2014 Chunkster Reading Challenge

Ever since the number of books for the lowest level of participation went up to four, I have not been able to complete this challenge.  I have come close and finished three, but somehow the last one eludes me.  I am back again in the hopes of *finally* finishing this challenge.  Description and details are below. Even though there are no levels, I am aiming to complete four books. 

My books are: 

We are Water by Wally Lamb: 561 pages; completed on March 7, 2014. You can find my review here

The Valley of Amazement by  Amy Tan: 589 pages; completed April 2, 2014. You can find my review here

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt : 771 pages; completed on September 2, 2014. You can find my review here. 


Welcome to the 2014 Chunkster Challenge! I’m your host, Vasilly
Wondering what’s a chunkster? A chunkster is an adult or YA book, non-fiction or fiction, that’s 450 pages or more. 
Rules for this challenge:
  • Audio books and e-books are now allowed. You want to listen to a chunkster on audio? Be my guest. 
  • Essay, short story, and poetry collections are allowed but they have to be read in their entirety to count.
  • Books may crossover with other challenges.
  • Anyone can join.
  • You don’t have to list your book ahead of time.
  • Graphic novels don’t count. Sorry guys but reading a chunkster graphic novel isn’t the same as reading a non-graphic chunkster.
I’ve been thinking long and hard about the levels of participation that have always been a part of this challenge. This year we’re going to try something new: there won’t be any levels
Don’t get me wrong. This is still a reading challenge. Challenge yourself without being locked in to a certain number. If you didn’t read any chunksters in 2013 and want to change that in 2014, come up with a number and try to read that amount. 


Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 10:31PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment

What's In A Name 2014 (Seventh Year)

It has been so long since I finished this challenge and yet I love it so! I know that I very late signing up, but I am still going to try.  Maybe a new host will help me complete the challenge. 


Please save this image to your own webspace

This is the seventh annual What’s In A Name challenge, originally started by Annie, handed to Beth Fish Reads, and now continued at The Worm Hole

The challenge runs from January to December. During this time you choose a book to read from each of the following categories (examples of books you could choose are in brackets):

  • Books can be any format (print, audio, ebook).
  • It’s preferred that the books don’t overlap with other challenges, but not a requirement at all.
  • Books cannot overlap categories (for instance my first example, Eleven Minutes, could be used for category 1 or 3 but not both).
  • Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed, it’s encouraged!
  • You don’t have to make your list of books beforehand, you can choose them as you go.
  • You don’t have to read your chosen books in any particular order.


Posted on Friday, April 4, 2014 at 11:39PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment

The Perpetual South Asian Challenge

Last year, I was excited to complete the 2013 South Asian Challenge and was looking forward to signing up again.  When I looked at the challenge page, I discovered that Swapna had created a Perpetual South Asian Challenge. I am excited for the ongoing challenge of including books by South Asians or about South Asia as part of my regular reading. 

Last year, I read six books either written by South Asians or about South Asia. In 2014, I am going to aim to read seven books. 

The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais: I am off to a slow start, but finished my first book for the challenge on April 15, 2014. You can find my review here

The Isolation Door: A Novel by Anish Majumdar:  I finished this book on June 4, 2014. You can find my review here. 

Posted on Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 7:22PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment

Tell the Wolves I'm Home

From goodreads

1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.

Pages: 384 (paperback) 

Publisher: Published June 4th 2013 by Dial Press Trade Paperback (first published June 19th 2012)

Rating: 10 out of 10

Source: Checked out of the library 

Date Completed: December 29, 2013

When I first heard the premise of Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt, I was not sure if I would enjoy the book.  Two members of the book club advocated passionately for it and I trust their tastes.  After the first paragraph, I was immediately sucked into the story.  There are so many layers in the book-- to the characters, the individual connections, the huge AIDS epidemic unfolding in the background, and a girl becoming a woman.

Greta was the character I found the most confusing and frustrating, but the one I grew to like the most.  Seeing her relationship with June unfold was really good.  I feel like it is cheating to say that I like June because how could you not like a character who is grappling with what she has been told versus what she believes.  Another thing the book illustrated was how people with AIDS were demonized and the subtle (and not so subtle) ways June confronts and copes with this; specifically, I am thinking about the bank scene and a conversation she has with a police officer. 

Each time I returned to the book, I was excited to find out what happened next.  I read a lot of really great books this year, but this one is certainly a favorite. 

Posted on Sunday, January 12, 2014 at 8:55PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | Comments2 Comments

A Tale for the Time Being

From goodreads

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine.

Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

Pages: 422 (hardback) 

Publisher: Published March 12th 2013 by Viking Adult

Rating: 10 out of 10

Source: Checked out of the library 

Date Completed: December 6, 2013

I have been a fan of Ruth Ozeki ever since I read My Year of Meats for the Atlanta book club. She consistency gives an interesting premise to a social justice issue whether it is the global impacts of increased beef consumption, genetically modified food, or bullying. Her characters are well developed and in the middle of wanting to cry, I often start laughing because there are lots of pieces of dark humor and sarcasm.  When I was in Seattle, I was briefly part of a book club where we read All Over Creation; I remember being struck by the themes of family and identity in addition to learning a lot about genetically modified food. (You can read my review here)

In the summer, I was at the library and noticed a book newspaper that had interviews and previews of upcoming books. I got really excited to see a cover story about Ruth Ozeki and was thrilled to learn that she had a new book coming out.  I immediately put myself on the wait list for A Tale for the Time Being.  After returning the book to the library without it reading a few times, I learned that A Tale for the Time Being had been nominated for the Man Booker Prize. I was excited and moved the book to the top of my to-read list. 

A Tale for the Time Being started off slowly for me. I enjoyed reading about the zen Buddhist practice, but the story was not particularly gripping.  As I got further into the story, my stomach started to hurt as I learned more about Nao's background and circumstances.  I also loved getting to know Ruth and how she was struggling to write her next novel while part of a small community on an island. My favorite character is the 104 year old Buddhist nun.  Her energy and interactions with Nao were so lovely.  I wish that the book had been selected as a book club pick as I would have loved to discuss with others. 

P.S.-- Ruth Ozeki is on twitter. You can follow her @ozekiland

Posted on Thursday, January 2, 2014 at 9:00AM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment