Reading Plans For 2014

I got some good reading in last year, but, like most things last year, my reading fell short of what I’d hoped for. The biggest failure was not succeeding at the 2013 Women in Genre Reading Challenge from World’s Without End. My other big reading fail of 2013 was buying way too many ebooks, digital comics, and audiobooks. My ‘to be read’ pile would probably fill up a couple rooms in our apartment if it were physical instead of digital.

So, reading in 2014 is going to be about addressing the mistakes of reading in 2013. My two big goals are succeeding at my reading challenge this year (a Speculative Fiction by Authors of Color Challenge) and cutting a large swath through my TBR pile.

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The 2013 Reading Challenge I Totally Failed Was…

The Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge held by Worlds Without End, which is a great website for readers of genre fiction to check out.

The Challenge was pretty simple – within the 12 months of 2013 read 12 books written by women authors whose work you’d never read before and post a review. I failed pretty spectacularly at this, for several reasons. Chief amongst those was that I didn’t do much writing of any kind for most of last year, especially blogging or writing reviews. Secondary problems included starting the challenge fairly late and having way, way too many things on my ‘to be read’ pile.

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Review: Zoo City, by Lauren Beukes

The Worlds Without End “Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge” asks readers to choose books written by authors they’ve never previously read. That being the case, I think the most important question to address in a review of one of these books is – are you now interested in reading more books from this author?

In the case of Lauren Beukes my answer is an unqualified, absolute, as-soon-as-possible-please, YES! Continue reading

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Reading and Writing: A Couple Challenges for 2013

A few weeks ago I took on two new challenges that will run the span of 2013. The first was a writing challenge and the second was a reading one.

The writing challenge came from the fantastic musician John Anealio. Well, to be specific this isn’t a writing challenge, its a challenge to be creative. He’s calling it “23 in ’13” and, as you might guess, it’s all about doing 23 creative things over the course of the year. His goal is to create 23 new songs this year. My goal is to create 23 new short stories that I consider good enough in quality to submit to editors. I’m a little behind myself but I’ve got one new story out in the slush piles (it’s already gained it’s first rejection) and one new installment of Empire and Animal.

You can join in the fun over at John’s blog. I recommend getting on his mailing list. You can also download the three instrumental pieces he’s made for the challenge so far or pick up his album “Laser Zombie Robot Love” which is really good.

The reading challenge comes from Worlds Without End. They are having a Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge. The goal is to read 12 books this year each by a different woman author that you have never read before. If you sign up they’ve got a great tracking page set up for the challenge and a huge list of authors to explore. Full participationi also includes writing at least a small review for each book you read but it gives you a chance to be featured on their blog. If that happens you also get put into a poll for a chance to win Amazon gift cards! I highly recommend joining in this.

I’ve read my first book for the challenge, Lauren Beukes amazing “Zoo City”, and I’ll be posting my review in the next day or two. I’ve started my second book, Kelly Link’s “Stranger Things Happen”. After that it’ll be Octavia E. Butler’s “Wild Seed”. After that? Who knows. Something awesome I’d bet.

Any of you participating in these challenges? Know of another great one? Got your own? Shout it out in the comments!

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2012: My Year of Horror (Fiction)

I’ve always been a fan of horror movies. Old school horror movies anyway. The Shining is one of my favorite movies ever. Alien and Aliens were both great. Psycho! What a movie. I also enjoy a good scream-queen fronted b-level horror or slasher film. The Nightmare on Elm Street series, for example. I am not a fan of the more modern gore and gross-out centered “torture-porn” kind of movie though. Assume I’ve never and will never watch most things that fall in that category. Until last year though, I’d never really read horror.

I don’t know why that is. Before 2012 I think I had read exactly two horror novels: The Shining by Stephen King and Dean Koontz’s From the Corner of His Eye, and one of those may not even really qualify as horror. While I didn’t hate either of them I didn’t love them either. I’d also read a handful of short stories that could be considered horror – all written by Harlan Ellison. That was the extent of my literacy in horror prose. 2012 was the year that changed.

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