July Checkpoint! #TBR2022RBR

Hello, TBR Pile Challengers! 

I hope your summer (or winter) is going well. We are now officially in the second half of our annual challenge, and I’ve seen and read a lot of awesome updates and reviews for challenge books. We’ve got more than 140 links posted! Thank you for sharing!

As promised in June, this month’s checkpoint comes with the third of four planned mini challenges. I hope you’ll all take the opportunity to play the game and have a little fun. It doesn’t matter how far you are into your challenge, this time! Anyone who pre-registered for our challenge and linked up their list on time, way back in January, can enjoy this one. See below for details. 

Progress: 8 of 12 Completed / 6 of 12 Reviewed

Uh oh! It’s clear to see that I have stalled completely. Since last month (well, since May, to be accurate), I haven’t done any new challenge list reading and still haven’t reviewed the two books that I did read but hadn’t written anything about. I’m going to have to get moving! I find myself suddenly in a position where I’m falling behind instead of being well ahead, where I’d been most of the year. Oops!

Since the Guide to Poetry I’m reading is so long (and such slow reading, intentionally so), I also think I’m going to have to pull another title from my list to read simultaneously, if I hope to continue making well-paced progress. I’m leaning toward James Baldwin, because who wouldn’t?

Books read:

  1. Chicago Poems (1916) by Carl Sandburg
  2. When My Brother was an Aztec (2012) by Natalie Diaz
  3. Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017) by Jesmyn Ward
  4. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974) by Robert M. Pirsig
  5. A People’s History of the United States (1999) by Howard Zinn
  6. The Warmth of Other Suns (2010) by Isabel Wilkerson (not pictured)
  7. Crush by Richard Siken (needs to be reviewed)
  8. A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion (needs to be reviewed)

How are you doing?

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Below, you’re going to find the infamous Mr. Linky widget. If you read and review any challenge books this month, please link-up on the widget below. This Mr. Linky will be re-posted every month so that we can compile a large list of all that we’re reading and reviewing together this year. Each review that is linked-up on this widget throughout the year may also earn you entries into future related giveaways, so don’t forget to keep this updated!

MINI-CHALLENGE #3:

Book poetry! Can you create a poem using the titles of the books on your TBR Pile Challenge list (finished or unfinished?) Give it a shot! The “best” poem entry, left in the comments of this checkpoint post, will win a book of choice, $20USD or less, to be shipped from The Book Depository! So, get creative, and good luck! (P.S. Best is entirely subjective. I’m picking whichever one I happen to like most.) 

LINK UP YOUR REVIEWS!

The Bone Flower by Charles Lambert

The Bone Flower is a deliciously gothic and atmospheric novel that has unsettling supernatural elements woven into a fiercely human story about love, guilt, and betrayal.

On a grey November evening in Victorian London, Edward Monteith, a well to do but listless young man, stokes the fire at his local gentleman’s club, listening to its members: scientists, explorers, and armchair philosophers discussing their supernatural experiences and their theories of life after death. Edward is taken under the wing of some sceptics and attends a supposed séance where he is captivated by a beautiful young woman selling flowers outside the theater. But their bond is threatened by the inescapable class system of Victorian society. When Settie falls pregnant, Edward panics. Afraid of their fate if he is cut off by his father, he makes a drastic decision with dire consequences.

Less than two years later, Edward is married to another woman. His large country house is adorned with orange trees and his young Sicilian wife is awaiting the birth of their first child. But the past he is desperate to forget won’t be laid to rest.

A little gem of a novel, this quintessential mystery, ghost story, and uncanny love story is perfect for readers wanting to pick up a page-turning, Spooky gothic read that can be enjoyed in far fewer pages than a typical gothic classic.

About the Author: Charles Lambert is the author of several novels, short stories, and the memoir With a Zero at Its Heart, which was voted one of The Guardian readers’ Ten Best Books of 2014. In 2007, he won an O. Henry Award for his short story, “The Scent of Cinnamon.” He was shortlisted for the Polari Prize for LGBTQ+ writing in 2018, and his first novel, Little Monsters, was longlisted for the 2010 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Born in England, Charles Lambert has lived in central Italy since 1980.

Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy.

June Checkpoint! #TBR2022RBR

Hello, TBR Pile Challengers! 

