Book Blog Organization Challenge 2015

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This isn’t strictly a book challenge, but it’s about organizing a blog. When you’ve been blogging for a while, there seems to be an almost endless to do list of tasks: reviews to schedule, calendars to work on, challenges to update, making a review index, cross-posting reviews, and so on. I already did an overhaul of my blog in 2014 (which means although not a lot changed on the outside, I did completely change my scheduling, posts, and so on), but I want to take it to the next level, so I was thrilled to find this challenge.

If you’d like to know more, or you want to participate as well, then you can find more about it here.

January Goals

Goals that have been reached, have been scratched through.

  • Planning 2015 challenges. I researched challenges, found five I was interested in – and the reading addict challenge (and this one, duh), planned a few books to read for each challenge, and posted intro posts for the challenges.
  • Picking 2015 resolutions. I worked on my resolutions and posted about them on January 1st.
  • Plan time for writing and reading.

Prequel & Sequel Challenge 2015

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For this challenge, you need to read prequels and sequels in a series. Novellas and short stories count, and you get 10 bonus points if you finish a complete series of at least three books. You don’t get points for the first book in the series though – it’s all about the sequels and prequels. The third book in a series, fourth book, and so on, do count though.

Because this challenge has a point system, the rules are quite complicated. If you want to read the complete rules, or you want to sign up, please go to the challenge website. The blogger explains it way better than I ever could.

I’ll keep things simple and go for the second level, “Amateur”, which means scoring between 25-50 points. It already seems quite ambitious since, to reach 50, I’d have to read and review five complete series.

I will keep track of my progress here and in the sidebar, and update this page at least once a month.

  1.  Snake in the Grass (Hero’s Sword Vol. 4) by M.E. Sutton
  2. The Shadow of The Unicorn II: The Deception by Suzanne de Montigny
  3. Obliteration by Barry K. Nelson
  4. Haunted Ontario 4 by Terry Boyle
  5. Sidhe (The Incubus Saga #3) by Amanda Meuwissen
  6. Between Heaven & Hell (Freefall #2) by Astrid V. Tallaksen
  7. The Age of Amy: Behind the Fun Zone by Bruce Edwards
  8. Hanover House (Hanover Chronicles #0.5) by Brenda Novak
  9. Reawakening (Passage of Hellsfire #3) by Marc Johnson
  10. Regina Shen: Vigilance by Lance Elrick
  11. Dark Screams: Volume Five by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar (eds.)
  12. Thursday’s Child: Far to Go by Polly Becks
  13. The 13th Brigade by Ky Lehman
  14. Fanatics by Richard Hilary Weber
  15. Wicked Jackal by Cherie Marks
  16. Island Experience by Simone Freier

 

Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge 2015

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I wanted to try a few new challenges this year, so I signed up for the Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge. I fell in love with reading by reading fantasy books, so I’ve always had a soft spot for the genre, which means this challenge is perfect.

According to the challenge guidelines, participants can set their own goals. I don’t want to overdo it though, so I’m aiming for 20 fantasy books in 2015. I can still upgrade that goal if I reach it early on.

If you want to know more about the challenge, or you want to sign up, please go here.

I will keep track of my progress here and in the sidebar of my blog.

