Thursday, January 31, 2013

Month In Review

Well, January was quite the month.  It was a cold one here for a while in Toronto, with deep freeze temperatures.  That kept me indoors reading quite a lot.  Then there was the two-day root canal and the accompanying jaw pain that kept me on the couch and reading quite a lot.

So January turned out to be a great reading month for me.  Usually I find myself in a bit of a slump at the end of December/beginning of January with the holidays and getting back into the swing of things.  But this year I decided that I would try to put myself on a sort of reading schedule, making sure I read challenge books each month so I'm not rushing at the end, getting of all the review books read in a quick manner, and knocking books of my TBR list as well as new releases.  It felt good to be so organized! 

Books Read

Here's what I read in January (stars are the ratings I gave the books on GoodReads.)

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis ****

I Heart London by Lindsay Kelk ****

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan ****

The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen ****

The Heavy by Dara-Lynn Weiss ***

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse ***

1000 Days by Jonathan Falwell ***

The Child's Child by Barbara Vine **


This month I read 1 book for each of the Back to Classics Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge, Around the World in 12 Books, Historical Fiction Challenge, The Classics Club and Around the World in 80 Books.

Month Ahead

In February, I will be participating in the Social Justice Theme Read month hosted by Rachel at Resistance is Futile.

How was your January reading?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"The Child's Child" by Barbara Vine

When Grace and Andrew's grandmother dies, she leaves them her large, beautiful home, Dinmont House.  Instead of selling it, like most siblings would, they decide to move in together, splitting the bedrooms and studies between them and sharing the entrance and kitchen.  It may seem strange but it works for them.  That is, until Andrew brings home his new boyfriend.

From the beginning, Grace doesn't care much for James or his haughty attitude.  His presence in the home affects Grace and makes for a tense atmosphere.  Then one night, Andrew and James witness the murder of one of their friends and James begins to unravel.  This leads to an encounter between Grace and James that will change their lives forever.

When Andrew and James move out of the house, Grace escapes into a manuscript of a novel from 1951.  The book went unpublished due to its depiction of an unwed teenage mother and homosexuality.  The brother and sister in the novel mirror Grace and Andrew and both stories, though almost a century apart, show how what was once taboo has become commonplace and yet still carries a stigma.

The Child's Child by Barbara Vine is a unique book in that it's a novel within a novel.  As Grace seeks refuge a manuscript, we read it right along with her.  A look at the attitudes toward unwed mothers and homosexuality in the early 20th century is set against the same attitudes in the early 21st century.  

This book was just so-so for me.  It started out very interesting.  As a book lover, I really enjoyed the mention of the books Grace was reading for her thesis.  As I read I thought that any lover of classic novels would really enjoy the book.  But after that, there wasn't much to keep me intrigued.

I really like the idea of the story within the story.  I think that was the books strongest point, to tell the story and look at how attitudes have changed in this manner.  However, I found that the book was slow to set up both stories and in the end, didn't really leave me with much.  I never felt like I wanted to put the book down, but when I was finished, I just felt kind of neutral about it.   The book definitely shows the way attitudes were in the past, however, it felt like I knew all of that already, like the book could have been further developed to show us more. 

Barbara Vine is the pseudonym of crime writer Ruth Rendell.  The books she writes under this name aren't mystery novels but about people and morality.  She is heavily accomplished under both names.  This was the first novel of hers I have read under either name.  

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Random House of Canada.  The opinions expressed above are purely my own.

Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Last week I had my first ever root canal.  It was a two day affair involving two dentists since apparently even my teeth don't want to do things normally.  I also have a teeny bit of TMJ which has been aggravated by sitting there for 3 hours with my mouth open.  So needless to say, I have pain in quite some pain for the last few days.  But, the bright side of that is I was able to get a lot of reading done!

Last week I read:

I didn't plan it that way but it was a week of historical fiction for me!  The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan is set in Paris in the late 19th century.  The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen is set in early 19th century Cornwall, England.  And The Child's Child by Barbara Vine takes place in England in both the present day and the first half of the 20th century.

What I'm reading now:
In What I Did On My Holidays by Chrissie Manby, Sophie is dumped by her boyfriend the night before they are due to leave on holiday.  Sophie tells everyone she is going alone but instead hides out in her London flat.  And then decides she's going to create a fake break to keep everyone thinking she went alone.

