Sunday, January 05, 2014

By the Numbers
For the Year 2013

Total books read year-to-date: 82.
(I read 80 books in 2012, but I read 93 in 2011 - and my goal remains to read 104 books in one year. Maybe in 2014!)

Fiction: 69.
Non-fiction: 13.

Audiobooks: 36.
(Twenty-seven of these I "read" via CD during my commuting time. The other nine were e-audiobooks, which I borrowed from the county library and "read" on my Kindle or on my iPod, mostly as incentive to exercise.)

On the Kindle: 23.
(I purchased 12 of these. I borrowed the other 11 from the Kindle Lending Library.)

Published in 2013: 19.
Published prior to 2000: 2.

Books by male authors: 15.
Books by female authors: 68.
(One book I read - Half the Sky - was co-written by a husband and wife.)

Books that are the first of a series: 6.
Books that are part of a series I started prior to 2013: 9.

Historical fiction: 16.

Biography, autobiography, or memoir: 4.

Young adult: 27.
Middle grade: 9.
Picture books: 2.

Review copies: 2.

Re-reads: 2.

Read for my Teaching Through Literature class: 4.
Read with the "book lunch girls" (aka Natalie's Book Club): 6.
Read with the Book Buddies: 3.
Read with the 52 weeks, 52 books group on goodreads: 6.
(Obviously I didn't keep up - although I had previously read another nine of the titles chosen for this group.)
Read for my annual women's retreat: 1.
(I really enjoyed the discussion we had of Home by Marilynne Robinson.)

5-star rating: 8.
4-star rating: 57.
3-star rating: 16.
2-star rating: 1.

How did your 2013 reading add up?

Friday, December 06, 2013

Three Audiobooks - A Mixed Bag

Daddy's Gone A Hunting
by Mary Higgins Clark

Published in 2013.
Audiobook narrated by Jan Maxwell.

I read my first MHC mystery on recommendation of my sister 30 years ago while visiting my family during Christmas break from college. I was so scared that I ended up sleeping at the foot of her bed because I didn't want to be alone on the ground floor of the house. Over the years I've read almost every other MHC mystery, usually eagerly anticipating the new releases.

Unfortunately - or maybe not - I think my tastes in reading material have changed in recent years. While Daddy's Gone A Hunting was a satisfactory accompaniment to my commute over the past week or two, I found the story and the characters to be only so-so. I didn't see much that I hadn't seen before.

2013.77


Al Capone Shines My Shoes
by Gennifer Choldenko

Published in 2009.
Audiobook read by Kirby Heyborne.

When my son was in fifth grade, I was the leader of one of the several book groups organized in his classroom by the teacher. One of the books we read together was Al Capone Does My Shirts. The fifth graders and I all liked it a lot.

This sequel finally made its way to the top of my to-read list - partially because of my high expectations of narrator Kirby Heyborne - and I think I liked it even better than the original. The book has great characters and exciting adventure, as well as emotional insight. Well done!

2013.68


Bellwether by Connie Willis
Originally published in 1996.
Audiobook read by Kate Reading.

One of my all-time favorite books is Connie Willis's Doomsday Book. Perhaps apprehensive that I'll be disappointed, to date I haven't read a lot of her other work. I'm glad I took a chance on Bellwether.

The blurb on the back of the CD case explains that "pop culture, chaos theory, and matters of the heart collide in this unique novella." I found it delightful!

2013.69

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Published in 2012 by Hyperion. 339 pages.
2013 Printz Honor Book.


Code Name Verity was the pick for my October meeting with the "book lunch girls" (aka Natalie's Book Club). I was eager to read it both because I'd heard good things from several friends whose book opinions I value and because I'm all about "girl power" - and I definitely have an affinity for World War II novels. (I mentioned a number of World War II novels that I read with another book club in this blog post.)

Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting into the book and just never really connected to the characters. Maybe I missed something? I was hoping that my book club will fill me in - but, alas, only two of the other members had finished it before our meeting and, given the plot twists, we couldn't really talk about the book. I did discover that both of those that finished had listened to the audiobook - which might be related to the fact that they liked the book better than I did. Also relevant, I think, is the fact that I started the book during a week when I could only read a few pages at a time before bedtime; if I'd been able to invest an hour or two at the start, I think the whole experience might have been a better one.

Melissa Mc at Gerbera Daisy Diaries
loved Code Name Verity when she read it last year. Tricia at Library Queue had mixed feelings.

2013.70

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Final Read-a-Thon Post


Final Report

Time Read: 13:00

Pages Read: 892.

Books Finished: 6.

Time Blogged and/or Tweeted: 7:00

Time on Break: 4:00

Frame of Mind: I'm really pleased with the outcome - and I'm also very ready to sleep for a while!

Cans of Diet Coke with Lime Consumed: 4.

