Posts Categorized: Books

April 25, 2015 – Readathon

April 25, 2015 Books 24

I’ll be over at the Readathon blog, hosting for a couple hours, then I’ll be back here to share in the reading.

OPENING MEME

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

North Carolina, where it is expected to rain QUITE a bit today. Yay!

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

All the comics!

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Hmm….I think I’m going to make ice cream later. Probably that.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I love collective nouns. My favorite is A Parliament of Owls.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

One thing? So far, I haven’t panicked. This is a good thing.

HOUR 124 UPDATE:

Stories started: The Wind is Not a River by Brian Peyton. Capture Creatures Issue 3 by Frank Gibson. The Fade Out Issue 5 by Ed Brubaker. Lumberjanes Issue 13 by Noelle Stevenson. A Card from Angela Carter by Susannah Clapp. Wild’s End Issues 1-6 by Dan Abnett. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. Swallow Me Whole by Nate Powell.

Stories finished: 11.

Finished: Capture Creatures Issue 3 by Frank Gibson. The Fade Out Issue 5 by Ed Brubaker. Lumberjanes Issue 13 by Noelle Stevenson. A Card from Angela Carter by Susannah Clapp. Wild’s End Issues 1-6 by Dan Abnett. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh.

Pages read:

Snacks: Cadbury Chocolate Easter Eggs (I can’t believe we still have some). Banana. Cereal. Ham sandwich on GF bread and chips. Popcorn. Apple. Snickers Fun Size (x4). A NASTY spinach and cheese GF pizza because the Mississippi Roast wasn’t done until 10:30 PM. I had some at 11.

End of Event Meme

Which hour was most daunting for you?

17, which is midnight my time. It gets me every year. I wish I could just skip it.

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

Comics are great for breathers between books. And Hyperbole and a Half was fantastic. Very hard to put down.

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

I have a few ideas.

What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

The co-hosts were completely awesome. We could not have done it without them. And the cheer captains were excellent.

How many books did you read?

9 comics and 2 books.

What were the names of the books you read?

Capture Creatures Issue 3 by Frank Gibson. The Fade Out Issue 5 by Ed Brubaker. Lumberjanes Issue 13 by Noelle Stevenson. A Card from Angela Carter by Susannah Clapp. Wild’s End Issues 1-6 by Dan Abnett. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh.

Which book did you enjoy most?

Hyperbole and a Half was a complete surprise. Was not expecting it to be so amazing.

Which did you enjoy least?

Probably A Card from Angela Carter. Despite its short length, it moved slow. Not the best choice for a readathon.

If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

Get a better leader! Don’t worry, I have a couple ideas of how to make it better next time.

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

I’ll be there with bells on. Organizing, co-hosting, cheering, reading; the whole nine yards.

 

 

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Readathon – The Snacks

April 23, 2015 Books 15

snack

Well, all the food, really.

More important than that goodnight’s sleep the night before, more important than the stack of books (I kid, I kid), the food is almost as much if not more discussed than anything else regarding the readathon. Sustenance is important people. And, after years of participating and now co-hosting, I feel like I’ve got this down pretty pat.

Firstly, I’ll be making Mississippi Roast in the crock pot for our supper. I can start it before go time and it can cook all day while I read, cheer, and do hosterly duties.

Secondly, I will have all the healthy stuffs: apples, bananas, cheese, water, and Bolthouse drinks for the protein zings.

Thirdly, I have all the not-so-healthy stuffs: Snickers, chocolate Chex (for breakfast), chai latte, Nutella, gf frozen pizza (lunch!), and chips and dip.

Lastly, I’ll have the appetite! Reading all day is HARD!

What snacks do you have lined up for the big day?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

April 20, 2015 Books, Meme 7

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As I complained said yesterday, I’m reading a big fat of nothing, SO, I thought for this post, I’d just discuss what I plan on reading Saturday. I’m pretty sure this goes for Andi too when I say, it’s hard for us to read on the actual Readathon day. There are so many things going on behind the scenes and I know I want to be present for it all. So reading usually consists of sitting at the computer and reading a couple pages every now and then. So, this year, I’m leaning even more heavily on comics and graphic novels.

