Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban June 23, 2013

Filed under: ALA,authors,book reviews,books,YA,Young Adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:53 am
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Wow! It’s been a long time since I’ve read through a book non-stop and then felt compelled to write immediately about it. The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban is the book that has done that for me. I LOVE this book. I love it so much, that I want to start reading it again tpfrom the beginning right now. I love it enough that I have already ordered the book that the author references in the “A Conversation with Elizabeth Laban” section at the end of the novel. I love it enough that I think high school English teachers should strongly consider making it required reading along with their student of Shakespeare. It would help their students understand tragedy at a level that classics can not bring to life for them.

I love it as a reader and I love it as a writer.

I wish I could have written it.

It has a map of the setting. I love when there is a map in a book, yet I didn’t even really look at the map. I just love that it is there.

It’s set in a school. I love books set in schools, especially for teens, since everything in their lives revolves around their friends and social contacts.

I love that one of the main character’s, Tim’s, parents are referenced so slightly, almost as if they were an annoyance to him. Yet you can tell he loves them, but just can’t be bothered by them. So dead-on with young people of that age.

I love the details about the locally-grown food throughout the book. Subtle references to the farms and locations the food came from-unnecessary details to the plot of the book, yet so detailed, it allows the reader to be there with the students of Irving School.

I love that I had to just keep reading it from the first page until the last. That it made me stay up late and wake up early, just so I could finish it.

I love the characters. I love that the tension you experience in the first couple chapters is still there, driving the characters on, driving the reading on, through the last page. Never is there a dull point, where you find yourself skimming, to get back to the main plot. I love that it’s set in a boarding school. I have a fascination with boarding schools.

It’s just that good.

Is the author going to be at ALA? I need to meet her and tell her how amazing her book is.

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Tearing through Crossed by Ally Condie December 28, 2011

Filed under: authors,book reviews,books,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 2:18 pm
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Even though it did take me quite a while to get into the book, I really liked Matched, the first in the trilogy. I first tried to read it when it came out last year, but petered out during the first six chapters. My daughter then took the book to read and it disappeared into her scary pre-teen bedroom, not to emerge for many months. I then got the book on audio this fall, thinking that might get me past whatever was holding me up.

The audiobook expired before I was done with the book, so I picked up the hardback again.

Read a chapter.

Put it on my to-read stack,

and left it there until last week.

It’s not that it wasn’t good, it certainly got me thinking about a lot of things…the biggest thing being:

“What if no one learned to ‘write’ anymore (print or cursive) because everything was on a keyboard? How easy would it be for your writing to then be monitored? Hmmm….”

Well, I can’t put Crossed down and have almost finished it in the last 24 hours. I love how the chapters alternate between Ky and Cassia. I, of course, love any teacher turned author, such as Ally Condie.

 

#BookaDay #3 & #4 Choker, Delirium December 30, 2010

Filed under: #bookaday,book reviews,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:17 pm
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#3

Choker by Elizabeth Emma Woods

e-galley Simon & Schuster

release date January 4, 2011

I wasn’t too sure about reading an e-galley or any e-book on my laptop, but I thought I’d give it a try. A couple pages into Choker, and I was hooked. My puppies who are used to being able to sit in my lap while I read, were not happy that my lap was full of my computer. I would describe Choker a thriller/horror YA novel that I think will be a hit with readers who enjoy books such as Wish You Were Dead by Todd Strasser (see review), Thirteen Days to Midnight by Patrick Carman, or the Gone novels (see review). Cara’s childhood friend Zoe shows up just when she needs her most. The other girls are cruel and having great fun humiliating Cara with her newest nickname “Choker” based on an ill-fated carrot episode in the lunchroom. Their friendship was obviously flawed and gives off many warning signs. Like watching an accident, I read on, even though I was inwardly wincing every time Cara’s parents didn’t realize Zoe had moved in. Cara’s crush on popular boy Ethan, wouldn’t amount to anything in many YA novels, yet Choker has Ethan and Cara moving closer together even as the end comes rushing up in a manner I never saw coming. Mark your calendar, buy Choker next week.

