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What a weekend! With all the reading and reviewing done over the last couple of days, I feel like we're all winners. Am I right? But there were some noteworthy 48HBC achievements to be recognized and to prizes to award, so let's get started!
With 38 hours and 34 books read, the Champion of the Challenge is one Ms. Yingling! She wins the opportunity to donate a set of forty multicultural titles to a school or library of her choice through the generosity of Reading is Fundamental. Since she was a big prize donor of books and is so reluctant to receive back, she'll be getting a surprise prize package from yours truly. Both congratulations and thanks go out to her!
I read 6 books, blogged about them, and did some social networking in around 17 and a half hours. For the sake of a good Google+ post, I'll list the titles here with links to the blogs related to them.
Well, I'm done! I'm not as exhausted as I have been in past years, although I could feel myself losing a little steam toward the end of today, particularly as I blogged.
Reading, including audiobook: 19 hrs, 45 min Blogging: 4 hrs, 7 min Networking: 1 hr, 9 min
Total: 25 hrs
With 9 books finished, that's at least 90 dollars for my chosen charity. I'll wait until Monday night to total up the comments.
I'm happy with the books I chose. I tried to pick books that weren't explicitly About Diversity, and succeeded with about half of them.The other half had plots dependent on the non-white/non-straight/non-neurotypicalness of their characters, and while I think those are valuable too, it was nice having a book like Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel or While We Run, where the diverse elements are a background note for the characters and not the source of the plot.
Mel and Cathy have always been best friends, inseparable. Mel and Cathy, Cathy and Mel, that's just the way it is. Practical and down-to-earth Mel considers it her bounden duty to get and keep the dreamier Cathy out of trouble. So when Cathy goes and falls in love with a vampire, well, it's just business as usual. Even when Cathy decides to become a vampire herself, in order to be with Francis forever, Mel believes that she can rescue Cathy from her own folly. But something Mel fails to consider is that this trouble might be impossible to get Cathy out of, and even if it is, Cathy might not want or need her help.
I picked this as my audiobook because I remembered that Mel is Asian-American. But it's an interesting pick in another way, and that's how Mel finds her own prejudices about a group of people sometimes confirmed, sometimes confounded. She finds Francis thoroughly obnoxious (and frankly so did I) but Kit, the human raised in a vampire shade, challenges her beliefs. So does Camille, his vampire mom who also happens to be a cop and extremely, disconcertingly mom-like.
I can see the seeds of Kami, the intrepid/reckless teen detective from Brennan's Unbroken, in Mel. But Mel is sometimes harder to like, especially when she is explicitly not listening to Cathy. Yes, Mel hates the idea of Cathy becoming a vampire. Yes, it's dangerous, but Mel has to learn that supporting friends and respecting their choices is not the same thing as agreeing with them. Mel is invested in the idea of being Cathy's guardian - it's a central tenet of her identity. She's not sure who she'd be if she lost that, and so she's fighting.
This started life as a send-up of Twilight, and you can really see that in the bones of the story. But at its heart, it's really about lifelong friends pulling away, making different choices from each other, and also about how incredibly uncomfortable it can be to face down your own flaws and prejudices.
First off, this is a two volume set. Be sure to read Boxers first.
Boxers and Saints are Gene Luen Yang's terrific historical graphic novels about the Boxer Rebellion. They're treated as one work because the books treat the same material from different points of view. I knew nothing about the Boxer Rebellion before 3:00 this afternoon. By 8:00 this evening, I had a working knowledge!
So in 1900 a secret organization in China called the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists led an uprising of peasants against western foreign influence, including the spread of Christianity. They were known as "Boxers" to the west because they practiced exercises they believed would give them powers. Presumably westerners thought they looked as if they were boxing. The Boxers fought against and killed "western devils" and "secondary devils"--those Chinese who either worked for westerners or accepted Christianity, the western devil's faith.
Boxers deals with the experience of a young villager named Little Bao who becomes the leader of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists. Saints deals with the experience of Four-Girl, a young villager who becomes a Christian. One of the particular pleasures in these books is that Four-Girl, the protagonist in Saints, is a minor character in Boxers. Little Bao, the star of Boxers, is a minor character in Saints.
