Thursday, June 30, 2011

Winner of Middlemarch

The winner of the cloth-bound edition of Middlemarch is 

Is it silly to be jealous of my own giveaway?  I think I may have to buy myself a copy too.

Thank you Judith for hosting the Blog Hop.  It was so much fun to visit and discover new blogs!

The winner was chosen through and has been notified by email.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Literary GIVEAWAY Blog Hop

I had thought that I would be giving away one of my gently used classics for the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop hosted by Leeswammes' Blog, but after looking through the possibilities, I realized I couldn't part with any of them. Instead, I will be giving away a brand new, Penguin Classics cloth-bound copy of one of my very favorites:

For a chance to win, just leave a comment and a way to contact you if you win.  The giveaway will end June 29 at midnight PST.  I will select a winner the next day.  This is open to anyone who lives in a country that The Book Depository will ship to.  Good luck, and have fun visiting the other blogs who are also hosting giveaways.  (This event officially starts on Saturday, June 25, so not everyone on the list will have their giveaway posts up yet.)

  1. Leeswammes (Int)
  2. The Book Whisperer (Int)
  3. Kristi Loves Books (Int)
  4. Teadevotee (Int)
  5. Bookworm with a View (Int)
  6. Bibliosue (Int)
  7. Sarah Reads Too Much (Int)
  8. write meg! (USA)
  9. My Love Affair With Books (Int)
  10. Seaside Book Nook (Int)
  11. Uniflame Creates (Int)
  12. Always Cooking Up Something (Int)
  13. Book Journey (Int)
  14. ThirtyCreativeStudio (Int)
  15. Col Reads (Int)
  16. The Book Diva's Reads (Int)
  17. The Scarlet Letter (USA)
  18. The Parrish Lantern (Int)
  19. Lizzy's Literary Life (Int)
  20. Read, Write & Live (Int)
  21. Book'd Out (Int)
  22. The Readers' Suite (Int)
  23. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer (USA)
  24. Ephemeral Digest (Int)
  25. Miel et lait (Int)
  26. Bibliophile By the Sea (Int)
  27. Polychrome Interest (Int)
  28. Book World In My Head (Int)
  29. In Spring it is the Dawn (Int)
  30. everybookhasasoul (Int)
  31. Nishita's Rants and Raves (Int)
  32. Fresh Ink Books (Int)
  33. Teach with Picture Books (USA)
  34. How to Teach a Novel (USA)
  35. The Blue Bookcase (Int)
  36. Gaskella (Int)
  37. Reflections from the Hinterland (USA)
  38. chasing bawa (Int)
  39. 51stories (Int)
  40. No Page Left Behind (USA)

  1. Silver's Reviews (USA)
  2. Nose in a book (Int)
  3. Lit in the Last Frontier (Int)
  4. The Book Club Blog (Int)
  5. Under My Apple Tree (Int)
  6. Caribousmom (USA)
  7. breienineking (Netherlands)
  8. Let's Go on a Picnic! (Int)
  9. Rikki's Teleidoscope (Int)
  10. De Boekblogger (Netherlands)
  11. Knitting and Sundries (Int)
  12. Elle Lit (USA)
  13. Indie Reader Houston (Int)
  14. The Book Stop (Int)
  15. Eliza Does Very Little (Int)
  16. Joy's Book Blog (Int)
  17. Lit Endeavors (USA)
  18. Roof Beam Reader (Int)
  19. The House of the Seven Tails (Int)
  20. Tony's Reading List (Int)
  21. Sabrina @ Thinking About Loud! (Int)
  22. Rebecca Reads (Int)
  23. Kinna Reads (Int)
  24. In One Eye, Out the Other (USA)
  25. Books in the City (Int)
  26. Lucybird's Book Blog (Europe)
  27. Book Clutter (USA)
  28. Exurbanis (Int)
  29. Lu's Raves and Rants (USA & Canada)
  30. Sam Still Reading (Int)
  31. Dolce Bellezza (Int)
  32. Lena Sledge's Blog...Books, Reviews and Interviews (Int)
  33. a Thousand Books with Quotes (Int)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Spring Into Summer Read-a-thon Report #1

