Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I have lately finished the five books that current make up the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, though I believe that there is at least one more in the works for the series. The titles are: His Majesty's Dragon, Throne of Jade, Black Powder War, Empire of Ivory, and Victory of Eagles. In truth, I read them in such quick succession that I have a hard time remembering exactly what happened in each book, though I do acknowledge that the most exciting action takes place in books 1, 4, and 5. That is partially due to the fact that the majority of the battles discussed takes place in those books.

I was first introduced to this series by several of my friends; all of whom were gaga over the books. In order to have any sort of meaningful conversation with them at present, it seemed best to read the books and join in. I'm already quite backwards in their society because I've only read the first two Patrick O'Brian books. I hear that they do get more exciting the further along you go. Perhaps another attempt is due someday.

Novik takes dragons and plops them in the middle of the Napoleonic Wars. A very interesting place to land, I might add. The addition to aerial combat to just the regular land/naval battles adds a completely different twist on revisionist history. And these dragons are unique in that they want to do more than just fight, they also want to be philosophers. Ok, that's a lie. Temeraire, the main dragon on which this series revolves, wants to become a philospher/political activist/fighter/etc. Basically, he is a Mary Sue, and does a great job of it, until the little (huge) firebreather Iskierka comes along and tries to out-Mary Sue him. That battle hasn't been finished, though many others are covered. So far, Novik has taken us, along with Temeraire and his captain Laurence, across three continents in these five books, and I believe the sixth book will feature another one.

Will I read the next one? Of course. I'm too attached to these dragons to let them go. Especially little Volly. I love how he eagerly anticipates getting a cow whenever he courier run takes him to Temeraire. He's so adorable!

Monday, July 6, 2009

What I collect, but, not why.

I attended the Smithsonian's Folklife festival this past Friday. No, that is a lie. I attended the Welsh portion of the festival; that country being of particular interest to me seeing as that is where I did my study abroad. I actually met a girl from Carmarthen at the festival. We also found the "Dafydd" and "Jones" tents. Though not together. A Tom Jones, however, was found.

But, the best find? Sheep Poo Paper. Yes, that's right. Paper that is so environmentally friendly, it is made out of sheep poo. Let's just say that people should be expecting to get some very adorable sheepiness for Christmas cards this year. Could you really resist the sheep on the tree? I thought not.

The final act of the day was to go to Second Story Books, or at least their warehouse store in Rockville. It is well worth the drive.

I'll let you in on a little secret. I collect what I like to call "Victorian moralistic children's tales", and Friday night, I was in heaven. I can trace this collecting frenzy back to when I was somewhere between 10 and 12. I loved reading Frances Hodgsen Burnett's A Little Princess and The Secret Garden over and over. When in my library's booksale, I came across a Burnett book I had never heard of: T. Tembarom. I was shocked! Why had nobody told me she had written other things. In fact, she had written a great deal of other things, and I have travelled over the world to collect them. Florida: Sara Crewe, Hay-on-Wye: Louisiana and The Pretty Sister of Jose, Edinburgh: That Lass O' Lowries, and back again home, Plattsburgh: The Lost Prince (a particular favorite of mine). Finding one of her books in a used bookstore is like my own private treasure hunt. A holy grail of used bookstore shopping, so to speak.

Not that I don't have others. I would kill to find a non-ex-library copy of Sally Watson's Witch of the Glens, or actually any of her books. Though I have never had luck at all finding them.

So, imagine my joy when I discover an old copy of Racketty-Packetty House by Burnett. My joy is made complete when I run across these classics of Victorian children's literature that I had no idea existed let alone needed to have. Things such as Helen of the Glen: A Tale for Youth from 1827. Or Helps Over Hard Places for Girls (1862) by Lynde Palmer written as a response to Helps Over Hard Places for Boys. Or even Facing Death, a reprint of an 1882 edition. The back of that book states that "'Facing Death' is a story with a purpose." How can you go wrong with a beginning like that?

