Category Archives: Challenges

Challenge Accepted: R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XII (RIP XII)

ripxii800Fall is finally here!  Cooler days, changing colors, football and, of course, fall reading!

With the return of fall comes the return of the Readers Imbibing Peril challenge.  Started by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings, the challenge will be hosted this year by My Capricious Life and Estella’s Revenge.

The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as:
  • Mystery.
  • Suspense.
  • Thriller.
  • Dark Fantasy.
  • Gothic.
  • Horror.
  • Supernatural.

There are a couple of participation levels and even a group read scheduled for October.

I’m in and trying for Peril 1. This means I’ll try to read four books of any length that fit the guidelines.  I’m pretty sure I can do it, especially in light of the fact that I’ve already got the new Stephen King book on reserve at my local library!

Find out more at the links listed above or you can just sign up here.

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Comic Book Friday: Batman: Illustrated by Neal Adams, Volume II and III

Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams Vol. 3

Hearing Neal Adams talk about his career on a couple of “Fat Man on Batman” podcasts really piqued my interest in seeing some of more of his art. Luckily we live in the age of Google. But while a Google search can bring up some samples of his art, it’s really not the same as reading and viewing the original source material.

Enter two collections of Adams’ tenure as the Dark Knight artist from DC.

Of the two, I found the third collection the more interesting one, if only because it includes segments of the early introduction of Ra’s Al Ghul and the illustrations for two Power Records stories featuring Batman that were written and drawn by Adams.

The third collection also includes an issue that “Fat Man on Batman” host Kevin Smith cites as one of his first entry points into the printed world of Batman.

Coming away from the collection, I’m struck by how solid the artwork by Adams is. And how dated these stories seem. Many times it feels like the stories have to work too hard to contain themselves to a single issue (and it feels odd to say that since one of my bigger criticisms of modern comics is the way stories are stretched out past to fill a six-part arc). I get that comics were intended to be more self-contained and welcoming to new readers back in this era, but it still feels like some stories end abruptly. It could be that the threads are picked up in other Batman titles not drawn by Adams, I suppose. I couldn’t help but feel that some type of supplemental material addressing this might have been nice. Or maybe I’m just not versed enough in my Bat-lore.

That said, Adams has some great pieces in this collection.  Two of my favorites come from the “Stacked Cards” story on the Power Records

nealadamsstackedcards stackedcards1

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Tuesday Top Ten: Other Stories

toptentuesday2

 

Each week, I see multiple book bloggers post their Top 10 Tuesday from the Broke and Bookish.  And each week, I keep thinking I should join in the fun but then never quite get around to it. Well, at long last I’ve decided it’s time to stop thinking about it and to dive into the Top 10 Tuesday.

And this week’s topic is one that hits right in my sweet spot — storytelling in other mediums.   And so, here we go…

1.  Doctor Who — I always like to say I was Doctor Who before Doctor Who was cool.  I loved the classic series and have collected it multiple times over on various formats, including off-air VHS, commercially released VHS and now the DVD/Blu-Rays.   I discovered the series in my early teens and was fortunate to live near a PBS station that showed the syndicated run of the show in just over two years.   Now, I’m counting down days until the Peter Capaldi era begins and probably just as excited about the new season as I was for Matt Smith’s second year.    This is a series that has a tie-in to reading since I collected the original adaptations of the classic serials back in the day and read the New Adventures and Missing Adventures faithfully during the wilderness years when there was no new Doctor Who on our TV screens.  I still listen to those Target novels as audio books while working out — they’re great for a run or workout because I’m familiar enough with the stories that I don’t have to pay attention to every detail for fear of missing a crucial plot point or development.

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R.I.P VII Review: My Life As A White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

My Life As a White Trash Zombie (White Trash Zombie, #1)As part of the R.I.P. VII, I finally dusted My Life As a White Trash Zombie off the TBR shelf and  read it.  While it’s not your typical zombie novel, it’s a lot of fun in that popcorn book kind of way.

