The 2015 100 Books Challenge

Leckie_AncillarySword_TP-197x300I’m excited to start my fourth year attempting the 100 Books challenge!

Last year, I managed to read 97 books.  Some of my favorites?  Ann Leckie’s ANCILLARY SWORD — sequel to 2013’s ANCILLARY JUSTICE — along with M. R. Carey’s THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS, the first volume of the new MS. MARVEL written by G. Willow Wilson about a Pakistani-American superheroine, and SHADOWBOXER by Tricia Sullivan.

This year, I’ve already got 7 books on my list — mainly books I was trying but failed to finish in 2014, plus a couple for upcoming events and reviews:

  • The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
  • Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 9, ed. Andrew Drilon & Charles Tan
  • Once We Were* by Kat Zhang
  • Asura Girl* by Otaro Maijo
  • A Crown for Cold Silver by Alex Marshall (ARC)
  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown (GiC Book Club)

You’ll be able to find reviews of The Walled City and Asura Girl up this month over at Girls in Capes.  If you’re in the West Philadelphia suburbs area, join us for our book club on Jan. 31 to talk about Red Rising.

What books are you most looking forward to this year?


March 2014 Review

After coming home from a trip to Seattle for AWP, I was very ready to kick off the month with a bang.

This month’s articles:

This month’s books for the 100 in 2014 Challenge have been a lot of fun. I finished up ANCILLARY JUSTICE for the Girls in Capes Book Club – it was a re-read, but I definitely enjoyed it!

The titles I read in March feel pretty diverse, especially looking back at the list now.  Aside from space operas ANCILLARY JUSTICE and the new title from Rachel Bach, HONOR’S KNIGHT, I also read a pair of historical fiction graphic novels, BOXERS & SAINTS by Gene Yang, and the first volume of MADOKA MAGICA: THE DIFFERENT STORY by Magica Quartet.

A fairy tale-like full-color graphic novel called THE LEGEND OF BOLD RILEY – written by Leia Weathington and featuring art by several different artists – was one of my favorites this month.  The protagonist, Bold Riley, is a former princess who gave up her claims to the throne to pursue countless adventures in the style of Sinbad the Sailor.  Weathington’s fairy tale-esque language makes Bold Riley a simultaneously comfortable and fun read.

My least favorite this month was a manga titled AI ORE! by SHINJO Mayu. It was a gender-bender title about a romance between a tall, handsome girl and a short, pretty boy, and it was a really fun ride until it reached the last part of the volume, which was kind of disturbing.  I wouldn’t recommend this for readers, even shoujo manga people.

December 2013 Review

It’s always sad to close out a year. But I can honestly say that 2013 has been a wonderful year for me: I’m officially halfway through my graduate degree program, Girls in Capes launched and met with wonderful successes, and I had the opportunity to meet some of the most interesting people yet.

December was a great month, though: I had the opportunity to speak at an event in my hometown and ended the year at Girls in Capes with a bang.

Here are a few pieces I did this December:

This month, I read a ton of books to catch up on my 100 Books in 2013 challenge.  There were several graphic novels – SWEET REIN Vol. 1, WONDER WOMAN: THE HIKETEIA, WHO IS WONDER WOMAN?, RINNE vol. 1 & 2, and THE COMPLETE PERSEPOLIS – along with a few prose titles as well, including ALLEGIANT and HOSTAGE THREE.

Of the new-to-me books, I think the best was probably RINNE, written and illustrated by one of my favorite mangaka. Naturally, though, my overall favorite read in December was WONDER WOMAN: THE HIKETEIA, which was a re-read for me. It’s the first American graphic novel I ever read, and it inspired me to read more comics. But beyond that, it changed my life in many ways, which I spoke on earlier this month during my appearance at Women Unbound in Toledo.

31 January: Review

A new year means a fresh start, and I’m starting fresh in a few different ways.  This month, I launched a new website called Girls in Capes – an online magazine focusing on girls and women in geek culture such as comics, video games, and science fiction.  You can check it out over here.  We’re currently growing our staff of writers and feature three at the moment, including myself!

You can find my work at the following locations:

I’m also entering my second semester at Rosemont College – and on the staff of Rathalla Review.  You can submit to Rathalla Review here.  Keep checking back for updates on what’s going on over at the Review!

This month, I started a total of 10 books in the 100 Books challenge.  I will still be working on two during February — Temple of a Thousand Faces by John Shors and Andrew Pyper’s The Demonologist — so my real “completed” total is 8 books for the month of January.

What have you read this month?

The Challenge: Up to 100 in 2013

I like to read.

That’s an understatement, especially if you’ve met me in real life.  I studied books in college, and I’m in graduate school studying publishing.  It’s not so much that I like to read as much as it is that I am madly in love with books.

Last year, I participated in the 100 Books in 2012 challenge.  If you check out the challenge page I set up, you’ll notice I didn’t exactly make it.  I fell short by almost 30 books, clocking my final tally at just 71 books.  (Impressive for some people, but I didn’t find it particularly impressive at all.)

