Sunday 31 January 2016

Prisoner of Warren

Finished January 31
Prisoner of Warren by Andreas Oertel

This children's novel is set in the summer of 1944 in rural New Brunswick. Thirteen-year-old Warren Webb is upset that his parents have decided to take on a German prisoner of war (POW) as a worker on their farm. He and his best friend Tom and determined that they must defend themselves from this threat and kill him before he kills them.
But then Warren meets Martin, the young man who speaks good English, works hard, and takes the time to explain things to Warren. With Martin sleeping in the same room as Warren, and the two tasked with all the work needed to bring indoor plumbing to the Webb home, they learn a lot about each other. When Warren finds that Martin, like himself, is a sprinter, the connection becomes stronger.
Three older boys, known for their bullying behaviour make Warren and Martin targets after they come to the assistance of two local girls. The ensuing conflict will have Warren drawing on skills within himself that he never realized he had.
Warren also misses his older brother Pete, who died from polio, and talks to him whenever he wants advice. This provides a sounding board and source of humour for Warren at times of indecision.
This is a book that deals with the issues of war, the propaganda that is built around it, bullying, and friendship.

For another book written for youth on POWs in Canada, see Uncertain Soldier by Karen Bass.

Hungry for Math

Finished January 31
Hungry for Math: Poems to Munch On by Kari-Lynn Winters + Lori Sherritt-Fleming + Peggy Collins

This collection of poetry for children is a great way to start them on the road to numerical/financial literacy. The poems here cover lots of areas of math: shapes, counting, measuring, and estimating  in lots of fun ways like finding things in the pictures, looking at shapes hidden in other shapes, counting coins, and logic. Of course, as the title says, there is lots of eating going on here too.
A nice list of some math terms is included at the back to help readers learn terms that may be new to them. As a lover of both math and poetry, I loved this fun book.

Front Runner

Finished January 31
Front Runner by Felix Francis

Our hero for this novel is Jeff Hinkley is a senior investigator for the British Horseracing Authority, the BHA. He has done a fair bit of undercover work, but one of his recent cases has him more in the limelight that he likes. Derrick Smith nearly had one of his horses stolen, an act thwarted by Jeff's work, and now he can't stop singing Jeff's praises. One of the leading jockeys, a man he has become friends with, has called him to talk face-to-face. The conversation is difficult as the jockey wants help, but doesn't necessarily want to admit what he is being blackmailed for. When he calls to continue the conversation the next day, indicating he has additional information, Jeff is put into a position that narrowly misses being fatal. The jockey turns up dead shortly thereafter, an apparent suicide. When this is followed a couple of days later by another attempt on Jeff's life, he begins to dig deeper into the people he has met and the things he has seen, looking for those things that don't look quite right.
Jeff is close to his older sister Faye, who is undergoing cancer treatment and while he doesn't always get on with her husband Quentin, he does respect him and he legal knowledge. Jeff is also still recovering by being dumped by his fiance. When he meets Henrietta Shawcross at a function Derrick invites him to, he can't believe that she would be interested in him. As he begins this new relationship, he also finds himself caught between his investigative instincts and his feelings.
Another great thriller built around the world of horse-racing. Francis never disappoints.

Saturday 30 January 2016

13 rue Therese

Finished January 30
13 rue Therese by Elena Mauli Shapiro

This very unusual novel was inspired by a box of mementos the author had possession of. She built this story around them. The back cover describes the book as a puzzle-novel.
In the novel, a young American scholar in nineteenth century French literature is taking a position at a Paris university. His name is Trevor Stratton. The secretary at the university, Josianne, has a ritual of giving a box of artifacts indirectly to a visiting foreign professor and seeing what happens. The box chooses to return to her following each episode. She does not do this every year, only when something draws her to a certain one. The contents of the box have been known to induce fevers, including with Josianne herself when she first came upon it.
We see the reaction of Trevor through letters he writes to someone, whom he addresses only as "sir". Sometimes there are rambling. Sometimes he describes what he finds, providing images and translations. Sometimes he appears to know things that are impossible for him to know, as if he had actually been present at moments in the past.
The author provide a list of the mementos with QR codes beside each one. These links take you to enhanced versions of the images, and are also available through the website
This is a passionate book, full of emotion. I loved the uncertainty, the way I had to work things out. A book like no other I've read.

