Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

October 9

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Quiet, Read-a-Thon, NaNoWriMo, and Changes

by Ann-Katrina

Solitary Bench It’s been quiet around here.

Had an unscheduled hiatus due to some familial duties. I’ve still been reading though (and updating my 2010 reading list if you’re curious), just haven’t been blogging about it.

Slowly things are getting back to normal so the blogging should pick up soon.

I had planned to do the 24 Hour Read-a-Thon this year—even had a book pool filled with books perfect for this Halloween season picked out—but I’d thought it was tomorrow. Turns out I was wrong and it was today. To all those officially participating in the read-a-thon, I’m there with you in spirit, reading unofficially. Press on, have fun, read lots. :)

For the infinitely curious, here’s a small sampling of my planned pool:

Soulstice, The Devouring Book 2Tales from the Odyssey Book 2Solitary by Travis ThrasherEmpty by Suzanne WeynThe Thief Lord by Cornelia FunkeOne Across, Two Down / The Face of Trespass / Make Death Love Me by Ruth Rendell

Plus a few short stories thrown in for good measure, selected from Nightmares & Dreamscapes by Stephen King.

NaNoWriMo 2010 ParticipantAnd can you believe it’s October already? That means NaNoWriMo is less than a month away. I thought about whether I’d like to participate this year, and the answer is of course yes. It’s simply too hard to resist.

Although I’ve been feeling the creative juices lately, I hadn’t been writing as much. I’d jot a quick note here or there, or a sentence or two, but nothing serious. Instead I’ve been working mainly on short stories or outlines for longer stories. NaNoWriMo will give me an opportunity to take one of those seedling ideas and transform it into a shitty first draft.

Again I plan to use the Liquid Story Binder software. (Jesse might even give the same 50% discount throughout the month of November that he did last year, so if you haven’t already, it’s time to set your sights on it.) Although I have a fairly good system worked out for new novels, I’m planning to tweak that system to incorporate more Builders (which I absolutely love for writing short stories).

But, for the non-writerly types, I plan to keep this blog mainly about books and my readings and other musings and keep all my writing and NaNoWriMo stuff to my actual writing blog (which is in sore need of an update or three).

Finally, this has been clunking around in my head for some time now, but I’m planning a number of changes around the blog. The first of which might be the design. Although I’ve grown quite fond of it, I think it’s about time to change the look, especially since I’m planning to expand the blog a bit.

Which brings me to my second point: I’m planning to expand the blog a bit. Right now I have a sidebar which lists the books I’m “currently” reading and books which I’ve “recently” read, but they’re dreadfully out of date. Rather than fight with them every so often, I plan to move the “currently” reading section to its own page where I’ll just list my entire TBR pile. I’ll keep the recently read section and update it periodically.

Also, I’ll be starting up a Comment Rewards program. Basically, I have a ton of books which need new loving homes. Some I’ll inevitably donate, but I figure my readers might enjoy some of them. So I’ll set up a comments rewards bookshelf where I’ll select a commenter at random once every couple of weeks to choose a book from the shelf.

All commenters are eligible (as long as a valid email address was provided during commenting), past or present or future. More comments equal more chances to be chosen. That’s it. Assuming all goes well, it will become a long term feature of the blog. I’ll make a formal announcement post when I’m rolling out with it.

And that…is the update.

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April 11

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24 Hour Read-a-Thon: The End Game

by Ann-Katrina

The 24 Hour Read-a-Thon has officially come to an end. However, Since I’m already 3/4 of the way through my final book, I’m just going to finish it before going to sleep. But as of right now, here are the various read-a-thon posts and updates:

(Yes, I’m aware I haven’t done an update post for The Search for Delicious. It will just have to wait.)

And my answers to the final event meme:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you? Surprisingly, the beginning hours. For whatever reason, I just couldn’t focus. I actually just hit my stride in the last few hours.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Siberia by Ann Halam & The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt was a cute and fast read.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Ask me again after I’ve slept.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? See the answer to question #3

5. How many books did you read? 3.75

6. What were the names of the books you read? Sister Light, Sister Dark by Jane Yolen; Siberia by Ann Halam; The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt; The Eyes of the Amaryllis by Natalie Babbitt (in progress)

7. Which book did you enjoy most? Enjoy is an interesting word. In terms of fun-factor, I’d go with The Search for Delicious, but in terms of intensity, I’d go with Siberia.

8. Which did you enjoy least? I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the reads I had. I was lucky.

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? I wasn’t an official cheerleader, but one thing I forgot to do in my unofficial capacity was keep track of the blogs I’d visited. Maybe set up a spreadsheet for that, or keep an open post to jot the links in.

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Of course you know I will be participating again. It’s just too much fun. I might even try my hand at cheerleading (in an official capacity) or hosting a mini challenge (man, there were some fun ones!).

