Archive for the ‘Book Challenge’ Category

Bookathon: Summary, Becky Edition

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Books Read: 8
Pages Read: 2,306
Hours Read: 26:41
Hours Blogging: IDEK, I’ll go with Jess’s 2

Final Thoughts: This was a lot of fun, but it’s definitely not how I prefer to do my reading — I found myself checking how many pages were left at various points in every book, even the ones I liked the most. It also didn’t give me time to really digest and enjoy what I was reading, so I know there’s at least one I’ll want to reread at a more leisurely pace. But this did finally get my YA/MG TBR pile down to a reasonable size… So I can begin building it up again, of course.

I confirmed my suspicion that baseball on TV is really good background noise to read to, and that movie musicals are not. And I reaffirmed a love I hadn’t experienced in awhile — staying up until all hours of the night to finish a very good book. With both Graceling and Big Brother, I contemplated going to bed and finishing the book in the morning, but opted for finishing it at night and sleeping in instead. What’s more joyous than that?

(As Jess said, payment details will be e-mailed out tomorrow.)

Bookathon: Summary, Jess Edition

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Books Read: 13
Pages Read: 3,225
Hours Read: 23 hours, 1 minute
Hours Blogged: *shrug* 2, maybe?

Final Thoughts: Whew! I am pretty happy with the amount of reading I got done this weekend. It’d be interesting to know how I would have done without losing half of Saturday; next year I’d like to break 24 hours. It’s a weird feeling, ending – half of me never wants to read another word, and half of me is wondering why I’m wasting time right now, not reading. It’s going to take a while for this motor to run down.

I’ve also realized why I mainly stick to middle grade stuff; young adult books are depressing! Seriously, the happiest book I read all weekend was the wacky vampire farce comic book. Everything else was about feelings. Feh!

Still, I am very, very glad that I did this, and already looking forward to doing it again next year. Annnnd now it is time to pass out.

(Payment details tomorrow!)

Bookathon: Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Book Thirteen
Starting Time: 7:40 pm
Ending Time: 8:30 pm

Title: Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock
Author: Carolyn Keene
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 180
Summary: Nancy investigates a lost will that will benefit various virtuous spinsters and orphans, and eats several slices of cake.
Thoughts: Oh, Nancy. With only 50 minutes left I went for an easy reread, and Nancy’s super-polite badassery was as charmingly ridiculous as always.

Three and a half cupcakes

Final book/page count/hours tally coming soon, plus payment info for sponsors.

Bookathon: My Teacher is an Alien

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Book Eight
Starting Time: 6:44
Ending Time: 7:47

Title: My Teacher is an Alien
Author: Bruce Coville
Genre: Aliens Among Us
Pages: 123

Summary: Susan doesn’t like the substitute teacher who’s taken over her sixth grade class — and she finds out he’s not just strict, he’s an alien! Now she and Peter, the smartest kid in class, have only a few days to expose him, before he kidnaps some of their classmates and takes them off to space forever.

Thoughts: What is there to even say? Bruce Coville is the reason I love reading, and the reason I love sf/f in particular. This was the most formative series of my childhood. The first book is pretty light and silly (the end of the series is quite a bit heavier), and utterly delightful.

Four and a half cupcakes.

Bookathon: Exposure

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Book Twelve
Starting Time: 4:30 pm
Ending Time: 7:25 pm

Title: Exposure
Author: Mal Peet
Genre: Athletics sociopolitical crime drama? Also, Shakespeare fanfic again.
Pages: 430
Summary: When Otello, a black soccer player in a racially-divided unnamed South American country, and pop star Desmerelda meet, it’s love at first sight, but the machinations of Otello’s two-faced agent Diego may destroy them both.
Thoughts: Really interesting world, really interesting exploration of racial dynamics. I liked Paul Faustino, the sports journalist who apparently is the connecting thread in several of Peet’s books, and his subplot with a handful of doomed street kids. But the transition from Othello wasn’t quite as smooth. Diego’s complete lack of motivation for his evil is less acceptable in a modern book than Iago’s is, and, well, spoilers: show

Two and a half cupcakes

Bookathon: Nightmare Academy #1: Monster Hunters

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Book Seven
Starting time: 4:10 PM
Ending time: 6:25 PM

Title: Nightmare Academy #1: Monster Hunters
Author: Dean Lorey
Genre: Contemporary fantasy
Pages: 310

Summary: Charlie has nightmares… And bad things happen. After a horrible thing comes out of his dreams and tries to kill his family, he’s recruited by the Nightmare Division, to be trained at their Academy, and learn how to control his powers. Because people like Charlie bring monsters into this world — but they can also stop them.

