The year 2013 is done, and so my many challenges have come to an end. I’ve updated my 2013 Challenge Index and overall I did pretty well, though some areas definitely could use some improvement. Here’s a quick recap of how I did on my reading challenges:
2013 Goodreads Challenge: 130/75 books read
My previous high (since I started tracking everything I read on Goodreads) was 120 books in 2011. In 2012 I had a pitiful 50 books read. This year, I was glad to get back on track and I blew my conservative estimate out of the water. I think I reached my initial goal of 75 books by July or August!
Debut Author Challenge: 4/12 books read
Once again, I didn’t read very many debuts. My self-imposed restriction on advance review copies has limited my access to debut author books, and they are harder to find at the library. I also found that I love reading new authors, just not necessarily debut authors.
Seriously Series Challenge: 12/12 series read
My focus for this challenge was to get up to the last book in a series that I had already purchased. I ended up getting quite a few from the library too. I’m happy I finally caught up on the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and I also finally read the entire trilogies of Across the Universe and the Infernal Devices.
Get Steampunked Challenge: 5/5 books read
I managed to read more than my goal of five books, actually. I read 9! My favorite was the first in a new series combining steampunk and faeries, A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz.
Off the Shelves Challenge: 20/50 books read
I did better than last year, but still not as great as I would have liked. I made copious use of the library this year, and my shelves suffered as a result. I’m doing two challenges on Goodreads this year that focus on whittling down our TBR lists, so hopefully I can exceed this number in 2014.
Graphic Novels Challenge: 6/12 books read
I think I read all 6 of these in January and then promptly ignored my collection after that. I acquired two new graphic novels this year, one of which I’m reading for my YA book club in the spring. It would be nice if I could read another 6 this year.
Back to the Classics Challenge: 2/6 books read
I had so hoped to devote some time to the classics this year, but this was a pretty spectacular fail. I only read one of the required six, and read one alternate. I think in 2014 I’ll consider it a win if I read just one!
TBR Pile Challenge: 6/12 books read
There’s no cheating in this challenge run by Roof Beam Reader. The lists were set even before 2013 began, and I did pretty well. Ultimately, the rest of the list just didn’t appeal to me over the newer, shinier choices as the year progressed.
Authors After Dark Challenge: 2/8 books read
I thought I would do better in this one this year, given the amount of PNR/UF I read. Turns out I just read a bunch of authors who happened not to be going to AAD. After two years of limping to the finish, I think it’s time to give this challenge a rest.
Literary Exploration Challenge: 33/36 books read
I came so very close to finishing this one, but just ran out of time. The five books I had left included a play and some sonnets – easy and quick reads. But the others I couldn’t quite sneak in. I had a lot of fun challenging myself to read such varied genres, and I struggled with the ones I expected to find more difficult. In many ways, however, it was easier than I expected. I learned that I tend to read in a lot more genres than I thought. This challenge has its own widget and group on Goodreads for easy tracking, and they’re offering it again in 2014 if any of you are interested in giving it a try.
Book to Movie Challenge: 6/6 books read and movies watched
This was the most fun to complete, I think. It helped that there were so many new movies this year based on great books. I saw Beautiful Creatures, The Great Gatsby, Ender’s Game, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and snuck in two oldies: The Princess Bride and One Day. I managed to read Austenland, The Book Thief, and Carrie, but didn’t get a chance to see the movie adaptations. I also haven’t seen City of Bones yet.
Did I miss any biggies? What book to movie adaptations did you see this year?
That’s it for my challenge round-up. Are you doing any challenges this year?
I have this thing with assassin stories. I love them. One of the things that drew me to this book was the promise of a girl with a special power to kill. Sign me up any day for a female main character who can kick some major ass.
The opening scene pulled me in immediately. Katsa is sneaking around in the dark, roundhouse-kicking guards to the ground, and rescuing a prisoner. Soon after, we meet Po, a mysterious boy with a fighting Grace who lets Katsa beat up on him for fun. I instantly loved both of these characters and the world they inhabited.
In Katsa’s country, her Grace is looked down upon. She is frequently shunned or feared, and her uncle, the king, manipulates and uses her to his advantage by sending her off to settle his quarrels. She’s his muscle – a thug he dispatches to get his way.
Po is a Lienid prince from across the sea, whose country doesn’t see Graces as bad things. He challenges and encourages Katsa to get over her shame and embrace her Grace. As they grow closer, Katsa learns the truth about Po’s Grace, and they both have to learn to trust each other in order to successfully reach their goals. I loved the growth of their relationship over the course of the book.
