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I've been picking challenges for things I plan to read next year anyway to motivate myself even further to actually read the books I would like to read. I have over 50 unfinished series and so many unread series for this challenge. I'm not sure yet which series I will pick for this, but I have a ton of Darkover books to read and so many unread Mercedes Lackey series that I feel like I'm drowning in them.

I've also signed up for the YA Challenge again. I feel like I should really challenge myself and go for 25 YA books, but I have so many other books I plan to read that I might stick with 12 again next year.
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I was planning on reading the four Death books I haven't read yet (which I have in my possession now, finally) for 2010, so this challenge is a perfect fit. So here's my list:
Reaper Man
Soul Music
Hogfather
Thief of Time

I'm tempted to read the Discworld YA books too since I have all of them as well. I guess I'll see how things go with my other challenges and such.
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I expected to like this more than I did, but maybe it just can't compare to the other awesome YA books I've read this year. I found Katsa to be a bit annoying in her prickliness and I found the anti-marriage, child-free thing a little preachy, although I won't go so far in the opposite direction as to think she should have been punished with an unwanted pregnancy for daring to have sex out of marriage (as some people on GoodReads felt). I loved Po, his family, and his country. I also loved Bitterblue and I'm looking forward to the sequel with her as the protagonist. I also had a few issues with the world-building and the Graces, especially in relation to females, but that's probably because I'm a world-building geek. I've also been reading fantasy for a long time now and things that wouldn't have bugged me as a YA reader get on my nerves as an adult. I'll be reading Fire at some point too, but my library is currently closed because they moved so I can't request it now, plus I have a ton of challenges to complete before 12/31 (and one to finish by this Sunday! Eeeppp!).
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A to Z Challenge

Here's my list:
Lynn Abbey
Joanne Bertin
C. J. Cherryh
Emily Devenport
Doris Egan 
Kate Forsyth
Diana Gabaldon
Steven Harper
Sarah Isidore
Diana Wynne Jones
Phyllis Ann Karr
Elizabeth A. Lynn
Laurie J. Marks
Naomi Novik
B. J. Oliphant
Meredith Ann Pierce
Julia Quinn
Jennifer Roberson
Brandon Sanderson
Amy Thomson
Leon Uris
S. L. Viehl
Jennifer Wingert
Victoria AleXander
Jane Yolen
Sarah Zettel
These are all authors I have on my shelves and for most of them, I've never read anything by them or have only read their short fiction.

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I'm organizing my 2010 reading challenges. I'll be participating in the Chunkster Challenge again, plus the A to Z Challenge if I can find a X author (and I might even do the A-Z titles as well), Read Your Own Books, TBR (the regular 12 book one this time, not Lite), the 10/10 Challenge, and of course the 50 Book Challenge (although I'd like to really challenge myself and make it 75 or 100 books next year). I'm also doing my own Julia, Julie, and Juliet challenge, which will be to read all of my unread Julia Quinn, Julie E. Czerneda, and Juliet Marillier books. I'll probably add a few more challenges as they get announced. I'll most likely be skipping the manga challenge if there is one, since it's not really a challenge for me. The romance challenge has been less than successful this year and I just can't force myself to read romance if I'm not in the mood for it, plus if I read all of the Julia Quinn books I want to read, that will be my whole romance list for 2010. ;-) If there are YA and audiobook challenges, I will definitely be taking part (if the spouse ever gets around to fixing my desktop computer so I can use my iPod again- which I'm desperate for because my library system has an extensive collection of digital audiobooks now available in iPod format!).
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I thought I was a failed writer, I had all but given up on ever writing even a short story. My health has gotten in the way and for a while, I had to take care of me and try to hold myself together and keep sane when I lived in an unsafe apartment. But now that I own a house and have so much free time due to my Crohn's and other health problems making working outside the home difficult to impossible, I've decided that I need to do something with my life. So about two weeks before NaNoWriMo started, I impulsively decided to participate this year.

So I started writing last night after the spouse went to bed and while I don't think I'll write 50,000 words this month, if I keep up the pace I'm at on days when the spouse isn't home, I don't have doctors' appointments, etc. I should get at least halfway there- and that would be significantly further than I've ever gotten in a WIP in the past.

