Bout of Books 21: Goals and Updates for the week

Bout of Books button with determined woman in yellow looking tired and surrounded by books.Getting ready for Bout of Books 21! This is my post outlining my goals and plan for the week, plus a section for my daily updates across the week. A week spent with a focus on reading and letting myself relax and fall in love with characters and stories I both love and those I haven’t met yet sounds wonderful right now. I’m so excited and can’t wait for midnight!

Goals

I’m going to keep this simple and in alignment with all my other reading goals for 2018:

  1. Spend time reading and enjoy it. Ideally I’d like to spend at least an hour a day reading during this week (minimum).
  2. Read from my TBR list – hopefully 3 books.
  3. Participate and connect with others online also joining in with #boutofbooks.
  4. Have fun (the entire point of doing something like this).

Books

I don’t think I’m going to decide on too much ahead of time, but I’m keen to tackle my considerable TBR list that I track via Goodreads. This is also part of my participation in a couple of other challenges, yay for multi-tasking!  However, a sneak peak at what’s high on my to-read list:

An attractive blond woman with blue eyes body facing sideways with her face forward and a wicked looking knife strapped to her shoulder is in the foreground with the title 'Throne of Glass' ona blue shimmery background

Finish this book (I’ve barely started it) – it’s been on my TBR forever and it’s a buddy read in one of my book clubs.

A starscape background features an attractive blonde woman in the foreground on the left hand side wearing a black dress, hands on hips looking composed with title text 'Tempt the Stars'

I’ve been meaning to continue with this series for ages (and put it in my ‘currently reading’ shelf to remind me, but haven’t started it yet).

There is a burning ship with dragon mastheads in the background, there is a small male figure in the foreground with his back to the reader looking out on the ship, there are knights in the background also watching the burning shift. The title 'Traitor's Moon' is in the foreground in dark red text.

I started rereading this series last year, but got distracted at the third book, I am rereading so that I can read the later books in the series I haven’t read yet with the story fresh in my mind.

 

A fair-skinned hand hangs fingers downward, palm up with the title text 'The Coldest Girl in Coldtown' on her wrist, hovering over a dark blue background.

This is a buddy read that I’m starting this week too, I’ve had this book on my TBR forever too (and why – I adore Holly Black’s books!)

Updates

Monday 8/1/18

Progress:  

I finished ‘Throne of Glass’ by Sarah J. Maas, which was overall a silly book but fun enough in a junk-food kind of way. I started ‘The Coldest Girl in Coldtown’ by Holly Black – gosh I love her writing!

Challenge: Introduce yourself #insixwords

I couldn’t really improve on my 6 word intro from last year, so here it is again: Whimsy personified, midwife, feminist, avid reader

Tuesday 9/1/18

Progress:

I started reading ‘Traiter’s Moon’ by Lynn Flewelling, this is a reread of this book in preparation for reading the last books of the series that I haven’t read yet. I love these characters *so* much!

Challenge: Share your 2018 reading goal(s)

My 2018 reading goals (in a nutshell): 101 books total, 50 from TBR, 15 read and reviewed for Australian Women Writers Challenge #aww2018, join in with book clubs and reading challenges like #beatthebacklist and #boutofbooks

Wednesday 10/1/18

Progress:

I finished ‘Traitors Moon’ by Lynn Flewelling and am keen to start the next one. But I also started ‘The Boy Who Lost Fairyland’ by Catherynne M. Valente.

Challenge: Book spine rainbow

Thursday 11/1/18

Progress:

I started ‘Shadows Return’ by Lynn Flewelling and have been deeply immerse in that.

Challenge: ALL THE FAVORITES!

A couple of tweets for this challenge:

Friday 12/1/18

Progress:

I finished ‘Shadows Return’ and started ‘The White Road’ by Lynn Flewelling – I’m so enjoying this series and the past two books are the ones I haven’t read yet so are a delight.

Challenge: Newspaper headlines

I’ve gone tabloid style for  this..

Newspaper headline for current book… Is it a Dragon? Is it a Homunculus? Turn to page 3 to find out! #boutOfBooks

Saturday 13/1/18

Progress:

I am still reading ‘The White Road’ by Lynn Flewelling – slow going because yesterday was a high pain day.

Challenge: Book spine poetry

No book spine poetry for me today – I was struggling a bit too much to manage. Everyone else’s look great though!

Sunday 14/1/18

Progress:

Day 7 and by the end I managed to finish ‘The White Road’ by Lynn Flewelling which makes it 4 books I finished during the readathon! YAY! What a week – hopefully I can participate in the next one too! Thank you to all the organisers and experts for making it a glorious and fun week!

