Friday, May 26, 2017

Opps...It's Definitely Time for a Wrap-Up...

I know it's been a couple of weeks since I have updated you on what I've been reading. The truth is I haven't been reading as much as I would like to and therefore, I feel like I haven't had much to say. But I finally have a few ideas floating around in my brain that I want to share with you. So without further ado, here is what I've been reading the last couple weeks.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

I thought this book was absolutely charming. It follows Clay Jannon, who gets a job as a clerk in a 24 bookstore. He soon discovers that the bookstore contains all manner of puzzles and mysteries and begins a journey that will lead him into the midst of a secret society and to the beginnings of a 500 year old mystery. This book is whimsical and sweet and just a light and fun read. 






Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder


The third in the Little House series, this book focuses on the childhood of Laura Ingalls eventual husband, Almanzo Wilder. I love the contrast between their two childhoods, while Laura's family had very little, the Wilders had an abundance but were still taught to work hard and be diligent and disciplined. Plus all the descriptions of the food they ate made my mouth water!


 Maud by Melanie J. Fishbane

This brand new release is a fictionalized account of the teenage years of Lucy Laud Montgomery. It is geared toward younger readers and honestly, I think I would have absolutely loved this book as a teenager. As an adult, I still enjoyed it but it was not what I was hoping it would be. Montgomery is known for her descriptive writing and that was what I was hoping for when I picked up this book but overall it fell just a little flat for me. There is too much telling instead of showing. Also, the focus is too much on her romances and flirtations as a teen. Again, it's not a bad book, it's just not what I was hoping for. What it has done is inspire me to read Montgomery's journals for myself.


The Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature by Elizabeth Kantor

Non-fiction discussing the lack of classical education when it comes to literature and how our current educational focus is about interpreting literature in light of current events and hot button issues instead of studying great literature and striving to understand the genius of the writer. A reminder that poetry is meant to be memorized, plays are meant to be seen, and great literature is meant to be discussed and gossiped about. Though I didn't agree with the author entirely (do we ever agree with authors entirely?), I very much appreciate her perspective and her desire that great literature be studied simply because it is great.



That is all for today but just know that I am excited about the books I am currently reading so I will be back soon! What will you be reading this weekend???

Monday, May 8, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 5/8/17

Here are the three books I read this week:

                                      
A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff

This middle grade novel is set in a slightly magical world where everyone has a talent - it may be cake baking or it may be spitting. A sweet story about a girl finding a home with all kinds of twists and turns and puzzles along the way. Bonus: The book is also filled with cake recipes that I am hoping to try! All in all, a fun frivolous read!









The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers

This books was...weird...I don't really know how else to describe it. So I'm going to just give you a brief synopsis copied from goodreads:

     "Optimus Yarnspinner, finds himself marooned in the subterranean world of Bookholm, the City of Dreaming Books, where reading can be dangerous, where ruthless Bookhunters fight to the death."










Horton Halfpott; or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset by Tom Angleberger

Another middle grade book. This one was cute as well, full of ridiculous characters and bizarre plot twists (just in case you couldn't figure that out from the title). A lovely way to spend a couple hours. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

It's a Wrap! Readathon April 2017

I have successfully survived another readathon. I slept a little more than I intended to this time around. I came off of two days of babysitting and two nights of abnormal sleep patterns so I was already tired when I started. I still managed to read 1381 pages which included 5 complete books and parts of three others. I was also able to finish up those three books Sunday afternoon when I went back to babysitting and the kids were napping so I will be covering all eight books today. 

We'll be covering the books from bottom to top because that is the order in which I read them.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
I started my morning with this and read it straight through. This book has been quite popular since it came out last year and normally I avoid new books. I like books that have proved themselves over time and are not just the flavor of the month. However, coming in at under 200 pages this seemed like a great choice for readathon. The plot of this one immediately grabbed me: teens who have been taken to another world as children (think Alice in Wonderland) and how they cope with life upon their return to the real world. Unfortunately, though the plot had so much potential, the story fell very flat for me. I think the author spent too much time fleshing out things that were irrelevant to the story and left the main plot lines fairly shallow and uninspired. 

Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise
A middle grade novel about a grumpy old writer, a little boy, and a ghost. Although creative in the way it told the story it was not a particularly intriguing tale. 

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
A very charming novella about what happens when the Queen of England discovers a mobile library parked outside the palace and how the more books she reads the more her life and her perspective changes. 

I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan 
Fun anecdotes about working in a library. Odd questions asked, rude patrons, and the wonderful moments that make it all worthwhile. A quick, fun read. 

The Farthest-Away Mountain by Lynne Reid Banks 
A middle grade fantasy/adventure story. It was entertaining but there was nothing that made it especially memorable.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett
This may be my favorite book I read during readathon this time around. The true story of a man who stole tens of thousands dollars worth of rare books just because he wanted to have them. Very enjoyable.

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
A reread. I had fun with this one. I read part of it and listened to part of it on audio. It was a great way to break up the day.