I'm finding that I'm completely clueless though and I keep inserting notes to self all over the place. Part of my problem is that while I read all the time, the text becomes transparent to me, for the most part, so I haven't really been able to study technique in other people's fiction. I have problems with description and dialog. I've never been a reader who sees a movie in her head as she reads, so trying to evoke that for others is problematic. I know what my characters look like in my head and I know my scenery, but how do I convey that to a reader?

On the plus side, I've had this idea for years but I didn't really know what motivated the major event in the beginning of the book that acts as a catalyst for the story. Now that I'm writing it, I'm getting a better idea. I've also shocked myself with the fact that I'm writing political intrigue here and it actually makes sense in my own head. My world-building seems consistent and I'm a world-building geek when reading so I'm really proud that I can build worlds too.

I think all of my work will have some common elements: strong female characters, romantic sub-plots, world-building, space opera, and angst. I'd also like to write fantasy though and for that instead of space opera, I'd stick with high fantasy. I actually had two story ideas that were fighting for the honor of being the Nano work and the other was a female band of warriors fantasy story, which I guess I'll work on next. I also have several other science fiction and fantasy ideas in the pipeline and a few abortive attempts at WIPs.
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I have been so busy crafting that I haven't had time to post, so I thought I better squeeze in an update post before I attempt to do NaNoWriMo next month.

I've read a lot this month, but it's been a lot of graphic novels, mixed in with some chunksters (books of 450 pages or more):
A Book Dragon by Donn Kushner: This was a really cute novel about a dragon through the ages. Nonesuch was a great character and I liked his perspective on humans.

Hidden in Sight by Julie E. Czerneda: I love Esen and all of her various forms. I was really glad when I finished this one that I found out Czerneda is going to write more about Esen because as enjoyable as this one was, it wasn't really a satisfying end to the series for me.

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman: This was such a painful read that it actually gave me nightmares. It's an excellent graphic novel about the Holocaust.

Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 20 by Hiromu Arakawa: I haven't seen anything about this manga ending soon, but it feels like it's building up to a final climactic battle soon. Several of the last few volumes have felt like in-between books.

Doubleblind by Ann Aguirre: I always find it so difficult to say why I love a book or a series, so I'll just say this series rocks and I want more books like this. Oh, and I love Vel.

Farscape: Strange Detractors by Rockne S. O'Bannon and Keith R. A. Decandido: I didn't like this as much as The Beginning of the End of the Beginning, but it was still so great to have another Farscape story set after Peacekeeper Wars. I'm so glad the Farscape comic series is doing so well that it's now ongoing.

Farscape: D'Argo's Lament by Rockne S. O'Bannon and Keith R. A. Decandido: I can't really say much about this without Peacekeeper Wars spoilers, so I'll just say it was nice to see D'Argo and Jool again.

Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier: I'm so glad I finally started reading the Sevenwaters series. I liked this almost as much as Daughter of the Forest and yay, more Finbar! I'm not sure why these books aren't depressing the hell out of me, but I'm really enjoying them.
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I've had a lot of health problems lately, so while I have been reading, I haven't had the energy for much else. Here's what I've read for the past month or so:

Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith [livejournal.com profile] sartorias (the omnibus version with both Crown Duel and Court Duel, plus a short story): I loved this book! Mel is my kind of heroine and I loved her story. I will definitely be reading more by Smith and put all of her books on my various wishlists. I've already read the sequel story in Firebirds and I borrowed Firebirds Soaring from the library for the sequel story in that one too.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling: This seemed to take a lot less time to listen to in the car than the previous few- maybe we had more longer car rides while we were listening this time. I think the audiobooks of the later HPs reveal how bloated the books are, whereas reading them doesn't take nearly as much time and I fly through them so fast that the flaws don't stand out as well. I have no criticisms for Jim Dale's reading of them though.

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen: This was my second attempt at reading a Dessen book and I wouldn't exactly consider it a success. There were several things that drove me nuts here, especially Auden's dad and his treatment of her step-mother and baby half-sister. I also couldn't stand how controlling Auden's mom was. I also don't really like how Dessen characterizes girls and I pine for authors I grew up reading (Norma Klein, especially). I enjoyed Auden's relationship with Eli, especially their insomniac wanderings. I also liked that she had female friends, even if she judged them harshly at first. I've since attempted to read Someone Like You as well, and I didn't like that one either, so I don't even know if I'll bother with That Summer (I have both of these in an omnibus called How to Deal).

