From my Bookshelf! #Indiecember

This isn’t so much about a specific book review. It’s about a fun book challenge I’m taking part in during the month of December. The amazing Megan Tennant (check out her Twitter feed HERE) has organized the Indiecember book review challenge again this year and I’m so excited to be taking part. Unlike many other reading challenges I’ve been a part of, this one is LESS about reading books and MORE about reviewing books written by independent authors.

Indie authors rely heavily on the reviews that readers provide on websites like Goodreads and Amazon. So Megan, an author herself, has organized this yearly event specifically to help out those indie authors with book reviews. The idea is to spend the entire month of December helping out indie authors by talking about their books all over the sites I mentioned above PLUS posting links to those reviews on social media. Twitter seems to be an especially active site for authors and readers alike. Instagram is pretty popular too.

Love to read? Willing to take a few mintues to give an honest review to an author who doesn’t have the budget of a big publishing house to promote their book? Then check out all the info from Megan over on Twitter (the link is HERE) and join in the fun!

Reading Challenge Addict?

I love to read.

No, I mean I REALLY LOVE to read.

As a kid, I always participated in those summer reading programs that the library hosted. I solved crimes with Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys or rode in a covered wagon with Laura Ingalls and her family.

Today I’m still sleuthing it up in my imagination but now I’m “working” with Lucas Davenport or Virgil Flowers. Maybe I’m cruising around “the Burg” with Stephanie Plum and Lula. Possibly watching Kay Scarpetta at work in the lab.

When the urge for fantasy or “alternate universe” strikes, I turn to Ted Dekker or Tosca Lee. Want to take on legendary bad guys? Kerri Maniscalco’s “Stalking Jack the Ripper” series fits the bill quite nicely (and the last installment – coming out in 2019 – will have Audrey and Thomas taking on the bad guy to end all bad guys!).

Get the idea? I could talk for hours about books. Or their authors. I have favorites in just about every genre and have recently found some Indie/Self-Published authors that are AMAZING. I’m very aware, however, that not everyone shares my attitude towards reading and they are definitely not interested in listening to me ramble on!

Thankfully, it’s very easy to find like-minded folk on the internet or social media apps! And what are many of the hardcore book lovers like me chatting about as we look forward to a New Year?

Reading Challenges!

It’s possible that someone will create a group on Goodreads (or maybe even Facebook) to give those who have taken on the same challenge a designated space to track what we’ve read (or what we’re planning to read), share suggestions, or ask for recommendations. The really serious readers even create spreadsheet templates to track their progress, keep a list of possible books, etc. They are even generous enough to share them! And some of us just might take on more than a few reading challenges just to see how far we get!

In an attempt to occupy my downtime more constructively in the coming year, I’m personally tracking my reading across nine different reading challenges. Yes, I said nine. (Truth be told, I blame the book loving folks over at Reading Challenge Addict for this!) And while I consider these my challenges for 2019, I actually start the challenge the day after Christmas. I’ve done this the last few years since that week between Christmas and New Year’s is usually a great time to get a couple books read since I’m on Christmas Break. That way I feel like I’ve gotten a strong start!

And no, I’m not crazy. I mean, 9 reading challenges at one time doesn’t prove that I’m crazy.

As I said, I start my yearly challenges the day after Christmas so I am already underway! Finished two titles to be exact. And each of those books covered an empty spot in four of those challenges. In other words, two titles down and I’ve filled in eight spots. Not bad! With some careful planning and clever choosing, I’ll find more ways to cover several slots with just one book!

I thought I’d share the challenges I’m working on just in case someone reading this is intrigued and would like to join the fun! If you click on the title of each challenge, you’ll be taken directly to the webpage for the particular challenge.

Happy reading!

2019 Popsugar Reading Challenge – this is probably one of the most well-known annual reading challenges out there. I’ve done this one three out of the last four years and I’m always impressed with the creativity of some of the categories! They always include a few “advanced” book prompts for the truly adventurous. Struggling to come up with ideas for some of the prompts? No worries! There is a discussion group specifically for this challenge hosted on Goodreads – you can find it here.  (Quick note – this is the only one on my list I’ve ever done before. Everything below this is new to me!)

Reading Women Challenge – It’s probably not going to surprise you that many of the categories in this challenge focus on women – women authors, female characters engaged in specific careers or facing specific challenges. Some of the categories have forced me to do some exploring outside of my usual reading preferences so I’m excited!

52 Books in 52 Weeks – Some of these categories are simple (and similar to a couple of the other challenges) and the number is doable for me. Although there might be weeks I don’t complete a book. Guess I’ll have to double up on other weeks!

