Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018

How many books do I have on my shelves that I’ve not got ’round to reading just yet?

Um… well… a few. Some. More than I would like. Enter the Mount TBR Reading Challenge!

Like the Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge, this is all about reading those books that have been lying around waiting to be read. Those books that were enticing enough to buy, or perhaps were gifts, or (and this covers quite a few of mine) were part of a book-of-the-month type club many months ago.

This challenge is a little bit looser than the other TBR Challenge. Any book you own before 1/1/18 is fair game, and you can pick and choose throughout the year. There are several levels you can choose. I’m aiming for Mount Blanc: 24 books. Half of those will come from the other challenge, naturally. I may end up shooting for a higher goal by December. A girl can dream.

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Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge 2018

The Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge is another challenge that relates to my professional reading interests. In addition to keeping up with the latest trends in children’s literature, it’s good to go back and check out some classic books. The rules are pretty simple: set a goal number of children’s books published in the decade of your birth or earlier. I decided on 12 books as my goal, with this tentative list in mind:

  • Sounder by William H. Armstrong
  • My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier & Christopher Collier
  • Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
  • The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
  • My Father’s Dragon by Ruth S. Gannett
  • Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  • M. C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton
  • To Be a Slave by Julius Lester
  • It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Neville
  • The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois
  • Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer
  • The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

They’re all Newbery winners or honor books, because I’m doubling-up for these with the Newbery Reading Challenge.

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The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge

The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge is one of two challenges I’m going to work on that focus specifically on books owned but unread. (The other is Mount TBR, which I will post about tomorrow.) I have some books on my shelves that I totally meant to read, but never got around to. Book People know what I’m talking about here.

This challenge has stricter rules than most of the ones I’m attempting. There are no levels. There is no setting your own goal. There is one simple goal: read 12 books from your TBR pile within the year. Only books from 2016 and earlier are allowed; books published in 2017 and still unread do not qualify. The list of 12 – plus two alternates, in case a couple of the 12 turn out to be un-finishable – must be specified by January 15th, 2018.

My List:

  1. The Time of Our Singing by Richard Powers
  2. Geek Girls Unite: How Fangirls, Bookworms, Indie Chicks, and Other Misfits Are Taking Over the World by Leslie Simon – Reviewed: January 3
  3. Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova
  4. The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson
  5. The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy edited by Leonard S. Marcus
  6. Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers by Carolyn See
  7. The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table by Tracie McMillan
  8. A Study In Lavender: Queering Sherlock Holmes edited by Joseph R.G. DeMarco
  9. Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L’Engle in Many Voices Leonard S. Marcus
  10. Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street by William S. Baring-Gould
  11. Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles by Jeanette Winterson
  12. Shadows Over Baker Street edited by Michael Reaves and John Pelan

And the two alternates:

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Newbery Reading Challenge 2018

The Newbery Reading Challenge fits nicely into my professional interests as a Children’s Librarian. It’s a points-based challenge:

  • 3 points for a Newbery Medal Winner
  • 2 points for a Newbery Honor Book
  • 1 point for a Caldecott Book

You choose which level to aim for:

  • L’Engle: 15 – 29 points
  • Spinelli: 30 – 44 points
  • Avi: 45 – 59 points
  • Lowry: 60 – 74 points
  • Konigsburg: 75+ points

I’m in for the Konigsburg level. I’m planning to double-up a number of books for this one with the Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge and looking at these possible titles:

  1. Sounder by William H. Armstrong
  2. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier & Christopher Collier
  3. Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
  4. The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
  5. My Father’s Dragon by Ruth S. Gannett
  6. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  7. M. C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton
  8. To Be a Slave by Julius Lester
  9. It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Neville
  10. The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois
  11. Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer
  12. The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Every year, too, after the ALA Youth Media Awards are announced (February 12th, 8am MT this year), I go back and read the books I didn’t get to yet. And Caldecott books are often a part of my weekly Storytimes.

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Book BINGO 2018

This is the first year I’m going to attempt the Book BINGO Challenge:

I’m shooting for a cover-all on here. I’m sure I’m going to read at least 24 books in 2018! It will be interesting to see how this card compares to my Read Harder Challenge card over the year.

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Read Harder 2018

I’m not entirely sure why I decided to make a BINGO card out of the Book Riot 2018 Read Harder Challenge tasks. But I did.

I’ve already started tagging books in my GoodReads TBR that could satisfy various tasks. Some of the tasks are going to be pretty easy for me, like “a children’s classic published before 1980”. I’m having difficulty with “an assigned book you hated (or never finished)”. If I really hated an assigned book (and I must have!), I seem to have repressed all memory of it. The only assigned book that I definitely remember not finishing at the time is Don Quixote, which I’ve since read and don’t really feel a pull to read again just now.

