Sunday, October 25, 2009

24-hour Read-a-Thon summary

I kept a very simple timeline in a plain text file which I updated each time I changed activities. This allowed me to see that I spent 16 hours and 39 minutes reading books and the other 7 hours and 21 minutes reading blogs, posting blogs, reading fora about reading, etc.

This is my timeline

7:01 -- Post to reading blog
7:15 -- start reading Mark of the Lion at page 138
8:50 -- to Old West for breakfast
10:15 -- pause to update BookObsessed & blog
10:24 -- blog update
10:47 -- resume reading Mark of the Lion at page 238
11:48 -- pause to update BookCrossing & quick look BO; create reveal
12:09 -- return to Mark of the Lion at page 288
12:59 -- finished Mark of the Lion; prepare lunch; blog posting
13:03 -- blog update
13:43 -- resumed reading with Visions of Sugar Plums
14:48 -- serious break to move around
14:51 -- blog update
15:11 -- return to Visions of Sugar Plums, page 109
15:41 -- finished with VoSP (164 pages)
16:13 -- post to blog (though it's time-stamped 15:53 since that's when I *started* writing it)
16:15 -- resume reading with Wedding Belles
17:15 -- break to update @ BookObsessed & create next blog post
17:35 -- resume reading on Kindle -- heading to dinner
19:25 -- @ home; update blog, check @ BO, upload photos
19:56 -- posted comment on the "Books that Bite" challenge at
20:00 -- back to reading Bitten & Smitten, location 1698
20:56 -- short break; blog post, BookObsessed
21:28 -- return to reading Bitten & Smitten, location 3012
22:32 -- another break; tried a mini-challenge at
22:48 -- resume reading Bitten & Smitten @ chapter 24, location 4819
23:17 -- finished Bitten & Smitten; blog updated including index & 2009 pages, checked PUF Swap, looked @ 24-hour Read-a-Thon home page
23:45 -- quick visit to "Irish" since I had a wonderful trip to Ireland in September
23:52 -- start next book, Shakespeare's Christmas, snack (pear & almonds)
01:00 -- a break @ page 70; quick challenge at; visited Veronika at because she signed up just before me
01:23 -- return to reading Shakespeare's Christmas at page 70
03:01 -- @ page 112; but have been dozing & re-reading, particularly p 105
03:10 -- taking a break again; chocolate & Diet Coke; quick trip to BO, mini-challenge, and visit to (Jaime because my daughter has the same name)
03:55 -- return to Shakespeare's Christmas at page 115
05:06 -- next break; page 199; blog post, quick check at BO & RaT home page. visit to Icedream who claims to be Reading in Appalachia at
05:24 -- return to Shakespeare's Christmas at page 199
05:55 -- finished Shakespeare's Christmas; updated lists
06:13 -- reading again, A Village Affair
06:39 -- sleepy, @ page 15
07:19 -- posted end-of-event meme

During the 16+ hours I was reading, I completed four books: Mark of the Lion by Suzanne Arruda, Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich, Bitten and Smitten by Michelle Rowen, and Shakespeare's Champion by Charlaine Harris. These were books 111-114 read in 2009. I also read 47 pages in Wedding Belles by Haywood Smith and 15 pages in A Village Affair by Joanna Trollope. The total number of pages that I read was 1070.

Jaime at Confessions of a Bibliophile had a nice template that she used each time she posted to her blog. I think I'll put together something similar to use for the next Read-a-Thon.

This was fun, but now it's time for a nap.

Winding it up

It's 6:40 in the morning, only 20 minutes more and I'm not engaged enough with my book to keep my eyes open. I finished reading Shakespeare's Christmas just a few minutes before 6 and took a very short break to update my master lists and check the 24-hour Read-a-Thon home page for any challenges for the last hour. By 6:15, I had picked out the next book I'd start—A Village Affair by Joanna Trollope—and settled back on the couch to resume reading. But, as some books do, this one is starting slowly and I'm struggling to stay awake. So, I decided to spend some time catching up my blog rather than run the risk of falling asleep in the last few minutes of the Read-a-Thon.

