Category Archives: reading challenge

Shoot for the Moon 2018 Challenge – February Roundup

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Mhairi Simpson, and I, once again, sat down to write a series of very ambitious targets for 2018 when the year was only a few days old. After the success of the last few years, I have become a real fan of this process as it has given me clear targets to work towards throughout the year and then at the end of every month, hold myself to account in fulfilling these goals. So how did I do in February?

• Rewrite Miranda’s Tempest
After completing Miranda’s Tempest and sending it out last year, I am hoping to have my rewrite completed by the end of March, using the feedback from an agent who has shown interest in the manuscript. She further suggested that I send it to a professional editor before resubmitting it to her, which I intend to do.
 As is often the case, now that I have the completed manuscript, I can see how to improve it further. Though I shall be glad to finish this one – it rides on my shoulders like a demon… I have contacted an editor who is willing to plough through the manuscript in June – so I now have a hard deadline to work to, which is always a help.

• Learn to market my books
I conducted my first giveaway for Running Out of Space along with an Amazon ad and given it was only for 24 hours, I was pleased with the result. I have some extra keywords to add and I’m going to be tweaking my description on Amazon. I have also added the covers for my two self-published novels to my blog site.

• Write at least 100 reviews for my blog
I read 13 books in February – and the standout ones for me were the space opera adventures – Into the Fire by Elizabeth Moon; The Hyperspace Trap by Christopher Nuttall and Queen of Chaos by Sabrina Chase.
I have undertaken to read at least 24 books this year written by women authors previously unknown to me as part of the Discovery Challenge, thanks to Joanne Hall’s post. In February, the 4 books I’ve read towards my Discovery Challenge 2018 are:-

Keeper of the Watch – Book 1 of the Dimension 7 series by Kristen L. Jackson
Chase Walker is beginning to doubt his own sanity. From the moment he turned eighteen, a strange paranoia has taken over his mind. It all started the moment he discovered his uncle’s old watch… The watch calls to him. Though it beckons, he resists. His body strains toward it, blood pulsing, heart pounding in a mysterious and primitive need to connect with his uncle’s old beat up watch.
An entertaining parallel dimension adventure that really got going after an unexpected twist halfway through which I found original and engrossing.

Going Grey – Book 1 of The Ringer series by Karen Traviss
Who do you think you are? Ian Dunlap doesn’t know. When he looks in the mirror, he’s never sure if he’ll see a stranger. After years of isolation, thinking he’s crazy, he discovers he’s the product of an illegal fringe experiment in biotechnology that enables him to alter his appearance at will…
Tense contemporary sci fi thriller tale with plenty of action and adventure. While the writing is good, there were aspects regarding this book that I didn’t like, so I decided not to review it.

Fire and Bone – Book 1 of the Otherborn series by Rachel A. Marks
Sage is eighteen, down on her luck, and struggling to survive on the streets of Los Angeles. Everything changes the night she’s invited to a party — one that turns out to be a trap.
Thrust into a magical world hidden within the City of Angels, Sage discovers that she’s the daughter of a Celtic goddess, with powers that are only in their infancy. Now that she is of age, she’s asked to pledge her service to one of the five deities, all keen on winning her favor by any means possible. She has to admit that she’s tempted — especially when this new life comes with spells, Hollywood glam, and a bodyguard with secrets of his own. Not to mention a prince whose proposal could boost her rank in the Otherworld.
I really liked how this story draws on the myths of the Celtic gods and goddesses and look forward to reading more about this world.

The Magic Chair Murder: a 1920s English Mystery – Book 1 of the Black and Dods series by Diane Janes
The night before she’s due to make a speech to the Robert Barnaby Society on the subject of the famous writer’s ‘magic chair’, committee member Linda Dexter disappears. When her body is discovered two days later, fellow members Frances Black and Tom Dod determine to find out the truth about her death. Could Linda have discovered something about Robert Barnaby that got her killed? Or does the answer lie in the dead woman’s past? As they pursue their investigations, Fran and Tom find the Barnaby Society to be a hotbed of clashing egos, seething resentments and ill-advised love affairs – but does a killer lurk among them?
I loved this one, which firmly follows in the footsteps of Agatha Christie’s whodunits in realising the time and the intricate plotting. Highly recommended for fans of historical murder mysteries.

• Continue teaching TW
We are now working on the final elements of this two-year syllabus for Tim’s COPE project, which needs to be handed in by Easter, so it’s a rather stressful time. Tim is also in the throes of editing the film that was shot last autumn and making very good progress with that. When I see what he now achieves on a daily basis and measure that against what he could manage only a couple of years ago, I cannot get over just how much he has progressed and continues to do so.

• Continue to improve my fitness
I have now resumed my Pilates and Fitstep classes – I wish they weren’t on the same day, but at least I get to jig around once week. With the continuing cold weather, I have gained more weight than I wanted, though I’m hoping to lose most of it for the summer. My hip has been a bit grumbly during the cold, but it is easily sorted out, these days.

I have read a total of 24 books this year, including 7 towards my 2018 Discovery Challenge and 5 towards my Reduce the TBR Pile Challenge. My wordcount for the month, including blog articles and teaching admin as well as work on my novel, was just under 43,000, bringing my yearly total to the end of February to just over 86,000 words.

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My 2017 Reading Year – the Statistics

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This has been another excellent reading year. I kept my reading challenge to read and review 100 books during the year and in the event, I read 175 books and reviewed 162. Of these, 66 were written by male authors and 109 books by female authors. Given that I read mostly science fiction and fantasy, I am happy to be reading more books by female writers as they tend to be under-represented in book shops and libraries, particularly in science fiction.

 

 

Another related challenge I set myself was to read at least two books by a female author previously unknown to me – the Discovery Challenge, prompted by Jo Hall. During 2017, I read 39 books by women writers I hadn’t previously encountered, and 24 books by male authors I hadn’t read before. So 36% of books I read were by authors new to me. This is a bit disappointing, as last year, I had managed to achieve 43% of books read by previously unknown authors.

 

After resurrecting my previously-dormant NetGalley account in 2016, during 2017 I read and reviewed 74 new releases, still retaining my 80% feedback ratio badge with NetGalley. I have been very careful not to overload myself with arcs as I am a mood reader who reviews books as a hobby. I think this caution is paying off. In addition, my reviewer stats with Amazon have steadily climbed and I am now hovering around the 1,500 top reviewer mark. This may seem rather grim, but I am very happy, given that only three years ago I was waaaay down this ranking. One of my targets for 2017 was to make more inroads on my TBR pile. I am pleased to announce that I managed to read 74 books from my TBR pile. What was a bit shocking was how much less we are using the library, given Himself now has a lot more books from Kindle Unlimited, which he often goes on to buy if he likes them.

 

In 2017 I read 75 fantasy books, 72 science fiction books, 4 historical adventures, 11 contemporary fiction and 13. Science fiction includes sub-genres including time travel, steampunk, apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, military, space opera and literary. Fantasy includes sub-genres including epic, urban, swords and sorcery, sand and sorcery, musket and magic, grimdark and coming of age.

 

Regarding the age cateogries of the books – I read 19 children’s books in 2017, along with 25 books for young adults. The rest were adult/new adult. This is a massive fail – I was supposed to read more children’s and YA books this year. Given that in 2016 I also read 19 children’s books and 30 YA books, I am definitely going to have to ensure that I read more books for children and young adults in 2018.

 

And that’s it. How did you get on in 2017 – was it also a good year for you, too?