First of all, give us an end-of-day status update. Books read, pages read, you know the drill:
I have read one book, First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader.  Total reading time is around 5-6 hours.
What is the favorite thing you have read today?
Well, it's just the one book, but I did find it entertaining. 
Which mini-challenge was your favorite?
I thought all of the mini-challenges were great even thought I didn't do any.  I just wanted to focus on reading for a while.
What has been your favorite thing about the read-a-thon?
I love the fact that there are no challenges in the middle of the night so I won't miss anything while I sleep :-)
What has been your LEAST favorite thing about the read-a-thon?
A completely clear calendar is always nice, but pretty impossible. 
Are you on track to meet your goals?
I think so.  I don't know how much I can read before I fall asleep tonight.  I think my next book will be Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict.
Will you be participating tomorrow? Do you have any new goals?
I will squeeze in some reading if I can.  Saturdays can be very unpredictable.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Spring Into Summer Read-a-thon

I'm a little bit nervous, but I'm signing up for this readathon at the last minute, because I think I may actually have time to read tomorrow and Saturday. Usually I participate in these just for the reading, but I must confess that in this case I do have my eye on a few of the prizes. Here's some info about the readathon:

This post is to announce to the world that I'm participating in the Spring into Summer read-a-thon hosted by Enna Isilee of Squeaky Books!

This read-a-thon is going to be so great! It's two days where you try do NOTHING but read. It's a great chance to get rid of some of those books that have been sitting on your TBR pile forever.

But that's not all! There will also be awesome mini-challenges and a TON of giveaways! In fact, just for signing up you are entered to win a $25 gift card to Amazon! SO GO SIGN UP! And if you say that Shelley @ Book Clutter sent you, you'll get 5 extra entries to win that gift card! CLICK HERE to enter to win, and know all there is to know about the read-a-thon.

Here's my goal:

I plan to participate on: Friday and Saturday in the morning/afternoon.  I have a play on Friday night and a concert on Saturday Night.
I plan to read: Two books.  I don't want to get my hopes too high!
I hope to read: Something from these choices:

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
The Battle for Skandia by John Flanagan
The Pastures of Heaven by John Steinbeck
First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader 
Or anything that I'm in the middle of....

Kind of a weird variety, but it should keep things interesting!

Well, have you signed up yet? DO IT NOW!

Ulysses by James Joyce

Author: James Joyce
Originally Published: 1922
Length: 933 pages
Source: Purchased from Amazon
Challenge: Group read hosted by Jill at Fizzy Thoughts

Personal PERPLEXITY Factor: 5/5

What advantages attended shaving by night?
A softer beard:  a softer brush if intentionally allowed to remain from shave to shave in its agglutinated lather: a softer skin if unexpectedly encountering female acquaintances in remote places at incustomary hours: quiet reflections on the course of the day:  a cleaner sensation when waking after fresher sleep since matutinal noises, premonitions and perturbations, a clattered milk-can, a postman's double knock, a paper read, reread while lathering, relathering the same spot, a shock, a shoot, with thought of aught he sought though frought with nought might cause a faster rate of shaving and a nick on which incision plaster with precision cut and humected and applied adhered which was to be done. (787)

Happy Bloomsday!  (And happy shaving, if you're doing it at night.)

A long time ago, in a land far, far way . . . I read Ulysses.  Luckily, there's such a thing as post-traumatic stress disorder in reading, so some of my feelings remain etched in my mind even thought it's been a few months.

During my first year or two of blogging, I would occasionally do four-word or seven-word reviews.  For Ulysses, I actually had a few three-letter reviews pop into my head as I was reading:


How's that for brevity?  If only Joyce had been so succinct.  He had me in the beginning, he really did, as I mentioned in my second post of the readalong.  And then:

Clapcop.  Clipclap.  Clappyclap.
Goodgod henev erheard inall.
Deaf bald Pat brought pad knife took up.
A moonlight nightcall: far: far.
I feel so sad.  P.S.  So lonely blooming.
Listen! (329)

And so forth.  I will say it was a very interesting "exercise" to read so many words strung together in many different forms throughout the book that I didn't understand at all.  It forced me to pay more attention to other things like alliteration and  rhythm.  It was more like listening to a song without words, or really more of an album, because each chapter is unique, though tied together by Bloom's day.  