Anyway, here’s the full review:

 

Angel Crawford is a self-professed loser.

A high school drop-out, she staggers from dead-end-job to dead-end-job. She regularly drowns her sorrows at the local dive bar with her on-again, off-again boyfriend who repairs cars and while he lives in a trailer, he’s got the best in high electronics.

All that changes one night when Angel wakes up in a hospital after what she believes was a severe bender. She can’t recall what happened, but a mysterious note tells her that a job as the driver for the local coroner’s office is hers and that she has to drink a series of mysterious shakes every other day for the next few weeks.

Angel takes the job at the coroner’s office and to her surprise finds that she’s not repulsed by the cadavers. Instead, she’s suddenly found an iron stomach and a strange fascination with brains.

Turns out Angel has been turned into a zombie. But if she eats a brain every day or so, she won’t rot–in fact, she can regenerate wounds fairly quickly with the help of a tasty brain or two. What Angel doesn’t know is who the mysterious benefactor is who changed her to zombie, the hierarchy of the local zombie community for distributing brains to snack on and whether or not a serial killer is targeting the local zombie population.

With a title like My Life As a White Trash Zombie, this novel was hard to pass up in the bookstore. It sounded like a lot of fun–and the story does have its moments. Angel is likeable enough to help keep the plot moving forward, though there is some initial frustration because we know from the title what’s happened to Angel while she’s still piecing it all together. The book has humor, romance and a bit of brain eating gore. It’s a fun read and while I don’t expect this one to be up for any major prizes, it’s still enjoyable enough that I may pick up the next installment in the series at some point.

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R.I.P. VII

Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VII (RIP VII for short) during the months of September and October.  I’ve decided to join the celebration of all things “Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, Supernatural or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.”

I will be going for:

Peril the First:

Read four books, any length, that you feel fit (the very broad definitions) of R.I.P. literature. It could be King or Conan Doyle, Penny or Poe, Chandler or Collins, Lovecraft or Leroux…or anyone in between.

Peril of the Short Story:

Read some R.I.P. themed short stories or a short story!  Sounds like fun and a good excuse to dust off the Poe and that collection Lovecraft I picked up a while ago.

Peril on the Screen:

This is for those of us that like to watch suitably scary, eerie, mysterious gothic fare during this time of year. It may be something on the small screen or large. It might be a television show, likeDark Shadows or Midsomer Murders, or your favorite film.

Looking forward to the fun!

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Mixing It Up Challenge Book List

I’ve decided to take part in Mixing It Up Challenge for 2012.  Still not sure what level of participation I may undertake during the coming year.  But here’s the list of what I’ve read as part of the challenge.

UPDATE (Feb. 27) : I’ve decided I’m going to try for the two-tier cake level which is 13-15 books in the categories.

I’ll also include a link to my review of each book, both on the site and on GoodReads.

Classic: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Science Fiction and Fantasy: Shadows in Flight by Orson Scott Card
Biography: My Seinfeld Year by Fred Stoller
Graphic Novels and Manga: Morning Glories, Volume 1 and Volume 2 by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma
Romance: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Children and Young Adult: Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian
Modern Fiction: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood 
Horror: Ancestor by Scott Sigler 
Crime and Mystery: Heartbroken by Lisa Unger
Journalism and Humor: Tough Sh*t: Life Advice From A Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good by Kevin Smith
Social Science and Philosophy: The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez

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Mix It Up Challenge

I think 2012 needs a good challenge or two to keep things interesting.  And while I’ve challenged myself on the total number of books I’ll read this year, I haven’t had a challenge yet on the variety of books to read this year.

Enter this challenge, issued by Musings of a Bookshop Girl.   It’s the Mix It Up Challenge and you can find out details HERE. 

I’m going to shoot for the Mixing Bowl level and see how things go.  I can always bump up the challenge level later, right?