So far, my pile consists of:

  • The Graveyard Book Graphic Novels by Neil Gaiman (volumes 1 and 2)
  • Fables 14-20 by Bill Willingham (I am so behind)
  • Capture Creatures, Issue 3 by Gibson and Dreistadt
  • The Fade Out, Issue 6 by Ed Brubaker
  • Lumberjanes, Issue 13 by Noelle Stevenson
  • A Glance Backward by Tony Sandoval

And, for short books, I have:

  • The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Gilman Perkins, of course
  •  The Campaign for Domestic Happiness by Isabella Beeton
  • A Tidewater Morning by William Styron
  • The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee
  • The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

And of course, anything can pop up. If they don’t immediately grab me, they get thrown to the side.

What are your plans for the reading week? Reading anything good this week?

It's Monday What Are  You Reading

It’s Monday, What are you Reading is hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.

 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

April 13, 2015 Books, Meme 6

monday

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Woo hey guys and Happy Monday!!! We all know I’m not actually this chipper, so we’ll just pretend I am together, shall we?

So, guess what? I didn’t hardly read a lick this weekend. We were super busy (as you know from yesterday’s post, house hunting. Also, we’re looking to build, since we have land.) and I started seriously working on the Readathon, so there went my extra time. I did manage to read some of Feeding a Yen last night this morning, around 3 am, because INSOMNIA. I quit because it was making me hungry. I’m in the Chinatown section and I’m really regretting I can’t eat Asian food any more. Because soy = gluten. Boo.

As I mentioned yesterday, I finished Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey and it was completely, heartbreakingly, wonderful. The girl writes beautifully. Seriously. Look. It. Up. I was going to wait and start Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin today, but then I was doing chores yesterday and looked for something short. Turned out The Little Price was only about 2 hours long, so I started it instead. I haven’t read it in years and the audio is a delight. CLCL is definitely next though.

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The last book I’m supposedly reading is Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story by Michael Rosen. I’ve really only read the introduction and half of letter A and I’m dying to get into it more. There’s that whole TIME issue though. It’s super interesting. And don’t you just want to lick that cover? What? You don’t lick books? Okay, smell it then. Judgers.

What are your plans for the reading week? Reading anything good this week?

It's Monday What Are  You Reading

It’s Monday, What are you Reading is hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.

 

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Orchard House, or, What I Want to Be When I Grow Up.

April 9, 2015 Book Reviews, Books 2 ★★★★★

Orchard House, or, What I Want to Be When I Grow Up.Orchard House: How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow
by tara austen weaver
Published by Ballantine Books
on March 24th 2015
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
five-stars
For fans of Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving memoir of rediscovering, reinventing, and reconnecting, as an estranged mother and daughter come together to revive a long-abandoned garden and ultimately their relationship and themselves.
 
Peeling paint, stained floors, vined-over windows, a neglected and wild garden—Tara Austen Weaver can’t get the Seattle real-estate listing out of her head. Any sane person would’ve seen the abandoned property for what it was: a ramshackle half-acre filled with dead grass, blackberry vines, and trouble. But Tara sees potential and promise—not only for the edible bounty the garden could yield for her family, but for the personal renewal she and her mother might reap along the way.

So begins Orchard House, a story of rehabilitation and cultivation—of land and soul. Through bleak winters, springs that sputter with rain and cold, golden days of summer, and autumns full of apples, pears, and pumpkins, this evocative memoir recounts the Weavers’ trials and triumphs, detailing what grew and what didn’t, the obstacles overcome and the lessons learned. Inexorably, as mother and daughter tend this wild patch and the fruits of their labor begin to flourish, green shoots of hope emerge from the darkness of their past.

For everyone who has ever planted something that they wished would survive—or tried to mend something that seemed forever broken—Orchard House is a tale of healing and growth set in a most unlikely place.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Back when I was a kid, I would occasionally (read – often) steal my grandmother’s romances and read them under the covers at night. A bad habit to be sure (kids, listen to your parents!) but at the time, I couldn’t understand why she didn’t want me to read them! I do now. Why am I telling you this?

