Reading Challenge

#Armedwithabingo Quarter 3 Check-in

This year, one of the challenges I’m participating in, is #armedwithabingo hosted by Kristi and Ariel. All the details for the bingo are here, and you can check out my first post about the challenge here.

For the first quarter, I read these books:

Poetry collection – Ink Knows No Borders

Book in the middle of a series – Blizzard of New Moon (Magic Treehouse Series) by Mary Pope Osbourne

Book published in the last decade – A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahareh Mafi

A YA novel – Heart of the Moors by Holly Black

A memoir – Wildflower by Drew Barrymore

Friendship/family – Drama by Reina Telgemeier

Fantasy – Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Bestseller – The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Meant to read last year – Final Girls by Riley Sager

Nonfiction – You Can Only Yell at Me for One Thing at a Time by Patricia Marx

Second quarter I added these books to my bingo board:

Book published in 2020 – Straight on Till Morning by Liz Braswell. This is my favorite read of the year so far, and you can check out my review here.

Book with multiple POV’s – Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reed

Book with a number in the title – The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie. This one was also enjoyable and though not one of Christie’s most popular series, I find I’m really enjoying the Superintendent Battle series.

Book a friend recommends – Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto.  I read this book as part of the Book Gizmo Book Club on Instagram.

A dystopian novel – The Jewel by Amy Ewing.

Not third person POV (first person POV) – Something She’s Not Telling Us by Darcey Bell

Book by an indie author – A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan

Book with a Beautiful Cover – Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel. As soon as I saw the cover for this book, I wanted to read it, even without reading the premise. 

And for the third quarter, I added these books:

Book with a color in the title: The Silver Cobweb (Nancy Drew mystery story #71) by Carolyn Keene. I’m a huge Nancy Drew fan and I read for a prompt another reading challenge – it was published the year I was born. 🙂

Book I chose: The Companion by Katie Alendar. I read a sample of this book and was immediately hooked. This is one of my top reads of the year, and you can read my review here.

A book I was gifted: Roaring by Lindsey Duga. Another great read for the year, you can read my review here.

I have three squares left, and I have already picked my reads for those prompts!

What about you? Are you participating in this bingo challenge or some other reading challenge this year? Let me know in the comments!

Reading Challenge

#Armedwithabingo Q2 Check-in

This year, one of the challenges I’m participating in, is #armedwithabingo hosted by Kristi and Ariel. All the details for the bingo are here, and you can check out my first post about the challenge here.

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For the first quarter, I read these books:

Poetry collection – Ink Knows No Borders

Book in the middle of a series – Blizzard of New Moon (Magic Treehouse Series) by Mary Pope Osbourne

Book published in the last decade – A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahareh Mafi

A YA novel – Heart of the Moors by Holly Black

A memoir – Wildflower by Drew Barrymore

Friendship/family – Drama by Reina Telgemeier

Fantasy – Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Bestseller – The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Meant to read last year – Final Girls by Riley Sager

Nonfiction – You Can Only Yell at Me for One Thing at a Time by Patricia Marx

 

And since the last post, I’ve added these books to my bingo board:

Book published in 2020 – Straight on Till Morning by Liz Braswell. This is my favorite read of the year so far, and you can check out my review here.

Book with multiple POV’s – Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reed

Book with a number in the title – The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie. This one was also enjoyable and though not one of Christie’s most popular series, I find I’m really enjoying the Superintendent Battle series.

Book a friend recommends – Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto.  I read this book as part of the Book Gizmo Book Club on Instagram.

A dystopian novel – The Jewel by Amy Ewing.

Not third person POV (first person POV) – Something She’s Not Telling Us by Darcey Bell

Book by an indie author – A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan

Book with a Beautiful Cover – Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel. As soon as I saw the cover for this book, I wanted to read it, even without reading the premise. 🙂

Book you saw someone else reading – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood by Fred Rogers

How about you? How are your reading challenges coming? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

 

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Virtual Book Events

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I recently attended the virtual #Yallstayhome Book Festival, the Yallwest Book Festival gone virtual, and it was so much fun! I’ve been researching other virtual book events and have found quite a few.  So now I’m sharing them with my readers:

  1. Everywhere Book Fest – lots of videos on YouTube from a variety of authors.
  2. Social Distance Book Festival This festival aired a couple of weekends ago, but you can still view the recordings on YouTube. This is a festival hosted by a book YouTuber, Beautifully Bookish Bethany.
  3. Wordplay Book Festival – This is going on now and has events for all ages.
  4. Bookcon – Bookcon is doing a virtual series on Facebook.
  5. Midtown Scholar Bookstore – This bookstore has several virtual author talks scheduled.
  6. MYVLF – This site has all kind of virtual events, including The Big Book Weekend.
  7. Gaithersburg Book Festival – I’ve enjoyed attending this festival in person, and am happy to see I’ll be able to attend virtually this year!

