Daily Archives: October 31, 2008

A Novel Challenge Yahoo Group – 2008 Mini Challenges

The Mini Challenge 2008
Sponsored by group owner, Wendy (aka: ME!)

October 31, 2008: CHALLENGE COMPLETED! This was fun to do – simple little mini-challenges throughout the year. I will most likely come up with a similar challenge for 2009!


1. Complete all 12 mini-challenges from January 1st through December 31st of 2008. DO NOT start this challenge prior to January 1, 2008.
2. Challenges may be completed in any order and may overlap other challenge. Work through them at your own speed.
3. Participants must post their progress (and reviews if appropriate) to their blog with links to the group (or if they don’t have a blog, they should post directly to the group).

Here are the challenges:

1. Read a short story – review it.

COMPLETED January 21, 2008 – Black Ice, by Cate Kennedy; rated 3.5/5; read my review.

2. Read a children’s book – review it.

COMPLETED January 1, 2008 – The Giver, by Lois Lowry; rated 4.5/5; read my review.

3. Read a poem – tell us about it.

I have a wonderful little Everyman’s Library Edition of Robert Frost Poetry. Last night I read several poems: Stars, The Sound of Trees, An Old Man’s Winter Night and my favorite of all time…The Road Not Taken. I love Frost’s poetry which is almost always evocative of nature and our place within it.

4. Read a banned book – review it.

COMPLETED February 25, 2008 – Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison; rated 4.5/5; read my review

5. Give a book away (donate to charity, give a book to a friend, leave a book “in the wild” to be found by another reader…as long as you don not sell it!) – post why you chose the book you did and where it went.

COMPLETED February 18, 2008; read my comments here.

6. Read two (2) articles from any one magazine – tell us about them.

COMPLETED January 12, 2008 – read my comments here.

7. Read a classic (for this challenge a classic is defined as a piece of literature which has stood the test of time, has literary merit, is widely read, and was published prior to 1970) – review it.

COMPLETED January 25, 2008 – Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens; rated 3/5; read my review.

8. Go to a book event and then tell the group about your experience (book events may be library events, author readings, seminars/lectures pertaining to books or reading, etc…)

I attended the San Jose Book Group Expo on October 25-26, 2008. Read my post about who I met there, Day One events, and Day Two events.

9. Read an essay – tell us about it.

COMPLETED March 30, 2008 – Utopia, Dystopia, Messtopia! by Cynthia Ozick; read my post.

10. Read something inspirational – tell the group why it inspired you.

COMPLETED October 28, 2008 – Gift From The Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh; read my review; this book inspired me to be better to my inner self, to find time to replenish my spirit and nourish my creativity.

11. Read a book written by a “new to you” author – review it.

COMPLETED January 9, 2008 – The House at Riverton, by Kate Morton; rated 4.5/5; read my review.

12. Participate in a group or buddy read and discussion (this can be either a face to face book club, an on line group, or a blog/buddy read). Tell the group what you read and with whom; give us a review.

I read Life and Times of Michael K, by J.M. Coetzee with the Booker Prize Yahoo group; read my review.

Friday Finds – October 31, 2008

October 31, 2008

I missed this event last week because I was on my way to the San Jose Book Group Expo…so I’m catching up this week. I found some fabulous books at the Expo which I would never have picked up had it not been for meeting the authors and listening to them speak. These books include:

The Hakawati, by Rabih Alameddine. Listening to this author speak was a real treat – he was funny and brilliant. I immediately knew I would read his book. The book flap reads: ‘Like a true hakawati, Rabih Alameddine has given us an Arabian Nights for this century — a funny, captivating novel that enchants and dazzles from its very first lines: “Listen. Let me take you on a journey beyond imagining. Let me tell you a story.”‘ Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

Between Here and April, by Deborah Copaken Kogan. The author explained that she was compelled to write this book based on her own life – her best friend in grade school was killed and she never had the full story of what had happened. When she began to research the book, it became apparent that facts would not explain all that had happened…and so she turned to fiction. Danielle at Powells.com writes: ‘The highest praise I can give Between Here and April is that I had to put it down several times in order to take a deep breath and savor what I had just read. Rarely has a book made me think as deeply, weep as openly, and recommend as heartily as I will Kogan’s debut novel.‘ I can’t wait to read this book.

