Tuesday 18 December 2012

Mixing It Up Challenge Overview

Before I start with my overview I just wondered if anyone else was having problems with spammers? It's just been recently and maybe my little time away from my blog had something to do with it. It's also only on very old blog posts that require me to moderate the comments anyway. Since it's annoying me though I am no longer allowing anonymous comments. Sorry people.

Okay, so this challenge was hosted by the lovely Ellie of Musings of a Bookshop Girl. Way last year she set a challenge to encourage people to come out of their comfort zone. You could enter at different levels and each level had a certain number of categories to complete. The highest level meant all 16 categories. I chose one of the lower ones and 12 categories so that it would mean one book a month. I've listed the 12 categories I chose and the books I read for them below;

Classics - Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
Biography - Shakespeare by Bill Bryson
History - Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir
Modern Fiction - Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
Graphic Novels & Manga - The Preacher by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon
Crime and Mysetery - Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre
Horror - Miss Peregrines's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Science Fiction & Fantasy - A Sorcerer's Treason by Sarah Zettel
Travel - A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson
Poetry & Drama - The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Journalism & Humour - Moranthology by Caitlin Moran
Science & Natural History - The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins

As some of these categories weren't much out of my comfort zone I decided that I would only choose books by authors I had never read before. Obviously I completely forgot about my addition to the challenge by the end as I had read Bill Bryson and Caitlin Moran before (in fact Bryson appears on this list twice). The rest of the authors were new to me though so I'll let myself get away with it.

First of all my least favourites of the list would easily be the Preacher and The Greatest Show On Earth. Neither books would stop me from reading from those genres again though. With the Preacher it could have been a good story and it did pick up for me near the end but the constant violence put me off. As I am sure I mentioned in my initial review I am no prude when it comes to a bit of violence in my reading but this was violence for violence sake. Basically I was bored by it and wanted story instead. As for The Greatest Show On Earth I found it to be a little preachy and a little dull. I did learn things from it but in the end it wasn't a book for me. I like my science books a little lighter than that.

Whilst I enjoyed all of the other books one stands out from all the rest. That book is The Crucible by Arthur Miller. This stands out not just because I loved the book but it's also one category which was definitely out of my comfort zone. My first foray into drama since school was some Shakespeare for another challenge at the start of the year. So this was only my second attempt and with something completely different. Like with the Shakespeare books it was easy to forget the format it was written in. I got just as much from it as I would have done from any novel and I couldn't put it down. I was surprised by how well the atmosphere of the play was built up given the restrictions to the format. I don't think I will ever dismiss the play again when it comes to reading material. For that one book alone the challenge was successful.

If you want to see what I thought about all of the books you can do so here. This is my original sign up post and I have linked all my reviews to it. If you want to see how others did with the challenge Ellie has posted a sign up on her blog.


  1. Woohoo, congratulations! I'm so glad you enjoyed it, even if a couple of the books turned out to be duds! I really enjoyed both those Brysons (don't I always?), and I've already preordered Moranthology because Caitlin Moran never fails to make me laugh. You've also prompted me to finally order The Crucible - I have the film but I really would like to read the play first...

    You'll be added to both giveaways when I do my last round-up, good luck! :)

    1. Thank you. Yeah, the Bryson's were good. The few duds were already on my shelf so I would have got round to not enjoying them anyway ;). Hope you enjoy the Caitlin Moran. Definitely different from her other book but still good. I haven't watched The Crucible yet but might fix that over the Christmas break.

      Thanks again.

  2. YES, I'm getting spammed like crazy, too. The poster is always "Anonymous" and the spam shows up on old posts. I already moderate comments, so the spam has never actually shown up on my blog but it's still an annoying thing to deal with. If you find a way to get rid of the spammer, let me know.

    Oh, and this sounds like a fun challenge, but I'm already challenged out for 2013!

    1. The challenge was only on for this year. I don't think Ellie is doing it again next year.

      I have changed my setting so that anonymous people can't leave comments. Seems to have worked so far but it's early days yet.