So, who’s with me?

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A New Challenge: The Classics Challenge

Surfing around, I came across The Classics Challenge.   Looking at my pile of TBR books, I realized I have a number of books that fall under the category of classic and I’m hoping this challenge will give the motivation to pull them up a bit higher on my list and actually get around to reading them.

You can sign up HERE.   I’m going for the entree level, though I may jump up to feast…

Here’s the rules:

**Choose Your Level (Keep reading for Bonus)
1. Classics Snack – Read FOUR classics
2. Classics Entree – Read FIVE classics
3. Classics Feast – Read SIX classics

**Rules/Guidelines
1. Cross-posting with other challenges is allowed (and encouraged!)
2. Audiobooks are fine
3. Re-reads are acceptable, BUT books must be finished after April 1st to count for the challenge
4. Lists don’t have to be set in stone; you can change your selections at any time
5. Have Fun!!
6. You do NOT need a blog to participate.

**Bonus!! (Optional)
In the past two challenges we compiled a list of books that we think might be considered classics one day. I’ve wiped out that old list so we can start fresh, but to get an idea of what others suggested in the past, see HERE and HERE. To start off the list, I’m going to suggest Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

Leave your suggestion (one please) in the comments below. If you want to participate in the bonus round, choose a book from the list and read that in addition to the classics you have picked (e.g., if you are doing the classics snack, you will read five books total and so on).

I realize this means you may have to wait to make your list or leave the bonus book as “tentative” if you choose to participate in the bonus round, but I’m hoping this is a modern twist on the old classics challenge.

What is a Classic?
Am I going to define what a classic is? Nope! There are lots of definitions offered on the Internet, but we all have different opinions so don’t stress too much. In the comments below, I’d love if you would give a (one please) recommendation for a classic you would suggest to beginners or apprehensive readers–maybe something lighter or something engaging. I’ll compile a list.

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42 Challenge Update

Here’s my progress on this year’s “42 Challenge”

1. Glory Road by Robert A. Heinlein (book)
2. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (book)
3. Doctor Who and the Time Warrior by Terrance Dicks (audio book)
4. Doctor Who: City of Death (DVD)
5. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut (book)
6. Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card (book)
7. Star Wars: Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor by Matt Stover (book)
8. Daemon by Matt Suarez (book)
9. Spider-Man 2.1 (DVD)

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TBR Challenge: “Presumed Guilty” by James Scott Bell

Presumed Guilty
While not quite in the same league as Robert Whitlow, James Scott Bell shows promise in the realm of compelling, well-written Christian fiction.

Dallas Hamilton’s seemingly perfect world is shattered when her minister husband is arrested for the murder of an adult film star. Her husband was working with a local politician to combat the world of adult entertaiment. In the course of the investigation, secrets are revealed, including that her husband slept with the victim and had a previous affair. A hard drive full of pornography doesn’t help his case and soon a media circus has erupted.

Meanwhile, Dallas’ family is also falling apart in other ways. Her son is home from Iraq and appears to suffer from some kind of post combat stress issues. He can’t hold down a job and has anger issues with his father. He lashes out at everyone and denies God. Dallas slowly tries to chip away at what’s wrong and what happened during his time in combat to change her son.

Bell’s story works well enough when it confines itself to the dealings of the legal system and the dilemma may men face in fighting the temptation of adult entertainment. The reflections by Dallas’ husband, Ron, in prison on how he’s gone down the path to ruin he’s followed are compelling, though it doesn’t fully explain a decision he makes halfway through the story.

Which is part of my problem with the story. There are a lot of twists and turns, including a vast conspiracy at the center of the story that bogs down the novel’s final half. For every believable twist and turn, there was another one that left me scratching my head. And while Dallas, Ron and the son feel like authentic chracters, there are still other characters in the story who come off as too one-note and serve only as ways to advance the plot. And the journey taken by the son, while interesting, is one that is a bit predictable in the end.

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