Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Book Review: Ariah by BR Sanders

According to goodreads, this book is kind of like two other books. But I’ve never read either of them. ::shrug::

The author (@B_R_Sanders) and I follow each other on twitter and have participated in few of the same live tweets so I was interested in reading their stuff. This was one of my Dewey’s Readathon books.

Here’s the Goodreads summary:  “Ariah's magical training has been interrupted. Forced to rely on a mentor, Dirva, who is not who he claims to be, and a teacher who is foreign and powerful, Ariah is drawn into a culture wholly different from the elven one that raised him. As his friendship with Dirva's brother blossoms into a surprising romance, and he slowly learns how to control the dangerous magic in his blood, life finally appears to be coming together for Ariah—but love and security are cut short by a tyrannical military empire bent on expanding its borders. War, betrayal, passion, and confusion follow Ariah as his perilous journey leads him beyond the walls of the Empire, and into unfamiliar territory within himself. Along the way, he’ll discover just how much he’s willing to give up to find his place in the world, and he’ll learn what it means to sacrifice himself for freedom—and for love.”

First, I really enjoyed this book though my engagement with it felt a little inconsistent (maybe because it was my third book of the day in a 24 hour readathon). I love the language and the characters, Ariah himself not being my favorite. I loved Dirva and was immediately interested in hearing more about him and his life, which thankfully comes about as the story unfolds. And Dirva’s brother, whose name escapes me right now but it may have started with an S, was my soul mate. And Abira and Shayat? ::swoon::

There were some places in the book where descriptions seemed too detailed, or perhaps I missed the relevance of the detail. For example, there is a whole page devoted to explaining the different words used to identify different types of relationships (e.g., marriage, betrothal, etc). I understand that this story explores relationships with a wider focus than we are used to and that thinking about our language is part of that. But given the nature of the book and it’s length, the page seemed unnecessary and a little dry.

It seemed a little disjointed. The first half was mostly about Ariah’s coming to terms with his own powers and abilities. There’s also a great bit about his journey into adulthood (which starts at the age of 34 for his people) and falling in love (twice), despite his best efforts. This first half is full of crime, magic, and confusion for our young hero. There was lots of social/ racial commentary. I *loved* the first part. The second part of the book was more about Ariah learning different ways relationships can develop and really seemed more about giving the READER the chance to explore their own ideas about romantic relationships. The pace was slower and less action was happening. I *liked* the second part.

I will definitely be checking out more of the stories written by this author. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Recommendations for Jen (Page Turners)

This post is for a Jennifer. She knows who she is. Jen is looking for a few good books to help reach her Goodreads reading challenge goal for 2015.

Audiobooks are a good way to wrack up some books. Also, many of the old classics are quick. I recently read Frankenstein, Animal House, and The Great Gatsby via audiobook. I think they are all under 200 pages. 

Below are mini-reviews from previous posts of mine for books that I have really liked that were "page- turners" for me. Sorry if the links no longer work. And apparently, sometimes I BOLD the title, sometimes I bold the author, and sometimes I bold both… I think you can figure out what's going on.

"I continue to LOVE LOVE LOVE The Ascendance Trilogy novels by Jennifer Nielson. I think I expressed my disagreement that these are "middle grade" books when I posted about the first one. Again, I have no idea how these things are decided. This one had less torture, so maybe it's for elementary kids!! Adventure, fun, and oh so many feels. Also, it makes me realize that as much as the romance, kissy kissy stuff annoys me in books, I totally miss it when it's missing... of course, I think the kids in this book are 14... so, there really is no rush to the sucking face scene, I guess.

I am Princess X by Cherie Priest. I really liked the book. It's about a pair of best friends, one of whole is presumably killed and the other who is obsessed with the idea that her friend may well be alive. It was just suspenseful enough to keep you guessing. This is an excellent example of incorporating graphic novel elements.

Pretty is by Maggie Mitchell: This book's summary was interesting, as is the idea for the story. Two adult women revisit the two month period when they were kidnapped and held in the woods. I actually really liked the view of the girls and their connection to the time and the man over the course of their lives. It had a few too many layers (a movie, based on a book, based on the story of the girls from one perspective with the view point of the other folks thrown in). The "thriller" stalker part was unnecessary and wrapped up too quickly. And other lines didn't wrap up very satisfactorily at all. The psychology of the unloved/ unlovable post trauma thing was interesting.

Between the Lines by [Jodi Picoult]: She might get a bit of flack on my Twitter TL, but I love Jodi Picoult. I've read several of her novels and think they're each different and interesting. Granted, I have read them all with years in between them, which I think helps with any author. You don't get too keen to their patterns and idiosyncrasies. Anyway, in the now, Delilah is a weird nerd with few friends who is the first to be able to see that the characters in a middle grade adventure book might have minds of their own. It might be all a little predictable and a little convenient and "just how would that work exactly," but that is kind of part of the story. Ms. Picoult wrote this book with her daughter and it is, itself, for younger readers. It's enjoyable and super quick, despite it's 350 pages."