Though, really, neither of them could be called minor.
Earlier today I had trouble with the long descriptions in Haters. The thing with a good graphic novel, and these are good graphic novels, is that the graphic images carry the descriptions and even some of the action. The author doesn't have to stop everything to tell readers how someone is dressed or what their surroundings look like. You can just suck in basic story, character, information.
Reading a good graphic novel is such a rush because you can take in so much so fast.
I am out of books, but it's 9:00 PM on Sunday, anyway. I'm ending this year's 48 Hour Book Challenge on a definite high.
Capsule review: "For everything she's been through, Wen has a quiet toughness that can work against her - as when she rejects her new family's overtures - or for her - as when she takes on the impossible task of getting one young teenager out of thousands adopted by somebody."
I don't have time to read another one, so I'll just listen to my audiobook and run my time out.
Well that book flew by. I had a hard time writing about it, though. Can't quite get a grip on the main character or the plot.
Capsule review: ". . . the jumbled tangle of emotion and uncertainty is awfully close to living inside Scotty's head. It's a quick and often confusing read. I'd give it only to people who are fans of Johnson's other work."
Torn now between picking up a longer book that I might not finish before two hours are up, or a short one and filling in the time with my audiobook and knitting. Hmmm.
Awwwwwwwww. This book is like a puff pastry, sweet and delicious and just what I needed after my last book.
Capsule review: "This is a sweet, funny book with an incredibly sense of place. I want to visit Alex and Bijou's Brooklyn with all its color and variety and energy. It's not all sunny good fun, though. There are some ugly prejudices lurking under the surface. But Farrar keeps those light, brushing the edges of the story without making them the central conflict, and keeping his book light and sweet. Highly recommended for middle-school readers."
Might take some networking and knittting-with-audiobook time before I'm off to peruse the shelves for my next pick.
Haters by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez was a rough, slow read for me. This is a boys-boys-I-like-cute-boys, shopping-and-clothes, and mean-girls book. That just is not a story situation that holds my attention. I had to start skimming the long paragraphs describing clothes and houses. Also a chapter on shopping and some dating sections. I am very aware, however, that there are many, many of these kinds of books in YA, meaning that there are plenty of people who do like reading them. Those readers may embrace Haters.
So Haters is a boys-boys-I-like-cute-boys, shopping-and-clothes, and mean-girls book with ethnic characters. It's also a kind of teenage fairy tale with all good things coming to main character Paski. A couple of interesting points:
In this LA world, beauty and money are great equalizers. Being Hispanic, Vietnamese, or any variation of African-American isn't an issue for people who are beautiful and rich. That's probably the case in real life.
In one of the magical realism episodes, Paski is visited in a vision by a child who will become the grandmother of her Japanese/African-American classmates/neighbors. This child has the knowledge of the adult she will become and of the world after she leaves it. She says something to the effect (and I'm paraphrasing here), I put in time in a Japanese internment camp as a child here in America so that my grandsons could be treated like crap when they get to high school not because they're Japanese but because they're chess geeks and just middle class? What the hell? With ya on that one, gram.
I won't say that I couldn't put this book down, but it came close.
Capsule Review: "I feel as if I should have re-read When We Wake, because I know I didn't catch all the subtleties, but as it is, I was held captive by Abdi and Tegan's story. They're trying to do the right thing, but everyone seems to have a different perspective on what the right thing is. It's not black and white in any sense of the word, but dappled in shades of grey, and that's the most interesting pattern if you ask me."
Lunch and a little break for the eyes before I dive into the next one. I've read several long books, so I think I'll pick up a few short ones now.
When you finish your 48 hours, sign in with Mr. Linky below with the link to your final summary, which should include the number and/or titles of books read and the amount of time spent on the challenge. Rounding to the quarter hour will do just fine. Given different starting times over the weekend and time zones, the absolute end is set at Monday, June 9th, at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time and all final summary posts should be up by then. Winners, prizes and such will be announced on Monday afternoonish.
Thanks to everyone who participated, supported, and promoted the 48 Hour Book Challenge!
