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ExUrbanis

Urban Leaving to Country Living

Challenge Wrap-Ups: THE WHOLE ENCHILADA

December31

I’m sure there’s no question in your mind right now that I was out of my mind when I signed up for so many reading challenges in 2012. Here are the final three wrap-ups, including my overall count.

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outdo yourself challenge 2012

Briana over at The Book Vixen challenged readers to Outdo Themselves and read more books in 2012 than they did in 2011.

In 2011, I read 123 books; GoodReads tells me that was a total of 35,860 pages. Wow.

So this year was a scramble. I topped 2011 in number of books read in 2012 – 139 –

SUCCESS!

but not in total pages read (final count not in yet, but it’s not close).

* * * * * * * * *

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Wow – I had psyched myself into taking on a 100+ book challenge in 2012, but when sign-up time came I could find only this one hosted by Amy at My Overstuffed Bookshelf. Amy challenged us to read at least 150 books in 2012. I took a deep breath and joined.

FAILURE!

Alas, while my 139 total was enough to top 2011, it fell a few books short of this new goal.

This is the only challenge page where I’ve listed all of the books I read last year, in the order in which I read them. I will be putting up pages in a week or two with alpha by author, and ratings by genre.

* * * * * * * * *

Reading Challenge Addict 2012

And nowdrumroll, please – the results of the 63 reading challenges I took on this year for the Reading Challenge Addict challenge.

The challenge sign-up page lists all of the challenges and a “COMPLETED” or “FAILED TO COMPLETE” status.

The final count: a success in 48 of the 63 challenges, and a failure in the other 15.

That gives me

SUCCESS!

in the Reading Challenge Addict Challenge (follow?) in which I had pledged to complete at least 16 challenges.

* * * * * * * * *

Phew! I’m not doing that again.


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Challenge Wrap-Ups: ODDS & ENDS

December31

A few of the shorter challenges I entered in 2012 are unique and are left now to be tied up in this mixed bad entry. Tomorrow I’ll post the overall and final reading challenge results for the year.

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time travel reading challenge 2012

I’ve always liked time travel stories and sometimes fantasize about being able to transport myself back through my life to give my teenage self some advice (would I have even listened?) or visiting with my grandparents when they were young.

So I simply had to sign up for the Time Travel Reading Challenge hosted by Laura at Library of of Clean Reads. I entered at the Surprise Trip level that required me to read 1 -3 time travel books

SUCCESS!

1. 11/22/63 by Stephen King

2. A Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron

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Birth Year Reading Challenge

The idea of the The Birth Year Reading Challenge is to discover books that were published the year you were born, or in the birth year of someone special to you.

I really couldn’t get excited about anything published in my birth year, so I decided to do an Honors Challenge and read books published in 1973 – the year my beautiful baby girl came into the world. (Love you, Jen!)

SUCCESS!

A Prairie Boy’s Winter by William Kurelek

Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

* * * * * * * * *

Australian Women Authors Reading Challenge

To stretch myself in 2012, I decided to join the Australian Women Writers Reading Challenge, created by Elizabeth at The Devoted Eclectic. I went in ‘casual’ this year at the ‘Stella’ level of 3 books and ‘dabbled’ in more than one genre. I have technical

SUCCESS!

because the challenge was counted in books although I had wanted to count by authors. By that standard, I just plain ran out of time and have to decide whether I’m going to put Transit of Venus in my January reading pile, or return it to the library unread.

1. The Secret River by Kate Grenville

2. Searching for the Secret River by Kate Grenville

3. Bush Studies by Barbara Baynton

* * * * * * * * *

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The concept of seeing how my non-fiction reading relates to novels is a fun idea, so I was intrigued by The Truth in Fiction Challenge, hosted by Amanda over at The Fig and Thistle.

The goal of the challenge was to read a specified number of book pairs that were comprised of one fiction book and one related non-fiction book. Amanda encouraged us to think outside of the box; the non-fiction book could also be journals, letters, memoirs, etc…. The pairs didn’t need to be exact matches, although there should be an easily detectable common thread.

The catch: Instead of individual reviews, after each book pair I had to write a joint review. And this is where I

FAILED!

this mission.

I had a lot of fun pairing up my books:

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler with Mordecai: The Life & Times by Charles Foran

A Small Furry Prayer by Steven Kotler with A Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron

The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard with 419 by Will Ferguson

Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck with 11/22/63 by Stephen King

BUT the only joint review I posted was about the first pair I read:

1. The Secret River and Searching for the Secret River, both by Kate Grenville

* * * * * * * * *

That’s it for the odds and ends. Thanks for hanging in with me.


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Challenge Wrap-Ups: IT’S A MYSTERY

December30

I love mysteries!So it should have been a cinch to finish the four mystery reading challenges I entered in 2012. Instead, I am batting .500.

vintage mystery challenge 2012

Bev at My Reader’s Block is a great fan of mysteries published before 1960, as am I. These are the dime novels my dad read and that I cut my reading teeth on. For 2012, she offered a variety of ways to meet her Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge and I took on the Lethal Location theme.

FAILURE!

I am dismayed that I did not complete this but there are a couple of mitigating factors: I had trouble locating a number of my original picks, AND somewhere through the year, I lost sight of the ‘prior to 1960′ stipulation and read at least two books by a vintage author published too late.