Well, one time, I read one of those romances and it was about a woman who bought old homes and renovated them to sale (and yeah, I think she wound up in love with a contractor and they did the YOU KNOW WHAT all over one of those houses and then fought and broke up then made up and then lived happily ever after the end.) (12-year-old me says “blush.”). Something about that touched the romantic and ambitious part of me. It sounded so fantastic! To buy an old home, rip out all the rot, the ugly, the unwanted, and make it warm, cozy, and a home again. And the garden. My dream garden, with flowers and vegetables and fruit, everywhere. It sounded terribly awesome.

I decided that’s what I wanted to do when I grew up. Refurb houses, not read romances. Because ick.

Flash forward 25 years (or so) and that is definitely not what I am doing. And yet, I still find it a romantic thing to do. I moon over old houses in our area. I love looking at books, magazines, and websites about decorating. And someday, I will take a house and make it my own, although probably not an old one. Oh well.

So, when I saw this memoir, I knew I had to read it. And it’s why I loved so much. Tara Austen Weaver finds just such a house, with “peeling paint, stained floors, vined-over windows, a neglected and wild garden…” just what she (and I) can see so much potential in. She convinces her mother to come to Seattle and they start planning.

This book. Wow, this book. It sounds sappy to say it “touched my heart” but it honestly did and dude, you know I’m a cynic. I did not have a relationship with my mother, but I did with my grandmother and in many ways, the relationship between Tara and her mother reminds me of the one I had with her. We were so much alike and so very contentious. And part of the beauty of this book is seeing how these two souls manage to love and work together, despite their ways.

And the food. Oh the descriptions of food. And the garden. I read this when it was too early to get out in the garden, but I was dying to do so while reading it. I even mentioned starting an orchard on the land we’re going to build on eventually, so perhaps we’d have fruit by the time we moved and my husband said yes! Color me delighted.

All in all, if you love foodie, gardening, mother/daughter relationship, family relationship, etc, type books, I can’t see why you wouldn’t love this book as much as me. Highly recommended.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

April 6, 2015 Books, Meme 9

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Ugh, you guys! I hate these Mondays. I have nothing to report! I’m reading the same books! It is so depressing! They are great, but I’m ready for new words!

So, cheer me up. What are YOU reading?

It's Monday What Are  You Reading

It’s Monday, What are you Reading is hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.

 

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Stuff I Learned This Week

April 3, 2015 Books 6

learned

I didn’t get to listen to podcasts as much this week, as I have a great book going in audio, but I did manage to learn some interesting things anyway!

Queen Victoria is credited as the first woman to wear a white wedding dress.  There were some before, and many after, but SHE IS THE ONE who made it popular. I guess.

She also started the tradition of having a Christmas tree. It was a German thing and she wanted her husband to feel at home on Christmas. Aw, sweet. – Stuff Mom Never Told You: The Read Queen Victoria (Listen)

2737 BC: Emperor of China, Shen Nung discovered tea thanks to the wind. Seriously. Dude loved to boil his water and some leaves blew into it. He drank it anyway and whoa! It’s delicious. But no one knows if this story is actually true or not. And now I want some chai.

Britain, the dirty buggers, didn’t stop taxing tea until sometime in the 1960s. Did they learn nothing from Boston? – Stuff You Should Know: How Tea Works (Listen)

Ada Lovelace, mathematician and computer prodigy, was the daughter on Lord Byron. THE LORD BYRON. – Oxford DNB : Ada Lovelace (Listen)

Did you learn anything interesting this week?

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Mars and the First Person POV

April 2, 2015 Books 10 ★★★★

Mars and the First Person POVThe Martian
by Andy Weir
Narrator: R. C. Bray
Length: 10 hours 53 minutes
Published by Crown Publishing Group
on February 11th 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Thriller
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
four-stars
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he's stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills--and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit--he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

What the heck is up with that title, eh? I’m getting to it. I just have a few things to say about First Person Point of View (or FPPoV). It kind of took over my thoughts on The Martian. Sorry Andy Weir.

