2013 Reading Challenge: “Out Of The Genre Box”

Sooooooo… last year I didn’t do so hot with my *own* reading challenge. I only made it through about 75% of the color themed books. I still plan to read the others, they’re on my TBR list… but my goal to read them each month didn’t work out too well. I’m hoping to dedicate myself better to this year’s challenge.

We did have ONE blog reader that completed the challenge!!! ANGIE!!! Click HERE to read her wrap up of the 2012 Rainbow Reading Challenge. I’ll be putting together her bracelet and sending it out in a few days. So… now it’s time for THIS YEAR’S reading challenge…


2013’s challenge is “Out Of The Genre Box”. The idea is to read one book each month that is NOT something you’d normally read. (Or, in *MY* case, not something *I’d* normally read, as a pretty dedicated paranormal romance reader.) Each month will be assigned to a different subject. Some months will be fiction, some months non-fiction. I’m really excited to expand my reading horizons a bit! (Keep in mind… you don’t have to buy books that are out of your genre box… you can check them out from your local library.)

Those of you who already venture away from the magic, creatures, and sizzling storylines of UF/PNR might find this challenge easier to complete than others. I’m hoping that this not only gives me a few fun options for casual reading, but that I can learn a few things while I’m at it.

  • January – Comedy (Any book that you’d find in a bookstore humor section. Could include something written by a comedian, a parody of some other book, funny lists or facts. Excludes standard joke books or picture books.)
  • February – NON Paranormal Romance (Can be historical or contemporary, but can NOT include any paranormal aspects. This should be pretty easy for a lot of you. A bit more of a challenge for me.)
  • March – Science (Any book that explores any aspect of science. And don’t look at me like that, lol… check out your local bookstore’s science section… there are some REALLY interesting looking books back there!! Weather, nature, biology, astronomy, etc…. trust me… it’ll be good for us.)
  • April – Poetry
  • May – History (Can be any non-fiction book that explores world or American history. Interestingly enough… if you really look… you can find historical counterparts or relationships to some of our favorite paranormal stories.)
  • June – Self Help/Personal Growth (Serious or funny, there are tons of interesting looking books available in a huge variety of areas. Health, relationships, self-confidence, inspiration, time management, etc… there really is something for everyone.)
  • July – Kids Book (That’s right… any kids book. If you haven’t been in the kids section of a bookstore lately, you’re going to be VERY surprised at the selection. I really can’t wait for this one, actually. I’d love for everyone to go back as far as middle grade, but young YA would work, as well. Keep in mind, both Harry Potter and The Hobbit are considered middle grade!)
  • August – Biography (Any biography or autobiography)
  • September – M/M, F/F, or Menage Romance (The growing popularity of M/M fiction has created an influx of awesome stories available. For some ideas and a little direction based on your mainstream story preferences, check out MANtastic Fiction.)
  • October – Fairy Tales / Mythology (Considering how many of the UF/PNR stories we read have basis in, or mention some form of fairy tale or mythology… this should be an easy one for us all to get into.)
  • November – Holiday (Any book, fiction or nonfiction, in which a holiday is the main subject, or plays a major roll.)
  • December – Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance (Ok… Ok… I had to put one in just as a breather. All this “out of the genre box” is exhausting, lol.)

So… is everyone ready to read out of their genre box?? Here are a couple of rules for the challenge… and the prize :-)

  • You must post EACH MONTH on the main reading challenge page. It’s in the tabs above, or you can CLICK HERE to go there. Please include the title/author of the book you read, and a link to your review. Can be reviewed on your own blogsite, or simply on goodreads.
  • The book must be at least 150 pages. Exception is for poetry in April, since poetry books range so much in page count. Please be reasonable.
  • If you have a blog or website, please include the reading challenge button, linked to this page.

Those of you who finish the challenge… will get a GENRE BOX!!! Most of you who are reading this are UF/PNR fans like me… so as a reward for reading so many books OUT of the genre box, I’ll send you a box with some of the hottest UF/PNR titles from this year. I’ll divide up the titles available (which I’ll be collecting through the year, I’m hoping many of them will be signed or will come with bookplates) between all those who complete the challenge.

