Thursday, December 30, 2010

Challenge Accepted: Show Me the Free Challenge

Show Me the Free Challenge Icon Now this challenge is really something different. Missie at The Unread Reader asks two questions: "Do you have an e-Reader?" and "Do you download lots of free books?" And then she goes on to challenge us to not just collect the free books but to actually read them. Thus she is sponsoring Show Me the Free Challenge. Taken directly from her site, this is the description of the challenge.

Here is how it works:

  • Should you choose to participate in this challenge, your goal is to read at least twelve (12) legally obtained e-books which you got for FREE for your e-reading device. While twelve is the minimum there is no maximum limit.
  • Anyone can join. You don't have to be a blogger, and you don't have to live in the United States.
  • Any E-Reader will work for this challenge, including: iPad, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, enTourage. Please Note: If you don't have an e-reading device, you can still join in with Amazon's Free Kindle Reading Apps which you can download for your iPhone, iPad, Mac, PC, Blackberry and more.
  • The challenge runs from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011. You can join at anytime.
  • e-books in ANY genre count for this challenge as long as it was FREE at the time that you downloaded it.
  • Every month in 2011, I will make a post for the Show Me The Free Reading Challenge so you can link your reviews.
  • Those that link their reviews will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a different prize each month, such as an Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card, a bookmark, or a GelaSkins for your E-Reader. Winners will be announced at the end of each month.

Challenge Guidelines:

  • If you blog, create a post announcing your participation in the challenge. Please include a link back to this post.
  • Non blogger must publish reviews on some type of public domain such as Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble to enter the monthly giveaway.
  • When you post your book review, you MUST say how you obtained the free read. Please make your source clear.
  • You can list your books in advance or list them as you read them.
  • Crossovers to other reading challenges is acceptable, but galley e-books DO NOT count. Again, this is a Reading Challenge to read as many of the FREE e-books legally offered for your e-reader. To get started, check out the Top 100 Free books on Amazon, or the Free e-books on Barnes & Noble.
  • Any linked reviews that do not meet the guidelines will not be entered into the monthly drawing for the prize of the month.


  • Coupon Clipper: 12 Books
  • Penny Pincher: 24 Books
  • Super Saver: 30+ Books

Once again, I'll invite any of you to join me in this challenge. Sign up and then leave me a comment if you've discovered this challenge through my blog. I look forward to reading your reviews.

Challenge Accepted: Take a Chance Challenge

Yeah, I'm signing up for yet another challenge in 2011. This one is just so intriguing that I couldn't pass it up.

Take a Chance Challenge Icon Jenners at Life ...with Books is challenging readers to step outside of their usual comfort area and take a chance on finding a good book through unusual or random ways. Here's her explanation of the challenge:

Basic Information

  • The concept of the challenge is to take chances with your reading by finding books to read in unusual or random ways. I’ve listed 10 different ways to find books below. Feel free to complete at many as you want. However, anyone completing all 10 challenges by December 31, 2011 will be entered in a prize drawing to win a book of their choice from Amazon.
  • The challenge will run from January 1, 2011 until December 31, 2011.
  • Crossover books from other challenges is fine. You can read books in any format.
  • On January 1, 2011, I will post pages for each of the 10 challenges so you can link up your completed posts.

The 2011 Challenges

  1. Staff Member’s Choice: Go to a bookstore or library that has a “Staff Picks” section. Read one of the picks from that section.
  2. Loved One’s Choice: Ask a loved one to pick a book for you to read. (If you can convince them to buy it for you, that is even better!)
  3. Blogger’s Choice: Find a “Best Books Read” post from a favorite blogger. Read a book from their list.
  4. Critic’s Choice: Find a “Best of the Year” list from a magazine, newspaper or professional critic. Read a book from their Top 10 list.
  5. Blurb Book: Find a book that has a blurb on it from another author. Read a book by the author that wrote the blurb.
  6. Book Seer Pick: Go to The Book Seer and follow the instructions there. Read a book from the list it generates for you.
  7. What Should I Read Next Pick: Go to What Should I Read Next and follow the instructions there. Read a book from the list it generates for you.
  8. Which Book Pick: Go to Which Book and use the software to generate a list of books. Read a book from that list.
  9. LibraryThing Pick: Go to LibraryThing’s Zeitgeist page. Look at the lists for 25 Most Reviewed Books or Top Books and pick a book you’ve never read. Read the book. (Yes … you can click on MORE if you have to.)
  10. Pick A Method: Pick a method for finding a book from the choices listed below (used in previous versions of the challenge).
    • Random Book Selection. Go to the library. Position yourself in a section such as Fiction, Non-Fiction, Mystery, Children (whatever section you want). Then write down random directions for yourself (for example, third row, second shelf, fifth book from right). Follow your directions and see what book you find. Check that book out of the library, read it and then write about it. (If you prefer, you can do the same at a bookstore and buy the book!)
    • Public Spying. Find someone who is reading a book in public. Find out what book they are reading and then read the same book. Write about it.
    • Random Bestseller. Go to and, using the True Random Number Generator, enter the number 1950 for the min. and 2010 for the max. and then hit generate. Then go to this site and find the year that generated for you and click on it. Then find the bestseller list for the week that would contain your birthday for that year. Choose one of the bestsellers from the list that comes up, read it and write about it.