What I plan to read next:
Huh...more historical fiction.  It's kind of weird since I've never really been a hug fan of the genre, but With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin and The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier have both caught my eye so I guess I'll be keeping up the trend!

What are you reading this week?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

"The Painted Girls" by Cathy Marie Buchanan

The year is 1878 and in Paris two young sisters, Marie and Antoinette van Goethem, find their lives turned upside down after the death of their father.  Their mother, a laundress, is a heavy drinker and her wages do not stretch far enough to keep food on the table and the landlord from kicking them out.  Young Marie, a promising student, must join her older sister in earning a wage.

Marie joins the Paris Opéra where she trains to be a part of their famous ballet.  Antoinette gets work as an extra in a stage play by Émile Zola.  Both of the girls find that while they love what they do, the small wages are not enough and they must take on extra work.  Marie becomes a muse for Edgar Degas and is immortalized in his drawing Little Dancer Aged Fourteen.  Through this she meets a male patron of the ballet who also wants her to be his muse.   All is not at it seems though and this wealthy man may be expecting more from her than just modelling.  Antoinette takes a job at the washing house her mother works at but when her love life takes a dangerous turn, she turns to the less than glamorous world of brothels and theft.  Both girls struggle to make a better life for their family but find that their same dream pulls them in different directions.

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan is a story of two young girls set in an incredible time of cultural and societal divide.   Buchanan eloquently and truthfully writes Paris in the late 19th century, making it leap off the page and transporting the reader back to that time, even if they know nothing about it.

This is a beautiful book that was made even more beautiful for me when I found out that the characters and storyline were real or inspired by real events.  Marie van Goethem was the real model for Degas' sculpture and Buchanan carefully and wonderfully recreates her life for the fictional world.

This is one of the best examples of historical fiction that I have read in a while.  Buchanan takes us to a place that we're not all familiar with, a place and time where the distinction between "civilized" society and seedy underbelly is of growing importance and given much attention.  This divide is shown from the perspective of the looked down upon and is well-written, evoking emotion and compassion from the reader.

Beneath it all is the story of two sisters, whose lives take different turns and who find themselves at odds with each other over decisions.  But in the end, the girls learn that despite their choices, it is only with each other that they can truly fight the place society wants to put them in.

This is a book that you will be hearing a lot about this year.  It's not just for historical fiction fans, it's for everyone.  A must-read.

This book counts toward the Around the World in 12 Books Challenge and the Canadian Book Challenge 6

Friday, January 25, 2013

Feature and Follow Friday

Feature & Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

It's another cold Friday here.  It's been a very cold week in Toronto with windchill temperatures in the -20C's.  Thankfully, today is a PA Day so there is no going to the bus early this morning.  It's a good day to stay in the PJ's and curl up on the couch with a good book or two!

This weeks question is: What is the last book that kept you up late into the night just to finish it?

As someone who truly loves my sleep and is always dangerously close to never getting enough, I often struggle with putting down a great book.  But I do it, because you don't want to be around me when I haven't had enough sleep.  So it's actually pretty rare that a book keeps me up well into the night.  However, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis is a recent book that I took to bed early with the purpose of not going to sleep until I am finished.

What books have kept you up late into the night?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"I Heart London" by Lindsay Kelk

Angela Clark has fallen in love with New York and life is starting to  return the love.  The magazine she wants to publish is about to get off the ground and her gorgeous musician boyfriend is now her gorgeous musician fiancé.  Things are looking good for Angela.

But when Angela is made to return to her hometown of London for a family celebration she'll have to face everything she ran from in the first place.  There is her ex-boyfriend Mark who cheated on her after ten years, her best friend Louisa and her brand new baby, and her mum who still treats her as a child.  Will Angela be able to return to London and escape unscathed or will the old Angela make an appearance?

I Heart London by Lindsay Kelk is a fun chick lit novel that will keep you entertained from the first page.  Angela is a loveable character and the cast of friends and family that surround her will keep you laughing and groaning the whole way through.

I like how Angela is one of those characters who finds herself in crazy situations but isn't neurotic.  Of course, some of her friends and co-workers carry that description well.  I loved her relationship with her fiancé Alex.  I was expecting it to go the way of many chick lit relationships that would involve a misunderstanding and a breaking off of the relationship but it didn't.  They relationship is strong and Alex is one of those guys that can end up being the book crush of many readers.

