2011 Reading Challenge Results and More

I knew at the end of last year that I had signed up for too many reading challenges, especially since the little one was going to be born early on in the new year (2011), but I signed up for a ton anyway.

For those who are interested, I’m going to share with you some results.  First I read 107 books this year, which is a feat considering the life changes of a new baby and house that occurred.  I finished 2 read-a-longs (IT by Stephen King and Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles), but failed a third (Villette by Charlotte Bronte).  I hosted my own challenge — 2011 Fearless Poetry Exploration Reading Challenge, which wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped, but was renewed for 2012.

Ok, the challenges I failed to complete are:

  • 2011 Audio Book Challenge, which I signed up for 3 audio books and only listened to 1.  I had grand plans for listening to 2 others, but alas, with no commute and working from home, that didn’t happen.
  • Nordic Reading Challenge 2011, which I signed up to read 3 books, particularly those by Steig Larsson that I’ve wanted to read forever.  It just didn’t happen.
  • 2011 Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge, which was informal with Dar of Peeking Between the Pages, and I’m not sure if she read any either.  I only have to read beginning with book 5 through the rest, but it didn’t happen either.

These are the challenges I completed:

Ireland Reading Challenge, which I signed up to read 2 books.

Wish I’d Read That Challenge 2011, which I signed up to read 3 books and actually read 18.

2011 New Authors Reading Challenge, which I signed up to read 25 new-to-me authors and read 77.

2011 U.S. Civil War Challenge that I co-host with Anna and barely finished with just three books.

2011 Fearless Poetry Exploration Challenge that I signed up to read 5-10 books and actually read 33.

South Asian Reading Challenge, which I signed up to read 3 books.

Finally, even though the Reagan Arthur Challenge is perpetual, I’m dropping this from my list because I never seem to get to the books.

This year I’m experimenting with selling my Best of 2011 list to those interested for $9, and the list includes just poetry and fiction since that’s mainly what I read and review here.  Anyone who wants the list can send payment through PayPal to savvyverseandwit AT gmail DOT com or if you need other arrangements send me an email, and I will email you the link and password for the list.

In 2012, I hope to read as much or more books, finish all my challenges, and have lots of fun with the blog and reading. I also plan to get back to writing…

My 2010 Challenge Failures

OK, here comes the truth.  I signed up for 12 reading challenges this year, knowing full well that I would be unable to finish them all.  But it was meant to challenge me, right?  I was challenged and finished 9 out of 12 challenges.  Not a bad record, so I’m not going to feel too bad about it.

My biggest failure was the 2010 All About the Brontes Challenge for which I read ZERO books by the June 30th deadline.

However, I gave myself an extension through the end of the year, and I still only read 1 book of poetry.

My second failure is the Vampire Series Challenge.  I read 4 books for this challenge, though most of them were in the Sookie Stackhouse Series.  I did read the short novella from the Twilight series and the latest Christopher Moore book in his vampire series.  I only missed completing this one by 2 books.

My third failure is the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge, though for this one, I actually read 4 out of 10 books in the series.

I’m likely to finish reading all of these books at some point, so I’m sure you’ll see reviews of these in the new year.

What challenges did you finish?  Which challenges did you fail to finish?

Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris‘s Dead to the World is the fourth book in the Sookie Stackhouse southern vampire mystery series, a series that gets better and better.  Sookie faces more obstacles in this novel, but mostly because there are new enemies in town — witches — and her brother has disappeared.  These witches are stronger than the local Wiccans because they are shifters, possibly Weres, and drink vampire blood, which only makes them stronger.

Harris carefully weaves in the main plot and the subplot, while peppering her prose with ethical and emotional complications.  All the while, readers are immersed in backwoods and old world atmosphere of Bon Temps.  The dialogue between the characters is full of humor, and readers will enjoy the author’s sense of fun with shape shifters like Debbie Pelt whose names resemble their two-natured state.

Bill, her former boyfriend and intimate vampire, has left town for Peru, leaving her to mull over their past relationship.  Wallowing a bit in self pity, Sookie soon finds a a half-naked man by the side of the road, and it is none other than Eric, but he’s not so much the Eric she knows.  Their tentative friendship blossoms, but only in a surface kind of way.

Will Sookie find her brother?  Will the vampires and the shape-shifters save Bon Temps and Shreveport from the more powerful intruders?  You’ll have to read Dead to the World to find out.  Looking for a great summer read to kick back in the lounger with, Charlaine Harris is your author.

This is book four out of 10.

This is my 3rd book for the 2010 Vampire Series Challenge.

Silver Lining to the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge Failure

Although Beth Fish Reads‘  Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge officially ends today and I’ve only read 3 books, I’m going to make a deadline extension for myself.

I’m in the midst of reading book 4 in the series, and because I am enjoying the books and time simply slipped too quickly for this challenge, I’m extending my personal deadline through Dec. 31, 2010.

So I vow to finish up this series by the end of the year, and start by completing book 4, Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris.

These are the ones I have left in the series, which I plan to finish this year:

  1. Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
  2. Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris
  3. All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
  4. From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris
  5. Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
  6. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

What challenges have you finished or are you struggling with?

Challenges Completed! Others Not so Much!

I joined this challenge a bit late last year, but it ran from May 2009 through May 2010 (click on the image for more information).  I completed the deep end of the challenge, which required me to read and review 11-15 books of contemporary poetry and poetics.

See the books I reviewed here.

I joined the 2010 Ireland Reading Challenge (click on the image for more information) at the Shamrock Level for 2 books.

Check out my book reviews here.

I’ve completed this challenge by reading 3 books.  Check them out here.

Ok, that’s it for the completed challenges.  For the other challenges and my progress, here you go:

I’ve read 34 out of 50 books for this challenge.  Check them out here.

I’ve read 3 out of 10 books for this challenge.  Check them out here.

I’ve read 5 out of 11 books for this challenge.  Check them out here.

I’ve read 9 out of 12 books for this challenge.  Check them out here.

I haven’t even started this challenge.  It ends June 30 and you have to read, listen or watch between 3 and 6 items.

I’ve read 4 out of 5 spinoffs/rewrites and 0 out of 6 Jane Austen originals.  Check them out here.

I’ve met the requirement to read 2 books of poetry, but I’m not sure I’ve finished a badge yet.  I’ve read 5 contemporary poetry books, which I think qualifies for a badge.  Check them out here.

I’ve read 2 out of 6 vampire books from any series.  Check them out here.

I have not started this challenge either.  I think this one is perpetual, so I may be good on this front.

Club Dead by Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris‘s Club Dead is the third book in the southern vampire series, which I’m reading for the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge and the Vampire Series Reading Challenge that I’m incredibly behind on.  In this installment, Sookie’s new boyfriend/vampire Bill has become distant and has informed her that he will be taking a “business” trip to Seattle to complete a project for the Queen of Louisiana.  Unfortunately, Sookie soon finds out that after Bill leaves town that her boyfriend’s project places her in the cross hairs of the vampire kingdoms.

“Mama and Daddy died nearly twenty years before vampires had appeared on network television to announce the fact that they were actually present among us, an announcement that had followed on the Japanese development of synthetic blood that actually maintained a vampire’s life without the necessity of drinking from humans.”  (Page 4-5)

Thrown into a new mystery that leads her to Mississippi and a whole new set of vampires with their werewolf and were-animal minions, Sookie has to navigate not only her mixed feelings about Bill and his distance from her, but also the inner politics of the vampire kingdoms.  Harris does an incredible job of weaving in the Southern charm and manners that many readers enjoy in southern fiction with the darker side of vampires and all things supernatural.

“I have never seen one before, but the word ‘goblin’ popped into my mind as if I had a supernatural dictionary printed on the inside of my eyeballs.”  (Page 94)

“‘Bill,’ I said coldly.  Something was Up, with a capital U.  And it wasn’t Bill’s libido.  (Libido had just been on my Word-A-Day calendar.)”  (Page 3)

Club Dead will take readers into the exclusive vampire clubs where humans are merely accessories and into the compounds that resemble the cults on television that are raided by the FBI.  Looking for a fun, suspenseful summer read, check out Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse books.

I purchased my copy of Club Dead.

This is the 3rd book I’ve read for the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge.

This is my 2nd book for the 2010 Vampire Series Challenge.

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris’ Living Dead in Dallas continues the Sookie Stackhouse series.  Sookie has agreed to use here telepathic powers to help the vampires when necessary so long as the interviewees go free.  The death of a co-worker and friend thrusts Sookie deep into the vampire world.

“‘Angelic Sookie, vision of love and beauty, I am prostrate that the wicked, evil maenad violated your smooth and voluptuous body, in an attempt to deliver a message to me.’

‘That’s more like it.'” (Page 40)

The Sookie Stackhouse series is full of vampires and other supernatural creatures, mystery, and witty dialogue.  Readers will find the vampire world created by Charlaine Harris dark, intricate, and mysterious.  As their world unravels to reveal its connections with other supernatural communities or its battles with other groups who wish vampires were back in the coffin, readers will be absorbed.

“I realized I’d been rented, like a chainsaw or backhoe.  I wondered if the vampires of Dallas had had to put down a deposit against damage.” (Page 47)

Sookie is soon sent to help vampires in Dallas where she is caught up in the community’s feud with the Fellowship of the Sun.  Some of the most interesting elements of this novel was learning about Anubis Air and its business of transporting vampires across state lines as cargo and offering them protection when they travel during the day.  Living Dead in Dallas is a quick read.

Living Dead in Dallas is a book I purchased from Borders and is in my personal library.  Also, clicking on images and text links to books will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page.  No purchases are required.