The Thundermaker

Finished January 30
The Thundermaker written and illustrated by Alan Syliboy

This picture book draws on the indigenous Mi'kmaw petroglyph tradition. It tells the story of Little Thunder as he grows up with his mother Giju and his father Big Thunder, learning the traditions of his people, their relationship to animals, plants, and the larger world. Little Thunder gradually learns his craft from Big Thunder until he is ready to go to the sacred mountain and become the Thundermaker. There, he must complete a task that is important to his people, create Kluskap, the teacher, from a mound of clay by throwing thunderbolts in a very specific way.
This is a story drawing from legend and culture, but written for young children. It is a good addition to our country's works.

The Garden of Letters

Finished January 26
The Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman

This novel is set in Italy during World War II. As the book begins in October 1943, a young woman steps off a boat in Portofino, scared and still in shock from her recent experiences. A local doctor greets her and takes her home to stay at his house. When she asks why he picked her to save, he replies that he chooses the person who looks most afraid.
We then see her life over the last few months as the war in Italy grew more intense, she volunteered for the resistance, and experienced losses of friends and family. We also see the doctor's story, how he had a great love, was involved in a war himself, and experienced great loss. As the two gradually get to know each other, and learn more about each other, they find comfort.
The woman, Elodie, is a promising young cellist in Verona, encouraged by her musician father and her Venetian mother. She gets drawn into resistance work through a good friend, and personal experiences. The title comes from letters the doctor wrote years before, that have their own strong presence here.
A story of love, loss, and the power of words and music.

Monday 25 January 2016

The Wolf in Winter

Finished January 25
The Wolf in Winter by John Connolly, read by Jeff Harding

This is the 12th book in the series featuring private investigator Charlie Parker, but the first one I've read. Charlie lives in Maine, and his work sometimes takes him away from there, but this book is focused on that state. Charlie learns that a homeless man was looking to hire him to look into the disappearance of his daughter. As he begins to trace the girl and her father's search for her, he finds himself led to the small town of Prosperous. Prosperous takes pride in its history, tracing its founding families back to England. Those founders brought their church with them, yet the town strictly limits access to this church and its grounds. The selectmen of the town consider their role as protectors of the town, but what they get in return is more nebulous.
This is a story of dark forces, people that believe in the end justifying the means, and closely guarded secrets. Charlie is no stranger to any of this and he does his research and chooses his moves carefully, but perhaps not always carefully enough. Two of the men that work closely with him, Angel and Louis, also have roles to play, as does a man Charlie has been hunting. This is a book with both a strong detective mystery plot, and a horror plot entwined together. It also has many interesting characters, touches of humour, and has interested me in reading more in this series.

Sunday 24 January 2016

Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea

Finished January 21
Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea by Morgan Callan Rogers

This novel begins in the summer of 1963 when 12-year-old Florine Gilham has her activities limited after an incident involving several friends: Dottie, Glen and Bud. Florine spends the days with her mother Carlie. Carlie is young and impetuous and the two spend their time on the beach, walking to the nearby state park, hanging around their small Maine town and nearby towns, and dancing to records. Lee, Florine's father is twelve years older than her mother, a local fisherman, and happy to stay where he is. The two parents care about each other deeply, and their one point of argument is Carlie's wanting to travel to other places. When she goes on her annual trip further along the coast with her friend Patty and goes missing, the Florine's life changes rapidly.
She spends her days with her grandmother who lives across the road, Grand, learning how to back bread and knit, and pining for her mother. Lee first begins to disappear into a bottle, and then finds solace in another, something Florine has difficulty accepting.
The story continues over the years as Florine grows into a woman, still missing her mother, and trying to figure out her own path in life.
This is a story of loss, but because of the uncertainty of Carlie's disappearance, the grief is mixed with hope and denial. Florine is a strong character, and we see her change over the years. The historical period is part of the story as well, as is the setting. A great story that will draw you in to this girl's world.

The In-Between Hour

Finished January 19
The In-Between Hour by Barbara Claypole White

Will Shepard is a well-known author of a thriller series, now faced with writer's block due to a tragedy in his personal life. Mere months ago, his young son was killed in a car accident. Will's father, back home in North Carolina, is struggling with dementia and a seniors' residence that isn't a good fit for him. When he forgets that his grandson is dead and Will lets him believe a different story, Will is faced with a different problem. Forced to return to North Carolina to deal with his father's situation, Will finds himself renting a cabin on a farm near the mountains his father is most comfortable with. The owner of the farm, veterinarian Hannah Linden is a holistic healer struggling with her own family issues. as the two of them begin to trust each other and support each other, they also find that they connect in ways neither expected.
I liked the characters in this book. They struggle with difficult issues, but are definitely good people at heart. The supporting characters: Will's dad Jacob, Hannah's son Galen and her friend Poppy are also interesting characters with issues of their own. This is a story of grief, health issues, and healing. A story of love, both familial, friendship, and romantic. I enjoyed it.

