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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: 48 Hour Book Challenge, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 162
1. Patrice Kindl

I've been seeing Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl mentioned frequently recently. I kept thinking, I know that name...Patrice Kindl. Sure enough, she is the author of Owl in Love, a book I read back in 2006 as part of a magical realism weekend read I did for the first 48 Hour Book Challenge. This puts Keeping the Castle on my radar.



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2. Seventh Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge: Winners

The top winner of the Seventh Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge is not a person, but a cause. The pledges from our band of crazy-reading bloggers totaled $1220 for Reading Is Fundamental! As a few more pledges come in, that number may go up a bit but for now let's give that amount it's own line...

$1220. WOW!!!

In the interest of opening up our potential prize giveaway, I've selected random winners from each of three categories of participation, that being up to 23 hours, up to 35 hours, and up to 48 hours. Our winners will receive a special MotherReader prize package along with RIF's Celebrations collection to be donated to a school or non-profit of the recipients choice. Those winners are:

Sprout's Bookshelf
A librarian-in-training and lifelong children's book addict.

Kid Lit Geek
Another children's librarian, book reviewer, and voracious reader.

Over the Moon and Sun
Who came in with a perfect 48 hours of reading, blogging, and connecting.

Door prizes were selected from all the participants, just to keep it fun. Karen at Literate Lives will received a signed ARC of The Prairie Thief by Melissa Wiley; Courtney at Stilettos Storytime will receive a signed copy of The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Stevenson. Ms. Yingling will receive notecards and a copy of Solace in Nature from Jone Rush MacCulloch. All winners please email me your address at MotherReader AT gmail DOT com.

I'm out of time and energy to list our Twenty-Hour club, but you might as well look at the Finish Line since thirty of them participated for twenty or more hours. So we may not have as many folks as last year, but we have passionate ones!

Thanks to all of the bloggers who mentioned, tweeted about, and otherwise promoted the 48 Hour Book Challenge. Thanks to the bloggers for your contributions to Reading Is Fundamental and just for making this such a wonderful event!


Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

4 Comments on Seventh Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge: Winners, last added: 6/13/2012
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3. 48-Hour Book Challenge: Finish Line

My 48 hours is up. Thanks to my three-year-old who took a good long nap today, not to mention my very amiable husband, I got some long stretches of reading time today and managed to clock a total of 16 hours 15 minutes of reading time. I logged a little under 2 hours of blogging/commenting/social media time: 1 hour 50 minutes.

Total: 18 hours 5 minutes. I passed my goal!

Books read:

The Year of Learning Dangerously by Quinn Cummings (final 67 pages)
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
Welcome to Lizard Motel by Barbara Feinberg
Wise Child by Monica Furlong
Juniper by Monica Furlong (first 140 pages; I hope to finish it tonight)
Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading by Lizzie Skurnick, chapter 1.

To various children:

Brambly Hedge: Winter Story
Take Two!: A Celebration of Twins (a poetry collection by J. Patrick Lewis & Jane Yolen—my three youngest are fascinated by this tome; each one of them came to me with the book at a different point in the afternoon).

I’ll aim for a more detailed summation later, but right now there are bedtime things to do around here. And Rose just came to me in search of something new to read. Music to my ears. :)

MotherReader’s finish line roundup is here. Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by to cheer me on, and congratulations to all the other participants. Big thanks to Pam Coughlan for organizing all the fun!

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4. 48HBC Book Nine: Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

Time: 0:58:30
Source: Local Library

I'm getting to the point in this challenge where I want light and easy books. This one fit the bill nicely.

Capsule review: "Pride and Prejudice is my all-time favorite book in the universe, so anytime I see a retelling, I'm compelled to pick it up. It's always fun to see how plot points and characters get morphed into a different setting. This one was enjoyable, if a little clunky in spots. . . . But it was an entertaining way to spend an hour."

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5. 48HBC Audiobook: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Book: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Reader: Carolyn McCormick
Published: 2008
Source: Local Library

Time: 4:18:34

We were allowed to pick one audiobook as part of our 48HBC reading, so this is what I picked. I haven't read it since it first came out, and what with all the hoopla about the movie, I thought I'd go back and see what I thought. I started it this weekend, listened to it about two-thirds of the way through (while driving, cooking, knitting, etc) and stopped it just before the Games themselves started.

