinued. This was announced on the site in September, but I did not see that then, as I did not regularly visit the blog. I learned of the cancellation after emailing the blog owner asking if the challenge would be offered next year. Again, I can't seem to find any other challenge for contemporary romance. Still no word on if the picture book challenge is happening. Also waiting on the Foodies read, which always seems to be posted on New Year's Day.I decided not to join the audiobooks one this year, though I likely will be listening to some. I just don't count on doing very many audios next year. Most of the ones I listened to this year were from the digital library. I only borrowed one from the library in January, and listened to two that I got at Kmart as the store closed down in February. On that note, I have read all the books I got at Kmart this year, yet many I got from thrift stores in past year remain unread. I was sure I get to many of those while on lockdown, but I started getting hooked on e-books, though physical ones remain my preferred format. 

Already Used to Staying Home on New Year's Eve

 




It's been so long since I ever went out on New Year's Eve, so staying home this year won't be hard. Bars will be closed, so not being able to go tonight  won't make me sad to be at home. I'm not sure what I'll be watching on TV, if anything at all, but most likely I won't be up till midnight. Staying up that late has been rare for me, even when I wasn't going to work (work was off this week for the holidays). I can't seem to remember the last time I was up past 10PM in the last few months.

I know that New Year's Eve doesn't have to be elaborate just to have fun. Staying home is all right by me.

2021 When Are You Reading? Challenge

 Here is a new one to me. I'd seen this one in the past, but did not decided to try it until now.

It’s back again! I’ll be running the When Are You Reading? Challenge yet again in 2021. Hopefully, I’m not scrambling to finish it on New Year’s Eve next year (less than two hours left in the final audiobook as I type this!). I think the set up worked well last year so I’m going to run with it again.

The premise of the challenge is to read one book from each of twelve time periods. It’s up to the reader where a book lies. You can do it based on publication date or setting, whatever you want. Feel free to switch it up, too.


The time periods are:

Challenge completed on August 26

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

What I Did More and Less of During the Pandemic

Only three days left in 2020 now. A year that seemed longer than it actually was. Each month seemed like one long month. Is is really almost over?

According to my Goodreads stats for this year, I had more books total last year than this year. Seems weird, with all the time off I had at the start of the pandemic. With all the time I was going to have as a result of lockdown, I envisioned myself writing and crafting more, but did very little of either. Most likely I feel too depressed to think of anything to do. I did write one thing that no one has been able to read and which I have not gotten back to.  Still have not been inspired to write anything. I had also hoped to make some bread-dough crafts, but did not get around that either. But I kept on reading, and am wondering how I got fewer books this year than last year. The longest one I read last year was longer than my longest one this year, yet both were over 1000 pages. This was a prompt I had this year, and will have again next year (not sure what I'll be reading next year that is more than 1000 pages). I will be sharing more on my reading for the year when finish my last book of this year, hoping on Thursday, New Year's Eve.

When it came to making dinner, there were two recipes I did more than once since March: Lemon Pasta with Chicken and Cheesy Chicken Monterey. These were two of the recipes I had done at work back when we were able to have cooking class.  In March at the beginning of the lockdown, I was going through clutter in my room and came across several of the recipes I had. A lot of them required baking, something I cannot do (no working oven), so I did not keep those. 

I think I watched more videos on You Tube this year during the downtime. I loved discovering the Holderness Family's channel and seeing their parodies, many of which were about the pandemic. And I found several other parodies of songs about the events of this past year, including this one (Others such songs are on this same channel):

I was pleased with the election results. Can't wait to say goodbye to the Mango Mussolini, the Orange Menace and any other nicknames people have had for our outgoing president. The election was a bright spot in this otherwise dismal year.

 


Saturday, December 26, 2020

2021 Victorian Reading Challenge

 Getting as many as possible for this one.



*Books published during the Victorian age (1837-1901) are acceptable.

*Books written about the Victorian age are acceptable, no matter what year they were published.

*Stories are not limited to Victorian Britain. Read about what was going on in other parts of the world during this time!


