Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Graveyard Book
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nobody Owens (Bod for short) has lived in the graveyard for as long as he can remember. His adoptive parents are ghosts, his teachers are ghosts and his friends are ghosts. He also has a mysterious guardian who is neither ghost nor alive. If he leaves the graveyard, his life is in danger from the man Jack, a killer on the loose who is also responsible for the murders of Bod's original family and wants to finish the job.

I read this book for my in-person book club and didn't expect to like it as much as I did. The book reminded me of the saying that "it takes a village to raise a child," as Bod has everything he needs from all different kinds of people who are now ghosts. He has grown up with old-fashioned manners and a strong sense of right and wrong. The characters are fun to read about as they are varied in age and time period, the oldest ghost in the graveyard is an ancient Roman and there are young ghost children who died from consumption.

Neil Gaiman definitely has a unique style that I enjoyed. I also liked the illustrations included in the book at the beginning of each chapter. All in all, an interesting read perfect for this time of year.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Hourglass Door The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Abby's senior year is going along just fine; college applications are in, there are good friends and dances and even a cute best-friend turned boyfriend. She is helping direct the school play and hoping to have the chance to "live without limits" at Emery College. Her perfect year is turned upside down when Dante, a mysterious Italian exchange student, walks into her life. Unexplainable things start happening to Abby the more time she spends with Dante, and she becomes entangled in a centuries-old struggle with time.

Romance, tension, mystery, and handsome boys with an accent make this book difficult to put down. The plot isn't real deep; it's the basic romance with a dangerous boy. Is it worth it or deadly? As much as I enjoyed reading this book, I struggled with the obvious parallels to Twilight. A girl who has special abilities in the face of danger, some supernatural elements, an irresistible boy who is different from anyone she has ever known but could lead her into moral danger, all of a sudden the girl is the boy's whole world and he has been waiting for her forever and on and on. But maybe that is why I liked it so much, because I like these kinds of stories even though they are slightly predictable. I've heard that there are only seven different plots that are constantly rewritten with slight changes, and this plot is always fun to read.

A great piece of light and enjoyable fiction with a major cliffhanger at the end to lead to the next book.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

End of Event Meme

Finally finished! I had so much fun doing this readathon, especially enjoying it with my friend Tricia. I finally gave in to sleep at around 3am and finished 823 pages. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't read more than that, I feel like kind of a wimp. But something more to try for next time!

Thank you so much to all my cheerleaders and to the event event orgaznizers! You put in a great deal of hard work and it was appreciated!

Here are my answers to the end of event meme.

1. Which hour was most daunting for you? Hour 14 and Hour 19

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
It's a little hard to list since there are so many different people and interests, but I think anything by Suzanne Collins or Carlos Ruiz Zafon would work. Also, light, quick reads would help also so you could finish more books and feel like you accomplished more.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
No, it was really great. This was my first time and I was impressed by all the hard work from the cheerleaders and organizers.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
The cheerleaders are awesome and the hourly updates and mini-challenges were a fun distraction.

5. How many books did you read?
3 and almost a third of another one.

6. What were the names of the books you read?
Ella Enchanted, The Giver, Dairy Queen, part of The Hourglass Door

7. Which book did you enjoy most?
Dairy Queen

8. Which did you enjoy least?
I really liked them all quite a bit, but probably the least was the Hourglass Door because I didn't finish and was tired during it.

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
Very likely, it was fun to read and to connect with so many readers around the world. I would be a reader again.

Update #4 Hour 18

2:31 am here and I'm struggling to stay awake but the hour 18 mini-challenge was a fun one and provide some much-needed laughter. On page 100 of my fourth book, The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum.


Books: 3.2
Hours: 14
Pages: 796

Hour #17 Mini-Challenge

Lynn's Give Me 5 Mini-challenge

Here we go, my top 5 favorite children's books:

1. The Giving Tree
2. Where the Wild Things Are
3. Sneeches
4. Falling for Rapunzel
5. Meet Wild Boars

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Update #3

It's 11 pm here in North Carolina - hour 16. I have only about 25 pages left of The Giver, which I am enjoying. I'm not a night person at ALL so I am getting pretty tired and the rest of the night is going to be a challenge to stay awake.