I was constantly questioning as I read whether I was spending my time wisely in reading what my mind was registering as gibberish.  I felt like a second-grader reading Shakespeare.  Twenty-percent comprehension maybe?  A few things helped me along though:
  • Some sentences are in a foreign language (I mean other than Joycean English).  These excited me because I felt like I was allowed to skip them.  What a buzz!
  • I'm pretty sure that Joyce makes up about 2,000 new words.  I had fun making up my own definitions for words like zrad, plopslop, twikindled, upupa, plappering.  When one of my kids spills something sticky on the floor--"Plopslop!"
  • I liked pretending I was picking up on the allusions--Molly was reading something that I've read, only now I can't remember what it was.  Shakespeare?  Yeah, I've heard of him.
Overall, I honestly appreciated and was impressed by the innovation/experimentation of the text.  It was just too much.  Too long.  Too incomprehensible.  If each chapter had been a third of its length, I would have willingly dug deeper and tried harder.  But I just didn't have the mental stamina for over 900 pages.

If I were to read this again, I would set aside a year and a half and focus on one chapter a month.  Will I ever really reread it?  If I do, I may think of myself as Gerty MacDowell thinks of Leopold as he's sitting on the rocks:

*I wanted to put WTH for "What the heck?"  because that's what would really come out of my mouth, but would anyone know what I was talking about?  You'd be like WTF is WTH? 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (Ulysses Survival Reading #5)

Author: Alice Sebold
Originally Published: 2002
Length: 328 pages
Source: Library

Personal Enjoyment Factor: 3.5/5

"So you can't be certain that she's dead?" he asked.
"Nothing is ever certain," Len Fenerman said. 
That was the line my father said to my mother:  "Nothing is ever certain."
For three nights he hadn't know how to touch my mother or what to say.  Before, they had never found themselves broken together.  Usually, it was one needing the other but not both needing each other, and so there had been a way, by touching, to borrow from the stronger one's strength.  And they had never understood, as they did now, what the word horror meant. (20-21)

I know it was eons ago that I was reading Ulysses and needed a few literary diversions to make it through, but I feel the need to talk about just one more before I actually attempt to review Joyce's "masterpiece".

The Lovely Bones deserves a bit of distinction as the only book that made me want to go running back to Ulysses!!!  Yes, you read that right.  This book scared the pants off of me and left me longing for the Joyce's never ending passages of ambiguous insanity.  But of course I couldn't put it down.

I knew what the book was about, and I knew it was something that I, as a big baby, would normally never read.  But a few people whose opinions I trust highly recommended it.  I literally sat with the book in my hands for five minutes deciding whether to open it or not.  Then I told myself I would just read 25 pages and then decide.  Well, by page 15 I was already traumatized!  Sebold doesn't waste any time, and once the hideous crime was committed, I had to read on in hopes of closure.

I'm guessing most readers are familiar with the plot of The Lovely Bones, but in a nutshell, a young teenage girl is raped and murdered, and tells the story of how her family and community reacts from an omniscient  vantage point in a heaven of her own creation.   The strength of the book is Sebold's ability to imagine what it would be like for a family to go through this situation, and then capture it beautifully in words. I found the horror of the situation combined with the lyrical psychological portraits to be very compelling.  Unfortunately, this effect dwindled as the book went on.  Things just seem to unravel in a haphazard way.  I didn't feel the closure I was hoping for, and felt a bit unsatisfied in the end. I think maybe I was just bent on revenge.  So I'm a big baby, but a vindictive one, I guess.  

Regardless of my criticisms, I turned page after page frantically until I was done.  Did I even read Ulysses while I was reading this?  I don't really remember.  I think I was just relieved to return to Leopold Bloom, who was neither raped nor murdered and cut up into pieces and stuffed into a safe and thrown into a sinkhole . . . at least I don't think he was. 

Stayed tuned for an actual review of Ulysses on June 16--Bloomsday! (Fingers crossed.) I'm going to try to cover up my lazy procrastination and make it look like I actually planned it this way...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Washington Square by Henry James

Author: Henry James
Narrator: John McDonough
Originally published: 1880
Length: 8 hours
Source: Library

Personal Enjoyment Factor: 4.5/5

"Do you think it is
better to be clever than to be good?”

“Good for what?” asked the Doctor. “You are good for nothing unless you are clever."