Welcome to the MID-WAY POINT for our 2022 TBR Pile Challenge! I don’t know about you, but the time seems to be flying for me. I celebrated a week or two of “vacation” before summer term began, and now I’m suddenly in the second week of the semester? What’s happening!?

That said, I have somehow, someway managed to keep pace with this challenge (sort of.) I’ve read and reviewed exactly 6 of my 12 required books, with another two books read but not yet reviewed. That’s a total of eight out of the planned fourteen complete. This technically puts me a bit ahead of the necessary pace, if only I could get some thoughts down on the last two books I read!

Progress: 8 of 12 Completed / 6 of 12 Reviewed

I’m not entirely sure what I’ll read next from my list. Book 9 is still in-progress (A Poet’s Guide to Poetry). I’m thinking I might go with James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk. I’m going to commit, first, to getting the two unreviewed books reviewed, and then I’ll start Book 10.

Books read:

  1. Chicago Poems (1916) by Carl Sandburg
  2. When My Brother was an Aztec (2012) by Natalie Diaz
  3. Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017) by Jesmyn Ward
  4. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974) by Robert M. Pirsig
  5. A People’s History of the United States (1999) by Howard Zinn
  6. The Warmth of Other Suns (2010) by Isabel Wilkerson (not pictured)
  7. Crush by Richard Siken (needs to be reviewed)
  8. A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion (needs to be reviewed)

How are you doing?

index

Below, you’re going to find the infamous Mr. Linky widget. If you read and review any challenge books this month, please link-up on the widget below. This Mr. Linky will be re-posted every month so that we can compile a large list of all that we’re reading and reviewing together this year. Each review that is linked-up on this widget throughout the year may also earn you entries into future related giveaways, so don’t forget to keep this updated!

LINK UP YOUR REVIEWS!

Austen in August Year 10! Call for Volunteers #AustenInAugustRBR

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“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” -Jane Austen (Northanger Abbey)

Nearly ten years ago, on July 2, 2012, I published the first-ever sign-up post for Roof Beam Reader’s annual event, Austen in August. I’m thrilled to be here today to announce that, because of expressed interest on social media, we are back again for Year Ten! Celebrate good times, come on!

Overview

Welcome to the sign-up post for AUSTEN IN AUGUST, an annual reading event celebrating one of literature’s greatest writers! This event was inspired by a Twitter conversation that took place ten years ago between three founders of The Classics Club. I cannot believe it’s been a whole decade!

Call for Guest Posts & Giveaways: I am currently looking for people who would like to host/sponsor a giveaway or provide a guest post. If you’re interested in doing either (or both) of these, please fill out this form. One of the reasons this event is so great every year is because of the awesome content provided by our participants and partners – I know this year will be no different! Please submit your volunteer request by July 15th so that I have plenty of time for scheduling. I’ll be responding as your requests come in and will need all posts/giveaway information before July 31st.

So, why is Jane Austen so interesting? Pemberely explains: “Jane Austen is very resistant to being classified as part of a literary “school”, or being placed in any customarily-defined literary period — partly because none of the obvious available terms, “18th-century, “Romantic”, or “Victorian”, would appropriately describe her. Almost all of the major figures who were literarily active in the period 1800-1837, and who are currently deemed worthy of remembering (i.e. are “canonized”), fall into one of a few categories — either they launched their literary careers before 1800 (Burney, Edgeworth); or they were part of the Romantic movement (or were more or less strongly influenced by romanticism, or wrote in self-conscious reaction to romanticism); or they did most of their writing and publishing after 1837 (e.g. Dickens). Jane Austen is the conspicuous exception who does not fit into any of these categories.”

The Goal

To read as many of Jane Austen’s works (finished or unfinished) as you want or are able to, during the month of August. Biographies, audiobooks, spin-offs, and re-reads also count. I will post throughout the month on different subjects, as well as with my own thoughts on the Austen content I read. We will be offering giveaways, guest posts, and other shenanigans, all of which are meant to inspire a great, interactive event. If you are going to participate, you can read any of Jane Austen’s novels, a biography about her, or any contemporary re-imaginings (such as Austenland or The Jane Austen Book Club, for example). All posts will help you qualify for prizes, which I’ll explain in a later post!

How to Participate

If you want to sign-up to join us as a reader during the Austen in August, simply leave a comment stating such! Maybe include some of the books you hope to read. There’s likely to be a read-along for one of Austen’s novels happening, too, so look for more information on that! I plan to read Jane Austen: The Secret Radical by Helena Kelly or Jane Austen and Shelley in the Garden by Janet Todd. I’ve long argued that Austen was more politically aware than people allow; Kelly’s book has received some harsh criticism for suggesting as much. I’m looking forward to reading her arguments to see where we agree or disagree about Austen. I know, for example, we probably agree about the importance of Mansfield Park. 

Sign-ups are open throughout the month of July. If you sign-up after July 31st, you can still participate, but may not be eligible for some of the early giveaway prizes. To Share/Discuss on Twitter and Facebook, Use Hashatag #AustenInAugustRBR. Please also post the button somewhere on your blog (maybe in an announcement post or on your blog’s side-bar) so that we can spread the word, gather excitement, and encourage participation. The more of us reading Austen together, the better!

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Giveaway: The Complete Heartstopper Series! (US only)

Netflix 2022

Dear Readers,

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the enormously popular new Netflix television show, Heartstopper. This show is based on a series of graphic novels of the same name, written by Alice Oseman, which are now also wildly popular (and continually running out of stock everywhere!)

Given all the hoopla surrounding the television series, which was just renewed for two more seasons, I’m rather proud to admit that I read the graphic novels two or three years ago when they first released in the U.S. I found them absolutely charming, and I added them to my small collection of graphic novels (that includes The Magic Fish, The Prince and the Dress Maker, Blankets, Witch Boy, and Bloom, all of which I can highly recommend because, well, I read them and kept them in my library to re-read!)

Many have probably been wondering What’s So Heart-Stopping About Heartstopper!? What the television show has brought to light is just how badly this story was needed, not only for young people today, but perhaps even more so for those of us Millennials and Gen X’ers (and even the elders) who never got to see ourselves in normal, adorable, cutesy stories of any medium. If you’ve read my book, you know that there’s a lousy, long history of queer stories that end in tragedy. The tropes for LGBTQ-centered stories (that ever reached any popularity), usually reinforced a certain kind of homophobic morality by killing off the gay characters, either through illness, violence, or suicide. Most of us who grew up prior to the turn of the millennium and who went on secret hunts in our local libraries for any LGBTQ+ or near-LGBTQ+ novels we could find, were completely unsurprised to be confronted again and again with stories that were almost good for us, until the part where the gay people died. Again. And again.

What LGBTQ+ readers have been lacking for a very long time is a totally, unabashedly fairy tale-like romance. A story where, while not everything is perfect or easy, the gay (and bisexual and transgender) characters are treated simply as human beings with ordinary lives, facing ordinary challenges. Heartstopper certainly isn’t the first story to do this or to get it right, but the telling of it is uniquely charming and truly heartwarming, without nearly as much drama or moralizing or editorializing as has been common in stories like this one. It has resonated so profoundly not just because it’s sweet and not just because many of us read (or watch) it with a yearning for a “re-do” of our own high school years, but because we can recognize in it everything that needs to be protected now–the simple act of falling in “like” and of pursuing a crush, of living openly and authentically–things that are again being threatened all over the country.

I was absolutely delighted by the graphic novels. I was over-the-moon about the television series. And it’s a real joy to offer a complete set of all four graphic novels to subscribers of my blog, in celebration of Pride Month 2022!

All you need to do to be entered is complete this Rafflecopter!*

*Be sure to read the rules/guidelines below before entering.

Rules/Guidelines

  • Must reside in the United States.
  • Subscribing to the blog via email or WordPress is required.
  • Optional bonus entries for following on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Optional bonus entries for Tweeting about the giveaway.
  • Winners need to be reachable via email (the one you use to subscribe). I will respond to winners after the Giveaway closes on June 5th and winners will have 48-hours to reply with their shipping information before a new winner is chosen.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter (randomizer). The winner receives one set of Heartstopper.
  • I am not responsible for any lost or damaged products. I’m a lowly blogger (non-corporate entity) with little funds and am doing this for fun/free. I’m under no obligation to make up for misplaced packages or damaged items, or whatever. If you get the urge to complain, reassess your life choices and chill out.