Here’s what I’m planning to read so far: (titles subject to change)

  • January – Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk – David Sedaris
  • February – No Flowers Required – Cari Quinn
  • March – Death By Black Hole (and Other Cosmic Quandries) – Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • April – A Night Without Armor – Jewel Kilcher
  • May – In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life – James Deetz
  • June – The Tao of Pooh (The Wisdom of Pooh) – Benjamin Hoff
  • July – Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King – William Joyce
  • August – J. R. R. Tolkien: The Making of a Legend – Colin Duriez
  • September – Happy World – Kiernan Kelly & Tory Temple
  • October – A Cavalcade of Dragons – Roger Lancelyn Green
  • November – Kiss and Tell – Suzanne Brockmann

So… there we have it. As a bookstore employee, I can PROMISE you that there are fun, interesting, entertaining reads in all these categories. Trust me… it’ll be good for you!! So… go forth… and bust open that box!! Happy reading!!

Review: The Goddess Test by Aimée Carter

Author: Aimee Carter
Others In Series: Goddess Interrupted (March, 2012)
Format: Trade Paperback, ebook
Pages: 304
Original Release Date: April 19, 2011
ISBN#: 978-0373210268
FTC Disclaimer: book was purchased by reviewer

How far would you go to fulfill the dying wish of the person who’s been the center of your world since you were born? That is just the question Kate Winters has to answer in Aimée Carter’s riveting debut novel, The Goddess Test. Kate makes the choice to go with her mother, leaving behind the life she knows, for one filled with the unknown in her mother’s childhood hometown. Once she is there she meets Henry, the brooding and mysterious, yet oh so yummy “guy next door”. He claims to be Hades, God of the Underworld, and he has an offer Kate just can’t refuse.

From page one I was absolutely hooked! I actually finished this book in a day because I couldn’t put it down! Aimée’s writing style has a way of putting the reader right in the middle of the story. I loved that we really got to know Kate, how she felt as she’s dealing with everything that’s being asked of her. Kate is such a strong female character, because she is only eighteen and forced to grow up way before her time. She deals with issues that would break some adults, and she comes through beautifully. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like that about everyone in the story. I wish we could have gotten more information about some of the supporting cast, they could have offered so much more character to the story. Even Henry suffers from having a presence, but not a distinct personality. This makes the budding relationship between he and Kate feel a bit forced. I get the sense that both are trying a little too hard to be together. I’m hoping as their story continues, we’ll learn more about our present day Hades.

That being said, I love the overall plot line. I’m a fan of  “modernized” mythological stories. Aimée does a spectacular job creating a stand-out tale in a genre that is quickly becoming saturated. I can’t wait to see where she goes with Goddess Interrupted, due out in 2012!

*** Check out our Q&A with Aimée, and ask some questions yourself. She’ll be stopping in during the day to read comments and answer YOUR questions about The Goddess Test, Goddess Interrupted, or killer bee costumes!***

Q&A with Aimée Carter

One of the hottest debuts this spring in YA was Aimée Carter’s The Goddess Test. The story of a girl fighting to fulfill her destiny without losing herself. [You can read our review of The Goddess Test HERE.] Aimée was kind enough to take time away from writing her follow up, Goddess Interrupted, to answer a few questions from us… and will be popping in during the day to read comments and answer questions from YOU!!

1) When you write, do you prefer quiet, or do you listen to music? If you like music playing, what is your preferred genre? Do certain characters have their own personal “soundtrack”?

I prefer background noise, actually to drown out anything that’s going on around me. I’ll put a song on repeat and listen to that over and over and over again, until I’m focusing on the writing, not the music. Typically those songs will match the mood I’m trying to match in the story, but I don’t make playlists or soundtracks. I listen to either classical or pop/rock, and some country and random songs as well. I typically tweet what song I’m listening to on repeat each day, so if you’re curious, check out my Twitter feed! (@aimee_carter)

2) Where do you write? In an office, at the dining room table, at a local coffeeshop? Do you prefer to write alone or with a group? If you write with a group, do you also read/critique each other’s work?

