Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hour Twenty

I'm out! I lasted twenty hours and I read four books total today. I think I will head off to bed, words words words dancing in my head.

Books Read: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Fisher
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Total Pages Read: 878
Time Spent Reading: 13 hours, 35 minutes

Hour Nineteen

Books Read: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Fisher
Total Pages Read: 818
Time Spent Reading: 12 hours, 50 min

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hour Eighteen

Books Read: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Fisher
Total Pages Read: 732
Time Spent Reading: 12 hours

Currently reading: Matilda by Roald Dahl

mini-Challenge: I would rather read...

Your mission, which you MUST accept, is to turn to page 23 of the book
you're currently reading (or the nearest page with text on it) and find
the most entertaining phrase to complete the following sentence:

"I would rather read than _____________ any night!"

"I would rather read than mix a lot of sawdust any night!"

"I would rather read than wear jackets with large brightly-colored checks any night!"

"I would rather read than use my brains any night!"

Matilda by Roald Dahl =)

Reading is fundamental mini-challenge!

*happy dance* I won a crocheted bookmark from Joystory!

Hour Seventeen

I finished reading Understood Betsy. I was surprised to learn at the end of the book that the author met Maria Montessori and was inspired by her method of teaching children. She wrote this book sort of as a manual for how to use the Montessori method with children. It's very interesting! This book was fascinating and gave me a lot of food for thought. I'm sure I will read it again in the future and to my own kids someday.

Books Read: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Fisher
Total Pages Read: 660
Time Spent Reading: 11 hours, 10 minutes

mini-challenge: Give me Five (5 children's books I like)

Hour Sixteen

Reading: Understood Betsy by Dorothy Fisher

Books Read: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Total Pages Read: 680
Time Spent Reading: 11 hours

Hours Fourteen and Fifteen

Reading Understood Betsy by Dorothy Fisher

This is about a little girl who lives with her two aunts - they are very overprotective of her and she grows to be timid, frightened, coddled, and sickly. One of the aunts gets sick and so they send her to spend some time with her other aunts and cousins on a farm. She is treated much differently there - she is expected to help out and to be responsible for herself - and she learns some independence and self confidence.

I'm loving this book so far! It's very pithy for a children's novel. I want to buy a copy to have around for my own children in the future.

Books Read: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Total Pages Read: 615
Time Spent Reading: 10 hours, 10 minutes

Hour Thirteen

Reading: Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Total pages read: 515
Total time spent reading: 8 hours, 40 minutes

Reading is fundamental mini-challenge

The challenge is to create a post celebrating the reading child.

I don't have to post of pic of me reading as a child, because there is one over there in the sidebar. I'm reading a storybook called Skipping Along. It had all kinds of short stories and little poems and bright pictures and such. I loved that book and read it so many times. I still own it.

My mom read to me all the time as a child and she took me to the library every Saturday. My favorite books were the Little House series, the Ramona books, the Boxcar Children, Goosebumps, a set of books called Let's Talk About (they were very preachy and condemned the sins of gluttony, bullying, cheating, etc but I loved those books), the Babysitter's Club - basically all the stuff we read as kids. She also read to me from the King James Bible every night and I think I learned an appreciation for its old, lyrical language from falling asleep to it every night. She has told me that she even read to me as a baby - she would read her Harlequin Romance novels to me because she figured I didn't understand whatever it was she was reading - that I just wanted to hear the sound of her voice and she might as well read something enjoyable!

It's so important to read to kids. There is nothing, nothing better you can do for a child. My favorite book on this subject is The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. It makes a great baby shower gift along with some picture books.

Mid-Event Survey

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now? Wicked by Gregory Maguire

2. How many books have you read so far? two

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I'm saving Matilda by Roald Dahl because it's going to be a breezy read and I think I'll like it a lot

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? nope

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? yes, little things here and there but I try to get back to reading as quickly as I can

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? how easy it is! and how hard it is to actually read without getting sucked into all the challenges and commenting and such because those take a lot of time!

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? nope, I think it's great!

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? Maybe I won't keep track of the time I've spent reading.

9. Are you getting tired yet? I took a one-hour nap and so I'm wide awake and alert.

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? No, but everyone is doing a great job!

Hour Twelve

Books Read: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Currently reading: Wicked by Gregory Maguire

Total pages read: 490
Time spent reading: 8 hours
Eating: an apple, cheese, ice tea

Hour Eleven

Books Read: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Total Pages Read: 455
Total Time Spent Reading: 7 hours, 15 min

I finished How I Live Now. What a perfect book for the Read-a-thon! Gotta dig around in my pile and find a new book, or maybe I'll pull out Wicked again.