Food Consumed:
A mug of hot chocolate. Some raspberry-flavored almonds. A bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit sandwich and a hashbrown from McDonald's. A few Pretzel Crisps. Some E.L. Fudge cookies. A bowl of honey dew melon and raspberries. A chocolate croissant. Two crab cakes with Japanese sticky rice. Two pieces of pizza with pepperoni, black olives, and mushrooms. Another mug of hot chocolate. Some Heath Pieces.


Traditional End-of-Event Questionnaire

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

Hour 19 - 1:00 a.m. in my time zone - when I finally decided to take a nap. I slept for about two-and-a-half hours - but then I resumed participation, finishing my sixth book and a little bit of blogging and Tweeting.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

Young adult novels are great read-a-thon picks. Ann Dee Ellis' Everything Is Fine. and Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally were good ones for me this year.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

I thought things went quite well this year. I didn't have as many visits from either cheerleaders or other participants as I have in the past, but that's probably a function of the high number of people involved.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?


I enjoyed Tweeting and reading Tweets about the #readathon.

5. How many books did you read?

I finished six books.

6. What were the names of the books you read?
  • The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel
  • Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
  • Everything Is Fine. by Ann Dee Ellis
  • Just Being Audrey by Margaret Cardillo and Julia Denos
  • Lulu and the Brontosaurs by Judith Viorst and Lane Smith
  • Who's on First? by Abbott & Costello and John Martz

7. Which book did you enjoy most?

They were all great - but I think my favorite was Everything Is Fine..

8. Which did you enjoy least?

Not applicable.

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

Not applicable.

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

If at all possible, I will participate in the next read-a-thon - although April has been a hard month for doing that the past two years. I'd like to be a reader again - but I'm also thinking that it might be fun to try cheerleading.

Yet Another Mini-Challenge


"Turn to Page"
Hosted by Reflections of a Bookaholic

For this challenge, I had to turn to page 32 of the book I am currently reading and find the most entertaining phrase to complete the following sentence:

"I would rather read than ________ any day!"

From The Astronaut Wives Club, modifying the tense and a pronoun, I ended up with this:

"I would rather read than invite some of the wives over to my house in Stoneybrook to try out a facial mask any day!"

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Elapsed Time 16:00

Progress Report

Time Read: 9:15

Pages Read: 587.

Books Finished: 2. (I've finished Everything Is Fine. by Ann Dee Ellis and Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally.)

Time Blogged and/or Tweeted: 5:15

Time on Break: 1:30

Frame of Mind: I'm really pleased that I've read two complete books plus more than half of a third. I'm getting tired, though, and although I'm definitely a night person, I'm not so good at late nights when I've woken up before 6:00 in the morning. I guess we'll see what the next few hours bring.

Cans of Diet Coke with Lime Consumed: 3.

Food Consumed:
A mug of hot chocolate. Some raspberry-flavored almonds. A bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit sandwich and a hashbrown from McDonald's. A few Pretzel Crisps. Some E.L. Fudge cookies. A bowl of honey dew melon and raspberries. A chocolate croissant. Two crab cakes with Japanese sticky rice.

Another Mini-Challenge


"Best of Your Reading Year"
Hosted by Lisa's World of Books

I'm all about book lists, so I'm happy to share a few of my "bests" of 2013 (so far):

Best YA Book of Your Reading Year
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
An almost perfect read, this is a gritty yet tender YA love story set in the mid-1980s (when I wasn't much older than the main characters are).

Best Non-Fiction Book of Your Reading Year
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
I was first exposed to this important book at a women's retreat I attended in 2010, and I was deeply moved when I "read" it on CD at the beginning of this year. By Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, this is a call to action I can't forget.

Best Children's Book of Your Reading Year
The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
I absolutely loved this exploration of racism in the late 1950s. The main characters - Marlee and Liz - are terrific, and Marlee's "voice" is just perfect. I highly recommend this to both middle grade students and adult fans of historical fiction.

Best Fiction Book of Your Reading Year
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
I've been a fan of Barbara Kingsolver's fiction for a long time, and her most recent novel did not disappoint. It's beautifully written as well as a meaningful exploration of today's social issues.

Best Title Character of Your Reading Year
The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon
Spanning 50 years, the story of Beautiful Girl - and those in her life - is a compelling tale of love, social justice, faith, and choices. I loved this one!

What are the "bests" of your reading year?

Mid-Event Survey


Now that we're almost halfway through, we have a survey to complete:

1. How are you doing? Sleepy? Are your eyes tired?
My eyes are starting to feel tired - even though I can't believe we're almost to the halfway point!

2. What have you finished reading?
I finished Everything Is Fine. by Ann Dee Ellis. I have two other books in progress - The Astronaut Wives Club and Catching Jordan. I hope to finish both before we're done, although I may mix things up in a little while with a trio of picture books.

3. What is your favorite read so far?
I'm enjoying everything I'm reading .

4. What about your favorite snacks?
I just finished eating two crab cakes with Japanese sticky rice. Delicious!

5. Have you found any new blogs through the readathon?
I've not taken much time to visit blogs (yet). Maybe during the second half!