#4 Delirium by Lauren Oliver (actual cover below left)

release date February 1, 2011

ARC cover- HarperCollins

I LOVED Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver’s first novel (review here). It was one of those books that I just could not stop reading or thinking about. I’ve given it as gifts several times to other YA lovers. My good friend Travis brought home an ARC of Delirium from NCTE for me and I savored having it on the bookshelf until winter break started. Set in the future, love is considered a disease. All citizens have a procedure upon turning eighteen to prevent them from “catching” the disease and experiencing the terrible side effects.  Lena makes the unfortunate mistake of falling in love with Alex. Terrified of being caught, Lena and Alex have to hide their feelings from everyone.

Stated to be the first in a trilogy, I look forward to everyone of the books! Lauren Oliver is on my watch list for any future books.

 

#bookaday #1 Grace by Elizabeth Scott December 28, 2010

Filed under: #bookaday — bestbookihavenotread @ 1:12 pm
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Having read Love You, Hate You, Miss You, as well as Living Dead Girl, I was prepared for an edgy subject matter. Once again, Elizabeth Scott did not disappoint. I sat down to take a look at the first chapter and didn’t stop until the book was finished.

After I finished reading Grace, I told my husband that I would like him to read it as well because I need to talk about the book with someone to  fully understand it.

The inside flap’s first paragraph gives you a good glimpse into the book. “Grace was brought up to be an Angel, a herald of death by suicide bomb. But she refuses to die for the cause, and now Grace is on the run, daring to dream of freedom.”

Is it the near future, as the flap alludes? Is it the present? Is it statement about politics in any certain country, past or present?

I think that young adult readers will be intrigued by Grace’s story, as it is so different from what they live daily. The idea of being “given” to a cause, the idea of being so trained to be a suicide bomber that you consider it an honor, is just not a reality to us.

As you get to know Grace, you also get to know Kerr, the young man who is posing as her brother as they both attempt to escape over the border. Having both endured so much, at such young ages, they are both very similar and different at the same time. Being a survivor is what ultimately brings them to an understanding.

I do believe that there are some people whose psyche’s are such that they are survivors, leading them to not just survive unthinkable horrors, but even be able to move on to having a life after those events are over. Others are not. Put two people in the same horrific situation, and there is no telling which one might end up the survivor. I think of Schindler’s List, of other Holocaust stories, of people who escaped over the Berlin Wall in a hot air balloon, of people over the centuries who have survived dictators, death marches, massacres of their people, and lived to tell the story.

Both Grace and Kerr are those type of survivors. Brought together through no desire of their own, with only their strong sense of survival to keep them going, the book leaves the reader on a hopeful note. That perhaps not only will Grace and Kerr survive, but that they might even find comfort in each other and go on to have a relatively normal adulthood, where the horrors they have survived eventually fade into nightmares of the past.

A quick, gripping read, Elizabeth Scott’s Grace is a must-read.

 

In My Mailbox 4 November 14, 2010

Filed under: In My Mailbox,Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:27 pm
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Bemouth by Scott Westerfield


Infinity by SherriLynn Kenyon (audiobook)
Storyteller by Patricia Reilly Giff

 

Reviews written:
A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Trance by  Linda Gerber

 

The Replacements November 9, 2010

Filed under: book reviews,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:33 am
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The Replacements by Brenna Yovanoff

Razorbill, September 2010

Young Adult (Horror-I think)

I read it because Maggie Stiefvater is quoted on the cover. I had to force myself to do it. It scared me and grossed me out. I had to keep putting it down. I read it because Penguin Books sent them to me and I’d like them to send me more :)  I had seen the cover at ALA this past June, but, no surprise, it creeped me out!

Some will love it (see starred review from Booklist below) and as I reflect on how much I loved horror as a middle school and high school student, I think I used to be the perfect audience for it.

I did find the characters really interesting and like the relationship between the main character and his sister as well as the relationship between the main character and his best friend.

