Dec 23, 2009

Buy One Book and Read It Challenge


My Friend Amy started this challenge when she realized over 50% of Americans had not read a single book in a year.

So, I decided to join. While I do buy A LOT of books. I buy a very limited amount NEW. When I asked Amy about this she said that buying NEW was important, because the challenge isn't just about reading, but about supporting authors and book sellers as well.

Amy is offering different levels to join, but I am wimping out and joining at Level One. That means I only have to buy a single book in 2010 and read it.

Sure, it SOUNDS simple enough. But I don't buy that many new books AND of all the *cough* hundreds of books I buy each year, I actually end up not reading most of them. So, I have no clue what book I am going to read because I haven't bought it yet; I haven't even thought about it.

What I do know is that when it comes to buying my book I am going to try to get it at an independent (and local) book store. But I am not sure how this will pan out depending on what book I decide to read for this challenge.

I will keep you updated!!
Oh, and join the challenge too! You have no reason not to!
Cause books are awesome.
And so are you!
Well, only if you read book.
But yeah,
you see where I am going with this.

Dec 22, 2009

Audio Book Challenge 2010

I am planning on joining several challenges for 2010 and this is the first of them. About a third of my 2009 reads were in audio format, so I decided to try that again but a bit more officially.
Royal Reviews is hosting the challenge for 2010, so thanks to them!
Here are there official guidelines:

Challenge Guidelines:
1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.
--Non-Bloggers: Include your information in the comment section.

2. There are four levels:
Curious – Listen to 3 Audio Books.
Fascinated
– Listen to 6 Audio Books.
Addicted – Listen to 12 Audio Books.
Obsessed – Listen to 20 Audio Books.

3. Audio books only.

4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list
them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.

5. Challenge begins January 1st thru December,
2010.
Only books started on January 1st count towards this challenge.


I will be joining at the Obsessed level. And I decided that I am going to list a few of the books I am pretty sure I am going to listen to and then add more as I go.

1. City of Glass by Cassandra Claire
2. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
3. When the Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells
4. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
6. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
7. The Miles Between by Mary E. Pearson
8.-20. Yet to be determined
I am going to reread a few books I enjoyed on audio for a different reading experience. I am going to try that for The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner and possibly to revisit the first four books in the Vampire Diaries series. There are also some science fiction books on my goal list that I may try on audio if I struggle through my paper editions. And there are always new books that I stumble across in the meantime.
Are you planning on listening to any audiobooks?
What was the best audiobook you listened to in 2009?

Dec 20, 2009

The Sunday Salon - DON'T PANIC

The Sunday Salon.com

Okay, so last Sunday didn't really go as planned. I didn't get to start First Light like I wanted because I found myself on an impromptu road trip. It was supposed to be fun and relaxing and it ended up being kind of like HELL. As a result I didn't read one word on Sunday, or for a few days after. I was WAAAAY too busy recovering.

Over the remainder of the week I was able to finish my 186th book of the year. (My pace is getting slower as it gets closer to the holidays.) First Light was a good read and the first book by the author of the hugely popular When You Reach Me. Rebecca Stead did a good job interweaving two storylines in the icy Greenland.

The beauty of the cover seems to reflect the beauty of the land itself. It also really ties into what is happening with the story and it was interesting to flip to the cover and think about what was being said in the book.

I read this book because I saw it on a YA Dystopia list and I was really excited to read another book by Rebecca Stead since I loved When You Reach Me so much.

Okay, and if my weekend wasn't stressful enough last time, well there is another snag in my plans. My mother calls me on Wednesday and says she is flying for Christmas. Um.....

Now I have two options here.
<------THIS
or
THAT------->

So eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek. Aaaaaah!
Mostly just panic, and so far I am staying in control. We will see what happens after she is staying with me for THREE WEEKS!!!

I have been racing around the house like a crazy person trying to get ready for her arrival, which will be Monday. My whole life now consists of a huge countdown calendar counting down the seconds of impending doom.