  1. Nanovision by Paul T. Harry
  2. Telemachus and Homer by Scott Locke
  3. The Portal & The Panther by R.A. Marshall
  4. The Jewel of Kamara by Bridie Blake
  5. Mysticism & Myths (Collection by various authors)
  6. H.A.L.F: The Deep Beneath by Natalie Wright
  7. Gifted by Donald Hounam
  8. Lover, Divine by A. Star
  9. Snake in the Grass (Hero’s Sword Vol. 4) by M.E. Sutton
  10. Lioness of Kell by Paul E. Horsman
  11. The One Path by Larry S. Gerovac
  12. The Shadow of The Unicorn II: The Deception by Suzanne de Montigny
  13. The Iron Trial (Magisterium #1) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
  14. Skydreamer by Sheryl Winters
  15. Empath by S. Usher Evans
  16. Code Human by N.J. Paige
  17. The Thinking by Dallas Sutherland
  18. The Changeling by Helen Falconer
  19. Stones of Caron by R. Ann Greene
  20. Whispers in Eternity by Jacinda Buchmann
  21. The Secrets of Yashire by Diamante Lavendar
  22. Song of a Dead Star by Zamil Akhtar
  23. At Death’s Door (Freefall #1) by Astrid V. Tallaksen
  24. Between Heaven & Hell (Freefall #2) by Astrid V. Tallaksen
  25. Space Drifters: The Emerald Enigma by Paul Regnier
  26. The Evolved by K.T. Webb
  27. Madison’s Song by Christine Amsden
  28. At The Sharp End of Lightning by Nicholas Bates
  29. Reawakening (Passage of Hellsfire #3) by Marc Johnson
  30. Inconceivable by Cherrie Mack
  31. Dead and Kicking by Lisa Emme
  32. The Ivory Staff by M. Lachi
  33. The 13th Brigade by Ky Lehman
  34. Wicked Jackal by Cherie Marks
  35. Children of the Blessing by Perry Morris
  36. Rebecca’s Initiation by Gary Green
  37. Strained by Maria Colette
  38. Corlex: Episode 1 – Titan and the Reaper by Jacob Ingalls & Ryan Ingalls
  39. The Blood-Tainted Winter by T.L. Greylock
  40. Henchgirl by Rita Stradling
  41. The Samsaric by G.W. Lwin

TBR Pile Reading Challenge 2015

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I’m going to participate in the TBR Pile (to-be-read pile) Reading Challenge for 2015. The goal of the challenge is to read books that have been on our bookshelf for a while – either as gifts, or books we bought and never got around to reading, or anything else. The main rule is the book can’t be a book that’ll release in 2015 so no new books or ARCs.

I’ll pick the second level for this challenge, “A Friendly Hug”, which means I have to read 11-20 books from my TBR pile. I didn’t want to pick too many because with my list of ARCs for 2015 growing increasingly longer, I don’t always have time to read other books. But I want to make a genuine effort, and if I reach 20 books or more, I can always move on to the next level of the challenge.

If you’d like to participate in the challenge as well, you can sign up here.

I’ll keep track of my progress on this page, and in the sidebar.

  1. Sunblind by Michael McBride
  2. Doll Face by Tim Curran
  3. Castle by the Sea by J.G. Faherty
  4. Blood Red Roses by Russell Jame
  5. Factory Town by Jon Bassoff
  6. The Hawley Book of the Dead by Chrysler Szarlan
  7. The Iron Trial (Magisterium #1) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
  8. No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill
  9. Oasis of the Damned by Greg F. Gifune
  10. Angel of the Abyss by Ed Kurtz
  11. In The Shadows of Children by Alan Ryker
  12. Ghosts of Eden by Keith Deininger
  13. Facial by Jeff Strand
  14. A Shrill Keening by Ronald Malfi
  15. The Family Tree by John Everson
  16. Better Left Buried by Belinda Frisch
  17. My Sister’s Grave (The Tracy Crosswhite Series #1) by Robert Dugoni
  18. Suspended in Dusk by Simon Dewar
  19. From The Cradle by Louise Voss and Mark Edwards

Reading Challenge Addict 2015

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Last year, I participated in 5 reading challenges and completed each of them successfully. Since I can’t take more on my plate this year, I’m aiming for five challenges again. I will keep track of the challenges in the sidebar, and here.

If you want to sign up for the challenge, please go here.

Here are the five challenges I’m participating in this year:

I’m also participating in the Book Blogger Organization Challenge, but I’m not counting that toward this goal.
Progress:

Netgalley Reading Challenge 2015

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Last year, I participated in the Netgalley challenge and successfully reached my goals. This year, I’m signing up for it again. My netgalley ratio is currently 92% and I’m very proud of that, so this year it won’t be about upping the ratio, but about keeping it above 90% (and as close to 100% as it gets).