Color Coded – This is one of SEVERAL that are hosted on My Reader’s Block. And it’s the simplest challenge out there! It only asks for nine books, each with a specific color in the title or on the cover. How easy is that?!

2019 Ragdoll Reading Challenge – This site actually has two versions of their challenge. The link is for the “Book Dragon” version (more book prompts for the serious bookworm!) but there is also a “lite” version of the challenge for those who don’t want to feel overwhelmed! Again, some of these prompts are similar to prompts found in some of the other challenges.

Monthly Key Word – (My Reader’s Block also has a link to this one.) This one took me a second to figure out! Under each month, there are nine words listed. Your goal is to find a book that includes ONE of those key words. In other words, it takes just 12 books to complete this challenge!

Just the Facts, Ma’am 2019 (Vintage Mystery Challenge) – This is actually a “choose your preference” challenge and it’s genre specific – mystery/crime books ONLY. There is a Gold level challenge and a Silver level challenge. For the Gold level challenge, only books written before 1960 are eligible. For the Silver level, you are looking for titles published from 1960 – 1989. You can read as many or as few as you wish BUT this one has a prize drawing at the end of the year and you must read a minimum of six (all six books have to be in just ONE of the challenges) to qualify for the drawing. If you choose to do one of these, there are very clear directions given on the site so be sure to check it out!

Calendar of Crime – This is another mystery book only challenge and it also has a prize drawing at the end of the year. Much like the Monthly Key Word challenge, you pick one of the prompts for each month and read a book that fulfills that category. It only takes 12 mystery books to complete this challenge!

From My Bookshelf – “Behold the Harvest Moon”

Intriguing. That’s the only word to describe this book.

It starts quickly – intrigued by a sign that says “Old Things and New Adventures”, young Brenden Badt ventures into an unusual store. As he moves through the space, almost always in what seems to be a straight line, his surroundings change. And it isn’t long before young Brenden finds himself on the adventure of a lifetime, called from our world into another for a greater purpose.

There is little dialogue in the book. Usually, that would bug me. But the author does a fantastic job of telling the story through Brenden’s thoughts and experiences. Without ever meeting Brenden’s dad, I know he is a heartbroken man after the death of his wife. And I know that, in the midst of their grief, Brenden and his dad love each other and are trying to move through the sorrow for themselves and for one another.

You watch Brenden grow, learn, accept strange surroundings, begin to believe in himself with more conviction than he’s ever possessed before . . . this one captivated me and I am so looking forward to reading the sequel!

From My Bookshelf – Be Careful What You Joust For

While much of the book contained what one might expect from this particular genre, there were pleasant surprises throughout my reading.

The head of the Hornbolt Family, Duke Garrion Hornbolt, is a devout man of faith. So often in novels such as this, the nobility is at odds with matters of faith, often seeing the church as a threat to their power. Not so, Duke Garrion. Had circumstances in his childhood been different, he would have been able to pursue his dream of becoming a priest. But the death of his oldest brother and the traditions of his people changed all that.

Isolda, Garrion’s wife, is not a typical damsel in distress by any means! With secret business ventures of her own – and a secret identity to go along with it! – she is portrayed as a strong woman who can still be plagued by fear and doubt. In other words, she comes across as very real!

The children of House Hornbolt – Marcus, Oriana, Selina, Terric, and Nesta – are all unique crafted and the relationships between the siblings are unique (and consistently portrayed throughout the story, I might add.) Oriana and Terric get the most attention from the authors with their respective stories focusing on Oriana’s prospects for a husband and Terric’s desire to avoid the priesthood at all costs. In the end, it is Terric’s assumptions that put the lives of his entire family at risk.

A significant twist in the plot and horribly wrong assumptions leave the reader eager for the second book as soon as the first is finished. I have truly found a new “must-read” in the Pentavia series!

From My Bookshelf – “Refugees” by R. A. Denny

(Since I wrote this review, this book has been “re-published” as “The Emperor’s Harvest”.)

An evil emperor, a prophecy that reads more like a riddle, and three young people from different cultures who have a destiny to fulfill.

If you enjoyed Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy or Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series, then you need to add Denny’s Mud, Rocks, and Trees series to your reading list. The characters are really well-developed and the plot develops carefully, feeding the reader just enough detail to keep the pages turning but without giving away too much too soon.

The story frequently changes location since three of the major characters come from completely different places. The author handles this with beautiful simplicity by placing a name under the chapter heading so you know exactly where you are. That way, there is no need to decipher location since you know where each character is.

Can’t wait to read the sequel!