Challenges

The A to Z in April Blogging Challenge – 2017 Edition

Spring has sprung and that means the A to Z in April Challenge is almost upon us! Now somehow, I’m a little less organised this year compared to the previous three years I’ve taken part so I’m a bit later actually saying I’m going to take part and I’ve yet to write any of my posts.

But before I get into all that, I should let you know what the Challenge is if you’re new to it or to my blog. The challenge is to post a blog every day of April bar Sundays. Since there are 26 days in April (not including Sundays), that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. So, on April 1st, blog about something that begins with the letter “A”, April 2nd is “B,” April 3rd is “C,” and so on and so forth.

This year my “theme” for the challenge is My Favourite Things. This includes pretty much anything – my favourite foods, favourite songs, favourite actors, characters, films, things to do – anything! I currently have something for 24 days of the challenge (I’m missing something for G and O right now) but I haven’t started writing any of them. I will probably start writing and scheduling posts by the weekend, I’ll definitely have to make sure I’ve got posts from 7th-11th April scheduled as I’m going away for a friend’s wedding over that weekend.

The A-Z in April Challenge has kind of been a bit of a blogging tradition for me now and I’m looking forward to taking part in it again this year. My usual book and film reviews might take a bit of a back seat during April as my focus will be on the challenge, though I suppose it depends on how I do with scheduling everything.

To find out more about the challenge (and you’ve still got time to sign up!) check out their blog here and if you want to see what I’ve written previously for the challenge you can have a look at my 2014 Masterpost, 2015 Masterpost and 2016 Masterpost.

A to Z in April Blogging Challenge 2016 Masterpost

My theme for the 2016 Challenge was my favourite characters and I loved gushing about characters I loved, whether they were from book, films or TV shows. It was a great chance to show off some more obscure fandoms and it was a very successful month of blogging for me.

Sign Up Post
A – Angela
B – Clint Barton
C – Evelyn Carnahan
D – Darcy Lewis
E – Elle Woods
F – Frank Castle
G – Cat Grant
H – Hermione Granger
I – Inej
J – Jessica Jones
K – Kingsley Shacklebolt
L – Aaron Livesy
M – Malcolm Ducasse
N – Nimona
O – Oda Mae Brown
P – Peggy Carter
Q – Happy Quinn
R – Ralph Dineen
S – Number Six
T – Sergeant Terry Jeffords
U – Nyota Uhura
V – Victoria Barton
W – Wadjda
X – Professor Charles Xavier
Y – Yvaine
Z – Zazu
Reflections on the Challenge

All The Short Ones Readathon TBR

All The Short Ones is a month long readathon hosted by Jessica at Novel Cravings. The aim of the readathon is to read as many of your short unread books, those that are 300 pages or less, during the month of March – they can also be novellas, poetry collections, comics and graphic novels.

I head of this readathon via Kristen’s Twitter when she shared her TBR and I thought it was a great way to get reading more books. I’ve nearly finished reading Hiding in Plain Sight by Nuruddin Farah so once I’ve finished that these are the books I’ll probably be picking up.

all-the-small-ones-readathon-tbr

At 157 pages there’s Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut, a classic I’ve been meaning to read for ages, How I Came to Know Fish by Ota Pavel has 136 pages and would count towards my Read the World Project as would Nineveh by Henrietta Rose-Innes (236 pages) and The Fencing Master by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (212 pages). Then I have some comic trade paperbacks – Saga Volume Six by Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan, Mockingbird Volume One: I Can Explain by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk and Ibrahim Moustafa and The Fix Volume One: Where Beagles Dare by Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber, Ryan Hill and Nic J Shaw. I have more unread graphic novels that I can pick up if I manage to read all these and/or fancy something a bit different.

I’m looking forward to seeing how I do. My main goal is to read at least four of these but really, I’ve got near enough the whole month so that, and more, should be doable.

There’s still time to sign up if you’re interested in taking part – you can do so here and sign ups close on the 7th. You can also use the hashtag #ATSOReadathon on Twitter and Instagram to see others progress and to share your own.

The Read the World Project

Louise Marie over at A Novel Haul has decided to do something pretty cool. She wants to try and read a book from every country in the world before her 30th birthday in 2021. You can read her post about this project here. It got me thinking, I always want to try and read more diverse books, stories and voices, so maybe I should give this a go as well?

So I’m going to and I’m going to have a very similar time-frame as Louise Marie. My 30th birthday is in September 2021 and by then, I want to have read a book from every country in the world. That gives me nearly five years.