My books:

  1. Cordelia--Winston Graham
  2. Victorian Poetry, Volume 1
  3. Hard Times--Charles Dickens
  4. Heartless--Gail Carriger
  5. Invincible Louisa--Cornelia Meigs
  6. The Seven-Per-Cent Solution--Nicholas Meyer

What’s in a Name 2021

 Yet another favorite of mine is now up for 2021.


In 2021, choose 6 books that have titles that contain:
Challenge completed on May 25

Friday, December 25, 2020

The Nerd Daily’s 2021 Reading Challenge

This will be the first time I have done this one.


  1. Audiobook: Crank--Ellen Hopkins
  2. 2020 Goodreads Winner: The Vanishing Half--Brit Bennett
  3. Gold on Cover: Credo--Melvyn Bragg
  4. Two-Word Title: Chasing Redbird--Sharon Creech 
  5. Author Starting With E: Girl, Woman, Other--Bernardine Evaristo
  6. 2021 Adaptation: The Queen's Gambit--Walter Tevis
  7. Part of a Trilogy: Queen of Air and Darkness--Cassandra Clare
  8. NY Times Bestseller: A Street Cat Named Bob--James Bowen
  9. Anthology: Disability Visibility--Alice Wong (ed.)
  10. Debut Author: Jane in Love--Rachel Givney
  11. Released in April:
  12. Protagonist Starting with L: On the Banks of Plum Creek--Laura Ingalls Wilder (reread)
  13. Title Starts with G or K: A Killer in the Rye--Delia Rosen
  14. Multiple Perspectives: Troubles in Paradise--Elin Hilderbrand
  15. Features Travelling: To Love and Let Go--Rachel Brathen
  16. Standalone: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo--Taylor Jenkins Reid
  17. By a Queer Author: If I Was Your Girl--Meredith Russo
  18. Recommended on Social Media: A Burning--Megha Majumdar
  19. Set in Winter:
  20. A Quest: Elizabethan Lover--Barbara Cartland
  21. Bought Based on Cover: Ties That Tether--Jane Igharo
  22. SFF or Mystery:
  23. New Author to You: Girl in Blue--Ann Rinaldi 
  24. Between 460-495 Pages: Hello, Summer--Mary Kay Andrews
  25. Food on the Cover:
  26. Bookstore Recommendation:
  27. Same First Initial as You: Other Words For Home--Jasmine Warga
  28. Reviewed by Us in 2021:
  29. Romance or YA: Girl Made of Stars--Ashley Herring Blake
  30. Recommended by Family:
  31. Book You Never Finished: Praise of Folly--Erasmus
  32. A Dash of Royalty: The Glittering Court--Richelle Mead
  33. Holiday-Event Themed:
  34. Author Starting With N: The Orange Cat Bistro--Nancy Linde
  35. An Emotion in Title: Of Love and Shadows--Isabel Allende
  36. Released Between 1991 and 2012: The Dogfather--Susan Conant
  37. BIPOC Author: Dear Justyce--Nic Stone
  38. Set in the Future: Black Sun--Rebecca Roanhorse
  39. Flora or Fauna on Cover: Chamomile Mourning--Laura Childs
  40. Released in 2020: One to Watch--Kate Stayman-London
  41. Body Part in the Title: The Hare With Amber Eyes--Edmund De Waal
  42. By Two Authors: Sanctuary--Paola Mendoza & Abby Sher
  43. Retelling: Never Look Back--Lilliam Rivera
  44. Indie Author: The Corona Chronicles--Terrance T. Toth
  45. Purchased Years Ago: The Gatecrasher--Madeleine Wickham
  46. Pink Cover: The Roommate--Rosie Danan
  47. Released in July: Everyone in This Room Will Someday be Dead--Emily Austin
  48. Five-Word Title: The Flower in the Skull--Kathleen Alcala
  49. Start a New Series: Chain of Gold--Cassandra Clare
  50. Protagonist Starting with G: You--Caroline Kepnes
  51. Book Gifted to You: Abide With Me--Elizabeth Strout
  52. Recommended by a Friend: Calico Joe--John Grisham

Christmas 2020

 






Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas Eve

Just a quiet Christmas Eve here. I'd already expected it to be this way. Rain is expected tomorrow. I'm just fine. Hope all is well with everyone.