Here’s what I managed:

1. The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham (1929)

2. Murder at Hazelmoor by Agatha Christie (1931)

3. The Cape Cod Tavern Mystery by Phoebe Atwood Taylor (1934)

4. Halfway House by Ellery Queen (1936)

5. Death at the President’s Lodging by Michael Innes (1936)

* * * * * * * *

Crusin' the cozies 2012

Last year when I compiled my year list of books I read in 2011, I was astounded at the number of mysteries I’d consumed: about 35% of my reading. That, combined with the fact that I had already signed up for the Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge, made Cruisin’ through the Cozies, hosted by Yvonne at Socrates’ Book Reviews an easy fit.

I wasn’t going to enter at the Super Sleuth level but after compiling those stats, I thought it would be a piece of cake to read 13 or more cozy mysteries in 2012. And I was right!

SUCCESS!

For the complete list of the 19 qualifying titles, please see my sign-up page.

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Smooth Criminals Challenge 2012

The Smooth Criminals 2012 Challenge, hosted by Ben at Dead End Follies is a mystery reading challenge with an edge. Participants were required to read books in each of the following categories. For those unfamiliar with the tougher mysteries, the distinctions between genres can be fine. One of Ben’s goals was to make us do some research – and that’s what I did.

FAILURE!

I had the books – I just ran out of time.

To see the great categories – and their definitions – and what I read and what I intended to read, please visit my sign-up page.

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Criminal Plots Reading Challenge

To complete the second annual Criminal Plots Reading Challenge, I had to read six books, one to fit into each of the following categories.

SUCCESS!

1. Book published at least 10 years ago: Crime at the Black Dudley by Margery Allingham

2. Book written by an author from the state/province/etc. where I live: Murder: a Crafty Business by Lila Phillips of Truro, Nova Scotia

3. Book written by an author using a pen name: The Dog Who Knew Too Much by Spencer Quinn, a pseudonym used by Peter Abrahams

4. Crime novel whose protagonist is the opposite gender of the author: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (Flavia deLuce) by Alan Bradley

5. A stand-alone novel written by an author who writes at least one series: Murder at Hazelmoor by Agatha Christie

6. Novel with a weapon in the title: Sign of the Broken Sword by G.K. Chesterton

* * * * * * * *

Just a few more to wrap up and I can get on with my life…


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Challenge Wrap-Ups: CATEGORIES, SCATEGORIES!

December29

I took on a couple of major category challenges in 2012, requiring me to read 12 & 13 different categories respectively. There were only eight overlapping categories, though, so I ended up reading books for 17 different genres: eight non-fiction and nine fiction.

12 in '12 Reading Challenge

For the Library Thing 12 in ’12 group, I needed to pick any twelve categories and the books to fit them.

SUCCESS!

But why didn’t I just pick 12 of the 13 in the next challenge? Simple: I had posted my sign-up, publicly declaring my picks before I found the Mixing It Up Challenge. Honour kept me locked to them.

The five non-fiction and seven fiction categories I chose, and the books I read to fulfill them are list on my sign-up page.

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Mixing It Up 2012 Reading Challenge

Ellie, who hosted the Mixing It Up Challenge at her blog Musings of a Bookshop Girl determined the categories. She set out 16 types of books, and the challenge levels.

I decided to skip the horror, romance, & manga groups and entered at the Two-Tier Cake level, needing to complete 13 categories.

SUCCESS!

To see the 7 non-fiction and six fiction categories that I completed, and the books I did it with, please visit my sign-up page.


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Challenge Wrap-Ups: AWARD WINNERS (Sez Who?)

December28

This is the time of year when all the “best of” lists are being published by everybody from bloggers to newspapers to booksellers. Last year at this time, I saw so-o-o-o many books that I’d missed in my 2011 reading, so I was glad to find a couple of challenges that allowed me to read only books published in 2011.

Reading the Award Winners Challenge

I’d wanted to get on track to reading more literary fiction, so the Reading the Award Winners Book Challenge, hosted by Girl XoXo seemed good. Books could be winners of any major book award and I was allowed to read books from different categories of the same award.

Only catch: they had to be the prize-winners in 2011. I tried really challenging myself and reading only Canadian award winners, so I’m entered at only the Silver level, requiring me to get six to nine 2011 champs under my belt.

SUCCESS!

even though I managed to make just four of the six Canadian award winners:

1. Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyen: 2011 winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize
The Giller Prize is an annual literary award given to a Canadian author of a novel or short story collection published in English.

2. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes: 2011 winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction.
The Man Booker Prize is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original full-length novel, written in the English language, by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ireland, or Zimbabwe.

3. Practical Jean by Trevor Cole: winner of the 2011 Stepehen Leacock Medal for Humour
The Stephen Leacock Award is an annual literary award presented to the best work of humorous literature in English by a Canadian writer.

4. Moon Over Manifest by Claire Vanderpoole: winner of the 2011 John Newbery Medal
The Newbery Medal is awarded each year to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

5. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt: winner of the 2011 Governor-General’s Literary Award for Fiction
The Governor-General’s Awards are a collection of awards presented by the Governor General of Canada, marking distinction in a number of academic, artistic and social fields.