How about you all? Are there any virtual book events you’ll be attending during this quarantine time? Let me know in the comments!

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Tips for Tackling Your TBR List

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If you’re like me, you probably have shelves full of unread books. I read a lot, and am planning to read twenty books this month to help whittle down the amount of books I own that I haven’t yet read. ( This is part of a reading challenge, and if you missed out on that post you can check it out here.)

People often ask me how I read so many books, so today, I wanted to share some tips to help you tackle your TBR. Since many of us are at home during this quarantine time, you may have more time to read than usual, so maybe these tips can help you get even more reading done. 🙂

1. Know your limits. A lot of things play into how many books you can read within a given time period. How fast do you read? How many other responsibilities do you have? Don’t try to compare yourself to other people. Set a realistic but challenging goal for yourself.

2. Mix it up. Read in a lot of different genres. I find this helps to ward off reading slumps. Once I start to feel fantasy-ied out, I switch over to mysteries or memoirs, and I find my interest in reading is renewed.

3. Read various book lengths and levels. This is another great way to avoid a reading slump. If I’m feeling tired of reading, I might pick a book of poetry or even a picture book I’ve been wanting to read. As an educator, I often read children’s and MG books as I need to stay up on the trends and know what is available for students to read,  but I also believe that people of any age can find enjoyment in a picture book. Many of them are worth reading simply because of the beautiful artwork they contain. And most of us know at least one kid that we could read to or recommend a book to.

4. Listen to audiobooks. This is one of the easiest ways to up your book count. I increased my yearly amount of read books by over a hundred, simply by listening to audiobooks. I listen to audiobooks in the car, in the kitchen, when I’m cleaning, and when I’m crafting.

You may be wondering if it’s cheating, or you may think you can’t focus on an audiobook. I understand your hesitation on this one, as I had similar doubts at first. But then I realized if I chose the right audiobook, I was engaged and even found myself laughing out loud. This is especially true for celebrity memoirs that are narrated by the said celebrity.

I would suggest starting with celebrity memoirs if you’re hesitant about trying audiobooks. Another way to determine if the audiobook is right for you is to read the reviews for the audiobook before listening to it. The success of the audiobook depends on the narrator. If the narrator does a poor job, it will be noted in the reviews.

5. Take a break when you need to. Yes, it is okay to take a break sometimes. Just like basically everything else in life, sometimes you just need to take a break and do something else. Every so often, I take as much as a week and a half off from reading, and am still able to meet my reading goal for the year. I find that I am able to go through several books quickly after taking a break.

6. Read what you want. This is another important one. Don’t be so focused on reading the things you think you need to read. Read the books that YOU want to read. So many times, people read something because it has been recommended to them by someone else, so they feel they must read it even though they aren’t really interested in it.  This just ends up wasting your reading time and can even put you into a reading slump. If you’re not interested in the book, don’t read it. If you’re worried about what your friend will think,  politely tell them that you just couldn’t get into the book, so you moved onto something else on your TBR list.

7. Don’t be afraid to not finish a book.  This kind of goes along with the previous tip, and is the hardest one for me to follow. I just hate the feeling of not finishing a book, but ultimately I know that I will end up wasting my reading time by trying to finish a book I don’t enjoy. I have gotten better than I used to be, but I am still working on this one.

8. Most importantly, have fun! This kind of sums them all up. Your reading time is supposed to be enjoyable, so make sure it is by reading the right things for you!

How about you? What is your best tip for moving through your TBR list? Let me know in the comments, and if you want to check out what I’m currently reading, feel free to add me as a friend on Goodreads.

Reading Challenge

Unread Book Bingo

One of the reading challenges I always participate in, is the unread shelf project, a yearly challenge where I try to read many of my own books that I haven’t yet read. During the past two months, Whitney, the host of the unread shelf challenge, has hosted a bingo challenge (more details here.) I love bingo challenges, so I couldn’t pass up the chance to participate in this one. Here is my bingo card:

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And here are the books I read:

Published before 2000 – The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Backlist title – The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

From Favorite genre – The Jewel by Amy Ewing (YA Fantasy)

On shelf more than a year – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Blue Book – Ice Breaker: How Maribel Fairbanks Changed Figure Skating by Rosa Vina

Fiction – The Stillwater Girls by Minka

YA lit – The Girl in the Picture by Alexandra Monir

E-book – Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey

Published after 2000 – The Thinnest Air by Minka Kent

Any unread book – Tell Me Lies by JD Pomer

Red book – The Big Four by Agatha Christie

Nonfiction – In Other Words by Christopher J. Moore

Book from a series – The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah (New Hercule Poirot series)

Last book acquired – Straight on Till Morning by Liz Braswell (check out my review for this book here.)

