Really Old Classics Challenge 11/1/2009 – 2/28/2010

I feel like it’s entirely too early in the year to be saying this, but I’ve completed my first reading challenge of 2010. Considering it straddled the end of 2009, it’s not surprising, but here I am, surprised.

The challenge was to read at least one book written before 1600 anytime between 11/1/09 to 2-28-10. I read The Decameron for the challenge.

There was also an extra credit assignment to read a retelling of a classic book, for which I chose The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

I enjoyed this challenge, quick as it was. I was reminded of my college days, when I had access and time to read more classic (and often time-consuming) work. I don’t often have as much time to devote to this more active reading, but I do enjoy it when I do.

2009 Completed Reading Challenges

It’s time for my first year end wrap up post. Since I only have one challenge pending, which ends in 2010, it’s time to recap the reading challenges I completed this year, and clean out my sidebar so I can start signing up for all the cool looking challenges going on next year.

YA Challange 2009 (1/1/09-12/31/09) – Finished 11/12/2009
TBR Lite 2009 Reading Challenge 1/1/09-12/31/09 – Finished 9/2/2009


RIP IV Reading Challenge 9/1/2009 – 10/31/2009 – Finished 10/24/2009

Once Upon a Time III Reading Challenge 3/21/09 – 6/20/09 – finished 6/9/09
Vampire Reading Challenge 1/1/09-12/31/09 – Finished 12/6/09
The Patricia A McKillip Challenge 1/1/09-12/31/09 – Finished 9/6/09


It’s the End of the World Reading Challenge II – 3/10/09 – 10/9/09 – finished 6/25/09


Dream King Challenge 1/1/09 – 12/31/09 – finished 11/19/2009

I’m already seeing a ton of interesting looking challenges out there for 2010. I’m going to try and make myself branch out a bit more from my typical fantasy reading. We’ll see how well I keep that promise when I do my wrap up next year.

Vampire Reading Challenge 1/1/09-12/31/09

With Christmas quickly approaching, which will inevitably bring a drain on my reading time, I’m going to call it a day on the Vampire Reading Challenge.

The goal was to read two vampire books in 2009. I finished that so quickly that I decided to see how many I could read this year. I managed ten. This included half of the Twilight series, three books in the Blood Ties series, and three books in the Southern Vampire series. The two outliers were by Colleen Gleason, which I didn’t particularly enjoy, and by Elizabeth Kostova, which I enjoyed very much.

The list:

The Rest Falls Away – Colleen Gleason

Read for the Vampire Reading Challenge.

Victoria Grantworth is a typical eighteen-year old member of the aristocracy in 19th-century England – concerned with making her debut, and finding a husband. However, she’s also a member of the Gardella family, where one member in every generation is called upon to fight vampires. Victoria answers the calling gladly, but quickly finds that fighting vampires by night, and landing a husband by day isn’t nearly as easy it she thought it would be.

I really wanted to like this book. A number of people whose reading tastes I normally respect wrote gushing reviews of it. I can’t say I loathed it, but I found it just a bit too arch. It was completely predictable, and Victoria kept getting herself into situations out of willful obliviousness. I just couldn’t buy that this was possibly the most powerful vampire fighter of all.

I found myself wondering if I would have liked this book better had I not read it after Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I really feel like the book was trying to be as clever as a Jane Austen novel, but it definitely fell flat of that objective. Having witnesses PP&Z, and how surprisingly well it translated into genre probably didn’t help my overall perceptions of the story. I don’t believe I’ll be following Victoria’s further exploits.

Dream King Challenge 1/1/09 – 12/31/09

Another challenge down!

For this challenge, I decided to go the Devotee route, which was to read six books in six categories and watch one movie.

I read/watched:

With the exception of Coraline, I had all of these books lying about the house, as my BF is a huge Neil Gaiman fan. I was actually spoiled for choice, and probably could have done another challenge’s worth of reading, if I’d had the time, and that’s even considering how much of the material I’ve already read through.

This was a fun challenge. I will always enjoy an excuse to go wondering through any of the worlds that Neil Gaiman conjures up. The man is definitely a genius.

Mirrormask – Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean

Read for the Dream King Challenge.