Therefore, much to my chagrin, I will not be getting much reading done THIS Sunday either. I have been trying to pace myself and sneak in time for myself amidst all the chaos I have created for myself. I could also throw in a book on tape or some, but I don't have many handy. My mp3 player would be really helpful in a time like this. IF ONLY IT WASN'T broken.

But trying to make the best of all this and get through Christmas. Once all the planning for that is over I can sit down for a couple days and read, read, read. In theory at list.

What books are you trying to get in before the end of the year?

Oh and before I sign off this Sunday, I need to give a special thanks to Kathleen Duey for stopping by my blog and commenting. Now that I know this major young adult author has seen my reading goals for 2010 I am going be sure pressed to stick to them.

Speaking of 2010 goals. I am planning on reading the second book in her Resurrection of Magic series in January or February. Skin Hunger, the first book in the Resurrection of Magic, is also on many young adult dystopian fiction lists and you probably really need to check it out. Sacred Scars is the 2nd book.

And just look at these covers. Aren't they amazing?

Dec 16, 2009

2010 Reading Goals

Read ALL of Neal Shusterman's books, excluding Unwind and Everlost which I read this previous year. (At least ones I can easily access.)

Read 5 classic science fiction novels:
(tentatively)

1. Dune
2. Foundation
3. Minority Report
4. Martain Chronicles
5. 2001: A Space Odyssey


Read 2 Classics:

1. The Bell Jar
2. Wurthering Heights

Read 5 classice young adult novels:

1. Little Women
2. Wizard of Oz
(suggestions welcome)

Read 20 books released in 2009/2010

Read 10 books from the YA dystopian list

Finish The Iron Heel

Read Utopia and The Tempest

Dec 14, 2009

2009 Reading Goals

I have once again failed in my goal of having a more diversified reading list. I read about 95% YA which is the nighest percentage since I was in elementary school!

I wanted to read more classic science fiction novels and I didn't finish very many. I wanted to read more classic YA and I read 2. Reading is so personal it can be especially difficult to set goals ahead of time. It has been effective for me in the past but it completely backfired this year.

I did reach my goal to read 100 books twice over. That's including bother paper and audio books and even the occasional picture book.

While I enjoyed reading that many books I don't think I could handle any more and really enjoy the experience. Even as it was I am not sure I did as much as I would have liked to. I did a horrible job blogging but also had little desire to. Blogging should fun and I try to remember that and not force myself to do it.

Some of my personal goals were reached, like spending more time focused on my kids and volunteering at the school.

Overall I am only slightly disappointed in the achievement of my goals.

Dec 13, 2009

The Sunday Salon - Not Reading in Dystopia

The Sunday Salon.com

Lately I have just not been in the mood to read. And really I don't like the feeling. Sometimes I am okay with not reading and being busy and enjoying life. But there are too many things around the holidays to distract me. Also, my mp3 player broke and I used to listen to books while doing things around the house. I do keep picking up books and trying to read them, but I can't stay focused. I can feel my eyes trying to dart around the page. The library called with two books on hold I was really eager to read.

I have been wanting to read Gone for a while and when it showed up on eldritchhobbit's list of young adult dystopias I knew I had to read it. The weird part is that we recently got the second book, Hunger at the library but we didn't have the first and I had to do an interlibrary loan. I HATE when the library has the second book in a series but not the first.

The Hourglass Door was recommended to me by my librarian and is by a Utah author. I read just a few pages but I am completely in love with the writing style of the book. I want to read more but I am having the same problem of not being able to keep my eyes on the page.

Last night I was up late checking eldritchhobbit's list again my local library. It is a lot more time consuming than you might think and I am happy to have it off of my to do list. I knew I would find some books off the list, in part because I have already read and borrowed some. But I found over 20 books from 2000 on that I will be slowly working my way through. I have more dystopian reviews I have to write and a few more books I have to read for my challenges.