End of Event Meme

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
5. How many books did you read?
6. What were the names of the books you read?
7. Which book did you enjoy most?
8. Which did you enjoy least?
9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

1. Until a few minutes ago, I was convinced that the hour from 2 to 3 am (hour 20, I think) was the most difficult. But now I'm not sure if it was then or now.

2. I'm not sure “high interest” for me would be the same for someone else. I found I read pretty fast in books that were part of a series where I already knew the main characters. Two of the books I completed during this Read-a-Thon were part of familiar series: Visions of Sugar Plums is a special holiday novella in Janet Evanovich's zany mystery series starring Stephane Plum and Shakespeare's Christmas is the third of five books in Charlaine Harris's cozy mystery series starring Lilly Bard.

3. This was my first year to participate. I picked up on some ways to improve it for myself, particularly the idea of using a template that would make it much easier to quickly post something on my blog and get back to reading.

4. I was glad to see comments posted to my blog by people who had never visited before. I don't know if these were from cheerleaders or readers, but it was encouraging to see that someone was noticing the newer postings.

5. I completed four books, one of which had been started before the Read-a-Thon began. I also read 63 pages in two other books.

6. I completed Mark of the Lion by Suzanne Arruda, Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich, Bitten and Smitten by Michelle Rowen, and Shakespeare's Christmas by Charlaine Harris. I also read the beginnings of Wedding Belles by Haywood Smith and A Village Affair by Joanna Trollope.

7. I guess the book that was the most fun was Bitten and Smitten, though I'd also have to point out that Mark of the Lion is very high on the best books of 2009 list.

8. Surprisingly, Visions of Sugar Plums was not as much fun as I had hoped. I don't know if it was just my mood at the time or the book was too short or what, but it didn't have enough of the zaniness that I was anticipating. It was good for a smile or two, but not the full-on belly laughs in High Five where we meet Randy Briggs for the first time.

9. I wasn't a cheerleader, though I did stop by a couple of blogs and leave comments.

10. I'm definitely on for the next Read-a-Thon. I think I'll spend a little bit of time preparing so I can manage the role of reader more effectively.

In my next post, I'll summarize the whole she-bang.

Down to the wire

I'm reading slowly—much more slowly that usual. Must be fatigue setting in, or just the fact that it's the wee hours of the morning. The last break I took (Time for a mini-challenge) was almost exactly 45 minutes long. It took me almost 20 minutes to put together my blog post, including finding images of the book covers online. Google is my friend.

I'm getting close to the end of Shakespeare's Christmas; now at page 199 (of 242) and starting the final chapter.

I'm sipping a Diet Coke, but unfortunately it's caffeine free so there's no kick there to help me keep my energy up. Oh well. Onward and upward as they say!

Time for a mini-challenge

In honor of Miss Adison who is 4, Dana issued a challenge to link and/or post pictures of my favorite 4 reads either from childhood or from now. Well, this is a challenge that I can rise to; especially for Miss Adison. After all, my father and my son both carry the masculine form—Addison—as a middle name.

Now let's see. One of the first books that comes to mind is Babar the Elephant. While I somehow missed Winnie the Pooh and didn't discover him until I was in Junior High, I was apparently one of the few who had read Babar over and over again. Second would be one of the many Little Golden Books that I could read by myself. One that comes to mind is The Poky Little Puppy. Third would have to be The Bible Story, a ten-volume set of illustrated bible stories. I'm not sure when my parents purchased these, but as far back as I can remember, the entire set was in our house. And last, a somewhat random choice from my elementary days would be Heidi.

Babar the Elephant   The Poky Little Puppy   The Bible Story   Heidi

Six hours to go

Since I'd already read one Christmas book during the Read-a-Thon, I decided that I'd read Shakespeare's Christmas next. I'm currently on page 70 and thoroughly engaged in Lily Bard's newest adventure. In the reading period from 23:52 to 01:00, I also ate a small, but healthy, snack—a bosc pear and 10 raw almonds. Normally, I try to make an afternoon snack from fruit plus almonds, but today I saved it for the middle of the night since I knew I'd need some additional fuel if I were going to stay up all night.