Challenge: Leave a book review

Reading Goals for 2018

Once again it’s time to talk about reading goals, this time for the year ahead. Reading is such a huge part of my life that I’m glad that it get specific focus in my rituals for the new year.  I’m refining and simplifying my goals from the outlandish goals I set out last year.

2017 was a year of comfort reading – there was so much going on and fluff was all I could handle. In lots of ways that’s still true, but I am also hoping that I feel resilient enough in myself again as the year progresses to read more outside my comfort zone, and challenge myself. That said, reading is my haven and one of the things I do for self-care and to take time for myself so I am going to continue in the same trend as last year and use these goals as things to reach for, but not beat myself with.

Overall reading goal

Orange-red banner image with picture of a book in white and the text 2018 Goodreads Reading ChallengeOnce again I’m using the Goodreads Reading Challenge to track this, and this year I’m aiming higher than previous years for 101 books. It’s ambitious, but I am hopeful that having finished my degree I’ll have more time and space for reading for fun. I’m really uncertain whether I can manage this many books in a year, especially going into my Grad Year for midwifery – but nothing ventured, nothing gained! I’m excited to try!

The other thing I’d like to revisit is going back to doing my series on Retro Fiction Reviews – reviews of books focusing on books by women, people of colour, and from a queer or otherwise diverse background, and that are 10 or more years older than the current publishing year. I didn’t get very far on this way back when I started it, but I’ve got more practice reviewing now so hopefully that stands me in good stead.

Australian Women Writers Challenge

Silhouette of a woman with an umbrella black on a rose background with text Australian Women Writers Challenge 2018Once again I’m throwing my hat into this challenge, I really love it and that it keeps me engaged with and reading new work by Australian writers, particularly women. This year I’m choosing my own level again and I’m going with my previous challenge of read and review 15 books.

In 2018 I’d really like to make sure they include some works by Indigenous and non-white authors, and works telling stories about diverse characters too. Hopefully I’ll be more successful with this – I earmarked a bunch of books last year already, so now to actually go forth and read them. I also want to finish reading through my Twelve Planets project if possible.

Bookclubs and Discussions

I also want to continue enjoying the challenges and discussions put forward by the Goodreads Reading Challenge book club, I really enjoy them and they prompt me to think of my TBR in different ways. Or to consider books I wouldn’t have otherwise considered. The year long challenge I’ve signed up for is the Clear the Shelves 2018 Challenge – my twist on it is that I’m focusing on clearing my TBR rather than not buying/acquiring books. My plan is to essentially follow the same guideline of reading 5 books on my TBR prior to 1st January 2018 for every book added on or after that date. There’s also buddy reads and monthly and quarterly challenges I’ll be participating in.

I didn’t get to do any real participation with the Vaginal Fantasy or Sword and Laser book clubs last year, but I’m hoping this year that will be more possible. Basically if the books look interesting to me I’ll join in, but it’s all bonus and nice to enjoy, rather than a specific imperative.

Bout of Books

Bout of Books button with determined woman in yellow looking tired and surrounded by books.I’m going to participate in Bout of Books 21! I enjoyed doing it in January last year and I’m excited to join in again. I had a lot of fun doing it last year and I could use something to get my reading momentum going and to distract me. If you’re interested in a fun, but low stress readathon with lots of participation interaction, this is a great one to join in with. Feel free to sign up on the Bout of Books blog if this sounds like your jam!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 8th and runs through Sunday, January 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 21 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team


Edited to add a new year long challenge!

Beat the Backlist

A pile of books with one opened and the text "Show your TBR who's boss. 2018 Reading Challenge"I only came across Beat the Backlist #beatthebacklist after I posted my reading goals for the year, but this particular challenge fall into line with another challenge I’m doing. Two methods of participation and accountability are better than one right? My pledge for clearing my TBR is 50 books in 2018 (40 ebook and 10 physical) – so I’m going to use this challenge to help me with that too. I’m also going to see how I go using my instagram @transcendancing to participate. This looks like heaps of fun! I’m not going to pledge to complete any of the other challenges, that will be a happy bonus if it happens. I’m already planning to do reviews of some kind for most of what I read anyway so these align directly with Beat the Backlist and I can piggy-back happily.

Review of 2017 reading goals

Back in January, I posted about my 2017 reading goals. Back then, 2017 was shiny and new and I was hopeful for a productive reading year and my goals reflected this. I also thought that the structure of my goals might mean I would keep a better handle on my reading in the final year of my degree. Hah! Maybe hindsight knows better, but it seems funny now in retrospect.