 Happy Christmas Eve, everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Christmas Eve Eve and Festivus

 


Happy Christmas  Eve Eve. It still doesn't fell like Christmas is only two days away. But then it is somewhat warm, nearly cold, weather in my home town, which is not unusual even at this time of year. And of course, all the holidays have been very different during this dismal year. I'm still hearing about people traveling for the holidays, which just makes me shake my head. People just aren't listening to science during the pandemic. Not seeing the family won't kill you now, but gathering with them may kill you later. People just aren't getting this message. A Zoom Christmas (for those who use Zoom) or a phone-call Christmas is better than spending New Years' Day in the ICU. And now hospitals are over capacity, including the one in my hometown (the only one in the county). It even got on TV last week! I certainly don't want to be in a hospital right now. 



And does anyone ever celebrate "Festivus"? According to CNN, it's for everyone this year, not just "the rest of us," as noted on the episode of Seinfeld in which the word appeared. A writer the show said his father once dreamed up the holiday (click the link above to see the video). I have never known anyone to celebrate this, have any of you? Do you ever take time to air grievances at this time of year? I've never even thought of such a thing.


And let's wish a happy one to all out there, whatever holiday you're celebrating right now.

Poetry Reading Challenge 2021

 Another I have enjoyed. I will get as many books of poetry as I can.

  • One of the easiest, and possibly most difficult, will be getting people to sign up to read a poem-a-day through the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day service. The challenge is to read a poem-a-day for a week once per month and write about which poems were your favorite and why. You can write up a short blurb on your Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, or your blog. I’d love for you to share your experience in the comments each month.
  • Second, read at least 1 book of poetry (doesn’t have to be cover-to-cover) and write about your favorite poems and what you learned about yourself while reading those poems.
  • Third, if you want to go all out, feel free to read as many books of poetry as you can in one year and link to your reviews in the comments.

What I am reading:

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

2021 European Reading Challenge

I will be doing this again, despite how few books I read for this challenge this year. As always, I will get as many as I can through the year.


THE GIST: The idea is to read books by European authors or books set in European countries (no matter where the author comes from). The books can be anything – fiction, nonfiction, novels, short stories, memoirs, travel guides, cookbooks, biography, poetry, whatever. You can participate at different levels, but each book must be by a different author and set in a different country – it's supposed to be a tour. (See note about the UK, below.)

WHAT COUNTS AS "EUROPE"?: We stick with the standard list of 50 sovereign states that fall (at least partially) within the geographic territory of the continent of Europe and/or enjoy membership in international European organizations such as the Council of Europe. This list includes the obvious (the UK, France, Germany, and Italy), the really huge Russia, the tiny Vatican City, and the mixed bag of Baltic, Balkan, and former Soviet states.
Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Vatican City.
NOTE: Even with Brexit, the United Kingdom is still one country, part of Europe, that includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. One book from any one of these four counts as your one book for the United Kingdom. I'm not going to bust your chops about it because challenges should be about fun not about rules. However, when it comes to winning the Jet Setter prize, only one book from one of the UK countries counts.

LEVELS OF PARTICIPATION

Participants can read as many books as they want and are encouraged to visit as many European countries as possible. The Jet Setter Prize will go to the person who reads (and reviews) books from the greatest number of different countries (see below).

Not everyone wants to compete for a prize, review books, or read a lot of books. You can complete the challenge by reading one to five books from different countries.

To participate in the challenge, sign up at the levels below. If you want to go on to compete for the Prize, keep reading!

  • FIVE STAR (DELUXE ENTOURAGE): Read at least five books by different European authors or books set in different European countries.

  • FOUR STAR (HONEYMOONER): Read four qualifying books.

  • THREE STAR (BUSINESS TRAVELER): Read three qualifying books.

  • TWO STAR (ADVENTURER): Read two qualifying books.

  • ONE STAR (PENSIONE WEEKENDER): Read just one qualifying book.