Saturday 16 January 2016

The Risk of Darkness

Finished January 16
The Risk of Darkness by Susan Hill

This is an earlier book in the series featuring Lafferton police officer Simon Serrailler that I had missed. Simon still has hope over the case of missing child David Angus even though it has been eight months since he went missing. He is asked to confer on a missing child case in Yorkshire that has similar features, and while he is there another child goes missing. Simon joins the chase and they capture a suspect, one that surprises them all, but is the same person guilty of David's disappearance.
We also see the young single mother who lives next door to the suspect, her struggle to provide a home for her daughter, her frustrations, and feelings once the true nature of her neighbour come to light.
We also, as usual see into Simon's personal life, and the life of his sister Cat, a doctor in Lafferton. Cat's husband is growing increasingly frustrated with his job, Cat is struggling to keep her family in good order, and provide the support her hospice patients and their families need, as well as serving her regular patients. Simon is at odds romantically, and not always making good decisions. The new local Church of England Jane Fitzroy is struggling as well, dealing with a violent attack on her very independent mother back in  London, and an attack on herself in her new home, as well as misgivings over her new position.
As usual, this book offers complex characters, and interesting plotlines that keep you reading.

Rosemary Cottage

Finished January 14
Rosemary Cottage by Colleen Coble, performed by Devon O'Day

This novel is part of a series of novels set at the fictional town of Hope Beach, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. As the book opens, Amy Lange, a midwife, is returning to the cottage she owns at Hope Beach, the Rosemary Cottage in the book's title. She is still mourning her older brother Ben, who co-owned the cottage with her, and who disappeared months ago while surfing in heavy seas. His body wasn't found, but his surfboard was found with the marks of shark teeth.  She recently received an email leading her to believe that Ben's death was not as everyone believes, and that it may have been murder. Coast Guard officer Curtis Ireland lost his sister Gina around the same time as Ben died. She was killed by a boat while swimming offshore, but the boat was never identified. Curtis is raising her daughter Raine, and he hasn't told Ben's family that Raine was Ben's daughter.
As Amy finds out the truth about Raine, finds herself becoming drawn to Curtis, and starts becoming comfortable in the town again, she decides to stay permanently, addressing the need for someone with her skills in the community. She and Curtis begin working together to look into Ben's death, and soon they also believe Gina's death may be related. But do their actions put them in danger as well, and is another threat looming that could take Raine away from both of them?
This book has romance, danger, a strong faith by both main characters, and through Amy, a leaning toward natural healing methods.
A short commentary at the end of the book gave background on how her interests contributed toward the inclusion of some plot elements, and gave me information on the unusual pronunciation of the author's first name as ko-lean.

Tigers in Red Weather

Finished January 11
Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann

This novel begins just after World War II when two cousins Nick and Helena leave their shared home in New York to go to their husbands. Nick's husband Hughes is returning from the war and is stationed in Florida where they live in a small bungalow with a canal behind it. Helena is joining her fiance Avery in California to get married and live there. Helena's first husband was killed in the war and she doesn't know her new man all that well, something Nick worries about. Neither woman finds their situation to be what they expected. Avery is consumed by the idea of a dead actress, and has a relationship of some sort with a director, staying in a small house on the director's property. Hughes seems to be more remote than he was before the war, and Nick has trouble fitting into the community socially.
Nick's family owns a vacation home, Tiger House, on Martha's Vineyard, with Helena's family cottage just next door. This is a base that the women keep returning to, and we first see them there in 1959 when they both have 12-year-old children, Daisy and Ed. It is this first summer that the two children discover a dead body, the victim of a brutal attack, and this discovery with come up again later in the story.
This novel is separated into five sections, each with a different narrator. It begins with Nick, then moves to Daisy, then to Helena, then Hughes, and ends with Ed. Some of these have overlapping time periods, particularly the summer of 1959.
This is a book of two women who both love each other, and compete with each other. Their personal difficulties are an influence on their children, and shape their lives.