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier: I have wanted to read this book since it first came out; I remember seeing it at Barnes & Noble in hardcover and drooling over it. Somehow, I never got around to reading it, then I heard some spoilers that made me reluctant to read it. But I ended up loving it, despite the harrowing, sad, bittersweet aspects. It was beautifully written and I love fairy tale retellings. My favorite character was Finbar and I found his story particularly poignant. I thought Sorcha was one of the strongest heroines I've ever read, all without a sword or spells. I'm going to be reading Son of the Shadows next month and Child of the Prophecy in November. I hope to get the paperback of Heir to Sevenwaters soon after it comes out, so I can read that before the end of the year too.

Welcome

Aug. 21st, 2009 11:41 am
jennifer_book_geek: (Default)
Welcome to my book journal. This is not a book review log, it's more of a place to post my thoughts and feelings about books I've read or am reading now. I hope to get some discussion going and get recommendations. I've been reading since I was three and I've been reading science fiction since I was ten, and finally found fantasy when I was twelve. I still read mostly speculative fiction because it's what fires me up, inspires me, makes me dream, and it's what comforts me. I have a chronic illness, so reading is a huge comfort but sometimes when I'm ill, I can't concentrate on complex world building, nor can I remember all of the threads in a long book or series. This is happening now, so I'm reading YA fantasy for the foreseeable future, with maybe a romance or two in the middle. I write a bit, but it's been really difficult for several years now.

I'm also a crafter and I love knitting and crocheting. I'm a fan of a few defunct science fiction TV shows, but I'm not a Battlestar Galactica nor a Joss Whedon fan, so I'm in the minority. I mostly watch British television now and have little patience for most American TV shows and I rarely venture into a movie theater anymore. So I guess I'm an outcast even within the SFF fandom community (oh and I refuse to even try Twilight!).
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Well, the reading slump has finally ended, but I'm still racking up the DNFs. I couldn't finish Close Encounters by Katherine Allred because it had too many romance cliches, including my least favorite, plus the heroine was too-perfect and with it being in first person, it got really grating her telling me over and over again how special and perfect she was. Amazing that she was so "perfect" yet so painfully, possibly fatally, clueless.

I also didn't finish The Musician's Daughter by Susanne Dunlap because I just couldn't make anything from it stick to my brain. And I attempted to read my first Sarah Dessen book, Dreamland, but it was a painful read due to its subject matter and it triggered me.

Now on to the stuff I actually finished:
Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers: I really enjoyed this and I will be reading the rest of the series at some point. I've heard great things about this series and Lord Peter was delightful in book one.

The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner: Yes, the series gets even better than The Thief, even though I loved that one too. Gen is such an amazing character and I love the setting and several other characters too. Something very shocking happens toward the beginning of this book, then something even more shocking follows it later.

The Marvelous Land of Oz
by L. Frank Baum: Maybe it was just the reader, but I found this book to be a bit annoying. I'm going to listen to all of the original Oz books though.

Bleach Vols. 7 & 8 by Tite Kubo: I hate to say this, but I'm kind of bored with the Bleach manga so far because for the first 8 volumes, at least, the anime follows it very closely so I get the feeling of been there, done that because I've been watching the anime for years now.

The King of Attolia
by Megan Whalen Turner: I don't feel like I can say much about this book without spoilers and I think I would do a disservice to anyone on my FL who wants to read these by spoiling it. I highly recommend Turner's Queen's Thief series and it just keeps getting better- and getting more and more twisty and turny. I can't wait for A Conspiracy of Kings, which comes out next March. I normally don't get books in hardcover, but I'm probably going to be asking for that one for my birthday.



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The Book Smugglers is having YA Appreciation Month, in honor of that I'm posting a bit about my history with YA, and YA fantasy in particular. I've been reading YA fantasy since I was a YA myself. Oddly, I started with adult speculative fiction, then when I was 12, my cousin introduced me to Anne McCaffrey and Ursula K. Le Guin, and right near them at the library I found Robin McKinley and Andre Norton. These four authors were my gateway to not only YA fantasy and SF, but also to speculative fiction written by women authors. I've never stopped reading mostly SFF by women.

