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Personal Challenges - 2014 > Karen M tries for 135

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message 1: by Karen (new)

Karen | 289 comments It's April and I have finally decided to record my progress on my personal challenges. I didn't really track my reading last year and I made a guesstimate of 135 as a goal, which may have been a tad ambitious.
I also decided that of that number 12 would be professional/technical, 12 would be spiritual/inspirational and 12 would be other non-fiction I am failing miserably at these sub goals.
My challenges include:
12 new to me SF&F authors, in particular the grandmasters
10 SF&F Award winners
12 TBR books that I have owned since before 1 Jan 2014 but have not yet read

message 2: by Karen (last edited Apr 30, 2014 07:49PM) (new)

Karen | 289 comments JANUARY

In the Shadow of the Mountains
Sliding Past Vertical
Sarah Mine
Ancillary Justice
Once Broken
Magic Strikes
The Shambling Guide to New York City
The Hangman's Daughter - Genre challenge read (historical), also a TBR book
There's Only Been You
Stardust Miracle
Meant for Her
Touched by Death

14 books read. The last 4 were out of a romance bundle that I didn't finish, because they were largely boring and bordering on nonsense.

message 3: by Karen (last edited Apr 30, 2014 07:51PM) (new)

Karen | 289 comments FEBRUARY

The Lies of Locke Lamora - SF&F explorer
Just One Day - genre challenge (Romance/Chick lit)
Magic Mourns
Doomsday Book
The Rosie Project - genre challenge (Romance/Chick lit)
Eternally North - genre challenge (Romance/Chick lit)
Bayou Moon

Poor month for reading - 7 completed and a couple more started but dragging. The Lies of Locke Lamora stands out - I loved it!

message 4: by Karen (last edited Apr 30, 2014 08:19PM) (new)

Karen | 289 comments MARCH

The Einstein Intersection - SF&F Explorer and award winner
The Deep End of the Sea
Mrs. Mike - genre challenge (YA)
Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon (Hawkeye - TBR book (graphic novel/comic)
Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile - TBR book (graphic novel/comic)
The Humanoids - SF&F Explorer
1984 - SF&F explorer
Sex in the Title: A Comedy about Dating, Sex, and Romance in NYC - a group selection
Morning Glory

9 completed. I cut myself some slack this month as I busted my knee and wound up spending quite a few days in a painkiller induced haze. I was pretty happy with my reading. Fables hooked me, I was blown away by 1984 and I loved Morning Glory. This month more or less cemented my decision to try to balance classic and contemporary reads (at least in SF&F)

message 5: by Karen (new)

Karen | 289 comments APRIL

And the Mountains Echoed - a group selection
Agent to the Stars - TBR book and genre challenge read (humor)
The Golem and the Jinni
No Experience Required genre challenge read (humor)
The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes - TBR book (graphic novel/comic)
Nothing Personal
Asking for Trouble
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
The Fountains of Paradise - group selection, SF&F Explorer and award winner
On a Red Station, Drifting - group selection, SF&F Explorer
Fables, Vol. 2: Animal Farm
Caveman Theology: Salvation Made Simple - TBR book, spiritual/inspirational #1

13 completed. Had knee surgery, which kind of upended my life. I'm pretty happy with this month's reading though. I enjoyed almost everything. No Experience Required was probably the least impressive of the lot. The Golem and the Jinni and The Sandman may have been my favorites. Was happy to participate in more group reads and discussions plus make some headway on the various goals.

message 6: by Kassandra (new)

Kassandra | -1 comments Karen - great progress in April! I hope you are healing well from your surgery and enjoy the books in May as much as you did in April.

message 7: by Karen (new)

Karen | 289 comments Thanks so much you two :)

Healing is coming along slowly but (hopefully!) surely, but I'm spending a lot of time at home. On the bright side, it's helping me catch up on my reading.

Happy May reading to you both!

message 8: by Holly, That Geeky One (new)

Holly (hollycoulson) | 1949 comments Mod
Crikey, you read loads in April! Well done! :D

message 9: by Karen (last edited Jun 02, 2014 07:08PM) (new)