Saturday 9 January 2016

Huntress Moon

Finished January 9
Huntress Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

This thriller features FBI agent Matthew Roarke. Roarke responds to a call from one of his agents for a face-to-face meeting only to witness the agent's death. It seems like an accident, but the mysterious woman that Roarke noticed just before has him thinking of other possibilities. As he does his research he finds evidence of a similar female figure in two other unsolved cases. One of them also seemed like an accident, but the other was a definite murder.
Roarke's experience as a profiler becomes something he draws on as he tries to figure out the woman's motivations and identity.
We also see this story from the woman's point of view as well, as she moves on to a new location, encounters trouble along the way, and befriends a man and his young son.
As we gradually learn more about this young woman from Roarke's research, and about her victims, we also see that the crimes that she has been involved in have more complexity to them and that complicates Roarke's reaction.
His career is also linked to her story in an interesting and personal way.

The Good Girl

Finished January 7
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica, read by Lindy Nettleton, Johnny Heller, Tom Taylorson, and Andi Arndt

This novel has several narrators, and jumps back and forth between two time periods, identified as "before" and "after." Eve Dennett is married to a judge, and her younger daughter Mia was kidnapped in the before portion of this story. In the after portion, Mia is home, but has lost her memory. Eve tells us how she reacted to Mia's disappearance, the worry for her daughter's safety, and the loneliness she feels as her husband reacts very differently to the situation.
Another narrator is Gabe Hoffman, the detective assigned to the case. Gabe doesn't think much of the judge and his cold attitude towards his daughter's disappearance. He is drawn to Eve, partly through sympathy for her situation and partly as a man. As he sees her often to update her on the case, he sometimes crosses the line from professional to personal, not only with Eve, but at other points in his investigation where he shows his caring side for the people he encounters. The third main narrator is Colin Thatcher, the man who kidnapped Mia. The situation is more complex than that sounds because Colin's motives are both personal and altruistic, and the kidnapping has layers to it that are gradually revealed. The last narrator is Mia herself, but only in a limited fashion.
This is a story of parents and children, of love and control, of lies and truths. The title speaks to this as well. Is Mia the good girl, or is she the rebel? Is she the art teacher dedicated to bringing out the best in her students, or the wild child leading a dangerous life? Every character in this book has potential for good and bad, and things aren't always as they seem.

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Putting the User First

Finished January 6
Putting the User First: 30 Strategies for Transforming Library Services by Courtney Greene McDonald

This short guide is written for academic librarians, but many of the ideas are transferable to a public library environment. It begins with a clear observation that you need to understand to truly put the user first, which is to understand that you aren't the user. Despite having a library card and using library materials and services, because of your inside knowledge you can never really see things from the user's viewpoint. It is good to recognize this and then discover the various things you can do to make sure you do put the user first.
This guide uses icons to mark each of the 30 strategies to show characteristics of each strategy. They represent: no cost, low cost, technological, physical spaces, personal practice, and organizational culture. There are 3 additional icons that are attached to follow up activities for most strategies to show what kind of activity it is.There are: actualize, contemplate, and investigate.
One example is #13 Prioritize. In summary it says you can't be all things to all people, so pick a population to prioritize. What I really liked was how it talked about collaboration as opposed to consensus. The term used here is "disagree but commit," which I really like. Prioritizing means that you will be undertaking an uncomfortable process. When you elevate some populations to be priorities, that means others are designated as less important, perhaps even unimportant. You have to know your priorities to advocate for them.
Another example is #25 Defuse. The author talks about her experience giving up complaining for Lent one year, and what effect that had on her during that time. Negativity is unnecessary and counterproductive. She proposes asking three questions: How important is this, really? Can I do something about it? and Do I need to have an opinion about this? Losing negativity saves a lot of time and energy, something we are all short of these days.
There are 28 more of these helpful strategies in this book. And many of them have referrals to other books or articles or websites that provide more ideas and insights.

