Category Archives: Challenges

Canadian Book Challenge 6!

Canadian Book Challenge 6 – July 1st, 2012 to June 30, 2013

One of my favorite reading challenges has come around again.  This one keeps me in touch with our neighbors to the north and gives me a great excuse to visit one of my favorite cities, Vancouver, B.C.  Thanks to John Mutford at The Book Mine Set for organizing another great challenge.  You can find out all you need to know right here.  And thanks to Sarah at pussreboots for the beautiful button!


Filed under Canadian, Challenges

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie – Book 1

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Random House, New York, 2006

From my TBR pile.

I am taking part in a read-along organized by Mrs B, Arti andMeredith.  We are taking four months to read the book that won the Booker of Booker’s prize twice.    After reading Book One, I wanted to jump ahead and continue reading but decided to take the time to digest the first section.

In our den we have several wall hangings, presents from a friend who visited India and Nepal.  They are made up of pieces of cloth and imbedded with bits of mirrors.  When the sun hits them they bounce light all over the room.

Midnight’s Children is a book made of words like bits of  mirror, reflecting the time before and after India gained independence from Britain and was partitioned into the states of India, West and East Pakistan.  The story is told by Saleem Sinai.  Each evening he writes his scattered thoughts and reads them to a woman he works with, Padma, who is illiterate and seems a bit grumpy and slow-witted.  It is Padma who helps bring Saleem’s thoughts into focus as he recalls his family history from the time before he was born.

Midnight’s Children reminds me of a twisted version of 1000 and One Nights, a comparison I’m sure the author is tired of,  and I love it.  Rushdie’s mix of tumbling language, history and magical realism is like looking through a kaleidoscope, where the image is split into a thousand parts but somehow comes together beautifully.

Book One covers the story of Saleem’s family up until the time of his birth, August 15th, 1947, which is also the exact time of the creation of the independent State of India.  By telling his story Saleem also tells of India’s struggles for independence, the bigotry between classes and religions and the lasting impact of the British Raj.  All this is told with grace,  humor and a burning coal of anger at its core.  Anger at the thick-headed greed of politicians, thieves and governments.

I find it difficult expressing  my admiration for Salman Rushdie’s abilities with language, with story-telling.  I can not wait to move on to Book Two.


Filed under Booker, Historical Fiction, India, Read-Along, Salman Rushdie, TBR Double Dare

Speculative Fiction Challenge 2012

Okay. I know.  I said I would be limiting my challenges again in 2012, but here’s one I can’t pass up.

For this challenge Speculative Fiction includes: Science Fiction, Fantasy Fiction,  Horror Fiction, Supernatural Fiction, Superhero Fiction, Utopian, Dystopian, Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction. I couldn’t ask for more!

It goes right along withCarl’s  Science Fiction Experience, Once Upon a Time and R.I.P.   I am planning on rereading some of my favorite science fiction and fantasy in 2012.

Running from January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012 and organized by BaffledBooks 2.0 the challenge has many levels.  I plan on ending up in Nirvana(24 books)!

Curious?  Why don’t you click the link and check it out?


Filed under Challenges

Science Book Challenge 2011

This challenge has been a favorite of mine over the last few years.  Some how I lost track of it but, thanks to Raidergirl, I’m signing up again.

Organized by Scienticity, the forth annual Science Book Challenge is easy, particularly if you are a fan of nonfiction.  All you need to do is read 3 nonfiction books related to the theme “Science & Culture”.  You can find all the information you need here, or if you are on Facebook you can join the Challenge here.

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Filed under Challenges, Science

Dune by Frank Herbert – A Read-along

Filled with alien culture, politics, world building and war, Dune by Frank Herbert, is a classic science fiction novel.  I am rereading it as part of a read-along organized by Carl VKailana and The Little Red Reviewer.  We are answering questions posed by our co-hosts.  Be warned, there will be spoilers.

Book One: Dune

1.  Did you see anything in this first section of the book that either you hadn’t seen before or that you had forgotten about, anything that stood out to you?

I had either forgotten or was not aware of the Byzantine layers of diplomatic and political intrigue, so very like our world!

