Posts Tagged ‘Reading Challenge’

Here’s a perfect reading challenge for me: Jazz Age January!

Courtesy of Leah at Books Speak Volumes, the Jazz Age January challenge is simple: read one Jazz Age book during January and blog about it.

My own bookshelf contains a couple books I’ve not yet read that fit the bill:

Other books I’ve read and recommend for the challenge:



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I’ve been reading the Unabridged Chick’s blog again. It’s all her fault. She first introduced me to reading challenges last fall. I signed up for The Heroine’s Bookshelf (miserable fail–I didn’t read any of the books) and the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril (success—two books read!).

Have I learned my lesson? Not so much.  First, the Witches & Witchcraft 2012 Reading Challenge.

I’m starting with the Initiate Level–1-5 books. I would have met this in 2011 since I read A Discovery of Witches, Garden Spells, The Witches of East End and Laced with Magic. My 2012 ideas:

1. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman–I vaguely remember the movie, but have heard good things about the book. It’s time I read it.

2. Shadow of the Night by Deborah Harkness–I wasn’t a fan of A Discovery of Witches, but some of that can be chalked up to not knowing it was the first in a trilogy. We’ll see if I’m more impressed with book #2.

Other ideas: The Fairy Tale Detectives (surely there must be witches here), finally reading Wicked to see what all the fuss is about, the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Wicca by Scott Cunningham, or something else that catches my fancy, perhaps in the young adult genre as I’m trying to read more there.

The Victorian Challenge

Read a book, watch a movie or listen to an audiobook related to the Victorian ear (1837-1901). Yes, please! I’m going to be ambitious and aim for 5.

1. Timeless by Gail Carriger–I adore the Parasol Proctectorate books, so this is a no-brainer.

2. Young Victoria with Emily Blunt. Still haven’t seen it.

3.  Finally finishing the audio book of Libba Bray’s The Sweet Far Thing

Other thoughts: Sherlock Holmes, finally reading George Elliot (possibly Daniel Deronda or Middlemarch), Henry James or Victorian Poets (e.g. Elizabeth Barret Browning, Robert Browning, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Christina Rosetti). Actually, I quite like the poet idea. My poetry education is quite poor.

Wish me luck, and more success than my 2011 reading challenges!

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The Grade: B+

Quick Take: A young London police officer works with a task force to catch a Jack-the-Ripper copycat killer—and hide her past from the team.

Makes Me Want To: Turn on all the lights while reading it

My Thoughts: Every few years there is a book or movie that truly scares me. When I was studying abroad in England, it was the John Cusack movie Identity. Oh. My. God. It’s a good yarn, as my mother would say, and it was frightening. Walking back to our college, my friends and I linked arms and loudly reassured ourselves that everything was fine. We took a very wide turn around the corner we had to navigate, and upon reaching my dorm, I wouldn’t enter rooms without first turning on all the lights and opening the door completely so that there couldn’t be anyone hiding behind it. I walked at an angle so that my back was to the wall. It’s intense.

Now You See Me had a similar effect. I stopped reading in the middle of a chapter (something I dislike) because I knew it was not good bedtime reading and I needed to stop. I still turned on all the lights in my house. I finished it the next day, during daylight hours.

Lacey Flint is a young police detective in London. One night after interviewing a witness, a woman literally dies in Lacey’s arms. Because of this intimate connection to the case, Lacey’s is brought in to the task-force formed to solve the murder, which is quickly recognized as a Jack-the-Ripper copycat killing. As a child, Lacey had a fascination with Jack the Ripper, so she’s a bit of a Ripper-ologist. This knowledge also earns her a place on the task force, but, as the dust jacket reads, “the details of the case start reminding her more and more of a part of her past she’d rather keep hidden.”

It’s difficult to say more about the plot without revealing or hinting at something. Suffice it to say, this is a good plot. I think that’s why my mother liked it. She recommended the book but cautioned, “I cannot warn you enough about the violence.” If The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was too graphic for you, you’ll want to skip the passages when the killer is with the victims. Fortunately, these are presented as stand alone chapters, so it’s easy to skim.