I am going to try and get started on Rebecca Stead's First Light. I am so, so, so, excited to read it because I am completely in love with When You Reach Me. I am interested to see how I will feel about a book that is more in my genre preference (it is on the YA dystopia list). I am in the middle of a bunch of other dystopic YA right now too. I am working on the second book in the Tripods series called The City of Gold and Lead. It is in that really boring part of the book where it is just recapping the previous book. I like that authors have found a better way around that now. I am also working on Cherry Heaven still. I have made NO progress on it sine last weekend.

Here are some of the YA Dystopian novels I may be checking out soon:
(be sure to point me to one you really liked or recommend a new one!!)
The Rule of Claw
The Inferior
The Lost Art
Firestorm
Siberia
The Secret Under My Skin
True Sight
Epic

For my birthday I want to try and get a few more YA dystopian novels that my library doesn't have now. I am building my wish list ahead of time and cross checking it against the library.

When you are in a reading funk, how do you break out of it?

Dec 10, 2009

Utopia/Dystopia

When we did a comparison contrast between 1984 and excerpts from Thomas Moore's Utopia in my sophomore year of high school my reading life was transformed. I was exposed to reading as a way to explore ideas, philosophy, politics, and the world. until this point I read for pleasure, the enjoyment of the reading experience was the act of doing so. But with reading these two works my desire to read grew into wanting to be engaged by reading. I wanted to explore, change, and think.


Though there are are dictionary definitions and encyclopedia entries on utopia, anti-utopia, and dystopia, a lot of the time the distinction really comes down to a matter of judgement in classifying a book. I dent to like the term dystopia, so I use it most commonly as a general classification for a false world or non-historical government controlled society.

Now, not having Internet, I was late in finding out about two different YA Dystopian Challenges. One hosted by Bart's Bookshelf and the other by Books On the Nightstand.
(Please click the images to go to the challenge pages.)
But over the time period of the challenge I was reading books that qualify. So I am planning on going back over my reading list and review the books I read within the time frame and likely add a few more before the end of the year.

Bart says,

The idea is to have fun with this, and as I know with the year-end rapidly
approaching, thoughts will be turning to completing all the other challenges we
are all signed up to! 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. [Oct. 15th - end of Dec.]

It’s that easy.

There’s no need to list your
selected books upfront, but it’s always fun to see everybody’s book pools (Not
just because we all like to do a bit of book-coveting but somebody might spot a
great read they had never considered before!) So if you want to do that, then go
right ahead.

Ann from Books on the Nightstand says,

The Rules:There are always rules in dystopic societies. We will
be benevolent despots in the running of this challenge. Your participation is
voluntary and we will be deactivating the Reading Challenge Police, so you are
on the honor system.
1. You must do as you are told.
[Go to challenge page to read the read of the rules.]


Here is a list of books I have already read within the past two months or so:
The Roar by Emma Clayton
Stolen Voices by Ellen Dee Davidson
The Declaration by Gemma Malley (audio)
Fade to Blue by Sean Beaudoin
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (audio)
The Walls Have Eyes by Clare B. Dunkle (#2 in series)
Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey (audio)
House of Power by Patrick Carman (audio)

I have already reviewed The Maze Runner and Fade to Blue, but I may want to revisit my thoughts about them before the end of the year.
There may also a few that I am not sure about the time frame on or have not decided if they fall under the umbrella of dystopia yet.

Up Coming Reads:
Cherry Heaven by L.J. Adlington
The City of Gold and Lead by John Christopher (Tripods #2)
Gone by Michael Grant
Rivers of Fire by Patrick Carman

I have a few others I would like to get to also, but I will stick with those for now and update if needed. I have not had a chance to think out how I want to classify which book for what challenge or if it even matters, but I am really excited to be participating in them.

Dec 6, 2009

The Sunday Salon - The Return

The Sunday Salon.com

I have made very little reading progress this past week. This fills me with with a combination of feelings as frustration and acceptance mingle. I have to remind myself it is okay to take break from reading once in a while. Having a new phone to distract me isn't helping matters. But really I have been reading, just not finishing any books.