From a technical standpoint, this isn't the best-written book ever. Collins' prose can be downright clunky and infodumpy, with frequent diversions into flashbacks while big things are going on in the present. I wasn't a fan of McCormick's voices either (though she did do a killer Effie). The power of the book comes from two things: the sheer horror of the premise, and Katniss herself.

After so much exposure to the premise, from having read the book first and then the movie hype, you'd think I'd be used to it by now, but oh God. I'm so not. Children killing each other, and their families being forced not only to watch but also to treat it as entertainment? It's the nausea that keeps on giving. Every time I think I'm hardened to it, I run across something else that makes me goggle in horror. Mostly, this comes from the disconnect between the Capitol dwellers and the district Tributes, particularly those like Effie Trinket, Caesar Flickerman, and Katniss's design team, who make their living from these games. They see these kids year after year, up close and personal as they shine them up for the unforgiving eye of the camera, then see them die, and the next year they do it all over again. The next year they are able to do it all over again. That's a special kind of soullessness.

I've heard people complain about Katniss. She's self-involved, off-putting in her determined self-sufficiency. She doesn't change, doesn't grow. In fact, I think she's so complex to start with that a fair amount of the book is taken up with simply getting to know her, even though we're in her head.

Everyone tries to make her into something, with limited success. My favorite example of this is when Haymitch is trying to prep her for her interview, trying on different personae like coats, and finally gives up in disgust. When she's told to be honest, her interview is a semi-successful blend of sparkling girl and ferocious warrior, but in truth she's not wholly either.

She tries to be hard and uncaring. In fact, when I was listening to the first chapter, I was amazed at how brittle she came across. But then you see the flashes of the girl underneath, the tender heart protected by a thick hedge of thorns. Katniss is as tough as she is on the outside because she's so vulnerable underneath. Perhaps due to her awareness of this, she reacts with fury and horror at any suggestion that she might be weak or in need of help (in fact, at the suggestion that she might have any stereotypically feminine traits, which is probably a subject for an entire Gender Studies thesis).

As a revolutionary, Katniss is a total disaster. She doesn't care about changing the world. She's worried about staying in it. It's other people that ignite her sense of the tremendous unfairness of it all. Or more accurately, her sense that something can be done, because she's known from the start that the world is unfair. As it happens, it's Gale

1 Comments on 48HBC Audiobook: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, last added: 6/11/2012
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6. 48HBC Book Ten: The Hidden Gallery by Maryrose Wood

Time: 1:29:21
Source: Local Library

My last print book for the evening. I'm crashing hard, and I'm quite content with the amount that I've read.

Capsule review: "Wood retains the madcap feel of the first book, and adds a few sparse crumbs to the great mystery of the Incorrigible children."

Now I'll listen to my audiobook for awhile and try to write something about that before I go to bed. Or possibly in the morning.

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7. Juniper-school

“After breakfast,” she went on, “you must have a look at Daisy and the rest of the garden. Then we’d better do some lessons.”

“In magic?” I asked. I was both curious and scared.

Juniper laughed.

“I thought we’d begin with reading, writing, astronomy, fairy stories—that kind of thing. Later on we’ll do a bit of Latin.”

“Girls don’t learn Latin,” I told her. “It unfits them for marriage.” (I was quoting my Uncle Gregor’s views on the education of girls.) “And I never heard of a school that taught fairy tales.”

“All learned people learn Latin,” she said. “It’s bound to come in useful. Fairy tales, on the other hand, are about real life.”

—from Wise Child by Monica Furlong

I first read Wise Child in 1993—I remember because my boss at Random House was Monica Furlong’s editor on Robin’s Country, and everyone there said ‘Oh you’ve got to read her other books, they’re wonderful,’ and they were right. That was before I had children, before I’d ever heard of homeschooling, much less considered doing it. So I’m amused, now, to find that what I’ve been doing all along is really Juniper’s version of education. Minus the good cow, Daisy.