*clicking on the book covers will take you to Powells.com where you can purchase the book.

Once again, the book bloggers have steered me toward some great books to add to my ever growing wish list:

The Longest Journey, by Diana Patterson and Rita Turner as featured on Teddy’s blog So Many Precious Books, So Little Time. Teddy gave this the very high rating of 5/5 and writes: ‘This is a beautifully written story, that really captures the time and place of both England’s and Australia’s rich gentry. We also get a glimpse at the dark “underbelly” of the two countries. It is a story of love, courage, adversity, and romance.’

The Sound of Butterflies, by Rachel King as featured on Clare’s blog The Blue Archipelago. The book is about a butterfly enthusiastic who joins an expedition to the Amazon in search of a mysterious butterfly. Clare writes: ‘The Sound of Butterflies is an opulent and intriguing tale which I highly recommend; and with a debut as compelling as this I can’t wait to see what King has to offer next.‘ It moves directly to my wish list!

Everyone is Beautiful, by Katherine Center as featured on Marcia’s blog The Printed Page. Earlier this year I read Center’s book The Bright Side of Disaster (read my review) and loved it. So I am eager to read another novel by this author. This book will be released in February 2009 by Random House. Marcia writes: ‘This book is engaging, appealing and down to earth. No situation was unrealistic and out there. I could identify with pieces and parts of all the characters. Their flaws are what make them believable.

*Clicking on the above book titles will take you to Amazon where you can purchase the book; clicking on the title of the featured blog will take you to their review of the book.

My last find this week came from NPR and it is a cookbook:

Mediterranean Cooking, by Sara Jenkins sounds wonderful. NPR writes: ‘Asked about an image that might sum up her new cookbook, Jenkins describes driving along the Mediterranean coast during summer, through dry air that is both salty and perfumed with the scent of wild herbs.‘ If you go their site and read the post about this book, you will also find some of the recipes from Jenkin’s cookbook. Yum!

So, there are my finds for the last two weeks. What did you find that you just cannot resist? To get links to other posts for this event, visit Jenn’s Friday Finds post for today.

Book Expos and Blogging Retreats…

It looks like the book bloggers got a little notice at the San Jose Book Group Expo – yesterday Garth Stein wrote a guest post on Book Club Girl and acknowledged Trish (Hey Lady, Whatcha Readin’?) and Jill (Fizzy Thoughts). And today Josh Henkin wrote a guest post on Book Club Girl and mentioned Trish, Jill and myself. He wrote (in part):

Book Bloggers: It was terrific to meet several of them—Trish from Hey Lady Whatcha Readin, Jill from Softdrink, and Wendy from Caribousmom. I only wish there had been more bloggers at Book Group Expo, and from looking at the comments on Trish, Jill, and Wendy’s blogs, I sense that a lot of book bloggers agree. So maybe we can start planning for next year. There’s a close connection between book bloggers and book groups. Almost every book blogger I know is a member of a book group, and book bloggers are great at spreading the word about and to book groups. Perhaps something can be arranged next year with Book Group Expo to make it easier for more bloggers to come. A giveaway/raffle of a bunch of free tickets to book bloggers? Discounted rates for the others? Press credentials? Any other ideas? Having more book bloggers at the conference would be great for book bloggers and great for Book Group Expo. It would help spread the word.

Wouldn’t it be great if the Expo expanded next year to offer something specifically for bloggers?

In the meantime, Trish at Hey Lady, Whatcha Readin’? is thinking ahead. She has posted a survey to see if there would be interest in a Book Blogger Retreat. I think this would be an amazing idea. Why don’t you drop over to her blog and answer the survey questions?

Finally, in case you haven’t read Trish’s post…she also was featured photographically at the Expo website (that is her in the first column, 3rd photo down). Trish had some great questions at the panel discussions, so it was nice to see her in the photos of the event!