In this short break, I posted a comment for Shel's mini-challenge and took a peek at what Veronika is reading at True Harbour. I'm going to keep this break as short as possible so I can get back to Arkansas and help Lily solve another murder.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Status at Hour 17

I just finished reading Bitten and Smitten, the 113th book I have read in 2009 and the 14th read in October. I've updated the lists I keep on my laptop, marked the book read in the Kindle by attaching a note to it, and updated the home page and list of books read in 2009 posted right here at this blogging site.

The Tale of Hill Top Farm by Susan Wittig Albert       Shakespeare's Christmas by Charlaine Harris

After a quick look at the Read-a-thon home page and a glance at the PUF Swap going on at BookObsessed, I'm going to start on my next book. Not sure if it's going to be Shakespeare's Christmas or The Tale of Hill Top Farm. Both are books that I owe to fellow BookCrossing and BookObsessed members, but right now I'm just not very sure which one is going to grab my attention. Of course, in my next post, I'll be sure to include my progress in whichever book I'm reading. Until then...

14 hours and going strong

Bitten and Smitten by Michelle RowenThe clock just ticked over to 9pm, 14 hours into the Read-a-Thon. I'm ready to start reading chapter 16 of Bitten and Smitten, making me just a bit more than 50% of the way through the book, or approximately 210 pages into the 400 page paperback. Of course, I'm not reading the paperback edition; I'm reading it on my Kindle. I purchased from on 1 September for only $1.99. It was a special offer by Hatchette books; the price has now gone up to $5.59. I've only recently started reading PUF novels, so I figured I'd snatch it up at the special price because I knew I'd really enjoy it when I got around to it. Well, I was right. I'm really having a good time with it tonight. The downside is that the sequel—Fanged and Fabulous—is also available for the Kindle (at $5.59) and I'm very tempted to purchase and download it so I can just keep reading when I've finished Bitten and Smitten. I think I'm going to have to exercise some self-control and read one of the many books that I've promised to send to BookCrossing members instead of spending money tonight.

It's time to fill my glass, take a quick look at BookObsessed, swing by the Read-a-Thon home page, and then get back to Sarah Dearly.

Dinner-time reading

Dinner tonight was at a restaurant we'd not visited before: La Milpa in Denton. I ordered a dish whose Spanish name translates to “chicken with squash and corn” which was served with the ubiquitous rice and beans. One thing that's really nice about taking the Kindle out to dinner is that I don't have to balance the excess cutlery on the book to keep it open to the page I'm reading. Instead, I just grabbed the dish that had all the sugar and sweetener packets in it and used that to prop up the top of the Kindle. An occasional tap on the “Next Page” button and I'm making pretty good progress through my book.

Decided to read yet another Vampire novel. This time it is Bitten and Smitten by Michelle Rowen. I'm about 30% of the way into the book (location 1698 of 5666); the middle of chapter 9 (of 27). The hardcover edition has 390 pages and the Mass Market paperback has 400. So if the 5666 locations of the Kindle edition is mapped to 400 pages, then my current position is equivalent to somewhere around page 120.

I'm going to take a quick look at the Read-a-Thon home page and then get back to reading while Dear Hubby watches SEC football: Auburn vs LSU and Florida vs Mississippi State.

Hit my first dud

It's really not a dud, but I'm 47 pages into Wedding Belles by Haywood Smith and I'm just not enjoying it. Now that's a shame, because I was so thrilled to see this one on the shelf at the library and even though I knew it was going to cut into my progress reading the books that I owe to other book swappers, I eagerly checked it out and brought it home. But I'm not enjoying it. It's starting out with a much more serious tone than the previous two in Smith's “Red Hat Club” series—at least I think it's starting out more somberly. Could be that my memory is bad given the number of years since I read either of the other books.