6. Mordecai: The Life & Times by Charles Foran: winner of the 2011 Governor-General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction
The Governor-General’s Awards are a collection of awards presented by the Governor General of Canada, marking distinction in a number of academic, artistic and social fields.

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Amazon best books reading challenge

Cassandra over at Wickedly Delicious Tales hosted the 2012 Amazon Best Books of 2011 Reading Challenge. I entered this at the Novice level which required me to choose five books from the editors’ list.

So this should have been a shoe-in – wouldn’t my award winners be on the Amazon list? Not so much. Despite that, I claim

SUCCESS!

Here’s the Amazon list.


My five
included only The Sisters Brothers and The Sense of an Ending from the Reading the Award Winners Book Challenge (above) plus:

3. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

4. 11/22/63 by Stephen King

5. The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje

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Still with me? I’m nearly through wrapping-up the 2012 challenges. I promise.


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Challenge Wrap-Ups: The LONG & the SHORT of it

December27

THE SHORT

short story collection reading challenge 2012Collections of short stories aren’t eligible for a lot of reading challenges so even though I had a large one on my 2012 Bucket List and another in mind for a prize-winners challenge, I couldn’t count them for anything else. When I saw The 2012 Short Story Reading Challenge, hosted by Laura over at Library of Clean Reads, I knew I was in.

I entered at the Tell Me a Story level of 1 – 3 books, and until I counted up my for this list, I thought I had flunked (I read neither of the books that I had intended). But I got in some short story reading after all this year, so count a

SUCCESS!

1. My Financial Career & Other Follies by Stephen Leacock

2. The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton

3. African Love Stories edited by Ama Ata Aidoo

4. QBI: Queen’s Bureau of Investigation by Ellery Queen

5. The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

6. The Museum of Dr. Moses by Joyce Carol Oates

7. The Beggar’s Garden by Michael Christie

8. Bush Studies by Barbara Baynton

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Short Story Reading ChallengeNow this can be confusing, so pay attention. The Short Story Challenge above required me to read entire collections of short stories.

But the Short Story Reading Challenge hosted by Dead Book Darling asked me to read 12 individual short stories.

How, you may ask, could I possibly have completed seven collections but have not recorded twelve individual stories, thus chalking up a

FAILURE!

I had intended to read and to blog about my qualifying short stories – and to feature work by twelve different authors. I certainly did read the needed number of authors, but after March, I fell asleep at the keyboard. Here’s what I did do:

1. A Lesson on the Links by Stephen Leacock
2. The Landlady by Roald Dahl
3. The $64 Tomato by William Alexander

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THE LONG
I had a couple of l-o-n-g books on my bucket list this year so I thought I may as well get credit for them. Oddly enough, I didn’t complete the reading of my bucket list – but I did have success on all of these BIG book challenges.

tea and books reading challenge 2012Birgit at the Book Garden hosted the Tea and Books Reading Challenge for 2012, inspired by C.S. Lewis’ words: “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

To honour the spirit of those words, Birgit threw down the gauntlet: to settle in with a large cup of tea, because in this challenge I had to read … wait for it … books with more than 700 pages. I entered this one at the Chamomile Lover level and committed to reading two such books.

Although I didn’t finish both of the books I had planned to read, I nevertheless had

SUCCESS!

with the following four books:

1. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth 1488 pages

2. 11/22/63 by Stephen King 849 pages

3. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins 764 pages

4. Mordecai: His Life & Times by Charles Foran 717 pages (in progress)

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Chunkster reading challenge 2012 The Chunkster Reading Challenge intrigued me from the get-go.

A chunkster is 450 pages or more of ADULT literature, whether non-fiction or fiction. No audio or e-books were allowed but this year for the first time, essay, poetry, and short story collections were permitted.

I’m went in at the Chubby Chunkster level, that required me to read four books. I’m claiming

SUCCESS!

with the following five books:

1. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth 1488 pages

2. 11/22/63 by Stephen King 849 pages

3. Mordecai: His Life & Times by Charles Foran 717 pages (in progress)

4. The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston 608 pages

5. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie 552 pages

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Mommoth Book Cgallenge 2012

Darlene. who blogs over at Darlene’s Book Nook loves audio books – they’re the perfect way for her to fit reading in with her active ‘mom’ lifestyle. In 2012 she wanted to listen to some longer books, but couldn’t find a “big book” challenge that allowed her audio books. So she designed The Mammoth Book 2012 Reading Challenge.

This challenge allows books of all formats, including audio books and ebooks. The regular-bound format equivalent of any title must be a minimum of 450 pages.

Since I was already participating in the Chunkster Reading Challenge, I thought this would be a good fit for me. I’m entered at Level 2, and committed to read four mammoth-sized books.

Since I can include the five books listed above in the Chunkster Challenge, I have

SUCCESS!

even before I add these ebooks:

6. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins 764 pages

7. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins 626 pages

8. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe 544 pages

And that’s the wrap-up for today.


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Challenge Wrap-Ups: the ALPHABETS

December26

I entered a couple of different A-Z (that’s EH – ZED for me, as a Canuck) in 2012.

a-z reading challenge 2012

The object of Lindsey’s A-Z Reading Challenge was to read a book with a title starting with each letter of the alphabet. Since most letters were already covered in my existing 2012 reading list, this seemed like a good fit.

