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Read-a-thon wrap-up

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

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And here we are, on the other side of my first 24 hour read-a-thon. What an incredibly enjoyable, educational, and humbling experience! My stats aren’t as thorough as most readers’, primarily because I signed up at the last minute and decided I was just going to read and observe this time around. I think that was the best thing I could have done, because knowing myself, I would have set some pretty high expectations as far as books completed and pages read and been disappointed rather than having tons of fun and gathering lots of great info for future read-a-thons.

Books completed: 3

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg; 162 pages.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; 374 pages.

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl; 154 pages.

Books abandoned: 1

Hood by Stephen Lawhead. I started with this one and quickly realized that it would take a HUGE dedication of time to get through it; I left it at page 45. I may or may not give this another go another time… It wasn’t really grabbing me.

Books not completed: 1

The Time Travelers by Linda Buckley-Archer. I’m enjoying this one, perhaps not as much as I expected, but enough to keep working on it today. I’ll probably borrow the sequel, but don’t know if I’ll buy the series. We shall see. Concluded the read-a-thon on page 173 of this one.

Total pages read: 908. Huh, not as low as I expected. Not as high as I expected before the day began, but I’m a bit of an overachiever that way :)

Hours slept: 3. I crashed for two hours in the middle of the day, and an hour around 2:30 this morning. I only got about three hours of sleep Friday night, so I’m positive I could have lasted the whole time if I’d managed more than that!

Mini-challenges completed: 6

Trending on Twitter

Where in the World is the Read-a-thon?

What books do you reread, and why?

Wisdom of Age

Children’s books “Gimme Five”

Turn to page…

I would have loved to do so many more of them, and probably would have if I’d been at home. I felt a little disoriented though, even though I only moved from here less than a month ago, and mostly just wanted to hunker down with the books and the cats.

I received so many comments from great cheerleaders along the way, and can’t wait to go through and check out your blogs and watch the count on my feed reader grow and grow, so that’s what I’m off to do once I’ve refilled my coffee mug :) I hope everyone’s day of recuperation is going swimmingly, and thanks to all who made the read-a-thon such a wonderful event!

Read-a-thon? Why not?

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

I’ve been hesitant to commit to Dewey’s read-a-thon, primarily because my life has been so crazy that I can hardly find a solid hour, let alone twenty-four of them, to dedicate to reading. However, the timing has worked out so that I will be house-and-cat-sitting and therefore unable to make progress on my own unpacking and settling project, so what better excuse?

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I’m not going to have my own library on hand, so I’ll go through my ex’s books tonight and select a stack of titles she kept that I’d like to read but haven’t yet; those will be my main focus, and I’ll probably go with YA fantasy series for fillers if I get in a rut. My goal, though, is to complete books and not skip around so much as to leave several in various states of completion. I’ll also make sure to have lots of snacky foods and beverages at the ready, though I’ve become quite adept at reading and cooking simultaneously over the years :)

Are you participating in the read-a-thon? Is it your first time, or are you a veteran? Got any tips for a last-minute newbie?

Reading Roundup

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Another week, another list of books completed! A question for my readers (and anyone coming by for the first time, too – welcome, by the way!): Do you prefer reading a list of reviews in a chunk like this, or separate entries as the books are completed? For those of you who are into network and community building, do you find that individual reviews increase your traffic and comments? I personally am not crazy about review after review after review in a blog I’m reading, but maybe I’m unusual in that. Any feedback would be welcome!

Without further ado, here come the books…

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

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I would feel like a hypocrite rating this any lower, since I essentially devoured it in a single sitting. It’s a good book – a compelling book. Not poorly written, but simple. Not badly plotted, but predictable. I tried very hard not to compare my feelings while reading it to my experience reading Battle Royale, but I have to admit that the similarities are strong enough to force comparison, and weak enough to leave The Hunger Games off the list of all-time best novels while Battle Royale is still clearly parked in my top 5, if not top 3. I think a younger generation of readers, perhaps those not ready for the complexities of Takami’s work, will be perfectly suited for Collins, as they might not see through the setups as easily as someone who has read, seen, and lived through more.