Amazon Exclusive: Author Q&A with Brenna Yovanoff 

 

Q: Where did you get the idea for The Replacement?

A: The Replacement happened because I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of changelings, but that by itself wasn’t enough to kick-start the story. I didn’t have an actual book until I started wondering one day what it would be like to be a changeling today, where everything is made of steel, and high school means being around a lot of other people all day every day and trying to act normal. One afternoon, I wrote a couple chapters and they worked, so I kept writing!

Q: How does The Replacement differ from other novels about changelings and the fey?

A: I’d say that one of the biggest differences is probably the tone. Even though the changeling aspect of the story has a strong basis in folklore, a lot of the settings and the characters are very contemporary. The story is just as much about Mackie finding his place in the human world as it is about the fantastical world that exists underground.

Q: Your main character, Mackie, is a teenage boy. Given that you are not, in fact, a teenage boy, did you find it difficult writing a male voice?

A: Honestly, I was really scared at first, but that went away once I actually started writing. Now, I don’t think it was much different from writing any other point of view. Every character is their own person, and ideally they each have their own voice. It was really an issue of figuring out what Mackie’s voice sounded like, rather than figuring out what a teenage boy sounded like.

Q: Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kinds of music, artists/bands or songs influenced The Replacement?

A: I love to listen to music while I write. For The Replacement, I had a dedicated playlist that was pretty much all rock music, but the two songs I listened to more than any other were The Rat by Dead Confederate, and Allison Crowe’s beautiful cover version of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen.

Q: What do you like about writing for teenagers?

A: I really like the freshness and the immediacy. The emotions are very raw and intense. I think there’s something so exciting about telling a story where a lot of the things that happen to the characters are happening to them for the very first time.

Q: What were some of the books that you loved as a teen? Did any of these books influence The Replacement?

A: As a teenager, I loved to read. My school locker was full of books and my bedroom floor was covered in them. Some of my absolute favorites were The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. However, if I had to pick one piece of fiction that really influenced The Replacement, it would definitely be The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.

Q: The Replacement is being described as Edward Scissorhands meets The Catcher in the Rye, and it certainly has quite a Tim Burton-esque feel. Do you think that’s an apt description of your book? How did you go about creating the uniquely unsettling world of Mayhem?

A: Well, I’m crazy about J.D. Salinger and Tim Burton, so to me, that’s an incredibly high compliment—I’ll take it! For the world of Mayhem, I thought about all the things I like and the things that scare me (which are sometimes the same things anyway—I love horror movies). Then I kind of let them live them together in Mayhem and watched how they eventually grew together.

 

Q: If you weren’t an author, what do you think your career would be?

A: Well, the actual answer is that I would probably be an editor or a copywriter or a proofreader, which is all stuff I’ve done before, and in a lot of ways, it’s all very closely related to being an author. So, for the sake of novelty, I’m going to say that I would be a forensic anthropologist. Because that just seems really interesting.

Q: What would you like your readers to take away from the experience of reading The Replacement?

A: It’s always difficult to say what someone will get out of a book, because people definitely bring their own experiences to books. However, if readers take anything away from The Replacement, I hope it’s the sense that everyone has their own doubts and insecurities, even if they’re good at hiding them, and you don’t have to be ashamed of who you are, no matter how freakish or strange you might feel sometimes.

 

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The light paranormals—think vampires, werewolves, angels, faeries, demons—that flood young adult lit often share a similar problem: by merely tweaking established archetypes, they feel largely interchangeable. No such pitfalls bedevil Yovanoff, whose first novel is not only startlingly conceived from the ground up but will still appeal to the legions craving doom, gloom, and, yes, romance. Mackie lives in Gentry, a small town that owes its history of good fortune to an uneasy relationship with the supernatural underground dwellers who protect them. Their price? Merely an annual human sacrifice, which they take in the form of a stolen baby, leaving behind a fragile nonhuman replacement. Mackie is such a replacement, and despite his allergies to iron and blood, he has somehow survived to be a teen—but now is about to meet his makers. The two separate menageries of monsters—housed in a slag heap and a dump hill—are almost Victorian in bearing, and possess an apocalyptic Bradburian worldview: “‘We are pandemonium and disaster. We are the dancing, gibbering horror of the world,’” says the baddest of them all, the Dirt Witch. The climax is not perhaps what it might be, but Yovanoff’s unsettling villains and intriguing moral ambivalence make this effort shockingly original and frequently breathtaking. Grades 9-12. –Daniel Kraus