In the spirit of Canuck-ism, I tried to fill as many slots as possible with books either by Canadian authors, or set in Canada. I managed to do so with 17 of the 26 – or 65%.

The letter I had to scramble to fill at the eleventh hour? ‘K’ – go figure!

SUCCESS

To see my full list, you’ll have to visit my sign-up page for this challenge.

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A to Z double whammy reading challenge

I joined a second A-Z challenge over at Strawberry Splash Reviews. I called this my ‘Double Whammy‘ as Kristen required not only that I read books with titles that start with the letters of the alphabet, but also I had to read books by authors whose last name start with A to Z.
The most difficult author slot to fill? The letter ‘I’.

SUCCESS

To add to the fun, I tried not to use any books on both lists. (Exceptions: The Sister Brothers by Patrick DeWitt and The Underpainter by Jane Urquhart.)

Despite that restriction that winnowed my list, I managed to fill 12 of the 26 slots with Canadian authors.

Again, for the full list see my challenge sign-up page.


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Challenge Wrap-Ups: KID STUFF

December24

At the beginning of this year (it seems so long ago), our four-year-old grandson and his mom were living with us. Steven and I tried to have reading time every day so I entered a couple of challenges that are out of the ordinary for me.

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The Illustrated Year Picture Book Reading Challenge encouraged me to include Steven’s reaction to the books we read in my reviews. As far as possible, I have done that.

I entered this at Level 1 which required me to read just 12 books over the course of the year. I’m happy to report

SUCCESS!

1. Giraffe & Bird written and illustrated by Rebecca Bender
2. I Want My Hat Back written and illustrated by Jon Klassen
3. Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? written & illustrated by Susan A. Shen
4. Madeline written & illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans
5. Fuddles written & illustrated by Frans Vischer
6. A Few Blocks written & illustrated by Cybele Young
7. Horton Hears a Who written & illustrated by Theodore Seuss (aka Dr. Seuss)
8. Gimme Jimmy written & illustrated by Sherrill S. Cannon
9. Dog in Boots written by Greg Gormley; illustrated by Robert Angaramo
10. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom written by Bill Martin Jr; illustrated by John Archambault
11. Harry, the Dirty Dog written by Gene Zion; illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham
12. There Were Monkeys in My Kitchen written by Sheree Fitch; illustrated by Sydney Smith
13. The Market Square Dog written by James Herriot; illustrated by Ruth Brown
14. One Winter Night written by Jennifer Lloyd; illustrated by Lynn Ray
15. Curious George written by Margaret Ray; illustrated by H.A. Rey
16. Eloise written by Kay Thompson; illustrated by Hilary Knight
17. Coyote Sings to the Moon written by Thomas King; illustrated by Johnny Wales

And some non-children’s picture books:
18. Griffin & Sabine written and illustrated by Nick Bantock
19. Sabine’s Notebook written and illustrated by Nick Bantock
20. The Golden Mean written and illustrated by Nick Bantock

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3660 Minute Reading ChallengeOn the heels of the Picture Book Challenge and my goal never to say “no” to the request from my grandson for a story, came The 3660 Minute Reading Challenge, hosted by Mommy Wants To Read.

The challenge was “to spend 10 minutes every single day reading to our children. Since this year is a leap year there are 366 days hence 3660 minutes. The goal is to promote reading, increase imagination, foster a love of words, bolster comprehension skills, and spend quality time with the children in our lives.”

HUGE FAILURE!

Unfortunately, Steven & his mom moved unexpectedly to Vancouver at the end of January and our reading time was curtailed. For the first couple of weeks, I tried reading to him on the phone but there were always too many distractions for him.

For the year, I recorded an abysmal 380 minutes spent reading to him.

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Newbey & Print challenge 2012 Next is the Award Winning Reads Challenge. The Awards referred to are the Newbery Medal for children’s literature and the Printz Award for Young Adult lit. I don’t usually pick up YA or children’s literature on purpose but every time I’ve read an award winner on these lists, I’ve been impressed. So I entered this challenge, pledging to read four award-winning books.

SUCCESS!

All of these are Newbery Medal winners, and three of the four were delightful!

1. Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright 1939 (read in Dec 2012)
2. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George 1973
3. Holes by Louis Sachar 1999
4. Moon Over Manifest by Claire Vanderpoole 2011


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Challenge Wrap-Ups: BATTLE of the PRIZES

December23

For several years now, Gilion at Rose City Reader has been hosting the Battle of the Prizes – both British and American. I’ve been meaning to hop on quite a few times and finally did for 2012.

Battle of the prizes British

The British version pitted winners of the English Man Booker Prize against winners of the Scottish James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

To meet the goal, I needed to read one book that won both of those awards; a book that won the Booker Prize, and another that has won the James Tait Black Prize. That’s a total of three books.

I’m happy to report

SUCCESS!

with these three books:

Man Booker Prize winner:
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

James Tait Black Memorial Prize winner:
Men at Arms by Evelyn Waugh

Double Winner:
Midnight’s Children

Based on this selection, I prefer winners of the James Tait Memorial Prize, but it’s really much too limited a sample to decide.

