My 23 Day Reading Challenge

On YouTube, people have been doing a 30 Day Reading Challenge. Ricquetta of Nerdintranslation came up with the challenge of reading 30 books in 30 days. Other people joined in, but as many were uncertain of their chances of finishing so many books in a month, they tweaked the challenge to read a certain amount of pages in a day, for example 150 or 200. The challenge started on June 17th and will run until July 16th.

I don’t post videos to YouTube, but after watching other people’s videos for a week I started thinking about the challenge. Perhaps I could just do it on my own to shorten my TBR pile of owned books. Of course, since one week had already passed me by, what was left was a 23 Day Reading Challenge.

I set myself a manageable target page count that would keep me reading every day for the next three weeks – a 100 pages a day. It might not sound like much, but since I’ve lately been in a reading slump and have picked up books only to not finish them, it seemed like the perfect target.

So, how have I been doing so far?

I just finished reading

Doll Bones
Doll Bones by Holly Black
I started reading this 244 page book on Monday and finished it on Tuesday.

I’m currently reading

A Dance with Dragons
A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
I’m reading this book in between other reads. I had started it before the challenge, but during the challenge I’ve read 114 pages so far (100 pages today, one chapter yesterday).

What might be next

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Either The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman or something else from my Summer TBR Pile

How is your summer reading going? Are you planning to take part in any read-a-thons this summer?

 
This post is linked at “WWW Wednesdays”, a weekly reading meme hosted by Should Be Reading.

The Best Books of 2013 So Far

I took a look back at what I’ve read so far this year, and compiled this list of six books that I enjoyed the most. These are all books that I’ve rated 4 or 5 stars in GoodReads. I decided to divide them into a couple of subcategories. The images take you to the book’s GoodReads page.

Favorite Fantasy Books

Throne of the Crescent Moon Rivers Of London
Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
Such a fun & exciting sword and sorcery fantasy adventure set in an Arabian-style world!

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
Wizards and vengeful spirits in modern day London. I have a weakness for wizard detectives, so this was right up my alley.

Favorite Classics

The Hunchback of Notre Dame Peter Pan
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
Love and lust in medieval Paris – the book turned from slightly boring to excellent at the halfway mark. Great characters!

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
This charming and witty, but also dark children’s story just swept me away and had me smiling for most of the book. I loved Barrie’s narrator voice.

Favorite Re-Reads

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Sorcery & Cecelia
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Never disappoints, I always have fun reading this, and know many lines in the beginning by heart.

Sorcery and Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Charming adventure in magical Regency England, written in letter form. I loved Kate and the Marquis of Schofield!

Favorite Graphic Novels

Friends with Boys Yotsuba 11
Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks
This is a contemporary coming of age story with ghosts, filled with lovely artwork by Hicks.

Yotsuba 11 by Kiyohiko Azuma
Yotsuba never fails to make me laugh. I love reading about the little girl’s adventures amid the wonders of daily life.

 

This post is linked at “Top Ten Tuesday”, a weekly book list meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.

My Summer Reading List

I don’t like making strict TBR plans, but here are some books that I’m excited about and might just pick up this summer. All of the books are unread books from my shelves. The links take you to GoodReads.

Maija’s Top 10 Books from Summer TBR Pile

Top10SummerTBR_1

1. The Child Thief by Brom
Since I just read Peter Pan, I can’t wait to read this dark Peter Pan retelling!

2. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman | Read
A new book from Neil Gaiman is always a cause for celebration to me. I might be picking this up next.

3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline | Read
This book just sounds so interesting, I can’t believe I haven’t read it yet!

4. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson | Read
I really liked the spooky atmosphere in Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, so I’m looking forward to this.

Top10SummerTBR_2

5. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
This gothic horror classic just might be calling my name this summer.

6. Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovich | Read
My sister lent me this second Peter Grant book, and I’m very interested to see what the wizard detective faces next.

7. Divergent by Veronica Roth
I picked this book up and started it once already, but only got a chapter in. Next time I mean business!

8. The Gunslinger by Stephen King
My sister likes this book so much, I just have to read it to see what she’s going on about.

9. Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
I’m going to read the first book from this Finnish The Dark is Rising compendium.

10. Doll Bones by Holly Black | Read
This middle-grade horror/fantasy book is still in the mail on its way to me. I hope it arrives soon!

 

This post is linked at “Top Ten Tuesday”, a weekly book list meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.

May Wrap-Up (2013)

I realized I had forgotten to publish my May wrap-up post and just left it hanging in my drafts. So here it is, very late!

May was a very bad reading month for me – I really didn’t know what I wanted to read (I’m still a bit in the same rut). The books I did read didn’t really manage to capture me and/or were not quite in my alley (non SF&F). I also didn’t read a high fantasy book this month – my unofficial challenge – but I did read a classic, and ended up really loving it, although it was hard going in the beginning.