Akin to Anne by L.M. Montgomery
A book of short stories. Reading Montgomery is always refreshing and relaxing. My one thought on this is that these stories were all originally published separately and when they were collected into books they were grouped by theme and so many of the stories in this book have identical plots so maybe spread these out over a week or two and not read them all in one weekend.


What's coming up this week?
My goal this week is to read the rest of my readathon tbr stack plus finish the three books (pictured on the right) that I had started before readathon.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Readathon Prep - April 2017

IT'S READATHON TIME AGAIN!!!

Seriously, it's ridiculous how much I love participating in Deweys. I stumbled across the event two years ago and was unable to participate but I immediately starting counting down the days until the October 2015 readathon. It was love at first page. This will be my fourth Deweys and each time I have changed and refined how I approach it and I am looking forward to the best one yet! 

Today we're going to cover all the important readathon prep topics beginning with, of course, 

Books:

This is my stack of twenty potential reads. I like to have options but not be overwhelmed by too many. I'm just going to give you titles and authors and the reason why they are on my stack. If you want a synopsis you can look it up yourself (or wait until after I read it and it ends up in a wrap up post).
From top to bottom:

Akin to Anne by L.M. Montgomery
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Bellwether by Connie Willis
     These three are rereads. I like to have a few rereads on hand for the later hours when I'm a little sleepy and my mind tends to wander a bit more.

The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman
Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise
Horton Halfpott by Tom Angleberger
The Farthest-Away Mountain by Lynne Reid Banks
     These are all middle grade books. Middle grade works great for readathons because they are pretty quick to get through and the plots are easy to follow. And who doesn't love a good kids book?!

I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan
     Anecdotes (most less than a page) from librarians. This is going to be the book I leave in the bathroom to read a page or two when I'm in there. Side note: I highly recommend the book Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg for this same purpose.

Mandy by Julie (Andrews) Edwards
     More middle grade.

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
     This may be the book I start with at 5am on Saturday.

The Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker
     More middle grade.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
     I read a book by this author a few weeks ago and immediately thought that her books would be perfect for a readathon and I had this one already on my shelves.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett
     I've had this on every readathon TBR and I still haven't read it...maybe this year...

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
     This is the other book I am considering starting with.

A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff
     Even more middle grade.

Peter Pan by J.M Barrie
     Because I need to read more classics!

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
     It has 24 hour bookstore in the title! How could I not?

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
     I have this one in both hard copy and audio book. I often listen to an audio book for an hour while I do something else but it always ends up being some random book that I don't finish because I don't listen to audio books generally. I thought this way I could switch back and forth between the two mediums. 

The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde
     Another reread, also the only book on the stack over 300 pages. For when I need something that makes me feel all cozy and happy. 

The People in the Castle by Joan Aiken
     Short stories. I am not usually a fan of short stories but I always try and have a few on hand during a readathon to keep things fresh. 

Obviously I will not get through all 20 of these books but I have high hopes that I will make a significant dent in the pile. 

Moving on to the second favorite readathon topic:

Food:

I've done something a little different each time around. The first readathon I did quite a bit of research on foods that keep you awake and foods that make you sleepy and planned accordingly. Honestly, I didn't feel like it made much of a difference for me so since then I have just done whatever I feel like. I always have plenty of fruit on hand and cheese and crackers. Of course some dark chocolate. This year I think I'll just pick up a pizza on Friday evening so I have some leftovers of that as well. As for drinks, I'm not a coffee drinker, in fact I avoid caffeine in general but for readathon I treat myself to Snapple Peach Tea because it's yummy and I need a little caffeine. 

Other Prep: 

The week leading up to readathon I try and get little tasks out of the way so I don't get distracted by a pile of papers on my desk or dust on the shelves or an overflowing laundry basket. I want a clean organized environment so I can fully relax on the day of. This time around I am going to be gone Thursday and Friday so I am taking today to get those things done. Friday evening I'll pick up whatever groceries I need on the way home and maybe run the vacuum over the carpet but I'm trying to get everything else done in advance so I can have a relaxing successful readathon. 

There is one other topic to touch on and that is sleep. I've tried to stay awake for the full 24 hours and it just doesn't work for me. I am on the west coast so I have a 5am start time (which I love! seriously, I do!). But by the time midnight rolls around I'm losing any semblance of sanity. I've found what works for me is to sleep for about three hours, usually about 10pm - 1am. This allows me to still participate all the way through the 24 hours and not just disappear at hour 19 or 20. Figure out what works for you! 

Whether this is your first or your fiftieth readathon I hope you have a wonderful time! If you have never participated before ir's not too late to sign up. There are no requirements. You do not have to read for the full 24 hours or even 2 hours. It's just a coming together of book lovers around the world. 

Also: shout out to my parents for babysitting my nieces and nephews on Saturday which is what I am supposed to be doing. But it would break my pathetic little heart to not get to participate in Deweys. Seriously though, Mom and Dad, I know you read this blog and you guys are awesome. I am so grateful for you.