* * * * *

Battle of the prizes American 175

The American version of the battle contrasts the winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Literaure and the National Book Award.

Since I had no interest in reading any of the double winners that I’ve not read, I chose the ‘b’ option: to read two winners of each prize.

SUCCESS!

Pulitzer Prize winners:
1. The Bridge of San Luis Rey By Thornton Wilder (1928)
2. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (1953) (read Dec 2012)

National Book Award winners:
1. Three Junes by Julia Glass (2002)
2. The Echo Maker by Richard Powers (2006) (read Dec 2012)

Again, this is really a very small sample and I realize that I’m comparing literature from different eras, but I’m not crazy about the National winners. They seem to tend toward popular, rather than literary, fiction.


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Challenge Wrap-Ups: BUCKET & WISH Lists

December22

Wishlist Challenge 2012This is one of the challenges of which I am most proud of completing this year.

Like Judith over at Leeswammes’ Blog, who hosted this challenge, I have a wishlist (what book blogger doesn’t?) My wishlist is a virtual pile of books, that I would like to own or at least read. I keep my list on an Excel spreadsheet and add to it faster than I’ll ever be able to read from it: currently it has 2,165 titles on it. (That’s up from 662 a year ago. That will tell you how unrealistic the list is.)

Nonetheless, in order to make a dent in it, I signed up for Judith’s Wishlist Challenge. It required me to read 12 books (one for every month of the year) that I’d like to read, but didn’t already have on my shelves. The title MUST have been on my wish list before January 1, 2012, so I decided to commit to 12 titles last January. And, as a bonus to myself, all of the titles (but one) are fiction and all are by Canadian authors.

I read eleven of the originally listed twelve, replacing one title with another qualifying one, so I count this as a huge

SUCCESS!

especially given my self-imposed Canadian-content rule.

1. Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyen small maple leaf - Canadian

2. The Calling by Inger Ash Wolfe small maple leaf - Canadian

3. The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston small maple leaf - Canadian

4. A Recipe for Bees by Gail Anderson-Dergatz small maple leaf - Canadian

5. Practical Jean by Trevor Cole small maple leaf - Canadian

6. Twenty-Six by Leo McKay, Jr. small maple leaf - Canadian

7. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt small maple leaf - Canadian

8. The Beggar’s Garden by Michael Christie small maple leaf - Canadian

9. The Birth House by Ami McKay small maple leaf - Canadian

10. Mr. Sandman by Barbara Gowdy small maple leaf - Canadian (read Dec 2012)

11. Joyner’s Dream by Sylvia Tyson The Underpainter by Jane Urquhart small maple leaf - Canadian (read Dec 2012)

12. Mordecai: His Life and Times by Charles Foran small maple leaf - Canadian (in progress)

* * * * *

Bucket List challenge 2012The Bucket List Challenge, hosted by Jamie over at The Eclectic Bookshelf, while sounding somewhat similar (to read a list of books that I’ve wanted to read – most for years – but haven’t gotten around to) was different in that I composed this list my own TBR stacks, aligning it more with my TBR Challenges than with the Wishlist Challenge (above).

Like most of my TBR challenges, this one also ended in

FAILURE!

I entered at the “Mid-Sized Sedan” level of only 8 books but hubris led me to think that I could make three of those 8 chunksters. I did finish A Suitable Boy which is one of the longest novels in the English language, but fell short with the two other monsters noted below.

1. Walden by Henry David Thoreau

2. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

3. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler

4. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

5. How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn

6. Memoirs by Pierre Elliott Trudeau

7. London by Edward Rutherford

8. Collected Stories by Carol Shields


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Challenge Wrap-Ups: FIRSTS & SECONDS

December22

newauthorschallenge2012 There are always so many shiny ‘new’ authors out there, just as there are alluring unread books. But since I’ve met so many writers over the years whose other books I’d like to try, it’s always a challenge each year to balance out: Old friends? New friends? The devil you know? The devil you don’t know? A bird in the hand? Two in the bush? You get the idea.

Since I knew I’d be reading new-to-me authors this year anyway, I signed up for the New Authors Reading Challenge at the middle level, committing to read 25 books from authors whom I had not read before.

SUCCESS!

In fact, I tallied 71 to date, with just over a week left in the year. To see who I met this year, please visit my original sign-up page for this challenge.

* * * * *

seconds challenge 2012

The Seconds Reading Challenge encouraged me to go back for seconds of authors that I’d read only once.

The great thing about this challenge is that it wasn’t just for my second in a series books, but the second time I’d read any suthor. That is, I could include series and stand-alones. But – it was only for seconds, not thirds and so on. For that reason, I entered at the Just a Spoonful level and promised to read just 3 books that are 2nds.

I did better than I anticipated so I have another

SUCCESS!

You’ll notice some authors that are also on the New-to-Me Authors list (above) but that is, of course, because I read both my first and second book by that author in 2012.