Got in five solid hours of reading and blog reading/responding last night with two books, both of which broke my heart a little. The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond, by Brenda Woods reminded me of my niece, as she is biracial raised in a white family. At seven, I haven't heard her express the concerns or thoughts of Violet Diamond, but I've always thought I was prepared to address them. Reading this book, I'm not as ready as I believed myself to be. It was just so open about things, it took me off guard. But in a good way. Really enjoyed it.
After reading Zane and the Hurricane, I felt like going back to read Ninth Ward, by Jewell Parker Rhodes. It was a good decision, because it filled the lyrical and emotional gap I found wanting in the first book. That said, Zane's story is a better account of what happened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A good pairing should be enough, but I realized that I had Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere in my small ARC pile, so we're going for three Katrina books in one weekend. I'd watch Beasts of the Southern Wild again to complete the experience, but I don't need to cry on my birthday.
Yup, it's my birthday. One of the reasons I started doing 48 Hour Book Challenge around this time of year to spend my birthday reading. Not a bad plan, right? I've started with a light title this morning, Tua and the Elephant, and now it's time for some YA.
Wondering if you could still join us even now? Sure, why not? From where I sit you could do a block from now through the early morning and get your twelve hours in on time. Nothing like last minute Sunday plans. Here's where to start.
Probably my last full book for the night. I'm not dragging as much as I have in other years, I think because I'm interspersing a lot of audiobook time. (I'm over halfway through it . . . yikes!) Anyway, this particular book was a quick, engaging read.
Capsule review: "As I read the chapters on her childhood, I was struck by how often young Temple came close to being institutionalized or marginalized, and how often a supportive adult or accepting friend was there to let Temple be who she was. Part of this was being autistic in the 50's and 60's when many people still thought it was something that could or should be fixed. Part of that is still around today, which makes me think about the valuable role of people who work with kids."
My next book will be Karen Healey's While We Run, an ARC that generated an "EEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!" from me when I got my hot little hands on it.
Capsule review: "While I liked the different immigration story, and (oh, let's be honest) the love story, what I loved best about this book was Jade Moon herself. She's definitely a Fire Horse girl, and often immature and impulsive along with all her other flaws. It's only when she learns to channel her fiery nature that she's able to control it, and find places and people who will not only accept her, but value her too."
I'll take a walk and listen to my audiobook for a little while before picking up my next book.
When I first heard about Josephine Baker, way back in my youth, I found her fascinating. I don't know if it was the banana costume, the gyrating hips, or the life in France, but I was impressed. So when I heard there was a picture book bio, I decided to keep an eye out for it.
Josephine, The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell with illustrations by Christian Robinson is a sharp and arty book. It's written in free verse that is both effortless to read and expressive and intense. Many picture book bios don't cover an entire lifetime. This one does. I think Hurby Powell is able to do that because she uses dance and Baker's experiences with the segregated world she was born into as threads that keep her focused.
Baker's experience with segregation and work as a civil rights activist give this book another level of interest. As with Persepolis, it doesn't feel as if the reader (this reader, at least) is being instructed. A segregated world is just the well-defined setting for the book.
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I wasn't entirely thrilled with my third pick. I hoped it would be a tight, thrilling story but it dragged quite a bit for me. It did have some interesting themes of identity and the right to live, however.
Capsule review: "What I did like? Eva's tense, wobbly relationship with Amarra, like a younger sister always in her older sister's shadow, with the older sister resenting that she exists at all. The portrait of the parents' grief, both assuaged and heightened by Eva's presence. There was also the boyfriend's grief, which is a complicated beast, all tangled up with sadness and guilt and interest in Eva. The setting is also a view of India we don't often get, a well-to-do middle-upper-class world with light touches of non-Western detail."
Oh, my gosh. How could I have waited so long to read Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi? How soon can I get hold of the second volume?
I probably would have been even more blown away by this memoir of living through the fall of the Shah of Iran, the fundamentalist takeover of that country, and its war with Iraq if I hadn't read Reading Lolita in Tehran, which deals with some of the same period but from an adult's experience. What's amazing in both cases is the way people living under those conditions tried to maintain normality, continuing with their social gatherings in secret, collecting western pop culture trinkets. Oh, my gosh.
No wonder I see this book on my local schools' summer reading lists so often. But this isn't instructive, you-ought-to-learn-about-this-culture stuff. This is simply little Marjane's life, and she has quite a character. She's a very little revolutionary at first, but when the revolution leads to a fundamentalist takeover, she doesn't buckle under to that.
