Sunday, October 25, 2009

Read-a-thon: The Last Bit

That's it, folks. I'm off to bed. I'm halfway through Practical Magic, which I'll finish in the morning.

Good night and thanks to all the cheerleaders and people who dropped by. And three cheers for everyone else who participated.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Read-a-Thon Mini-Challenge: GIve Me Five

The challenge: Post a list of five favorite children's books. They don't have to be THE five end-all-be-all of your favorites, because then you'll just agonize over which ones to pick, and we want this to be easy. Just list five off the top of your head that you enjoyed as a child, or that your children enjoy. If you'd like, include a one sentence description of the book, but no need to post full reviews.

  1. The Big, Orange Splot
  2. Harold & the Purple Crayon
  3. Where the Wild Things Are
  4. Caps for Sale
  5. The Velveteen Rabbit

Readathon: On to Practical Magic

Practical Magic will be my last book of the night; it'll be a nice way to wrap up, I think, because it's my second reading of it. (My copy still hasn't turned up, by the way; I had to borrow this copy from someone in the reading group.

Monster Blood Tattoo was tremendous fun--many thanks to my friend Jo for recommending it.

Read-a-Thon Mini Challenge

Jill at Fizzy Thoughts has challenged:

Post a song that reminds you of the read-a-thon, or that you love to read to, or that makes you think of a particular book. You can either embed a video of the song, or post the lyrics.

I typically listen to classical music when I'm settling in for a good, long reading session. Anything else interrupts my focus--'cause I have to sing along if there are lyrics. And lately I'm finding that even classical music can interrupt my reading when I stop to admire the way the composer figured out how to make me feel a certain way with just a few notes.

So I am going to post a song that, every time I hear it, reminds me of Christopher Pike's Scavenger Hunt. I can't say I was crazy about the book, but it's been 15+ years since I read it--I've only read it once--and this song never fails to make me think of all the creepy craziness in that book. I don't even remember what the craziness was exactly. I think it had to do with monsters/dinosaurs. But it doesn't matter, really, because REM's "Losing My Religion" totally makes me think of that book every time I hear it.

Read-a-Thon update

Still working on Monster-Blood Tattoo. I think once this is done, I'll move onto Practical Magic and that may very well be my last book for the read-a-thon. If I'm still up to reading after that, I'll probably go back to The Historian, which I was halfway through when we went to bed last night.

I haven't had too many interruptions. I got up & made some microwave kettle corn. I put a huge sweet potato in the oven for supper. Every now & then my husband provides commentary to whatever he's looking at online. Apparently they closed his elementary school and if he were going to school now, he'd be a dragon. I don't know what he was before. And there's a couple from PEI in the new season of Canada's Worst Driver (which starts Monday night) that apparently caused a stir in their local newspaper--judging by the comments, PEI residents want to know who the tattooed freaks are and some of them seem to believe that PEI will be represented by this pair. I don't think the rest of Canada thinks of the pairs on the show as representative of an area; I certainly don't. (Although some of the drivers do make me want to avoid the towns they're from.)

Thanks to everyone who's stopped to say hi today! I really appreciate your comments!

Read-a-Thon: Nap time

I'm well into Monster-Blood Tattoo, but I think it's time to doze a bit & let my MacBook take a break from playing iTunes for me.

Read-a-Thon: First book completed

I finished Wintergirls. Laurie Halse Anderson's writing is, as always, fantastic. And it slows me down, because I want to take in every word in the order each one is written. My interruptions included chills that inspired me to make hot chocolate, my kitten Wavey crawling onto my chest and demanding cuddles, and a growly stomach which I fed with some PB-chocolate oatmeal and OJ. It's taken me a lot longer to get through this first book than I expected. I have to force myself not to be impatient. I don't know why I don't read as quickly now as I used to, but I can deal with it.

Maybe I just didn't used to pay such close attention. Also, Anderson's books also cause the scholarly part of my brain to break away and examine her use of literary effects.

But boy does that pile of books I borrowed from the library look a lot taller now...

Read-a-Thon Begins!

So there was no way I was getting up at 5 AM to start reading with the people on the East Coast (for whom it's a more convenient 3 hours later). A weird dream about a litter of 2-week-old kittens tearing my 6-month-old cat to pieces (my dream only showed me the "after" part of that attack) chased me out of bed around 8:30 and now I'm showered and ready to commence reading Wintergirls, as per Jen's (Devourer of Books) suggestion.

I figure I'll try to stay off the computer as much as I can today--I'll check e-mail and post updates every couple hours. I won't be twittering, 'cause that's just far too time-consuming. And I should wrap up in the wee hours of the morning--I won't make it to the 24 hour mark, but I'll go as long as I can (I figure about 16-18 hours).