The illustrated script to the movie Mirrormask features Dave McKean’s storyboards for the movie alongside the script. There’s also a forward by Neil Gaiman, as well as an appendix containing the original back and forth conversations between the two that formed the basis for the movie idea.

The movie is the story of Helena, the daughter of a couple that runs a traveling circus, a life that the teenage Helena is rebelling against for the moment. Helena likes to draw pictures, and has drawn an entire city of fantastic buildings and strange creatures.

One night, Helena and her mother have a fight before a show, and during the show, her mother falls ill. Things are very bad, and the show grinds to a halt as her mother lies in the hospital, her prognosis uncertain. Without going into the whys, since that’s part of the story, Helena is drawn into the world of her drawings, a world ruled by a light queen and dark queen, both of whom look like her mother. The light queen has fallen asleep, and no one can wake her, and the dark queen is taking advantage of the situation. Helena therefore sets out to wake up the light queen.

This movie is an amazing visual journey, especially considering the low budget they were working with. You can see the basis of this journey in the meticulous storyboards throughout the book. They’ve also apparently added back scenes and dialogue that didn’t make it into the movie, but it’s been long enough since I’ve seen it that the extras weren’t anything that jumped out at me. What you do notice is the humor injected into the script. My favorite passage in the entire book is the following scene set up:

We hear the QUEEN roar.

Down the steps come hoards of creatures. Everything that the budget will run to. Thousands upon thousands of Orcs and mighty Uruk-hai, their weapons glinting as they prepare to do the bidding of the evil Saruman…Sorry. Got a bit carried away there. Wrong movie. No budget.

Whatever we’ve got comes down the stairs.

It’s little gems like that that make this movie companion worth a look through.

Blood Debt – Tanya Huff

Read for the Vampire Reading Challenge.

I’ll admit I was actually more than a little pleased when Paperspine inexplicably leapt my queue and sent me the next Blood Ties book. Due to certain events that happened in the last book, I was quite curious to see what would happen next in the Vicki/Fitzroy/Cellucci saga. I’m going to have to be more than a bit spoilerific to discuss this book, so if you want to be able to read Blood Pact and be surprised by the ending, stop reading right now.

At the end of the last book, Fitzroy was forced to turn Vicki into a vampire. What this means in this world is that after an initial year as student and teacher, Vicki and Fitzroy will no longer be able to live in the same city, as their predatory instincts will override the feelings they once had for each other. This seemed to bring a neat close to Vicki’s apparent need to chose between Fitzroy and Cellucci. When Cellucci thinks that he’s lost her forever (thanks to Fitzroy conveniently forgetting to tell him that she’ll only be gone for a year), he realizes the depth of his feelings for her, and when she returns to his doorstep, even though she’s changed, he’s ready to take on those changes, and chooses to be with her. So the last book left things essentially closed.

Which brings us to the opening of this book. Fitzroy has settled in Vancouver, and wakes up one morning to find a ghost in his room with him. The ghost wants Fitzroy to do something for him, and when he doesn’t get his way, innocent people start dying. Fitzroy very quickly realizes that he’s out of his league, as Vicki was the strong investigator in their partnership. So, fighting his instincts, he asks her to come to Vancouver.

Vicki asks Cellucci to come along, as she’ll need his help and protection during daylight hours. Naturally, Cellucci thinks it’s a terrible idea. And with their arrival in Vancouver, the love triangle is back in place, still looking for resolution. And yet, it works. Vicki is able to convince Fitzroy that they may indeed be able to live near each, given some time to redirect the instincts that would normally tear them apart. It opens up interesting possibilities for the future, when Cellucci has passed on (never in a million years do I see him allowing Vicki to change him over, even if he were dying. Their relationship is therefore finite.)

The relationships really are the main focus to this book, but the side mystery was interesting as well. Someone has been dealing in illegal organ trading, and it takes the whole team to figure out who, and finally rid Fitzroy of his ghost.

I definitely enjoyed this book. It’s sadly the last full length novel in the series (there is another book of short stories available, as well as another series about Fitzroy and a young man named Tony who’s been one of the minor characters throughout this series), and I’m going to miss being able to look forward to more.