Category Archives: 2011 Reading Challenges

My 2011 Reading In Review

Way back in January I set some reading goals for myself. In order to meet those goals I joined a bunch of reading challenges. Well, today is judgment day. How did I do? Before I continue I would like to apologize for the lack of pictures and graphics in this post, but I promise if you continue to the end there will be a very adorable and totally non-book related picture for you.

Challenge #1: Audiobooks 360+/200 hours

I signed up to listen to 200 hours. I seriously underestimated this one. In fact, I can’t even add up the hours listened. I listened to 45 audiobooks. If each one is about 8 hours that means I listened to at least 360 hours of audio. That is a lot of driving and dog walking! The lame part? I think I checked in with the challenge host 2-3 times.

Challenge #2: 2011 Debut Authors Challenge 18/27

I signed up to read 27, which is how many 2010 debut books I read last year. I am not sure why I did not meet this goal. Again, I did not check in with the host.

Challenge # 3: Goodreads Challenge Yourself to Read More 203/200

I rocked this one! I still can’t believe I read 203 books this year. I am not sure how to feel about it either. On the one hand, I read some awesome books. On the other hand, could I have been doing other equally awesome things instead? Hmm.

Challenge #4: Graphic Novel Challenge 58/10

This is another challenge I dominated. I discovered that I LOVE graphic novels. I checked in with the host once or twice. Are you noticing a patteren here? I am.

Challenge #5: YA Historical Fiction Challenge 11/12

I was so closes with this one. Despite not meeting the specific goals of thechallenge, I read a lot of HFIC this year. In addition to the 11 YA books, I read eight adult historical fiction novels. That is huge for me. Again, I did not check in with the host.

I had other reading goals that I did not actually put in writing. I wanted to find a better balance between my adult and YA reading. I was incredibly successful in that venture. I read or listened to 60 adult books and graphic novels. I also wanted to read more nonfiction. I read seven works of nonfiction. Last year I read six, so that’s an improvement, right?

And now for your promised dose of adorable:

That’s my dog Lexi in her Christmas finery, enjoying her present from Santa. Cute, right? But you were promised adorable! Fine. Check this out:

 That’s Cleo. She’s new to the fam (my brother’s pup, not mine) and freaking adorable.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

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Legend by Marie Lu Review

I stayed up until 1:30 in the morning finishing Legend by Marie Lu, which is way past my bedtime, but it was totally worth it.

Legend by Marie Lu, 2011

Los Angeles, California was once the west coast of The
United States of America. In the year 2130 it is part of The Republic, a nation continually embroiled in war against its neighbors, The Colonies. Los Angeles is the home of June, a wealthy fifteen-year-old prodigy. The only person to earn a perfect score on her Trial, she attends the Republic’s most elite college where she is being groomed for a high-ranking military career. Los Angeles is also home to Day, a fifteen-year-old criminal. Day is the only person to escape his fate after failing his Trial. Since his escape, his covert attacks against the government have made him the Republic’s most wanted criminal. Day’s attempt to procure plague medicine for his family ends with the death of June’s brother, putting the two teens on a collision course. June goes undercover in an attempt to find Day and avenge her brother’s death. Instead, she discovers a deadly secret and learns the truth about the lengths that her government goes to in order to keep it buried.

This stunning dystopian debut is the perfect antidote for Hunger Games withdrawal. Told from alternating points of view, the story unfolds at a breakneck pace, culminating in a shocking reveal that will leave readers eager for more. Getting the story from both points of view resulted in me cheering on both of them, which was odd because one was out to kill the other. Trust me though, it totally works because they are both strong, appealing characters. Day is perfect-a handsome futuristic Robin Hood fighting “the Man”. What’s not to love? But in the end, it is June who won me over. June is a confident, smart, tough girl who doesn’t just take the word of a handsome boy that things are amiss. She demands proof and I totally respect that about her. She has no reason to distrust her leaders and every reason to hate Day and I found her reactions and emotions genuine and believable.

I will confess that based on what I knew going into it, I was worried that the romance was going to ruin things for me. How could it possibly happen, I wondered? It turns out that I fretted for nothing and things worked out. Thank goodness for twists, turns, secrets, and surprises! I won’t say any more, you will have to find out for yourself what happens.

Legend is a thrilling cat-and-mouse chase that turns out to be so much more. It is definitely a must read for thrill-seeking dystopian fans.

Give this fans of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Want more? Try Divergent by Veronica Roth, Matched by Ally Condie and Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

P.S.  Hello, WordPress? FYI,  Save draft means keep all the words, not erase all the words. *shakes fist* and *goes home*

Mondays With Megan-A Last Minute Review of My 2011 Reading Goals

With about eight weeks left in 2011 I thought I should do a quick check on my reading goals progress. So far I am on track to read 200 books in 2011. Keep in mind I count audiobooks and graphic novels towards this goal.

2011 Reading Challenge

2011 Reading Challenge

Meganhasread 170 books toward her goal of 200 books.

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Other goals for the year”

200 hours of audio
I have listened to 325 hours so far! That’s 35 audiobooks.
27 Debut Authors
I am not doing so well on this one. I have only read 14 so far. 
10+ graphic novels
I own this one! I have read 48 graphic novels so far!
12 Historical Fiction
Goal accomplished. I have read 12.
Read Nonfiction
So far I have read/listened to 6 nonfiction books. That is the same amount from last year. I still have time to improve on this.

Overall, I am pleased with my progress. How about you?

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Going Graphic

TGIF! Seriously, it has been a long week and I am looking forward to some weekend relaxing. The weather is supposed to be lovely, I have a stack of books just waiting for my attention, and I have the whole weekend off. This week I brought home five graphic novels and managed to finish three. The first order of business was to catch up on a couple of series that I read.

Chi’s Sweet Home by Konami Kanata is a charming all-ages manga series that follows the life of a stray kitten and the family that adopts her. Chi is mischievous and precocious and often find’s herself in some precarious situations. Volume 6 contains my all-time favorite Chi incident: pigeon stalking. I laughed out loud at the eight pages showing Chi trying to catch a pigeon that was walking down the sidewalk. This volume is full of gems like this. Pushing things down the stairs, attacking a houseplant, making new friends, and getting a new collar are all part of Chi’s daily adventures.

I went straight from adorable kittens to vampires with The Lake of Souls, the tenth installment of the Cirque du Freak manga series.

I really like the Cirque du Freak: The Manga by Darren Shan. I did not read the original books and was overwhelmed at the idea of starting a 13 book series, but I was looking for non-sparkly vampires that would have guy appeal. The manga was the perfect solution. The series follows Darren Shan, a young half-vampire as he rises through the ranks of the vampire society. Certainly not cute and cuddly, but great fun and action-packed.

 

Finally, I read Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge. This one satisfied two reading challenges-graphic novel and debut author.

Page by Paige is the story of how Page Turner (yeah, her parent’s are writers) copes with her new life in New York City through her art. She struggles insecurity, loneliness, and her big secret: she wants to be an artist. She slowly makes friends and begins sharing her art first with them, and then with a larger audience. I really liked this one. The black and white art is simple but powerful and it tells it’s own story. This autobiographical debut is heartfelt and inspirational. Fans of Cecil Castellucci’s Plain Janes and Janes in Love will enjoy this books.

Time to wrap it up. I will leave you with my thoughts on last night’s Project Runway.

1. The chiffon outfit was hideous. What were they thinking?
2. Bert and Viktor were obnoxious. I loved Bert after the first episode but now I think I am over him.
3. What’s the deal with Oliver? Fake accent? Still bitter about the awful dogbed sherpa top. Super ugly.

Have a great weekend!

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Mondays With Megan-2011 Debut Authors Reviews

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Mine was pretty great. I got a gate put up across my driveway so my dog could come home from her extended sleepover vacation at my sister’s houses. This means freedom for both of us! She gets to hang out endlessly sniffing the yard and rolling in the grass (her two favorite things) and I don’t have to watch her (it’s not very interesting to watch). I read a good chunk of Supernaturally by Kiersten White. I love it, which makes my decision to savor it rather than devour it in one sitting difficult, but it just had to be done. I will have a review this week, but if you are looking for a funny, romantic, action-packed, fashion-forward, paranormal adventure check out Paranormalcy and it’s sequel, Supernaturally by Kiersten White. Hang on, I am getting off topic here. Actually, I haven’t even gotten around to introducing the topic: Debut authors of 2011, or The Elevensies as they call themselves. I have only read 11 YA debut authors so far this year, but I have done a great job (if I do say so myself) of writing reviews. First, three quick reviews that I haven’t gotten around to yet:

Forgotten by Cat Patrick

London Lane cannot remember the past, but she can see the future. A traumatic event in her past causes her mind to reset each night, erasing the events of the day. When disturbing visions plague her dreams, London begins searching for the truth about her past. The arrival of a new student, the handsome and friendly Luke Henry, only complicates London’s life further as she struggles to date a guy she can’t remember.

This unique debut novel contains equal parts mystery, romance, and psychological drama. This suspenseful page-turner is unforgettable. Give this one to fans of Lisa McMann’s Wake trilogy, Laurie Faria Stolarz’s Touch series or Kimberly Derting’s The Body Finder series.

Rival by Sarah Bennett-Wealer

Brooke and Kathryn are best friends-turned-rivals after a misunderstanding leads to a physical altercation. Now, Kathryn is the school outcast, but Brooke no longer gets pleasure from tormenting her former friend. The stakes are high as the girls prepare to face off at the prestigious Blackmore singing competition. First prize is a ticket out for the winner, and both girls crave a new beginning.

This debut novel, told in alternating voices, offers readers a look at both sides of the rival story. The mean girl who wants to change, the shy girl who finds confidence, and the huge singing competition that could change their lives forever all combine in this touching work of contemporary realistic fiction. Fans of Glee will love the music aspect of the story.

The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polsiner

Nick’s family life is a mess and his best friend, Scooter, is dying of a rare genetic disease. The Scoot’s final wish involves Nick, a quirky girl named Jaycee, a signed first edition copy of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, and an unforgettable road trip. Scoot’s wish is that Nick and Jaycee find the father the abandoned him, but left him the valuable book. With little to go on the pair sets out on the journey of a lifetime. Guided by Steinbeck and Yoda, Nick and Jaycee embark on their quest. However, just as Burns wrote in the poem that inspired the novel, “The best laid plans of mice and men oft times go astray.”
While the actual quest is predictable and unrealistic, the characters are unforgettable. This novel offers a unique blend of classic literature and popular culture. Steinbeck and Yoda meet to provide readers with a heartbreaking and humorous look at life, loss, death, grief, and friendship. This short novel packs in lots of teachable moments without being preachy. Fans of Star Wars will appreciate all of the references. For further “quest” reading try How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, The Miles Between by Mary Pearson or An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.

Woo-hoo! I am on a roll! All of my Elevensies reads have now been reviewed. Here’s a little stroll down memory lane for the rest of them:

Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison

 

 

 

Girl Wonder by Alexa Martin

 

 

 

 

Blood Red Road by Miora Young

 

 

 

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

 

 

 

Clarity by Kim Harrington

 

 

Divergent by Veronica Roth

 

 

 

 

      Wither by Lauren DeStefano

 

 

 

 

 The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

 

 

 

 

 

My favorites so far? Divergent, Blood Red Road and Forgotten are must reads!

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab Review

I was very excited to receive an advanced readers copy of this debut novel from NetGalley.com because 1. it sounded really good and 2. Carrie Ryan was reading it when I went to her books signing and gave it high praise. That was enough for me! This book ended up being very different from what I had expected, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Here’s the scoop:

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab, August 2011

In the small village of Near, Lexi grew up hearing the story of the witch that once lived in the moor on the outskirts of town. Legend had it that the witch was responsible for the death of a child. That was when the village council stepped in and killed her, making the village safe for children again. For many years there was peace in Near until the day a stranger arrives in town. That same day the first child disappears. As the villagers prepare to hunt down the stranger, Lexi begins her own search. What she finds is not an evil kidnapper, but a mysterious young man with a tortured past. As the villagers’ fear turns to panic and the hunt intensifies, so does Lexi’s desire to prove that the stranger is innocent. To do so she must convince the town leaders that the legend of the Near Witch is in fact true. Can she save the stranger and the village children before it is too late or will the Near Witch finally have her revenge?