I did finally finish a book last night. I loved the first book in The 13th Reality series. I don't know why it took me so long to get that last 100 pages done, but I felt relieved to have the book done. I hadn't finished a book in almost a week.

I am also working on the audio of Scott Westerfeld's So Yesterday. I decided to read this book after finding out it was of particular influence in Cory Doctorow's Little Brother. There is definite style similarities between those two novels. Westerfeld has this masterful way of pausing the story to expand on a moment with factoids. It is part of what I enjoy the most in his writing. Doctorow explored the same concept but not as effectively. Instead of being this awesome nerdy quirk Doctorow manages to sound didactic. It was really interesting to read these books relatively close together.

Biblio File is having a blogging birthday bash where she encouraged her readers to take 5 hours out of their weekend and read something they had a deep desire to read. This was hard for me because I have this running list of books I want to read by the end of the year; as soon as a book gets on the list a certain amount of obligation goes along with it. It was recommended that we read in our favorite spot. What is your favorite spot to read? I really like reading laying down, particularly in bed. I prop up about 5 pillows and flip on my reading lamp. I grabbed Cherry Heaven, a book I have been eager to read yet constantly find excuses to push aside. This book is the companion novel to the spectacular Diary of Pelly D. Per her instructions I also curled up with my blanket and a steaming cup of coffee. What a great gift she gave all of us.

I have also read a short list of particularly interesting articles and posts.

Facebook Promotes Literacy
E-Readers Just a Fad
Gainman reading The Graveyard Book on tour

Should YA be taught in classrooms?

Have you read any great post or articles? Or maybe you wrote one? Leave a link on the comments.

Everlost by Neal Shusterman

Neal Shusterman personally recommended Everlost to me, so it is disappointing to admit I didn't enjoy it very much. Shusterman did his job with great writing and an interesting storyline. He commented to me t hat adult readers tend to enjoy this story more than some of his others. Maybe I a,m not grown up enough because mostly the book just creeped me out!

But School Library Journal writes: “Shusterman has reimagined what happens after death and questions power and the meaning of charity. While all this is going on, he has also managed to write a rip-roaring adventure…”


Shusterman is a maser when it comes to creating multi dimensional characters. The villains do things you agree with and the heroes do things you don't. Finding out what happens to each of the characters drove me through the story. But I think overall it was too dark for me to truly enjoy it, though I know a lot of other people will.



I decided to specifically read this book right now because the sequel, Everwild, was released just a few months ago.

Dec 4, 2009

Singing the Dogstar Blues

Singing the Dogstar Blues by Alison Goodman combines a lot of elements that constitute a great story. It has a terrific, strong, and rebellious female protagonist. She often defies authority but has a passion for music and the ability to explore it through time travel.

Although I have criticised books for using slang in the past, Goodman does it perfectly. I always knew what word she was intending to replace or she finds a clever way to explain it.

This Australian author gained critical acclaim and world wide recognition through the publication of Singing the Dogstar Blues. It's creative action oriented plot brings reader to a complex world without over explaining the details. She also doesn't leave the reader in a mass of confusion. Joss's world is so similar to our own. It is easy to take the leaps into the future Goodman requires of us.

I am eager to read more books by Alison Goodman, including the recently released Eon, which is completely not in my genre preference.



Thanks to Steph Su who was kind enough to recommend this book to me.

Dec 2, 2009

Fade to Blue

When I read The Compound I thought it was weird and confusing. Well, let me tell you, Fade to Blue makes The Compound look like a boring day. Yes, just to restate, Fade to Blue is the most confusing book I have EVER read in my whole entire life. Sean Beaudoin infuses a strong sense of style and voice into this average American high school. Sophie is the soccer player turned goth girl; she introduces us to a cast of stereotypical players. Jocks, cheerleaders, wannabees, losers, outcasts, and has beens. Sophie is dark and edgy, reminding me a suicidal Veronica Mars.