It turns out that this book is part of a series, in fact it's the fifth book in the series.  When I picked it up I did not know that and throughout the book I wouldn't have guessed.  Kelk does a good job of including what has happened in the past books without taking up too much time setting the scene.  This book can definitely stand alone.  The writing is funny, the scenarios are crazy (planning a wedding in a week in a country you don't live in?!) and there is a perfect balance between humour and romance.

While I can say that you don't need to read the previous books to enjoy this one, I also say, why would you?  I will be going back and starting from the beginning because if the other four are anything like this one, this series will go right up there with Shopaholic and Annie Valentine as a must-read series for me.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"Meatless" by Martha Stewart

Meatless is the latest cookbook from Martha Stewart.  It includes over 200 vegetarian recipes that have appeared in the pages of Martha Stewart Living.  Aimed at people looking to add more vegetable-based meals to their diets, this is a cookbook that will be a welcome to addition to any kitchen.

The first thing you notice when you pick up this book are the beautiful pictures that accompany every recipe (and would you expect anything less from Martha?)  I appreciate that each recipe has a picture to go with it, that's actually something that disappoints me when a cookbook doesn't have them, I need to see a picture of the dish to decide if it's something I want to try.

In addition to the recipes the book includes what a vegetarian pantry looks like, cooking basics, a list of protein powerhouses, flavour booster recipes, a grain cooking chart, and suggested menus for a variety of occasions.  My only criticism here would be that it doesn't include in-depth nutritional information for vegetarians but this just means I wouldn't consider it a first-read for people new to the diet.

I'm not a full-fledged vegetarian but I do go for periods of time (a few months) where I don't eat any meat and when I do include it in my diet, it's a few times a week.  So I'm always on the lookout for new  meat-free dishes.  In the past I have been disappointed to find that most vegetarian cookbooks tend to include similar dishes.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a good balance between common dishes and brand new ideas in this book.  I also like how Martha took your typical vegetarian dishes like chill, risotto, and lasagna and gave a variety of ways to make them.

I will admit, I kind of see Martha Stewart recipes as outside of my cooking abilities and have tended to stay away from her books.  So to test that thinking, I chose three recipes (one for breakfast, lunch and dinner) to see how easy they were for me.  I chose the Potato and Zucchini Hash (p. 73), Avocado Salad with Bell Pepper and Tomatoes (p.36), and Mini Broccoli and Pasta Casseroles (p.175).  All three of them looked easy enough for me to make, new to me, and easy enough to make adjustments if I didn't want to pay $8.99 for a tiny hunk of cheese (which I didn't.)  All three recipes got thumbs up from me and two of them got thumbs up from my hard to please husband (he was at work when I made the Avocado Salad and I ate it all.)  This now has me excited to try more recipes in the book, and even take on ones that I think will be too difficult for me.

This is a cookbook that both vegetarian and meat-eaters will enjoy.  There are a ton of small plate/side dishes that can be made to go with a meat dish.  There are great ideas to be combined together into a versatile vegetarian menu.  Vegan, gluten-free and special diet (no dairy, wheat, soy, or nuts) meals are marked.  There is a lot of dairy in this book so it wouldn't be a go-to for vegans.  And in Martha Stewart fashion it assumes we all have the means to just pop down to the store for an $11.99 jar of cashew butter (or whatever fancy ingredient some of her recipes call for.)  But this is a book that you will enjoy spending time poring over, that will give everyone something new to try, and should occupy a spot on everyone's cookbook shelf.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Random House of Canada.  The opinions expressed above are purely my own.

Monday, January 21, 2013

"It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Last week, I finally got back into the swing of things in terms of reading.  I actually met my weekly page goal (though it was only 500 pages when it's usually 800) and I'm ahead in terms of having reviews to be published for the full week.  And according to GoodReads, I'm only 1 book behind schedule for my goal of reading 100 books in a year.  Now, if only I could say these things at the end of the year rather than mid-January!

What I Read Last Week:

You can read my review of Dara-Lynn Weiss' The Heavy here.  You may have seen it in the news lately as the subject of putting her 8 year old daughter on a diet is pretty controversial.  I also finished reading I Heart London by Lindsay Kelk, review to come soon.  I gave it 4 stars on GoodReads.

What I'm Reading Now:

I am halfway through Cathy Marie Buchanan's The Painted Girls.  The story of two sisters trying to make their way in Paris in the late 19th century after the death of their father, this one has transported me to another time and place and I'm loving it.

What I Plan to Read Next:

I loved The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen (very Downton Abbey) and so I'm looking forward to her newest book about a young woman who moves to a cliff-top manor with her father to tutor the baronet's sons.  The Child's Child by Barbara Vine is about two adult siblings who inherit their grandmother's home.  They move into it together but violence and societal taboos threaten the idyllic home.

What are you reading this week?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

"The Heavy" by Dara-Lynn Weiss

When Dara-Lynn Weiss' article appeared in the April 2012 edition of Vogue she never imagined that she would become one of the most talked about (and most of the time, not in the good way) moms in America.

In the article titled "The Weight Watcher," Weiss shared how a trip to the doctor in which she found out her daughter was obese led her to put the seven year old on a "diet."  Cue the uproar.  People were calling her a horrible mother, a selfish woman who put her own issues onto her daughter, fat-shaming the little girl.  But now in Weiss' new book, The Heavy, she has the opportunity to share the whole story, to speak of what she did and how she did, and to address the uproar she caused.

When I first started reading Weiss' Vogue article, I was fully prepared to dislike her in the same way that others have.  But by the end of the article I could see glimpses of a mother who was really trying to do what was best for her child (I wonder if the article had been in a completely different publication if it would have had a different response.)  I jumped at the opportunity to read this book to see if it painted a different picture of the controversy and it did just that.

Weiss wasn't a woman who just looked at her child, thought she was fat, and decided to do something about it.  Her paediatrician told her that her daughter was obese and needed to lose weight.  No parent wants to hear that about their child, even if they had already noticed it.  They then consulted a well-regarded nutritionist who put not just her daughter Bea on an eating plan but the entire family.  The nutritionists directive was simple - she needed to consume less calories.  

Too often, I think we're quick to judge people when we don't fully understand how they got to their position.  And Weiss found this out very quickly.  Every parent (and non-parent) was quick to tell her why her daughter was overweight and what she should do about it.  But the reality of it was, Bea was an over-eater.  She ate more than other children her age and she had difficulties regulating her food choices.  She was still an active child, the food she ate was well-rounded nutritionally, she was just eating too much.  And thus, she needed to consume less if she was going to get out of the obese category on the growth charts.

This book isn't just about Dara-Lynn and Bea's journey.  Along the way Weiss learned some alarming things about the way we eat, about how we view food, and the epidemic of child obesity that is sweeping North America.  

One thing I learned from this book is how there is no one way that is right to feed every child.  And as parents, we need to investigate our food choices beyond what the packaging and current trends tell us and figure out what is right for our child.  Weiss' focus with Bea was on calories.  So, 100 calorie snack packs of treats were allowed.  This allowed Bea to have the treats other kids were eating while not affecting her weight.  And yet, for every person that said she was depriving her daughter of treats, there was a person saying she shouldn't be giving her child processed foods.  But even organic versions of treats presented trouble - brown rice syrup, a common sweetener, can contain high levels of arsenic for example.  As Weiss states in the book, "I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't" (p. 91.)

Even the people we see in the media taking part in the fight against child obesity can lead us astray if one isn't paying close attention.  Weiss uses the example of celebrity chefs who produced cookbooks and organizations aimed at getting children to eat healthier.  And yet, their recipes, while nutritious and great for getting kids to try new foods, were very high in calories.  For children who are overweight or obese, these recipes are not going to be of benefit to them.  In Bea's case, these recipes would add to the problem.  And yet, it wouldn't be wrong of parents to assume that these recipes are appropriate for their child's needs given the dedication of these chefs to fixing the problem.

One of the most interesting things I learned from this book is that even restaurants that provide nutritional information for their foods continue to present pitfalls when making good food choices.  Weiss found herself in Starbucks buying her daughter a drink.  Kids drinks are listed on the menu as being 120-210 calories, drinks that range from apple juice to hot chocolate.  And yet, when she ordered Bea a hot chocolate and got definitive information from an employee, she found out that the drink Bea had in her hand was 240 calories.  The menu information didn't include the whipped cream they didn't inform you is automatically added to the drink.

These are only a few examples of things Weiss found out on her journey, of the difficulties the world presents to us when making food choices, and how important it is for us as parents and a society to address the issue of child obesity as soon as we can.