So, is it weird that I collect these types of books? One of my favorite books I own is The Story of Naughty Kildeen by Queen Marie of Romania. I have the special edition that has hand-tinted artwork by Job. It is, I have to admit, very shiny. Of course, then there is the Enid Blyton Christmas book that has an inscription in it that makes me think that an American soldier must have bought it for his daughter over in England during WWII.

I won't even get onto my collection of books that contain statistical data about the United States and other fun facts. Of course, then there are the just plain weird for even me. Like the advanced reader's copy of racist author Thomas Dixon, Jr's The Leopard's Spots which I pulled out from the garbage pile at at FOL bookstore because a) I had no clue what the book was about but, b) in the front was a letter signed by the author asking for the reader to send in reviews of the book once it had been read. I thought that that was fabulous and had to save it. Little did I know...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Everybody's playing the game

So, our teen read summer challenge has begun! I'm signed up on Team Library, along with much of the rest of our staff and a few selected individuals from the schools. Right now we are ahead by a few thousand, but I expect that to change in the near future when we have our first get together event. Which is mainly an opportunity for the teens to laugh at us old folks if we should dare to try out things like Dance Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero. I at least had a spot of practice on both games thanks to Julie, but, I'm far from a superstar on either of them.

So, my resolve is to blog all of the books I've read so far. And, I'm already behind. Luckily just by two books. I'm a bit slow these days.

But, coming soon to a blog near you will be reviews of:

Cindy Ella by Robin Palmer
Hearts and Minds by Rosy Thornton
and... Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Finish (Finnish) Line

It's great to be done! I thank you all for your patience in letting me take a day to recover before posting this. I was just about to do it last night, but then realized that I wasn't in the mood to post my final two book reviews, and that delayed me just a bit. That and it was after midnight when I returned home.

My friend Jess (with whom I saw Arcadia last night) has informed me that what I did would be considered torture under the Geneva Convention and that I must not be allowed to do it any more. At that point, I fully agreed.

So, my totals?

Total time reading/blogging/networking: 47 hrs, 33 min
Total books: 14
Total pages: 3829
Breaks: 0
Time spent doing things that could damage books (washing hands/rinsing dishes, etc): 27 minutes
Hours awake: 50
Times I wanted to gouge out eyes: oh, dozens

Ok, lying on that last one. But, yes, I do agree with Jess. I don't think you will see me staying awake for that long again, unless I really am being tortured! Plus, I think I would have actually read more books with more sleep. And, I need to focus more on networking for next year. That should be my new goal. I really only commentated on people's blogs if they were people I knew. Even online I'm still dreadfully shy and don't want to take the chance of annoying people with comments about how I'm reading that same book, etc. Maybe one of these days!

Maybe if I networked more, I would be more apt to keep this blog update, right?

Thanks, MotherReader for hosting this read-a-thon again!

Tom Stoppard is a brilliant man.

He really is! Arcadia is so wonderful that I managed to stay awake the entire 3 hours of the show! And the show is not only for mathematicians, but also for archivists. Hence, I am in love! It's playing until next weekend at Folger Theatre, so go if you can!

My last couple of reviews!

13) Geek Charming by Robin Palmer

To say that I enjoyed this book would be a lie. And, it is not the book's fault at all, it is mine. I was reading it at the time that I was so utterly exhausted that my eyes kept skipping bits and therefore had to go back and re-read whole paragraphs sometimes. If there was a possibility that I was sleep-reading, this book would show proof. But, march on I did. No, the book itself was light and fun, a retelling of the frog prince story. Which, you have to admit, is not done at all pretty much. I do like the ending and how it wasn't completely formulaic. It was like Dylan got the ending that Parker was looking for in Cracked Up to Be.

Page count: 338

14) Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs

I revived myself in time to read this book. It helped that for the most part, I was standing at my window reading it and for some reason, it helped me concentrate a whole lot better. You know, there is nothing like "normal is the new loser" which Phoebe finds out when she ends up at her new school, a school for the descendants of the Greek gods. Complete with running, a pesky stepsister, and an amazingly hot and mean guy/god, there is plenty of adventure in this book.

