Book Review: The Monster of Elendhaven

One of the first books I read for my 2020 “Storm the Castle” Reading Challenge was the novella The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht. I read this book on Audible (a good majority of my reading is done through audiobooks these days). It is a fantasy/horror story and it was a) very dark and twisted, b) very good, and c) very gay. I loved it!

I used to write book reviews semi-regularly, but I am very out of practice so this will probably not be horribly structured or formal. And I haven’t decided how I am going to quantify my feelings into a number or star system, so that’s very up-in-the-air right now… (shrug). That said, I will try to keep this review from being TOO spoilery, while still providing enough information for you to decide if this book sounds like something you’d like to check out or not.

The city of Elendhaven lies in the far north, on the edge of a dark, mysterious ocean. It is a city filled with gruesome myths and haunted by plague and betrayal and death. In this city, the story begins with the “birth” or perhaps “creation” of the main character: a creature shaped like a man but not entirely human, a thing with no name until he baptizes himself and decides his name is now Johann. Johann, tall and dark and menacing, yet somehow nearly invisible in society, quickly learns how to make a “living” for himself by whatever criminal and violent means necessary: stealing, stalking, killing, etc. He also discovers that he, apparently, cannot die. Stabbed, beaten, jumping off very tall buildings… it doesn’t matter the method, he does not die.

In the course of his criminal endeavors, Johann begins stalking a wealthy young man he sees often in the bars around the city, named Florian. Florian is small and frail and almost femininely-pretty, but when Johann finally attacks him in a dark alley, Florian is unafraid and unimpressed, but intrigued by the possibilities Johann’s talents might afford him. Florian is, in fact, a sorcerer… possibly the very last one of a breed who have been hunted and executed to near-extinction.

Thus begins a dark, twisted partnership as Johann becomes Florian’s willing servant on a mission of depraved science experiences, murder, and revenge. 

oil slick stock image

This novella is black as pitch, sleek and glimmering and beautiful and yet greasy, like an oil slick. It is amazing how much of a punch it packs in a slim 160 pages (about 4.5 hrs on my audiobook)! Johann is violent and terrifying, yet strangely guileless – obsessed with, enamored of delicate but depraved, nearly-heartless Florian. The relationship between the two is a tangle of fascination, disgust, obsession, and deeply-buried genuine affection. And Florian’s plans and motives are so secretive and mysterious that it takes the entirety of the novella to really put together all the pieces. (At one point I thought Florian might be trans, but I was wrong. Gay as shit though). The story is half-horror as Florian instructs Johann to carry out his ruinous revenge of the city and the people who had so horribly wronged him and his family; and it is half-romance as Johann tries to charm Florian with his bizarre mix of flattery, affection, and sado-masochistic penchant for violence.

Jennifer Giesbrecht’s prose is wonderfully baroque, gothic, and poetic. The language lingers, takes it time, stays on the tongue and against the teeth. It features such lines as:

“Power was sweeter than apples. It was cheaper than water, and sustained the soul twice as well. If Johann was going to be a Thing with a name, then from now on he would be a Thing with power, too.”

— Jennifer Giesbrecht, The Monster of Elendhaven

And the first description of the city of Elendhaven is nicely indicative of the tone and style as well:

“Southerners called its harbour the Black Moon of Norden; a fetid crescent that hugged the dark waters of the polar sea. The whole city stank of industry. The air was thick with oil, salt, and smoke, which had long settled into the brick as a slick film, making the streets slippery on even the driest days. It was a foul place: foul scented, foul weathered, and plagued with foul, ugly architecture—squat warehouses peppered with snails and sea grass, mansions carved from heavy, black stone, their thick windows stained green and greasy from exposure to the sea. The tallest points in Elendhaven were the chimneys of the coal refineries. The widest street led south, rutted by the carts that dragged whale offal down from the oil refineries.
Hundreds of years ago, the North Pole had been cut open by searing magic, a horrific event that left the land puckered with craters like the one Elendhaven huddled in. For five centuries, the black waters had been poisoned with an arcane toxin that caused the skin to bubble and the mind to go soggy and loose like bread in broth. Once in a while, the fishermen would pull up an aberration from the ocean floor: something frothing and wet with its insides leaking out its eyes. ‘Demons and monsters,’ visitors whispered, ‘such creatures still sleep inside the Black Moon.’”