This story is beautifully written and captivating. The village of Near, the moors, and the wind come alive, creating a haunting atmosphere. The legend of the Near Witch has a fairy tale quality, as does the romance between Lexi and mysterious stranger. While not a fast-paced thriller, there is plenty of adventure in this debut novel. This novel has the feel of historical fiction, reads like a folk tale, and has a hint of paranormal romance. It is like nothing I have ever read.

If you enjoyed The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell, be sure to check out The Near Witch.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

2011 Reading Challenges-Quarterly Update

Does anyone remember way-back-when in January when the new year was, well, new and I was full of optimism and determination so I joined a whole bunch of reading challenges? Well, I have been plugging away at my goals and according to Goodreads.com, I have read 70 out of 200 books, which makes me 6 books ahead of my goal. I thought that this would be a good time to take a closer look at my original goals and see if I need to make some adjustments. Here is my original post; it looks like I joined 5 challenges.

1. Audio Challenge: 200 hours

What was I thinking? 200 hours is child’s play! After only four months I have listened to 161. 5 hours worth of audiobooks. That’s a lot of driving and dog walking. If I keep up this pace I should be able to listen to over 640 hours worth of books this year. Of the 18 audiobooks I have listened to so far here are my top 5 favorites:
1. The Wake of the Lorelei Lee by L.A. Meyer, read by Katherine Kellgren
2. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, read by Cassandra Campbell
3. Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman read by Jenna Lamia
4. A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley read by Jayne Entwistle
5. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green read by MacLeod Andrews and Nick Podehl

2. Graphic Novel Challenge: 10

The host of this challenge set 10 as the expert level. Well, I am an expert times two (almost). I have read 19 graphic novels so far this year. At this current pace I should be able to read almost 60 graphic novels this year. My favorites so far?

1. Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories by Zack Whedon
2. The Bone series by Jeff Smith
3. Chi’s Sweet Home series by Konami Kanata
4. The Amulet by Kaza Kibuishi

5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (and other useful guides) by Michael Inman will surely be added to this list, but I haven’t finished it yet and I am a stickler for accurate record keeping…I also have the next Cirque du Freak manga at home waiting for me. I am looking forward to that one too.

3. Historical Fiction: 12 books

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but I am trying to change that. I committed to 1 historical fiction book a month and so far, I am right on track with this challenge. I have read 4 so far.  I have two new historical fiction books on my desk right now: Phantoms in the Snow by Kathleen Benner Duble and Threads and Flames by Esther Friesner. I should probably take at least one of them home. 

4. 2011 Debut Author Challenge: at least 27

Last year I read books by 27 debut authors, so I figured I would try to at least match that amount this year. So far I have read 6 2011 debut novels. At this rate, I will not make my goal. I need to step it up here and start reading some new authors! Of the six I have read, my favorites were Blood Red Road by Miora Young and Rival by Sara Bennett-Wealer. I am currently reading The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (thanks NetGalley f0r the ARC and Carrie Ryan for the recommendation!)

5. Motivate Yourself to Read More on Goodreads.com: 200

I am ahead to the game! 70 books in fourth months-at this pace I should read 210 books in 2011 (keep in mind I count audiobooks as reading). Of these 70 here are my favorites:

1. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
2. Red Glove by Holly Black
3. The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
4. Plague by Michael Grant
5. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
6. Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
7. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
8. Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz
9. The Icebound Land by John Flanagan
10. The Wake of the Lorelei Lee by L.A. Meyer

Ok, making an end of the year favorites list is going to be a nightmare (unless I only read terrible books from here on out, but that is not very likely to happen).

On an unrelated, but final note, I would like to thank everyone for reading this little blog. As of right now I am 94 views away from more views in the month of April than in all of 2010! This makes me happy. So, what do you think, 94 views in 3 days? Possible? I hope so.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan