Tag Archives: When Are You Reading

Challenge Update, January 2018

1 Feb

Well, January is starting off stronger than I expected. That’s good because the rest of my year is looking very busy! I’m going to remain hopeful that I can finish the goals I set for myself but I might be playing catch up in December. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in January:

The Marriage Plot // Jeffrey Eugenides (4/5)
Please Look After Mom // Kyung-Sook Shin (3/5)
How to Win Friends and Influence People // Dale Carnegie (3/5)
The Elements of Style // William Strunk Jr. (4/5)
The Color Purple // Alice Walker (4/5)

I’ll have my review of Purple up early next week and then I’ll be completely caught up! I like this feeling.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

4/12
This is a strong start for me! I’m very pleased with it. All of my books except The Elements of Style were put in a time period. I could have stretched it a bit and included that one, but it didn’t feel as if it belonged in a specific time period as much as the others did. It’s great to have a few of these checked off already!

Goodreads Challenge

5/55
Starting off one book ahead of schedule! I’m feeling good but I know I’m going to have to keep pushing myself to maintain this pace and finish 55 books this year. It’s a stretch goal for myself and I’m a bit nervous about accomplishing it.

Book of the Month

I’m going to have to pick The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides this month. The book started slow but ended up being really fun for me to read. I’m excited to get to another Eugenides novel, possibly this year!

Added to my TBR

Are you ready for some crazy news? Not only am I down to 101 (I can hardly believe it) but I didn’t add any books to my shelf this month! I know, I’m probably living under a rock to be able to accomplish that, but I’m super excited. Getting below 100 seems so much more viable now.

Personal Challenge

I used these monthly posts to keep myself accountable to my personal goals for 2017 and I’m excited to do that again this year. You all were so supportive before.

  • Graduate and keep my 4.0- We’ll see. I start my first class on Monday and I’m a bit intimidated by it so far. Has anyone ever heard of an online class where you have to take the quizzes during a set 90 minutes on Thursday nights? This seems unreasonable to me in an online class!
  • Travel to Europe with my husband- We’re getting there! I have a place to stay in Amsterdam and I’m hoping to meet up with a friend in Scandinavia so travel plans are still in the works here.
  • Complete a race per month- I did the Lifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlon again, the second year in a row. I didn’t swim as far this year but I did place well! I was third in my age category (women 39 and under) and fifth amongst all women. I’ve got to get myself running faster to get a better place next year, haha.
  • Complete a 2018 Weather Blanket- I’ve started and got through the first two weeks of January. I’ve set it aside to work on a baby blanket but I plan to get back to it and catch up again as soon as that’s over.

How are your challenges going so far? I hope you’re off to a good start If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for 2018, it’s fun!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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My 2018 Challenges

16 Jan

Hello! I know I’m getting late into January and I haven’t yet posted about the reading challenges I’m going to take on in 2018. How negligent of me. I’ll fix that.

The first is the 2018 When Are You Reading? Challenge. This is a challenge I host and I’m on my fifth year and loving it. The challenge has been well streamlined now and I think it’s safe to say participants have enjoyed it a lot! The challenge is to read books that are set or written in 12 different time periods ranging from Pre-1500 to the future. I’ve already knocked two off the list (#winning) and I usually finish about 10 of these without trying each year. If you want to join, let me know! I’ll add you to the participants’ list. If you want to see how I’m doing, I track my progress here.

My second challenge is my Goodreads challenge for the year. In 2017 I challenged myself to 50 books and came in at 53. I’m going to push that just a little bit more this year and strive for 55. I may have to read some shorter ones toward the end of the year if it looks like I’ll be short, but I’m going to really focus on it this year.

I told you all about some personal goals in 2017 and you were all so great at encouraging me to complete them! Here are my non-reading goals for 2018:

  • Graduate! And keep my 4.0.
  • Travel to Europe with my husband
  • Complete a race per month and try to find new races in different parts of the state. (One of my long-term goals is to do a race in every county in Michigan’s lower peninsula.)
  • Finish a 2018 Weather Blanket

I’m going to stop there before I’m tempted to go on further. I’m very goal-driven so this can become an issue if I set too many.