— Jennifer Giesbrecht, The Monster of Elendhaven

I’ve seen a few reviews of this novella online. Some people really liked it, and others gave it a tepid response, claiming that it starts well but is missing something. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what they think is missing. Sure, the ending is ambiguous and open-ended, but I think that is all to its merit. I admit I do wonder what could have been, had this story been fleshed out into a full-length novel, but in general I love novellas – I love the big explosive power of the tiny package – and I think this novella works very well. I really enjoyed it, and I believe anyone who likes their fantasy with a horror-twist and a bit of a gut-punch will enjoy it as well.

I’m still shaking out how to do my reviews, but for now I’d say it’s a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

For more info:

You can read the first chapter on tor.com’s site here

You can also check out the author’s playlist and some fanart on Jennifer Giesbrecht’s website here

5 Things to Know Me By

If you are remotely active on Twitter, you might have seen one of the newer memes floating around, in which people list the 5 (or 7 or 10) albums (or tv shows, movies, etc) to listen to in order to understand them.

Tweets like this:

And this:

And this:

I have no idea who started it (who EVER knows where these things start???) but it’s a pretty fun way to share some of your favorite things.

I RT’d and responded to a few on Twitter, but I thought it might be fun to share a few such lists here on my still-new blog. So without further ado, 5 things to know me by:

5 Music Albums:

  1. Let Live and Let Ghosts by Jukebox the Ghost (just fyi: Jukebox the Ghost is my favorite band of all time and I have seen them live 4 times – the last time for free as a person on their official guest list!)
  2. Abbey Road by The Beatles (I grew up on the Beatles – my mother raised me well – and I struggled with picking one for a long time, but I think this is my favorite of their studio albums)
  3. The Cowboy Bebop Movie OST (I love anime, and I love anime music, and the Cowboy Bebop soundtracks are some of the best ever made. The movie soundtrack in particular is pure MAGIC)
  4. Break the Cycle by Staind (this album was SO IMPORTANT to me during my particularly emo moments of high school)
  5. The Essential Barbra Streisand (look, I cannot stress the importance of this singer and this album enough. During many very very long road trips, my mother and I would keep ourselves awake by singing along to this album – on cassette tape no less – at the very top of our lungs… and it also began my lifelong love for showtunes and Broadway, starting from like the age of 7 or something like that)

(Honorable Mention goes to Phoenix by The Classic Crime, which has been so important for me emo moments of the last 10 years)

5 Movies:

  1. The Labyrinth (magic, portal fantasy, fantastic music, amazing puppets and artistry, and David Bowie… need I say more???) (Also, The Dark Crystal, because DUH)
  2. The Neverending Story (Also DUH. Those 80s fantasy movies are SO VITAL to my development as a reader, a writer, and a person)
  3. Robin Hood (the Disney animated version)
  4. The Fall (the 2006 Tarsem Singh film – if you haven’t seen it, YOU NEED TO NOW)
  5. The Last Emperor (by Bernardo Bertolucci – the extended four hour version, I cry EVERY SINGLE TIME)

(Honorable mention goes to My Neighbor Totoro, which I watch a lot at night when I am depressed and/or insomniac)

5 Books:

  1. Watership Down by Richard Adams (I love this book so much I am planning to get a tattoo with a quote from it)
  2. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (ditto this one, on the tattoo thing)
  3. Dune by Frank Herbert (I read the first book in 6th grade and worked my way through the whole series by the end of 8th grade)
  4. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (I’m cheating sort of but whatever) (In 4th grade my elementary school librarian noticed that I was reading far above my grade level and gave me these books to read, and life has never been the same since then. They are an integral part of who I am and the reason I first decided I wanted to be a writer)
  5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (I read this book in 5th grade and adored it, and have since taken 2 college courses on Jane Austen and written several papers on the various aspects of the books)

(With an honorable mention to Neuromancer by William Gibson and The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien)

5 Musicals:

  1. Les Miserables
  2. Phantom of the Opera
  3. Rent
  4. Wicked
  5. Company

(Yes, I tend to prefer the Standards, over newer musicals… though I did really enjoy Hamilton and Hadestown!)

5 TV Shows (live action):

  1. Star Trek (all of them, don’t make me just pick one!)
  2. Doctor Who (Whovian forever!)
  3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (yeah man!)
  4. Law & Order (I watched every season of the original series with my mother from the age of 9 or 10 or so, and I have had an obsession with crime dramas and murder mystery shows ever since)
  5. M*A*S*H* (still the best comedy show ever made ever)

5 Animes:

  1. Robotech (the one that started it all for me!)
  2. Sailor Moon (MOON PRISM POWER!)
  3. Dragon Ball Z (KAMEHAMEHA!)
  4. Cowboy Bebop (You’re gonna carry that weight…)
  5. Neon Genesis Evangelion (can you tell how important the CLASSICS are to me???)

(Honorable mention goes to Fairy Tail – I am currently working my way straight thru the whole series – all 328 episodes – for the third time! And also My Hero Academia, which I’m really enjoying so far, though I’m a season behind…)

5 Western Animation Shows:

  1. DuckTales (the original mostly – DISNEY AFTERNOON RULES FOREVER!, but also the new version)
  2. Futurama (god I love this show so much!)
  3. Star vs the Forces of Evil (this Disney show was SO GOOD GUYS!)
  4. Adventure Time (obviously)
  5. Over the Garden Wall (this was a 10 ep mini-series and I adore it and it is my best “comfort” watch – I watch it almost every night to fall asleep to)

So, what kinds of things would show up on YOUR “5 Things” lists??? Please share! I’d love to hear about it!

Going to the Movies

Photo by Myke Simon on Unsplash

Movies. I love them. I love going to the movie theatre and sitting in the dark in front of an enormous screen and allowing myself to be wholly absorbed. I love sitting in the comfort of my own living room/bedroom and watching movies (usually the same ones I always watch) while half-paying attention and scrolling on my phone or ipad. I love buying dvds (to the point that I still have a handful of dvds in their shrink-wrap a year or two later!). I love talking about movies. So much so that I sometimes wonder if I should have gone into film studies, or at least taken a few courses on the subject (if such an elective had existed during my undergrad, I probably would have!).

I enjoy going to the movies with friends or family. My most common movie-going buddy is my mother, actually. We go to the movies together quite a lot – probably a couple times a month. It helps that we have pretty similar taste in movies most of the time. And my mother doesn’t really like going to the movies by herself, so if I can’t go with her she just skips it altogether. 

I, on the other hand, really enjoy going to the movies by myself. There is something so therapeutic and calming about buying a small (or in my case, not-so-small) popcorn and settling into a dark theatre by yourself, and being completely invested in what you are watching and your own enjoyment in the experience without worrying if your companion is liking it as much as you are, or whatnot.

Photo by Erik Witsoe on Unsplash

There was a recent article on the Stylist website about going to the movies alone, in fact. You can find it here: “Scared of going to the cinema alone? Don’t be: it’s a brilliant form of self-care” by Kayleigh Dray

While I would not call myself a “cine-nazi” as the writer does in the article, I do agree with pretty much everything she says. If you’ve never gone to the movie theatre by yourself, I highly recommend it!

When I was working on my undergrad there was a tiny movie theatre on campus. It was mainly used for special events and presentations, but every Wednesday at noon and again at 7pm, they would show popular movies. Not current releases, of course – they didn’t have the kind of funds to get current movies. Instead they would show semi-recent movies (things released in the last couple years). I think it was kind of whatever they could get their hands on, but that was fine by me. I usually had classes or something during the noon viewings, but I caught several movies that way: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Sahara, Hitch, etc. (I’m aging myself, aren’t I?) These were always movies that I would probably never have bothered seeing in theatres when they were released, but the movies on campus were like a $1 or $2, so… why not? 

More recently, I have gone to the movies by myself just a couple times in the last few months. I saw A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood by myself (and cried). I saw Frozen 2 TWICE by myself (and cried). But I have seen quite a few movies with my mother. And most recently I saw 1917 with my brother.

I go to the movies often enough that I have even considered buying AMC’s Stubs A-List membership (which is $20 per month!). My budget remains very tight right now, so I can’t really justify such an expense, but maybe if I can get my finances in more order in the next few months, I might actually do it. If you aren’t familiar with the A-List subscription: it’s a new-ish feature that AMC is doing. For $20/month you can see up to 3 movies per week! So, if your full-price ticket is ~$11 (this depends on where you live, of course), if you see at least TWO movies per month, the subscription has paid for itself. If you see just ONE movie per WEEK, you’ve doubled your value, etc. If you are a constant movie-goer, it is worth it, I think. Like I said, I’m seriously considering it…

Anyway, to wrap this up I thought it would be fun to list a few of my favorite movies from 2019 (these are not in any particular order):

  • Captain Marvel (this movie kicked serious ass! Girl Power ftw!)
  • Frozen 2 (I am a huge Disney nerd and I love Elsa, so…)
  • Knives Out (smart, darkly-hilarious, great Agatha Christie-esque mystery)
  • The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (a little-seen, very strange and amazing indie film by terry Gilliam)
  • Be Natural: the untold story of Alice Guy-Blache (an indie film documentary about the first woman director – I was a Kickstarter contributor for this movie and it was ASTONISHINGLY GOOD)

I’d love to hear what your favorite movies were for 2019! Or for that matter, what movies you are looking forward to for 2020!

2019 Sucked, Here's to 2020

This meme (and the second near the end) were found floating around on Twitter. I have no idea who originated them.

In order to move forward being open and honest, I have to first look back a bit. Because the last handful of years have been increasingly difficult and painful.

At the end of 2018/beginning of 2019, I posted to Facebook a long explanation of exactly how bad 2018 had been (financial worries, family problems, crippling depression, being suicidal for months), and how badly I needed 2019 to be kinder and give me a break.

So, of course, 2019 decided to double-down instead. It said “you haven’t seen bad yet! Yeet, Bitch!” It sucker-punched me and then kicked me in the face repeatedly while I was prone on the ground.

I was begging for a break, for some mercy, but instead this is what my year looked like:

  1. my grandmother fell and fractured her spine in January and was in the hospital for a month
  2. My mother had a heart-scare in February and was in the hospital for a couple of days
  3. Also in February, one of our dogs escaped the yard and was hit by a car – he survived but my mother and I both had to take out a substantial loans to pay for his care
  4. In May, just days after her birthday, my mother was laid off from her job (keep in mind, I was already mostly-unemployed excepting for some part-time work and money was already very tight)
  5. In July one of our cats (my mother’s Baby Girl, Mieko) was diagnosed with cancer – after thousands of dollars worth or tests and early treatments, it was deemed untreatable
  6. In August, my grandmother (still recovering from the spine fracture, and already suffering from an auto-immune disease) was diagnosed with Parkinson’s
  7. In September, while caring for our dying cancer-stricken cat, one of our other cats (MY Baby Girl, Bobbi) died very suddenly of an aneurysm with no warning whatsoever
  8. In October, Mieko died
  9. In November, with my part-time job becoming more and more financially unstable and being unable to pay me consistently, I got a second job in hopes that I could eventually make it a FULL-time job — only to learn a couple weeks later than, actually, the store is closing at the end of January at which point its back to the drawing board.

Things were so rough at the end of there, that instead of saving the money my dad sent me for Christmas, I used it to buy Christmas gifts for others. The good news is that my mother finally has a job again, but having been financial unstable for so long, it will be months before we can crawl our way out of severe debt and back into something at least resembling manageable.

After 2016 was rough, and 2017 was a little worse, and 2018 was horrendous, and 2019 was an evil sadistic bitch, I feel tired and beat-up and hopeless. I’m afraid to even bother asking the universe for help anymore. It always responds by kicking me while I’m down.

But I keep telling myself I have to keep trying. Trying to keep myself together, trying to find more direction and purpose in life, trying to find more stable work. There are tiny glimmers of possibility here at the beginning of a brand new year and a brand new decade. I starting to read more again. I am trying to save money again (for the first time in years). I am looking at some possibly good part-time jobs (*fingers crossed*). But I am afraid to get my hopes up, so I guess we’ll see…

So here’s to the year 2020: may the world be a little kinder and more merciful this time around.

Most years (though not all), Neil Gaiman writes a new “Wishes for the New Year” on his blog that is encouraging and hopeful. He said he wasn’t going to do one this year, and then in the end couldn’t seem to help himself. The one he wrote for this year is a little different than the kind of thing he usually writes, but it seems fitting, so I’m going to end this post with his wish:

…I hope in the year to come you won’t burn. And I hope you won’t freeze. I hope you and your family will be safe, and walk freely in the world and that the place you live, if you have one, will  be there when you get back. I hope that, for all of us, in the year ahead, kindness will prevail and that gentleness and humanity and forgiveness will be there for us if and when we need them.

And may your New Year be happy, and may you be happy in it.

I hope you make something in the year to come you’ve always dreamed of making, and didn’t know if you could or not. But I bet you can. And I’m sure you will.

— Neil Gaiman, from “A New Year’s Thought”

To Be Open and Honest

A lot of my friends write long, thoughtful “year-in-review” letters to send to all their friends and family around Christmas or New Year’s. I’ve never entirely understood this, and I’ve often wondered if it’s a midwest thing (having gone to high school and undergrad in Kansas City, most of my friends are from the midwest). No one in my immediate or extended family has ever done this in my entire life, and it is something I had never been exposed to until my high school friends started doing it.

I don’t write these sorts of letters myself. Frankly, my life is not interesting enough to write about, and a lot of things that I would include in such a letter are not necessarily things I need/want everyone to know about. The friends/family that I feel comfortable sharing such information with already know.

But I sometimes wonder why I don’t share the bad things, the problems, the embarrassing bits more freely, like I see so many of my friends do online – whether it be twitter or facebook or a blog or whatever. There are a few reasons, of course. First, I have an extremely high capacity for embarrassment. The smallest things mortify me. Seeing other people do or say something embarrassing mortifies me. There are entire movies and tv shows I am physically incapable of watching because the second embarrassment is genuinely painful to me. So there’s that. There is also the problem, as always, of not wanting to share my problems for fear of being accused of whining, or of trying to garner pity, or some such thing. And on top of all that, I am constantly fighting the conflicting desires of wanting people to care while also not wanting them to worry.

For the most part, I don’t much care what strangers think of me. I can share thoughts and feelings anonymously on twitter or tumblr or where-ever without much concern. I can give talks at conferences without undue levels of terror (I mean, there’s always SOME terror, this is me after all), because I know I will never see most of these people again. But I balk at the idea of telling some of these things to people I really know, people I will have to face. Hell, half the time I cannot even stand the idea of letting a friend or colleague read something I wrote – no matter how much I trust that friend or colleague. The room full of conference attendees doesn’t matter. YOU all do. And so I cannot stand to face judgment, even the gentlest and kindest of judgments. Mine is a very fragile ego, all told. I have low self-esteem even on my best days. And let’s be honest, the last few years have not been my best days.

A few years ago, I started an anonymous blog for the expressed purpose of writing about my depression and my bad days. I very carefully avoided any possibility of my name being attached to it. Created a new email address for it, used no names, never mentioned it to a single friend, did not share links on social media. The people who found it, who found me there, were people who identified with the topics, the subject matter, the tags I used. I stopped posting there ages ago (abandoning a blog for not the first time). It’s still there though. I didn’t delete it. But no, I will not tell you what it was called or how to find it. There are still things on that blog I could never stand certain people to read. Ever.

All that being said, I have decided to try this again. This public blogging thing. Obviously. Being as open and honest I can stand to be.

What I'm Currently Reading

I thought it would be fun to share what I am currently reading, just for the fun of it and so I can keep track of what I’m reading throughout the year. I would also love to hear what other people are reading currently, so please feel free to share in the comments!

Right now I am reading four books:

Solaris by Stanislaw Lem – I am reading this on Audible. It’s one of those classic foundational science fiction texts that, for whatever reason, I have just never gotten around to until now. So I finally just decided I needed to sit down and get to it. I’m about ¾ of the way through it now and I really like it. It’s philosophical and has a lot of really interesting technological, linguistic, and psychological concepts in it. It’s also creepy as shit sometimes, so that’s fun.

Disney’s Land: Walt Disney and the Invention of the Amusement Park That Changed the World by Richard Snow – I am a HUGE Disney nerd/devotee. I know all the problematic aspects of the company and I care about them, but it hasn’t changed the fact that Disney is practically a religion to me (I will probably write a post about that eventually). And I have been very interested in the biographies and histories about Disney (both the person and the company). I loved the documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty, and the new original docuseries on Disney+ called The Imagineering Story. So I knew I had to read this book! I’m a little over halfway through it now and it is absolutely FASCINATING! I highly recommend it to anyone who cares about Disney or, frankly, doing any kind of innovative/creative business venture.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Business Plans – as I mentioned in my About page, I am trying to learn everything I can about small business planning and management because I want to open my own bookstore. To this end, I bought this book a few weeks ago. I haven’t had a chance to work my way through it as far as I’d like, but I’m making progress. I’m finding it very practical and no-nonsense and actionable so far, which I really appreciate. Hopefully I’ll start writing my own business plan within the next month or so. *fingers crossed*

Lawrence In Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson – I LOVE histories and biographies, and I recently saw the classic film Lawrence of Arabia which kicked off a brand-new fixation/obsession for me (I will probably devote a whole post to this later as well). So, of course, the first thing I did was start looking for books about the actual historical T.E. Lawrence and the overall situation and politics of the Arab Revolt of which Lawrence was an integral part. I tried to convince myself I shouldn’t spend more money on books when I have so many I haven’t finished yet, but the last time I was at Barnes & Noble, I just couldn’t resist. So here we are. I’ve JUST started this one, but it already looks to be extremely fascinating!

I’d really love to hear what other people are currently reading! I always need more books to add to my miles-long TBR list! Please share in the comments!

2020 Reading Challenges

2019 was my year for slowly re-learning how to read. Mainly through audiobooks.

2020 is going to be my year to try a bunch of reading challenges and really push myself to get back to reading the way I used to.

I looked at a lot of reading challenges online, and talked to my two best friends about doing them as well. I was most intrigued by FaeBae Book Club’s “Save the Citadel” Reading Challenge, but I knew that it was going to be too daunting a challenge for me, and for my friends (who were considering joining me). So I decided to use FaeBae’s challenge as a template to create my own reading challenge with a similar D&D inspired concept, but on a smaller, more manageable scale. Some people might accuse me of stealing or copying their challenge, but I don’t really see it that way for a couple reasons: 1) reading challenges are ubiquitous at this point, even if the D&D theme is relatively unique, and 2) I am not trying to copy their approach in that I am not growing a massive following or customer base from this challenge, and I am not making the challenge public to join – it is only something I put together for me and three of my friends (and, more informally, for my mom).

“Save the Citadel” Reading Challenge image from the FaeBae Facebook Group

For the curious, I will post the details of my modified challenge below. And I am linking to the FaeBae Book Club Facebook group page for anyone interested in seeing the much more substantial original reading challenge: here. (Please note that to see FaeBae’s posts and participate in the challenge, you must first apply to the join the Facebook group.)

Button from the “Finishing the Series” Reading Challenge at Celebrity Readers

In addition, to the reading challenge I made for myself and my friends, I am also participating in the 2020 “Finishing the Series” Reading Challenge posted here at Celebrity Readers. This is a more informal challenge, with no strict guidelines and no prize. But I thought it would be a nice way to push myself to finish a bunch of series’ I have started over the years and never finished. 

These include: the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer (read 4 out of 8), The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson (read the original 6, but now there are 4 new ones), the Redwall series by Brian Jacques (read 15 out of 22), the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher (read 4 out of 15), the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris (read 6 out of 13), and the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare (read 4 out 6).

On top of THAT, just in case it wasn’t challenging enough, I am CONSIDERING joining a brand new bi-monthly book club set up by my alma mater (undergrad) Rockhurst University, for their alumni. I am really not sure about this one yet, but we’ll see…

Ok, so here’s the challenge I put together for myself and my friends (alas, I do not have a cool graphic for it…). You are, obviously, free to copy/follow along, but it is not officially open for others to join. Sorry.

2020 Storm the Castle Reading Challenge:

Choose from 3 different classes and read the designated number of books per challenge/category:

             Druid: 1 book per challenge

             Rogue: 2 books per challenge

             Wizard: 3 books per challenge

There will be seven challenges. We have a year, from Jan 1st 2020 to Dec 31st 2020 to complete all seven challenges. So, if you are a druid you will read 7 books total, if you are a rogue you will read 14 books total, and if you are a wizard you will read 21 books total. You should announce your class by Dec 31st 2019. Books cannot be used to fill more than one challenge. Books must be more substantial than, say, a picture book or single-issue comic, but otherwise are open to interpretation. (I’m thinking we can keep a spread-sheet with a list of everyone’s books as we read them. That way we can keep count and just see what awesome things everyone is reading.) Whoever finishes the seven challenges first, wins. The winner will receive a prize of a Barnes & Noble or Amazon gift card, toward which each participant will contribute $5.

 The Challenges:
1) “It’s dangerous to go alone, take this!” – a book that was gifted or recommended to you
2) Receive advice from an ancient hermit in the woods – a book that’s been in your TBR pile the longest (or at least a really long time – 10 years or more?)
3) Consult the tomes of wisdom and knowledge at the Great Library – a nonfiction book on science, history, etc.
4) Battle ghosts in a haunted castle – a book you intended to read in 2019 but didn’t get around to
5) Witness the birth of a baby unicorn – a book newly released in 2020
6) Recover a long-lost mythical treasure – a book you started but never finished
7) Storm the villain’s castle – a book in the epic fantasy genre