Sign-ups can take place at any time over at It's Back: Take a Chance Challenge 3. Feel free to join me!

As with the other challenges that I'm taking on for 2011, I'm going to track my progress at 2011 Challenges.

Reading Charlaine Harris

And now for something a little bit different…

I just finished reading From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris. As I added it to my list of books read in 2010, I realized that the last four books I read were all by Charlaine Harris. First off, I read the final two books in her Harper Connolly series. (Well, I assume that they're the final two as the last book tied up all the loose ends.) Then I read numbers 7 & 8 in her Sookie Stackhouse series.

A quick review of these books:

An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine HarrisAn Ice Cold Grave, Harper Connolly #3.

Harper and her step-brother Tolliver Lang are asked to travel to a small town in North Carolina and attempt to locate the bodies of young men once thought to be runaways, but now suspected to be victims of a serial killer. (Since she was struck by lightning when she was 15, Harper has been able to locate bodies and know the cause of death.) Sure enough, she quickly locates the property on which eight bodies are buried, but things just get worse. Forbidden to leave the area until the police are satisfied that they have all the information they need, Harper is attacked and injured, further delaying their departure. Which means she and Tolliver are dragged into the investigation to discover the killer.

Grave Secret by Charlaine HarrisGrave Secret, Harper Connolly #4.

By the time I finished reading An Ice Cold Grave, I was a little bit weirded out. I found that book to be quite distressing and I almost didn't continue on with the fourth book. But I'm really glad that I did. In this fourth book—which appears to be a conclusion to the series—Harper and Tolliver have traveled back to Texas to visit their younger half-sisters. On the way there, they stop off near their hometown of Texarkana for a quick job with a very wealthy family who asks for confirmation that the family patriarch really died of natural causes. And thus the stage is set to tie up a number of loose ends which have been dangling through the entire series.

I have to say that this was a very good series and I'm sad to see that it might be ending. In a field cluttered with any number of paranormal novels, Harper's talent was unique. Not only that, but Harris explored more thoroughly the implications and repercussions of such a talent on Harper and her manager/step-brother Tolliver. I would be delighted if Harris chooses to reprise this heroine.

On to Sookie.

All Together Dead by Charlaine HarrisAll Together Dead, Sookie Stackhouse #7.

In this seventh book starring the telepathic barmaid from Bon Temps, Louisiana, Sookie travels to Rhodes (on the shore of Lake Michigan) to assist Sophie-Anne Leclerq (Vampire Queen of Louisiana) at a regional summit of the vampire leadership. Not only is there plotting and positioning (and murder and mayhem) among the vampire attendees, but the Fellowship of the Sun is protesting the presence of the vampires. Sookie has her own problems, too. She detests Bill, is wary of Eric, and is falling for Quinn—and all three are vying for her attention there in Rhodes. As a full-on battle ensues, Sookie is right in the middle.

Looking back through my reading records, I see that I read the previous book, Definitely Dead, in October 2009. One reason I hadn't read any further in the series was that I didn't have a copy of All Together Dead until June of this year. But that's not a very good excuse, since I could have gotten a copy any time I wanted. I think the real reason that I wasn't pushing too hard to read any more about Sookie is that I was simply annoyed with her and her whining. But once I started reading this book, I realized that she wasn't whiney at all—at least not in the books. It's the characterization in True Blood on HBO that I'm so annoyed with. And it's a shame that I let the video production interfere with my enjoyment of the books. I'm so over that now.

From Dead to Worse by Charlaine HarrisFrom Dead to Worse, Sookie Stackhouse #8.

And thus on to Sookie's eighth adventure. After the bombing, fires, and deaths at the end of All Together Dead, all the major characters are simply trying to get everything back to normal. Sophie-Anne is recuperating from injuries received in Rhodes and her now-expanded territory is being managed by the sherriffs of Louisiana and Arkansas. Sookie last saw Quinn, her weretiger boyfriend, in the hospital in Rhodes and she hasn't been able to contact him. And then, she's invited to supper in Shreveport where she meets her great-grandfather, a fairy prince. As Sookie is learning more about her family and its history, powerful vampires in other parts of the country are moving in on Louisiana, wresting the area from Sophie-Anne. Not to be undone, there's a major coup among the weres. And, as is to be expected, Sookie is squarely in the middle of all this trouble.

I really enjoyed both of these books and I'm eager to get my hands on Dead and Gone so I can see what happens next.

Challenge Accepted: Book Bucket Reading Challenge

2011 Book Bucket Reading Challenge Icon In an attempt to whittle down the massive TBR stacks in my house, I'm joining the 2011 Book Bucket Reading Challenge hosted by Bookworm_Lisa. She says, "I have decided that for 2011, I will read 50 of the books that have been sitting on my 'to read' shelf for too long, some for three years or more," and she invites other readers to join her with their own commitments, whether 10, 50, or some other number.

So I've gone through a small portion of my TBR stacks—both paper and electronic—and put together a list of 50 books that will be the ones I read to complete this challenge in 2011. They are:

  1. Hornet's Nest by Patricia Cornwell
  2. A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris
  3. Killer Hair by Ellen Byerrum
  4. The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
  5. Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy
  6. Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler
  7. No One You Know by Michelle Richmond
  8. Mrs. Jeffries Appeals the Verdict by Emily Brightwell
  9. Death's Daughter by Amber Benson
  10. The Know-It-All by A J Jacobs
  11. Ghost of a Chance by Simon R Green
  12. Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher
  13. Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon
  14. The Geometry of Sisters by Luanne Rice
  15. South of Broad by Pat Conroy
  16. The Second Wife by Elizabeth Buchan
  17. Inhuman Resources by Jes Battis
  18. The Second Silence by Eileen Goudge
  19. The Myth of You & Me by Leah Stewart
  20. Urban Shaman by C E Murphy
  21. Spellbent by Lucy A Snyder
  22. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  23. Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
  24. A Wolverine is Eating My Leg by Tim Cahill
  25. The Morning Show Murders by Al Roker
  26. The View from Mount Joy by Lorna Landvik
  27. Night Myst by Yasmine Galenorn
  28. A Bicycle Built for Murder by Kate Kingsbury
  29. Something from the Nightside by Simon R Green
  30. The Long-Lost Map by Ulysses Moore
  31. The Door to Time by Ulysses Moore
  32. Kitty Goes to Washington by Carrie Vaughn
  33. Blind Justice by Bruce Alexander
  34. Kissing Sin by Keri Arthur
  35. The Sporting Club by Sinclair Browning
  36. Queen of Babble in the Big City by Meg Cabot
  37. Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot
  38. Dead Guilty by Beverly Connor
  39. The Alpine Decoy by Mary Daheim
  40. Running from the Deity by Alan Dean Foster
  41. S is for Silence by Sue Grafton
  42. The Mutant Prime by Karen Haber
  43. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
  44. The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
  45. Deadly Gamble by Connie Shelton
  46. The Children Star by Joan Slonczewski
  47. Brain Plague by Joan Slonczewski
  48. Flag in Exile by David Weber
  49. The Tale of Holly How by Susan Wittig Albert
  50. I'm the Vampire, That's Why by Michele Bardsley

I will strike through each book as I read them, but I'm not making any promises to write reviews of any of these—unless they also fulfill the SF or Fantasy Challenges where a review is required.

If you're like me and have a large backlog of books that you need to read, then this is a challenge for you. Join me by signing up at Lisa's 2011 Book Bucket Challenge.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Challenge Accepted: 2011 Fantasy Reading Challenge

2011 Fantasy Challenge Icon To partner with the previous post— Challenge Accepted: 42 Challenge —I am signing up for the 2011 Fantasy Challenge sponsored by Darlyn of Darlyn & Books. And, I'm going to be a glutton for punishment by electing the Obsessed Level and committing to read and review 20 Fantasy novels in 2011.

I'm new to reading Fantasy—well, "new" as compared to reading Science Fiction. In 2010, I read 14 traditional Fantasy novels and 43 Paranormal and Urban Fiction novels, so I'm thinking that the goal of reading 20 Fantasy novels won't be too much of a stretch. What will be a challenge will be to post reviews of 20 books. I'm planning on posting more reviews here at Reading in Texas as well as at the official 2011 Fantasy Reading Challenge Review page.