However, this isn’t gratuitous, graphic violence. There is a purpose, and some very important themes and issues touched upon in this crime thriller. It haunted me for the rest of the day as I mulled over the revelations and resolutions.

Exercise caution with the violence, but if you like twisty crime thrillers, or a wicked scare, I highly recommend this novel. It’s perfect for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril challenge.

Peril the Second complete! You can also see my review of The Lantern, the other book I read for the challenge.

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The Grade: C+

Quick Take: Rebecca in southern France coupled with the story of the sisters who previously lived in the house

Makes Me Want To: Re-read Rebecca and find a better gothic read

My Thoughts: I really wanted to like this book. The Unabridged Chick raved about it, it was on the Indie Next List for September and sounded like a delicious gothic mystery, so I chose it for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril challenge. Perhaps my expectations were too high but I was disappointed. Lawrenson does a great job setting the mood, building the suspense and generally setting up the reader for a modern gothic tale. But this mood isn’t sustained.

The modern reveal is close enough to Rebecca, that I expected something like it. I figured out what was happening in the past at the same time I’m sure every other read did. Consequently the last five or 6 chapters of that plot were confirmation and not that interesting. I also really wanted to slap the narrator for being so dense and passive. Clearly I should just finish the Millennium Trilogy already, since I seem to have little patience with literary characters who react to male mistreatment of women with anything less than Lisbeth Salander-style rage and revenge. This is the primary reason I gave up on Jerusalem Maiden as soon as my plane landed and I could buy a new book. I bought The Lantern so all and all, that was not a successful reading excursion.

My book club is discussing The Lantern in November; perhaps I’ll have a greater appreciation for it after our meeting. On the plus side, Peril the Third complete!

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Inspired by Audra and her inability to resist a reading challenge, I’m going to give it a go and attempt the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VI challenge.

Seasons have a mood, and Fall is a time to transition to the darker themed books on my to-read list. It’s a perfect time for a reading challenge on gothic/mystery/suspense/supernatural reads. I’m going to try Peril the Second (read two books) and hopefully Peril on the Screen (watching films or television shows that fit with the theme). Of course, my last reading challenge (The Heroine’s Bookshelf) has not worked out so well–I haven’t made any progress and actually forgot about it until today. Whoops.

Potential Reads

Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson—has been on my to-read list since I saw it on the Indie Reads Next List

Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton—my mother just finished it, and while she said “I can’t warn you enough about the violence,” she also surprisingly liked the book. She won’t read my beloved Kate Daniels books because she doesn’t like the violence.

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson—I think it may count as gothic and has been on my to-read list since spotted in Bookmarks and reviewed by Audra

Tinker, Tailor, Solider Spy by John le Carré—prep for the upcoming film. Also I’ve never read a le Carré.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare—added to the to-read list when I was looking for potential steampunk reads.

Update: Success! I read and reviewed The Lantern and Now You See Me. I did read Clockwork Angel in 2011, though not for the challenge.

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I’ve become a great fan of the Unabridged Chick, which is where I learned of the reading challenges. Far more ambitious than I, said chick seems to be participating in at least a half dozen reading challenges for 2011. I’m going to start small with The Heroine’s Bookshelf Reading Challenge.

It’s a simple concept: read at least one book from The Heroine’s Bookshelf, or sister books. Rereads don’t count, so if you’ve already read Pride and Prejudice (:::raises hand::::), read another of Jane Austen’s novels. The challenge started January 1, 2011 and ends December 31, 2011.

Here are my picks:

1. Persuasion by Jane Austen (it’s the only Austen I haven’t read)

2. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (it’s been on my to-read list since I read The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton)

If I have time, I will also read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. It’s been on my bookshelf, untouched for at least a decade.

Update: Failure. I did not read any of the books; they remain on my reading list to 2012.

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