I’ve started listing countries with the help of the internet and I currently have 172 countries on my list. I must be missing some as when you google, “How many countries are in the world?” it says there are 195 but I have five years to figure out which ones I’m missing.

read-the-world-project

I’ve had a look through my bookshelves and I currently have seven unread books that are set in various countries around the world. This is the thing about this challenge, I’ve yet to decide if I want to work it out so it’s just that the book is set in a country, or if I should go by the author’s nationality as well. This might make things a bit interesting as you’d have some books like And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini which is set in Afghanistan and is written by an Afghan author, but then there’s a book like Leaving Berlin by Joseph Kanon which is set in Germany but is written by an American author. I suppose I’ll have to see how I do with finding books for different countries, but it’s something I’m thinking about at the moment.

If you have any suggestions for books by international authors or are set in countries that aren’t England or the USA that would be much appreciated. And if anyone else would like to join in with the Read the World Project, then just go ahead. You can set whatever time-frame you’d like and the hashtag that’s being used on Twitter and Instagram is #readtheworldproject.

Non Fiction November TBR

Non-Fiction November is a readathon/challenge hosted by NonFicBooks and ABookOlive over on YouTube. The point of the challenge (as the name of it suggests) is to read more nonfiction books during November than you would normally read in a month. So if you normally read a couple of nonfiction books a month, try reading three, and if you never read nonfiction just try and make the time to read at least one nonfiction book.

I go through phases of reading nonfiction; I suppose I usually end up reading a couple of nonfiction books a year and it depends what books have grabbed my attention.

There are four challenges for this readathon, they are basically four words and you can interpret them however you wish. The words are; New, Controversial, Important and Fascinating. They are broad categories and they can be combined so you don’t have to read one book per challenge word.

When I looked at my bookshelves I actually only have a few non-fiction books that are unread – well I have like four autobiographies but besides from that I don’t have a lot of non-fiction. I could have easily made up my TBR with autobiographies of actors and comedians but I decided to try and keep it a bit eclectic. So the books I have on my TBR for Nonfiction November are:

nonfiction-november-tbr

The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla which is a collection of essays from British people of colour about what living in modern in Britain is like. I already started this book when I got it at the end of September but I’ve only read a few of the essays and would really like to finish as I’ve found it very interesting. As it’s a new release it fits the New challenge and I’d also say it is an Important book, especially for someone like me who is a young white person in Britain so I can learn more about my country and how it treats people of colour.

#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso. This book has been on my shelves for over a year and it’s from the Founder, CEO, and Creative Director of Nasty Gal, an online retailer that draws A-List publicity. It’s all about women in business and how to channel your passion and hard work while keeping your insecurities from getting in your way. This would fill the Fascinating category as while I’m not really a business-minded person I do find it interesting reading about women in traditionally male-dominated areas and how they succeed.

The Life and Loves of a He Devil by Graham Norton. This is a memoir from Graham Norton who is an Irish television and radio presenter and host of the hugely popular and amazing The Graham Norton Show. I love his humour and his show, I’ve actually been to the recordings of his show twice, so I think his memoir should be equally hilarious. I don’t think this fits any of the challenge words but that’s OK.

So those are the three books I’d like to read for NonFiction November 2016. Really as long as I read one nonfiction book in November I’ll be happy, especially as I spent most of this month in a reading slump. Also in the latter half of November is the TomeTopple readathon which’ll hopefully be taking part in soon – my TBR post for that will be up in the next couple of weeks.

Are you going to be taking part in Nonfiction November? The hashtag to use on all social media channels is #NonfictionNovember2016 and there’s a Goodreads group as well.

Mid-Year Reading Update

We are over half way through 2016 (obligatory, how on earth did that happen?! statement) so as I did an update on my film-watching goals of the year, I thought I should have a look how my reading is doing. I had four main reading goals for this year so without further ado, let’s see how I’m doing.

Read 40 books
Done! Thanks to the fact I read eight books in ten days while I was at my Dad’s in Spain, I have reached that target and I have currently read 43 books. I honestly didn’t expect to read that many books in the first six months of the year! I’m surprised but happy that I’ve already reached my reading goal – especially because over the past week or so I seem to be in a reading slump as I can’t figure out what I feel like reading. To try and combat that slump I’m reading the unread graphic novels and trade paperbacks comics I have on my shelves, hopefully the shorter, more “easy read” nature of them will get me back into reading.