I tend to write in bookstores, but I can theoretically write anywhere so long as I don’t have an internet connection. I prefer to be left alone, and I hate having people I know around when I’m writing. It’s a weird quirk. I do have a few friends I exchange work with, and they’re much faster readers than I am and give SUCH terrific feedback. I can’t tell you how helpful they’ve been.

3) How do you prepare for release day? Are you calm and focused, or do you get stressed? Do you like to make promotional appearances or stay at home to watch lists and numbers?

For the release day of The Goddess Test, my father was in the hospital, so it was very atypical. My plans before that happened were simply to go around and check out the bookstores in the area to see if they had the book in stock – no major plans or anything. And I definitely don’t watch lists and numbers. That sort of thing would give me an ulcer. :) I prefer to stay in the dark about numbers. I wasn’t stressed out on the release date, but a few weeks before it, I definitely was.

4) What was your favorite Halloween costume (or other costume party costume)?

My favorite was the time I dressed up as a killer bee – wore a bee costume (more like a dress, must admit) and accessorized with a plastic machine gun. Hence ‘killer bee’. :)

5) If you could go anywhere on vacation (and not interfere with your deadlines), where would you go, and what 3 items (besides food and clothes) would you bring with you?

London and Dublin for sure. I loved it in both places, and I’ve never been much of a beach person. I’d definitely bring my laptop – can’t live without it! I’d also bring a book or two. And a friend.

6) What song best describes your life? If you can’t think of one, who would you want to write/perform a song just for you?

Oh man. I’m not sure. I have a lot of songs I love because they relate to stories or they’re just awesome, but none that I say “THAT defines my life!” If I had to pick a band to write and perform a song just for me…let’s go with Train. They’re at the top of my favorites list, and their lyrics are ridiculously creative.

7) If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would be it and what would you do all day?

The character I would pick is actually from Masked, a dystopian book coming out in 2012, but since no one knows that character yet, I’ll go with James. Or Henry. Or James. Or Henry. Can I say both? I don’t know what we’d do. Go somewhere fun. Disney World, maybe. And I’d probably ask a million questions and annoy the heck out of them before lunch.

8 ) What world record would you love to set for the Guinness Book of World Records? (Remember, they take ALL KINDS of interesting talents into account. Some world records include *fastest 100m sprint, barefoot, on ice = 17.35 secs… *fastest pumpkin carving of a face = 24.03 secs… *longest distance pogo stick jumping = 23.11 miles)

Fastest book to hit ten million sales. Is that too obvious? Fluent in the most languages. I would love to retain a language other than English. I’m passable in French and was once decent in German as well, but not so much anymore.

9) If you could have one word removed from the English language, from all dictionaries and out of everyone’s vocabulary, what would it be, and why? If you could ADD one word, what would it be?

“Whatever”. I hate that word with a passion, and it’s one of the biggest turn-offs I have. If I could add a word…I don’t think I’d add a word. I think I’d ask that everyone learn how to smile at strangers. That’s sort of like a word, yeah?

10) What is one thing about you that your friends know and you would love your readers to know as well. Or… if you’re in a giving mood… what is one story that your friends LOVE to talk you into telling that you don’t generally volunteer?

Excellent question. I’m drawing a bit of a blank. I love to talk and listen, and I’m very much an extrovert, but am also socially awkward and deathly afraid of dominating a conversation, so sometimes I’ll keep my mouth shut to make sure the other person’s talking more than me. If we ever meet in person and I’m being weirdly quiet, just tell me to talk. Or ask questions. I love questions, asking and answering them.

As for stories…I’ll talk about nearly anything. There’s very little I hold back, and I’m very much an open book. Ask and you shall receive.

Big thank you, again, to Aimée for joining us today. OK, people… you heard the lady… it’s time for YOUR questions. What would you like to know about her books, mythology, killer bee costumes, lol… anything (I almost said, “whatever”… O_o!!) … ask away :-)