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8. 48 Hour Book Challenge: 2nd Check-in

It’s Sunday morning. I woke early and snuck in a half hour of Wise Child time before I dragged out of bed. That brings me up to:

10 hours 15 minutes of reading time

1 hour 20 minutes of social media/blogging time

Books read:

The Year of Learning Dangerously by Quinn Cummings (the final 67 pages)

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (entirely because of a conversation on my FB page yesterday—I had a sudden need to reread it; first time in years)

Welcome to Lizard Motel by Barbara Feinberg (also mentioned in that FB discussion by my friend Kathy Ceceri; I’d bought it months ago—also based on her recommendation—and her mention of it yesterday reminded me to pull it off the shelf)

Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading by Lizzie Skurnick, chapter 1. (A reread for Girl Detective’s Summer of Shelf Discovery reading project. Now I get to pick one of the books mentioned in the chapter—or another book with a heroine who made a big impression on me as a kid. Wrinkle in Time is there, if I want to indulge myself with a favorite. But I’m thinking I should visit something new. Would you believe I’ve never read Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself?)

Plus a good-sized chunk of Brambly Hedge to Rilla at bedtime. That totally counts, right? Oh, and a new picture book, It’s a Tiger!, which arrived from Chronicle for review yesterday, and I squealed because ART BY JEREMY TANKARD (you know we adore him) and the book is hilarious and it’s a safe bet I’ll be called upon to read it at least seventeen times this week.

I’ve got just about 12 hours left in my 48-hour window. Will I finish Wise Child? Will I veer off on another rabbit trail? (Lizard Motel added at least four titles to my TBR list.) Will I wind up playing trains on the back patio all afternoon? It’s anyone’s guess.

9. Seventh Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge: Finish Line

You made it! On this Finish Line post, leave the direct link to your final summary page, which should include: the amount of time spent on the challenge, books read, and amount pledged to Reading is Fundamental

I am donating one dollar to Reading is Fundamental for everyone who finishes the challenge, which means to me that you signed in as a participant, read/blogged some books, and signed in at the Finish Line. So perhaps that little extra incentive can get folks to record their time and complete the 48HBC all official-like. Given different starting times over the weekend and time zones, the end is set at Monday, June 11th, at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. All final summary posts should be up by then. That said, sometimes there are folks who need some nudging, so I won’t announce any winners until later that evening.

Thanks again to everyone who participated and supported and promoted the 48 Hour Book Challenge! Read on!


32 Comments on Seventh Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge: Finish Line, last added: 6/12/2012
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10. 48HBC Book Seven: Darth Paper Strikes Back by Tom Angleberger

Time: 0:36:24
Source: Local Library

After the marathon that was Froi of the Exiles, this quick and light-hearted read was just what I needed.

Capsule Review: "The great charm of these novels is that they're not about Star Wars at all, but about the thorny social interactions of tweens, wobbling on the threshold of teenagerhood."

1 Comments on 48HBC Book Seven: Darth Paper Strikes Back by Tom Angleberger, last added: 6/10/2012
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11. 48HBC Book Six: Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

Time: 4:26:09
Source: Local Library

Wow. I saved this one for this morning, when I had a little more energy. Smart move. Compared with some of the others on my stack, this was a marathon all by itself.

Capsule Review: "This was a behemoth of a book, weighing in at nearly 600 pages, and not light ones either. It's a complex tapestry of a novel, with multiple plotlines, secrets, and schemes to follow. I stuck with it for the characters. Froi, impulsive, hot-tempered, and unexpectedly sweet. Quintana, both damaged and powerful in ways that keep being discovered."

I'm definitely going for a very quick and easy read next.

1 Comments on 48HBC Book Six: Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta, last added: 6/11/2012
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12. 48HBC Book Eight: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Time: 3:12:16
Source: Local Library

This one actually took longer than I thought it would. Not sure if I'm getting tired or there was just a lot more to it than I was expecting. Probably both.

Capsule Review: "If you're a plot person, don't read this. If you're into strict realism, don't read this. But if you love wicked satire with just enough silliness to keep you laughing, feminism with some teeth, stories about love and friendship and identity and courage . . .Well, this is the book for you."

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13. Finish line post

My stats:

Hours spent reading, listening to audiobook, writing up books finished, and Challenge interactions: 32 hours, 15 minutes. (Rounded, and oddly, same as last year.)

Books read: 7 (I of those I'd started before the Challenge), and a few hours of an audiobook listened to.

Money donated to Reading is Fundamental: $75

Books still to write up: 1 (Greg Van Eekhout's The Boy at the End of the World.)

Reduction in my Goodreads To-read shelf: hahaha. (It's gone down a few, but nothing like as much as it'll go up after a few more minutes looking at other participants' reading.)