Monday, April 17, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 4/17/17

I know, I know, I know...I didn't blog last week. But I'm back this week with an interesting stack of books that I read in the past two weeks.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
This is a middle grade novel that has become fairly well known since it was published in 2012. The story centers around August Pullman, a 10 year old with severe facial deformities. In this book he attends school for the first time after having been home schooled. A sweet story about friendship and doing the right thing no matter what anyone thinks.

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Another book accomplished with the help of my reading buddy. This classic detective novel tells of the disappearance of the Moonstone, a legendary diamond. We are told the story through multiple perspectives and even though I enjoyed the book, many times it just felt like information overload.

Anthem by Ayn Rand
Though Rand is more well known for Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, this is the novel of hers that came most highly recommended to me. This dystopian story takes place in a society where individuality has been eradicated. The word "I" no longer exists. Until one man flees the society and discovers something beyond the collective "we".

The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz
Another middle grade novel (I love my kids books!). Follow the journey of William, a mixed race monk with the gift of extraordinary strength, Jacob, a Jew with the gift of healing, Jeanne, a peasant girl who can see the future, and Gwenforte her dog who also happens to be a saint.

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

This was a reread for me. It is a somewhat allegorical story about a mans journey to hell and heaven, and the conversations and realizations he has while he is there.Though this is at least the third time I have read this book I think this is the first time I have really understood the point of it. Of all the books on my list this week, this is the only one that I would highly recommend!

That's all I have for you this today! There is a readathon coming up in less than two weeks so I have started preparations for that which I guarantee I will be tell you more about so stay tuned...

(Also, it's not too late to sign up here )

Monday, April 3, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 4/3/17

Today I'm just going to touch briefly on three books.

Merlin's Keep by Madeleine Brent
Brent published several gothic romance novels in the 70s. These are clean romances with exotic settings. The story lines are all similar but they always make for enjoyable reading. However, this was, by far, my least favorite of her books that I have read. Centering around a half-caste Tibetan princess this book delves too much into eastern mysticism with healthy doses of occultism, hypnotism, and mind control. It was just a little too dark for me. 

Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde
This was a reread for me and the perfect palate cleanser after Merlin's Keep. Fforde books are always full of bizarre humor, unexpected twists, and dozens of literary references, If you haven't attempted this series yet I highly recommend it. (Or if you have read it it's probably time for a reread.)

To Be or Not To Be by Ryan North
Hamlet in choose your own adventure form. Seriously. You start by choosing which character you want to follow: Hamlet, Ophelia, or the Ghost of Hamlet's Father. You can stick pretty closely to Shakespeare's original story line or choose a completely different plot. It's a lot of fun and great to pick up when you have just a few minutes and don't want to get invested in something longer. I am looking forward to checking out his interpretation of Romeo and Juliet as well.

I'm sorry for the short and rather lackluster post. I was planning to take more time but I'm off to babysit my nieces. So until next time, thanks for reading and have a lovely week!

Friday, March 31, 2017

2017 Quarterly Goal Check-In

Way back at the end of last year I made some reading goals. What would generally happen is that I would wait until December and then frantically try to complete them. This year I thought I would write an update every three months just so I can measure my progress. The overall goal of setting goals is to make significant progress, even if I don't actually complete my original goals. At this point my goals are not changing, i just want to have an idea of how I am doing and if there are certain ones that are being ignored so I can do better at working on all of them for the next three months. There are two posts that I am going to be referencing. If you missed them you can find them here and here

I had four main goals and a list of 5 books I would finally read in 2017.

Goal #1 Read a minimum of 120 books
This averages out to 10 books a month which is completely doable for me. As of today I have read 38 books so I am well ahead of schedule. 

Goal #2 Read the books I own
Of those 38 books, 17 of them have been books off of my own shelves that I have read for the first time. 6 more of them were rereads pulled from my own shelves. That leaves 15 that were borrowed from the library or from friends. I think that is a pretty good percentage!

Goal #3 Have less than 100 books on my Goodreads TBR
At the beginning of the year I had 436 books on my tbr. As of right now I have 304. (I think I had less than 300 at one point but then I added some new ones.) Again, I think that's pretty good progress. In the month of March I banned myself from going to the library in an effort to focus on my own books so I'm hoping to see this figure come down significantly in the next couple months...there is a readathon coming up after all...

Goal #4 Read at least 20 books toward my classics club goal
This is a list of 50 classics that I want to get to in the next five years and at the beginning of the year a had read only one of the list. As of right now, I have read 2 off of the list. I read Oliver Twist earlier this year which was an exciting accomplishment for me. I am also in the process of reading The Moonstone which is also on the list so I will soon be up to 3. However, I am going to have to buckle down a little more on this goal if I want to accomplish it.

I also made a list of 5 books that I will finally read in 2017:
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Brave New World
The Pillars of the Earth
I Will Bear Witness
   and
The Silmarillion 

As of right now I have read exactly none of these books...I haven't even started any of them. Brave New World is one I am hoping to get too soon (also a bonus because it's on my classics list!) and I have tentative plans to read The Silmarillion with my reading buddy once we finish The Moonstone. So at least there is progress on the horizon!

Overall, I think I am doing well with my goals. I just want to stay on task throughout the year and not fizzle out. How are your reading goals for 2017 going?