Daily Archives: November 14, 2010

Reading Challenges Update

Since we are well into November and the end of the year is fast approaching, I thought I should go through my remaining reading challenges and see where I am. Here is my update as of today:

COMPLETED Challenges in the last couple of months:

The Women Unbound Challenge asked that participants read nonfiction and fiction books related to the rather broad idea of ‘women’s studies.’ Hosted by Eva, Care, and Aarti, the challenge allowed readers to choose their level of participation…and I chose to read 8 books. I actually finished this challenge awhile ago, but enjoyed it so much, that I kept reading books that fit its criteria. I’m calling it quits now after having completed 13 books (5 nonfiction and 8 fiction). You can see the books I read with links to my reviews here. To get links to all the great reviews of women’s study books, check out this page on the challenge blog. This was a wonderful challenge…and if they host it again in 2011, I will join!

The Chick Lit Challenge was hosted by Twiga…and I really enjoyed this one. The challenge was to read 8 books, and I completed 9. Here is my list of books read with links to reviews. If you you are interested in getting more links to reviews of great women’s fiction, check out this post. As for the books I read, they were mostly excellent. My top three favorites (in order of most favorite) were: Get Lucky by Katherine Center, The Blessings of the Animals by Katrina Kittle, and Promises to Keep by Jane Green.

Hosted by Melissa at The Betty and Boo Chronicles, The Memorable Memoir Challenge was one of my most enjoyable challenges in 2010. I discovered that I really do love memoirs…and I read some excellent ones for this challenge. You can check out the books with links to my reviews here. The goal was to read four books, and I managed to read seven…four of which I gave my top rating of 5 stars (the rest were rated 4 stars and 4.5 stars!). I hope Melissa hosts this one again in 2011 because I would definitely join.

I’m pretty proud that I managed to finally complete one of my own hosted challenges this year! The Chunkster Challenge is hosted on its own blog – and it actually runs through the end of January – so, although I’ve already met my goal to read six chunksters, I’m going to keep adding to my list here until the challenge ends. And in case you are wondering…I am planning to host this challenge again in 2011 (more details later).

Another one of my favorite challenges in 2010 is the Orbis Terrarum Reading Challenge hosted by Bethany. As with other favorite challenges, I surpassed the goal I set for myself. I set out to read 8 books from around the world, but ended up completing 9 books. You can see the books I read with links to their reviews on this post. I would also encourage you to visit the dedicated blog where you can find reviews to hundreds of books from around the world. I will definitely do this challenge again in 2011!

I love reading books by new-to-me authors and so every year I join Literary Escapism’s New Author Challenge. In 2010, I set a goal to read 50 new-to-me authors…so far I’ve read 64. I’m going to keep adding to my list for this challenge until December 31st. If you want to be really impressed, check out the hundreds of links to reviews which are accumulating over at the challenge blog.

Teddy’s ARC Reading Challenge helps me read all those ARCs that keep piling up on my shelves. My goal for this year was to get through at least 25 of them and so far I’ve read and reviewed 29. Based on the dozens more patiently waiting for me, I’m going to continue adding to my list until December 31st. And, in case you’re wondering – yes, I will join this challenge again in 2011 if Teddy decides to host it.

I’m still working on several other challenges in 2010 – some I will probably complete, others I am afraid will drop by the wayside.

2010 Challenges I am close to finishing:

Lurve A La Mode is hosting The Year of the Historical Challenge which requires that I read twelve books of historical fiction. I should be able to finish this one as I’ve already read and reviewed ten books. I love historical fiction, and so far this challenge has rewarded me with some awesome books (with two of them competing for my top ten of 2010 list: The Children’s Book by AS Byatt and By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan).

The Suspense-Thriller Challenge is one I thoroughly enjoy as it gives me permission to sink into books which are simply entertaining and fun to read. Hosted by Book Chick City, I need to read and review 12 books to complete this challenge. I’m close having read ten thus far. I’m looking through my stacks and hoping to squeeze in the final two before the end of the year.

Michelle hosts the ever popular Book Awards Challenges…for Book Awards IV, I need to complete 10 different books from 10 different awards. I hope I can finish this one – I have three left to read. I can see I am going to have to move a few books up in the stacks if I am going to have any hope of finishing!

Challenges I am unlikely to Complete in 2010…or I give up:

I completely spaced out on the South Asian Author Challenge hosted by Swapna. The goal was to complete five books…and I have only managed one so far. It is highly unlikely that I will be able to succeed at this challenge…but, in the spirit of optimism, I will keep it posted until the end of the year just in case!

I started out very enthusiastically with The Social Justice Challenge – and actually kept up with it through July. Then the bottom dropped out of my life with my sister getting very ill and needing me back in New Hampshire. I don’t feel so bad about this challenge, however, because it looks like I participated a bit more than a lot of people…and in fact, the hosts themselves look like they may have given up on the challenge too (the last post to the dedicated blog was in July). The best part about this challenge was it got me to read outside my comfort zone…and prompted me to do some good things in the world.