I’d also like to thank all the people who popped into the blog and helped cheer me on! It helped bunches and I appreciate it.

(You have my apologies for any errors or omissions in the above. I’m sleep deprived and that’s the story I’m going with.)

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April 11

Comments: 2

Most Hated Character Read-a-Thon Mini Challenge

by Ann-Katrina

For this mini challenge Lindsey asks the question, who is your most hated character? Oddly, this is a tough one. There are many characters that I’ve disliked…but hated?

I want to say Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights), but as batshiznit crazy as he was, I think I felt sorry for him more than I hated him despite some of the wicked awful things he did.

Then there’s Edward Cullen (Twilight). Where to start with that one? Um…watching a girl sleep. Without her knowledge or consent. That’s just creepy, but not sure if that qualifies as hate material.

Or even Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter). Strongly dislike? Sure. Hate? Eh, well…

OK, OK. For real this time. One character that I hate…please hold a moment while I peruse my stacks to jog my bleary-eyed  memory…I’ve got it!

Ian Hunter. I actually loathe this character.

Into the Land of the Unicorns Before you read my reason, if you have not read Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville and actually want to, then you’ll not want to read further because it’s a HUGE spoiler. We good? Cool.

Cara is on a mission to deliver an amulet to the unicorn queen of Luster. Of course, bad guys want to stop her every step of the way and one in particular had been trying to kill her. Turns out it was a guy named Ian Hunter and he was her father.

At first she didn’t realize he was the one with murderous intentions until he resorted to lying through his teeth, playing the daddy card, and then trying to sacrifice her to a dragon.

I kept looking and waiting and hoping, but nope—no redeeming qualities. Not even a tiny inkling of one. When I finished reading that section, my only thought was what an evil bastard! (And this is a children’s book, mind you.) So you know it’s pretty bad.

(I’d actually do a little jig when he dies and hope it were painful.)

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April 11

Comments: 1

Hungry Readers Read-a-Thon Mini Challenge

by Ann-Katrina

This mini challenge, hosted by the Hungry Readers, calls for the fuel that keeps the readers reading. In my case, it’s cherry Pop Tarts and Double Bergamot Earl Grey tea. Yes, really. I’m fairly certain that’s all I’ve drank and eaten in the past 24 hours (aside from a yummy PB&J sandwich).

The Search for Delicious Since that’s not terribly exciting, another option would be to discuss the food that crops up during reading. This just happens to be perfect considering that I’ve deviated from my outlined reading pool and am currently reading The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt…and it happens to be about food. Sort of. (I’ve been saying “sort of” quite a bit lately.)

So far, the book is about a King, his Prime Minister, his queen, and his army general who all disagree on which food should be listed for the definition of delicious in the dictionary. The choices they’ve submitted are fried fish, apples, pudding, and beer.

In order to resolve the issue, it’s decided a poll will be taken of the various townspeople to decide on which of those items should be the accepted definition. Unfortunately, it’s not as forthright as it initially appeared.

Come to think of it, reading about food is making me kind of hungry. It might just be time for another Pop Tart run.

Gah. Now I want some chocolate ice cream. I have no idea where that craving just came from. I think the Sleepies™ are starting to kick in. Must drink more tea.

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April 11

Comments: 2

Read-a-Thon Update 3: Siberia by Ann Halam

by Ann-Katrina

It’s probably clear by now that I’m not doing the hourly update thing…and my reading speed is still somewhere between snail and turtle. I think it’s partly because I’m lounging in my bed while I read, which always hampers my reading speed. But still, I’m OK with it.

Siberia by Ann Halam Anywho, I just wanted to offer a quick update about Siberia by Ann Halam before moving on to my next book.

First impressions: Wow. Just wow. This book is like 1984 with a thirteen year old protagonist and animals, sort of, with more of an environmental spin than political. It’s truly hard to describe without giving up too many spoilers, but I will say this book had me holding my breath, gasping, and weeping for humanity.

The bleak and desolate landscape was painted with a clarity that’s startlingly possible. It’s some time in the future in some place on planet earth—although the name Siberia is used, it doesn’t necessarily mean Siberia as we know it—when the government watches your every move through a frightening red eye in your home and school and work and food is rationed (you can forget about anything that tastes good) and people would sell their own grandmother for an extra bit of jam.

There were a few rough patches that made me cock an eyebrow, but overall it kept me on my toes. Words are kind of failing me right now. All I can think is that this book will stick with me for a while. It’s brutal, but worth it. Also, I mistakenly thought this was fantasy when I picked it up, but it’s actually science fiction. Definitely great conversation piece. Proper review to come, eventually.

Now I’m going to take 30 minutes to cheerlead and get myself a proper snack (and some more Earl Grey tea…I think I’m on my fourth or fifth cup already…you can’t turn into tea by drinking too much of it, can you?)

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