Hour Ten

Books Read: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Pages Read: 405
Time Spent Reading: 6 hours, 30 minutes

I fell sleep between 1:30-2:30, but managed to get 30 minutes of reading in for each of those hours. We got to bed at midnight last night and then I was up at 4:15 for the Read-a-thon. Maybe the nap will help keep me up later!

Feed Me, Seymour! mini-challenge

"Over the next few hours let me know if you happen across any passages of food in your reading or you can also flip through some of the books in your Read-A-Thon stack(s) and find me a passage where the characters describe what they are eating or when they are actually eating – write up a post with the book, author, your selected passage and a picture of one the dishes."

We finished the mushrooms and then washed the bowl in the river and mixed a couple handfuls of blackberries with the strawberry jam for dessert
-How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Hour Nine

Still reading How I Live Now

Books Read: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Pages read: 382
Time spent reading: 6 hours

Hour Eight

I'm still reading How I Live Now and it's fantastic!

Books Read: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Time Spent Reading: 5 hrs, 30 min
Pages: 352
Eating: a baked potato and chocolate cake

Gilmore Girls!

The Read-a-thon page added a funny clip of Rory trying to cram all her books into her backpack. My favorite show! I have all the dvd's and I've watched them over and over and over. Rory's character reads some pretty heavy books and inspired me to read The Bell Jar and Anna Karenina.

Hour Seven

I decided to switch books and now I am completely enthralled with How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff.

Books Read: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Time Spent Reading: 4 hrs, 50 min
Total Pages Read: 314 pages

Hour Six

Didn't get much reading done this hour as we had a grocery delivery and most of the stuff was missing so I had to call and get it straightened out.

Books read: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Total Pages read: 260
Total time spent reading: 3 hrs, 55 min

I won!

Yay! They drew my name for the Hour Three Challenge and I got to pick two books. I chose:

Atonement by Ian McEwan
A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell

Haven't read either of these. I love everything else I've read by Ian McEwan, especially Saturday.

Hour Five

Still reading Wicked. My coffee got cold and I didn't even get a chance to drink it.

Books read: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Total pages read: 250
Total time spent reading: 3 hrs, 40 min

Hour Four

Well, Hunt for the Seventh didn't hold my attention past the third chapter so I switched to Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I started this one last week and so I'm about a quarter of the way through it. Mike and I are going to go see Wicked in San Francisco on Halloween and so I want to read the book before I go see it.

My tea was cold after being ignored for three hours, so I made some foamy coffee in my french press and added lots of cream. Yum!

Books read: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Total Pages Read: 218
Total time spent reading: 2 hours, 55 min

Hour Three

I started a new book, The Hunt for the Seventh by Christine Morton-Shaw.

I felt an immediate affinity for the book when the boy stands out in the gardens and feeds the peacocks.

We have peacocks that roam our apartment complex, so I decided to go out and feed them as well.

They weren't on our deck, so I put some cat food out for them anyway, but then my own cat followed me outside and began eating it. So much for that. Then, she started drinking out of a bucket that had rainwater in it and I didn't want her to get sick. So I went and got my boots and coat and went outside to empty the bucket. I thought briefly that the deck needs sweeping, but I would rather be reading.

Books read: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Total pages read: 180
Time spent reading: 2 hours, 10 min

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I finished Coraline. Here's a cute song Coraline's dad sings to her:

Oh - my twitchy witchy girl
I think you are so nice,

I give you bowls of porridge

And I give you bowls of ice


I give you lots of kisses,
And I give you lots of hugs,

But I never give you sandwiches

With bugs


Off to pick a new book!

Where in the World mini-challenge

Hey Lady! Whatcha readin? is hosting this challenge. I put in my map location. It will be neat checking the map and seeing if there are other readers near me.

Hour Two

Currently Reading: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

The light that came through the picture window was daylight, real golden late-afternoon daylight, not a white mist light. The sky was a robin's-egg blue, and Coraline could see trees and, beyond the trees, green hills, which faded on the horizon into purples and grays. The sky had never seemed so sky, the world had never seemed so world.

Total time spent reading: 1 hour, 40 min.
Total pages read: 137

In my world, the sky is a greyish-blue outside, not robin's egg, and the trees are black and the sun hasn't come up yet.

Hour 1 mini challenge

Where are you reading from today? I have six books in my stack, mostly reading from the R.I.P. Challenge

3 facts about me …I'm 26 yrs old, just celebrated my fifth wedding anniversary, and I'm an INTP!

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? 6

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? No, I don't have any goals. I probably won't read all 24 hours, just as long as I can and I'll have fun with it.

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time? I'm a first-timer!

Hour One

Oops! Already 6:10. I meant to update before six, but the time flew by and I wasn't watching the clock.

Currently reading: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Pages read: 97
Time spent reading: 60 minutes

This book is so creepy. Here's some quotes.