I think the biggest struggle might be keeping my husband from the TV all day--he has a problem with one ear and so the TV tends to get pretty loud and horribly distracting. But for now, he's still in bed and I'm turning on my iTunes classical playlist!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blackbringer by Laini Taylor

"Such were the humble beginnings of the end of the world: the absence of dreams."

Magpie Windwitch is a fairy with extraordinary gifts and a mission: Retrap the genies the humans keep releasing. You see, the genies are really demons, who were sealed into those bottles years ago by the Djinn's chosen champions. Except that the era of the Djinn (those who made the world) and their champions is long past.

So with the demons being released, not only do little 'Pie and her crow comrades face the challenge of fighting the demons (especially the nastiest one she's encountered yet, a demon that seems to uncreate the people/faeries/other demons it encounters), but 'Pie must also find and convince the King of the Djinn that this is a fight worth waking up for. His inclination is to let it all fall apart.

And as if that weren't enough, the false queen Vesper has taken reign of Dreamdark, and she knows Magpie recognizes her as a fake. Under other circumstances, you'd think not much could be more dangerous than a fake queen clinging to her claim at any cost.

Taylor imagines for her readers a world, which though literally unraveling, is full of magic, destiny, and courage. Magpie is a brave and determined heroine with more than a few friends to help her along with way. And Taylor's writing style is endearing and humorous. Of one of the imps, Taylor describes, "It was the least ratlike part of him, his nose, flesh while the reset was fur, and quite spectacularly large, with each nostril spacious enough to fit his big toes into--which he frequently did."

The only parts of Blackbringer that threatened the enchantment of the story and characters were the occasional pro-green assertions about how much humans mess up the Djinn-created world. (I'm extremely sensitive to environmentalist hype, and there was a fair sprinkling of it in this book. In that sense, it's not unlike Ferngully. Do you remember that movie?)

I really wish my library were getting the Dreamdark trilogy. I borrowed this one through an interlibrary loan, but because the second in this trilogy was so recently released, I have to wait a year to request it from another library.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Revised Read-a-Thon List

So you know how I mentioned that I'd be going to the library? Well, I bumped into my friend Jo (a librarian) near the YA section, and I told her what I was up to this Saturday--and within minutes, I was carrying this stack around the library:

For the record, my book stack for Dewey's Read-a-Thon now contains these books:
  • Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman
  • Monster Blood Tattoo by D.M. Cornish
  • An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden
  • Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson*
  • The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
  • Sima's Undergarments for Women* by Ilana Stanger-Ross
  • The Amulet of Samarkand (Book One of The Bartimaeus Trilogy) by Jonathan Stroud
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (audiobook)
  • Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman (I still have to find this one)
  • Hamlet & Ophelia by John Marsden
  • Wake by Lisa McMann
  • The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

*This one was in the new books rack, which I browse every time just before I leave the library.

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Read-a-Thon Reading List

Okay, this is still pretty tentative, but in the stack right now:

  • The Heretic's Daughter
  • Practical Magic (because I have to have that re-read by Sunday night--and I still haven't found which box it's in)
  • The Undomestic Goddess (which I'm actually halfway through, but need to have that read for book group next month)
  • Hamlet & Ophelia
  • Louis Riel: A Comic Strip Biography
  • Wake

And I know I won't get to them all, 'cause I just don't read as fast as I used to (and I won't even try to stay up all 24-hours), but I'm looking forward to seeing how many I can get through! And I'll have a couple more to the side, in case none of those strike me as particularly appealing when it's time to start something new (and I have to make a trip to the library this week, so I'm sure there'll be some library books to consider, too).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Best American Erotica 2006, edited by Susie Bright

I remember the first erotic stories I read--it was a collection someone Bookcrossed to me and the book was waterproof because it was meant to be read in the bathtub. I thought that was the neatest feature of the whole book.

But I've become fascinated by erotica ever since. (Trivia: Did you know Margaret Mitchell had a substantial erotica collection?) And you know, it's hard to find good erotica. I read some of it online; most of that is horrible, far more pornographic than literary. Usually the best are gems that come from a scene in a book, something unexpectedly delicious and tantalizing.

But The Best American Erotica 2006 didn't do much for me. With Susie Bright's reputation, I'm sorry to say that I found this collection dull. There was an amusing story called "Stalin's Mustache" that I'll probably remember for years, but the rest of them--pretty forgettable.

Maybe 2006 just wasn't a good year for erotica.

Book Source: Personal library

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Okay, I'll do it! Dewey's 24-hour Reading Marathon

So after letting all our plans filter onto our Google Calendar, I miraculously have nothing planned for October 24, so I'm going to try to buckle down (hope the weather's not fantastic that weekend) and read as much as I can. This is the day before I host my book group, so I'm sure I'll be rereading Practical Magic. And I'll probably have a pile of YA/teen books to read and next month's book club book.