Thoughts: Bleh. This book tries too hard to be wacky and hip, and the two characters who were supposed to be funny were pretty much detestably sexist. (Hint: calling your female coworker “sweetheart” after she’s asked you not to is not funny and charming, it’s demeaning.) The book had a good premise, and once the action picked up the execution was fine, but it did nothing for me (except make me irritated).

Two cupcakes.

(And now a note: because I’ve only got an hour and a half left, and the last book in my TBR pile definitely won’t fit into that time, I’m totally going to cheat and pick up an old favorite to skim… *g*)

Bookathon: Ducky, Diary 1

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Book Eleven
Starting Time: 3:30 pm
Ending Time: 4:17 pm

Title: California Diaries: Ducky, Diary 1
Author: Ann M. Martin
Genre: Teen drama llama
Pages: 180
Summary: One of Ducky’s best friends is turning into a bully, while the other is crawling into his own depressed shell.
Thoughts: After four books of Ducky ex machina, I was interested to see this guy’s internal landscape. And yes, I can see why he’s such a popular character – his neurosis and his concern for others is very likeable. (Also he’s probably gay, and that’s always a big hit in fandom.) One question, though: Why does Ann M. Martin (or her flock of ghostwriters) apparently think that boys don’t learn lowercase letters in school? Logan, Jeff, Ducky, and I’m pretty sure Jackie and…maybe David Michael?…all write in all caps.

Four cupcakes

Bookathon: The Ear, the Eye and the Arm

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Starting time: 12:05
Ending time: 3:58 PM

Title: The Ear, the Eye and the Arm
Author: Nancy Farmer
Genre: Near-future sf/f
Pages: 301

Summary: Three wealthy children decide to sneak out of their safe home in Zimbabwe, and are promptly kidnapped. While they try to escape and find their way home, their mother hires the only detectives she can find: the Ear, the Eye and the Arm, whose exposure to nuclear waste has turned them into mutants — mutants with powers that may make them the only ones who can find the kids.

Thoughts: I picked this one up because I was looking for that rare unicorn of a book, a science fiction novel that’s not about white people. I definitely got that; the fact that this takes place in Africa is not window dressing. The book deals a lot with the struggle between traditional tribal beliefs and modern problems. I don’t know enough — let’s face it, anything — about Zimbabwean culture to judge if it handles it well and respectfully, but nothing really set off my BS radar. The characters were kind of flat, but the set pieces were fun, and I liked the redemption of the first villain the kids faced.

Four cupcakes.

Bookathon: The Pharaoh’s Secret

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Book Ten
Starting Time: 1:30 pm
Ending Time: 3:22 pm

Title: The Pharaoh’s Secret
Author: Marissa Moss
Genre: Contemporary/urban / fairy tale/mythic / historical fantasy
Pages: 307
Summary: Talibah finds herself trying to unravel ancient Egyptian intrigue in order to put the souls that are haunting her to rest.
Thoughts: I liked the entirely non-white cast, the pluckiness of the little brother, and the solid grounding in history and Egyptology, but otherwise this book wasn’t very good. The prose was weak, and the resolution of the mystery – the explanation of how the modern characters were connected to the historical ones – was incoherent.

Two and a half cupcakes

Bookathon: Amalia, Diary 1

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Book Nine
Starting Time: 12:38 pm
Ending Time: 1:21 pm

Title: California Diaries: Amalia, Diary 1
Author: Ann M. Martin
Genre: Teen drama llama
Pages: 180
Summary: Amalia starts volunteering with her sister at a women’s shelter, while dealing with an abusive boyfriend of her own.
Thoughts: I like Amalia, and THANK GOD that for once someone in a BSC-universe series actually deals with a dangerous situation in an appropriate fashion. Amalia breaks up with James pretty much the moment he almost hits her, and doesn’t confuse “fighting her own battles” with “confronting him alone like a moron.” This is paralleled really well with the shelter story, which a) shows how hard it is for battered women to accept that they need to leave their abusive husbands/boyfriends, b) points out the importance of restraining orders, calling the police, and in general being prepared and safe, and c) makes the heartbreaking point that the law often doesn’t do enough to protect women. All very well done, and actually brought a couple of tears to my eyes. (Which was why the total bullshit ending made me throw the book across the room. YOU NEED TO TELL THE POLICE OR AT LEAST THE PRINCIPAL THAT YOUR EX-BOYFRIEND IS A SOCIOPATHIC STALKER.)

Four and a half cupcakes