 My books:

  1. Cordelia--Winston Graham (UK)
  2. From Scratch--Tembi Locke (Italy)
  3. Credo--Melvyn Bragg (Ireland)
  4. Sophie's Choice--William Styron (Poland)
  5. Eleanor: Crown Jewel of Aquitaine--Kristiana Gregory (France)
  6. The Hare With Amber Eyes--Edmund De Waal (Austria)
  7. The Terrorists--Maj Sjowall (Sweden)
  8. The White Stag--Kate Seredy (Hungary)
  9. Praise of Folly--Erasmus (Netherlands)
  10. Voices From Chernobyl--Svetlana Alexievich (Russia)
  11. Circe--Madeline Miller (Greece)

Monday, December 21, 2020

Elf Humor

I must admit I have never done the "Elf on the Shelf" thing. But I just had to share these pictures because they are so fun.





The 2021 Reading Challenge @ Modern Mrs. Darcy

For the Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge in 2021, the host is allowing us to choose our own reading prompts from past challenges.



Here are the ones I chose:

  1. Three books by the same author: Elin Hilderbrand a) What Happens in Paradise b) Troubles in Paradise c) The Blue Bistro
  2. A book in translation: The Plague--Albert Camus
  3. A book of poetry, a play or an essay collection: Disability Visibility--Alice Wong (ed.)
  4. A book more than 500 pages: Queen of Air and Darkness--Cassandra Clare
  5. A banned book: Sophie's Choice--William Styron
  6. A memoir, biography or book of creative nonfiction: Assata: An Autobiography--Assata Shakur
  7. Book about books or reading: Twelve Angry Librarians--Miranda James
  8. A Newbery Award winner or honor book: Caddie Woodlawn--Carol Ryrie Brink
  9. A book of any genre that addresses current events: Me and White Supremacy--Layla F. Saad
  10. Pulitzer or National Book Award winner: Olive Kitteridge--Elizabeth Strout
  11. A book published this year (2021): Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder--Joanne Fluke
  12. Book by a favorite author: Hello, Summer--Mary Kay Andrews

Challenge completed on June 22

The 2021 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

This will be the second year I have participated in this one. Last year, I'd originally signed up for the Baker's Dozen level, but after reaching that level in April, decided to upgrade to Fortnightly, and will be choosing that level again. The prompts are in the graphic below. Click the link above to see a larger image. I made it smaller to fit on my page. 



Shapes and Colors 
Primarily Black Cover: Crank--Ellen Hopkins
Shapeshifting Character: Kissed--Cameron Dokey
Author Whose Name is a Color: This Christmas--Jane Green
Shape on the Cover That Reminds You of a Rorschach Test: Black Sun--Rebecca Roanhorse

It's All Relative 
"Father" in the Title: The Dogfather--Susan Conant
About an Estranged Family: American Royals--Katharine McGee
 
Who's in Charge?
About a Social Movement: Harlem--Walter Dean Myers

Things We Don't Talk About
Book by a Politician: The Truths We Hold--Kamala Harris
Book About Oppression: A Burning--Megha Majumdar
Book About Terminal Illness: The End of Your Life Book Club--Will Schwalbe

Challenges
"Hard" in the Title: Hard Times--Charles Dickens
Set Aside in the Past Because It Was Hard to Get Into: Praise of Folly--Erasmus

Bringing the World Into Your Home
A Culture Other Than Your Own: Thirteen Senses--Victor VillaseƱor
Book About Feng Shui: Feng-Shui--Ernest J. Eitel

Picture This 
Photograph on the Cover: From Scratch--Tembi Locke
Book by a Journalist or New Photographer: Fear--Bob Woodward 

Generations 
Book About Flappers: The Edge of Town--Dorothy Garlock
Book About Millennials: Drive Me Crazy--Erin Downing
Book About Hippies: Hippie--Paulo Coelho

Make 'Em Laugh
About a Comedian: If You Ask Me--Betty White

Swashbuckling 
Sword on the Cover: Chain of Gold--Cassandra Clare
Rollicking Adventure Story: Elizabethan Lover--Barbara Cartland

Reflections 

Drinking Game
Picture of an Alcoholic Beverage on the Cover: The Playboy--Carly Phillips
Cozy Mystery With a Beverage in the Title: Chamomile Mourning--Laura Childs
Title That Could Be a Drinking Game: Shades of Earl Grey--Laura Childs
Nonfiction Book About Alcohol: Girl Walks Out of a Bar--Lisa F. Smith