The most likely contenders for that task for me would be A Christmas Carol or A Tale of Two Cities, though I don’t think I’d say I hated them. (Hated the class in which I was assigned the latter, yes. But not the book itself.) Something will come up, I’m sure.

Someone in the Read Harder group on GoodReads mentioned Maurice as their posthumous publication choice. I’d forgotten that Maurice wasn’t published until well after Forster’s death. I’ve seen the movie, but I haven’t read the book yet. So, there’s that one sorted. Just 23 to go!

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Reading Challenges 2018

You know what I really don’t need to do right now? Sign up for more reading challenges. I do this to myself just about every December, and the challenges fall by the wayside with alarming speed.

But they always sound like so much fun! And there’s something about the new year that just makes me want to set ridiculous goals. The one that first dragged me down the rabbit hole for 2018 was this one:

The Grand World of Books Book Bingo 2018

The challenge: get a BINGO any way you choose. I tend to like to go for “black-out” or “cover-all” when it comes to things like this. I kind of assume I’m going to read at least 24 books over the course of the year anyway.

2018 is the second year of this challenge, but I didn’t hear about it last year, so I’m jumping in now!

One challenge that I did know about in 2017 was Book Riot’s Read Harder. I didn’t do terribly well at it, frankly, but it’s a new year and a new set of tasks. I’ve put all 24 of the tasks for Read Harder 2018 in BINGO card format, because… well, mostly just because I could.

Mount TBR (hosted at My Reader’s Block for 2018) is another challenge I’ve attempted and abandoned in the past. But I’m here again, aiming for the Mount Blanc level (24 books). We’re not going to discuss how very many books are actually in my personal Mount TBR, thanks.

(Much of my TBR on GoodReads consists of books I want to read but do not own, making them ineligible for TBR challenges. So, you know, the hundreds of books marked “to-read” over there don’t really count. Kind of like sock yarn purchases when one pledges to knit from stash. Right? Right.)


I figured that while I was at it, I might as well join in The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge at Roof Beam Reader. This is a 12-book challenge, with the requirement that the 12 books (plus two alternate selections, just in case) be specified by January 15th, 2018. I’m working on my list now.

Of course, it won’t be all TBR, all the time around here. I’m also joining in two challenges that speak to my professional as well as personal interests.

The Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge 2018 at Read-at-Home Mom is a very self-directed challenge. Qualifying books must have been “published in the decade of your birth or before.” There are no monthly themes, and you set your own goal. I’m going to aim for 12 books, because one per month seems like a good goal..

Some possible titles:

  • Sounder by William H. Armstrong
  • My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier & Christopher Collier
  • Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
  • The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
  • My Father’s Dragon by Ruth S. Gannett
  • Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  • M. C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton
  • To Be a Slave by Julius Lester
  • It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Neville
  • The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois
  • Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer
  • The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Yes, there is a certain Newbery winner/honor theme going on there. That’s because I’m doubling up with the Newbery Reading Challenge at Smiling Shelves

This is a fun, points-based challenge. You pick a level to aim for (15-75+ points over the year), and books are awarded 3 points (Newbery winner), 2 points (Newbery honor), or 1 point (Caldecott winner or honor).

I’m going to go ahead and aim for the Konigsburg level (75+ points). In addition to the books I’m lining up for Old School Kidlit challenge, I always go back and read the new Youth Media Award books that I didn’t get to before the announcements in January. Caldecott books tend to pop up throughout the year in my Storytime selections, too.

Two challenges that aren’t about quantity of books read also caught my eye.


The 2018 Share-a-Tea Reading Challenge at Becky’s Book Reviews seems like a perfect fit for me. There will be a monthly check-in post over at Becky’s site for it. Expect to finally here about some of the new-to-me teas I’ve been trying lately.


The 2018 Book Blog Discussion Challenge is a new challenge for me, and one I’m hoping will help me perk this place up a bit. It’s been quiet around here for quite some time. My goal is the “Creative Conversationalist” level (11-20, but my personal goal is 12). Who knows: maybe I’ll even pop a new podcast episode in here sometime in 2018!

There is an astounding array of reading challenges out there. I had two or three more I was considering, but I decided that really would be pushing it too far.

One thing I didn’t find: a Sherlock Holmes Challenge. I’d really like to read through the Canon over 2018. My Doubleday single-volume is 1122 pages, which divides into 21-22 pages – about two short stories or a couple of novel chapters – per week. Anybody want to join me on this one?