Coraline went over to the window and watched the rain come down. It wasn't the kind of rain you could go out in - it was the other kind, the kind that threw itself down from the sky and splashed where it landed. It was rain that meant business, and currently its business was turning the garden into a muddy, wet soup.


The toys in the toy box were still mostly asleep, and they stirred and muttered as she moved their box, and then they went back to sleep.


"You're sick," said Coraline. "Sick and evil and weird." "Is that anyway to talk to your mother?" her other mother asked, with her mouth full of blackbeetles.

Back to reading!


It's 4:55 a.m. here in California and the Read-a-thon begins in five minutes! We got to bed around midnight and I was planning on sleeping in and starting this whenever, but I woke up anyway. I've got a cup of tea and a stack of books ready. Mostly, I'm going to read from the R.I.P. Challenge but I have some other stuff too if I get tired of those. Happy reading!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

R.I.P. Reviews!

I'm really enjoying this challenge! So far I have read three books. Here are my (short) reviews.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Valentina and Julia inherit their aunt's apartment by Highgate Cemetery. The twin sisters get caught up in getting to know the eccentric tenants in the building - a scholar who is writing his thesis on the cemetery and a crossword-puzzle enthusiast who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder. AND their flat is haunted by their aunt's ghost who is fascinated with them and tries to communicate with them in many creative ways.

I loved this. I did like The Time Traveler's Wife better, but this was a very fun ghost story that hit the spot. She is such a good storyteller. There is even a little ghost kitten!

In the Woo
ds by Tana French

This book had my attention from the beginning - three children go out to play in the woods and they don't return home after dark. Only one child is found - digging his nails into a tree, so frightened that he cannot talk for days, his shoes covered in blood. From there, the book is mostly a lot of detective work and the ending was disappointing. The biggest mystery of the book wasn't even answered. I was expecting something spooky and fun and this wasn't it, although her descriptions of the children playing in the woods and on top of the old castle were very vivid and beautiful.

Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay

This is about a car salesman whose 17-yr-old daughter goes missing. He frantically searches for her all while being framed for her murder and being framed for other crimes. He also has to evade the police this whole time because they are looking at him as their suspect. I flew through this book in two days. It was a bit predictable, but the book moves so fast that as soon as you have something figured out, the author acknowledges it and throws something else at you. I don't think I've ever read a thriller before but I liked this a lot.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

same author, different poem

So much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

So much depends upon the simple things in life. Our lives are not held together by the goals of fame, money, and power. What keeps us going is the little things in life - for me it is reading a good book, the smell of rain, sleeping in and then getting a coffee with my husband, spending hours in a bookstore. What holds this whole world together is the astounding beauty of that red wheelbarrow, glazed with rainwater, beside the white chickens.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

so sweet and so cold

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold
(This is just to say by William Carlos Williams)
100 Essential American Poems by Leslie M. Pockell

"It looked like iced apple juice, with a green straw and a paper parasol stuck through a maraschino cherry."

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

I like this old poem about the stolen plums and this quote from The Lightning Thief. The apple juice quote is so vivid and has the same imagery as the plums. There is also some kind of treachery involved in both - the stealing of the plums and the apple juice not tasting like it is supposed to.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Children's books part 3

Classic Fairy Tales by Scott Gustafson

This is THE BEST book of fairy tales for children, simply because the illustrations inside are so rich. The cover doesn't do the book justice. You have to open the book to appreciate how lush and gorgeous the illustrations really are.

I also like the fairy tales in this book because they aren't watered down. All of the bad things happen that are supposed to happen but things turn out for the best in the end. There is a naive innocence even in the scary parts. The wolf eats Little Red Riding Hood and when rescued by the woodcutter, Little Red Riding Hood jumps out saying, "Oh dear, how frightened I have been! It is so dark inside the wolf."

I like what Jim Trelease has to say about fairy tales. "The fairy tale confirms what the child has been thinking all along - that it is a cold, cruel world out there and it's waiting to eat him alive. Now, if that were all the fairy tale said, it would have died out long ago. But it goes one step further. It addresses itself to the child's sense of courage and adventure. The tale advises the child: Take your courage in hand and go out to meet the world head on."

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Children's books part 2

Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran

Roxaboxen celebrates the imagination of children who, no matter the time or place, can create whole worlds out of what they find around them--here, rocks and boxes, cacti and sand. Marian and her friends find a "special place" in the desert where in time-honored fashion, they play the games that will prepare them for their grown-up lives. The rules are simple: you make them up as you go along according to the whim of the day or the personality of the residents. In Roxaboxen, "Marian was mayor, of course; that was just the way she was. Nobody minded." The rules don't even have to be consistent--as long as they make sense. Speeding was not allowed by car but "ah, if you had a horse, you could go as fast as the wind . . . All you needed for a horse was a stick and some kind of bridle."