So, I'm going to pick up my Kindle and see what speaks to me from it. I have picked up almost every free book that Amazon has offered and many freebies from other sources, so there are a lot of books to choose from and many of them are excellent titles. Since it's getting close to supper time, I'll take my Kindle to dinner and post again when I get home.

Elsewhere in the world

Participating in this 24-hour Read-a-Thon, it's very easy to get totally single-minded and do nothing but read and blog about reading. So, during this break, I'm taking a few minutes to read the blog postings from two other readers.

First up is Ruby Ramblings by fellow BookCrosser and BookObsessed member TheRubyCanary. Ruby lives in South Korea, so for her, the Read-a-Thon began at 9pm. She's already in the wee hours of the morning (6am, if I've done the math correctly) while I'm sitting here at mid-afternoon. Like me, she's finished one book and moved on to a second one.

And just for grins, I picked another “Ruby”, ruby loves adventure. Now, I've never met this Ruby—not even online—but all book lovers have this attraction to each other, don't we? Ruby2 lives in Manilla and is also in her wee morning hours as I post. She's reading fantasy books, Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer and Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone.

So! I've finished my second book, Visions of Sugar Plums, which is probably best called a novella. The story takes up 164 pages in the book, but there are 3 or 4 blank pages at the beginning of each chapter, so the number of pages actually “read” is much less. I'm moving along to book #3. Will spend a couple of minutes perusing the large number of available books to see what catches my attention. Another update in about an hour.

Read-a-Thon pause

I need a break that involves moving around! I suddenly realized that I'm doing a quick little “head nod” every few minutes and I'm not making any progress in my book. Must be due to fixing lunch during my last break and scarfing it down as I started reading Visions of Sugar Plums.

Beth Fish posted a mini-challenge asking “bet you're starting to look at your snack stash. I'm not talking meals at this hour. I'm talking about food that helps you keep reading along. So this is what I want to know. What's in your snack pile?”. My only snack is something to drink. I started with a Diet Coke first thing this morning because I like my caffeine carbonated. Then, I moved to iced tea. I'm no longer snacking—I've lost around 35 pounds since mid-April and I'm now wearing a brand new pair of trousers two sizes (TWO sizes) smaller than I was wearing in April.

Instead of snacking, I'm eating healthful meals. I started with breakfast at The Old West a local diner. Of course I read all the way to the diner, while we ate, and all the way home. I'm not fond of breakfast and one major change I made in my diet was to make sure that I eat every morning. Today I had an omelet made with egg whites & lots of veggies, one slice of dry whole wheat toast, and some fresh strawberries. For lunch, I made soup from the left-overs of last night's crock-pot chicken. I just love my immersion blender because it's so easy to concoct a decent soup from left-overs.

Eating while reading is a bit tricky, particularly soup ... while sitting on the couch. Yeah, I should have sat down at the kitchen table, but instead I brought my soup bowl and glass of iced tea back to the couch and proceeded to resume reading. I have four spots on my t-shirt from drips that didn't make it to my mouth, but I didn't spill anything on my book! Priorities, you know.

OK. I need to move around a bit so I can stay awake and then I'm going to return to Visions of Sugar Plums— page 109 of 164.

Another Read-a-Thon Update

Well, I didn't bother to read any posts at the official web site—I just plunged right into posting and reading. I've now finished reading Mark of the Lion and will put into my “To Be Mailed” stack instead of the “To Be Read” stack. But now having taken a look at the official site and the various challenges—which I'm having some trouble figuring out time frames/limits for—I see a nice meme to start off the event. Even if I'm too late in responding, it provides a good introduction:

  • Where are you reading from today?
  • 3 facts about me …
  • How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
  • Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
  • If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time?

Where am I reading from today? Well, the only answer that is likely to be accurate for the entire 24 hours is “within 30 miles” of my home in Sanger, Texas. I already have the habit of reading in the car (no, I'm not driving at the time) and reading at meals, so the big difference for me today is that I'll spend much more time reading and less roaming all around the Internet.