Less than 200 pages – If a Horse Had Words by Kelly Cooper

Audiobook – The Body in the Woods by April Henry

Chosen by friends – Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montegomery

Hardback – The Handmaid’s Tale: the graphic novel by Renee Nault

Author of color – The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton

I was hoping to fill the board, but I got two bingos and had more spaces filled than not, so I guess I did pretty well. 🙂

If you want to check out all I’ve read so far this year, feel free to add as a friend on Goodreads.

How about you? Have you participated in any fun reading challenges lately? Let me know in the comments!

Reading Challenge

#Armedwithabingo – What I’ve read so far…

So I just discovered this bingo, and I’ve added it to the reading challenges I’m doing this year. It lasts the entire year, and you get a personalized bingo card. It’s hosted by Kristi and Ariel, and you can find out all the details here.  The cool thing about this challenge is that it fits right in with any other challenges you might be doing.

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So here’s what I’ve read so far:

Poetry collection – Ink Knows No Borders

Book in the middle of a series – Blizzard of New Moon (Magic Treehouse Series) by Mary Pope Osbourne

Book published in the last decade – A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahareh Mafi

A YA novel – Heart of the Moors by Holly Black

A memoir – Wildflower by Drew Barrymore

Friendship/family – Drama by Reina Telgemeier

Fantasy – Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Bestseller – The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Meant to read last year – Final Girls by Riley Sager

Nonfiction – You Can Only Yell at Me for One Thing at a Time by Patricia Marx

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Do you have any suggestions for any of the prompts? Let me know in the comments.

Also, if you haven’t seen the Little Women challenge and giveaway I’m doing yet, you can check that out here.

Reading Challenge

My Reading Challenges for 2020

I’m excited for a new year of reading and as always, I feel like I want to join every challenge I come across. Realistically, however, I know that’s not prudent. One, I don’t want to be too tied down by what I have to read, as I’m often a mood reader. And two,  I’ve found too many challenges make it hard to actually keep up with any of them. So I’ve narrowed down my challenges to these:

1. My county library challenge.  There’s a different topic for each month and you choose a book to fit into that challenge. January’s topic is “A Book That a Librarian Recommends”. I’ve chosen No Ink, No Borders, a book of poetry by immigrants and refugees. You can find out more about this challenge here.

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2. The Epic Reads Challenge/Book Club.  Epic reads is doing their challenge a little differently this year, They are giving  a monthly topic with their book club pick. January’s pick is A Very Large Expanse of Sea. There will be discussion about the chosen book on the Facebook group too. You can find out more about this challenge here.

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3. Books With A Past Bookstore Challenge.  This is one of my local bookstores. They are doing a challenge similar to the library one. The give a theme for each month, and you choose a book that fits that theme. The first theme is “A Book From you 2019 TBR list”. I’ve already read Final Girls by Riley Sager to fulfill this prompt. You can find out more about the challenge on their Instagram page here.

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4. The Goodreads Challenge. And of course, I’m also doing the Goodreads challenge. I’ve set my goal at 200 books which is higher than last year’s goal, but I also amazed myself by reading over 300 books last year, so I may have to make the goal higher if it seems like I’m going to do that again this year. 🙂

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For Writers, Reading Challenge

Litsy – An app for Readers

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Today I wanted to share about a new bookish app – Litsy. I discovered Litsy just a couple of months ago, but it’s already one of my favorite apps. You can download the app for iphone or android, or you can use it online.

Litsy is a mix between Goodreads and Bookstagram. You create a profile and you can post pictures, blurbs, reviews, or quotes. You can “stack” books you want to read as well as books you’ve already read. (You can also rate the books you’ve read.) For a bookworm, this is the perfect social media platform.

Here are some screenshots from my account:  1-of my feed,  2-books I want to read, and 3-books I have read.

My friend Raimey Gallant has a great post on her blog with all kinds of tips for using Litsy. You can check it out here.

Just like on Instagram, there are lots of games, challenges, and readathons to participate in. I’m participating in a halloween-themed readathon called #scarathlon next month, and am psyched about it! If you are already on Litsy and are interested, there still time to sign up. You can do that here.

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What’s your favorite bookish app? Are you on Litsy? What’s your handle? Let me know in the comments! (My handle is @Charityann.)