The Short Story Reading Challenge (hosted by Kate’s Book Blog) seemed like the perfect challenge for me – I used to read a ton of short stories, and I had lots of books on my shelves for this challenge. But out of the five collections I wanted to read, I’ve only read one so far. There is no way I’ll finish this one before December 31st…so I’ve given myself permission to throw in the towel on it.

The Aussie Author Challenge (hosted by Book Lover Book Reviews) also seemed like a no brainer – and yet given an entire year to complete three books, I’ve only managed to read one. Live and learn, right? Well, I still have all those Aussie Author books sitting on my shelves…and some day, I will read them! But not this year…

I cannot believe that I didn’t come close to completing the O.A.T.E.S. Challenge (hosted by Trish at Hey Lady! Watcha Readin’). I love the authors represented by this challenge – but managed only to do the “A” part of it (Atwood)…and read two books by her. Given that there is only 6 weeks left in the year, I’m quitting this challenge … but I am determined to get to those authors in 2011!

I also have bombed on the Scandinavian Challenge which is especially embarrassing given that I have Swedish roots! The goal was to read six books by Scandinavian authors…I’ve read two and doubt I’ll get to four more before the end of the year…so this one can be considered “failed.” Oh well – at least I read two!

So there you have it! Have you been doing an accounting of where you stand in your reading in 2010? I know that going through all of this has helped me narrow down how I want to organize my reading in 2011!

Raven’s Big Adventure 2010

**Clicking on any photo in this post will allow you to enjoy a larger view.

Raven had a big adventure – she traveled from California to New Hampshire and then south and west again back to California … a total of nearly 8000 miles! It was her first big road trip and she handled it remarkably well for a 22 month old dog. There were some memorable moments for Raven that she wants to share with you!

Number of new scarfs acquired: 2 (Grammy Ward gave me the pretty flowered one, and I picked up one with a Southwest theme in Arizona)

One of the best parts of the trip was meeting the east coast relatives:

Grammy and Grampy Ward (Wendy’s mom and dad)

Nana (Wendy’s grandmother)

The Cousins – some of my favorite people in the world! (In this photo you can see me with Sam, Wendy’s niece, and her boyfriend Brendan)

I also made one new best friend – one of the absolutely BEST parts of the trip was spending an entire day with Annie (who is a little younger than me, but is totally awesome!). We ran and played and wrestled and wished the day never had to end:

I also got a chance to stretch my legs and run like a crazy puppy when Kip stopped at Lake Michigan and let me run on the beach at sunset. That’s the Chicago skyline behind me.

I am now a really well traveled puppy.

Number of National Parks I visited: 6 (Perryville Battlefield in Perryville, Kentucky; Lincoln’s Birthplace in Kentucky; Pecos National Historic Park in New Mexico; The Painted Desert and The Petrified Forest in New Mexico; and the Grand Canyon in Arizona)

We hiked in Perryville…and because no one was around, I  even got to run off leash a little (shhhhh, don’t tell!)

At Lincoln’s Birthplace I had to stay in the car while Wendy and Kip explored. I hated that and howled until they came back!

At Pecos National Historic Park we explored an old Spanish Mission – if only Wendy had let me off my leash I could have found some cool places to hide in!

At the Painted Desert Wendy and Kip oooohed and aaahed over the colors…I would have just liked to run through the desert, but they insisted I stay on a leash.

Lots of sticks in the Petrified Forest…but much to hard for me to chew on!

The Grand Canyon was HUGE! Wendy had a tight grip on my harness there – she was afraid I’d fall over the edge – silly, Mommy.

This is what I did when things got boring:

But, when we got to interesting places, I was ready to go! Some places were better than others.

The least dog-friendly city was Central City, Kentucky. Wendy and Kip had to go to three different hotels before they found one that liked dogs. Luckily, most of the hotels didn’t mind me staying there – and usually I got my own bed to sleep in.

Most dog-friendly State: New Mexico

Here I am enjoying Albuquerque:

The most dog-friendly city (or maybe I should say town) was Madrid, New Mexico where I was invited to browse in a store with priceless Native American pottery. Wendy turned down the opportunity – she said something like she didn’t have the money to pay for the damage. The store lady laughed, but I would have been careful. Promise.

I also got my kicks on Route 66 at the Continental Divide – it was pretty crazy there with all kinds of stuff everywhere – I thought this tent was kind of neat too.

We made lots of stops at other places too – most of the time just to give me a potty break or for Wendy and Kip to shop (how boring). Here is me in Maryland (at a rest stop) and in Richmond, Kentucky.

I had one big complaint about this trip…Wendy and Kip got to eat in lots of cool restaurants and I had to eat my regular dog food in the hotel.

But, all in all, I had a great time…although to be honest, I’m glad to be home now in my own backyard with all my favorite toys!