Page count: 264

Total pages read: 3829

Thank goodness I'm done!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

There is no way to go on... (48 hours have passed)

Though, I've actually not seen my bed nor bathed in nearly 50 hours which is making me rather twitchy. I have two more reviews to write, one on Geek Charming by Robin Palmer, the other on Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs. I know! My reading totally slowed down the longer I went without sleep. Because I did read all night long. That's rather sad, isn't it? I trust that you will not find me too lame for not doing it right away, but, I have six hours to catch up on two day's sleep before I need to head off to DC to see Arcadia.

Needless to say, my wrap-up post will come hopefully by late tonight/early tomorrow morning. I don't think I will try again this reading for 48 hour straight with no sleep breaks. I think my health has been wrecked.

I'm so glad to be done!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I'm turning into an old woman!

Eheu! I thought I was being good about not being too sedentary over the past two days, but I was just shifting positions and I realized that I suddenly have the feet of an old woman. My veins are popping out and now I'm terribly worried. Was it due to poor blood circulation or just lack of sleep? Is the 48 Hour Book Challenge really worth it? Maybe I should be afraid to look in the mirror because I might now have gone totally grey. Needless to say, I may be walking around the apartment for the next few hours just to make sure the blood is circulating. Eep!

So, some book reviews because it has been a while?

9) Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

I know, I know. It should be considered shocking that I haven't read this series yet. I'm kind of tossed as to how much I actually like the books. They are fun reads, but, they do sometimes seem to drag a bit. And, I kind of want to smack Shay around a bit.

Page count: 425

10) Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

Especially in this one. Shay needs a bit of a smack down. The plot reminds me a bit of Tanith Lee's Biting the Sun. I guess with the whole tribe of youngsters who get to be pretty and yet some are disallusioned. But, maybe that's me. I seem to really like saying that these books I'm reading remind me of others these days.

Page count: 370

11) North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

Another book I had to argue with Marina to send down. I've read her other two books and really enjoyed them, so, of course, I wanted to read this one as well. I was not disappointed, even though this story seemed to share the plot with both the daughter, Terra, and her mother and how they both develop and mature over the course of the story. I was so cheering for her mom! And very much disliking her father and older brother. Boo!

Page count: 373

12) The Dog in the Manger by Lope de Vega (trans. by David Johnson)

I will not lie, I adore this play. I saw it twice at Shakespeare Theatre in DC this winter I liked it that much. Though, it is probably just the one based on this translation. I mean, how can you not love a show that has lines like, "Late again, missing all the fun, like a virgin at an orgy." My friend actually had that line made up as a shirt for me (which I still haven't found a proper place to wear it to). I adore Tristan! And I do so adore Marcela, betrayed by love. So, yes, call me dorky, but I had to go out and buy this script after seeing the show I liked it so well.

Page count: 125

Total pages read: 3227

And, I'm in the midst of Geek Charming by Robin Palmer at the moment. 8 1/2 hours left. I'm so not going to fall asleep for all 48 hours. I haven't taken a break at all (unless you count potty breaks) so I'm so greatful that we can take time to look at other's blogs. It's been a real lifesaver for my sanity. I can't wait to see the outside world starting tomorrow morning at 8! Well, rather at 3pm once I'm done sleeping (unless I'm so totally exhausted that I can't sleep).

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons

I don't know how I've been able to do it, but I've somehow managed to pass the entire night reading (with only a glass of soda for caffeine help). I'm rapidly approaching 24 hours now with no sleep and only the barest minimum of breaks (like to snatch my pre-made lunch and dinner from out of the fridge and quick trips to the loo). Can she make it another day? Can she? I think I'm going to have some friends over tonight to prod me awake if I dare look like I'm nodding off. That's what friends are for?

Though, I do have to say I'm a bit disappointed in my output overnight. Actually, no, I lied. There was just one book that seemed a bit dense to me and I slogged through that one. But, I wish I had at least one more book to my name by now. Eheu!

But, here goes!

5) Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon

This was an ARC that our lovely children's librarian, Julie, let me borrow. Yes, I steal all of my YA ARCs from her. So, I traveled from 1970's India to ancient China (why yes, I do like to travel around a lot these days) with this book. I thought that it was a pretty fun action type book, and it reminded me a little bit of that favorite Disney movie of mine, Mulan. Not that that is a bad thing! Except for the whole not cross-dressing (and, yeah, thanks Disney for making me have to explain what that meant to my little cousins). But, I liked it!

Page count: 343

6) Once a Princess by Sherwood Smith

This was the novel that dragged for me a bit. Which is odd considering I had read it in rough draft format on the author's website a few years ago, and it didn't seem to drag that much then. I'm going to chalk it up to being tired. It's actually only part one of the full story (which I have, but have not read yet), so it leaves off at a bit of a cliffhanger, as is to be suspected. The plot revolves around a mother and daughter who currently live in the United States, but are escaped princesses from another world. If that makes sense at all. It is fun.

Page count: 278

7) The Sweet, Terrible, Glorious Year I Truly, Completely Lost It by Lisa Shanahan

Now that's a title, right? I laughed out loud quite a bit while reading this book, which is quite excellent for me, because I usually like to hold back silly emotions like that. The last time I think I laughed so much was when I was reading Michelle Jaffe's Kitty Kitty (those Dadzilla references always crack me up). And yet, the story was more than just funny, (though I would have loved to have attended Gemma's sister's wedding) as it dealt with some heavy issues and, yes, even death.

Page count: 297

8) Fade by Lisa McMann

I read Wake about a month ago, and enjoyed it so much that I kept pestering Marina (our ILL system) until some county library system was willing to send me a copy of the sequel. And, it didn't disappoint. Fade also dealt with some pretty big issues, what with student-teacher relationships, date rape, and new lessons and hardships for our main character Janie. I hope that this series continues, even after Janie graduates from high school.

Page count: 248

Total page count: 1934

And, right now I'm midway through Scott Westerfield's Uglies. I'll be working my way through those books over the next few hours.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Eight 1/2 hours and four books later...

Who knew that reading could be so wearing on one's body? Well, not really, but I am feeling the tiredness of inactivity, though I've danced my way around the apartment while reading. I thought I would get my 30 minutes of blog time in before I start another book. I have managed to only take about five minutes or so off since starting in order to use the loo and grab my pre-made sandwich from out of the refrigerator. I just might manage my goal, though I have now decided that I have this craving for chocolate chip cookie dough. Oops?

So, on the the books I've read so far!

1) The Delicate Pioneer by Sally Watson

This is actually a rewrite of Poor Felicity which was written in 1960. I had not read that version of the book (as it is OOP and insanely expensive), but the ending was apparently quite different in nature to this book's. I think I liked this ending better because it seems to match more with the character's nature, unless that was also changed in the original text. This story follows a southern plantation girl, Felicity Dare, on her overland trip to Seattle with her uncle and another orphan boy, Arne. She herself becomes and orphan when her parents die on the way there. She had been considered and was always treated as being "delicate" so is in for a rude awakening on the trip over there and once she gets there and realizes that there is no plantation with magnolia trees and slaves ready and waiting for her. But, I loved growing up with her and finding a bit more about the Dare family, ancestors of hers which were featured in The Hornet's Nest and Jade, if I do recall my history right.

Page count: 104

2) Constance by Patricia Clapp

I didn't mean to read two pioneer type books in a row, I really didn't! This book is another old one that I had never heard of before, but the children's librarian and the main library branch recommended it as a good book, so I thought it was worth a try. Constance Hopkins has come over to America on the Mayflower and doesn't like it very much. It's a big change from London, where she grew up and loved. Of course, she does manage to find her way in the world (and a husband) by the end of the book. Though I am left to wonder about John Cooke. Oh, and it did annoy me that she seemed to be using more modern slang in her dialogue. But still, an enjoyable, if somewhat old-fashioned, read.