Resolution for next year: get better sleep the night *before* the Challenge so I don't go into it tired.

Other probably unkeepable resolution for next year: don't discover that the living room radiator is leaking the day Challenge starts. Just don't. I had no time to make the nice scones I was planning to make, and fun snacks would have been really comforting.

Aahhh, it's a good sign that thinking about next year is already fun.

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14. Book 7: SHINE, by Jeri Smith-Ready

I'm SO not putting the cover here, as it's vile. Actually, I'm not going to say all that much about this book anyway, as it's book 3 of a trilogy, and it's all spoilers for book 1. So the few random thoughts that are all I'm capable of, for the trilogy.

1. This isn't exactly the kind of fantasy that would appeal to the readers who like their fantasy with a good basis that borders on the realistic end of the fantastic. Even in the first book, there was a big old unanswerable question lurking: How did anybody KNOW about the Shift? (For everyone who hasn't read it, all children born after the Shift - some unknown event that happened 16 years before book 1 - can see ghosts, while those who were born before it, cannot. Even those who could see them before the Shift lost the ability.) How did the adults find out all they did about kids being able to see ghosts, and, even more so, how did they discover how to trap and control them?

2. But that said, the Shift caused a really interesting change in the power relationships between adults and teens, with the teens having to translate for the adults so they can communicate with ghosts, as for example, in trials. (Nice side-effect of the Shift is the ability of murder victims to testify!)  In book 3 there's a lot of seriously bad stuff going on with the DNP (govt agency to control ghosts) and the big business interests that make fortunes over the control of ghosts, and it leads to the proposal of  a draft for all post-Shifters. A draft as in the erstwhile military draft - all post-Shifters will be forced to register on their 18th birthday and serve in the DNP.  We're not talking light-handedness here, but still, it's unusual and I like the 'what-if' exploration. (And I thought the scene in the high-school with the students standing up for the principal was pretty great.)

3. Ridiculous romance, we get it. And while there's the inevitable YA love-triangle, the fact that one of the guys is ghost Logan does offer interesting possibilities for looking at loss and letting go. I didn't even like Logan at all, but still found Aura's prolonged struggle to be loyal to him while finding a way to help them both move on quite touching. And in book 3, there's a ludicrous young lovers *fated* to be together and being connected in a way no other young lovers are deal - which isn't actually all that ludicrous because it's true in the reality of the book.

4. Bit of a downturn when Aura and Zach come to Ireland, to go to Newgrange where it all began, but it's mostly fairly little stuff, and the actual winter solstice at Newgrange is kind of awesome. It did grate that they kept talking about Irish people speaking 'Gaelic', and was very unlikely that Zachery would have been so easily able to understand said Irish speakers. But I was willing to let the daft Irish [spoiler] group go as this wasn't, as I said, very realist fantasy. Well, mostly willing to let it go.

5. Overall, despite the above-mentioned & other occasional annoyances (Aura makes some really bad choices in book 2 when grieving, and throws a hell of a bratty temper tantrum in book 3), the series was fun and I'm kind of sorry it's over now.

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15. 48-Hour Book Challenge: First Check-in

After I signed in at the starting line around 7:15 last night, but I didn’t actually start reading until after 8pm. (Too busy tracking Jane’s flight to Texas. Happy to say she arrived safe, sound, and on schedule, and is delighting me this morning with photos of the Colorado River.) 13 hours later, I’ve clocked 2 hrs and 20 minutes of reading time, and I finished The Year of Learning Dangerously. About which more later. I was already on p. 144 when I started, so I only have 67 pages to put toward my Challenge tally—unless I count double all the pages I immediately reread, this time out loud to Scott to explain why I kept guffawing. Quinn Cummings is one of the funniest writers on the planet.

The Challenge allows you to count a certain amount of social media and blogging time toward your total. I’ve accrued about ten minutes on Twitter, and this post is another five.

This year, the Challenge is doubling as a fundraiser for RIF. (Details here.) Like many participants, I’ve pledged a dollar an hour. Better step up my reading pace if I want to help out my favorite literacy organization!

Now I’m off to visit the blogs of a few other participants—cheering each other on is part of the fun—and then it’s back to the books. Ah, bliss.

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16. Why I Read So Slowly

10:15 a.m. The Saturday-morning breakfast rush is past and I’m ready to dive back into the Book Challenge. My 48 hours are ticking away rapidly. I pick up Wise Child, a book I’ve been hankering to reread and which happens, serendipitously, to be the June selection for the Wisteria & Sunshine reading circle—a fact I discovered just minutes ago. I’d been rooting for it.

10:16. Literally one minute later. In comes Huck.

“Mommy, listen!” Hiccup. “You hear it?” Hiccup. “Me got ’cups.”

“You’ve got hiccups?” I echo, putting down my book.

“Yes!”  Hiccup. “Hurry, come!” Hiccup.

“Come where?”

“To the kitchen.” Hiccup. “Me hungry.”  Hiccup. “Hurry before another ’cup comes.” Hiccup.

He’s hungry. He has spent the last two hours eating.

He points at the package of animal crackers on the counter. “Me need some.” Hiccup.

My book beckons. This’ll buy me five minutes, at least. I dole out a generous handful. I’m back in my room before he’s polished off the first elephant.

10:19. Yes, really. Wonderboy appears in the door bearing a huge grin and a new book. My book, in fact. It’s the unbound preview of Fox and Crow Are Not Friends that my editor sent a few days ago. I am always an easy mark for a child’s read-to-me request. When the book in question is one I wrote? Fuhgeddaboudit. I pat the bed beside me. My boy clambers up. Huck joins us midway through Fox and Crow’s first fight, wiping lion crumbs off his face.

10:29. We’ve finished the book. I can’t help but note the discrepancy between the time it takes to read an early reader (ten minutes) and the months I spent laboring over it. But the kids laughed at all the right bits, so my efforts have been amply repaid. The boys migrate toward the foot of the bed; Huck begins wrestling an invisible opponent—perhaps the ghosts of the menagerie he has so recently devoured. I reach for Wise Child once more.

10:29 and 30 seconds. Enter Rose and Beanie. Beanie is brandishing a fat Heroes of Olympus book, groaning in melodramatic anticipation of finishing it shortly and then having to wait until October for the next in the series. Rose warns her against continuing. She’ll regret it, cliffhanging all summer. Beanie points out this is her second time reading the book. She’s been in the delicious agony of suspense for months already.

Huck has noticed that his sisters are somehow failing to focus all their attention on his antics. He steps up his game: he’ll be the lion now, up on all fours, crushing my foot beneath his terrible lion-paw knees, lunging forward to butt heads with Rose. Er, so maybe he’s a goat. My quiet reading haven has become an arena, where the roar of the crowd comes in guffaws, and the defeated lion-goat flops limply on his back in an unnervingly realistic faux death. Even Scott, passing through to deliver clean towels to the bathroom, is impressed by Huck’s convincing corpse impersonation. He stops to admire and prod—and pounces, roaring, on the lion-goat’s exposed underbelly. The girls and Wonderboy are shrieking with laughter. Wise Child falls off the bed.

10:47 a.m. The vanquished lion-goat resumes boy form and trundles off, possibly in search of a b

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17. 48-HBC Book Three: Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

Time: 1:30:59
Source: Local Library

Continuing on with my retold-fairy-tales theme from A Tale Dark & Grimm, I picked up this one, which I've been waiting to read for awhile.

Capsule Review: "This is a book that so easily could have had the wrong heroine. I spent a great deal of it going, 'Oh for Crissakes, Eleanora, grow up.' Though she is the Cinderella in this story, she's also whiny, self-pitying, and tends to depend on others to rescue her. It's our good luck that our heroine is Poppy, who is practical, capable, and brave."

I'm going to take a short knitting break (there was knitting all over this story!) and listen to some of my audiobook before picking up my next print book.

1 Comments on 48-HBC Book Three: Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George, last added: 6/10/2012
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18. 48HBC Book Two: A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Time: 0:46:22
Source: Local Library

I needed something fast and entertaining and totally different, so I picked up this book, which is pretty famous for its gore content. It fit the bill.

Capsule Review: "In this sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes scary, often gruesome, and always marvellously entertaining book, Gidwitz has stitched together some of the Brothers Grimm's most bloody tales. . . . I think kids will eat up this fast, gruesome ride, and come out of it with a new desire for the fairy tales that they've always encountered in their sanitized versions before."