Catherine Sloper is lacking in beauty and brains, but she does come with a sizable fortune.  Her father, a doctor whose wife died giving birth to Catherine, is convinced that her persistent young suitor Morris Townsend can only be after her money.  He is animated, interesting and handsome, while Catherine is dull and passive, but "good."  Does he see something in her that her cruel father clearly doesn't, or does he have his eyes on her inheritance? James keeps the reader questioning throughout.

He also manages to keep the reader chuckling throughout, thanks to the meddling of dear Aunt Lavinia. She for one is bent on bringing the two young lovers together.  Her efforts are sometimes counterproductive, but her desire to live some sort of romantic melodrama through them is downright hilarious.  Her character provides a much needed comic relief to the harsh sarcasm of Dr. Sloper.

I enjoyed this much more than The Turn of the Screw by James.  The reader of the audiobook was very good, but he read very slowly.  I even turned my player to fast speed, and it was still slow!  But it did help me get through much jam-making which was a fundraiser for our city's Relay for Life:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Audio: Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden

Author: John Marsden
Narrator: Suzi Dougherty
Published: 1994
Length: 7 hours 20 minutes
Source: Simply Audiobooks

Personal Enjoyment Factor: 3.5/5

 "Some people wake up drowsy. Some people wake up energized. I wake up dead."

This is one of those books that makes me wish I was young again.  I enjoyed it, but I know I would have loved it ten times more about ten times two years ago.  Ellie and her friends take a week long camping trip (would have loved this!) but when they return they find their families gone, their animals dead, with no idea of what is going on.  They use their brains and whatever resources they can find to get answers to their questions and try to stay alive in the process.  It's a survival story, an Australian dystopia, a down-to-earth love story, and a war story all in one.  There's even some deep philosophical stuff thrown in.

The narrator, Suzi Dougherty, was excellent.  She sounded just the right age and had just the right attitude without being annoying at all.  I had no trouble staying engaged in the story as I worked on sewing my daughter's costume for Hamlet.  I didn't think I could sew and listen to an audiobook at the same time, but it worked with this one anyway!

I'm not sure yet if I will go on with the rest of the series.  There are so many unanswered questions at the end, that I think I just might have to.  I also know that the movie came out in Australia, but was it showing here in the US?  Anyone know if it was any good?

I may not have taken the time to do a review today if not for the Audiobook Week fun going on over at Devourer of Books.  I didn't want to miss out!  Check it out for lots of giveaways and audiobook reviews.

Monday, June 6, 2011

48 Hour Book Challenge Finish...

This is about how I feel about my reading this weekend.  I had been so excited about the book challenge ever since MotherReader announced it and thought that since it was the weekend after school got out it would work out perfect.  I had a beautiful stack of books and very high hopes.  But many things kept me too busy to even reach my goal of 12 hours of reading--haircuts, laundry, errands, cooking, church stuff, Relay for Life stuff, etc.  I would have prepared better had the previous week not been too busy to get anything done.

Nonetheless, there were some happy things to report:
  • I got to finish Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt.  Loved it, loved it, loved it!!  As usual with his books, I laughed, I cried, and was tickled by the literary allusions.  One of my favorite lines was when Doug says, "Reader, I kissed her.  A quiet walk back we had, she and I." 
  • During the time I was reading, I really enjoyed not being on my feet.  
  • I was able to eat healthy the whole time--no junk food.  Only one Diet Coke, the first one I had had for a couple weeks.
  • I twittered a bit for the first time in over a year.  It was fun especially to find others who were reading what I was reading or reading some of my favorites.  
  • I started listening to The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry.  Cleaning the kitchen today should help me finish it.
  • I set up a Tumblr account.  Haven't done anything with it yet, but hope to keep track of my weight loss and 52-52-52 Challenge that has moved over there.  I need to get going on that because Week 1 is just about at an end.  
Next year will just have to be better!

Friday, June 3, 2011

48 Hour Book Challenge Start

I think I'm finally ready to start this! Woohoo! I've been on my feet all day so I'm exciting to sit down for a bit.

I'm so anxious to start reading that I won't share what all I have lined up to read, but here's what I'm starting with:

I'm not crazy about the cover, but I am crazy about Gary D. Schmidt.  I even bought this one in hardcover which I never do.  Ever.

I'm hoping to read at least 12 hours this weekend, and will give details later on what organization I'm donating to. 

For more info, check out the starting line at MotherReader.