Librarians as Community Partners

Finished January 5
Librarians as Community Partners: an Outreach Handbook edited by Carol Smallwood

This book contains articles on sixty-six different outreach initiatives by librarians across the United States. The articles are all succinct and well-organized, ranging from one to four pages in length. The encompass different types of libraries as well as a variety of target groups.
They are organized into different sections, The first one is the most general, entitled "A Sampler of Outreach Programs" and includes ideas from library docents to digitization projects. The second looks at outreach targeting seniors and at least one of the articles here directly addresses the issue of what to refer to this subgroup of adults as, something my library has struggled with. The third section looks at youth outreach, mostly for teens, from homeschooled teens to teen theater. The fourth has three examples of correctional facility outreach, again mostly focused on youth. The fifth section has three examples of using special collections in outreach projects. Part six has two examples of partnering with local media. Part seven has six examples of outreach through book festivals. Part eight focuses on classroom outreach from public schools to colleges. The ninth section looks at outreach to highlight and address diversity and there are many great ideas here for immigrants of all ages. Part ten is the largest section with fourteen examples of partnering with community groups. With the wide variety of types of community groups, this perhaps offers the most variety of possibilities.
My library system has many partnerships, some long-standing, some recent, and some in the progress of being set up. With the move to the community-led model of librarianship, this book offers numerous ideas and many will lead to more ideas going forward. An excellent addition to any library's staff collection.

Monday 4 January 2016

The Summer of Dead Toys

Finished January 3
The Summer of Dead Toys by Antonio Hill

This novel features a Barcelona police detective who was born in Argentina. Inspector Héctor Salgado is returning from a trip to his native Argentina following a forced leave, a leave necessitated by his violent assault on a man connected with a human trafficking investigation.
His colleague Martina Andreu is now the lead on that case, and Salgado is assigned unofficially to a seemingly simple case of accidental death.
A young man has fallen from a third story window to his death. He was known for sitting on the window sill to smoke a cigarette, and so the death is easily explained as accidental. The promising young officer on the case Leire Castro has a feeling there is more to it, and as Salgado becomes involved his intuition also says that the young witnesses aren't telling them everything.
Meanwhile Andreu is following leads in the disappearance of a suspect that are worrying and she finds herself torn between the evidence and her gut feelings.
We also see a bit of Salgado and Castro's private life, their relationships, their worries, and what may lie ahead for each of them.
This is an intriguing read, with some very interesting situations and characters.

Marketing Your Library's Electronic Resources

Finished January 4
Marketing Your Library's Electronic Resources by Marie R. Kennedy and Cheryl LaGuardia

This marketing how-to-do-it manual is actually a general marketing manual with some good examples specific to electronic resources. The manual begins with a short backgrounder of the environment and the obstacles to awareness of libraries' digital resources.
Chapter one then begins with the marketing basic of defining your purpose. Knowing what you want to accomplish with your marketing plan is key to achieving it. It emphasizes the importance of engaging with library patrons, because after all they are the users and potential users of your resources. It talks about the challenge of not having physical resources to browse, the need to have all staff on the same page when it comes to messaging,
Chapter two outlines the components of a marketing plan. It uses the image of a circle to show the marketing cycle and defines nine components to any good marketing plan.
Chapter three moves into implementation of the plan giving examples of each component in action, There is a nicely laid out table of different marketing techniques as applied to marketing e-resources, as well as four main categories these fall into.
Chapter four discusses the written marketing plan report. Creating a report can be done at various points from before to after your campaign, but is an important element for various stakeholders. The report needs to be geared to the audience,
Chapter five looks at assessment. How effective was your marketing plan? Did it meet your stated purpose? As they say, assessment is not a one-time measure, it is ongoing through the life of the plan. Feedback is essential and many examples are given here of feedback forms for different purposes. There is also a list of questions library staff must ask themselves in terms of assessment.
Chapter six looks at revising and updating your marketing plan, the importance of reflection. Reflect on each of the nine components, how well they worked for you, and what you might do differently.
The second part of the book gives four marketing plans. One is for an all-electronic library, two are for public libraries, and the fourth is for an academic library.
This book provides very useful information for libraries looking at developing marketing plans.

Sunday 3 January 2016

Light Years

Finished January 2
Light Years: Memoir of a Modern Lighthouse Keeper by Caroline Woodward

Something about lighthousekeeping draws me, and thus I picked up this memoir at the library. Woodward's memoir gives us the background of how she and her husband Jeff came to be lighthousekeepers, and also delves further back into her past including her childhood growing up in the North Peace River region of B.C.
I have ties to the Peace River area, on both the Alberta and B.C. side, living in Hudson Hope and Dawson Creek as a young child, and with both my parents born and growing up on the Alberta side. I also have ties to B.C. with my parents and one brother now living on Vancouver Island, and my sister in Prince Rupert. Her husband is even with the Coast Guard. Add to that Caroline's history as a publisher's representative as well as her status as a writer, and mine as a librarian, and this book just felt really connected for me. As she says in this book, in Canada sometimes the six degrees of separation seems more like 1.5 degrees.
Lighthousekeeping is a seven day a week job, with lots of tasks and physical work as part of it. As she shows, the environment can vary a fair bit depending on which lighthouse you are stationed at, and she and her husband have done a few as outlined here. Some are more remote, and some see a lot of visitors, particularly in the summer months. There are issues with weather and wildlife that you have to adjust to, and the need to be handy is apparent.
Part of the job is to keep the station in good upkeep, which means repairing, painting, and improving the infrastructure. Being good at problem-solving seems a plus, especially when it comes to connectivity. The logistics of getting on and off a lighthouse station, and getting supplies on and off is something that needs planning. As she says though, the most important ingredient is the personality mix between the residents at a lighthouse station.
Her chapter on food had me drooling, and I would heartily recommend a follow-up cookbook to this memoir based just on that chapter.
Lighthousekeeping is an interesting life, one that appeals but also brings feelings of trepidation.
For another view of lighthousekeeping, see Stargazing by Peter Hill.

Friday 1 January 2016

TBR Pile Reading Challenge 2016

I have to do some sort of TBR Challenge and since my usual one is no longer hosting, I've decided to try this one for 2016.

Here is the hosting page for this challenge.

This challenge runs the 2016 calendar year. Books have to have been published in 2015 or earlier. All genres, lengths, and formats are allowed.

My previous challenges had you specify which books from your piles you were going to read. This challenge does not require that, instead we are choosing how many books we already have that we are going to read.

There are 6 levels for this challenge. I'm going for the highest level, Married with Children, which is 50+ books. Because I really have to stop adding to my collection, I'm making the additional commitment that for every book I bring into the house, 2 have to leave the house.

May my willpower hold!

What An Animal IX Reading Challenge 2016 Commitment

I did this one a couple years ago, or one very similar.

Here is the hosting page for this challenge.

The challenge runs the 2016 calendar year. Animals can be real or fictional and that includes creatures such as mermaids and centaurs. Books can be in any genre or format. Overlaps with other challenges are encouraged.

Books must have one of the following to qualify

  • There is an animal in the title of the book
  • There is an animal on the cover of the book
  • An animal plays a major role in the book
  • A main character is, or turns into, an animal

There are 4 levels for this challenge. I'm choosing Level 2 which is from 7-12 books.

Books in Translation Reading Challenge 2016 Commitment

This is another new one for me, but since reading books in translation is something I try to do it's a good fit for me.

Here is the hosting page for this challenge.

This challenge runs for the 2016 calendar year. You can read in any genre, age range or format. Overlaps with other challenges are allowed.

There are four levels for this challenge. I'm going for the highest level, Linguist, which means I need to read 10-12 books translated into English. That's the general neighbourhood that I've been reading in for the last couple of years anyway.

Aussie Author Challenge 2016 Commitment

This is a new one for me, but one that I keep meaning to read more books in.

Here is the hosting page for this challenge.

This challenge runs for the 2016 calendar year. Books can be in any genre.

There are three challenge levels, and I'll be going for the lowest one, Wallaby, which requires me to read 3 books by Australian authors of which at least one is male, at least one is female, and at least one is new to me.

Eclectic Reader Challenge 2016 Commitment

I'm doing this challenge again as it does get me reading different things.

Here is the hosting page for this challenge.

It runs for the 2016 calendar year. Books may be in any format. Books can only be used for one category.

There are 12 categories to read in. You have to complete all 12.

1. A book about books (fiction or nonfiction)
2. Serial killer thriller
3. Paranormal romance
4. A novel set on an island
5. Investigative journalism (nonfiction)
6. Disaster fiction
7. Steampunk scifi
8. Any book shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
9. Psychology (nonfiction)
10. Immigrant Experience fiction
11. YA historical fiction
12. A debut author in 2016

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge 2016 Commitment

This is another new one for me, but it looks fun.

Here is the hosting page for this challenge.

The challenge runs for the 2016 calendar year. Books may be from any genre and in any format. Overlaps with other challenges are encouraged.