Books Read: Almost 3!
Hours: 12
Pages: 680
The Giver (The Giver, #1) The Giver by Lois Lowry

Book 1 for the YA Dystopian Challenge

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jonas lives in a community that is completely structured and regulated, marriages are matched, perfect family units consist of two children, mom and dad; zero percent unemployment; bragging is not allowed and the climate is carefully controlled - no sunshine, rain or snow. The Old or sometimes the infants who are not up to snuff are "released" from the community.

"The life where nothing was ever unexpected. Or inconvenient. Or unusual. The life without color, pain or past."

At year 12, all children are given an "assignment" or job that they will have their entire lives until they enter the Home of the Old. Jonas is selected to become a Receiver, a person who will safeguard all the memories of the community. The memories, of pleasure, pain, color, music, misery, choices, etc. All the memories that are no longer remembered by the community because they would interfere with the new standard of "sameness."

This book made me think about life and how sometimes I just want it to be easy with no tantrums, screaming, whining or difficulties. That is how Jonas' life is - no challenges, but no choices either. I really liked reading about the community Lowry created. It is weird at the beginning when Jonas is eating dinner with his "family unit" and they are all pleasantly talking, almost like they are doing a comedy sketch of the perfect family. It is creepy and would be annoying to live like that. I could spend a great deal of time analyzing and thinking about this book, but since it is the readathon, on to the next!

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Update #2 Hour 11

Just checked into our hotel. Planning to get some room service and dive into The Giver.


Books Read: 2
Pages: 526
Hours: 8.5
Dairy Queen Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

My rating: 4 of 5 stars DJ Schwenke is stuck working on her family's dairy farm all summer. Her dad hurt his hip and she is pretty much running the farm by herself. The summer takes an unexpected turn when she has the opportunity to train rival football team quarterback. Dj also learns to follow her own dreams instead of just doing what is expected just like one of the dairy cows. I love the first-person narrative in this story. Dj has a fun sense of humor that had me laughing out loud more than once. Definitely looking forward to the other books in this series. View all my reviews >>

Update #1

Books Read: 2
Pages read: 526

Our plan was to go to the hotel around 3, but we are still stuck on our fannie's at Tricia's house. Loving it so far, even with the lack of snacks. :)

First Book for Readathon Complete

Ella Enchanted Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this retelling of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella. It had the wonderful parts from the original but included so much more. Ella was received a fairy blessing at birth to be obedient. Sounds great until you realize that she is bound to do ANYTHING anyone commands her. Could be as simple as hopping on one foot for a day or ending a friendship when commanded. A fun, quick read, my first for the Dewey's 24 hour readathon! View all my reviews >>

Working my Way Through Ella Enchanted

So I started my readathon morning with a book I wasn't really into and decided to switch to Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. So far so good, almost 1/3 of the way through.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Readathon Weekend!

Here is my stack for my first ever Readathon tomorrow!

1. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
2. Courting Trouble by Deeanne Gist
3. The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman
5. The Giver by Lois Lowry
6. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
7. The Messenger by Lois Lowry
8. A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist
9. Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins

I'm really excited! A friend and I are doing this together, even renting a hotel room so keep us away from our kids. The only thing I'm worried about is that I asked her if we should get treats and she said, "Treats?" like she had never heard of that idea before. Guess I'm the only reader who likes to snack at the same time.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Angel's Game The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Book 2 for RIP Challenge, Peril the Second

Wow! What a book, my head is spinning from all the events that happen in this book and I don't even know where to begin. David Martin, an aspiring writer from a troubled childhood meets a mysterious man who promises him wealth untold in exchange for writing a novel for his publishing company. As David begins work on the novel, strange things begin happening and he starts to wonder if this deal isn't all it's cracked up to be.
I love this author's writing style. I can see the Barcelona of the early 1900s. I can see the squalor some live in and the luxury others enjoy. I can feel the dripping, damp old tower house that David moves into and I can smell the dust and decay of the room in his house that contains a deadly secret.

The plot is interesting and definitely not predictable, and there are so many twists and turns I can hardly keep track of them. I am not usually a re-reader of books but if I were, I'm sure I could get even more out of this book if I read it again.