I immersed myself in the worlds of Pern, Earthsea, and Damar. I especially loved reading kick-butt girls' adventures. I also loved the romantic sub-plots in most of the books I was reading- which also lead to a lifetime of reading romantic SF.

I should also mention my mainstream YA favorites. I loved Norma Klein's books and my friends and I passed them around. We also loved Judy Blume's Forever and Bruce and Carole Hart's books. Then we all read V. C. Andrews, who appealed to me a lot more when I was a teenager, although I probably wasn't the target audience. Others a I grew up reading were S. E. Hinton, Paula Danziger, and Christopher Pike.

Now that I'm in my 30's, I still read YA, especially when I'm in need of comfort reading. I absolutely adore Sharon Shinn's Summers at Castle Auburn and her Safe-Keeper series. Another favorite series is Francesca Lai Block's Dangerous Angels series. I loved Diana Wynne-Jones first two Howl's Castle books, but I have yet to read the third, or any other books by her. Recently, I read Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series and wow, it's just amazing. I can't wait for A Conspiracy of Kings to come out! And now I'm readind Crown Duel and Court Duel by Sherwood Smith. I can't believe I've never read anything by Smith before. I can't end this post without talking a little bit about my favorite author of all time: Clive Barker. Although he is well-known for his horror and dark fantasy, he has also written a stand-alone YA novel, The Thief of Always, and he's working on the Abarat Quintet, which all feature his artwork as well.

Finally, a few more books I can't close without plugging: The Man Without a Face by Isabelle Holland, The Changeover by Margaret Mahy, and Winter Dream, Christmas Love by Mary Francis Shura.

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Starman's Quest by Robert Silverberg: I hated this one, but I was a captive audience because I listened to it on my ipod while I was walking. Typical male adventure pulp SF. I actually listened to this as I was reading Ella Enchanted and I kept thinking how much more interesting both books would be with a gender-switch of the protagonists (but in Ella's case, I think it probably wouldn't have worked because people didn't notice how overly-compliant a girl was, but they would with a boy). I found this book very un-female friendly.

Fullmetal Alchemist Vols. 17 & 18
by Hiromu Arakawa: As usual, these kind of run together in my mind. I really like Armstrong's sister. I'm getting a feeling of never-ending series-itis with this though so I'm getting impatient.

Little House in the Big Woods
by Laura Ingalls Wilder: In light of what I learned from Mammoth Fail and the Oyate website, well, I couldn't really enjoy this. In a way, I wish I had read these as a child so things could have gone right over my head, but at the same time, I'm glad I read this now. I have relatives who still express the same attitudes toward Natives (and other people of color) so these books might have been used as an indoctrination tool when I was a child. If I ever have children and they want to read the Little House books, we will read them together and discuss them. BTW, I also had issues with the writing style.

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: I really liked the first part with the mystery, but I hated the second half with the Mormons. I'll keep listening to the Sherlock Holmes books though.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
by J. K. Rowling: Reading these is a lot better than listening to them. I'm glad my spouse is enjoying them anyway.

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner: I wish I hadn't waited so long to read this, but I don't think the library had book 3 for a while, so I didn't want to start without being able to finish. I loved this and I'm reading The Queen of Attolia now. I know some people found Gen annoying, but I thought he was quite endearing. I didn't see some of the plot twists coming.

Fruits Basket Vol. 23 by Natsuki Takaya: I'm so sad this is over. I loved this manga, start to finish (aside from some of the cruelty/abuse issues). This was a satisfying conclusion to the manga.

Handmade Nation
by Faythe Levine & Cortney Heimerl: Inspiring and affirming. I bookmarked all of the artists' web sites.

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Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan: Hilarious and entertaining, just like their website. The sad thing is, this book illustrated so well why I don't read or like much romance.

The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer: A fun read.. I loved Molly O'Hara! I will definitely be reading more by Heyer.

The Snow Queen by Mercedes Lackey: I found this really slow and hard to get into. I liked the Sammi culture though.

Star Hunter by Andre Norton: I've been listening to classic pulp SF on my ipod and several books are kind of running together in my memory now. This was typical early Norton. I find her later stuff with female characters more interesting.