Do you like Fantasy? Any particular sub-genres? If so, join me in this challenge. There are four levels: Curious (3 novels); Fascinated (6 novels), Addicted (12 novels) and Obsessed (20 novels). You can click the icon at the top of this post to sign-up for the challenge. Or use this shortcut.

... and leave me a comment if you decide to participate.

Challenge Accepted: 42 Challenge

42 Challenge Icon In obvious homage to Douglas Adams' "Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything", the 42 Challenge for 2011 starts 1 January 2011 and ends 3 December 2011. Along with other participants in the challenge, I have been assigned the mission to read, watch, listen, and review 42 items related to science fiction.

As I stated when I signed up for the challenge, "In 2009, I read 18 SF novels and in 2010, 19 novels. I haven't kept up with SF in other media, but given TV episodes, I'm sure I've exceeded 42 items each year."

Interestingly, although I have been a life-long fan of science fiction and have read almost all of the "Top 100 Sci-Fi Books", no matter whose list they are, I have only recently begun to read fantasy. I'm now enjoying catching up with the best fantasy novels. (Would you believe that I have never read Lord of the Rings or Wheel of Time?) I'm also a big fan of the new Paranormal and Urban Fantasy fiction, though I prefer the character-driven and plot-driven offerings rather than the romance spin-offs. Yes, I know that this challenge is for SF and not Fantasy, but I offer this as an explanation for why I have read fewer than 20 SF novels each year.

I will be posting reviews here at Reading in Texas and also at the main site: 42 Challenge. Feel free to join me. The sign-up can be found at Want to 42 Again? Again?.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Challenge Accepted: TwentyEleven Challenge

TwentyEleven Challenge Icon The first challenge I'm committing to in 2011 is the TwentyEleven Challenge hosted by Bart over at Bart's BookShelf

After the raves and cheers for Bart's TwentyTen Challenge, participants clamored for another challenge and he's stepped up to it.

I must note that I did not complete the TwentyTen Challenge this year, so I'm going to have to stay focused if I'm going to be successful in this new challenge.

In 2011, participants are challenged to read 20 books from 11 categories—a minimum of 1 book and a maximum of 2 books per category. Though he's retained a few categories from the TwentyTen Challenge, he's picked some new categories to toss among those carried forward. Here's the list:

  1. To YA or not YA…
    Okay, this one works like this… Tend to read more Young Adult than Adult Fiction books then read one or two adult fiction titles, vice-versa if you don’t tend to read much Young Adult.
  2. …With a Twist.
    This one focuses on sub-genres, read a lot of chick-lit, then try a paranormal romance! Fantasy? Why not give some Steampunk a go, like a bit of Space-Opera in your Sci-Fi then pick up a military Sci-fi book. Like your Contemporary Literature, give a Young Adult Contemporary a chance. Well hopefully you get the idea!
  3. Hot off the Presses.
    Read a book published (in your country) in 2011? Then it counts for this category.
  4. It Wasn’t Me! (aka Bad Bloggers*)
    Books in this category, should be ones you’ve picked up purely on the recommendation of another blogger count for this category (any reviews you post should also link to the post that convinced you give the book ago).
  5. Show it Who is Boss!
    Tackle that overflowing T.B.R. pile! Books for this category must be already residents of your bookshelves as of 1 December 2010.
  6. Bablefish.
    Read books that are translated from a language that is not your own.
  7. Will-Power? What Will-Power? (aka: The Henry Ward Beecher Memorial.)
    You know that quote Bart has in his blog-header… “Where is human nature so weak as in a bookstore?” Recognize yourself in it? Then this is the one for you! Bought a book NEW during 2011? Then it counts for this category. Second-hand books do not count for this one, but, for those on book-buying bans, books bought for you as gifts or won in a giveaway also count.
  8. Mind the Gap.
    Need just one more book to compete that duology/trilogy/series then read it for this one! (Obviously as this is for that final book you need to complete it, then you can’t read two books from the same series! And it clearly can’t be your first or penultimate read!) Because not everyone reads a series in order, this is for the last book you need to read, not necessarily the last book in the series…
  9. Back in the Day.
    Re-read an old favorite or two for this category.
  10. Way Back When.
    Read books that were published before you were born for this one, whether that be the day before or 100 years prior!
  11. Slim-Pickings
    Got a novella you want to read? Then this one is the one for you! Any books between 90-150 pages count.

I'm going to take a more serious run at challenges in 2011. So, I'm creating a special page to keep track of which challenges I decide to accept and how well (or poorly) I'm making progress toward their completion. Be sure to check periodically to see how I'm doing.