I loved it, I would recommend it as a great creepy read; not one to read if you are looking for sunshine and happiness, but a fascinating mystery that leaves you thinking.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

U2: At the End of the World U2: At the End of the World by Bill Flanagan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the book cover: When U2 took the stage for their three-year Zoo TV world tour in 1991, Bill Flanagan was there--in the bus, on the plane, in the recording studio and well after hours with the biggest rock band in the world. A tour that began to support the hugely successful Achtung Baby record and ended with a second, even more successful record, Zooropa, took U2 to the far reaches of the world, playing to over a hundred sold-out arenas in over forty cities.

U2 At The End Of The World takes you on the world tour and drops you off at the cultural intersection where rock stars meet politicians; where writers, directors, and models all wind up backstage with U2. And finally, when the band performs their last Zoo TV concert in Tokyo in 1993 and nearly collapses from physical and mental exhaustion, you are there with them waiting for the end of the world.

Wow, I don't really even know how to begin my review for this book. I attended U2's 360 tour last week and that is what prompted my interest in learning more about the band. And I sure learned a bunch! This book is packed with personal insight, quotes and stories from the band members. I feel like I got to know about each of their personalities. It is crazy the situations that rock stars can get themselves into. This book is all about their Zoo TV tour detailing life on the road. It is just unreal, they are taken from place to place, told where to be, stand, what to do and then they do it. Then in their hours off, there is much time for partying and crazy times all night long.

What I was impressed with is that U2 has such a generosity and love with each other. The band members are childhood friends and stick with each other through thick and thin. I also believe that they genuinely try to treat other people with kindness and respect, from trying to inform the world about tragedies in Sarajevo to Bono picking up a crazy fan who was knocked down by a security guard and making sure he is ok.

The thing that I didn't like about this book is how random it seemed. I am on information overload. Anecdote, concert, conversation, places are all jumbled together in an order that doesn't make sense to me. So if you are looking for a simple biography, this is not the one, but if you are looking to laugh out loud and be touched by kindness and craziness, this is the one for you. View all my reviews >>

Sunday, October 11, 2009

YA-Dystopian Reading Challenge

I love these challenges and I have even read several in this genre already this year so I will love reading even more!

Hosted by Bart's Bookshelf, the YA Dystopian Reading Challenge takes place from October 15 to the end of the year.

"Dystopia (from the Greek δυσ- and τόπος, alternatively, cacotopia, kakotopia, cackotopia, or anti-utopia) is the vision of a society in which conditions of life are miserable and characterized by poverty, oppression, war,violence, disease, pollution, nuclear fallout and/or the abridgement of human rights, resulting in widespreadunhappiness, suffering, and other kinds of pain. (Source: Wikipedia)"

The idea is to have fun with this, So your level of participation is up to you, simply pick a target of between 1 & 4 books to read during the two and a half months of the challenge.

Here's my list:

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The Giver, Gathering Blue, The Messenger by Lois Lowry
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

This is my first book for the RIP challenge!

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Connie Goodwin, Harvard graduate student in colonial studies, interrupts her dissertation research to rehabilitate her grandmother's crumbling house in Marblehead, MA at the request of her mother. While there she discovers an ancient key in a 17th century bible with the name Deliverance Dane on a bit of paper. Through much research she finds that Deliverance was a "cunning woman" involved in the Salem witch trials. Connie also finds connections to Deliverance Dane that come close to home.

The book flip-flops between the 1600s and the 1990s forming an interesting picture of life in Salem. I enjoyed reading about life in Salem now and in the 1600s. Howe painted interesting pictures in my mind of life at Harvard and life as a woman in 1692. I also liked the characters. There were few of them and they were decently developed. The magical moments were well illustrated and felt realistic.
There are good things about this book, but my high expectations were unmet. I felt like nothing much happened in the first 200 pages, but then it picked up a bit after that. I did look forward to reading it and finding out the ending. It was also a bit predictable; "aha" moments for Connie were a little funny as the reader could figure out what was going to happen several pages before.

This wasn't my favorite book ever but there were good things about it and I would definitely give Katherine Howe another try in a future book. View all my reviews >>