I’m going for the “hardcore” level, which means reading 41+ books from Netgalley. I’ll track my progress each month, and add the books that count for this challenge to this page. I will also keep track of my progress in the sidebars.

If you want to participate in this challenge, you can sign up here.

Here’s a list of the books I’ve read for this challenge so far. Links point back to the review.

  1. The Pendle Curse by Catherine Cavendish
  2. Stillwater by Maynard Sims
  3. Blockbuster by Lisa von Biela
  4. Exorcist Road by Jonathan Janz
  5. Orphans of Wonderland by Greg F. Gifune
  6. It’s Only Death by Lee Thompson
  7. The Lurking Season by Kristopher Rufty
  8. Haunted (The Arnaud Legacy #1) by Lynn Carthage
  9. Blood Red Roses by Russell James
  10. Gifted by Donald Hounam
  11. Bootleg Cove by Devin Govaere
  12. Doll Face by Tim Curran
  13. Castle by the Sea by J.G. Faherty
  14. Probably Monsters by Ray Cluley
  15. Sunblind by Michael McBride
  16. The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie and Alyssa B. Sheinmel
  17. Normal by Graeme Cameron
  18. Portraits of Celina by Sue Withing
  19. Factory Town by Jon Bassoff
  20. Sudden Secrets by C. Lee McKenzie
  21. Monster by Keith Ferrario
  22. Twisted by Andrew E. Kaufman
  23. Little Miss Evil by Bryce Leung and Kristy Shen
  24. The Hawley Book of the Dead by Chrysler Szarlan
  25. Within These Walls by Ania Ahlborn
  26. The Iron Trial (Magisterium #1) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
  27. The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor by Amy M. Reade
  28. The Cure by J.G. Faherty
  29. No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill
  30. Oasis of the Damned by Greg F. Gifune
  31. Revel’s Ending by Vic Kerry
  32. The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave by J.H. Moncrieff
  33. The Killing Lessons by Saul Black
  34. In The Shadows of Children by Alan Ryker
  35. Angel of the Abyss by Ed Kurtz
  36. Ghosts of Eden by Keith Deininger
  37. Facial by Jeff Strand
  38. Scarecrows by Christine Hayton
  39. A Shrill Keening by Ronald Malfi
  40. Better Left Buried by Belinda Frisch
  41. The Family Tree by John Everson
  42. Nightmare in Greasepaint by L.L. Soares and G. Daniel Gunn
  43. House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy
  44. Haunted Plantations of the South by Richard Southall
  45. Shadowshift by Peter Giglio
  46. Within by Keith Deininger
  47. The Changeling by Helen Falconer
  48. Little Girls by Ronald Malfi
  49. We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk
  50. Follow You Home by Mark Edwards
  51. My Sister’s Grave (The Tracy Crosswhite Series #1) by Robert Dugoni
  52. Suspended in Dusk by Simon Dewar
  53. Duke City Desperado by Max Austin
  54. Haunted Ontario 4 by Terry Boyle
  55. The Bad Nurse by Sheila Johnson
  56. Plague of the Manitou by Graham Masterton
  57. Dark Avenging Angel by Catherine Cavendish
  58. The Doorway by Alan Spencer
  59. Ghosts of Lincoln: Discovering his Paranormal Legacy by Adam Selzer
  60. Goblins by David Bernstein
  61. A Debt to be Paid by Patrick Lacey
  62. Darkness Rising by Brian Moreland
  63. The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated) by Ainslie Hogarth
  64. In Search of the Paranormal by Richard Estep
  65. Chupacabra Road Trip by Nick Redfern
  66. Hanover House (Hanover Chronicles #0.5) by Brenda Novak
  67. Mr. Nasty by Leo Darke
  68. Deadly Lullaby by Robert McClure
  69. From The Cradle by Louise Voss and Mark Edwards
  70. Gold Coast Blues by Marc Krulewitch
  71. The Girl in the Maze by R.K. Jackson
  72. Dark Screams: Volume Five by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar (eds.)
  73. Fanatics by Richard Hilary Weber
  74. Fixed in Fear by T.E. Woods

