Wednesday, 28 December 2011

What a challenging year...

At the start of 2011 I agreed to participate in 3 official reading challenges and 1 personal challenge - now the year is all but over, how did I get on with each challenge?

Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge 2011
Hosted by Book Chick City

Timeline: 01 Jan 2011 - 31 Dec 2011
Rules: To read TWELVE (12) mystery & suspense novels in 2011 (12 is the minimum but you can read more if you wish!)

My Thoughts: So I read 13 books - more than the 12 that were required. Challenge complete! I have to admit though that this was a genuine challenge as mystery and suspense books are not my regular fall back and occasionally throughout the year I had to read books just to make sure I was getting on with the challenge! But this was good as it broke me out of my regular reading habits and I did read some great books - Now You See Me, Hard Spell and Full Dark House are great reads for anyone. I did consider signing up for this challenge again for 2012, but thought I would try to experiment with some different challenges!

Speculative Fiction 2011
Hosted by Floor To Ceiling Books

Timeline: 01 Jan 2011 - 31 Dec 2011
Rules: To read 12 Speculative Fiction novels in 2011 (12 is the minimum - you can read more if you wish!)

Books Read in Challenge: 19/12 Books
Book 1: The Spirit Thief - Rachel Aaron
Book 2: Foundation - Issac Asimov
Book 3: The Magician's Apprentice - Trudi Canavan
Book 4: The Fallen Blade - Jon Courtenay Grimwood
Book 5: I Am Number Four - Pittacus Lore
Book 6: Foundation and Empire - Issac Asimov
Book 7: American Gods - Neil Gaiman
Book 8: Spirit Dances - CE Murphy
Book 9: Shades of Grey - Jasper Fforde
Book 10: Second Foundation - Issac Asimov
Book 11: The Neon Court - Kate Griffin
Book 12: Married with Zombies - Jesse Petersen
Book 13: Morlock Night - K.W. Jeter
Book 14: Secrets of the Demon - Diana Rowland
Book 15: Change - Jim Butcher
Book 16: Hunted By The Others - Jess Haines 
Book 17: Corsets and Clockwork - Trisha Telep
Book 18: Magic Slays - Ilona Andrews
Book 19: Black Swan Rising - Lee Carroll

My Thoughts: Although I counted 19 books for this challenge but as speculative fiction is probably my favourite type of reading, I know the number should be a lot higher! Overall, this was a pretty easy challenge and not that I don't think I'll be doing this again. I did have a thought though...isn't all fiction speculative to some degree - whether it is high fantasy or contemporary romance, it's all made up and therefore speculative. Still it was a fun to take part in! 
YA of the 80s and 90s
Hosted by The Book Vixen
Runs January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011
Read as many YA books that were originally published in the 80s and 90s as your heart desires. The only requirement is that the book(s) have to have been first published sometime between 1980 – 1999. 

Books Read in Challenge: 15/12 Books
Book   1: Nightmare Hall: The Scream Team - Diane Hoh
Book   2: Deepwater Black - Ken Catran
Book   3: Deepwater Landing - Ken Catran
Book   4: Deepwater Angels - Ken Catran
Book   5: Remember Me - Christopher Pike
Book   6: The Last Vampire - Christopher Pike
Book   7: The Last Vampire: Black Blood - Christopher Pike
Book   8: Nightmare Hall: The Roommate - Diane Hoh
Book   9: Remember 2: The Return - Christopher Pike
Book 10: Remember 3: The Last Story - Christopher Pike
Book 11: Sweet Valley High: Perfect Summer - Francine Pascal
Book 12: Teacher's Pet - Richie Tankersley Cusick
Book 13: The Last Vampire: Red Dice - Christopher Pike
Book 14: The Last Vampire: Phantom - Christopher Pike
Book 15: 13 Tales of Horror - Edited by Christopher Pile

My Thoughts: This was a fan challenge! Throughout the year I read 15 books that were originally published in the 80s and 90s aimed at teens. As this was roughly when I was a teenager it was a very nostalgic trip for me and interesting to see how YA has changed. The most notable element was how short YA was back then - typically 200 pages or so. But there were some interesting stories, ideas and characters packed into the short page count and much less teen angst! I don't know if this challenge is being run again for next year, but I still a couple of books I picked up at charity stores for this challenge that I haven't read yet so expect to see a few more reviews for YA of the 80s and 90s... 

Personal Classic Challenge
Challenged by Kris

My friend Kris has set a challenge for me to read a classic every three months. Below are his terms:

  1. Firstly the classic must be a classic or at least 20 years old;
  2. it has to set a definition for the genre or change it in a way which ‘inspire’ later writers;
  3. available for free or a reduced price and
  4. semi easy to read.

  • So my task for Mel is to read:
    1. Homer’s Odyssey – this is the cornerstone of Western Cannon and seems to have the basis for most fantasy. Easements: You can read a modern version (i.e. made into something that is easier to read).
    2. Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation. Yes I know it is three books, but they are short ones. They are very good and they are the foundation (not a pun) for modern space epic’s such as Iain M Banks Culture and Star Trek. The Foundation series was published in 1942 and then collected in proper book in the 50s.
    3. Ring World by Larry Niven. I thought it looked quite good. It is a interesting story about a space structure.
    4. Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard I have not read these book, but I think they may underpin some hero fantasy or it might be tripe
    Books Read in Challenge: 6 books

    Book 1: Foundation - Issac Asimov
    Book 2: Foundation and Empire - Issac Asimov
    Book 3: Second Foundation - Issac Asimov
    Book 4: The War of the Worlds - HG Wells
    Book 5: The Invisible Man - HG Wells
    Book 6: The Midwich Cuckoo - John Wyndham

  • Book 7: Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

    My Thoughts: This was a challenge set my friend Kris and officially I did read a classic at least every three months. I think those books inspired future writers and were easy to read and get hold off. However, off the books listed above I only read the Foundation series by Issac Asimov - although I do now own Ringworld, just never got a chance to start reading it! So did I complete this challenge? There's only one person who can answer that...Kris - how did I do? :-)

    Kris' Thoughts: When I set this challenge, I was also going secretly read these books in parallel. However, I could not keep up with Mel. The other reason to set a challenge was to hook Mel into the world of Sci-Fi as Mel hooked me into Fantasy. The classics I chose were a mixture of Fantasy (Odyssey and Conan) and Hard Sci-Fi (Foundation and Ringworld). I had read the Foundation Series of books before I set the challenge and I was very nervous that Mel would not like them. I was pleased that Mel enjoyed them <insert blog post links here>. They are interesting books that are more about people and society than Dilithum Crystals. This prompted a conversation between Mel and Myself about these books, which gave me the feeling of being cultured. I hope it inspires Mel to read more of Asimov's works. Homers Odyssey is something would be a challenge to read. It is a classic book and would be hard going. This was more of an aspiration target. I have it in my bookcase and it looks at me (although it looks a lot more readable than any Dan Brown Book).
    On balance, Mel has met the challenge and surpassed it. Well done.

    Yay me! So I'm four for four on 2011 Challenges! Lets hope 2012 goes as well!


    1. You've read loads of GREAT books this year.

      Reading about this has really made me want to participate in some of the challenges for 2012.

      I loved the idea behind your last challenge and Kris' thoughts.

    2. Well done Mel- there was a real mix of challenges in there!
      I'm looking at all the challenges for 2012 now and trying to decide which ones I might actually have a chance of finishing!

    3. I am suprised how many challenges Mel completed! These are a lot of books.

      I am now going to read Midwich Cuckoo and Frankenstein.