SERIES:
1. Bantock, Nick: Sabine’s Notebook (2nd in the Griffin & Sabine trilogy)

2. Cameron, W. Bruce: A Dog’s Journey (Sequel to A Dog’s Purpose)

3. Taylor, Phoebe Atwood: The Mystery of the Cape Cod Tavern (4th in the Asey Mayo series, but only the 2nd that I’ve read)

STAND-ALONES
4. Grenville, Kate: Searching for the Secret River

5. Norman, Dave: White River Junctions

6. Collins, Wilkie: The Moonstone

7. Richler, Mordecai: The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

8. King, Stephen: 11/22/63

9. Johnston, Wayne: The Divine Ryans

10. Montgomery, Lucy Maud: Kilmeny of the Orchard

11. Oates, Joyce Carol: The Museum of Dr. Moses

12. McKay, Ami: The Birth House

* * * * *

PhotobucketAnd, finally, the I Want More Reading Challenge was a gimme: the challenge here was to read ‘seconds’, but only stand-alones qualified.

The list is the same as it was for the Seconds Challenge (above) minus, of course, the series books. I went in at the Never Too Late level of 2 – 4 books, so I have one more

SUCCESS!

* * * * *

So:

Jack Sprat could eat no fat; his wife could no lean.
So between them both, they licked the platter clean.

It would seem that between the New Authors Challenge and the Seconds Challenge, I would Have listed all the books that I read this year. But I still need to include those that were 3rd, 4th (or more) times with an author – and that didn’t count for either of these.


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Challenge Wrap-Ups: Those CLASSICS!

December20

Since I knew that I wanted to reread Jane Eyre, Walden and The Moonstone in 2012, the reading challenges for classics intrigued – and I entered four of them, with rather poor results.

Back to the classics challenge 2012Let me start my recap with my sole

SUCCESS!

- the tremendously popular Back to the Classics Challenge hosted by Sarah Reads Too Much.

Here are Sarah’s nine categories of classics, and my results:

Any 19th Century Classic
WALDEN by Henry David Thoreau

Any 20th Century Classic
THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN by G.K. Chesterton

Reread a classic of my choice
LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott

A Classic Play
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM by William Shakespeare

Classic Mystery/Horror/Crime Fiction
THE MOONSTONE by Wilkie Collins

Classic Romance
JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte

Classic that has been translated from its original language to mine
THE STRANGER by Albert Camus

Classic Award Winner
THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA by Ernest Hemingway (read in December 2012) Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Literature 1953

Classic set in a country that I (realistically speaking) will not visit during my lifetime
THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY by Thornton Wilder (set in Peru)

* * * * *

classicschallenge2012 I didn’t do so well, though, on the also popular Classics Challenge over at November’s Autumn. To distinguish this challenge from the one above, I dubbed this dare The Classics Challenge with a Twist – the twist being that on the 4th of each month Katherine posted a prompt for a discussion of whatever classic I happened to be reading.

I had to read seven classics and I crossed over a few titles on my list for the first classics challenge. You can see the list on the sign-up page for this ‘twist’.

Despite the fact that I did read the seven required books, I posted discussions on only two: Uncle Tom’s Cabin in January, and Walden in February. Overall, I must admit:

FAILURE!

* * * * *

Classic Double challenge 2012

The Classic Double Challenge hosted by Melissa at One Librarian’s Book Reviews encouraged me to read one older book (classic) and a newer book that related to the older one in some way.

I’m opted in at the Medium level, which required me to read two sets of related books.

FAILURE!

Unless I’ve missed a connection somewhere, I managed to get in only one set of doubles:

JANE EYRE and
THE FLIGHT OF GEMMA HARDY

* * * * *

reading shakespeare 2012And last, but not least, I wanted some structure and discussion to delve into the bard and so signed up for Reading Shakespeare: A Play a Month Challenge that Risa over at Breadcrumbs Reads started in January. You can see the entire “play-list” on my sign-up page.

Unfortunately, personal issues made it necessary for Risa to drop the group early in the year and we all just fell apart without her – at least, I did. I managed to read the first two but the rest is a

FAILURE!

January – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

February – MacBeth


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Challenge Wrap-Up: WAR THROUGH the GENERATIONS

December20

War through the Generations WWI challenge The War Through the Generations Reading Challenge, hosted by Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit and Anna of Diary of an Eccentric focused this past year on WWI (1914-1918), also known as The Great War and The War to End All Wars.

I entered at only the WADE level which required me to read 4-10 books in any genre with WWI as a primary or secondary theme and occurring before, during, or after the war. Since I made it to eight, I’m calling this a

SUCCESS!

I have a real interest in the time period around this war, which permanently changed the world, and found all of these very easy to read.

1. Blizzard of Glass by Sally M. Walker – non-fiction, middle-school

2. The Absolutist by John Boyne – fiction

3. The Underpainter Read in December 2012 by Jane Urquart – literary fiction

4. Moon Over Manifest by Claire Vanderpoole – fiction, YA, Newbery Medal winner

5. The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller – fiction, mystery

6. An Unmarked Grave: A Bess Crawford mystery by Charles Todd – fiction, mystery

7. The Mapping of Love and Death: a Maisie Dobbs mystery by Jacqueline Winspear – fiction, mystery

8. Broken Music by Marjorie Eccles – fiction, mystery, romance


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Challenge Wrap-Up: BOOKS WON

December19

Bppks Won Reading Challenge 2012

Although 2012 was the year I tried to concentrate on books I already owned, I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist entering contests for interesting-looking books I saw on blogs. And sometimes, I just happened to win!