Horror Reading Challenge 2015

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I participated in the horror reading challenge last year, and ended up reading way more horror books than I had to for the challenge. But I love horror, so I want to participate in the challenge again. Like last year, I’m aiming for the highest level, “Horror Hounds”, which means, reading 16+ horror books.

The challenge is now hosted by Cornerfolds. If you want to sign up for it, please go here. And don’t forget to tell me you signed up so I can follow your progress.

I will keep this page updated with all the horror books I read for this challenge.

  1. The Pendle Curse by Catherine Cavendish
  2. Stillwater by Maynard Sims
  3. Blockbuster by Lisa von Biela
  4. Exorcist Road by Jonathan Janz
  5. Orphans of Wonderland by Greg F. Gifune
  6. It’s Only Death by Lee Thompson
  7. The Lurking Season by Kristopher Rufty
  8. An Infinite Sorrow by R.J. Harker
  9. Evil Imminent by Maryann Weston
  10. Haunted (The Arnaud Legacy #1) by Lynn Carthage
  11. Damnatio Memoriae by Laura Giebfried
  12. Blood Red Roses by Russell James
  13. Bootleg Cove by Devin Govaere
  14. Doll Face by Tim Curran
  15. Castle by the Sea by J.G. Faherty
  16. Probably Monsters by Ray Cluley
  17. Sunblind by Michael McBride
  18. The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie and Alyssa B. Sheinmel
  19. Normal by Graeme Cameron
  20. Factory Town by Jon Bassoff
  21. Monster by Keith Ferrario
  22. Twisted by Andrew E. Kaufman
  23. The Cure by J.G. Faherty
  24. No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill
  25. Oasis of the Damned by Greg F. Gifune
  26. Revel’s Ending by Vic Kerry
  27. The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave by J.H. Moncrieff
  28. In The Shadows of Children by Alan Ryker
  29. Ghosts of Eden by Keith Deininger
  30. Facial by Jeff Strand
  31. A Shrill Keening by Ronald Malfi
  32. Scarecrows by Christine Hayton
  33. Aberrancy by Su Halfwerk
  34. The Family Tree by John Everson
  35. Nightmare in Greasepaint by L.L. Soares and G. Daniel Gunn
  36. House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy
  37. Stowaway: Curse of the Red Pearl by Tracy Forbes
  38. Shadowshift by Peter Giglio
  39. Within by Keith Deininger
  40. Little Girls by Ronald Malfi
  41. We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk
  42. Natural Causes by James Oswald
  43. Suspended in Dusk by Simon Dewar
  44. Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
  45. Plague of the Manitou by Graham Masterton
  46. Dark Avenging Angel by Catherine Cavendish
  47. The Doorway by Alan Spencer
  48. Goblins by David Bernstein
  49. Nightlife: Night Terrors by Matthew Quinn Martin
  50. A Debt to be Paid by Patrick Lacey
  51. Darkness Rising by Brian Moreland
  52. Unholy Bargain by Travis Holt
  53. The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated) by Ainslie Hogarth
  54. Mr. Nasty by Leo Darke
  55. Forgotten by Samie Sands
  56. Dark Screams: Volume Five by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar (eds.)
  57. The Journals of Bob Drifter by M.L.S. Weech
  58. The Samsaric by G.W. Lwin

2014 in a nutshell

goalsIt’s December 31st, and I can’t believe 2014 is…gone. Just like that. The year went by so fast it’s almost impossible to grasp. Before I start working on my reading resolutions for the new year, I wanted to focus on what I accomplished in 2014, in terms of reading.