But the story starts to skip through more perspectives and makes less and less sense. This confusion is part of the point, but it happens so quickly I never really got grounded in anything. The skipping around made it hard to care about what was happening and why. There was often no clear connection with a reality I cared about.

The story hops through every inconceivable permutation of reality or non-reality making me want to throw the book across the room. The book had so much style and charm, it was a waste to see it slip into chaos.

If your bored by what you are reading and want something different, this book will definitely satisfy. If you walk into the library and pull it off the shelf because it has a little sci fi sticker on the spice, you may regret that decision. Maybe the author thought that sci fi fans would enjoy the ride because they are used to going to outlandish places without question, but I am not that sci fi reader.

If you are interested about his creation process Sean did a GREAT guest blog on InkWeaver Review. Check it out.

Nov 30, 2009

Currently Reading

Lord of the Flies (audio)


Though I know the story well from seeing various productions of it, I really wanted to have this book under my belt.


I am quite depressed because my mp3 player broke so I am listening to Lord of the Flies old school style with a walkman and tapes from the library.

The beginning was a bit slow but now that I am towards the middle I am enjoying the story a lot more than I expected. It's great being able to strap the story to my side while I wander around the house cleaning up.



A Box of Nothing

Peter Dickenson's name shows up on tons of YA sci fi lists but is the first of his book I have gotten around to reading. I am not very far into it but I am LOVING IT.

"James was standing on the shore of an iron-gray sea, flecked with patches
of rust color, and covered with very regular small round waves. It
stretched away and way toward the skyline. From beyond that unreachable
horizon his name was being called. He couldn't hear it, but he could feel
it" (10).


The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters


The is the first book from James Dashner's first series. I am shocked to tell you I LOVE IT. There is a great humor in this book and an interesting mix of science fiction and fantasy. When I saw that little sci fi sticker on the spine I thought it was a mistake, but it really does have some really great science elements to it.

Hope to be posting about it more soon!

Finished:
Leviathan
Stolen Voices

Still Working On:
Neuromancer

Up Next:
Things Not Seen
So Yesterday
Fahrenheit 451

What books are you trying to finish before the New Year?

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner begins in pure confusion. Imagine finding yourself sitting in a box with no idea who you are and no memories of your past.

You know only your name. People are staring down at you and talking about you using words you can't fully grasp. This is the world Thomas finds himself in.

He emerges among boys of similar age. They live in a sort of community in a village at the center of a maze. The boys are tortured by both what they do and don't know of the place that is now their home. They live in a square inside a maze with moving walls and deadly mechanical blobs out to destroy them. every day boys are sent out in an attempt to solve the maze with the understanding that once they do they will be released from this torturous world.

Though the elements of this story were interesting and engaging, I found the writing to be filled with too many unneeded words. I was constantly trying to skip forward to the dialog then reading back just to find out the paragraph didn't say anything relevant after all.

The Maze Runner had its own unique slang phrases which may have been less distracting if I was doing the audio version.

This book is a first in a series. It's ending is pretty complete with just a little sneak in at the end to keep you thinking about where the next book is going.

Despite its short fallings, I was curious about what would happen to these inhabitants of the maze and that kept me moving through the book at a quick pace.

Why is this book so mega popular right now?
What special elements does James Dashner bring to the (YA) writing world?
Are you ever disapointed by books that everyone loves?

Nov 27, 2009

The Compound by S. A. Bodeen

The Compound by S. A. Bodeen may be one of the weirdest books I have ever read. It was compelling, creative, and at times completely out of control.

It's not inconceivable that humans will destroy themselves. This concept has been a staple of science fiction for more than a hundred years. The possibilities are many; enviornmental, social, astronomical, and possibly most disturbing nuclear.

For me, nuclear annihilation is particularly unsettling because of the inability to predict and prepare for such and attack. If the world was coming to an end, how would you spend your final moments?

In The Compound, a very wealthy family rushes underground to a secret compound created by their father. The family lives over a stretch of days that do not differ one to the next. Living by going through the motions and feeling little joy. They wonder about the conditions of the world and the loved ones that got left behind.

