Challenges

The Blogging from A-Z Challenge – 2020 Edition

It’s nearly April so that can only mean one thing – the A-Z in April Blogging Challenge! The challenge is to post on your blog every day in April except Sundays. Not including Sundays, there are twenty-six days which matches with the twenty-six letters of the alphabet. That means on 1st April you write something beginning with the letter A, on the 2nd something beginning with the letter B and so on and so forth.

This will be the seventh year in a row I’ve taken part in this challenge and I hope to complete it once again. It’s become almost a tradition to do this challenge and I hope I continue to have ideas for it as the years go by.

This year all my twenty-six posts will be film reviews. More specifically reviews of some of the eighty plus films I have unwatched on DVD and Blu-ray. You can have a sneak peek at what some of the films might be by checking out what’s on this Letterboxd list. I’ve had some of these films for so long, some probably for over five years, so this is just the push I need to finally watch them. For the letters where I don’t have a film on DVD or Blu-ray that begins with that letter, I shall turn to the likes of Netflix to find a film.

In April I will still be posting my weekly book reviews as usual. I’m not sure if there will be “bonus” film reviews that are more modern releases/films I’ve watched that aren’t for this challenge, it’ll depend how I feel and how I keep up with the posts/reviews.

Because watching films and then reviewing them takes more time than the average post I’ve done for this challenge previously (especially as some of my unwatched films are really long!) I’ve been somewhat organised and have already scheduled thirteen posts (which is half of them!) and plan to have more scheduled before April arrives. Unfortunately, those thirteen aren’t the first thirteen days of April because I’m someone who has to be in the mood for potentially more serious or heavier films and I just don’t make things easy for myself.

Hopefully having so many posts scheduled already means I won’t be rushing to get the next post out and that I will be more active in visiting and commenting on other people’s blogs during the challenge.

There’s still time to sign up for the A to Z in April Challenge. I do recommend it; it definitely makes you stretch yourself to think of something for every letter and it encourages you to be organised – something I’m always trying to be better at when it comes to my blog.

My Tome Topple TBR – Round 10

The Tome Topple Readathon is created and co-hosted by Thoughts on Tomes and runs from midnight on Friday 7th February to 11:59pm on Thursday 20th February whatever timezone you are in. The aim of Tome Topple is to read the big, intimidating books on your TBR – books that are 500 pages long or more. Though if you’ve got a book that’s 490 pages then who is going to judge you for including that. Plus, as different formats of books (ebooks, hardcovers, paperbacks) often have slightly different number of pages, as long as one of the formats is 500 pages or more, then it counts even if your edition doesn’t quite hit the 500-page mark. For more information on the readathon check out Sam’s announcement video.

Tome Topple usually runs a couple of times a year but it’s been ages since I’ve properly taken part. This is down to me focussing on my shorter books, not having the time, and that the majority of my super long books still live at my mum’s and I only keep a dozen or so books with me that I plan to read sooner rather than later, and tomes don’t generally fit that category.

Love in No Man’s Land by Duo Ji Zhuo Ga (512 pages)
Gemina by Amie Kaufman ad Jay Kristoff (659 pages
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (501 pages)
Hawkeye: Avenging Archer by Jim McCann, Duane Swierczynski, David López, Manuel García and Paco Diaz Luque (480 pages)

I’m going to be listening to The Lies of Locke Lamora on audio which is 22 hours. I’ve had the ebook on my kindle since 2013 and I actually started it way back then. I got to page 158 and from what I remember I did enjoy it but then it was the Christmas break and I don’t really read that much of Christmas so I just put it down and haven’t picked it up since. The Lies of Locke Lamora is definitely the tome that’s been on my TBR the longest.

Gemina is probably the second longest tome on my TBR, I bought it after reading (and really liking) Illuminae in 2016. Unfortunately, the copy I got from the Book Depository was humongous, so that put me off reading it. I still don’t understand how my copy of Illuminae has 599 pages and looks like a regular sized book, and my copy of Gemina has about 50 pages more and is the size of a textbook. Must be a different edition but I don’t see myself keeping this copy of Gemina once I’ve finally read it.