I use the following light grading system based on the GoodReads one:
1 out of 5 – I didn’t like it: badly written or just got on my nerves
2 out of 5 – It was okay: other people might enjoy it more
3 out of 5 – I liked it: a fun/enjoyable read
4 out of 5 – I really liked it: good characters & plot, maybe some theme that spoke to me
5 out of 5 – It was amazing: I consider it a favorite and will probably re-read at some point

Classic Read of the Month

The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

(or Notre-Dame de Paris)
by Victor Hugo
First published in 1831
From my Kindle (Project Gutenberg free edition)

Despite the slow start, I ended up really loving the book! The characters were intriguing and at times the book was very exciting!

I’ve already written more about my thoughts on this book here. I give it 4/5 stars for a great plot and characters, but a lack of focus on the main narrative from the author’s part.

Adult Fantasy & Scifi Books

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Veronica Britton
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
(Hitchhiker’s Guide #1)
by Douglas Adams
First published in 1979
Library copy

I was craving a re-read of this series by Douglas Adams, so I picked up the first book from the library. I actually own a copy of the English omnibus edition of all the novels, but I found out that in this rare case I wanted to read the books in Finnish. It has a lot to do with hearing the radio broadcast of this book in Finnish when I was a kid – because of it, the Finnish phrases have been so engraved in my head that the English just sounds wrong to me.

Hitchhiker’s Guide is a really funny book and I enjoyed it as much as ever. My favorite character is Zaphod Beeblebrox, he’s just so wonderfully full of himself! I’ll be moving on to The Restaurant at the End of the Universe next. 5/5

Veronica Britton – Chronic Detective
by N. P. Boyce
First published in 2012
From my bookshelf

This time travel novel had a lot of great ideas, but the execution was flawed. There were a few spots in the beginning where it wasn’t completely clear if the characters had passed through a time portal or not, and in which year they were. At the start of some chapters there were times when I didn’t know which character I was following – it wasn’t even intentionally vague to preserve some sort of mystery, there would be some paragraphs referring to people as only “they” or “she” before telling us the names of the characters in question.

I did like the format of the book – it had four parts that could work as short stories (apart from the last one), but there was an overarching plot going on in the background. Sort of a like a TV series, one could say. My favorite was Part Three: The Dead Letter, where the time travel events were very well done. The ending was very grand, but pretty rushed and a bit vague, and could have done with a bit more length and explanation. 2/5

Non-Fantasy Books

Wonder Boys Attachments
Wonder Boys
by Michael Chabon
First published in 1995
From my bookshelf

I have written about my thoughts on this book in the lower part of this post. 2/5

Attachments
By Rainbow Rowell
First published in 2011
Library book

A lot of people were reading Rainbow Rowell, so I gave this book a try. It was a quick read and a nice funk breaker; I finished it within a day. I was surprised that the main character in this romance was a actually the guy! The female characters were only present in their emails for most of the book. I wasn’t that happy with the ending, I just didn’t like how it played out, but I had fun on the way. I want to try Rowell’s other books, since they sound like something that I would like more. I give Attachments 3/5

My favorite post of the month

Books with Gorgeous Covers
My Top 10 list of books that I’ve read with beautiful cover art.

Current Reads: A Dance with Dragons

I am currently reading

A Dance with Dragons
A Dance with Dragons
(A Song of Ice and Fire #5)
By: George R.R. Martin
From: My bookshelf

I can’t really tell you much about the plot without spoiling the previous books, so I’ll just say that I recently started reading this. It’s so much easier to read than the previous installment, A Feast for Crows, since this one contains the POV chapters of almost all of my favorite characters! I was planning to wait longer until I read this (since it might be a long wait before the sixth book is published), but I was spoiled of some plot twists a couple of times in the Internet, and I decided to read it before I managed to read even more spoilers!

Last week I read

Last week I finished Gail Carriger’s Etiquette & Espionage, a steampunk YA book about a boarding school for assassins and spies. I enjoyed it, but not as much as her books for adults set in the same universe (the Parasol Protectorate series). I also read Peter and Wendy (or Peter Pan as it’s more widely known), which was a really charming, fun, and thought-provoking children’s book. I liked it a lot more than I’d expected! It’s a quick read, and I definitely recommend it!

Last week I posted

I talked about my Top 5 favorite wizards in Fan Art Friday: Wizards

 

This post is linked at “It’s Monday, what are you reading?”, a weekly meme that tells us what the blogosphere is currently reading. It is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Fan Art Friday: Wizards

I am an illustrator and graphic designer and love to see other people’s illustrations of my favorite characters. Fan art Friday is a semi-regular feature where I highlight book inspired fan art from the web.

In this episode of Fan Art Friday, I will feature my top 5 favorite mages, wizards and other magic users. Please visit the artists (by clicking on the image or the link provided) to support them and see the full image!

1. Raistlin Majere

Raistlin Majere

The mage’s white skin had turned a golden color. It glistened in the firelight with a faintly metallic quality, looking like a gruesome mask. The flesh had melted from the face, leaving the cheekbones outlined in dreadful shadows. The lips were pulled tight in a dark straight line. But it was the man’s eyes that arrested Tanis and held him pinned in their terrible gaze. For the eyes were no longer the eyes of any living human Tanis had ever seen. The black pupils were now the shape of hourglasses! The pale blue irises Tanis remembered now glittered gold!