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Outbox, Dewey's, Mini-Reviews

What I'm Actually Reading:

The Hunted by Matt de la Pena: The Living was a top pick for me last year. I read it for Mission: Teen Book Festival 2015. The Hunted is the sequel and I can't wait to see what's going on after the fall of California... #noSpoilers!

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach: I'm reading this to satisfy the Microhistory category of the Book Riot Read Harder challenge. It's about exactly what the title makes it sound like it's about. 

What Goodreads THINKS I'm Reading: I did start this book, so I added it to my Currently- Reading shelf. But I've sense gotten distracted by other books and other things. I need to decide if I really intend to read it now-ish or if I can just give it back to the library.

What's I've just Finished Reading
Here's the total list of books I've read since the last Outbox post. Four of these were picks for the Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon

It looks like I didn't rate I am Princess X  by Cherie Priest on Goodreads. That was an oversight; I really liked the book. It's about a pair of best friends, one of whole is presumably killed and the other who is obsessed with the idea that her friend may well be alive. It was just suspenseful enough to keep you guessing. This is an excellent example of incorporating graphic novel elements.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon: Attempt #1

Saturday October 17th was Dewey’s 24 Hour #Readathon. It was the first one I've done and participating was definitely an interesting experience. It seems really easy, right? Spend 24 hours reading. Ok, maybe it doesn’t sound that easy. Most people modify the 24 hour goal to be shorter or to be a certain number of books instead. Most people nap and/ or figure out ways to still be able to do what they need to do throughout the day. I wanted to read the majority of the day and try to stay awake for the whole thing. I also wanted to be actively engaged with other participants through tweets.

Dewey’s Readathon is twice a year. I’m posting this as a reminder for myself come the next one in April.

It’s not about speed: I usually track my number of books. This puts some pressure on getting through things quickly. It’s an unnecessary pressure, in general, but especially during a challenge that’s based on the number of hours you read. There were times during the day that I had to talk myself down. “Slow down.” Next time, I’m going to try not to even think of a book goal for the day.

The planning worked: The night before, I came up with books across genres and with different books links. I didn't want to feel stuck with a definate book list. I also made sure that I had a few audiobooks downloaded for when I had to run errands. What did not work! was my plan to use an audiobook toward the end of the challenge. It was like a sweey lullaby.

There’s more than Twitter: The Readathon folks are everywhere: Facebook, an RSS feed, Tumblr, Instagram. The organizers of the event post mini-challenges throughout the day. There are many ways to connect with them and with other readers around the world. Which is a great segue to:

There’s more than just the reading: I was overly focused on the reading, I think. I read a lot anyway, so it's not like I needed an excuse to spend a Saturday with a book or two. I felt a little overwhelmed trying to read the books and stay up on all the other stuff going on. I think in April I’m going to try to get more involved in some of the other stuff, too, like reading others’ posts, cheering for readers, and just being engulfed in that which is booknerddom across the globe.

What I read:
I am Princess X  by Cherie Priest
Ariah by B.R. Sanders
Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman
Breakout by Kevin Emerson (not completed for challenge)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

#Readathon Update: Book 1 (and 2), Hour 3!

Okey dokey. Hour 3 of the #Readathon just started. I had to stop reading to go pick up my kid from her friends house (priorities!! It was a tough choice). 

My first book choice was something that I had heard good things about and thought would be fast paced and start the challenge off in a fun way. It's I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest. I'm about 170 pages in and I LOVE it so far. 

I also have a couple of audiobooks going for in the car. My first one, the one cued up now... for my trip to pick up my interuppting child, is Unfortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Dewey's 24 Hour #Readathon: Prep and Fret

I’ve decided to participate in the Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon tomorrow! They’ve just hit the 1600 registered readers mark so it’s kind of a big deal. The name is pretty self- explanatory. The hardcore idea is to read for 24 hours, foregoing naps and long breaks, though I think most people modify that to be a bit more doable in real life. I’m still trying to figure out what my actual goal should be: number of books, number of pages, number of total hours!? These are tough decisions!!

I have a few hours reserved tomorrow to spend with my daughters, shopping for my 18-year-old’s trip out of state next week but I’ll have an audiobook at the ready for free moments when I’m given the gift of waiting (e.g., while they’re in the dressing room, etc).
When I get home today, I fully intend to fret over which books will be included in the #readathon pile. Library books, owned books, long-awaited books!? Seriously, I’m not sure I can handle this pressure!
All over the world, the readathon starts at the same time, it’s 8am Eastern Standard time, so I will be up bright and early to get my #readathon on! I will be updating progress here on the blog after each book and more frequently on Twitter (@BookedUpBoss) .  Come cheer me and thousands of my closest friends on using the hashtag #readathon.