The main character's sense of loss is particularly intense because his twin brother is inadvertently left on the outside. He is overwhelmed by guilt at losing his best friend and other half.

The unique story tells this story of this family and the overbearing and erratic father who controls them.

The Story Siren did a fantastic interview with S. A. Bodeen, be sure to check it out.


SS: How did you get the idea for The Compound?

S.A. Bodeen: Actually a
dinosaur show my husband was watching on Discovery. One breed of dinosaur did
this odd thing to raise their offspring and I wondered what would happen if a
human tried that.

This book was so different there were times I was completely taken out of it. It just didn't seem to exist within reality, but it has so many interesting and thought provoking ideas. I definitely think this book is worth reading if you are looking for something different.

I enjoyed listening to the audiobook version of this book since the library didn't have a paper copy. I put a link to an excerpt at the bottom of the post.

Have you read this book? Tell me what you think!


Nov 25, 2009

Leviathan

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld is a middle grade steampunk novel. It has some great ideas but the ideas just weren't enough for me. I was so excited to read this book and see what Westerfeld with do with this speculative alterate history genre. There are two opposing forces in the world. The Clankers and the Darwinists. These groups of people live in opposing ideologies so intense they verge on religions. The Clankers believe in things that clank or machinery and the Darwinists believe in the more environmental idea of genetically altering living things to serve their needs.



The story is told by two perspectives. Deryn, (aka Dylan) who is pretending to be a boy in order to be part of the military, and Alek, who is an actual boy whose parents have just been assassinated and is trying to escape the same fate. Both narratives move too slowly towards any kind of point. There is quite a bit of action leading towards nothing. The world begins to be explained too late in the story.

In the afterward of the novel Scott Westerfeld explains, "So Leviathan is as much about possible futures as alternate past. It looks ahead to when machines will look like living creatures, and living creatures can be fabricated like machines" (439). Although I am engaged by thinking about alternate histories, the over use of language to force the historical perspective annoys me. Steampunk is like science fiction for those who love historical fiction and I am not one of those people. Language, slang, and dialect is about perfect balance and Leviathan definitely does not achieve it.

Nov 20, 2009

Nov 19, 2009

Currently Reading

So far this year I have read 172 books! I most recently finished City of Ashes, the 2nd book in the Mortal Instruments series. I know people are crazy for this series and I see why it has mass appeal. But for me, the books are just okay. They have unique elements and a plot that pushes you forward wanting to know what will happen next.

But back to the issue at hand:
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld -

Though a fairly quick read with some interesting elements, I don't particularly like the voice or style of this book. The illustrations are great though and I do plan on finishing it.

I do love the cover as well. While I like the concept of the steampunk subgenre I have found I don't particularly like reading it.

Have you read Leviathan yet?


Stolen Voices by Ellen Dee Davidson -
AMAZING!!!!! I found out about this book through a FABULOUS list of young adult dystopias that you totally need to check out. Stolen Voices is exactly my type of book. I am not particularly far into reading it but I can day that it is some sort of future civilization which uses masks as a sort of government control.

"'An evil man came to power. He discovered a way to condense the clashing noises and used them for destruction....In desperation, Noveskinians turned to one man who offered a solution, the Masker. Using the Masks, he united their voices into the one song, one voice'"
(27).


Neuromancer by William Gibson -

This is the third or fourth time I've tried to read this and every time I have had the same reaction. TOO CONFUSING!! I have tried both paper and audio version and this time I am trying a NEW audio version. I really want to get through this piece of science fiction. So many people have told me to read it. It is just extremely frustrating to be struggling through it.

I decided I am going to try both audio and paper combined now and went and grabbed the copy from the library again.


What are you reading?
What do you plan to read next?

Up Next:
Among the Enemy
Singing the Dogstar Blues
So Yesterday

Bibliophile Exploring Dystopia | Food & Community | Utopian Projects