I should have kept my goals simpler and allowed myself more give and then anything else would have been a bonus. But, we live and learn and aiming high is never a bad thing, and I think sometimes not meeting goals is as important as meeting them – prioritisation and being able to respond to changing needs is also important.

I achieved the things that were within my general comfort reading zone but the things I’d wanted to help expand that I wasn’t so successful with. Given how much I struggled with this year, I can appreciate that expansion wasn’t on the cards this time. I’m content to acknowledge I set the goals, several didn’t happen, but I know that there’s room for improvement.

Overall reading goal and reviewing

Blue banner with text 2017 Reading Challenged with a book in white on in the centre. A red ribbon with 'completed' crosses the left hand top corner.I kept my overall reading goal at 75 books and I did meet that goal which I’m pleased about. Several were shorter reads again, but I priorised stuff I knew I’d enjoy and that really was important this year. And my comment about the goal being designed to work for me and not against me still stands – no beating myself with sticks. I met this goal and of all my reading goals it was the most important to me.

I also did continue to review books, although I’m quite behind on reviews that I want to do here on this site. But I did manage to mostly keep on top of those reviews I was happy to do on Goodreads alone which I’m happy with in this context. Especially given how busy this year was and how much it took out of me. I really did struggle to have any brain or concentration for reading at all at several points.

Australian Women Writers Challenge

Silhouette of a woman with an umbrella black on a blue background with text Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017.This is one of my favourite challenges and one I’ve participated in for several years. In 2017 I pledged to read and review 15 books, and I didn’t make this goal, but I don’t think I did too badly as I read and reviewed 10 books over the year. Also several of those books were amongst my favourites that I read in 2017 which is fantastic!

I had hoped to read more books by Indigenous authors in 2017, but it didn’t happen. I had also hoped to discover additional authors who are new to me, but I think there was only one – Alis Franklin who was the author of Liesmith which was excellent. I wanted to read more queer stories and even perhaps a biography or memoir or two – specifically about midwifery in Australia, but I didn’t get to it. There’s always 2018 though!

Goodreads reading challenge book club

I really enjoy this bookclub, it’s incredibly busy and active with lots of different activities. I joined in and signed up to a bunch of the activities in the first part of the year and then it fell by the wayside toward the middle of the year. Still there was some success in this area.

I joined the Genre bingo challenge and read a bunch of books across several genres – about 12 in all, but I didn’t get any ‘bingos’. I joined the Modern Mrs Darcy challenge and was successful with this! I pledged to achieve 8 of the 12 tasks – kind of picking books according to qualities like the cover etc and I managed exactly 8.  The TBR randomiser challenge was the other main one I signed up for and I nominated for 10 books. I didn’t manage to read all 10 of them, but I did manage 2. I had wanted to join in with the buddy reads across the year, and signed up for January, but my co-reader dropped out of sight and I felt too busy to sign up afterwards.

Bout of Books, Read Diverse 2017 and other book clubs

Bout of Books button with determined woman in yellow looking tired and surrounded by books.I participated in my first ever Bout of Books and it was marvellous fun! I blogged several times throughout, but here’s my update post of my week participating – it was lots of fun and I loved all the twitter participation.

I wanted to participate in Read Diverse 2017 actively – it was one of the goals I had lots of feelings about, but the year just got out of hand and I couldn’t keep up with this and I was behind before I really even got started. I’m sad about that, but regardless of a shiny organised challenge, reading from diverse perspectives remains a key goal to expanding my reading comfort zone.

Other book clubs I’d been involved in included both Vaginal Fantasy and Sword and Laser book clubs, but I really didn’t follow anything they were reading over the year – I just didn’t have enough hours in the year or concentration available in my brain. I also wanted to follow along with the Magical Space Pussycats podcast, but they’ve also been on hiatus – I still want to continue with this if they become active again.

Finish my review challenge Journey Through the Twelve Planets

Image of a series of vertical book spines showing the twelve planet books in various colours. Header text white on transparent black overlies the image with the title 'A Journey Through the Twelve Planets'.I just didn’t get to this because the books published in this series are wonderful, and often confronting – many of them come under the genre of horror which I really struggle with. I still want to finish my reviews of the books, but the challenge itself wasn’t taken up as actively as Steph and I had hoped and so I’m happy to just quietly finish my reviews as she has done, in my own time. They are glorious books though and they’re well worth your time if you want an understanding of women writers in Australia in the past decade.