I have GOT to unpack my books. (It's only been three months since we moved.)

The Wishmaker by Ali Seth

It's possible that this book would get better, but at page 70, the story is just a kind of meandering stream of characters with a hint of plot, and talking myself into continuing down this stream is taking too much effort.

I'm not saying I'm calling it quits for good on this one--I can see that Sethi has a knack for characters and setting--but it's definitely not to my liking at this point in time. (I've been chiseling away at those 70 pages for months.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Recipe suggestions to go with Practical Magic?

I'm hosting book club (for the first time) this month, and the book I chose is Practical Magic. Now, because it's going to be the week of Halloween, I'd love to have fun Halloween-/Practical Magic-appropriate snacks.

I know many of you have read Practical Magic (and many of you love it), so I was wondering if you have any snack suggestions. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

I decided to read Graceling when Angie at Angieville told me that she decided to read her ARC of the Graceling companion book Fire before her ARC of the Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire. Now, you know I couldn't wait to read Catching Fire, so if anyone decided to read Fire before Catching Fire, well--how could I not check out the book behind that decision?

Graceling is a wonderful teen fantasy about a young woman named Katsa with a fighting Grace (Graces are comparable to mutations in X-Men) which allows her to move quickly and aim almost flawlessly--and which her king/uncle uses to his advantage. For a while, anyhow.

When Katsa encounters another Graceling, a prince, who can fight nearly as well as she, her life is turned upside down and she finds herself doing things she never dreamed she'd be able or have to do--starting with defying her uncle outright.

I don't think I would have chosen to read Fire before Catching Fire, if the decision had been mine, but Fire is a companion book and can supposedly stand on its own without reading Graceling first (and I am not a patient person when it comes to books with cliffhangers). But now I must get my hands on a copy of Fire; I want to go back to Katsa's world.

Book source: library

Monday, October 12, 2009

Recipe Exchange: Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Amy of My Friend Amy has had another scathingly brilliant idea to do a fall recipe exchange. You can click on the icon to go her post with all the participating bloggers in the Mr. Linky list.

I would love to share with you a recipe I found in a magazine years ago: Pumpkin Ravioli (cheese ravioli with a pumpkin sauce). However, I can't. It's been so long since I've made it that I know I couldn't tell you how to do it off the top of my head. (I haven't made it for two reasons: I haven't been able to locate the recipe AND frozen ravioli is impossible to find here--although they have frozen pierogies by the boatload. And fresh ravioli is twice is expensive for half the product.)****

So instead, I'm going to share with you what I made for my Thanksgiving guests last night that had everyone going, "Mmmmm!" with every bite. Seriously, this is my new favorite way to make sweet potatoes.

I made my dish based on the recipe posted over at, but because the potatoes were gigantic and we were feeding seven or eight people with varying appetite levels, I changed it up a bit. You can do a good portion of this earlier in the day if you're serving an evening meal.

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

6 lb. sweet potatoes
1/2 c. cream cheese (can use light)
3-4 t. vanilla
1/4 c. butter
3 T. brown sugar
1/4 c. toasted almond slices/slivers

  1. Heat oven to 375.
  2. Line a pan with foil (for easy cleanup) and bake sweet potatoes until tender. (Usually about an hour--my gigantic potatoes actually took 2.5.)
  3. When potatoes have cooled enough to handle, peel them. Discard the skins.*
  4. In mixing bowl, mash (or whip, if you're using a stand mixer) sweet potatoes. Add cream cheese, vanilla and butter.
  5. Butter a casserole dish (I used an 8" x 12" dish, approx.) and pour in potatoes. At this point you can cover/refrigerate** it until about 45 minutes before serving.
  6. Just before baking the second time, sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake 30-40 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve.

* The original recipe calls for restuffing the skins in a traditional twice-baked potato fashion.
**It really depends on how long you're waiting before baking it again. And how much room you have in the fridge.

****Found it!!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

I have always been a sucker for the bad boys in teen books. And Patch, the bad boy in Hush, Hush is fabulously bad. I didn't want to put this book down. He made my inner sixteen-year-old very happy.

Until the end. Then it all fell apart for me. And even though Fitzpatrick says that the last page has been changed from what we read in ARC's, any changes in that last page wouldn't be enough to make me over-the-moon with the whole book. I don't like saying that, because it has been a long, long time since I've been this enchanted with a bad boy. (Patch is a fallen angel, and throughout, you're not sure whether he's come into our heroine Nora's life as a good bad boy or a bad bad boy.)

Still, Patch was totally worth the reading. And I am a little curious about the sequel that's in the works, in spite of my feelings about the ending.