What are you reading goals? Any personal goals you want to share?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Challenge Update, December 2017

4 Jan

I’m going to call this a strong finish. With how hectic December was, I’m proud I finished four books. I ended my class, got through the holidays unscathed, and hosted a party at my house that lasted all day. With all that, four books seem like a big accomplishment. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in December:

This Beautiful Life // Helen Schulman (4/5)
Singing My Him Song // Malachy McCourt (3/5)
Persona Non Grata // Ruth Downie (4/5)
The Professor and the Madman // Simon Winchester (3/5)

All reviews written! I like heading into 2018 without a backlog. Though it will probably begin piling up quite soon.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

12/12
DONE! I’m doing this again in 2018 so please consider joining me and taking part. It’s a fun time.

Goodreads Challenge

54/50
DONE! I surprised myself this year and I’m going to push myself to read 55 in 2018. Fingers crossed.

Book of the Month

It’s going to be This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman. This book blew me away and I added it to my Top 10 Books of 2017 list. It’s short and powerful and I really recommend it to anyone looking for a strong read.

Added to my TBR

I’m up to 107! I was so optimistic after being at 106 last month I guess getting below 100 is going to be harder than I thought. I added a lot of sequels this month and I’m really excited for all of them.

  • Sarah’s Quilt by Nancy E. Turner. This has unofficially been on my list for a long time. I read the first book in the series a few years ago and really liked it. I can’t wait to read the next installment.
  • Caveat Emptor by Ruth Downie. I’m clearly in love with this series and I will move on and find out what happens to Ruso and Tilla!
  • A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. I’m feeing a GoT draught while the show is in the intermission and I figure I’ll get back to the books and start where I left off.
  • Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard. This is a book my husband got me for Christmas. He knows I’ve really enjoyed running books lately and the cute dog on the cover won me over immediately.
  • The Invisible Guardian by Dolores Redonado. My future sister-in-law has started a wonderful tradition of buying me a book every year. She picked this one up because it takes place in Spain and she didn’t even know my thesis was on the Basques! A+ to her.

Personal Challenge

I mentioned in my challenge announcement post that I had some non-reading goals set for myself in 2017. I figured this would be a good place to keep myself accountable to those as well. Here goes!

  • Keep my 4.0 GPA: DONE! I got my grade back and managed to make an A so I’m still sitting at 4.0 going into my last year.
  • Knit blankets:  I’m down two from the stockpile I like to keep but I’m working on it! I’m half done with a pink, purple, and white blanket. It’s a new pattern I’m kind of enjoying. I gave a gender-neutral blanket to my cousin so I’ll knit another to backfill that one.
  • One race per month: My December race was a nice, easy 5K. I ran with a friend who’s working through knee problems and went her pace. It was freezing cold but a lot of fun!
  • Get my novel out to beta readers: Sigh. This is one part of my life I wish I’d done more with in 2017. I got the novel out, but I haven’t been able to do a lot of editing this year. I’m not sure I’ll be able to concentrate on this in 2018 because of school but I’ll try!

How were your challenges? I hope you made it. If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for 2018, it’s fun!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Today It Begins: The 2018 When Are You Reading? Challenge

1 Jan

Happy New Year! As it’s the first day of 2017, it’s also the first day of the When Are You Reading? Challenge! This marks my fourth year hosting this challenge and I’ll tell you for sure that it’s a fun time. It covers 12 time periods so it needs 12 books and you get all of 2018 to complete it. I’m very lax on rules because participants get to pick their own books, topics, genres, and can make calls on where a book falls in time.

Any book you’re currently reading but haven’t finished can count toward the challenge. I’ve got four in the works and I think I’ll cover three different time periods when I finish them all.

I have more information listed here if you want some more details. If you want to participate, let me know and I’ll add you at the bottom of the challenge page here. You can set up a progress tracking page like I’ve done here if you want. Any way you want to track is fine, even if it’s on a napkin that you use as a bookmark!

I hope you’ll consider giving this a try, it’s been very fun for me in the past.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Are You In? The 2018 When Are You Reading? Challenge!

28 Dec

It’s starting soon! There’s still plenty of time to decide you want to do the 2018 When Are You Reading? Challenge. Isn’t the image my husband designed so cute?! That’s only one of the advantages of joining. Another perk is there are very few ‘rules.’ I hesitate to even call them that.

12 books read during any part of 2018
Each book falls into one of 12 time periods, beginning with pre-1500 and ending with the future
That’s it!

I have more information listed here if you want some more details. It’s a very simple challenge and I’m now in the 5th year of it and I think I’ve worked out a lot of the kinks.

If you want to participate, let me know and I’ll add you at the bottom of the challenge page here. You can set up a progress tracking page like I’ve done here if you want. Any way you want to track is fine, even if it’s on a napkin that you use as a bookmark!

I hope you’ll consider giving this a try, it’s been very fun for me in the past.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

It’s Time! The 2018 When Are You Reading? Challenge

21 Dec

It’s that time again!

I’m gearing up for the 2018 edition of the When Are You Reading? Challenge. If you haven’t heard about this one before, here’s the quick and dirty of it:

12 books read during any part of 2018
Each book falls into one of 12 time periods, beginning with pre-1500 and ending with the future
That’s it!

I have more information listed here if you want some more details. It’s a very simple challenge and I’m now in the 5th year of it and I think I’ve worked out a lot of the kinks.

If you want to participate, let me know and I’ll add you at the bottom of the challenge page here. You can set up a progress tracking page like I’ve done here if you want. Any way you want to track is fine, even if it’s on a napkin that you use as a bookmark!

I hope you’ll consider giving this a try, it’s been very fun for me in the past.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Challenge Update, November 2017

4 Dec

This has been a surprisingly good month for reading! With school wrapping up and Thanksgiving stuck at the end, I wasn’t anticipating finishing so many books. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in November:

The Bluest Eye // Toni Morrison (3/5)
My Jesus Year // Benyamin Cohen (4/5)
Our Souls at Night // Ken Haruf (3/5)
The Book of Fate // Brad Meltzer (3/5)

I still owe you reviews for those last two but I’m expecting those to come later this week. I’m excited that I finished four books, I thought I was going to be slowing down toward the end of the year but I’m picking up steam!

When Are You Reading? Challenge

12/12
DONE! Look for more information soon on the 2018 Challenge.

Goodreads Challenge

50/50
DONE! Done done done! I finished this on Thanksgiving when I wrapped up The Book of Fate during a pre-dinner run. It was a great way to enjoy the holiday in a book-ish way.

Book of the Month

I have to say Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. I’m thinking of changing my initial rating, the first time I’ve ever thought of doing that! I went to the book club meeting last week and I was speaking so highly of the book I began questioning why I rated it Three instead of Four stars. This was a great quick read and I really recommend it.

Added to my TBR

I’m now at 106, no progress toward 100. Four came off but I added another five to the list. Yikes!

  • Origin by Dan Brown. I’m already four books into the Robert Langdon series, I might as well keep going!
  • It’s All Relative by A.J. Jacobs. Jacobs is one of my favorite non-fiction writers and I knew he was working on this project a few years ago. I’m excited the book is finally out!
  • Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin. This is a book club selection for January that I’ll try to start soon.
  • The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester. Another book club pick and I think this will be my next book.
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. I saw that a movie of this one is coming out soon and I’ve seen so many positive reviews that I want to read it before I see the film.

Personal Challenge

I mentioned in my challenge announcement post that I had some non-reading goals set for myself in 2017. I figured this would be a good place to keep myself accountable to those as well. Here goes!

  • Keep my 4.0 GPA: My midterm came back with a good score so yay! Most of my remaining assignments are due Thursday this week so I’m keeping my fingers crossed and I’ll know more soon.
  • Knit blankets:  I sent a purple blanket off to my friends who are expecting a little girl early next year. I started a new project to keep the stockpile in check because another friend announced her pregnancy! I’ll be sending another off soon enough so I best keep knitting.
  • One race per month: I did one race in November, a 10K. My goal was to finish in under one hour and I clocked in at 59:35 so that’s a win!
  • Get my novel out to beta readers: I haven’t sent it out any more but I think December is going to finally give me some time to edit! That’s way more exciting to me. Get ready for some writing-related posts next month.