#authortoolboxbloghop

Save the Cat Writes A Novel (Book Review) – #authortoolboxbloghop

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Lately, most of my writing time has been dedicated to revising my Camp NaNoWriMo project, and I’m feeling good about the progress I’ve made. I’ve discovered several new things that have helped make the process easier for me. One is the chapter overview which I shared for May’s #authortoolboxbloghop. (If you missed that one, you can read about it here.)

Today, I wanted to share about another great resource – Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody.

Originally taken from Save the Cat, a book about screenwriting, this book takes the three act structure of a story and breaks it down even farther into 15 beats. It also tells about the ten types of stories and gives examples from best-selling novels like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter.

I love this book! It’s really helped me with my revisions. Using the fifteen beats, I’ve been able to see where things needed to be moved around so they fit better into my story. I’ve also been able to determine whether or not scenes are necessary. And I’ve been able to lay everything out to see how it’s working together.

One of Brody’s suggestions is to use index cards and a big cork board to set up the fifteen beats. I love this idea and while I haven’t got the board yet, I’ve started making the cards and can’t wait to see how it will all look once it is all put together. (I’ll be sure to share my results.)

I think any fiction writer would benefit from this book, and if you haven’t checked it out yet, you should. This is one of my favorite writing books and one I’ll be keeping close whenever I’m working on revisions. (If you’re a planner, you’d probably use this book before you write your novel.)

How about you? Have you read this book yet? What’s your favorite craft book? Let me know in the comments!

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This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop hosted by Raimey Gallant. To check out all the participating blogs, or to join in the fun go here.

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Prepping for Camp NaNoWriMo – #authortoolboxbloghop

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I’m going to be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo next month. For those who might not know, Camp NaNo is an extension of NaNoWriMo (where you write a novel in 30 days throughout the month of November).  There are two sessions of Camp Nano, one in April and one in July. You are sorted into virtual cabins with like-minded writers who support you throughout the month. You can sign up and find out all the details here.

The thing I like about Camp Nano is that you can choose to do whatever writing project you would like. Some people work on a series of short works such as poems or short stories, others work on nonfiction pieces, some focus on revising and editing a novel, and still others follow the traditional Nano and write 50k words in a month.

I’ve chosen to do a revision project. I pulled out a manuscript I stored away several years ago and am going to see what I can do with it. It’s a nice chance to step away from my current WIP and focus on another project.

Here are some tips I found helpful. I hope they can help you get ready for Camp NaNo too:

1. Decide on your project. What are you going to do? Is there something you need to finish with an impending deadline? Maybe there’s a piece you’ve set aside that you’d like to reexamine. Or maybe you have a series of shorter pieces you want to complete. This is one of the best parts of Camp NaNo – picking what you want to do!

2. Gather your supplies. For me, this included some research materials, which you may also need if your project requires it. I always have a specific notebook assigned to each project I do so my notes are all contained in one place. Maybe there are some specific resources you might need for guidance. (I’ve included a list of resources at the bottom of this post.) You’ll want to have you planner/calendar for the month handy too (more about this in the next tip). And then there are the obvious things you’ll need – pens, laptop, a favorite writing snack and /or drink, and any other essentials you use when you write.

3. Set up your timeline/calendar. You need to decide on a plan. How many pages, hours, words, ect., are you going to write each day? Make little goals and create a reward system for yourself to help keep you motivated. I start with little rewards like a candy bar or a Starbucks drink, and then build up to larger things like a new mug or book. I usually choose a big prize for completing my final goal at the end of the month, something I’m really excited about that will help motivate me to finish. I’m still working on setting my plan up, but when I finish I’ll share what my calendar looks like.

4. Last but not least – Have Fun! Make this a fun event. If it’s something that will be a lot of stress for you right now, maybe decide to try July’s event instead. If now is the right time for you, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You want to reach your goals, but also be realistic. Don’t set goals that you will be unlikely to attain. And remember this is something you tailor to you – so you can make it as big or as small a project as you’d like.

These helped me with my plan for Camp Nano and I hope they’ll help you too. I know some people don’t like NaNo because it’s too much pressure, but this is a more relaxed version since you’re picking the project and the goals. So even if you don’t like NaNo, you could still give Camp NaNo a try.

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Resources:

Story Genius by Lisa Cron This is a craft book with tips for creating your novel.

Revision and Self-Editing by James Scott Bell. This is a great resource to help with revisions on your novel.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. This is a great guide on how to self-edit your novel.

No Plot? No Problem by Chris Baty. This book is by one of the creators of NaNoWriMo and is an inspiring and quick read. Very helpful if you’re not sure what you’re going to write about.

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This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop. It’s hosted by Raimey Gallant. For more details and to join in the fun, go here.

What about you? Are you participating in Camp Nano this April? What do you do to prepare? Let me know in the comments!