 

2017 Reading Goals

Time to talk about my reading goals for 2017! My plans are not dramatically different from past years, but I’m tweaking things to work better and trying to be ambitious in what I achieve. However, I am trying to be mindful of doing this in ways that are within reach given I’m heading into my final year of my midwifery degree. Reading is one of the things I do for self-care and stress relief – even when in semester I’ll still read for pleasure. I also find I get a bit stressed and lonely, so I’ve found that joining in with bookclubs and challenges can often be helpful for feeling connected and involved in social things, without having to use up a lot of energy to leave the house.

Overall Reading Goal

Blue banner image with picture of a book in white and the text Goodreads 2017 Reading ChallengeOnce again, 75 books seems to be the right length to aim for – I did do a little better than that in 2016, but some were shorter reads, plus it’s my final study year so I will probably be busier than previous years. Also, as with all goals this is something to aim for and give me a bit of a challenge to enjoy, it’s not about beating myself with sticks. I’m quite determined to maintain this outlook with all my goal-setting because it has to work for me, not against me.

Reviewing

In general I want to continue reading and reviewing, I am loving seeing the number of my reviews grow – both here and on Goodreads. Plus, I want to continue to review and promote new books when I can get advance copies, particularly for indie publishers.  Additionally, I am hoping to get back to doing some of my Retro Fiction Review Series for older books that could use a boost in attention. There are so many books being published that it’s easy for some great books to be overlooked and I’d like to draw some attention to ones I think deserve some more love. As far as the time frame for ‘retro’, I’m thinking books published prior to 2000.

Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017

Silhouette of a woman with an umbrella black on a blue background with text Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017.This is the reading challenge that I’ve participated in the longest, and I love it as much now as the first time I got to join in. This year I’m pledging to read and review 15 books by Australian Women Writers. As part of that challenge I’m also trying to improve on the diversity in my reading to include women who are queer, Indigenous women and women from different cultural backgrounds and experiences to myself as a white Australian person.

This is a great challenge to take on because you can set your own level of participation. You can nominate to read and review, or if you don’t want to review that’s fine too! This year there is a specific focus on drawing attention to Australian Women Writers who come from diverse backgrounds, but also to raise the profile of some Classics by Australian women. There’s already quite a lot of excited discussion about this focus, with the nominal definition of ‘classic’ being written at least 30 years ago and being significant at the time it was published, or to have had a lasting profile/impact in Australia or a region. I’m not taking on the Classics focus for my challenge but as a long time fan of Elyne Mitchell’s Silver Brumby books, I am hoping lots of other people fall in love with these – and maybe I’ll pick up the subsequent books to reread, it’s been a long time and I’m probably overdue to reread.

Goodreads Reading Challenge

The main challenge has an active bookclub group that does a bunch of long and short, easy and difficult challenges, plus buddy reads and a gift exchange at the end of the year. I enjoyed participating in several buddy reads and challenges last year and am going to join in again. If you want to follow the things I’m doing, I’ll be tracking all the various challenges and so on in this forum post. I’m already doing a buddy read in January – we’re reading Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho. I’ve also signed up for some year long challenges and a couple of first quarter challenges:

Bout of Books button with determined woman in yellow looking tired and surrounded by books.Bout of Books 18

For the first time ever I’m participating in the Bout of Books reading marathon – it’s an easy going challenge that is purely about encouraging you to read a bit more than you’d already planned that week. I like the tag line that says ‘I was planning to read this week anyway’ because, that’s true. And now this week I get to enjoy the company of a bunch of other people who are also participating – it’s rather lovely to be involved in all the twitter loveliness.  You can read my progress post for Bout of Books 18 where I’m keeping a record of what I’m reading, how much and also of the challenges I’ve participated in.

Banner with purple-pink rainbow art with flowers and flourishes and a book, tex treads Read Diverse 2017 where diverse is in rainbow colours.Read Diverse 2017

As part of my ongoing desire to improve on how diverse my reading is, particularly in intersectional ways where I’m privileged, I’m using this challenge to be a background reminder for me for the reading I was going to be doing anyway. Despite the name, it’s about reviewing and promoting works by marginalised authors as well as works that feature marginalised characters. Intersections with queerness and disability and whiteness, gender and a few other elements are the focus. I’m not going to lie, the art is definitely one of the reasons I was drawn to this particular challenge.  How pretty is the button?