I know there have been complaints about Katsa as uber-feminist. I didn’t mind her commitment to stay unmarried, because it felt truthful to her character and experiences. I did feel that this point was beaten over our heads a few too many times, however. I also felt sorry for Katsa, because she had this concept of marriage as a loss of identity that was never reinforced by the world. I wasn’t sure if this was Katsa’s perspective that evolved from her own fears, or whether it was truly the way marriage worked in her society. Did child-free couples exist? Were there women who still had freedom and independence within their marriages, if not in Middlun then in Lienid? It was hard to know whether to root for Katsa and Po to end up together.
The plot of the book revolves around the prisoner Katsa rescues in the opening scene – he is Po’s grandfather, and they are trying to figure out why he has been kidnapped. Katsa and Po set off to travel through the country and glean what information they can, and eventually they turn to the southeastern country of Monsea and the strange behavior happening there.
Unfortunately, it was at this point the book lost some of its luster for me. Questing is usually one of my favorite story elements, but here it turned more Harry Potter than Lord of the Rings. First, Katsa and Po tromp through the woods finding information. Then they tromp through woods and mountains getting to Monsea. Then they tromp through more mountains trying to get out of Monsea. Then Katsa crosses the mountains, and a sea, trying to escape and plan her next move. But she doesn’t get to plan her next move, because the plot just comes to her. It felt like a lot of unnecessary walking/riding/sailing that didn’t accomplish much.
This was an enjoyable read, and I definitely recommend it to fantasy readers. I’m anxious to spend more time in the Seven Realms and explore other characters and Graces, so I’ll continue with the trilogy.
Rating: 3/5 stars
This challenge is another do-over for me from last year – the Off the Shelf Challenge, hosted by Bookish Ardour. I’m serious about reading books I already own, thus my participation in a second TBR challenge this year. I need it!
The challenge has seven levels ranging from 5 to 200 books. I’m going to ramp things up from last year and go with theÂ On a RollÂ level, which is 50 books!Â Crossovers are welcome in this challenge, as well as ebooks, audiobooks, and graphic novels, so my list will consist of lots of books seen in my other challenges.Â
My list so far:
- The Iron DukeÂ by Meljean Brook
- Personal DemonsÂ by Lisa Desrochers
- Vampire AcademyÂ by Richelle Mead
- EvernightÂ by Claudia Gray
- The LuxeÂ by Anna Godbersen
- Heist SocietyÂ by Ally Carter
- The Falling MachineÂ by Andrew Mayer
- DeceptionÂ by Lee Nichols
- Clockwork AngelÂ by Cassandra Clare
- Clockwork PrinceÂ by Cassandra Clare
- Dearly, DepartedÂ by Lia Habel
- The GreyfriarÂ by Clay and Susan Griffith
- My Fair LazyÂ by Jen Lancaster
- Halfway to the GraveÂ by Jeaniene Frost
- ImmortalÂ by Gillian Shields
- Dead as a DoornailÂ by Charlaine Harris
- Native StarÂ by M.K. Hobson
- GoliathÂ by Scott Westerfeld
- Ink ExchangeÂ by Melissa Marr
- Fragile EternityÂ by Melissa Marr
- Radiant ShadowsÂ by Melissa Marr
- Darkest MercyÂ by Melissa Marr
- The IvyÂ by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur
- SecretsÂ by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur
- RivalsÂ by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur
- Falling for HamletÂ by Michelle Ray
- Raised by WolvesÂ by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
- Hex HallÂ by Rachel Dawkins
- Wondrous StrangeÂ by Lesley Livingston
- River MarkedÂ by Patricia Briggs
- BloodlineÂ by James Rollins
- AscendantÂ by Diana Peterfreund
- DarkfeverÂ by Karen Marie Moning
- BloodfeverÂ by Karen Marie Moning
- FaefeverÂ by Karen Marie Moning
- DreamfeverÂ by Karen Marie Moning
- Fantasy LoverÂ by Sherrilyn Kenyon
- Night PleasuresÂ by Sherrilyn Kenyon
- Night EmbraceÂ by Sherrilyn Kenyon
- Dance with the DevilÂ by Sherrilyn Kenyon
- Under WrapsÂ by Hannah Jayne
- Under AttackÂ by Hannah Jayne
- HavocÂ by Jeff Sampson
- The False PrinceÂ by Jennifer A. Nielsen
- The Ghost and the GothÂ by Stacey Kade
- MasqueradeÂ by Melissa de la Cruz
- A Breath of EyreÂ by Eve Marie Mont
- WitherÂ by Lauren DeStefano
- If I StayÂ by Gayle Forman
- Eyes Like StarsÂ by Lisa Mantchev
Check my progress all year on the sidebar or on my 2013 Challenge Index.