TBR Burners:
Book You're Excited to Read: One to Watch--Kate Stayman-London
Book Someone Gave to You That You Haven't Read Yet: Olive Kitteridge--Elizabeth Strout
Anything You Want: The White Stag--Kate Seredy

Those Bodies
Picture of an Ocean on the Cover: The Blue Bistro--Elin Hilderbrand
By a Celebrity Known for Body Positivity: Making the Cut--Jillian Michaels
Children's Book About Body Parts: What I Like About Me--Allia Zobel Nolan

Borrowing 
A Fairy Tale or Myth in a Modern Setting: Never Look Back--Lilliam Rivera
A Book Borrowed From the Library: The Orange Cat Bistro--Nancy Linde
Book With a Character From a Different Book: The Seven-Per-Cent Solution--Nicholas Meyer

Crossing Boundaries: 
Interracial Romance: The Vanishing Half--Brit Bennett
Immigrant Experience: Ties That Tether--Jane Igharo

Occupations: 
About a Librarian or Bookseller: Twelve Angry Librarians--Miranda James
Book About a Scientist: Lab Girl--Hope Jahren
Book About a Farmer: The Four Winds--Kristin Hannah

That Creepy Feeling: 
Horror Story or Thriller: Girl on a Train--A.J. Waines
Insect on the Cover: Chain of Iron--Cassandra Clare

Ways to Die 

Putting 2020 Behind Us 
Book About Recovery or Self-Care: To Love and Let Go--Rachel Brathen
"Better" in the Title: The Better Liar--Tanen Jones
Set After a Major World Event: Voices From Chernobyl--Svetlana Alexievich

Favorites
From a Celebrity Favorite List: The Alice Network--Kate Quinn
Favorite Color on the Cover: The Roommate--Rosie Danan
A Favorite Genre (Memoir): Touched by the Sun--Carly Simon

The Tools of Writing 

Where You Sleep at Night
"House" in the Title: The Cider House Rules--John Irving

Plaids
By Someone From Scotland: Ace of Spades--Faridah Abike-Iyimide

Shh...
Children's Book About Bedtime: Way Past Bedtime--Tara Lazar
Book With a Peaceful Cover: The Summer's End--Mary Alice Monroe
About Secret Societies/Clubs: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Volume 1--Shiro Amano

Weather
Nonfiction Book About a Weather-Related Disaster: Isaac's Storm--Erik Larson
Picture of a Clear Blue Sky on the Cover: Same Beach, Next Year--Dorothea Benton Frank

Wildcards
Book by an Author Under 30: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit--Jeanette Winterson (26 when published)

Sunday, December 20, 2020

2021 Newbery Reading Challenge

 Doing this one once again. Will try for the first level.

Picture
Welcome to another year of the Newbery Reading Challenge! 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


My Books:

Stacked Reviews 2021 Reading Challenge

 A new one that I found this year.

2021 Reading Challenge Stacked

My Books:
  1. Can Read in a Day: Chasing Redbird--Sharon Creech
  2. Historical Fiction: Ravished--Amanda Quick
  3. Controversial Book: Too Much and Never Enough--Mary L. Trump
  4. YA Book: Other Words For Home--Jasmine Warga
  5. Booker Prize Winner: Girl, Woman, Other--Bernardine Evaristo
  6. Mental Health: Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend--Matthew Dicks
  7. Classic: My Man Jeeves--P.G. Wodehouse
  8. War Novel: Sophie's Choice--William Styron
  9. Own Voices Novel: Dear Justyce--Nic Stone
  10. Chick Lit: Kiss My Cupcake--Helena Hunting
  11. First Book in a Series: You--Caroline Kepnes
  12. Famous Author You've Always Wanted to Read: Absalom, Absalom!--William Faulkner
  13. Foreign Language: The Plague--Albert Camus
  14. Wild Card: Kissed--Cameron Dokey
  15. Monster Book (1000+ Pages): Atlas Shrugged--Ayn Rand
  16. Fantasy Novel: Black Sun--Rebecca Roanhorse
  17. Friend Recommendation: Calico Joe--John Grisham
  18. Set Somewhere You'd Like to Live See One Day: Invincible Louisa--Cornelia Meigs
  19. Gothic Novel: Ace of Spades--Faridah Abike-Iyimide