 

 

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin November 8, 2010

Filed under: book reviews,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 5:59 am
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Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

release date September 7, 2010

ARC courtesy of Dial Publishing

young adult

I was first alerted to Extraordinary when I was doing some searches for hot ARCs at ALA 2010. I can’t remember if it was Monica Edinger’s Tweet or blog post at Educating Alice or Liz B at A Chair, A Fireplace, & a Tea Cozy. No matter, I’ve never been steered wrong by either of those women, so it went on my ALA “shopping list”.

Not only did I manage to track down an Advanced Review Copy, but was also fortunate enough to run into the author while I was in someone else’s autograph line. What a kind and gracious person she was. Based on that encounter and the reading of Extraordinary, I have added Werlin’s other books to my reading list.

While the first “chapter” reveals to the reader that part of the story involves Faeries, if one inadvertently skipped it by starting to read “Chapter One”, it would be possible to begin reading thinking that you were going to be reading a realistic fiction book about middle school girls and their friendships. Hopefully when the reader gets to the chapter after Chapter Two, entitled Conversation with the Faerie Queen, 2,they would realize they missed something and go back to the beginning. If the chapter titles weren’t enough clue, there is also ivy that curls up and down the pages that are conversations with the queen.

Extraordinary is a fabulous read that intertwines the friendship of Mallory and Phoebe, with mystery surrounding Phoebe’s family history, and faerie lore. Does that sound like hard things to mix? Well not for Werlin. The three are exquisitely wound in and around each other, resulting in a unique and compelling story.

As a reader, I throughly enjoyed all parts of the story. Seamlessly the story of friendship, mixed with conversations between an unseen queen and her subject, pull the reader along on a fantastic journey.

For a much more detailed review/critique, head on over to The Book Smugglers. They don’t say anything I disagree with, but for me the combination of the friendship, intermixed with faerie, made it a fascinating read for me!

 

 

As often happens, when I went onto Liz ‘s blog, I got distracted by a new post she has. I then got further distracted by reading the comments in reply to her post, which of course led me to other blogs, other posts, and other comments.

That’s how writing a book review ends up taking over an hour!

 

The Cardturner by Louis Sachar October 25, 2010

Filed under: book reviews,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:11 am
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The Cardturner by Louis Sachar

Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Young Adult, 352 pages

The Cardturner first hit my radar at ALA. I received a review copy of the first couple chapters and I found the cover intriguing as well as the first couple chapter titles. Finding the book in my local library on audiobook was a recent happy find. Every other Saturday I drive an hour one way to grad class. Audiobooks help make the time more enjoyable.

When I first put in The Cardturner, I have to admit I had a healthy dose of skeptism. I have to admit that if I’d had another audiobook or wasn’t starting an hour drive at 7 am on a Saturday morning, I might have turned it off. That would have been a mistake! What led to my initial reaction? First, the author narrates the book, and I wasn’t too sure at first about Louis Sachar’s voice being the right choice for audio. I really like his other books though, so I decided to try to get over it.

Second, The book starts with an author’s note, while very witty, also made me feel skeptical about the book. Did I really want to read a book about the card game Bridge? I’ve never played it. I don’t know anything about it. I couldn’t imagine there was enough to fill a book about that would hold my attention.

Good thing for me, there was no turning back.

The Cardturner is a great story of Alton Richards, a teenager who doesn’t have too much going for him. His parents don’t seem to have very many positive interactions with him, but despite this, he does not turn into “angry teen” or “misunderstood teen”. This was a nice change of pace in a contemporary young adult book.