3 facts about me … First I'm an avid and voracious reader; mostly fiction and many different genres. Second, I'd say that books constitute a big part of my leisure time. Not only do I read a lot, but the two online communities where I spend most of my time are BookObsessed and MobileRead. And the third fact I'll share right now is that I own two electronic book readers: a first generation Kindle and a Sony PRS-505. I think it's only fitting that I use both of them at some point during this 24-hour Read-a-Thon.

How many books do I have in my TBR pile for the next 24 hours?I didn't set aside any books specifically for the Read-a-Thon. There are 29 books registered at BookCrossing which I owe to various members of BookObsessed, and I will probably start one more in that stack sometime during the day. I also have a book checked out from the library that I need to read so it can be returned; 'way too many electronic books queued up on my Kindle and Sony readers; and I just received a new book from Bibliocrates which meets the suggestion to pick something short and fun to read—Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich.

Do I have any goals for the read-a-thon?My only goal is to stick with this for the full 24 hours. I'll try to spend 10 minutes or so each hour reading about reading—not only blogs associated with the Read-a-Thon, but also the fora at the two online communities I frequent.

And, since this is my first Read-a-Thon, I don't have any advice to recommend at all.

Read-a-Thon update

I'm now at page 238 in Mark of the Lion and taking a pause to update my blog and check the progress in the PUF Swap at BookObsessed. It dawned on me that I hadn't prepared my reveal for the swap and I needed to do that as well as send it via PM (personal message) to a couple of the swappers.

Mark of the Lion by Suzanne ArrudaPage 238 out of 338; roughly 70% of the way through the book. I am definitely enjoying it and quite pleased that there are 5 more in this series. The back of the book reads:

In 1919, when most women only dream of adventure, Jade del Cameron lives it. After growing up tough on a New Mexico ranch and driving an ambulance on the front lines of World War I, she can fire a rifle with deadly precision and stare down men maddened by shell shock. Still suffering trauma from the Great War, she sets off for Africa determined to fulfill a man's dying wish...

With his last breath, Jade's beloved David asked her to fine the brother he only recently learned he had. All clues point Jade to the East African city of Nairobi, where she soon has reason to belive that David's father was murdered. She hears the natives wihisper about a laibon—a witch doctor—terrorizing the land. They speak of being attacked by wild beasts that bear strange shaved patterns and bone beads in their fur—signs of animals being mystically guided by an avenging human.

In a land where tribal traditions clash with the so-called civilization of unruly British expatriates, Jade must draw upon all her ingenuity and courage to unmask the truth, expose the killer...and stay alive to fight another day.

Dewey's 24-hour Read-a-Thon

So I'm up at 7am on a Saturday, kicking off my participation in Dewey's 24-hour Read-a-Thon for October 2009. This event has been going on for some time, but I just became aware of it. In fact, I didn't even make up my mind whether I was going to take part until last night. But here I am.

24 hours? Are they kidding? OK, OK. It's a humane 24 hours. Breaks are allowed for meals and trips to the potty. As the FAQs say, the aim is "For 24 hours, we read books, post in our blogs about our reading, and visit other readers’ blogs.

I'm starting off with this kick-off post and Mark of the Lion by Suzanne Arruda. I'm on page 134 of this mystery set in East Africa in 1916. I was pleased to discover that this is the first novel of a series. The sixth book was released in hardback this year, so assuming that I can track all of them down, I have some pleasant reading ahead. When I finish this book, it is going to Lori, a BookCrossing member who selected it from the 2004 or Later Virtual Book Box at BookObsessed.

OK. Enough blogging. On to the reading!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Roundup of 3Q books

It's hard for me to accept that 2009 is now 3/4 over. I've read 99 books so far this year compared to 105 in 2008. And, my page counts are a bit lower as well.