Love in No Man’s Land was a Christmas present and it is my read for Tibet for my Read the World Project. It’s an epic story of family and while I do want to read it, Tome Topple will give me that push to read it sooner rather than later.

Hawkeye: Avenging Archer is a smidge under the 500-page target but I thought I’d put it on my TBR so I’d have something that could break up some of the potentially heavier reads.

As it is the tenth edition of Tome Topple there is a bingo card of prompts and based on my TBR I could cross off six squares if I managed to read them all which would make me a scholar. But we shall see how the readathon goes though as this is a very ambitious TBR for me.

Are you taking part in Tome Topple this time? If so I would love to see your TBRs. And if you’ve read any of the books I’ve mentioned here, it’d be great to hear your thoughts on them. There’s also reading sprints on Twitter and there’ll be challenges on Instagram so it should be a fun couple of weeks of reading.

My Blogging Resolutions

I’m attempting to take part and complete Blogmas again this year. I know the posts during Blogmas are supposed to be Christmas/Holiday related, and mine will have some of those (there’s going to be Christmas film reviews every weekend till Christmas!) but I also take it as a challenge to write and post about anything for 25 days.

So today is going to be about my blogging New Years resolutions. I’ll talk about my film and book-related goals of 2020 in early January, but I thought now was a good idea to talk about my blog, what I like about it, and what I want to improve.

My main blogging resolution is to be better at commenting – both replying to comments I receive and seeking out and commenting on different posts. It can take me weeks and sometimes even months(!) to reply to the comments people leave on my blog and I’m so sorry about that. Sometimes I’m just forgetful. I see the notification and read the comment then think “Oh that’s a lovely thought/question, I must reply to that when I’m not doing X” but then I forget. Then sometimes I leave it so long to reply to a comment it becomes a whole thing like should I actually reply when the person left the comment like a month ago or would that be weird?!

In the end I do reply, or like the comment, because I think every comment deserves a response because someone’s taken the time to leave their thoughts on my post. So, here is where I say sorry to my readers and commenters who I leave hanging for far too long. I will aim to do much better in 2020 and I’m going to set the goal of replying to comments within a week of receiving them. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

I shan’t lie, I’m really bad at the community aspect of blogging. I started my blog for me, to get writing again and to share my thoughts on stuff. I’ve never been great at reading other peoples posts about things. I think part of that is I don’t read reviews of books/films I plan to read/watch before I’ve had a chance to read/watch them. I like to go into a story knowing as little as possible so avoid reviews of the media I know I’m already interested in and am making plans to engage with. When it comes to books/films I haven’t heard of or have no interested in, I don’t mind reading those reviews – because you never know, I could then become interested and seek that book/film out. So if/when I do read these posts, I really should start commenting more, even if it’s just like “Ooh I hadn’t heard of this before but it sounds great! I’ll check it out.”

Other posts out there like wrap ups, favourites lists, or more general posts I do read more often (though again, not often interact with) because that’s where people can share a couple of lines about why they did or didn’t like something without being spoilery and it can be enough to grab my attention. It is becoming clear that I’m quite the spoilerphobe.

I think I’m going to set myself the challenge to comment on just two posts a day, if I do more than that then great but it’s got to be at least two. Like anything in life, it’s habit-forming and I need to break out of this quite insular bubble I’ve got when it comes to blogging.

My final kinda blogging resolution is not to be so hard on myself when I won’t meet self-imposed deadlines or schedules. For the nearly 5 years I’ve been consistently posting on this blog, I’ve said that there will be a film review on Mondays and a book review (or something book-related) on Thursdays. For the most part I stick to this, but it does kinda stress me out when I haven’t finished a book by Thursday, or I haven’t watched many films or one that I want to write about that week to post on Monday.