Teddy Rose, who blogs over at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time hosted the Books Won 2012 Reading Challenge. I entered at the Bronze level, pledging to read (and review!) four – six books I won, so I have a

SUCCESS!

Library Thing, especially, sent me a bonanza of books this year. In addition, I also received several wins that I did not manage to get around to reading – yet. I will do my best to get to them in 2013!

Tree books:
1. Northwest Corner
by John Burnham Schwarz
Won from Colloquium

2. The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield
Thanks to Kat at Reviews from the Heart

3. A Small Furry Prayer by Steven Kotler
Won through Library Thing Early Reviewer program

4. White River Junctions by Dave Norman
Won through Library Thing Early Reviewer program

5. Oxford Messed Up by Andrea Kayne Kaufman
Courtesy of the author through Shelf Awareness Author Buzz

6. African Love Stories edited by Ama Ata Aidoo
Thank you to Amy McKie of Amy Reads for this book!

7. UContent by Nicholas G. Tomaiuolo
Won through Library Thing Early Reviewer program

8. Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston
I’m so sorry that I can’t remember who was the kind donor of the Book Depository gift certificate that allowed me to buy this. If you know who it is, please let me know!

9. 419 by Will Ferguson
Courtesy of the publisher

EBooks:
10. Chickens, Mules & Two Old Fools by Victoria Twead
Won through Library Thing Early Reviewer program

11. Winnie & Gurley by Robert G. Hewitt
Won through Library Thing Early Reviewer program

12. Falling Into Green by Cher Fischer
Won through Library Thing Early Reviewer program

13. Promise Me Eternity by Ian Fox
Courtesy of the author

14. A Shortage of Bodies by Dr. Gary D. McKay
Won through Library Thing Early Reviewer program


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Challenge Wrap-Up: eBOOKS

December19

Juiced with having won a ebook challenge 2012
Kindle ebook reader in the autumn of 2011, I signed up for Workaday Reads’ eBook Reading Challenge and set myself the goal of reading 10 ebooks in 2012. That was the CD level.

I managed to read 11 ebooks, so I have

SUCCESS!

For the complete list, visit my sign-up page.


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Challenge WrapUps: Those TBRs!

December18

At the beginning of 2012, my house was overflowing with books, so I joined several – five, in fact – challenges designed to help me reduce the piles.

As you’ll see, the challenges worked for me only in a limited way. But I did sell a dozen books at a yard sale, give away 316 books to a starting-up used bookstore in the village, and send another 27 out with the recycling. So, hey, I cleared out a lot of books this year – although I think that the (hundreds) that are left are breeding when my back is turned.

* * * * *

TBR  Double Dare 2012I started the year with the great TBR Double Dare which required me read only the books in my To Be Read stack from January 1, to April 1. And I did – so I should have made on dent in my shelves.

SUCCESS! (sort of)

My downfall was the fine print: The official stance on library books is that you can only read those in your possession or on your holds list at 12:00 A.M. on Jan. 1, 2012.

See, my library hold list was long – and the books kept coming and so what I read, although technically qualifying, wasn’t reducing the TBR pile I needed to tackle.

* * * * *

Off the shelf challenge 2012Bonnie at Bookish Ardour who hosted the Off the Shelf Challenge had easy rules: if it was in my possession on December 31st and I read it this year, then it counted.

FAILURE!

Even with those easy qualification, I didn’t make it, reading only 37 titles. You can see the complete list on my original sign-up page.

* * * * *

Mount TBR challenge 2012Bev at My Reader’s Block hosted the very popular Mount TBR Challenge.

I committed to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and read 50 books from my shelves. Bev didn’t allow re-reads (which I did for the Books That Made Me Love Reading challenge) nor did she permit ARCs. That knocked 5 titles from my Off the Shelf list, for a total of 32. I’ve listed them on my original sign-up page.

FAILURE!


Thirty-measly-two! I should have gone in at Mount Vancouver level – then I would have gotten to the peak instead of being stuck at base camp.

* * * * *

I did even worse (if you can imagine!) on Evie’s TBR Pile Reading Challenge at Bookish. Evie required that every book had to be reviewed. Until I started my month-end mini reviews in April, I posted reviews only sporadically.

Since I went in at the “Married with Children” level of 41 -50 books, and only 27 of my off-the-shelf reads qualify, I have another:

FAILURE!

For a list of the qualifying titles, see my sign-up page.

* * * * *

TBR pile challenge 2012
Adam over at Roof Beam Reader also hosted a TBR Pile Challenge – and I had to list my twelve books in advance. I’m thankful I was allowed two alternates because I used them both. To see which two titles I ended up skipping, you’ll have to check my original list on my sign-up page.

SUCCESS!

1. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth Completed Apr 2012
2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte Completed Jul 2012
3. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler Completed Sep 2012
4. A Jest of God by Margaret Laurence Completed Sep 2012
5. My Financial Career and Other Follies by Stephen Leacock Completed Feb 2012
6. Memoirs by Pierre Elliott Trudeau Completed Nov 2012
7. Walden by Henry David Thoreau Completed Mar 2012
8. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck Completed Sep 2012
9. The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury Completed Sep 2012
10. The Museum of Dr. Moses by Joyce Carol Oates Completed Oct 2012
11. Murder at Hazelmoor by Agatha Christie Completed Jun 2012
12. Halfway House by Ellery Queen Completed Dec 2012


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Challenge Wrap-Up: WHAT’S IN A NAME

December17

what's in a name reading challenge 2012

I think the What’s in a Name Reading Challenge was the most fun of all the 63 challenges I attempted this year.