In an attempt to procure some of his wealthy uncle’s money for the family, Alton’s mother volunteers him to be his uncle’s cardturner for a card game. Uncle Lester is gruff, terse, wealthy, and blind. She doesn’t bother to mention that the card turning is not just for a single game, but multiple times a week. For the whole summer.

Through Alton’s cardturning for his Uncle Lester, the reader learns about the card game Bridge, just as Alton does: one card at a time. Much to Alton’s initial disbelief, his uncle Lester can play the game as well as he did before he became blind just by Alton reading the hand he is dealt to him at the beginning and then playing the cards instructed to him.

I have to admit that I became pretty intrigued by the idea of Bridge as a pairs game. Why don’t people play more cards? Do I know anyone who plays Bridge? How does one go about learning to play? Could I have friends over to play Bridge or some other card game and have it be fun for all? Hmmm….

In addition to the unfolding relationship between Alton and his uncle Lester, I also really enjoyed Alton’s relationship with his younger sister. Once again, it was refreshing to have such a positive brother-sister relationship portrayed without it being any big deal. Eleven year old sister, sixteen year old brother. Not usually a relationship that includes helping each other, playing cards together, and an unspoken alliance to survive their dysfunctional parents.

Alton’s friend Cliff and new friend Tony, also are realistic relationships that Sachar does a wonderful job of developing.

I kept being reminded of Richard Peck’s Grandma Dowdel. I even typed Peck’s name a few times in place of Sachar’s and had to watch myself for that oversight. The age difference between characters, the back story that is revealed about uncle Lester, all is reminisent of the storytelling variety found in A Long Way from Chicago.

I think this book might make a fun read aloud, with time spent actually trying out some of the card hands Alton learns. I also think it would be big fun to make the foghorn sound whenever the reader got the whale symbol in the book, indicating the reader is coming to a part that might be difficult to understand, as it is mostly “bridge jibberish” (Alton’s words) explained in detail. A nice summary box comes right after, allowing the reader to choose to skip the “jibberish” if it’s not to their liking and still be able to understand the story.

Overall a great contemporary young adult story that I highly recommend.

 

Mortal Instrument series: City of Bones, City of ASHES, City of Glass January 6, 2010

Filed under: book reviews,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:23 pm
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The Mortal Instruments series

by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones

City of Ashes

City of Glass

Margaret McElderry Books, 2007, 2008, 2009

541 pages

I first had City of Bones recommended to me at Teachers College this summer by TC staff developer Mary Ehrenworth. I had seen it on the bookstore shelf before that, but had passed over it due to the heavily inked male torso that makes up much of the cover (not a fan of tattoos).

Even though I was initially put off by the cover, I picked it up when I was in New York this summer. The other book she had been recommending was Hunger Games and I certainly loved that book, so I figure we had to have a similar taste in books.

I immediately started reading City of Bones while I was there, which was not good thing when it came to finishing my assigned reading each evening. Adding to the happy reading experience for me was the New York City setting. I was able to recognize parts of the book in the city. I still would have enjoyed the book without having had a New York City experience, but it would have impacted my reading some.  It made the setting feel more like an old friend, rather than some of the settings in books where I have never been (say LA or London).

The Mortal Instruments will find fans among those who enjoy Percy Jackson books as well as those who enjoy Twilight books. Main character Clary witnesses teenagers Jace, Isabella, and Alex kill another teen, but no one can see the body, or killers, besides her. Clary goes on to find out that the teens are Shadowhunters, humans with powers to track and kill demons. Soon enough, her own mother is kidnapped by demons, and it is the Shadowhunters who come to her aid.

The “human” characters of Clary, her best friend Simon, and surrogate father, Luke are compelling characters, as are Jace, Isabella, and Alec, the “Shadowhunter” characters. A great fantasy story set in “modern-day” New York City, you’ll be happy that all three in the trilogy are already out for your reading pleasure!