The Giver, Lois Lowry

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This was recommended by DevourerofBooks, in response to last week’s Booking Through Thursday entry,  “15 sticky books in 15 minutes or less.”
I happened to hit the library that same night, and picked this book up and began reading it immediately. I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of the shift from the familiar (to me) Lowry world of Anastasia to this utopia where rules have been determined for every aspect of life to eliminate conflict and suffering. The cost, however, is that without those, the people who live in the Community cannot experience love or joy, either.
I can’t think of anyone who shouldn’t read this book; its simple prose and intriguing story have the pages flying by from the first, and I was intensely sad to reach the end. I may or may not look into the rest of the series; I don’t want to be disappointed, and I’ve heard that they’re not as good as the first. Anyone want to chime in?

Anastasia’s Chosen Career, Lois Lowry

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This was my favorite of the Anastasia books when I was a kid; since I was picking up The Giver anyway, I grabbed this one at the same time. I remembered it fairly well, but this was a great example of how reading a book some 20 years later will give you an entirely different feeling. More than ever, I found myself identifying strongly with Anastasia – she truly is my alter ego in so many ways!

Dealing with Dragons, Patricia C. Wrede

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A cute fairy tale with a feminist bent; first in a series that I’ll probably check out from the library, but unless the later books are more involved, they’ll likely be a one-time read. Enjoyable characters, straightforward plot, and consistent style.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and six more, Roald Dahl

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I love Roald Dahl, and this was a fun set of shorts, plus a mini-bio about how he got into writing and a reprint of his first ever piece of writing sold to the Saturday Evening Post.

The Portrait of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

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I’ve wanted to read this for some time; it’s the first Wilde I’ve read besides The Importance of Being Earnest (which is possibly my favorite play of all time). Being a novel as opposed to a play, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I definitely saw some of the Wilde philosophy I loved about Earnest, but this tended more towards lengthy monologues and, eventually, a darkness that surprised me.
Overall, I loved it. While it did tend towards a bit more lengthy non-dialogue character development than I generally enjoy, Wilde’s writing is engaging and for the most part, I didn’t feel compelled to skim like I normally do when there is no direct character interaction for pages. The ending was surprising and terribly, delightfully predictable at the same time, and its delivery was perfect.

As you may have guessed from my last post, I’m suffering a bit of book apathy right now. I’m in the middle (or, truth be told, nearer the beginning) of the following: Take your Shirt Off and Cry by Nancy Balbirer (ARC from the LibraryThing ER program), The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Brandon Sanderson’s The Well of Ascension, Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn, and Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet (which I intended to read last week, but my e-book was incorrectly named so I ended up reading the Wilde instead). Oh! and I almost forgot – also working on Magic Kingdom for Sale – SOLD! for the group read over at Hogwarts Express on LibraryThing. We’re only in week two, so it’s not too late to join us!

OK, your turn – whatcha got???

Reading Roundup

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

And here we are, ready to review the week in books. It’s been a big week for both starts and finishes, and one of the titles holds a place near and dear to me so it gets a bit more air time, as it were. Trust me, it is deserving.

The Last Olympian, Rick Riordan

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I hate to end a series read on a sour note, but I think I found this to be the least inspired of the books in the Percy Jackson series. A big part of that may simply be that I read it after reading so many other YA fantasy series, and some of the premises are typical to the genre. However, I did feel as though a few key points were a bit too reminiscent of those in a certain very popular series about a certain other protagonist coming of age and facing a final battle.
I can only imagine that creating characters and prose that grow with your readers is something for which few adults have a natural talent. That being said, I enjoyed these books immensely for what they were: easy, engaging reads, with simple but well turned out plots, with characters to whom most readers can relate on some level. I may pick up others of Riordan’s novels to see if his adult books are as vastly superior writing-wise as Brandon Sanderson’s adult novels are in comparison to Alcatraz.

Herland, Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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I first read Gilman’s short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” and was captivated by it, and by her. Herland, the story of three young men who find themselves in a country that has been devoid of males for some two thousand years, is nearly a century old and still strikingly applicable in modern day society. It’s only a hundred and forty-some pages in the Dover Thrift, and a swift read – highly recommended for anyone with an anthropological/sociological bent, or feminist/women’s activism interests.

Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere, Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby

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Marianne Kirby has been a LiveJournal friend of mine for several years, since I saw a photo shoot of her with long braids, a lacy black bra and panties set, a couple of fresh limes, and a coy smile. Doesn’t sound like a big deal (unless you have a citrus fetish), but here’s what really got me – she was fat. Not like, a little pudgy. Fat, like 5’4″, and three hundred pounds. Fat like me.

And she was HOT.

If that weren’t enough, she was also quirky, funny, and damn smart. After following her writing for a while, I knew it wouldn’t be long before she got a book deal if that’s what she wanted, and the result is every bit as good as her LiveJournal and her fat activist blog, The Rotund, led me to believe it would be.