I wasn't expecting to like this as much as I did. Very pleased. Maybe a gift for my brother-in-law, who likes history but probably has never read a graphic novel.
My only complaint--the print seemed small at first. But once I was into the book, I no longer noticed.
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If you're going to host a reading marathon thing, maybe don't make it around your daughter's senior prom. Because while you might think that after she heads out the door - a sparkling princess in a gabbing group of giggly girls - you'll have the evening to relax and read as you wait for her post-midnight pick-up call, you won't. Well, there will be the time to read, if you can avoid the pictures already coming up online and if you don't drift off mid-paragraph wondering if they'll play her jam.
So while I put in five hours of reading time on Friday evening, with two middle-grade titles completed it was not my speediest reading. Reviews come later, but I'll mention the titles, Zane and the Hurricane and The Garden of My Imaan, and that I enjoyed them both.
This morning I woke up and found myself analyzing Facebook pictures with the Teen and her best friend, as we talked about the current style of prom dresses, who is really dating as opposed to who needed a date, and which couples are just the nicest people.
I can really only claim another five hours so far today, with another two books down and a little writing to show for it. (Did I mention that new pictures from my senior Girl Scouts are coming out all day? It's very distracting.) While The Servant by Fatima Sharafeddine left me a little cold, I was surprised by the depth and insight of The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong, by L. Tam Holland. I'd expected the first title to have a literary feel, and it read rather dry. Interesting, but the third person point of view through me off. The cover of Holland's book led me to think I was in for fun, and while there was humor, there was a lot more hurt and heart within. Honestly this afternoon, I would have preferred something light and fluffy, but I can't be annoyed at a book for being too good.
I did break in the middle of today's reading to run up to my library, where one of my books I had earmarked for this weekend had come in from a hold, and because after reading Zane and the Hurricane I had a craving to revisit Ninth Ward. So after a bit of writing and dinner, that book is up next along with the library book I retrieved, The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond, by Brenda Woods. I also have some fantasy on deck.
I'm holding off on posting my reviews so I don't crowd out the official 48 Hour Book Challenge posts. Oh, and if you are just tuning in, you are welcome to play along. At this point there isn't the whole weekend to work with, but enough to carve out at least the twelve hours that officially counts you as a participant. Sign-up at the 48HBC Starting Line and get reading!
Like many causes of equality, the issue of diversity in children's literature is nothing new, though I am hopeful that the rising voices across multiple platforms can affect change. But it's also a great time to acknowledge some of the heroes of the cause along the way... or at least those that somehow are connected to the 48 Hour Book Challenge.
Thank you to Reading is Fundamental, who will contribute their Multicultural STEAM Book Collections sponsored by Macy's to be donated by winner to a school or other child serving organization where they will be used. These wonderful collections have been part of the RIF initiative for a while, bringing diverse books to kids who need them. I will award one collection to a random selected winner from all 48 Hour Book Challenge finishers who complete twelve hours or more during the weekend. Thanks again to RIF for their support.
Thank you to A Year of Reading who made me teary-eyed with this: In honor of all of the reading Pam has inspired over the years with her blog and with 48HBC, and especially because of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks focus this year, we are making a donation in her honor to First Book, a non-profit organization that provides access to new books for children in need. I am not only touched by the gesture of Franki and Mary Lee, but am so excited that they would donate to another hero of the cause, as First Book stepped up with a commitment to purchase 10,000 copies of diverse books it selects to distribute. And that's just another step for an organization already devoted to the cause of Stories for All.
Another note of appreciation goes to Lee & Low Books, who've continued to send me review copies even as I've been less than great about getting reviews published. But for me, they've exposed me to a world of titles that I've been able to ask my public library to acquire. For you, they've now contributed a collection of books that I'll be giving out as prizes to 48 Hour Book Challenge winners. I'd also like to thank them for just being there, publishing books that are so very needed. I suspect it is not the most profitable business model that could be conceived in an industry that always seems to be chasing the next Harry Potter or Wimpy Kid or Twilight series, but it's honorable and admirable. Thank you Lee & Low Books, for being a leader in diversity.