For possible inclusion: The November #blerdBookClub pick and a book that's been on my #TBR list far too long: 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Little Light Reading: Mid- October Mini-Reviews

Mid month check in! It's been a slow reading month so far mostly because I'm playing Mrs. Spratt in a children's play. Rehearsals are 4 nights a week for 3 hours. It's an awesome part: I'm melodramatic and ridiculous! I love being involved in theatre. It gives me the chance to hang out with a completely different set of people than I usually get to. 

"Come see my show" is pretty much my new motto.
Theatre Kids do it on stage. 
Me and the Mister. #Spratty 

***I have gotten a bit of reading in, though. 

The Fair Fight was really good. I reviewed it earlier this month.

All Our Pretty Songs: Sarah McCarry is one of the authors that will be at Book Riot Live. I would like to be able to read at least one book by everyone in attendance, but I doubt that's going to happen because of my schedule. This book was a bit of a surprise. I wasn't really sure what to expect. Five stars is not a usual rating for me. So this one is a top pick.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of those books that is referenced by bookish smarty pants on a moderately regular basis and I wanted to have it under my belt. It's set in the early 1900's and follows the life of Francie, a poor girl who wants to be a writer when most of the people around her are scraping by to make ends meet. There were moments of true poignancy and excitement and there were many many more moments of dullness and "when is this going to be over." Because I finally read it, I will likely never hear another reference to it in my life.

Ghost Knight was super fun and cute. Cornelia Funke is a favorite author (You may recall my various rants about the Inkheart series. Read that.) and I actually even listened to the notes from her at the end of the audiobook, which may be a first. Jon is an 11 year old boy who, after being shipped to a boarding school finds out he's the descendant of a cursed/ haunted man from long ago. This is written for older kids, young YA and is a little scary but you have the knowledge that everything's going to end ok.

I don't think that's going to be the case in all the books I got from the Book Riot Horror box. I'm looking forward to digging into the books. And, as always, love the swag that Book Riot included. 

Obsession Manifest: My new Little Free Library!!!

Sorry if I geek a little hard on this post!
I am so excited that my Little Free Library is finally finished and installed. I'm going to add the Take a Book, Leave a Book motto on the front of the door, and I just got my official little plaque from the organization in the mail yesterday (how the heck am I going to put it on there!?)

Not know what at LFL is? Here’s part of the description from their website:  "A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange. Little Free Library book exchanges have a unique, personal touch and there is an understanding that real people are sharing their favorite books with their community. These aren’t just any old books… The Library itself is a piece of neighborhood art." On the LFL webpage you can see the little libraries that are registered near you. When I first went to the page, I noticed that there weren't many on our side of town (West SY-DE!!). And you gotta be the change, right?

I was able to connect with someone who had built one for their yard, really by coincidence of a recent common acquaintance, who agreed to build one for me! I’ve been collecting books through donations and purchases from a local book shop, The Book Centre, and the Ogden Farmer's library. As an aside about the Book Centre, when you go in there, you need time!

I looked up Little Libraries to get ideas for decorations and got my daughter to help. I think it turned out GREAT!!! Hopefully, the neighbors think so, too! 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Book Review: The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman

The official summary is:
The Fair Fight is about a girl who grows up in a brothel (a fancy word for a place men go to have sex with the ladies for money) and becomes a boxer until she gets hurt. It’s also about a woman who has to marry a man she doesn’t love and who doesn’t love her, and about a man who loves himself more than the people he’s sleeping with. Their lives crash together with fists, bloody brawls, and pregnant bellies everyone learns something in the end.

Really, The Fair Fight is about a girl, her brother, and her brother’s boyfriend. It’s also about a girl, her sister, her mother, and her husband. It’s also about learning to be a woman, to love someone who’s hard to love, to stop being a doormat to someone who’s not worth loving, to be a friend, to survive when no one cares if you do.

My first Goodreads update while reading this book was not hopeful. The book was feeling endless and I was mostly disinterested in the characters. I think part of my problem was because the story starts with Ruth, whose language is heavy with the common slang of her impoverished neighborhood. This made the book a little hard to get into at first and Ruth hard to connect with. Once the stories started mingling together, it picked up. The scenes are well described and the characters seem realistic. There were still parts that seemed to drag or seemed mostly for show and to add pages to this beast of a tome.

My final Goodreads post: this book took a bit of getting used to. Solid story, a few twists. Good characters and an easy villain. A solid read.

If you are looking for a story focused on girls boxing or “the Female Fight Club,” you’re going to be disappointed.