How were your challenges? I hope you made it. If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for 2018, it’s fun!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Challenge Update, October 2017

2 Nov

It’s finally feeling like fall! October started out unseasonably warm here in Michigan but I’m finally feeling compelled to stay in bed and read. School is under control now and I’m trying to spend more time reading and listening to books. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in October:

Gold Fame Citrus // Claire Vaye Watkins (4/5)
The Other Queen // Philippa Gregory (3/5)
Year of Wonder // Geraldine Brooks (3/5)
Tuesdays With Morrie // Mitch Albom (5/5)
Rules of Civility // Amor Towles (5/5)

Wow! What a good month for me considering school is in session. I wish I could do this every October. I really targeted some of my books to knock down a few of my challenges. I did pretty great, I’ll let you know! See below.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

12/12
DONE! Plan executed to perfection. I added Gold Fame Citrus to my ‘the Future’ time period. It’s set in a future Southwestern US where the drought escalated. The Other Queen filled in the 1500s, sharing the story of Mary Queen of Scots while imprisoned in England. Finally, Year of Wonder filled in the 1600s, the plague years, and finished off my challenge. I love doing this every year and will for sure be hosting this in 2018.

Goodreads Challenge

46/50
Five books ahead! This is awesome. I should finish this challenge next month at this pace without a problem.

Book of the Month

I’m going to give this one to Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins. The characters really won me over and as much as I didn’t like the ending, it was because I wanted it to end happier, not because it was a bad ending. It did, of course, help that I’ve met Watkins and found her a joy to listen to.

Added to my TBR

I’m down again to 105. We’ll have to see how fast I read the rest of the year and if I can bring it beneath 100 before January 1.

  • Artemis by Andy Weir. I think anyone who read or saw The Martian will add this to their lists. Weir had a great hit with his first book and I want to see if he can do it again.
  • Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. This is my next book club pick so I’ll be picking it up and reading it very soon. Excited for my first Haruf book!

Personal Challenge

I mentioned in my challenge announcement post that I had some non-reading goals set for myself in 2017. I figured this would be a good place to keep myself accountable to those as well. Here goes!

  • Keep my 4.0 GPA: So far, so good. I’ll be getting my midterm grade back today so we’ll see how that goes.
  • Knit blankets:  Stockpile is good, but I’m still waiting to see if one friend is going to announce the gender of her little one. I have a gender neutral blanket ready if she chooses not to!
  • One race per month: Two races in October, including my first half marathon! It wasn’t fun, but I think I’d give it another go. Whoever said the half was addictive has different brain chemistry than me. I also ran a Halloween 10K with my husband last weekend. Check out the pictures on my Instagram!
  • Get my novel out to beta readers: I sent it out to one more friend who read an earlier version of the book. She was actually my first beta reader and she was excited to see how the story changed. I hope she likes it!

How were your challenges? I hope you made it. If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for 2018, it’s fun!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Challenge Update, September 2017

2 Oct

School started, football season started, and I haven’t seen my husband in a few days now. Life is certainly picking up! It’s making reading time even more valuable but I’m always excited to escape into books whenever I can. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in September:

Love in the Elephant Tent // Kathleen Cremonesi (4/5)
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao // Junot Diaz (4/5)
The Detroit Electric Scheme // D.E. Johnson (2/5)
Still Life // Louise Penny (4/5)
Armada // Ernest Cline (3/5)

This month went better than expected! With all of the craziness of life picking up, I wasn’t expecting to see so many books on this list but it feels good to know I can still get through so many! I have a few books I’m nearing the end of soon that will add to this for another long list next month!

When Are You Reading? Challenge

9/12
Well, no surprise that there’s no movement here. I have prioritized finishing this challenge so two of the books I’m currently reading will count here. Next month, this should read 11 and I’ll only have one more to finish. At least there’s a plan.

Goodreads Challenge

41/50
Still three books ahead and feeling good about this! Nine more books by Christmas should be a piece of cake. One less thing to worry about, haha.

Book of the Month

Cover image via Goodreads

I was blown away by Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao this month. I didn’t know anything about this book when I bought it at a used book sale but I’m really glad I did. Even though I ended up listening to the audio, I still loved the book and it’s one I’d recommend.