Karen | 289 comments MAY

Start Here: Read Your Way Into 25 Amazing Authors - Personal non-fiction goal #1
Start Here - Volume 2 - Read Your Way Into 25 Amazing Authors - Personal non-fiction goal #2
The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's House - comic/graphic novel, genre read (sci-fi/fantasy)
Marvel 1602 - comic/graphic novel, genre read (sci-fi/fantasy)
The Martian - a group selection, genre read (sci-fi/fantasy)
The Graveyard Book - a group selection, genre read (sci-fi/fantasy), SF&F award winner
Magic Bleeds - genre read (sci-fi/fantasy)
Moon Called - genre read (sci-fi/fantasy), SF&F explorer
Blood Bound - genre read (sci-fi/fantasy)
Iron Kissed - genre read (sci-fi/fantasy)
Bone Crossed - genre read (sci-fi/fantasy)
Black Dog - genre read (sci-fi/fantasy), SF&F explorer
Cinder - genre read (sci-fi/fantasy), SF&F explorer
Lord of Light - a group selection, genre read (sci-fi/fantasy), SF&F explorer and award winner
Parasite - a group selection, genre read (sci-fi/fantasy), SF&F explorer
Rosemary and Rue - genre read (sci-fi/fantasy)
A Local Habitation - genre read (sci-fi/fantasy)
An Artificial Night - genre read (sci-fi/fantasy)
The Good Sister - contemporary, chick lit/romance
Home to Stay - contemporary, chick lit/romance
What Not To Expect When You're Expecting - contemporary, chick lit/romance
In the Rich Man's World - contemporary, chick lit/romance
I Only Have Eyes for You - contemporary, chick lit/romance

23 completed (my goal had been 12, lol). May was again largely a housebound month as my recovery from surgery continued. In addition, I lecture at one of the universities here and exams ended in May leaving me with piles of papers to mark (or grade, depending on where you are from). Faced with those stresses, I decided to keep sane by reading whatever I felt like reading and that would not add to my stress. SFF is my natural comfort zone so I went a tad overboard on the genre read and wound up having to increase my goal for the year. That said, I kind of went for the "easy" reads and wound up not reading the two big books I had planned: Dune and Anathem. I was really looking forward to Dune so I shall have to carve out time for that soon.

I read 4 Neil Gaiman books this month and enjoyed all (and when I first read his stuff a few years ago, I could not understand why he was so highly rated). I can tell I will be treating myself to a volume of The Sandman on a regular basis. The Martian was excellent, Lord of Light was quite an experience and Black Dog was a pleasant surprise. I started the Mercy Thompson series, which is interesting enough. I also started the October Daye series, which is frustrating: I love the world, I think the supporting cast is fantastic but I want to thump the main the main character. Parasite was written by the same author under a pseudonym and I had similar problems with it.

As for my contemporary choices, they served to prove that even when I want a "mindless" read it can't be completely mindless. The Good Sister and Home to Stay were okay, the others were drivel.

So hopefully for June I can return to a wider variety of reading. Aiming for 12 once more.

Brenda (aka Gramma) | 278 comments Karen, best wishes to you in your recovery. You sure are getting in lots of reading!

I know Sandman is part of a series, but is the first one sort of a complete story? My library doesn't carry these, so I'm wondering if I'd be left hanging if I just tried reading the first one. (I'm not ready to commit to buying a whole series!)

message 11: by Karen (new)

Karen | 289 comments Hi Brenda. Thanks for your good wishes :)

If you get them as volumes then yes, each volume is a complete story arc. Volume 1 for instance gathers together 8 issues (i.e. individual comic books). Quite dark, but I loved it

message 12: by Holly, That Geeky One (new)

Holly (hollycoulson) | 1949 comments Mod
Karen, that's AMAZING reading! And an awesome commitment to the genre challenge!

I hope your recovery runs smoothly!

Brenda (aka Gramma) | 278 comments Thanks Karen, I've been wondering this... and yes, I meant Volume 1 I just didn't ask very clearly.

*I will not go see if Death miniseries looks interesting, I will not go see if... :)

message 14: by Karen (new)

Karen | 289 comments You're very welcome Brenda

Iasa, Holly - thank you both. Recovery is coming along. Hopefully I can bid farewell to the crutches in another month or so.