The first few chapters of the book are full of true laugh-out-loud moments. If you’re familiar with either Kate’s or Marianne’s online personality, you can often tell whose words you’re reading. It’s like sitting down for a late lunch with your best girlfriends, with pitchers of margaritas kept full at all times.
Like that same late lunch where, once a few margaritas have been thrown back and the lighthearted catching up is out of the way, you get into the real nitty gritty of what’s going on in your lives, the book takes a turn for the more intense in the last third or so. I felt truly overwhelmed by much of what was discussed in the last few chapters in particular, and upon finishing, I wanted to go immediately back and begin again, annotating as I went.

This is not just an anti-diet book. This is not just a fat-positive book. This is not just a feminist book. This is a couple of best friends whispering everything you need to hear about your value as a person, in black and white in front of your face. You know that scene in Good Will Hunting where Robin Williams’s character says “It’s not your fault,” over and over and OVER until Will finally breaks down? That’s what this book is like. Highly recommended for anyone who has ever suffered from low self-image or self-worth because of body image issues. Otherwise known as “everyone.”

The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster

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I read this in my youth, but didn’t appreciate it as fully as I did this time around. The wordplay is so much fun, and some of the descriptive passages are just wonderful. So many great characters – the Everpresent Wordsnatcher was my favorite, I think – and quirky adventures. I highly recommend this to anyone who is experiencing a reading rut; it’s a good funk breaker!

Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens

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It’s so bittersweet when I discover an author I should have met so very long ago: wonderful to have found him now, but all those years NOT reading Dickens, WASTED!

OK, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but really, I was in love with the language of this book from the very first sentence, far more than the story. I could – and probably will – read Dickens forever without tiring of his prose. The humor, what I would call “snark” today, is brilliant, and the descriptions of those moments in life which we all experience but can never quite capture – he does capture them, in such a way that makes you nod and say, “Yes! That’s exactly how it is!”

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For books started this week, we’ve got Brandon Sanderson’s The Well of Ascension, book two in the Mistborn Trilogy; Susan Collins’s The Hunger Games, a Battle Royale/Lord of the Flies esque story; Magic Kingdom for Sale – SOLD!, the first book in Terry Brooks’s Landover series; and Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, my new e-read, as I’ve completed Oliver Twist.

How about you?

Reading Roundup

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

So I figure mid-week is a good time to revisit the books I’ve completed and started over the past seven days. Without further ado…

The Titan’s Curse, Rick Riordan

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This is the third book in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. While the books don’t seem to increase in complexity or profundity like some authors’ works tend to do over time, they don’t lose any of their charm, either, as we follow Percy and his friends on adventure after adventure. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud funny moments, moral and ethical dilemmas, and dynamic battles, and we are left with Riordan’s now customary cliffhanger ending. Thankfully, I had purchased the subsequent novels the night before completing this last in my boxed trio of the start to the series!

The Battle of the Labyrinth, Rick Riordan

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More of the same about Percy and his friends. The books maintain their addictive nature throughout, though I am starting to notice a trend towards phrases like, “And I know this from experience,” which is a tad annoying when reading the series straight through; I don’t need the reminder, I just read about you doing that!

The Demigod Files, Rick Riordan

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A cute supplement to the series; nothing integral, but some fun insight into some of the minor characters.

Lamplighter, D.M. Cornish

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I have to give it to this guy – the creation of a whole world cannot be an easy task, and the thoroughness with which Cornish accomplishes it is to be commended. This second book (the first book being Foundling) in the Monster Blood Tattoo series in particular is a tome, but the story is intriguing and the characters truly lifelike, even in their utterly unearthly circumstances. The cliffhanger ending is oft employed by authors across genres, but you can usually see it coming; with the thick appendices at the end of this volume, I thought surely it couldn’t be the end but —— ! Now, the next chapter of Rossamund Bookchild’s life must wait until it’s written. May 2010 doesn’t need to hurry any faster (I’ll be the big three-oh, don’tcha know), but if he wanted to release the book a bit sooner, I’d be ok with that :)

I’m still working on Oliver Twist, and I’ve begun The Last Olympian to complete the Percy Jackson series. I’ll also be leading a group read of Terry Brooks‘s Magic Kingdom of Landover series on the Hogwarts Express forum on LibraryThing; feel free to join us!

In the meantime, what are you reading this week?