According to Goodreads, I read a total of 401 books. That’s not including some books I couldn’t review on Goodreads because they weren’t on there (a small number, but still). Over 400 books. That’s a huge improvement from last year, and to be honest, it’s still a little surreal. Of course this includes some books I read before 2014 (say about 50) but that I didn’t get around to reviewing until this year. Still. 400+ reviews. I need a life, LOL. I’d started with a goal of reading 150 books, then I went up to 200, chose 250 by July, then had to go up to 350 again in September, and now surpassed even that goal. Wow.

This year, I participated in a bunch of challenges. The first one, the Netgalley Reading Challenge, was a huge success. I wanted to read 22 Netgalley books and ending up reading at least three times as much. I didn’t even keep track of the challenge the last few months, since I’d already won. You can see my progress here.

The second challenge, the horror challenge. God, I love horror books. I’d picked the maximum goal, 16+ books, and I think I must’ve read at least a 100. I started keeping track until about 40. You can find my progress here.

Next up, the 100 books a year challenge. Yeah…you can say I kind of shattered that goal. Hehe.

The dystopia challenge proved to be the hardest, but I still won that one as well. I read at least 11 dystopia books this year, and my original goal had been 7. See my progress here.

The last challenge was the YA reading challenge. I went for 30 books, and already surpassed that goal in June. Again, I didn’t keep track of it afterward, but I’m guessing the total must be around 60. My progress for this challenge is here.

 I took a little trip down memory lane and tracked down my resolutions for 2014. The ones I completed are scratched through.

  1. Read and review at least 200 books.
  2. Keep track of progress on reading challenges I signed up for.
  3. Write monthly round-up posts at the end of each month.
  4. Crosspost reviews on Goodreads, B&N, Netgalley and I Heart Yearly Reads.
  5. Add covers of reviewed books on Facebook.
  6. Add covers of received review copies on Facebook.
  7. Bring Netgalley review rate up to 50%.
  8. Bring Netgalley review rate up to 60%.
  9. Bring Netgalley review rate up to 70%.
  10. Organize my Goodreads shelves.

So I didn’t get all of them, but I still got  quite a few, and I’m pleased. Guess the Facebook covers will have to switch over to next year’s goals. My Netgalley ratio went up to 92% even!

Book Review: Ghost Writers by David Shaw

 Ghost Writers coverTitle: Ghost Writers
Author: David Shaw
Genre: Self Help
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

In this life-affirming book, author David Shaw explores ten major themes that affect us all – and offers a unique way to engage with them. Whether it’s fear or forgiveness, credence or clarity, materialism or acceptance, Shaw gives us the benefit of ten spiritual authors who pen their intriguing and stimulating words through him as modern parables.

In doing so, they offer us a steadying rudder in the choppy, often violent, sea of life’s cruelties and uncertainties.

Presenting an engaging and fascinating blend of fiction and non-fiction, Ghost Writers presents in a non-stuffy style information, whose light-hearted humour belies its powerful emotional punch.

So sit back, relax and share David’s absorbing, gripping and spellbinding journey of a lifetime – and beyond.

I was a little surprised by Ghost Writers. I wasn’t sure to expect from the premise, and even from the introduction. It’s a self-help book, but the book combines fiction and non-fiction and proves to be quite unique in that concept. The author has received knowledge from the spirit world to write the book, and wants to pass that information on to the readers. By the time the introduction was finished, I was intrigued, but at the same time, a little confused. So I read on. The first chapter focuses on materialism. It has an interesting intro, and then the author (or one of the spiritual authors who came up with the chapter? I’m not sure if they’re only the source of the fiction stories, or of more) starts to investigate materialism, why all of us (or at least most of us) suffer from it, where it comes from, and more. The author offers valuable insight, and the chapter definitely made me rethink a few things.