Towards the end of this year I’ve been missing the odd day and guess what? My blog didn’t self-combust! I like having a schedule because I like the routine and having goals to meet, but I also shouldn’t stress about it so much. I’m sure people aren’t noticing when there’s only one post one week instead of two, and even if they do, they don’t hate me for it or anything.

So, to sum up, my blogging resolutions are:
1. Respond to comments I receive within a week of receiving them
2. Comment on two different blog posts a day
3. Don’t get worried if I miss a self-imposed blogging deadline as this is supposed to be fun!

Quite simple and supposedly easy blogging resolutions that I will hopefully be able to stick to, and in doing so, will make my blogging experience more fun, stress-free and more community focused.

Do you have any blogging resolutions? If so, I’d love to hear them, and I’ll respond within in a week even though it’s not 2020 and my resolutions haven’t official kicked in yet!

N.E.W.T.’s Magical Readathon 2019

The N.E.W.T.’s Magical Readathon is the brainchild of Gi at BookRoast on YouTube. The N.E.W.T.’s are the next exams/readathon after the O.W.L.’s which took place a few months ago.

The basic premise is that each Hogwarts subject has three prompts one to get an Acceptable in the subject, one to get Exceeded Expectations and one to get an Outstanding grade in that subject, and you have to read the books/prompts in order so read the Exceeded Expectations book after the Acceptable book etc. This readathon lasts the entirety of August so it gives you plenty of time to try and cram in as many N.E.W.T.’s as possible. For more information on the readathon see Gi’s announcement video. It’s clear she puts in a lot of work into this challenge, she makes study guides and a career guide that has information on lots of magical careers and the subjects you need to study in order to be able to progress in that career.

After taking part in the O.W.L.’s readathon in April and successfully reading all the books/completing all the exams I need to be a Ministry Worker in the Department of International Magical Cooperation, I now need to achieve Acceptable in five subjects – Charms, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Muggle Studies, Potions and Transfiguration – and achieve Acceptable, Exceeded Expectations and Outstanding in History of Magic. That means if I want to be qualified for my dream magical career, I need to read eight books during the readathon. That’s doable for me. I think.

Charms: Acceptable – Read a book you think has a gorgeous cover
A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney
I adore this cover! I read this book’s prologue a couple of months ago on a plane and was intrigued but for some reason I didn’t continue reading it then – story of my life!

Defence Against the Dark Arts: Acceptable – Read a book that’s black under the dustjacket
This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab
I had to go through my various unread hardbacks to find one that’s black under the dustjacket. I remember starting This Savage Song when I first got it but the story didn’t really grab me so hopefully I’m more into it now.

Muggle Studies: Acceptable – Cover that includes a photo element
Where She Went by Gayle Foreman OR Night, Again edited by Linh Dinh
I read If I Stay way back in 2014 and downloaded the sequel onto my kindle straightaway but never read it. The film adaptation of If I Stay is currently available on Amazon Prime Video so I’ll probably watch that before August so I’m not going into Where She Went completely blind because I remember nothing from the first book. Night, Again is a collection of short stories from Vietnam so would be my one and only read for the Read the World Project during the N.E.W.T.’s.

Potions: Acceptable – Read a friend’s favourite book
The Runaway Jury by John Grisham
This is one of my friend Nistasha’s favourite John Grisham books and she even sent me a copy! At over 500 pages it’s a bit of a chunky one for a readathon but with rumours that Tome Topple will be happening in August as well I should be able to get through it.

Transfiguration: Acceptable – Read a book with LGBTQIA+ representation
Golden Boy Abigail Tarttelin by OR Birthday by Meredith Russo
The main character in Golden Boy is intersex and this book has been on my shelves for years so this readathon might be the perfect time to read it. Birthday is a book I got recently in a subscription box and I don’t know what the LGBTQIA+ representation is in it; I just know it has that tag on Goodreads.

History of Magic: Acceptable – Read a fantasy
To Best the Boys by Mary Webber OR Ruined by Amy Tintera OR Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
It turns out I have a lot of unread fantasy on my shelves and all of these are from subscription boxes over the years. I’m not sure which one I’ll read as I have no strong feelings towards any of them at the minute, so I’ probably pick up whichever is shortest. If you have any suggestions let me know or I might just end up doing a Twitter poll to decide.

History of Magic: Exceeded Expectations – Read a book with a map in it
Flashfall by Jenny Moyer
After going through all the unread books I have that I thought might have a map in it, this is the only one that did!

History of Magic: Outstanding – Reread a favourite/read a classic
The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman
I‘m currently rereading the His Dark Materials series via audiobook from my library so hopefully The Amber Spyglass will be available to borrow and read in August. The series was one of my childhood favourites and it’s been over 15 years since I read them. If the audiobook isn’t available, I’ll have to have a rethink as I don’t often reread books – even my favourites! There’s a lot of classics available to borrow on audio from my library though so I’m sure I’ll be able to get one of them if needed.

That’s my TBR for the N.E.W.T.’s Magical Readathon and my TBR for the month of August to be honest. I can read eight books in a month and this looks like it’ll be a good mixture of genres to keep me entertained. There are a couple of contemporary books which I always fly through and a lot of these are books that have been on my TBR for the longest time so it would give me an extra buzz if I did finally read them. I will keep track of my progress on Twitter and will probably do a thread like I did for my O.W.L.’s.

Are you taking part in the N.E.W.T.’s Magical Readathon? If you are, I hope the exams for your chosen career path isn’t too taxing and you have a successful month of reading.

Reading Rush TBR

The Reading Rush starts next week, and I’ve finally got my TBR together. The Reading Rush is the revamped BookTubeAThon (a readathon that will always have a special place in my heart as it was the first readathon I ever took part in) and takes place from midnight your time zone on Monday 22 July and finishes at 11:59pm on Sunday 28 July. They have a YouTube channel and Instagram, and a brand-new website (I’m ElenaSquareEyes over there as well) for people to meet and there will the usual Twitter chats and sprints too.

The Reading Rush comes with some challenges you can try and complete but really the aim is to read as much as you can during the week. There are video challenges too but that’s far too technical for me. The reading challenges are;

1. Read a book with purple on the cover
2. Read a book in the same spot the entire time
3. Read a book you meant to read last year
4. Read an author’s first book
5. Read a book with a non-human main character
6. Pick a book that has five or more words in the title
7. Read and watch a book to movie adaptation
Bonus: Read 7 books!

You know me when it comes to readathons, I’m always look for as many options as possible because I’m such a mood reader. I know I won’t read seven books but with the books I do have, I could potentially complete all but one of the challenges as the books I have on my TBR fit more than one challenge.

Purple on the cover
I have three books that fit this – Viper by Bex Hogan, Hawkeye: Avenging Archer by Jim McCann, David López, Duane Swierczynski, Manuel Garcia and Paco Diaz and West Coast Avengers Vol. 1: Best Coast by Kelly Thompson, Stefano Caselli and Tríona Farrell. Viper has an incredibly purple cover and there’s bits of purple on characters costumes on the two graphic novels.

Read in the same spot
Obviously, I will complete this by reading one of the graphic novels (probably West Coast Avengers as it’s the shorter one). The spot in question will probably be my bed.

Book you meant to read last year
This is The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I was meant to read this for Sci-Fi Month last November (there was a buddy read of it and everything!) and I did read 30 pages but then I stopped even though I was liking the characters and the setting I’d been introduced to so far.

Author’s first book
I’ve got a couple of options for that; Viper and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.

Book with a non-human main character
I’m pretty sure in the first 30 pages of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet that I read there were a few non-human characters in the shape of different aliens, and as it’s a sort of ensemble cast type book, that’ll count.