The idea is to read books that begin with each letter of the alphabet. Disregard first words such as 'a', 'an' and 'the'. For the difficult letters of Q, X, and Z, the word does not have to be the first word of the title. There are two ways to approach this challenge. One is to make a list of the letters of the alphabet and fill them up as you read. The other is to pick the books in advance. I will be doing the first approach and tracking it on my challenge progress page. Books can be read in any order.

Monthly Motif Reading Challenge 2016 Commitment

This challenge is one I looked at last year, but didn't commit to.

Here is the hosting page for the challenge.

Each month has a motif or theme that you have to read a book in.

* Who Dunnit? Crack the case and solve the mystery
* New Releases. Read a book released in the last year
* Take a Trip. Time travel or read a book set in a different country than where you live
* Best of the Best. Read a book that has won recognition or a literary award
* Story of Survival. Make it out alive, beat the odds, save yourself stories. Think beyond the typical.
* Girlxoxo Recommends. Check the host site for recommendations
* LOL. Hilarious memoirs, silly chick lit, comedic scifi. Pick a book that is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.
* Genre Jumble. Read from a genre you don't normally read from.
* Steampunk, Science Fiction, and Fantasy. Something from one of these genres.
* Things that Go Bump in the Night. Cozy mystery ghost stories, paranormal creeptastic, murder mysteries - it's up to you.
* Fiction Takes a Break. Anything nonfiction
* That's a Wrap. Finish a series you've been meaning to finish or read the next book in a series you started by never finished.

I think this should be interesting.

Banned Book Challenge 2016 Commitment

This is a new challenge for me, but one close to my heart as a librarian.

Here is the hosting page for this challenge.

The challenge runs for the 2016 calendar year. You have to read books that have been banned or challenged. No jurisdictions are specified, but I'll generally be going with U.S. and Canada. The hosting pages gives links to some lists for this. Both ALA and CLA have lists. Books may be in any format or genre. They may overlap with other challenges.

There are five levels for this challenge. I will be going for the second level, Trouble-Maker at 3-5 books.

What's in a Name Reading Challenge 2016 Commitment

I like the quirkiness of this challenge, and have done it for several years.

Here is the hosting page for this challenge.

It runs for the 2016 calendar year.You have to read a book from each of the categories, and some examples are giving at the hosting page. The category has to be in the title of the book.

1. A country
2. An item of clothing
3. An item of furniture
4. A profession
5. A month of the year
6. The word 'tree'

Books can only be used for one category. They may be in any format. They prefer that choices don't overlap with other challenges, but don't require it, so generally I ignore that preference and just read what fits and if it overlaps, it overlaps. Creativity is encouraged.

I'm already scanning my shelves and piles for candidates.

Literary Loners Challenge 2015 Commitment

This is a new challenge being offered for the first time. There are no checkins, so the only tracking will be on my progress page.

Here is the hosting page for this challenge.

There are two ways to play it: character loners and author loners. I will be doing the character loner version (mostly because I can easily tell if a character is a loner, outcast, recluse, wallflower, or introvert, and I'd have to do research on the authors)

The challenge runs for the 2016 calendar year, and books have to be started after January 1st, so no finishing ones already begun for this. Re-reads are allowed however. Books may be in all genres, fiction and nonfiction and all formats. Overlaps with other challenges are fine.

You decide your own level for this challenge, so I will set mine at 5 books.

European Reading Challenge 2016 Commitment

I always enjoy this challenge, it's not too difficult and it has me seeking out different books to read.

Here's the hosting page for this challenge. She does a great job of setting everything out clearly and providing good links for reviews.

The challenge is to read books by European authors or books set in European countries. All genres are allowed, both fiction and nonfiction, including poetry, cookbooks, and travel guides. Each book must be by a different author and set in a different country. She provides the following list of countries. All are sovereign states that fall at least partly within the continent of Europe and/or have membership in international European organizations such as the Council of Europe. She does note that since, at present the UK is still one country, books for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all count as UK, at least for any prizes.

THE LIST: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Vatican City. 

There are five levels that you can participate at, from one book to five books, all with fun names. I will be doing the Five Star (Deluxe Entourage) level. I'm not really interested in the prizes, I just like doing the challenge.

The challenge runs from January 1, 2016 to January 31, 2017, but since I do it every year, I tend to stick to the calendar year rather than do overlaps. Overlapping with other challenges is encouraged however, and I often do that. Re-reads count, as do books in all formats.