Here’s how it works: I had to read a book from each of the following categories. Simple, right? And deceptively challenging!

If you’re interested in trying your hand at the 2013 version, go here.

SUCCESS!

1. A book with a topographical feature (land formation) in the title: How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn Completed Oct 2012

2. A book with something you’d see in the sky in the title: Moon Over Manifest by Claire Vanderpoole Completed Oct 2012

3. A book with a creepy crawly in the title: A Recipe for Bees by Gail Anderson-Dergatz Completed Aug 2012

4. A book with a type of house in the title: Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe Completed Jan 2012

5. A book with something you’d carry in your pocket, purse, or backpack in the title: Sabine’s Notebook by Nick Bantock Completed Jan 2012

6. A book with a something you’d find on a calendar in the title: The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright Completed Mar 2012


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Challenge Wrap-Ups: NON-FICTION

December16

My non-fiction reading was down in 2012, compared to 2011, but I still managed to reach my goals in these three non-fiction reading challenges.

Dewey Decimal Reading Challenge

Because the Dewey Decimal System challenge allowed me to count any non-fiction, without restrictions, I entered at the Master level, committing to read 16-20 Dewey-decimal-classified books

SUCCESS!

1. Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917 by Sally M. Walker

2. Searching for the Secret River by Kate Grenville

3. A Prairie Boy’s Winter by William Kurelek

4. Seeing Trees by Nancy Ross Hugo & Robert Llewellyn

5. Chickens, Mules, & Two Old Fools by Victoria Twead

6. Walden by Henry David Thoreau

7. A Small Furry Prayer by Steven Kotler

8. White River Junctions by Dave Norman

9. Winnie & Gurley by Robert G. Hewitt

10. Notes to My Mother-in-Law by Phyllida Law

11. Manners for Women by Mrs. Humphrey

12. Heading Home: On Starting a New Life in a Country Place by Lawrence Scanlan

13. The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard

14. UContent by Nicholas G. Tomaiuolo

15. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

16. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

17. The Canadian Food Guide by Pierre & Janet Berton

18. Memoirs by Pierre Elliott Trudeau

19. Mordecai: the Life and Times by Charles Foran – in progress

* * * * *

Non-fiction non-memoir Reading Challenge

I went for a Diploma status (requiring 10 qualifying books) in the Non-Fiction, Non-Memoir, but went a little easier on myself

memorable memoirs challenge 2012

in the Memorable Memoirs challenges, committing to only 1 -4 books to make the Diarist level.

I had SUCCESS! in both challenges and you can find my break-out of books on the sign-up pages for each one:
Non-Fiction, Non-Memoir 2012 sign-up
Memorable Memoirs 2012 sign-up


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Challenge Wrap-Ups: My Early Years

December15

I entered a couple of reading challenges this year that took me back to the reading of my childhood.

Books Published in first yrs of my life reading challenge

The first was Reading Books Published in the First Years of My Life.

I originally thought I would complete this challenge (at the Toddler level) by reading adult books, but the challenge logo put me in mind of snuggling up with a book as a child – and so I decided to read some of the books I might have read then.

SUCCESS!

1954 – Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss
1955Eloise by Kay Thompson
1956Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion

* * * * *

Books that made me love reading challenge
FAILURE!
Of all the challenges that I couldn’t complete this year, I’m most disappointed that I didn’t get this one: Books That Made Me Love Reading. It called for a post a month about the books that made reading such a passion for me.

There’s so many books I wanted to share – and, alas, so little time!

I did manage the first four months:
January: These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
February: Trixie Belden and the Red Trailer Mystery
March: The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright
April: A Place for Johnny Bill by Ruth Juline Bishop


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Challenge Wrap-Ups: One-Book Wonders

December14

A few of the reading challenges that I entered this year required only one book to complete. As such, they don’t really each need a separate post to report.

Books in Translation Reading ChallengeBooks in Translation Challenge
SUCCESS!

I thought this would be a whole lot easier, given the number of foreign language books being translated into English. (And given that I had committed to read Montaigne’s essays – which didn’t happen.) But, in the end, unless I’ve missed something in my year’s reading, I needed to obtain a book just to fulfill this challenge.

The Stranger by Albert Camus (translated from the French) Completed Nov 2012

* * * * *

Terry Pratchett Reading Challenge 2012Sir Terry Pratchett Reading Challenge
SUCCESS!

I honestly had no idea what Terry Pratchett was all about when I signed up for this challenge. I soon found out he’s a master of fantasy – and that’s a genre I’m not too enthralled with. I was thankful that I had signed on for only one book – and I read that.

The Carpet People

* * * * *

PhotobucketBooks I Started But Didn’t Finish
FAILURE!

There was only 1 book that I started in 2011 but didn’t finish, that I had hoped to complete in 2012. That was May Sarton’s The Magnificent Spinster. Alas, it’s been so long now, if I ever get back to this book, I’ll have to start all over again.


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