Have 50 unread books or less on my shelves
This one definitely needs some work. While I have been reading a lot, I also seem to have been buying a lot of books. My TBR at the start of the year had 93 unread books on it and now, after I’ve read books but also bought more, it stands at 80 unread books on my shelves. So unfortunately I need to read 30 more books and not actually buy any more for the rest of the year to reach my goal. I’m not sure if I’ll reach it to be honest. I think I do need to have a look at my bookshelves too see if there’s any books there that I know I’ll never read and then give them a new home at the charity shop.

Review at least 26 books
This challenge is well on its way to being completed. I have currently reviewed 21 books. I have more reviews scheduled to post and, as long as I read some more books over the next six months, I’m pretty sure I will end up reviewing more than 26 books. I’m not sure why but I am actually really enjoying writing reviews this year, I don’t review every book I read and maybe that’s why I’m enjoying the reviewing process, I don’t feel pressured to have definitive thoughts and opinions on every book I read.

Complete the Bookish Bingo
This is a bingo challenge hosted by The Girly Geek to try and get you to read a lot of different books. There are 35 bingo squares or challenges and I have currently completed 20 of them without really trying. I haven’t been concentrating too hard on the challenge as I didn’t want my reading to be too structured or feel like I have to read certain books. So every few weeks or couple of months I go through what I’ve read and see what fits with the various categories – it’s been quite a good way to do it. Hopefully this system continues to work for the rest of the year but I do need to think of a book that has stars on the cover – any suggestions would be much appreciated!

So that’s how my reading is going so far this year. Three out of four goals are doing very well, I just need to stop buying so many books! Did you have any reading goals at the start of the year? If you did, I hope you’re well on your way to completing them!

52 Films by Women: A Mid-Year Update

At the start of the year I pledged to watch 52 films directed by women. As it is now half way through the year I thought I’d check in and see how my viewing is going. I’m actually finding it kind of fun and interesting looking for films that are directed by women, Netflix is great for this and my list on Netflix is mainly made up of films with female directors. It’s also nice when I watch a film because it’s one I’ve been meaning to watch for a while or it features an actor I like and then when I’m looking it up on IMDb later on I discover it’s directed by a woman.

It’s been good to see that woman can and do direct all genres. I’ve watched comedies, family dramas, documentaries, sports movies, and crime films and they’ve all been directed by women. It goes to show that women can direct any genre as well as, if not sometimes better than, a man.

So here are the films I’ve watched in these first six months of 2016, those with links go to their review – I was intending to review all the films I watched for this challenge but that didn’t really work out.

– Point Break (1991) directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Whip It (2009) directed by Drew Barrymore
W.E. (2011) directed by Madonna
– A League of Their Own (1992) directed by Penny Marshall
– It’s Complicated (2009) directed by Nancy Meyers
– Green Street Hooligans (2005) directed by Lexi Alexander
The Hot Flashes (2013) directed by Susan Seidelman
Wadjda (2012) directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour
– It’s a Wonderful Afterlife (2010) directed by Gurinder Chadha
– You’ve Got Mail (1998) directed by Nora Ephron
– Laggies (2014) directed by Lynn Shelton
Speak (2004) directed by Jessica Sharzer
– D.E.B.S. (2004) directed by Angela Robinson
– The Hunters (2004) directed by Nisha Ganatra
– Lost in Translation (2003) directed Sofia Coppala
– Wayne’s World (1992) directed by Penelope Spheeris
– Bran Nue Dae (2009) directed by Rachel Perkins
– Advanced Style (2014) directed by Lina Pliolplyte
– American Psycho (2000) directed by Mary Harron
We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) directed by Lynne Ramsay
Miss Representation (2011) directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom
Thick as Thieves (2009) directed by Mimi Leder
Second Coming (2014) directed by Debbie Tucker Green
Money Monster (2016) directed by Jodie Foster
– Josie and the Pussycats (2001) directed by Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan
– The Decoy Bride (2011) directed by Sheree Folkson
– Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) directed by Susan Seidelman
– Obvious Child (2014) directed by Gillian Robespierre
Infinitely Polar Bear (2014) directed by Maya Forbes
Powder Room (2013) directed by M.J. Delaney

I’ve watched 30 films directed by women so far this year so I’m well on my way to my goal of 52 films. If you have any suggestions of female-directed films that you think I should watch do let me know. While I may not blog about the challenge much here, I keep a list on Letterboxd that I regularly update with the films directed by women I’ve watched.