In July, I read 11 books— seven paperbacks, one audio book, and three electronic editions—with 3581 pages. As with previous months, the paperbacks had been offered to members of BookObsessed in swaps and VBBs (virtual book boxes). I did take time out to read two more of Janet Evanovich's zany mysteries starring Stephanie Plum: Lean Mean Thirteen and Fearless Fourteen. I had stumbled upon a special price for the Kindle edition of Lean Mean Thirteen and snatched it up. When I finished reading it, I wasn't done with Stephanie, so I used the built-in wireless connection in my Kindle to immediately purchase and download Fearless Fourteen given that the Kindle price was the same as the paperback.

August was a month in which I broke all my records for reading: 17 books and 5123 pages. August 2008 I read 15 books and December 2008 I completed 16 books. Chief reason why I read so much in August is the semi-annual conference held by SHARE. This year's Summer Conference was held in Denver and we drove up and back, giving me 4+ days to read in the car. Eleven of the books were paperbacks, two were audio CDs, and four were electronic editions.

I couldn't keep up the pace in September. We did take a trip driving from Dallas to Atlanta and then to Richmond, and I should have been able to finish at least one book, if not two, between Dallas and Atlanta, but I wound up sleeping most of the way instead of reading. And, the last two weeks of the month we were vacationing in Ireland. Although this was a “Fly-Drive” trip, I spent most of my time watching the road rather than reading. I didn't take any paper books with me to Ireland—other than the travel guides—but I did buy a couple of books. I mean, can you imagine me passing up every bookstore I passed?

Prior to leaving the USA, I had read six books and was well into the seventh which I left in Chris's car at the airport. I took my Kindle and a brand new BeBook reader with me and read on both of them the little bit of time that I took to read. I also picked up two books at a charity bookshop in Galway. I read one of them right away and took it to The Long Stone Pub in Dublin where I left it on a shelf with other BookCrossing books.

The genre breakdown shows that the bulk of my reading in the third quarter were mystery novels, 15 of the 38 boooks. Fantasy, science-fiction, and PUF books added up to 11 more. There were six of those books that I have trouble classifying, so I just call them “mainstream”, three romance/chick-lit novels, and one each adventure and historical fiction.

  • July
    1. Talk Nerdy to Me by Vicki Lewis Thompson
    2. Nessie and the Celtic Maze by Lois Wickstrom & Jean Lorrah
    3. Death by Inferior Design by Leslie Caine
    4. The Whole Truth by David Baldacci
    5. Gone with the Nerd by Vicki Lewis Thompson
    6. The Ghost and the Dead Man's Library by Alice Kimberly
    7. Godmother by Carolyn Turgeon
    8. The Ghost and the Femme Fatale by Alice Kimberly
    9. Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich
    10. Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich
    11. The World According to Bertie by Alexander McCall Smith
  • August
    1. A Summer Affair by Susan Wiggs
    2. Offspring by Steven Harper
    3. A Kiss Remembered by Sandra Brown
    4. Expendable by James Alan Gardner
    5. Naughty Neighbor by Janet Evanovich
    6. Plum Lovin' by Janet Evanovich
    7. Vigilant by James Alan Gardner
    8. Minerva Wakes by Holly Lisle
    9. Soul Intent by Dennis Batchelder
    10. Patty Jane's House of Curl by Lorna Landvik
    11. What's a Ghoul to do? by Victoria Laurie
    12. A Novena for Murder by Sister Carol Anne O'Marie
    13. Demons Are a Ghoul's Best Friend by Victoria Laurie
    14. Hog Wild by Cathy Pickens
    15. Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris
    16. The Three Miss Margarets by Louise Shaffer
    17. Shaker Run by Karen Harper
  • September
    1. In the Company of Others by Julie E Czerneda
    2. Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris
    3. Thursdays at Eight by Debbie Macomber
    4. Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
    5. One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
    6. At Grave's End by Jeaniene Frost
    7. Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur
    8. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
    9. Recipes for a Perfect Marriage by Kate Kerrgan
    10. Navajo Courage by Aimee Thurlo