Book with five or more words in the title
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet fits this one again, as does How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone by Saša Stanišić. I don’t actually have many books with five words or more, so this was a bit of a struggle to find some options.

I won’t be able to complete the final challenge to read a book and then watch the film/TV adaptation as I don’t currently have any books to read that have been adapted.

Looking at my TBR and the challenges they fit, I only need to read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and West Coast Avengers to complete six of the seven challenges! I could totally read them both in a week! I think my plan is going to be to read them two first and then any of the other books I read during Reading Rush will be a bonus.

Are you taking part in the Reading Rush? There seems to be a few readathons going on at the minute so if you are taking part in one, I hope you are achieving your goals and are enjoying what you’re reading!

A to Z in April Blogging Challenge 2019 Masterpost

Well this is being posted later than expected – what can I say! Time got away from me. That’s another April gone and with it another A-Z in April Challenge successfully completed. This year it was all about my favourite characters in the MCU. It was certainly hard to narrow it down for some days/letters, but I’m happy with the characters I got to talk about.

Sign Up Post
A – Ava Starr
B – James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes
C – Cassie Lang
D – Carol Danvers
E – Erik “Killmonger” Stevens
F – Frigga
G – Goose
H – Happy Hogan
I – Ivan Vanko
J – Jim Paxton
K – Harley Keener
L – Luis
M – Maria Rambeau
N – Nebula
O – Okoye
P – Pepper Potts
Q – Peter Quill
R – James “Rhodey” Rhodes
S – Shuri
T – Tony Stark
U – Ulysses Klaue
V – Valkyrie
W – Wanda Maximoff
X – X-tras (Clint Barton, Michelle “MJ” Jones, Nick Fury, Hela and Rocket Racoon)
Y – Ho Yinsen
Z – Hemlut Zemo
Reflections Post

Reflections on the A-Z Challenge 2019 Edition

Slightly later than planned, but here’s my reflections on this years A-Z in April Challenge.

This was my sixth year taking part and it was my easiest A-Z in April in years. I think that was down to the topic. I love the MCU and its characters, so I found it really easy to write about them. In fact, I found it so easy that I got all my posts written and scheduled before the end of the second week of April! I haven’t been that organised during this challenge for years.

My favourite posts to write were all the ones in the Iron Man fam; Pepper Potts, Rhodey, Happy Hogan, Harley Keener and, of course, Tony Stark. I had so much fun pouring all my thoughts and feelings about Tony Stark into that post and it’s a piece of writing that I’m proud of. I wrote and scheduled all my posts before seeing Avengers: Endgame so I feel like writing about my favourite characters was almost therapeutic as I was so anxious about what would happen to them in that film.

My post popular A-Z posts were the ones for Carol Danvers, Okoye and Goose. I guess people like strong women and an awesome cat!

I replied to all comments pretty quickly (for me anyway) though unfortunately I didn’t visit that many blogs at all. While I got all my posts scheduled ahead of time, day to day life stopped me finding the time to look around other people’s blogs. I’m even more grateful for the people who stopped by my blog, liked or commented on posts, and even hit that follow button as I did little to return the favour last month.

I feel like the last few years when I’ve written these reflection posts I’ve said, “I’m not sure if I’ll take part again next year” and I feel the same way once again. It’s just that as I take part in the A-Z Challenge again and again, I feel like I’m running out of themes of things I could write about – and enjoy writing about too. I think I enjoyed this years A-Z Challenge more than the last couple because my topic was something I am so enthusiastic about and get so much joy from. If I hadn’t written about my favourite characters from the MCU, I don’t know what I would’ve chosen to write about and if I had thought of something I doubt I’d have had as much fun writing it as I did with this theme.

I hope all of you who took part in the challenge had fun and a successful A-Z in April. Thanks to those who stopped by my blog and liked or commented – it always means a lot. For more information on the A-Z in April Challenge visit the website.