Holly, I wanted to average at least 2 in each genre challenge. I just went a little overboard here!

message 15: by Karen (last edited Sep 01, 2014 02:58PM) (new)

Karen | 289 comments JUNE

Magic Dreams sci-fi/fantasy
A Different Blue genre read (contemporary)
Attachments genre read (contemporary)
Flat-Out Love genre read (contemporary)
Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us Personal non-fiction goal #3
Northanger Abbey finally finished this February group read
Six-Gun Snow White 2014 Hugo Nominee
Cracked YA, sci-fi/fantasy
The Last Policeman group read, SF&F explorer
Saga, Volume 1 comic/graphic novel, SF&F award
His Unlikely Lover chick lit/romance
Hard Magic sci-fi/fantasy

I had intended to focus on reading the Hugo nominees (as provided in the packet). However June brought some personal crises, so I just went with whatever I felt I could absorb at any given time. Nevertheless, I finished 13 books and got some enjoyable reading in. I particularly loved Saga but Attachments and Hard Magic were pretty great too. Salt, Sugar, Fat was mind-blowing but not exactly cheerful :-P

message 16: by Karen (new)

Karen | 289 comments JULY

The Butcher of Khardov 2014 Hugo Nominee
Late Eclipses sci-fi/fantasy
The Goblin Emperor group read, SF&F explorer
The Girl with All the Gifts genre read (dystopia/utopia)
Red Rising group read, genre read (dystopia/utopia)

Personal crises continued, making July my worst reading month yet with only 5 completed books. Thankfully I enjoyed all of these for the most part. The Goblin Emperor was my favorite of the five, with The Girl With All the Gifts solidly in second place.

message 17: by Overbooked ✎ (new)

Overbooked  ✎ (kiwi_fruit) | 800 comments ...she comes in and The goblin Emperor is added to her TBR list... thanks Karen for the review, this books sounds very interesting!

message 18: by Karen (last edited Sep 01, 2014 02:59PM) (new)

Karen | 289 comments AUGUST

Wolverine: Old Man Logan comic/graphic novel
Equoid 2014 Hugo Nominee
Sweet Home chick lit/romance
Sweet Rome chick lit/romance
Love Minus Eighty SF&F but to me also chick lit/romance
Whose Body? genre read (crime/mystery)
Swords and Deviltry SF&F explorer
Fortune's Pawn SF&F
The Big Over Easy genre read (crime/mystery), SF&F explorer
The Warlock in Spite of Himself SF&F explorer
The Zoo Crew genre read (crime/mystery)
Angelfall SF&F explorer
Ysabel SF&F explorer, group read (head start for September)

14 books this month, a number boosted on the very last weekend when I just immersed myself in books for stress relief (it definitely helped!). I was happy to get some classic SF&F and some new-to-me authors in this month. My favorite read was probably Wolverine. Equoid was not quite my kind of thing and the two Tillie Cole books were not particularly great. I quite enjoyed Fortune's Pawn and Angelfall though - probably for the tough female MC's, which suited my frame of mind.

message 19: by Karen (new)

Karen | 289 comments SEPTEMBER

Irradiated SF&F
Tunnel Vision crime/mystery
The Ocean at the End of the Lane SF&F
Annihilation SF&F/horror
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz group read, genre read (classic/literary)
The Commons: Book 1: The Journeyman SF&F
Lock In SF&F, group read
Magic Slays SF&F
Gunmetal Magic SF&F
Magic Gifts SF&F
Animal Farm genre read (classic/literary)
Saga, Volume 2 comic/graphic novel
Swans Are Fat Too contemporary
Dragonflight SF&F explorer
Enemy Mine SF&F explorer
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn genre read (classic/literary)
Silver Borne SF&F
The Five Love Languages for Singles spiritual/inspirational #2
The Blade Itself SF&F explorer

20 books this month. Did a lot of reading for relaxation/stress relief so very often I would just go for a "feel-good" read. Hence I returned to series and authors that I can generally rely on for an enjoyable read: Saga, Ilona Andrews, John Scalzi, Neil Gaiman. I enjoyed pretty much all my books except for the horror, which was in part because of the writing style. Several 2014 releases in there but also some classic SF&F. I was very glad I finally tried out The Blade Itself, I almost immediately started Book 2 in the series which says a lot. The Commons was a delightful surprise - whenever there's a Book 2 I will be reading that!

message 20: by Overbooked ✎ (new)

Overbooked  ✎ (kiwi_fruit) | 800 comments Well done Karen, awesome progress in September.
I'm with you, amongst all the horror reads this month I long for "feel good" ones in between.
BTW I enjoyed The blade itself too, sounds like we have similar tastes, I'll look into The commons :-)

message 21: by Sonya (new)

Sonya marie madden | 435 comments Good luck karen

message 22: by Karen (new)

Karen | 289 comments Kiwi wrote: "Well done Karen, awesome progress in September.
I'm with you, amongst all the horror reads this month I long for "feel good" ones in between.
BTW I enjoyed The blade itself too, sounds like we hav..."

The Commons was....different, yet really grabbed me. I think I came across it in some article with five recommendations of SF&F for summer or something like that. My (very short) review is here

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