2.  What did you think about the plot device of the early revelation that Yueh was to be the traitor?

I thought this revelation added to the tension and suspense, mainly because none of the characters suspected Yueh of being the traitor.  They suspected everyone else, including Jessica. After all, no one could turn a Suk doctor!

3.  What was your favorite part of this first section?  Which character(s) do you find most interesting and why?

My favorite part is discovering how the Fremen live, their ability to survive in the open desert, the community of the sietch, their culture.  I think Dune, the planet, is my favorite character.  I find Hurbert’s description of the environment and the ecology fascinating and the Fremen’s desire to change their planet very timely.  Who knows how we will live on planet Earth  in 100 years?  500 years?

4.  Did the revelation about the Harkonnen surprise you? Why or why not? Thoughts.

The fact that Jessica and Paul carry Harkonnen blood was a surprise, but knowing the Bene Gesserit predilection for genetic mixing and saving blood lines, it must be a very important part of the dynastic character of the Dune universe.

5.  Finally, please share some overall thoughts on this first section of the book.  Are you finding it difficult to follow? Easy to understand? Engaging? Boring?  Just share what you are thinking thus far.

I am enjoying rereading Dune, finding the political and ecological themes very timely and love the intrigue.


Filed under Read-Along, SciFi

Spice It Up – A Dune Read-Along

Sometimes there seems to be all sorts of strange psychic things happening through the internetz.  After reading Among Others I made a list of science fiction books I wished to reread, Frank Herbert’s Dune being at the top of the list.  I had misplaced or given away my old copy so I went out and found a used copy, planning to read it over the summer. Then I hear about this.

Carl V. of Stainless Steel Droppings, the wonderful blogger who organizes the Once Upon A Time and R.I.P. challenges, Kailana from The Written Word and the Little Red Reviewer are organizing a Dune Read-Along for July.  I will be joining in.  How about you?  Care for some Spice?


Filed under Events, Read-Along, SciFi

War and Peace Update #1

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Translated from the Russian by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.

Vintage Classic, New York, 2008

I own this one.  I am reading this for Winstonsdad’s read-along and the Books On The Nightstand/Facebook read-along.

The following is from the introduction to this translation of War and Peace, written by Richard Pevear.  This is a quote from an article entitled “A Few Words Apropos of the book War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy and published in the magazine Russian Archive in 1868.

It is not a novel, still less and epic poem, still less a historical chronicle.  War and Peace is what the author wanted and was able to express, in the form in which it is expressed.  Such a declaration of the author’s disregard of the conventional forms of artistic prose works might seem presumptuous, if it were premeditated and if it had no previous examples.  The history of Russian literature since Puskin’s time not only provides many examples of such departures from European forms, but does not offer even one example to the contrary.  From Gogol’s Dead Souls to Dostoevsky’s Dead House, there is not a single work of artistic prose of the modern period of Russian literature, rising slightly above mediocrity, that would fit perfectly into the form of the novel, the epic, or the story.

I have finished Volume 1 and found it to be quite addictive.  I also found Tolstoy’s skill at observing the life around him and expressing those observations quite profound.  But we know that, that is why his novels, particularly War and Peace are considered classics.

Volume 1, Part One introduces the reader to the main characters and to the social scene in St. Petersburg and Moscow.  Tolstoy takes great delight in describing these parties and social gatherings and all the maneuverings among the wealthy and well-connected.  He also begins to explore the main characters of  War and Peace.

At moments of departure and change of life, people capable of reflecting on their actions usually get into a serious state of mind.  At these moments they usually take stock of the past and make plans for the future.  Prince Andrei’s face was very thoughtful and tender.  His hands behind his back, he paced rapidly up and down the room, looking straight ahead and thoughtfully shaking his head.  Was he afraid of going to war, was he sad to be leaving his wife — perhaps both, but, evidently not wishing to be seen in such a state, when he heard footsteps in the hallway, he quickly unclasped his hands, stopped by the table, pretending to tie the tapes on the strongbox cover, and assumed his usual calm and impenetrable expression.  They were the heavy footsteps of Princess Marya.  From page 105.