Here and there, the author puts a few gems in the book like: However, once you dine at the table of Caligula, you may never again wish to cook in the kitchen of humility. I love that sentence. It’s a vivid description,  and oh so true.

Then the author ends the chapter with a short, fictional story about materialism, the story of Sasha and his dog. It’s a heart-warming story and fits in nicely with the theme.

The same set up is repeated in chapter two, forgiveness. We get an introduction, the author offers insight, and then we get a short, fictional story. By then, I figured out the set up of the book, and I started to like it. The short stories were my favorite because they managed to underline the author’s point. In forgiveness, the author mentions Nelson Mandela – who forgave his captors after years in prison. I’ve always found that so inspiring, and it was good to see the same sentiment repeated here. Gandhi and King are mentioned as well.

Chapter three focuses on fearlessness. This was my favorite chapter. I found so much of myself, and my own struggles, mentioned here. While the chapter is serious, there was also time for a few jokes here and there. Here’s an example: I know what you’re now probably thinking – knives and spears are dangerous and just like patterned wallpaper can seriously hurt someone if they are not used for their true appropriation. I actually laughed out loud at that one! The story added to this chapter was truly chilling though. This chapter was my favorite because it also focused on past lives, and our fear for past lives. I’ve always wanted to find out more about my past lives, but have been scared to take the step.

The book goes on like that, talking about self-belief, education, tolerance, acceptance, and more. All of the topics were interesting, and each time the author touches some valuable points and then illustrates them with a short story.

Overall, this was an enjoyable, thought-provoking read. The stories were good entertainment, the non-fiction part made me realize a few things I hadn’t thought about before. The writing style was excellent, down-to-earth and often humorous. If you’re looking for a different type of self help book, I would recommend trying this one.

Book Review: The Monster on Top of the Bed by Alan H. Jordan

51Yy-NLOynLTitle: The Monster on Top of the Bed & My Monster on Top of the Bed
Author: Alan H. Jordan
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Age Group: Children
Rating: 5 stars
Buy: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Suzy, who used to jump up and down on her bed having just a great time. This scared a young critter named Karrit who lived under Suzy’s bed and he wanted her to be his friend. Still, Suzy ate strange things like cakes made out of pans (pancakes) and the toes of toemays (tomatoes) and—he couldn’t believe it—he heard her talk about eating something truly horrendous.

One day Karrit heard Suzy tell her mother that she was lonely and needed a friend. Because of that Karrit decided to visit Suzy. At first Suzy was afraid of Karrit, who had red, scaly legs, and a blue nose. But Suzy noticed that Karrit seemed scared of her too. So, Suzy treated Karrit the way that she would want to be treated if she had gone to his house.

As they grew to know each other, Suzy figured out why Karrit was afraid of her, and she was sorry to have scared him. She showed him a hotdog (she didn’t eat dogs that were hot) a tomato (she didn’t eat the toes of matoes) and a carrot (she definitely didn’t eat Karrits).

Suzy made Karrit feel that she liked him, and that she wanted him to be happy. Because of that, they kept getting to know each other better until one day they both realized that they didn’t have to be afraid of each other, and that it was a mistake for each of them to think of the other as a “monster.” Suzy and Karrit became best friends, and neither was afraid of monsters again.

The Monster on Top of the Bed is an adorable, cute book about Suzy, a little girl, and the monster living under her bed. The monster’s name is Karrit, and he’s actually not all that bad. When he overhears Suzy telling her Mom she’s lonely, Karrit decides to pay her a visit. At first, Suzy is scared of the monster, but Karrit is just as scared of her – after all, she eats the craziest things! Like cakes made of pans, toes of toemays and something even worse than all that! She even ate carrots, which sounds suspiciously like Karrit!

When Suzy figures out Karrit is afraid of her, she shows him all the things he’s supposedly so afraid of, and the two of them become great friends. The ending is heart-warming. The illustrations are colorful and lovely, and they fit the theme. The book also allows kids for the option to come up with a story of their own, which is a great addition.