I’m sure you’ve heard of The Martian. It was one of the “IT” books last year. Everyone read it. Everyone and their mother read it. Everyone except me. And I really, really wanted to. And I tried. But it didn’t click. Damn that pesky first person narration. I still struggle with it. But, thank God for audiobooks. Me and FPPoV are complete BUDDIES when it comes to audiobooks.

This audiobook completely rocks.

See, the thing about me andFPPoV…I’m not sure what it is. I’ve always had trouble with it. I mean, it stands to reason that I would. It’s a more intimate form of storytelling. A character can become something of a best friend, within the story that is. You get an “inside look” at what the character is thinking and feeling I love unreliable narrators andFPPoV has always felt unreliable to me. It’s the character telling their story. How do I know they are being honest? I love the mystery of that. Lastly, it makes one feel like one is IN the story, more than any other POV, again, for me.

But.

FPPoV imprisons me. One is stuck with one character and that character’s thoughts and feelings. One can only get what THAT CHARACTER THINKS about another character. I do like knowing what another character thinks of the events of the story. It helps ME decide what I think about what’s going on. I feel like it also limits the scope of a story. I like to know everything that’s going on! Also,FPPoV, in my experience, is a TELL TRAP. I like to see what’s going on, not told about it. BIG, HUGE PET PEEVE.

When I first tried to read The Martian, I had so much trouble getting into Mark Watney’s mind and the story. The story starts with an accident, and, I imagine since I was only getting Watney’s side of it, I had a hard time figuring out exactly what happened. His character was off-putting. I immediately didn’t care for or about him. I think I made it about 20 pages.

Yet, I just knew this was a story for me. A lot of my favorite bloggers loved it. Andi, my reading twin/soulmate, loved it. I was determined to try again. I can be pretty persuasive, even with myself. Because, when I saw The Martian for $3.99 on Audible,I snapped it up. And then I devoured it.

Obviously, The Martian is in FPPoV. An astronaut is left behind, stranded, on Mars after a terrible accident separated him from his crew. What follows is the events after that accident, told from that astronaut’s point of view. There really is no other way to tell that story. He is all alone, on an uninhabited planet. So, somehow, for me, hearing someone read the story is much more successful than trying to read it for myself.

Why, I don’t know AND I don’t know why I can’t remember this. This isn’t the first time. It won’t be the last.

C’est ma vie. Le sigh.

Here is where I actually talk about my feelings on the book, if you skipped down. 

So, my advice is, if you couldn’t get into The Martian, give the audiobook a try. The reader suffuses Mark Watney with so much personality and I couldn’t help but root for him. The reader, R. C. Bray, made me care. He has an excellent range of voices and his voice really matches the character and tone the book. He made me laugh out loud a few times, just with the delivery of a line. Andy Weir’s writing was great. The technical aspects of a flight to Mars and the mission to get a stranded astronaut back to Earth were not completely over my head. It was just great fun. And a nail-biter for sure. I got my uncle to listen to it and he loved it too.

Highly recommended. In audio anyway.

 

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Monthly Wrap Up – March 2015

April 1, 2015 Books, Monthly Wrap Up 6

Sunset in Forest

Ahoy there March! I’m kind of sad to see you go, but really, I’m looking forward to the end of your cold, blustery ways. We had a good time and all, but I’m ready for April. We did do a lot of reading together, didn’t we?

39. The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac by Sharma Shields
40. Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
41. Rat Queens, Issue 9 by Kurtis Wiebe
42. Orchard House: How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow by Tara Austen Weaver
43. Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown
44. Alex + Ada, Issue 13 by Jonathan Luna
45. Lumberjanes, Issue 12 by Noelle Stevenson
46. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
47. Wayward, Issue 6 by Jim Zub

Favorite book of the month was The Library at Mount Char hands down. Orchard House was a very close second. Rat Queens, Alex + Ada, Lumberjanes, and Wayward just keep getting better and better. Neil Gaiman was as fantastic as ever. My least favorite was The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac, but I still enjoyed it. All in all, March was a great month.

April brings with it Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon (sign ups are live now!) and lots of busyness. I hope to get lots of reading done, but am afraid it will only happen on the day of the Readathon!

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