This year, I’m aiming for the same goal – but I know I need to look at what I did wrong if I hope to do better this time around.  There are a few things I didn’t do that I probably should have done:

  • Planning ahead for academic emergencies.  There are several months on my list that have a very short number of titles.  Two of them are ones I wholly expected: April — the month before I completed my undergraduate degree — and November — the month before I completed my first semester of graduate school.  I planned ahead that I would do poorly in April, since I read 12 books total in March, but I didn’t plan ahead in October at all.
  • Catching up when I had time.  After my one-book month in November, I did plenty of December reading to make up for it, completing a whopping 13 titles (plus one title started) that month.  But looking back at the year, there’s something funny: May, June, and July are all nearly empty.  As I spent that time working with no classes or homework to distract me, it seems strange now to think that I didn’t take the opportunity to catch up on extra reading.  What’s wrong with hitting the library in the summer?

Those were really the primary issues I had with the challenge in 2012.  Now that I know what’s going on, I can plan ahead better for 2013.

  • Reading while on trips.  I have at least two conferences to attend in 2013, and several of the titles in my list for December 2012 were completed while I was traveling.  If I’m going to be taking the train at all this year, which in all likelihood I will, I’m guessing I’d better bring a few books along for the ride.
  • Planning ahead for academic emergencies – and following up afterward.  Knowing that my greatest weakness was not before but after finals week in the early part of the year is a big help, and now I know to read a few books as I wind down from a difficult semester.
  • Don’t just catch up during downtime: get ahead.  I can read pretty fast, and I typically use that to my advantage.  Luckily for me, graduate school requires a lot of reading – and now I work at a bookstore.

Are you participating in any reading challenges this year?  If so, how many books will you be reading and how do you plan to accomplish that?

Reading Surge

With my completion of the very difficult (for me) Mansfield Park by Jane Austen and a discussion with some of my future classmates about our recently-read books, I realized how very far behind I am in the 100 Books Challenge.  More than halfway through the year, and I’m still in the 30s!  (Mansfield Park made 33.)

With that in mind, I now know how desperately I need to get cracking on my reading list.  I know I should be reading more than I have been, especially since I’m going to school in the fall, but work this summer has really not been helpful to my summer reading, and I haven’t spent nearly as much time as I should immersed in my books.

So instead of going to the library to fill up on “junk” books — grabbing every young adult novel in sight, as I normally do — I’ve decided to do something different.

I’m going through my own personal library and rediscovering books I haven’t touched in ages.

The first three books on my Rediscovering list:

  1. The Great Wing by Louis A. Tartaglia.  I received this book when I was in grade school and we read it as a class.  The book is a parable based on the migration of a flock of geese.  It really is a beautiful book — at least, that’s how I remember it.  Honestly, I should probably re-read it before making judgments.
  2. M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang.  This is the book on which I wrote my Honors thesis while at the University of Toledo, which I did during my second year of college.  You can read more about the book here, since it’s much too complicated for a brief summary here on this blog, but the book had a huge impact on my life and the way I thought of myself, since I’m half Asian-American and half European-American.
  3. Dread by Ai.  I’m not a huge poetry person; I really enjoy writing it, but I don’t usually go out of my way to find a poet.  Ai’s work is totally different for me.  For some reason, I fell in love with Ai, especially the collection Dread.  It’s terribly sad and very dark, but somehow still beyond beautiful.

I’m reading these three books this week, though by the time you read this I’ll probably have at least one of them done.  All of them are under 150 pages, with the actual play portion of M. Butterfly under 100 pages, and I’m definitely familiar enough with M. Butterfly to zip through it.

After I finish these, I plan to read a few other books: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, loaned to me by my boyfriend; The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, which I haven’t touched since high school; Legend by Marie Lu; Erin Morgenstern’s beautiful novel The Night Circus; and, naturally, the entire Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling.  Brave New World is the only one I’ve never read, and the rest will all be re-read.

Threaded throughout the re-reads, I’ll be making an attempt at Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  I know it’s very strange I haven’t read it yet, but — like Mansfield Park — I was always for some reason unable to make my way through it.

Do you have any book recommendations?

100 Books in 2012

A friend of mine who’s in the UT Writer’s Guild with me recently told me about the 100 Books in One Year Challenge.  I did some research and decided I’d throw my hat into the ring.

The site I found was Book Chick City, and the lady who runs it said she had a whopping 630 participants last year!  Currently, there are 311 people signed up, not including me!

I’m a bit behind because it took me a week or so to decide, and I haven’t really been focusing on it.  But I promise I’ll do some interesting things this year, and you’ll probably get some book reviews or book-related articles along the way…

…especially after I go to the AWP Conference and Bookfair in March.  8 hour round-trip travel, and if I’m going to be on a train, I’m taking multiple books.

What books would you challenge me to read?  What books would you recommend?  I have great appreciation for young adult, light romance, some science fiction, and fantasy novels.  I also like poetry, if you’ve got recommendations!

If you’d like to sign up as well, you can do so at Book Chick City. (Despite what it sounds like, you don’t have to be female to join in.)  If you’ve joined in, let me know how far you are!  You can see my progress on this page, and as of now I have completed 7 books and am working on numbers 8 and 9.