Art: Raistlin Majere by Altana (new account ladyalavi) on deviantART

Raistlin is my favorite character in anything, ever. This sarcastic and bitter, intelligent man is never fully appreciated by his companions, although I do understand how others could get annoyed with his remarks. There is this shell around Raistlin that he allows almost nothing to pierce through. A very complex character, and my favorite mage of all time. I like that Altana depicted the character in his red robes.

From the Dragonlance novels by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
First appearance in Dragons of Autumn Twilight, 1984
(Before that appeared in a short story in Dragon magazine)

2. Aloysius Crumrin

Aloysius Crumrin

He shot her a withering glance with his terrible eyes. ”Would you like some hot cocoa?”

Art: Aloysius Crumrin by ArcanePrayer on deviantART

Courtney Crumrin’s bad-ass uncle Aloysius is my favorite character from this series of graphic novels. He is such a powerful warlock! Together with Courtney they form a wonderful power duo! It was hard to find Aloysius fan art on the web, but ArcanePrayer captured his profile well.

From the Courtney Crumrin graphic novels by Ted Naifeh
First appearance in Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things, 2002

3. Howl

Howl

The tall young fellow in a flamboyant blue-and-silver suit who had just come in stopped in the act of leaning a guitar in the corner. He brushed the fair hair from his rather curious glass-green eyes and stared back. His long, angular face was perplexed.

Art: Howl’s moving castle by Mevelan on deviantART

I love Howl! He is such a diva, throwing temper tantrums and worrying about his looks almost above all else. Green slime, anyone? But there’s also a more vulnerable side to Howl which makes him such a great character. I like that Mevelan’s artwork looks like a poster/book cover.

From Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, 1986

4. Harry Dresden

Harry Dresden

Karrin and I are a study in contrasts. Where I am tall and lean, she’s short and stocky. Where I have dark hair and dark eyes, she’s got Shirley Temple blond locks and baby blues. Where my features are all lean and angular, with a hawkish nose and a sharp chin, hers are round and smooth, with the kind of cute nose you’d expect on a cheerleader.

Art: Harry by kreugan on deviantART

There was a time when Harry could have been higher on my list, but due to the latest novels’ changes to the character I’ve begun to grow a bit tired of him. But I just can’t help but love his smart-ass ways. It was hard to find a picture of Harry that looked anything like the character in my head, but Kreugan got the messy “haven’t slept in three days” look that defines Harry to me.

From the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
First appearance in Storm Front, 2000

5. Jonathan Strange

Jonathan Strange

In person he was rather tall and his figure was considered good. Some people thought him handsome, but this was not by any means the universal opinion. His face had two faults: a long nose and an ironic expression. It is also true that his hair had a reddish tinge and, as everybody knows, no one with red hair can ever truly be said to be handsome.

Art: Jonathan Strange by Eminina on deviantART

Jonathan Strange is by far the more sympathetic one from the two title magicians of this novel. There are other characters in the book that I love more, but I like Strange, and appreciate him as the more charismatic foil to Norrell. As you can see from the description above, Eminina really captured the character, especially the faintly ironic expression.

From Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, 2004

More Fan Art Fridays

Check out my Top 3 Favorite Vampires!

Current Reads: Etiquette & Espionage

Hi guys! I’ve returned from enjoying the summer weather outside and a brief visit from out of town.

I am currently reading

Etiquette & Espionage
Etiquette & Espionage
By: Gail Carriger
From: My Kindle

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners—and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage—in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.

Lately I’ve been suffering from the dreaded “I don’t know what I want to read” syndrome. I haven’t made much progress with the books I mentioned in my last Current Reads post (I’ve read the first few chapters of both). But during all this, I was steadily reading Etiquette & Espionage on my Kindle, one small section at a time.

I originally picked up the book because I really liked Carriger’s steampunk series for adults, The Parasol Protectorate, and this YA book of hers takes place in the same universe. I only regret that I didn’t pick up a physical copy, since the cover is gorgeous! So far the book has been fun, although I’m not enjoying it quite as much as I did her adult series.

Last book I finished reading

The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Notre-Dame de Paris / The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
By: Victor Hugo
From: My Kindle (Project Gutenberg edition)

Oh my gods, you guys, I ended up loving this book! The first third of the book was SO DIFFICULT to get through, halfway through I started to get interested, and the final third was so exciting! When Hugo actually focused on the main characters, everything was so wonderful. The characters were so conflicted, especially Frollo. In the beginning you learn that Frollo isn’t really a bad guy, and then to watch him change and move from one horrendous act to another… sigh.

I really could have done without the essays on architecture & descriptions of every single building one could see from the roof of Notre-Dame. The fact that the first part of the book focused on a minor, not that interesting character, didn’t help out, either. With that said, I loved the good parts with a passion. I’d give this book 4 out of 5 stars. If Hugo had only focused a bit more on the main plot and characters, the book would have been not only a lot shorter, but a lot more captivating, and I would give it all 5 stars. I will definitely be re-reading this, but mightily skipping a lot of parts…

 

This post is linked at “It’s Monday, what are you reading?”, a weekly meme that tells us what the blogosphere is currently reading. It is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.