5 Comments on 48HBC Book Two: A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz, last added: 6/10/2012
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19. 48HBC Book One: What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Time: 2:22:36
Source: Local Library, downloaded onto my Nook

My first 48-HBC book! I started it before work this morning, stopped about an hour in to go earn some of my paycheck, and finished it when I came back.

Capsule review, snipped from the full-length review that I just wrote to be posted later this summer: "Although it hit all the usual marks, I feel like this book never really came together for me. The different threads somehow didn't mesh."

Now a brief blog-socializing break, and then on to my next book.

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20. 48HBC Book Four: Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel

Time: 1:45:21
Source: Review copy from publisher via NetGalley

My fourth book, and I'm on a definite fantasy kick.

Capsule review: "But what really knocks this book out of the park for me is the way that history and fairy lore weave together. For every wish granted, for every mythical monster that strolls on the stage, there's something equally strange but true to anchor it. . . . Wild and weird, rich and textured, this is a freaking amazing book. And I want more."

However, Joshua Cohen's Leverage may be calling my name . . . 

1 Comments on 48HBC Book Four: Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel, last added: 6/10/2012
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21. 48HBC Book Five: Leverage by Joshua Cohen

Time: 2:27:03
Source: Local Library

Oof. Last full book for the night. I may read a few pages of another one before I fall asleep, but definitely not a whole book. I think my review's probably a little incoherent too. Good thing you're only seeing the . . .

Capsule review: "At one point, I had to set the book down and go do other things for awhile. Not during the rape, as you might think, but shortly afterward . . . You get a glimpse into how these narcissistic young men have come to believe that they can do whatever they want without consequences, because the adults in their life have taught them that athletic prowess equals moral superiority, which equals untouchability."

3 Comments on 48HBC Book Five: Leverage by Joshua Cohen, last added: 6/11/2012
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22. Book 5: PICTURE THE DEAD, Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown

I'll come back to book 4 (Greg Van Eekhout's The Boy at the End of the World) soon, honestly - was just too tired last night when I finished to sit at the computer and say anything sensible. It was a keeper though!

  Picture the Dead's (very brief) Goodreads synopsis:

Jennie Lovell's life is the very picture of love and loss. First she is orphaned and forced to live at the mercy of her stingy, indifferent relatives. Then her fiancé falls on the battlefield, leaving her heartbroken and alone. Jennie struggles to pick up the pieces of her shattered life, but is haunted by a mysterious figure that refuses to let her bury the past.






All right, but it neglects to mention that her twin brother has also died (it's the Civil War), and that her fiancé was one of those 'indifferent relatives', and her first cousin. My feelings about this book are mostly that it's very stylishly done - I love the way it's presented, with pages of letters and photographs as if from Jennie's scrapbook - but there isn't terribly much depth. Honestly though, I might have had more time for the story if I hadn't been so annoyed by the stupid, utterly pointless fat-bashing. Jennie's mean and hypocritical aunt is described on page 2 as "a spoiled child, blown up into a monster", and that "blown up" is quickly clarified as meaning fat: same page, her chin "wobbles like aspic". First picture of her, she's fat (shocker) and ugly (ditto). Next but one scene, we have "Her eyes were baleful, her pudgy finger crooked".  They get a photograph taken and Jennie says her aunt's "jellied bulk affords her a dignity that eludes her in real life". There are plenty more "fat fingers", "squeezing" of her girth -- all the usual.

But, there's an odd one later on, about two girls who had been Jennie's "friends", when she was engaged to the older son of the family. Their calling cards are pasted onto a page in Jennie's scrapbook, with her writing beside it: "If everyone knew how much Flora gossips and Rosemary eats, they mightn't be so quick to accept a calling card from either sister."  Really?  These snobs who drop Jennie as soon as she's lost social standing are a huge cliché, and part of that cliché is really the gossiping involved in social calls. But this toss-off, illogical remark is still pretty vicious - Flora's gossiping is a real fault, for all it wouldn't have stopped her visiting with her social set, but eating a lot? 

It's a pity that there was this kind of rubbish going on, as the details about the early days of photography are a lot of fun, and seem to have been well researched. Other things were more dubious historically, though I can only say of one of them - "At 18?  No." as it's a spoiler.