The real beauty of the story is that it is true. The author's grandmother recalls fondly playing in their imaginary town of Roxaboxen when she was a little girl. The author even tracked down other children who played in Roxaboxen to get their memories into the story.

This book is part of the Five in a Row curriculum. They have put together a remarkable list of books. Some of them are out of print or otherwise hard to find, but they are great collector's items if you come across them.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

A father and his four children--a toddler, a preschool boy and two older girls--go on the traditional bear hunt based on the old camp chant: "We're going to catch a big one. / What a beautiful day! / We're not scared. / Oh-oh! Grass! / Long, wavy grass. / We can't go over it. / We can't go under it. / Oh, no! / We've got to go through it!" The family skids down a grassy slope, swishes across a river, sludges through mud and, of course, finally sees the bear, who chases them all back to their home. It's a fantastic journey--was it real or imagined?--with the family's actions (and interaction) adding to the trip a goodnatured, jolly mood.

The rhythm of this book is great. It's easy to memorize and then you can "act it out" with young children and they love playing the game of looking for the bear. Here is a video of Michael Rosen acting out the story and you can get an idea of how the book is almost like a song.

Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban

Frances loves nothing better than jam and bread, and turns up her nose at other kinds of food. Then her mother starts giving Frances jam and bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner. "What I am/is sick of Jam," Frances sings to herself. That's the end of Frances's jam-only days, as she discovers, in her own winsome way, that variety really is the spice of mealtimes.

I adore Frances' description at the end of what she is having for lunch. "I have a thermos bottle with cream of tomato soup. And a lobster-salad sandwich on thin slices of white bread. I have celery, carrot sticks, and black olives, and a little cardboard shaker of salt for the celery. And two plums and a tiny basket of cherries. And vanilla pudding with chocolate sprinkles and a spoon to eat it with."

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Children's books part 1

I love collecting children's books. My favorites are usually either magical in a quiet way (like Owl Moon and A Lot of Otters) or have a rollicking rhyme to them (like Jamberry and A House is a House for Me). These are some of my favorites. I will review more throughout the long weekend!

Koala Lou by Mem Fox
Koala Lou is loved by everyone, but it is her mother who loves her most of all. She often tells her daughter, "Koala Lou, I DO love you." As the family grows and her mother gets busier, Koala Lou yearns to hear those words again. She sets out to win the Bush Olympics as a way to gain her mother's attention.

You can hear the author read the book aloud right here.

Mem Fox also wrote Reading Magic where she talks about how to read to kids. "There's no exact way of reading aloud, other than to be as expressive as possible... The ups and downs of our voices and our pauses and points of emphasis are like magic."

A Lot of Otters by Barbara Helen Berger

The first page shows a toddler walking with a book; the baby climbs into a box at the title page; at the opening of the real story, the child begins reading the book, about ``Mother Moon'' looking for her child, her ``moonlet.'' What the child sees on the picture-book page is the scene readers see; from there, the events are nonstop: The toddler drops the book, and an otter spots it from underwater. That otter reads the book aloud to a group of otters treading water, including one who floats on her back with her baby lying upon her like a fuzzy teddy bear. The moon-mother's tears fall into the sea, turning into stars--a folktale element that allows for lovely compositions as the otters dive for the stars. Mother and moonlet--who turns out to be the toddler--are reunited.

I love otters. This book has such a serene, dreamlike quality to it and the illustrations are beautiful.

A Little House Birthday by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I like these Little House picture books because they take the stories right out of the books. The illustrations are so much like the illustrations Garth Williams produced for the original Little House books. These books are great for preschoolers who are just a little young for the "real" books.

Friday, September 4, 2009

R.I.P Challenge

It's my favorite time of the year! Fall is just plain magical. Everything transforms into a fairy tale with the pumpkins and leaves and hazy weather and dark, cold nights. And... it's my second year doing the R.I.P. challenge!

I'm not sure what books I'll be reading and I probably won't start the challenge until October.

So far, I have an old, black, hardbound copy of Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon. It even came with that addicting old musty-book smell. I'm excited to see what everyone is reading.

Here is a link to the challenge.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

January/February Books

1. The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit
2. The Pirate's Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson
3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling (audio)
4. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
5. The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Divakaruni
6. The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones
7. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
8. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
9. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by JK Rowling (audio)
11. Free for All by Don Borchert
12. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
13. Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright
14. The Little Book by Selden Edwards
15. French Milk by Lucy Knisley
16. The Inferno by Dante Alighieri
17. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
18. Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos
19. Not in Front of the Servants by Frank Dawes
20. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Invictus - William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.