2013 TBR Pile Challenge Hosted by Roof Beam Reader

I epically failed with several of my 2012 reading challenges. I haven't really looked at the details of all of them yet, but I know the TBR Pile Challenge was a disaster on my end, which means I have to try again. Adam at Roof Beam Reader is hosting his TBR Pile Challenge again this year, so I'm going to make a more valiant attempt at picking TBR books off my own bookshelves and make a concerted effort to read them.

And here are the details for this challenge:

The Challenge: To read 12 books from your "to be read" pile during 2013

The Rules:

 - Each of the 12 books must have been on your "to be read" list for AT LEAST one full year, so no books published after Jan. 1, 2012 counts towards this challenge.

- You have to post a list of your 12 book choices (along with two alternates, if you'd like) on your blog and post it to Adam's Mr. Linky here.  This gives you a homebase for the challenge, where you keep track of your progress.

- Every listed book must be read and reviewed by December 31, 2013.  Review can be posted on blogs, Goodreads, Amazon, etc.

- Leave comments on the main challenge post updating everyone on your progress and, if you finish the challenge, you'll be entered in a giveaway for a $50 Amazon gift card or the equivalent at The Book Depository

- Crossovers with other challenges are acceptable (thank god) as long as they are brand new to you.


Several of the books are repeats from my list last year that I didn't get to. Maybe 2013 is the year to finally tackle them.

My TBR List for 2013

1. A Storm of Swords - George RR Martin - finished March 24

2. A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle

3. Atonement - Ian McEwan

4. Boneshaker - Cherie Priest

5. Perdido Street Station - China Mieville

6. To Say Nothing of the Dog - Connie Willis

7. The Portrait of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

8. Across the Universe - Beth Revis

9. The Passage - Justin Cronin

10. Behemoth - Scott Westerfeld

11. The Forever War - Joe Haldeman

12. Clockwork Angel - Cassandra Clare



1. The Pearl Wars - Nick James

2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor


Let's see if I can make it a bit further this year!  If you want to join up, you can read more about the 2013 TBR Pile Challenge on Roof Beam Reader.  If you're into science fiction, his challenge could easily tie into the 2013 Sci-Fi Readers Challenge that we're hosting.

Review: Origin by Jessica Khoury

Jessica Khoury

Released September 4, 2012
394 pages
YA / Science Fiction / Genetic Testing

Find it on Goodreads

Order it on Amazon

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home--and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin--a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

Origin is a beautifully told, shocking new way to look at an age-old desire: to live forever, no matter the cost.

Back when I first came up with Working for the Mandroid’s 2012 Science Fiction Readers Challenge, I thought the most difficult category for people to fill would be the Mad Scientist category, so I expanded it to include genetic testing. Now it seems that every other book I read has some sort of mad scientist component or a main character with altered genetics. It’s like the new dystopia or something, and I fear the idea will soon get tired if authors don’t manage to find an alternate take on the subject.

Thankfully Origin is a bit different from the other more future-centric genetic enhancement books I’ve read of late. First of all, it’s a standalone. Standalone! I didn’t even think people wrote those anymore! So that alone gives Jessica Khoury major bonus points for creating a self-contained story that feels well-paced and still manages to be a fully developed world.

Unlike a lot of mad scientist books, this one takes place in present day, but transfers most readers into an unfamiliar location rather than an unknown time. Origin takes place in the Amazon jungle at a hidden lab called Little Cam that primarily exists to utilize the nectar of a local flower to create an immortal race, which ends up creating Pia. Now a 17-year-old teenager expected to carry on the legacy of immortality through creating her own race, she’s a complex character as she learns more about the world that has been denied to her throughout her life and the effect this new found knowledge has on her very analytical black and white opinion of the world. She’s been bred and taught to think scientifically and only be concerned with the creation of more people like her, immortal with unbreakable skin and enhanced mental capabilities. But as she learns more about the world outside the electrified fence that makes up her entire world, she’s faced with previously unknown elements like human emotions and relationships based on more than proximity.

Read More

August Review Copy Cleanup Challenge


Look at me, joining challenges again! This one isn't really a challenge and the rules are pretty simple: read all those review copies that are staring at me from the coffee table, the bed side table, the desk, the library... you get the point. Nxy Book Reviews and Books, Biscuits & Tea are hosting this event and you can read all about it here.

Perhaps with the encouragement of my fellow participants, I can make a tiny dent in the piles sitting around here. I'm aiming to read seven of my review books, aiming for these in particular:

Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear

Origin by Jessica Khoury

Blood Zero Sky by J Gabriel Gates

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

Blackwatch by Jenna Burtenshaw

The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin

Magical March Reading Challenge Hosted by Roof Beam Reader

I rarely cross a challenge on Adam's site that I don't want to participate and his month-long fantasy, sci-fi and magical realism challenge is no exception. You can read all the details here at Roof Beam Reader, but here are the basics:

Challenge: To read a certain number of books in the categories of fantasy, science fiction and magical realism during the month of March.


1. You have to register at Roof Beam Reader by March 5th and put up an announcement post much like the one you're currently looking at.