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23. Book 3: THE CHAOS, Nalo Hopkinson

Well, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed at the thought of writing anything coherent about this one, so have a Goodreads synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Scotch struggles to fit in—at home she's the perfect daughter, at school she's provocatively sassy, and thanks to her mixed heritage, she doesn’t feel she belongs with the Caribbeans, whites, or blacks. And even more troubling, lately her skin is becoming covered in a sticky black substance that can't be removed. While trying to cope with this creepiness, she goes out with her brother—and he disappears. A mysterious bubble of light just swallows him up, and Scotch has no idea how to find him. Soon, the Chaos that has claimed her brother affects the city at large, until it seems like everyone is turning into crazy creatures. Scotch needs to get to the bottom of this supernatural situation ASAP before the Chaos consumes everything she's ever known—and she knows that the black shadowy entity that's begun trailing her every move is probably not going to help.

A blend of fantasy and Caribbean folklore, at its heart this tale is about identity and self acceptance—because only by acknowledging her imperfections can Scotch hope to save her brother.

Actually, that's kind of helpful because I don't think it's great as descriptions go, though it's easier to criticize than to write one myself. Starting from the top, Scotch (also known as Sojourner, which is such a wonderful name) is hardly the perfect daughter; she may hide things like the clothes she *really* wears at school, and she may have hidden the fact that she was going out with a white guy, but that's not quite 'perfect'. Provocatively sassy is an odd one, but I think the third is just a bit off: I'd read this description, and read Hopkinson discussing it, and expected Scotch to feel more obviously as if she didn't belong. In the book,
she gets grief about not looking like her darker brother, but she's very able to deal with it. And she simply doesn't *take* the grief about her Jamaican accent not being right or the like (from some of the kids at school).

Anyway, the Chaos is the name given to all the weird stuff that happens, both in Toronto and around the world. And it's seriously weird, which in a way is all I feel like saying about it - it's Seriously. Weird. If you don't like random surreal things happening for no reason, this is probably not the book for you. I really liked it, but I'm not at all sure that I'd be able to justify it if I were writing a real review of the book. It's a bit too random and there's a bit of heavy metaphorical layer to the randomness that I'm not sure totally works. But this isn't a real review - hurrah!

Anyway, the Chaos is now dealt with! And there's a really interesting YA story there too, though it's not at all as simple as "Teen of Mixed Racial Identity Comes to Terms with her Identity". But the thing about that YA story is that Scotch is a real jerk at times, and her repeated "Oh no, she didn't!" moments got to be a bit annoying. The first one is quite neat though. She's just dealt with a guy in a bar (her brother snuck her in so she could hear him perform his poetry) who's being all flirty until he sees her brother. When Scotch tells the guy it's her brother rather than her boyfriend, he says ALL the awful things about how they can't be related, really, and then goes on to say the most hideously awful thing about how she could even 'pass as white'. She's duly disgusted, but tells him off with (alas, probably practiced) ease. And shortly after, she's talking to a girl, Punum, who's just pe

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24. Book 2: ABOVE WORLD by Jenn Reese

  And today I seem to have no border around the image....  Still ruling the tech!

  Goodreads synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Aluna has lived her entire life under the ocean with the Coral  Kampii in the City of Shifting Tides. But after centuries spent hidden from the Above World, her colony’s survival is in doubt. The Kampii’s breathing necklaces are failing, but the elders are unwilling to venture above water to seek answers. Only headstrong Aluna and her friend Hoku are stubborn and bold enough to face the terrors of land to search for way to save their people.

But can Aluna’s warrior spirit and Hoku’s tech-savvy keep them safe? Set in a world where overcrowding has led humans to adapt—growing tails to live under the ocean or wings to live on mountains—here is a ride through a future where greed and cruelty have gone unchecked, but the loyalty of friends remains true.



I had a bit of trepidation starting this one, partly because it sounded a bit more "Under the seaaaa" (you all know the tune, right?) than I thought I was in the mood for, fun as that song is, and partly because it's middle grade instead of my usual YA. But neither of those proved to be problems once I was just a short way in, and even if Aluna hadn't left her ocean home (the clue *was* in the title) very quickly, it would have been fine.