Thanks go out to my KidLitosphere buddies who have been promoting the 48HBC through blogs, tweets, and listservs so that we can have a weekend reading and sharing titles for all kids. Thanks to #WeNeedDiverseBooks as a movement and website, which invigorated me to take my weekend off work and give it back to books.
Okay, it’s go time, people. Make ready the snacks, caffeine, and good books. Oh, and here are the guidelines and FAQ's, in case you need a refresher.
When you start your 48 hours, sign in with Mr. Linky below. (I know, going old school here.) Keep track of your time — which includes reading, blogging, and connecting (for every five hours reading/reviewing you can take one hour of blog reading, tweeting, and general bookish socializing). To keep the Starting Line post at the top of my blog, I won’t publish my personal posts until sometime Saturday morning.
On Sunday, I’ll have a Finish Line post where you can leave the link to your final summary, which should include the amount of time spent on the challenge. Rounding to the quarter hour will do just fine. Winners, prizes and such will be announced on Monday afternoonish.
My first book is down, refreshingly fast! I picked this one because I felt like I was going to identify strongly with the main character. I was right.
Capsule review: "I have to say, this book hit me where I live. Like Erica, I had a mom who got breast cancer. (She's fine now.) I also grew up Latina, with Spanish and English in my ears and Tex-Mex cooking in my home. And of course, no matter what your ethnicity, everybody can relate to the agonizing experience of being a middle-schooler."
Since the sun has gone down, the temperature has cooled off to something less than the surface of Mercury, so I'm going to take a walk and cue up my audiobook for a little while before I start my next book.
As I type these words, it is 6:00 pm Mountain time, so it's time for me to start my 48-HBC for this year! I've got my audiobook (Team Human by Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine Larbalestier) and my first book (Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel by Diana Lopez). Like last year, I'll be posting short capsule reviews and saving the longer-form reviews for later in the summer.
For the charity portion of it, I'll be donating to local charity Make Way for Books, with 10 dollars for each book finished and one dollar for each comment posted between now and Monday night.
Follow me on Twitter @mosylu or comment here if you have suggestions for my next book, want to tell me what you think of what I'm reading, or just want to let me know you're doing it too, so I can cheer you on!
I finished this one last night just before going to sleep, and got up to write the review before going to work.
Capsule review: "One of the things I liked best about this book was the slowness of the process. Gabe comes out to his parents, to close friends, and then painfully, to the world, in baby steps like asking a radio station to change the name on his entry form from Liz to Gabe, and telling his new boss that though his W-2 says one name, it's really another. Each outing is its own different brand of scary, and some go better than others."
Now off to work for a few hours! Excitement: I'm going to be on local radio today talking about teen books for summer reading. If there's a podcast, I'll link it here.
My 48 Hour Book Challenge weekend started a little around 3:00 this afternoon, and I just finished my book around 4:45.
I always like to have a theme for 48HBCs, and this year I accepted the official 48HBC theme as my own. Diversity. I haven't done any reading of the many, many things that have been written on the subject these past couple of months. When selecting my books, I didn't even use any book lists. I had a chance to hit a couple of libraries this past month and for the most part just picked up whatever I found that seemed to fit the bill. Life is Fine by Allison Whittenberg (who needs a website) was an interesting read for me because I picked it up nearly a month ago. By the time I started reading it today, I no longer remembered what it was about. I like when that happens.
I want to get one thing straight right away. I liked this book. I think one could make an argument that there were a lot of cliched problem novel elements in this thing--neglected child with a single mom who needs men in her life, illness and the specter of death turns up, literature changes lives--and, yet, I liked it. I think main character Samara has a little bit of attitude that shows up not so much in her first-person narration but in her interactions with people. I liked very much the way race was handled here. There are no characters wearing metaphorical signs saying "I'm the African American character!" "I'm the Puerto Rican character!" Yet they are there. Now this may be why you want to see books by ethnic writers. They may be able to create ethnic characters who just are.
Now, after all this, I will tell you the really neat thing about this book. Teenage Samara falls for her substitute teacher--who is seventy, if he's a day. I would have loved to have seen a lot more about that.
I definitely would be interested in reading more of Whittenberg's work.