If you read the Vogue article, you should definitely pick this book up to gain a better understanding of this story.  The three or four pages it was given in the magazine was clearly not enough.  For all readers, I suggest holding back judgment until you've gotten through the book.  I saw in this book a different woman than I saw in the article.  And the book was not written in response to the article and its backlash, it was already a work in progress when the magazine hit the stands.  This is a very interesting book that looks at the whole spectrum of making healthy food choices for our children as well ourselves.  I think this is a very interesting look at child obesity and the ways in which we can fight it, because it doesn't seem like we're doing enough yet.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Random House of Canada.  The opinions expressed above are purely my own.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Feature & Follow Friday

Feature & Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Happy Friday everyone!  It is a cold one here, I just went out to take my daughter to the school bus and it is -18C/0F.  The only thing I like about the cold is that kids in big fat snowsuits are the cutest little things!

This weeks question is:  Who is your favourite villain from a book?

This is a tough one for me to answer.  I don't really read books that have a dominant villain or a villain that stands out in say, the way Voldemort does in Harry Potter.  But I will answer and say that last year I discovered the author Liza Marklund who writes Swedish crime novels.  And she writes them in such a wonderful way that I actually feel attached/somewhat sympathetic to the criminal while at the same time hating them for the crimes they have committed.  I'd say that's the sign of a pretty good writer.  Two of her books that I have enjoyed are The Bomber and Vanished.

Who is your favourite villain from a book?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"The Twelve Tribes of Hattie" by Ayana Mathis

Hattie Shepherd was just fifteen years old when she left Georgia and the Jim Crow South for a new life in Philadelphia.  Once there, she marries August, a man who stands in the way of the better life she had hoped for.  Over the years Hattie births eleven children, all brought into the world with high hopes.  Through her eleven children and one grandchild, Hattie's twelve tribes, we learn the story of a woman of incredible strength with more than her fair share of heartbreak, a woman who just wanted better for her children than she had.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is the incredible debut novel by Ayana Mathis.  It puts a human face to the historical narrative of the Great Migration, a time when Black Americans in the South were moving in large numbers to the North, in search of jobs and the release of the Jim Crow era.  That face is the matriarch of a family, who dreamed of a better life but was never able to find it.

Hattie's children, all born in this land of promise, struggle to survival.  Her first children, a set of twins born when she was just 17, contract pneumonia in their early lives and succumb.  This tragedy sets Hattie on a path full of heartache and pain, one that her children view as detachment from them and takes them down their own difficult paths.  Floyd is a musician who loves women but also enjoys the company of men, something that is detested in the South where he has fled.  Alice and Billups share a secret from their childhood that over the years Alice is unable to cope with.  Cassie struggles with a mental illness that tears her away from her daughter Sala, who is left to be raised by Hattie.  Ruthie is born to a man who is not Hattie's husband and may be the one that tears Hattie away from her family.

These stories and the others are told in different years, at different points of their lives.  Each child's story is told in one chapter and through the eyes of all the children we come to see who Hattie is.  I thought this was a fantastic way of writing and a fresh way to tell the story.  Each child's story gives us a little bit more of Hattie and builds into what is a truly heartbreaking life.  Readers will grieve for Hattie, the dream she never attained and will ache with the pain life keeps throwing her way.

This book hit me hard personally.  In Hattie, I saw my mother in law, a woman who sacrificed her health, relationships and at times happiness to provide a better life for her eight children.  She succeeded in giving that to her children but never fully found that success for herself.  These are stories that need to be shared, that need to be known to give strength to the women who daily fight for a better life for their families.

You've probably already heard of this book as its selection for Oprah's Book Club 2.0 catapulted it into the world overnight.  If you haven't already picked it up, I recommend it.  This will definitely be one of the books that everyone will be talking about in 2013.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Siddhartha" by Herman Hesse

In Ancient India, a young son of a Brahmin leaves home in the hopes of attaining enlightenment by becoming a wandering ascetic.  He seeks out the famous Buddha but upon meeting and learning from him he decides that in order for him to continue on his quest he must do it alone, rather than following the Buddha.