In Volume One, Parts Two and Three take place in the fall of 1805.  Prince Andrei, Nikolai Rostov and several others  join their regiments in Austria.  The Russian army and their allies hope to turn back Napoleon and his army.  The French have been cutting a deadly swath across Europe.  It begins to be clear that, even with the strength and willingness of the Russian and German troops, Napoleon has the upper hand.

Zherkov,  with his shoulders raised high,  a familiar figure to the Pavlogradsky hussars (he had recently quit their regiment), rode up to the regimental commander.  After his expulsion from the head staff, Zherkov had not remained with the regiment, saying he was no fool to drudge away at the front when he could get more decorations while doing nothing on the staff, and he managed to set himself up as an orderly officer for Prince Bagration.  He can to his former superior with and order from the commander of the rear guard.
“Colonel,”  he said with his gloomy earnestness, addressing Rostov’s enemy and looking around at his comrades, “there is an order to stop and set fire to the bridge.”
“An order of who?” the colonel asked sullenly.
“I don’t know of who, Colonel,” the cornet replied earnestly, ” only the prince told me: `Go and tell the colonel that the hussars must turn back quickly and set fire to the bridge.’ ”
After Zherkov, an officer of the suite rode up to the hussar colonel with the same order.  After the officer of the suite, on a Cossack horse that was barely able to gallop under him, fat Nesvitsky rode up.
“What is this, Colonel?” he cried while still riding. “I told you to set fire to the bridge, and somebody  got it wrong; everybody’s going crazy there, they can’t figure it out.”  From page 145.

This would all be very funny, if it didn’t mean that Napoleon’s army would appear with artillery, blow up parts of the bridge, kill and wound many Russians soldier and eventually cross the river.  Tolstoy makes it clear from the beginning that there was a level of ineptitude within the Russian high command and command structure that was deadly.

The novel has surprised me.  I believed it would be dense and a struggle to read, but find that the hardest part is keeping all the characters straight.  The Pevear-Volokhonsky translation has a character list, french translations and many footnotes.  It is a highly entertaining and enjoyable read.  I am in awe of Tolstoy’s abilities as a researcher and an author, at his skill with discription and his observations of people, but mostly at his willingness to take risks and write exactly what he wanted to write.

It is a shame that the label “classic” keeps people from reading War and Peace.  There was an interesting discussion on the Books On The Nightstand podcast about this idea.  If you are curious, have a listen.


Filed under Classic, InTranslation, Leo Tolstoy, Read-Along, Review

Hop a long, Git a long, Read a long

My thanks to James at Ready When You Are, C.B, for offering those of us who have avoided reading westerns an opportunity to try out this long established genre.

The month of May will be dedicated to reading westerns, you can choose to read one book, or as many as you like.   If you aren’t in the mood for a challenge, you can join in the read-along.  James has a list of possible reads that is very inclusive, making this read-along inviting to many who might hesitant about joining in.

Here is the link.  Check it out…then join the fun!


Filed under Events, Read-Along

Persons Of Color Reading Challenge 2011

The Persons Of Color reading challenge has been created to highlight and celebrate authors and characters of color.

So much for no new challenges in 2011!  This is a challenge that is important to me.  I somehow lost track of it last year and have promised myself that will not happen again.

There are 5 challenge levels:

Level 1: Read 1-3 POC books
Level 2. Read 4-6 POC books
Level 3. Read 7-9 POC books
Level 4. Read 10-15 POC books
Level 5. Read 16-25 POC books

I plan on completing Level 5.


Filed under Challenges

Orange January

Orange January, brought to you by The Magic Lasso and the Orange Prize Project.  Orange January is when you pledge to read at least one book that has won or been nominated for the Orange Prize for Fiction. You can include winners and nominees of the New Author Prize. Reading one book is your only requirement, but you can share your selections and book reviews with others by visiting the Orange Prize Project.  For those people on Facebook there is also an Orange January/July facebook page.

Because I have already signed on to the TBR Dare I plan on reading Orange Prize winners or nominees that I already own.

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Filed under Challenges, Events, OrangePrize