Page count: 255

3) Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers

And this one was a total change of pace from the previous two. Set in modern times, with a very modern teen girl protagonist, Cracked Up to Be focuses on Parker Fadley's attempts to disappear from her family, her friends, and her school all over something that happened the end of junior year. You get bits and pieces of the story of that night throughout the novel. I didn't find Parker to be all that enjoyable of a character, though, I would say that that could be part of the point of the novel, since she was attempting to make herself undesirable to those around her, but failing miserably because her friends, and yes, even her enemies, seemed to want to help her out. So, interesting.

Page count: 214

4) Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins

Asha's father has lost his engineering job and so she, her mother, and her sister Reet have to go live at his brother's house until he can find a job in America. Of course, things don't always go as planned, just like in real life. What I thought was going to remind me of Padma Venkatraman's Climbing the Stairs actually ended up reminding me of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle by the end of the book. Though, I guess you could say it was a bit of both (from what I remember of both books) all together. Which meant, I really liked the book, but I wanted to cry by the end of it. And yet, I am optimistic that Asha is going to find her happy ending. She is too smart and too strong not to.

Page count: 225

Total pages read so far: 768

Now, onwards to my next book!

Doesn't anyone here care about the rules?

It is the starting line. Dun dun dun.

The basic guidelines of the 48 Hour Book Challenge:
  1. The weekend is June 5–7, 2009. Read and blog for any 48-hour period within the Friday-to-Monday-morning window. Start no sooner than 7:00 a.m. on Friday the fifth and end no later than 7:00 a.m. Monday. So, go from 7:00 p.m. Friday to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday... or maybe 7:00 a.m. Saturday to 7:00 a.m. Monday works better for you. But the 48 hours do need to be in a row. That said, during that 48-hour period you may still have gaps of time in which you can’t read, and that’s fine. (In the middle of the three different challenge weekends I’ve had to go to work, attend a ballet recital, and drive for a Girl Scout event.)

  2. The books should be about fifth-grade level and up. Adult books are fine, especially if adult book bloggers want to play. If you are generally a picture book blogger, consider this a good time to get caught up on all those wonderful books you’ve been hearing about. With the change in the way prizes are awarded, graphic novels can be included in the reading. One audiobook can also be included in your time and book total.

  3. It’s your call as to how much you want to put into it. If you want to skip sleep and showers to do this, go for it. If you want to be a bit more laid back, fine. But you have to put something into it or it’s not a challenge. Twelve hours is the benchmark for winning prizes.

  4. The length of the reviews or notes written in your blog are not an issue. You can write a sentence, a paragraph, or a full-length review. The time spent reviewing counts in your total time.

  5. New this year: You can include some amount of time reading other participant’s blogs, commenting on participating blogs and Facebook pages, and Twittering about your progress (remember the #48hbc tag!). For every five hours, you can add one hour of networking. This time counts in your total time.

  6. On your blog, state when you are starting the challenge with a specific entry on that day and leave the link to that post at the Starting Line post (via the trusty Mr. Linky).

  7. When you finish, write a final summary that clearly indicates hours — including partial hours — you spent reading/reviewing/networking, the number of books read, and any other comments you want to make on the experience. It needs to be posted no later than noon EST on Monday, June 8th. Also, check in at the Finish Line post on MotherReader that will be posted Sunday and please link to that post from your final summary post.

I'm starting shortly after I post this, which means around 8 am, Friday, May 5th which will mean I will end at 8 am, Sunday, May 7th. After that, I need to see a show in DC! First book up will most likely be a Sally Watson book.

And my goal: to do better than last year, not worse!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

48 Hour Book Challenge!

I'm so very excited to announce the reawakening of this blog in order to participate in Mother Reader's 48 Hour Book Challenge! It's an event that I look forward to every year, and, like my co-worker Julie, think it is part of the reason why I still sometimes poke at this blog, in order to be ready to participate.

I've been pondering what to pick for a cause to donate to, and have decided that charity begins at home. Therefore, I'm going to donate either a $1.00 for every hour spent reading, or $.01 per page read (whichever turns out to be more) to my local library (and where I work) to either buy some replacement copies of summer reading books that have gone missing, or to put it to our exciting new teen summer reading challenge!

So, look for me starting tomorrow morning with the reading challenge. I'm giving it my all this year!