But soon after he meets the most beautiful woman he has ever seen and she leads him into a life of material, riches, and passion.  He soon realizes that his lifestyle has left him empty and void of spiritual fulfillment.  And so he leaves, thinking of ending his life but instead comes to a river that leads him into the spiritual experience of the holy word Om.  From there his life is about peace and the wisdom he has gained with it.

Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, is the story of a spiritual journey during the time of Buddha.  The young man, Siddhartha, spends his life looking for enlightenment through traditional means but instead comes to learn that it comes through a complete understanding and experience of the events of one's life.

No matter what your religious beliefs, you will find lessons in this book.  When something is missing in your life, it requires a personal journey of soul-searching and faith to find what you are looking for.  The book is a product of Hesse's own journey to self-discovery and search for enlightenment.  Though written in a very simple language, this short novel packs quite the punch.  It is not a simple read and requires a great deal of attention.  

For me, this was an interesting look at Buddhism, a religion I don't know very much.  And knowing that it stems from Hesse's own life path, made it more enjoyable.  But it is a book that probably deserves more attention than I had to give.  I greatly appreciate the message that everyone has their own journey, that what we're looking for doesn't always come from the scholastic medium and that we need to break out on our own sometimes to find what we're looking for.  My religious beliefs are different from those in the book so that's probably why I didn't find this book as groundbreaking or life-changing as others have.  However, this isn't a book that I would warn people off of based on religious belief.  I would include this as an important historical read.
This book is included in my Classics Club list of 50 classic books to read in 5 years.

Monday, January 14, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

This is my first It's Monday! of 2013.  Unfortunately for us, the week before Christmas my daughter came down with the flu.  Then my son came down with it.  Then my husband.  And then me.  Yep, Christmas day we were all recovering from the flu.  It took two weeks for everyone to get better and for me, well I just finished a course of antibiotics.  So needless to say, reading and blogging for me was non-existent!  But I'm finally getting back to normal and I'm excited to be back!

What I Read Last Week:

My first read of 2013 was The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis, a book that tons of people are talking about right now and I see why.  I also finally finished reading Siddhartha by Herman Hesse after putting it down before Christmas.

What I'm Reading Now:

The Heavy is about Dara-Lynn Weiss' journey to help her overweight 8 year old daughter lose weight and is a mother-daughter memoir that first told its story in the pages of Vogue last year.

What I Plan to Read Next:

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan is the story of two sisters in Paris in 1878 who struggle to hold on to their place in society after the death of their father.  And I Heart London by Lindsey Kelk looks to be a fun chick lit novel about a British woman in New York who has to return to London and face unfinished business.  I didn't read as much chick lit last year as I would have liked, so I plan on fixing that this year!

What are you reading this week?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!!!

Happy 2013 everyone!!!!  It's a big time of year here, not just because it's a brand new reading year but because it also marks my blogoversary! It's hard to believe it's been so long, I've been blogging here for three years now!  As always, I'm just so honoured to be a part of such a cool, fantastic community!

Since it's January 1st, it's time to look at the challenges that I have signed up for this year.

100 Books Read Challenge
I'm going for it again.  3 times I have challenged myself to read 100 books in a year, 3 times I have failed.  Will I be able to do it this year?

Back to the Classics Challenge
Even though I didn't so hot last year, I'm going for it again!  Hosted by Sarah Reads Too Much this one has 6 required categories and 6 optional categories.  So I'm hoping for a minimum of 6 with this one, would love to do all 12!

Around the World in 12 Books Challenge
This one is hosted by Giraffe Days and requires readers to read one book per month from a specified country.  The countries chosen for this years challenge are Sudan, Wales, Brazil, Israel, Palestine, Argentina, Belgium, Fiji, France, South Korea, China and Egypt.

Ik Lees Nederlands (I Read Dutch)
This challenge is hosted by Leeswammes at her Dutch blog, De Boekblogger.  The goal is to read books originally written in Dutch.  Now, my Dutch is limited to counting to 39, swearing at Football referees and a few other random words (lekker, drugsmokkelaar) so I will be reading books originally written in Dutch translated into English.  My goal is to read 5 Dutch books.

This year I'm also planning on changing my reading habits just a bit.  In the past, I've been very hesitant to give up on books when I'm just not enjoying them.  I push through and I'm finding it's just not worth it.  I have to let myself just give up on them and move on to the next book.  Hopefully, that will prevent some reading slumps as well.

What are you looking forward to reading this year?  Have you joined any challenges?