Challenges or the I’m a miserable failure post

This week I decided I’d do a few wrap-up posts and I’m starting with challenges (my original list). I figured it would be an easy one since almost all attempts were botched this year.

So, jumping in, it’s the end of the year and I’ve failed at most of the reading challenges I entered this year. It was bound to happen. There are so many challenges and I always tend to over estimate what I’m capable of reading in a year. I kept signing up but somehow I didn’t keep reading.

The tally, here goes… In 2012, I managed to complete The Stephen King Project, reading more books than I thought I would thanks to a co-worker who gave me several of King’s books and got me started. For the Gender in SciFi Challenge, I managed only three of six. The Back to the Classics Challenge was even worse; of the nine on my list, I finished one and quit another. The Tea and Books Reading Challenge also had a pathetic showing; I was going to read four and only read one. In fact, I never even picked the fourth book for the challenge. For the BHA Book Club, which isn’t really a challenge but since I’m already adding up what I didn’t do I thought I throw it in, I read three books.

My personal re-reading challenge was also a bust — I had seven on my list and finished three. Since getting a Nook, I’ve started keeping track of the ebooks I read and this year I read 28 which is down from 36 the year before.

In general, I read less this year which shouldn’t make my failing challenges a big surprise. I know a lot of people who’ve stopped taking on challenges and maybe that’s why I haven’t seen many posts for 2013, that, and I’ve been ignoring all my feeds. I think what I’m going to do is continue my 2012 challenges into 2013 and finish out what’s on my list because there are some great books on that list. Also, I’m not going to feel any guilt about it. Books will get read in the end.

It’s your turn, did you finish any challenges this year? Feel free to gloat if you managed a ton.


Review – Madame Bovary

Okay, to be clear, this book was not at all what I thought it would be. I was, no lie, expecting torrid sex scenes. Why? I have no idea. I just was. Funny thing is, I don’t read anything even approaching erotica so I’m not sure where this thought came from. Obviously, something was lost in translation for me.

Charles Bovary is a less than ambitious man but he’s a good man. A doctor by trade, he’s happy practicing in a quiet French hamlet. After he starts his medical practice, his mother finds him a wife; an older and rather unhappy woman who dies early on in their marriage leaving Charles the opportunity to find love. He believes he may have found it in a woman named Emma who he met while setting her father’s broken leg. Emma has dreams, the first of which is to get away from her father’s home, so when Charles asks, she agrees to marry him. Married life is agony for her. She has a pleasant home, a husband who cares for her immensely — almost to the point of smothering her — and she has few tangible complaints. What she wants is romance though. After attending a ball, it’s all she can think about and her boring life holds no interest for her. Charles decides that Emma needs a change of scenery and moves the family (a child will soon be born to the couple) to Yonville. Emma soon finds herself entranced by a law student, Léon Dupuis, who seems to return her affection. Appalled by her own thoughts, she refuses to act and Léon soon leaves to finish his degree.

However, when Emma meets Rodolphe Boulanger, all thoughts of propriety go out the window and she gives in to his advances and starts the affair. She wants to run away, but Rodolphe, who has had several mistresses, decides that she is too clingy and breaks off the affair on the morning they’re to leave town together. Shattered by the end of the affair, Emma falls into a deep depression and sickness. When she finally recovers, Charles again tries to re-interest her in life this time believing the theatre will be the answer. It’s here that she once more meets Léon and begins her second affair. Lie after lie build up as do her debts. Emma is incapable of handling the lies or the debts and begins begging others for help, which doesn’t arrive. In a final dramatic act, she deals the only way she can.

At first, I felt sorry for Charles. He was boring but loving. He wasn’t ambitious at all and was happy with his life. He had a beautiful wife and child and a medical practice that provided the necessities of life. But, again, he was boring. Then he tried to pin everything wrong with his wife on a nervous condition which annoyed me and any sympathy I may have had for the clueless husband vanished. Emma on the other hand, doesn’t exactly deserve any praise. She wants everything, expensive things, is constantly bored, obsessive, and refuses to see any good in her life. She’s always looking for the next best thing. And it must be said, she’s a horrid excuse for a mother. Emma is interesting though and the reason to keep reading because every other character in this book is flat. Toward the end though, when the proverbial dirty laundry is aired, everyone is at fault in some way or another and it’s hard to have any sympathy for any of the characters.

My book had two additional sections at the end about the book itself, trials, bannings, etc. I didn’t read them. I think I wanted to look back on the book from my own perspective and not the perspective of a scandalous 19th Century trial discussing the need for a stricter moral code. Also, I think it would have made me upset and I enjoyed this book and didn’t want it to be marred.

So, back to my first paragraph — the sex. It’s there but it’s off screen. There’s kissing, there’s heavy petting, but shall we say, not what I was expecting considering the ruckus this book caused. Then again, that was back in the day. I don’t want to get into a discussion of morals, really, I’m the last person, but it’s an interesting part of this story and while I never felt lectured to, obviously, Emma is a lesson. But her character is more than simply a woman having an affair, she’s a woman unhinged but somewhat deserving of some understanding, even if it’s just to understand her depression better.

Madame Bovary

By Gustave Flaubert

Penguin Putman

3.75 stars


Final 2012 Challenge

No, really, I mean it; it’s my last one. I’ve joined four and there will be no more.

But, if I’m being honest, I was planning to read more Stephen King this year after falling for 11/22/63 in December so it’s not as if this is going to be a problem.

The Stephen King Project 2012

Runs January – December 2012 and you can read the rules here and you can sign up here. I’m in for three books – A Lil Bit of King level.

What I’ll be reading for this challenge.

Salem’s Lot (This is part of a personal re-read challenge of my own.)

The Colorado Kid

Under the Dome

Funny, I seem to be challenge crazy this year. Wonder why that is…

2012 Challenges

When I join challenges, I try to keep it to a minimum — for me that means about three and no more. I like to be able to keep up with and actually finish the challenges and three seems to be my limit. Unfortunately, there are some great 2012 challenges out there and narrowing this list down was crazy hard.

By the way, I know how to count; yes, there are five challenges listed below but two are personal challenges and ways for me to keep track of my reading habits and I’m not really counting them as actual challenges since I’m not joining anything to complete them. I’m only counting for my own reasons.

Gender in Fantasy and SciFi Challenge hosted by Cynical Bookworm

Runs January 1 – December 31, 2012

You can read the rules here.

What I’ll be reading for this challenge:

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (re-read)

Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin

The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey

Frankenstein by Mary Shelly (re-read)

Orlando by Virginia Woolf

Back to the Classics Challenge 2012 hosted by Sarah Reads Too Much

Runs January 1 – December 31, 2012

You can read the rules here.

What I’ll be reading for this challenge:

Any 19th Century Classic — Madame Bovary by Gutave Flaubert

Any 20th Century Classic — This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Reread a classic of your choice — To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

A Classic Play — The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

Classic Mystery/Horror/Crime Fiction — Frankenstein by Mary Shelly

Classic Romance — Emma by Jane Austen

Read a Classic that has been translated from its original language to your language — Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

Classic Award Winner —- Kim by Rudyard Kipling

Read a Classic set in a Country that you (realistically speaking) will not visit during your lifetime — Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Additions to the above that may or may not get read for this challenge:

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

The Lady in White by Wilkie Collins

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Tea & Books Reading Challenge hosted by The Book Garden

Runs January 1 – December 31, 2012

You can read the rules here. I’m in for the Berry Tea Devotee level, four books but I have a feeling this might actually be more. I heart big fat books.

What I’ll be reading for this challenge:

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin

A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin

#4 is pending but will appear


Personal Re-Reading Challenge

This is my own. I’m going with the general timeframe – January 1 – December 31, 2012 and the list will change and probably grow (hopefully) before the end of the year. Also, feel free to join if you want. I’m not really putting any rules on this one. And yes, some of these books appear in the challenges above as well. It’s my personal challenge and I’m all right with that.

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell


Ebooks Read in 2012

I know there is a challenge out there for this but I’m doing my own thing. What I’m going to do is keep track of what I read on my Nook so I can compare how much I read on my Nook vs. regular books. That sounds so weird, regular books.

Joining any challenges this year?

The Sunday Salon – Mixed Bag

It’s been weeks since I’ve posted a Sunday Salon. Today’s actually the first Sunday I’ve been home and feeling up to writing complete sentences. I feel like I’ve been ignoring my blog slightly; mostly I’m trying to fit too many things into my life and a few things started to fall off. Sunday Salons were one of those things. That time of year I guess — too many places to be, too many people to see, too many things to do.

My reading’s been slow too. In November, I read five books but all books I enjoyed. I especially enjoyed A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Definitely the best book of November and a contender for best book I read in 2011. I may also have to throw Stephen King’s 11/22/63 in the running too. And…that’s enough for now because if I go off on that tangent I’ll never come back.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about 2012 challenges. There’s a few that look promising: Gender in Fantasy and SciFi Challenge hosted by Cynical Bookworm and Back to the Classics Challenge hosted by Sarah Reads Too Much. I plan on signing up for both this week. I also have a few things of my own to put together. I have a list of books I want to re-read next year with a list that’s already growing madly. It’s going to be my own personal challenge but I guess if anyone wants to join I wouldn’t discourage them.

2012 will also be a year in which I read more of my own books. In the second half of this year, I felt buried under review copies which I don’t request often but somehow ended up with. I was glad to read and review them but I’ve got so many books sitting in piles and on shelves that I felt I needed to stop reading for others and go back to reading for myself. I guess you can say this is my second personal challenge for 2012.

And on a completely different topic, we’re planning on getting our Christmas tree today. We usually don’t get one until after my birthday (family tradition but I’m old enough now to understand Christmas and my birthday are not the same thing :-)) but we’ll be too busy next week, and with us traveling to visit family, there won’t be enough time to enjoy it. So, today it is.

I’m done rambling. This post is more, shall we say varied, than I anticipated but I’m going with it. Happy Sunday.