 

2010 Reading Challenges January 4, 2010

Filed under: Reading Challenges — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:11 am
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The first challenge I signed up for is the original TBR (To Be Read) Challenge. Here’s the Challenge in a nutshell

** Pick 12 books – one for each month of the year - that you’ve been wanting to read (that have been on your “TBRead” list) for 6 months or longer, but haven’t gotten around to.

I’m still working on my list. I’ll post it soon.

Cybils
Hosted by Michelle at Galleysmith
December 1, 2009 thru December 31, 2010

Participating in the Pick a Number Category (5 books) for

  • Fiction: Young Adult
  • Fiction: Middle School
  • Non-fiction: Picture book
  • Graphic Novel: MG
  • Fiction: Picture book

Possible reads for YA Fiction

  1. Forest Born – Shannon Hale
  2. Ice - Sarah Beth Durst
  3. Leviathan – Scott Westerfeld
  4. The Maze Runner - James Dashner
  5. Rampant – Diane Peterfreund
  6. Ruined – Paula Morris
  7. A Wish After Midnight – Zetta Elliot
  8. Candor – Pam Bachorz
  9. Flygirl- Sherrie L. Smith
  10. Going Bovine - Libba Bray
  11. Gringolandia – Lynn Miller-Lachman
  12. Hate List - Jennifer Brown

Graphic novel: MG possible reads

  1. BabyMouse #10 and 11 – Jennifer L. Holm (re-read)
  2. Dork Diaries – Rachel Renee Russell
  3. Dragonbreath – Ursula Vernon
  4. Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom – Eric Wright
  5. Little Mouse Gets Ready – Jeff Smith
  6. Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute - Jarrett Krosocka
  7. Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians - Jarrett Krosocka
  8. The Storm in the Barn – Matt Phelan

Possible reads for MG fiction:

  1. Faith, Hope, and Ivy June – Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  2. Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters – Lenore Look
  3. Anything but Typical – Nora Releigh Baskin
  4. The Brooklyn Nine – Alan M. Gratz
  5. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate – Jacqueline Kelly (re-read)
  6. The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. - Kate Messner
  7. Heart of a Shepherd – Rosanne Parry
  8. Love, Aubrey – Suzanne LaFleur

Possible reads for non-fiction: Picture Book

  1. 14 Cows for America – Carmen Agra Deedy
  2. Coretta Scott – Ntzake Shange
  3. If America were a Village – David J. Smith
  4. Mermaid Queen – Shana Corey
  5. Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 – Bran Floca
  6. Nic Bishop Butterflies and Moths
  7. The Day-Glo Brothers - Chris Barton

Possible reads for fiction: picture book

  1. 1000 Times No – Tom Warbuton
  2. Blueberry Girl – Neil Gaiman
  3. The Book that Eats People – John Perry
  4. Boo Hoo Bird – Jeremy Tankard
  5. Crazy Hair - Neil Gaiman
  6. Crow Call – Lois Lowry
  7. Finn Throws a Fit - David Elliot
  8. The Lion and the Mouse - Jerry Pinkney

The 2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge

(I’m realistic and know that the Mini Challenge will work for me but the Just My Size is too ambitious).

–The Mini YA Reading Challenge – Read 12 Young Adult novels.

–Just My Size YA Reading Challenge – Read 25 Young Adult novels.

–Stepping It Up YA Reading Challenge – Read 50 Young Adult novels.

–Super Size Me YA Reading Challenge – Read 75 Young Adult novels.

100+ Reading Challenge

I met it last year. I felt good about having accomplished something. I’m up for the challenge again.

The 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge
1. Anyone can join. You don’t need a blog to participate.

Four levels:

–The Mini – Check out and read 25 library books.

–Just My Size – Check out and read 50 library books.

–Stepping It Up – Check out and read 75 library books.

–Super Size Me – Check out and read 100 library books.

(Aim high. As long as you read 25 by the end of 2010, you are a winner.)

3. Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, YA, Young Reader – any book as long as it is checked out from the library count. Checked out like with a library card, not purchased at a library sale.

4. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

5. Crossovers from other reading challenges count.

 

 
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