This is the second book I’ve read for the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge, which I read during the October 2009 24-Hour Read-a-Thon.  I’m hopeful I can read the rest and complete the challenge, though the deadline for this one escapes me at the moment.

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

“I’d been waiting for the vampire for years when he walked into the bar.” (Page 1, sentence 1; yes, that’s my hook, how about you?)

In Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris, readers are introduced to Sookie Stackhouse, a resident telepath, waitress, and spunky young woman, her brother Jason who has a revolving door in his bedroom, her boss Sam Merlotte, and of course, her vampire, Bill Compton. They all live in Bon Temps, Louisiana.

(If you haven’t watched the HBO series True Blood based upon this series of books you better get watching. But I digress.)

“His voice was quiet and rustling, like feet through dry grass.” (Page 166)

Sookie and Bill meet at Merlotte’s and they quickly fall into bed after some initial posturing. Readers should know where this relationship was headed from the way Sookie looks at Bill and the way Bill reacts to her presence. The plot is thick with sexual tension and drama, from the way Bill silently stares at Sookie to the way she feels at ease because she cannot hear Bill’s thoughts and from the entrance of outrageous vampires from nearby Monroe to the murders of two fang-bangers.

“I got a tight feeling in my chest, a bitterness, at another thing I was denied. And I thought, Why not?

I stopped him by pulling gently on his hand. I stretched up and lay my lips on his shining cheek. I inhaled the scent of him, ordinary by faintly salty. He was wearing a trace of cologne.

I felt him shudder. He turned his head so his lips touched mine.” (Page 58)

Dead Until Dark will suck readers into the swampy, wooded south populated with vampires, telepaths, and more. Sookie is strong, hot tempered, loyal, and eager to help those in need, while Bill is her polar opposite, struggling to regain his humanity against his vampiric qualities. Like any good vampire story, there is a “love” triangle of sorts, murder, mayhem, and triumph. A good start to the series, which vampire/fantasy readers will love and other readers can enjoy as well.

Also Reviewed By:
Melancholy Musings
Well-Read Reviews
Rhapsody in Books 

Charlaine Harris’ Dead Until Dark is the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse series and my first book for the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge.

Savvy Recap . . .

I just wanted to take a moment to recap some goings on here at Savvy Verse & Wit and at D.C. Literature Examiner.

I started out pledging to read 5 books for the War Through the Generations: WWII Reading Challenge, and I met my goal. However, I think I’ll probably read some more books for the challenge throughout the year, but for now I’m officially saying I’ve finished this challenge.

Check out the books I reviewed for the challenge:

1. Reading by Lightning by Joan Thomas
2. Bloody Good by Georgia Evans
3. T4 by Ann Clare LeZotte
4. Now Silence by Tori Warner Shepard
5. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I also recently signed up for the Everything Austen Challenge in which you could mix and match movies and book reviews. I just have to read or watch 6 books or movies through January 2010.

So far, I’ve read one book and watched one movie, check out my reviews:

1. Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange
2. Focus Features’ Pride & Prejudice (2005)

I joined the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge as well; you might be thinking I’ve lost my mind.

I have to read the entire series, including the new book that just came out. I haven’t fared as well on this challenge, but I will have a review forthcoming for:

1. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Ok, now for D.C. Literature Examiner news, I’ve been busy posting interviews and reviews:

1. Susan Helene Gottfried here and here.
2. Review of Shapeshifter: The Demo Tapes Year 1
3. Kyle Semmel here and here.
4. Review of The Woodstock Story Book
5. Joseph Sohm here, here, and here.

I hope you will take the time to check out some of these great interviews and reviews and leave a comment or two.

Also, I have a great international giveaway for the Rooftops of Tehran going on through August 24, 2009.

Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge!

I know, I know, I said I only had time for one reading challenge this year–The War Through The Generations: WWII Challenge–BUT Beth Fish Reads is now hosting the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge.

What is a Sookie Stackhouse Challenge? Have you been living in a cave? I know I was last year, but I kept hearing great things about the HBO series TRUE BLOOD, and started watching this season, which just started. Well, this series is based upon—BOOKS—by Charlaine Harris about VAMPIRES. And this time, they’re Southern! But don’t forget the shapeshifters and the mind readers.

The challenge runs from July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010. You have to read the series from any starting point and post reviews of the books (I presume). I’ll be starting from book 1 in the series, Dead Until Dark.

There already are prizes up for grabs and of course there will be Twitter conversations, use hashtag #SookieSRC. And of course, you have to sign up on Beth Fish Reads with Mr. Linky.

Why did I decide to join? Well, for two simple reasons. I needed a new vampire television show addiction, and once those start, I always read the books the shows are based upon. Simple, right? Ok, maybe I am a bit odd, but it makes these posts more interesting. Don’t you think?

Don’t forget my current giveaways:

2-year Blogiversary, here and here.