2. You can only read new-to-you books. No re-reads. Books can count for other challenges and e-books/audiobooks count too.

3. All books and reviews must be read and posted in March. A Mister Linky will be put up on March 5 for link up.

4. There will be mini-challenges each Saturday for extra fun. Plus there will be PRIZES! Go to the sign up page for details.


Magician's Class: 1-2 books read and reviewed

Sorcerer's Class: 3-5 books read and reviewed

Wizard's Class: 6-7 books read and reviewed

Grand Merlin Class: 8+ books read and reviewed


I'm aiming high for Wizard Class. I'm not sure what all I'll pick up in March, so I'll be adding books as I go. If this sounds like something fun, go sign up!


Challenge Reviews:

1. Partials by Dan Wells

Review: The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

The Phantom of the Opera
Gaston Leroux

Harper Perennial (1911)
360 pages
Classic / Mystery / Drama

Purchase it from Amazon here

My first exposure to The Phantom of the Opera was through the stage musical when I was in junior high.  It was big and loud and bombastic.  I loved the music and have listened to the original Broadway cast recording countless of times since then.  I didn’t, however, remember much of the plot.  There was a dude with a mask… was he magic or was he human?  Did this all end badly for everyone or was there a happy ending?  I honestly couldn’t remember, so I still felt like I was going on a twisty, turn-y ride by listening to the source material by Gaston Leroux.  Though I did constantly wait for them to break out into song.

I think most would be familiar with the basic idea behind The Phantom of the Opera, either through exposure to the musical, the 2004 movie adaptation with Gerard Butler or through general cultural osmosis.  There’s this disfigured guy who wears a mask and lives under the Paris opera house, obsessing over a rising star who he has taken under his wing to train as a singer.  Disfigured guy gets posessive, steals rising star away, rising star’s boyfriend gets involved, they all break out into song, and things get messy.  All the while the managers and staff of the opera house believe they’re being haunted by a mischievous and violent ghost, which is really the disfigured guy.

Four elements of the book version surprised me:  It’s told in the form of a case study of a journalist researching the mysterious happenings at the opera house many decades later.  Christine – the previously mentioned rising star – and her obsessive (and drama queen) boyfriend Raul are only around 18.  All the men in this story cry a lot.  And most surprisingly the “Opera Ghost” (otherwise known as Eric) gets a full and complete background story. 

Read More

Other 2012 Reader Challenges #8: 2012 ARC Reading Challenge Hosted by Bumps in the Road

I’ve been receiving more review requests with each passing week, so I figured why not take part in a challenge for it?  The 2012 ARC Reading Challenge is hosted by Jamie at Bumps in the Road.

Challenge: To read a certain number of ARCs (see definition in the Rules below) during 2012.


  1. ARCs are being defined as Advance Reader Copies from publishers or ARC tour sites, any book that you’re asked to review by an author, publisher, media group, etc., or a book received from Book Sneeze, Pump Up Your Book, Tyndale or S&S Galley Grab.  Any book you request does not count towards this challenge.
  2. Anyone can join, including non-bloggers.
  3. All formats of books count – audio, ebook, and bound copies.  Crossovers also count.
  4. Challenge runs from January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012.



The Mini ARC Challenge – Read 4 ARC's.

The "Fun Size" ARC Challenge – Read 10 ARC's.

The Jumbo Size ARC Challenge – Read 20 ARC's.

The Mega size ARC Challenge – Read 21+ ARC's.


Because I take part in a lot of author tours and I’m hoping to do even more this year, I’m going with the Jumbo Size ARC Challenge.

And don’t even ask me when I’m going to have time to read all these books (much less blog about them)…

1.     The Mini ARC Challenge – Read 4 ARC's.

2.     The "Fun Size" ARC Challenge – Read 10 ARC's.

3.     The Jumbo Size ARC Challenge – Read 20 ARC's.

4.     The Mega size ARC Challenge – Read 21+ ARC's.

Other 2012 Reader Challenges #7: 2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge Hosted by The Book Vixen

Last year I read 65 books.  That’s pretty incredible compared to my previous track record ever since I started college.  I actually tacked on an English degree in college so I would have an excuse to read more fiction, but yet I never came close to 65 books in a year.  So what in the world compelled me to sign up for 100 books on the Goodreads self-challenge?  I have no idea.  It felt like the right number for this year. 

Anyway to tie into that self-challenge, I’ve joined up the 2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge hosted by The Book Vixen because I do plan on out-doing myself indeed.

Challenge: To read more books than you did in 2011


  1. Runs from January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012 with any books read prior to the first of the year not counting.  You can join up anytime on The Book Vixen’s blog.
  2. Books can be of any format and can count across challenges.  Re-reads also count towards your final number.

Getting my heart rate up – Read 1–5 more books 
Out of breath – Read 6–10 more books 
Breaking a sweat – Read 11–15 more books 
I’m on fire! – Read 16+ more books

Yep, I plan to set myself on fire, reading 16+ more books than I did last year.  Challenge accepted!