While you’re thinking about that, I’m going to go sip a cup of honeybush vanilla tea and read something.

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Book Review: The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match by Elizabeth Eulberg

The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match (The Great Shelby Holmes, #2)
The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match by Elizabeth Eulberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m not sure what worried me more: that there was something the great Shelby Holmes didn’t know, or that she marched right up to the new teacher and dropped to the floor to start examining him from the shoes up.

Synopsis: It’s been three weeks since eleven-year-old John Watson moved to Harlem with his mom and met their nine-year-old genius neighbor, Shelby Holmes. It’s also the first day of school at Harlem Academy of the Arts, where they are both starting the sixth grade. While John is trying to settle in, get a handle on his homework, and spend at least a little time playing basketball or video games with some other guys, Shelby senses a mystery that needs solving. Someone needs her help, and John is immediately in for the adventure (and the material for his writing class). It quickly seems he’ll get more than he bargained for, as the case is more complicated than it appears, and it looks like there might be someone in the world who is a match for even the great Shelby Holmes.

Review: Like the first book, this novel is told in first person from the perspective of John Watson, an eleven-year-old African-American boy who has recently moved to New York. After a lifetime of moving from base to base as a military brat, he is adapting to life in a city apartment with his mom and adapting to life apart from his dad, who has remained in Kentucky. He has a strong narrative voice, witty and often self-deprecating, an average kid who finds himself in some not-so-average situations. He is a likeable, friendly kid, and his friendship with Shelby – which could seem very unlikely indeed – is understandable when seen through his eyes.

The story is peppered with Canonical references, from character names to plot twists. As an adaptation of the Holmes stories for kids, this is a knock-out. The characters are more diverse, the setting is modern, and the cases tend to involve fewer murders, but Holmes and Watson remain Holmes and Watson. Eulberg nails the friendship between Shelby and John, making it clear why these two opposites will always come back to each other.

Personal Thoughts: I adore this series. A third book is said to be in the works; I can’t wait!

Source: Checked out from my public library.

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Episode 10: “Other Theories Possible”

October brings a new Nerdopolis Tournament and new projects, so there’s plenty of yarn talk. There’s also a new issue of that Mycroft Holmes comic, an upcoming Con at which I have volunteered to be on four panels, and that book I’ve been hyped up about all year is now available.

A Few Words as of Greeting [VALL]

Mr Soames’s Tea-Time [3STU]

Curled upon the Sofa, Reading and Re-reading [CARD] aboutsixty_cover

The Hinge that the Whole Team Turns On [MISS]

We Progress, My Dear Watson, We Progress [MISS]

Contest Between the Two [FINA]

Outside the Conventions and Humdrum Routine of Everyday Life [REDH]

One or Two Points of Contact [RETI]

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Book Review: Moo by Sharon Creech

MooMoo by Sharon Creech
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The truth is, she was ornery and stubborn, wouldn’t listen to a n y b o d y, and selfish beyond selfish, and filthy, caked with mud and dust, and moody: you’d better watch it or she’d knock you flat.

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Reena has always been a city girl, and she doesn’t know what to expect when her family moves to rural Maine. She certainly doesn’t expect, along with her seven-year-old brother, Luke, to be volunteered by their parents to help out a cranky elderly lady. Mrs. Falala lives alone, except for a pig, a cat, a parrot, a snake, and a cow. The cow is Zora, and Reena and Luke are tasked with grooming her for an upcoming fair.

Review: There are a few short chapters written in prose, but most of the book is in free verse and concrete poetry. This writing style, packed with sensory details, brings the reader well into Reena’s experience. Reena and Luke are believable city kids plunked down in an unfamiliar rural setting, and Reena’s thoughts and feelings will resonate especially with (sub)urban kids who are curious about life in the country. It’s a quiet book, focused more on emotions and personal growth than action. The poetic style and short chapters make it a faster read than it appears at first glance. There is a good deal of gentle humor, but be prepared for some realistic sad moments.

Personal Thoughts: I wanted to read the book based on some information given at a Book Buzz segment at an ALA Conference. By the time I got it, I mistook this book for another book that I also heard about at the same presentation, with left me a little bit confused for a chapter or three! But I was quickly engaged by Reena’s story. I grew up in the suburbs, and I clearly remember the first few times I encountered a real, live cow; Reena’s reactions rang true. I also loved the moment Reena and Luke realize where hamburgers come from, as well as the follow-up discussions with local boy Zep, their tutor in things livestock-showing-related, and with their parents. This would be a great choice for a parent-child book club.

Source: Borrowed from my public library.

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