Or more accurately, if Aluna hadn't headed for land, followed quickly by Hoku. One of the nicest things about the book is the journey companions, and the way these two friends pick up new ones along the way. Hoku and Aluna are the classic polar opposite types of friends, with Aluna being the one who wants to be a warrior (but isn't allowed to be, though at least she can train because of her brothers' willingness to teach her), and Hoku utterly uninterested in fighting, but fascinated by technology. It's nice that there isn't just this fairly standard twist in the grrrl being feisty and keen on fighting though, as the next companion to be added is Calli, an Aviar (I'll get to the 'splinters' soon), who's just as mechanically minded and smart as Hoku. And with whom Hoku is immediately smitten, in a really sweet and funny portrayal of first love. Hoku's internal musings on kissing were delightful.  Dash, who eventually joins the group, is - or should have been - an Equian word-weaver. And there's the utterly adoptable Zorro, a -- well, a very special raccoon, not to spoil anything.

The world is complicated and fascinating. As earth became over-populated and life there unsustainable, big corporations (including HydraTek) invented bio-engineering abilities to allow humans to exist under the sea, as with the Kampii and Deepfell; in the air high above earth; in the desert; and elsewhere.  The Kampii refer to the Ancients, who gave them thick skin and strong bones to allow them to survive underwater, but also breathing shells, which attach to the necks and allow them to draw oxygen from the water. But the breathing shells need power to function, unlike their other adaptations, and the Kampii don't have the technological abilities to generate that power in sufficient quantities, when the breathing shells start to fail.

I thought this was all wonderful, and was quite happy to leave the details of the science aside for the most part - I'm happy to see the book as just as hybrid as the splinters, rather than being categorised as simply straight science fiction or fantasy. I did have some quibbles occasionally, however. One was about the group of Aviars Hoku and Aluna encounter and come to be allied with, Skyfeather's Landing. This group is all female, and though there

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25. Book 6: THE WICKED AND THE JUST, J. Anderson Coats

I am really running out of steam. Not reading steam, but sitting at the computer and saying anything about the reading steam. Though this wasn't an easy read, either. Somehow or other I'd got the impression that this was historical fantasy, and once I got over that, I still had the idea it was more -- lighthearted. Not fluff, but not quite the tragic, bloody, slice of history I should have known it would be. Caernarfon, Wales, 1293, that setting.

The book is told in alternating POVs, with the vast majority of the narrative going to Cecily, especially at the beginning of the book. There's a quote on the front cover from Karen Cushman, and in the beginning Cecily's voice sounded *very* like Birdy, which is always a good thing, although that set it up for being a less tragic story. (Also, Coats doesn't have the sure touch with maintaining "period language" that Cushman has. It's not usually too bad, but there are definite missteps.) But it soon becomes clear just how different from Birdy Cecily is. She's presented as a spoiled brat, and in fact  the other POV character, Gwenhwyfar, calls her "the Brat", but in ways she's worse than that, and so willing to cause others to suffer that it makes for chilling reading.  Of course she's not going to have been taught that injustice matters even when it's not just to you or yours, because her father doesn't think that way. And in all honesty, it's probably a very small number of English people at the time who would have been likely to think outside the "the King conquered Wales - it's ours now" mindset when told Welch holdings were theirs for the asking. (Pretty much.)  I didn't get just why the father thought he SHOULD have had the estate he ran for his crusading brother - he was the younger, and would there even have been the ability to bring a suit to try to get it for himself? I'd have thought it extremely unlikely, but then my 13th century English legal knowledge isn't that solid.

Gwenhwyfar's narrative is also difficult, as her reasons for burning resentment and hatred against the English has so much to feed it. Her father was killed in an earlier uprising, leaving her and her younger brother to take care of their mother and themselves, in a town that the English are running in a deeply corrupt manner. She has reason to hate Cecily from the start, as Cecily tries to have her thrown out of her position on the first day, but just as she starts to believe Cecily might be learning a bit (which she is), Cecily behaves even more unforgivably. (It's bad, too, for all Cecily isn't quite aware just how horrifically it could end. I mean, she *should* have been aware of it, even though she chose not to see.)

Those of you whose history is less pathetic than mine will have known that there was an uprising coming, and it's then that the book takes a turn I didn't expect. It's not as simplistic as showing the Welsh to be capable of brutality in the killing of people in the town when they rebel - though it shows this, also. But it's how Gwenhwyfar and her brother react when Cecily is utterly at their mercy that is surprising, and works towards an unexpected and satisfying ending, though one that leaves nothing sure.  There was a fine author's note at the end that told about what happened after the uprising - and it was what she'd put into some of the characters' mouths. I do like a good author's note after a good historical novel! 

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