Added to my TBR

I’m down just a bit to 109. If I can break 100 before the new year, I’ll be ecstatic. But don’t bet on it!

  • Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks. This will be my final When Are You Reading? Challenge book for the year! It will be very exciting when I get to it.
  • Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. This is my next book club read so I’ll be starting it relatively soon. So many people have said it’s amazing so I’m really looking forward to it!

Personal Challenge

I mentioned in my challenge announcement post that I had some non-reading goals set for myself in 2017. I figured this would be a good place to keep myself accountable to those as well. Here goes!

  • Keep my 4.0 GPA: Only two papers back so far but looking good!
  • Knit blankets:  I had a friend announce that she was pregnant but it’s still too early to know the gender. This is my first friend to have her second since I started knitting blankets so I guess I’m setting the precedent that I’ll send one for each kid.
  • One race per month: My last triathlon of the season! It was also my second Olympic distance and my second time running this particular race. The water was calm, unlike the 1.5-foot waves from last year and it felt great! It was a bit cold, though, and I wished I had sleeves during the bike. There was only one other woman in my age group but I won! It felt nice to stand on top of the podium.
  • Get my novel out to beta readers: No one has sent me feedback from this last round. Even if they did, this is not the time of year I’d be able to get back to them. I think this challenge may fall flat until I finish school.

How were your challenges? I hope you made it. If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for 2017, it’s fun!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Challenge Update, August 2017

5 Sep

This month was a rush! School started, I took a trip to New Orleans, and my reading slowed down. Yes, it’s sad to say but it did. And, unfortunately, it probably won’t pick up again until December. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in August:

I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You // Courtney Maum (3/5)
Empire Falls // Richard Russo (4/5)
Chemistry // Weike Want (5/5)

Yikes, a slow month. I gave up on an audiobook part-way through which slowed me down a lot. I’m proud I got through two physical books, though. I’m not usually so good at that. We’ll see if I can keep it up for a while.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

9/12
Oh, wow. Still nothing new. It’s about that time for me to start picking reads that will fill my remaining categories. That might mean it’s time to read some dystopian YA and Tudor era books. I’ve got some time coming up so I’ll try to squeeze them in soon.

Goodreads Challenge

36/50
I’m still three books ahead. I think I can make it now. I know my reading will slow down but I’m in a great position to be sitting pretty with this one come December. I’ve just got to keep listening to audio while I run and I’ll be all set.

Book of the Month

Easily, this goes to Chemistry by Weike Wang. This was a super fun, quick read and my only complaint is that it wasn’t longer. It was what I needed while on a plane to be sure.

Added to my TBR

I’m still at 111! It might not be shrinking, but at least it’s not growing. Vacations always add to my TBR so I’m glad to stay neutral.

  • Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I’ve been told a lot that I need to read this book. I enjoyed Patchett’s Commonwealth so I figured it was finally time to put it on the list. We’ll see how long it takes me to get to it, though!
  • Soldier’s Pay by William Faulkner. This was my purchase at the Faulkner House Book Store in New Orleans. It was written on the property so it seemed an obvious choice.
  • Cuando era puertorriqueña by Esmeralda Santiago. I found this in another New Orleans book store and decided it would be another Spanish read when I’m ready for a new one.
  • Still Life by Louise Penny. This is my next book club selection. I’ll get to it very soon.

Personal Challenge

I mentioned in my challenge announcement post that I had some non-reading goals set for myself in 2017. I figured this would be a good place to keep myself accountable to those as well. Here goes!

  • Keep my 4.0 GPA: Class just started and there are no grades in so far. I guess I’m good to go on this one!
  • Knit blankets:  No new friends having babies so no new blankets for me. I’m working on other knitting projects while I wait for news to come along.
  • One race per month: Only one triathlon, thank God! It was great after having such a crazy July. I did OK despite feeling sick. It was my second-best time on that course and only off by 9 seconds! I got 5th in the 3-race series which felt great.
  • Get my novel out to beta readers: I’ve sent it to a few more friends, none of which have sent me any feedback yet. I really wanted to work on this over the summer and made embarrassingly little progress. I’m not sure when I’ll really work on it again, sadly.

How were your challenges? I hope you made it. If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for 2017, it’s fun!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!