The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster: This was so grim, yet I loved listening to it. I think I'm a budding Forster fan-girl, so I should listen to the rest of his books.

Greylorn by Keith Laumer: I have read some of Laumer's short fiction, which I loved, but this book annoyed me. More typical pulp SF.

Farscape: The Beginning of the End of the Beginning by Rockne S. O'Bannon and Keith R. A. Decandido: This is Farscape! Decandido nailed these characters and it really is like a season 5, only in comics. I can't wait to get the hardcover of the continuing story, Strange Dectractors.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine: I expected to love this, but found myself irritated by it instead. I probably would have adored it when I was a teenager (but it wasn't even written then- I feel old!).

Believe it or not, I'm actually suffering a terrible reading slump lately. Most of my books have been audiobooks for the past few months. I'm trying to drag myself out of the reading funk by reading YA books, especially YA fantasy, but I've already tossed 3 of those into the trade pile too. I also have a pile of manga to read. It's sad because I usually read more in summer than any other time of year, but this summer so far, has been cold and wet.
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I have two if anyone is interested.
jennifer_book_geek: (Default)
Fruits Basket Vol. 22 by Natsuki Takaya: This volume was actually kind of sad. I was really happy with how a lot of things worked out.

Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 16 by Hiromu Arakawa: I never know what to say about Fullmetal Alchemist. I just love it so much that it's hard to find words.

The Stars Down Under by Sandra McDonald: I'm having major issues with this series. I liked the first book better because it was more SF/space opera, but this one was SF meets magical realism and it lost me. I'll finish the series, mostly to get the bad taste of how this one ended out of my mouth (thankfully, I read a description for book three, which had a major spoiler so I'm not so pissed off now).

Amazonfail

Apr. 13th, 2009 01:09 am
jennifer_book_geek: (Default)
I'm sure most people on my Flist have heard about this, but Amazon thinks you need to be told what books are adult- and those "adult" books are GLBTQ themed books, BDSM themed books and at least two books on sex and disability, but books like American Psycho are just fine.
http://markprobst.livejournal.com/15293.html


According to Amazon, at first, this was a result of a new policy, but now they are saying it's a glitch. Here's another theory: http://tehdely.livejournal.com/88823.html
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I was sick for about half of the month, so I didn't read many novels, although I've been doing pretty well with catching up on two mangas I got behind on.

An Accidental Goddess by Linnea Sinclair: I know she's really popular with SFR and RSF fans and with some people on my friends list, but I haven't liked a single book I've read or tried to read of hers. I much prefer romantic SF to SFR/futuristics so her books just don't work very well for me since I want more fully realized SF worlds and less romance tropes. Also, I hate, hate, hate alpha males. (I also attempted to read Gabriel's Ghost and Games of Command this month, but I didn't make it through either one of them).

Fruits Basket Vol. 21 by Natsuki Takaya: All I have to say is FINALLY! I'm sad that this manga is winding down but I've started another manga series by Takaya.

Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 15 by Hiromu Arakawa: I loved this volume, which was a prequel about the war in Ishbal, plus the scene between Edward and Riza about Ed possibly loving Winry was priceless.

Impostor by Valerie J. Freireich: I loved the first two books in the Polite Harmony of Worlds series, but this one made me deeply uncomfortable. The antagonist was truly evil and he committed horrible atrocities, plus the heroines were both rape victims and the hero was deported and kept getting beaten up- it all just got to be too much. Plus I think it might have been an example of Muslim fail, but I have to admit that I don't know much about the religion and its customs, but all of the Muslim characters ended up being pretty bad.

I also wanted to read some of my Rachel Gibson books, but I hated every single one I tried so I tossed the whole pile. I guess I shouldn't have gotten all of her books after liking the first two I read.


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Because I can't seem to edit my old one, here's a new post.

http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/2008/11/romance-reading-challenge-2009.html

The China Bride by Mary Jo Putney
How to Marry a Marquis by Julia Quinn
Tall, Dark & Dead by Tate Hallaway
Dead Sexy by Tate Hallaway
Someone to Watch Over Me by Lisa Kleypas
Worth Any Price by Lisa Kleypas

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