Bookclubs

I still want to participate in some of the other bookclubs that I’ve enjoyed, like the Sword and Laser Bookclub, the Vaginal Fantasy Bookclub and I’ve also been participating in the readalong with the Magical Space Pussycats podcast. I’m also hoping that Tansy Rayner Roberts’ Inky Valkyrie bookclub gets up and running (if you were looking for an awesome patreon with excellent speculative fiction content to sponsor, her’s is a good one).

Finish the Journey Through the Twelve Planets Challenge

Image of a series of vertical book spines showing the twelve planet books in various colours. Header text white on transparent black overlies the image with the title 'A Journey Through the Twelve Planets'.Steph and I started this last year, we got half way through the year all on time and so on and then the mid-year just hit us both really hard. Plus, I was in the midst of a very busy semester and am not a horror reader at the best of times, so it took me a lot longer to get through Kaaron Warren’s Through Splintered Walls than I had anticipated, I expect Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan will be a similar story (but it will also be worth it I am certain). The aim is to finish the final six books in the challenge in 2017 and I am looking forward to it and that we’ve got the whole year to do it in.


That’s what I have so far, and hopefully I’ll exceed expectations in these goals I’ve taken on! I hope to report on how I’m tracking sometime around mid-year, but we’ll see how that goes (it’s a very busy time of the year for me study-wise so I may be dreaming that I’ll get the blogging time then).

 

 

Bout of Books 18 Update Post

Bout of Books button with determined woman in yellow looking tired and surrounded by books.I’m participating in Bout of Books 18, a reading marathon that is gentle and lovely. The aim is for you to try and read more than you would ordinarily, but to do so in a way that is enjoyable and not stressful for you. I’m completely on board for this! There are also challenges and prizes involved and part of the process is to track progress. I’ll be doing that for the entire week in this post and will update it accordingly each day.

If you wondered what the Bout of Books is:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 2nd and runs through Sunday, January 8th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 18 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

My overall goal I’m aiming for is to read four books this week during the challenge. I’m loosely trying to read things that are already on my TBR list where possible, and as a bonus target books that might fit in with other challenges that I’m taking on (more on that in a later post).

Monday 2/1/17

Progress: Started reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, made it about half way through. Delightful read and perfect to start off the 2017 reading year!

Challenge: Introduce Yourself #insixwords

Whimsy personified, midwife, feminist, avid reader.

Tuesday 3/1/17

Progress: I finished Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell today – definitely lives up to its reputation as being a book you can’t put down!

Challenge: 2017 in a Picture

I hinted a little about my 2017 goals in a following tweet, but I can’t say much because it will spoil my upcoming 2017 theme post. It’s safe to say that being on the verge, standing on the edge are key.

Wednesday 4/1/17

Progress: I got to 36% through Liesmith by Alis Franklin today, loving it so far!

Challenge: Book to Movie

Thursday 5/1/17

Progress: I finished Lisesmith by Alis Franklin last night and started Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn (an ARC I’m delighted by!) Still just in the beginning of that one, but it opens well.

Challenge: Book Spine Poetry

Friday 6/1/17

Progress: I continued with Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn, which I am really enjoying! I also started Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, which has an excellent beginning that hooks you in.

Challenge: If you like this, try this… I wish I’d had a chance to get to this challenge but I was absolutely flat out Friday and Saturday and didn’t get a chance at my laptop.

Saturday 7/1/17

Progress: I was super busy all day so I didn’t get much reading done at all. I did continue Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn which I continue to enjoy.

Challenge: Free day!

Sunday 8/1/17

Progress: Finished Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn and I absolutely loved it. Can’t wait to review it (I have a backlog of reviews to write up). I also started Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire, I love McGuire’s writing style so even though I’m just a few pages in, I’m really enjoying it so far.  I didn’t end up finishing my 4 books by the end – but I lost most of 2 days where I couldn’t read so I’m still pretty happy with 3 and a bit.

Challenge: Free day!

Bout of Books 18

Bout of Books button with determined woman in yellow looking tired and surrounded by books.I wanted to join in with Bout of Books all last year and the timing never worked out. I nearly piked again but I am leaping in at the last minute to participate after all! As the tagline says, I was going to read this week anyway!

I’m setting a ‘nice to have’ goal of maybe 4 books to read this week as part of the challenge. It’s a little more than I could ordinarily read in a low commitments week, so I figure it’s a nice stretch and an excuse for me to spend the week with my nose in pages.

Sign ups close soon, but if you want to join in there’s still time: Go forth and sign up on the Bout of Books blog!

For those that don’t know what Bout of Books is… here you go:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 2nd and runs through Sunday, January 8th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 18 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team