*Bad Bloggers is hosted by Chris of Stuff as Dreams are Made On.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Twenty-10 Challenge Results

At the end of the year, it's time to report on my progress toward the goals I set for Bart's Twenty-ten Challenge. Earlier posts with reviews and status can be found on May 8th's post and September 19th's post. Since September, these are the additional books which I'm counting toward this challenge:

Defending Angels by Mary Stanton In October, I read Defending Angels by Mary Stanton, which I'm counting in the Who Are You Again? category. I discovered this author and her series of books when I picked this book from a virtual book box based solely on the first page. The owner sent not only this book, but the next two in the series and I read them back-to-back in a reading frenzy known as Dewey's 24-hour Read-a-Thon

After taking over her uncle’s law practice in Savannah, Georgia, Brianna Winston-Beaufort (Bree for short) is looking forward to her first case. She's barely moved into her office when she finds a message from a businessman asking for her help. But when she returns his call, she discovers that he was already dead—murdered—at the time that the call was placed. Bree is soon to learn that in addition to solving his murder she's been appointed his advocate in the Celestial Court where her client's afterlife will be determined

This was a fascinating start to an excellent series, and when I went to the author's web site tonight, I discovered that the fourth in the series will be released in February 2011. You can bet that it will be very high on my To Be Purchased list.

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen, was the first of two memoirs which I read for the Up to You! category. I picked the book up on a whim while browsing at Barnes & Noble. The blurb on the back cover looked interesting—“A hilarious and moving memoir in the spirit of Anne Lamott and Nora Ephron about a woman who returns home to her close-knit Mennonite family after a personal crisis.”—and I was on the lookout for a memoir to read for this challenge and to share in a Non-Fiction swap at BookObsessed.

Unfortunately, it was not as good as had been promised. Halfway through this book I wondered if I was reading a memoir or the author's stand-up comedy routine. She may have intended to use humor to tell a painful story, but at times it came across as mean-spirited and poking fun at others—in this case her parents' Mennonite community and her mother in particular.

Not Now, Voyager by Lynne Sharon Schwartz I discovered Not Now, Voyager when browsing online back in May, which I detailed in my Friday Finds post on May 14. The publisher describes the book saying, “Not Now, Voyager takes us on a voyage of self-discovery as the author traces how travel has shaped her sensibilities from childhood through adulthood.”

Reading the book, I decided that it was definitely more of a memoir than a travelogue. (Which is a shame since I was offering it in an Armchair Travel Swap at BookObsessed.) Schwartz introduces herself stating that she hates to travel and then proceeds to illustrate that with scenes from various trips. It was an interesting read, but not quite what I expected for a book about travel. I guess you'd say this was a book about not traveling. So, I've included Not Now, Voyager by Lynne Sharon Schwartz as my second book in the Up to You! category.

And here's my final status: 12 out of 20 books; 6 out of 10 categories.

The Categories

  1. Young Adult
    1. What was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn
    2. The Great Good Thing by Roderick Townley
    Category completed. See May 8th's post for short reviews of these two books.
  2. T.B.R.
    1. She's No Faerie Princess by Christine Warren
    2. Mystery Loves Company by Kate Morgan
    Category completed, and I posted a quick description of each of these books on May 8th.
  3. Shiny & New
    1. Swimming Without a Net by MaryJanice Davidson
    2. Vampire Sunrise by Carole Nelson Douglas
    Another category completed and some information about the books posted in the May 8th post.
  4. Bad Bloggers***
    This category was to include books that I had read about on another Blogger's site and was so motivated to read that I just had to go out and get the book. But, I was so busy trying to keep up with my book swapping at BookObsessed that I didn't find time to pursue this category.
  5. Charity
    I bought a lot of books at local used book stores—Half-Priced Books and Records (several locations in the DFW Metroplex) and Recycled Books, Records, and CDs in Denton. But, I didn't buy any books at charity shops. I did browse through the books at Goodwill in Denton, but they had very few books, unlike the charity shops I have previously visited in England and Ireland. So, I bought and read no books from charity shops in 2010.
  6. New in 2010
    1. The Mage in Black by Jaye Wells
    2. Hell Fire by Ann Aguirre
    This category is now completed. I reviewed The Mage in Black in May 8th's post and my review of Hell Fire is on September 19th's.
  7. Older Than You
    Oh my! I started this challenge with every intention of reading several classics—most of which were published before I was born—and I didn't read a single one.
  8. Win! Win!
    I had intended to read two novels by Anthony Trollope to meet this category since I had signed up for the Trollope challenge. Unfortunately, I did not finish reading these books. In fact, I'm only 1/4 of the way into The Warden, first in Trollope's Barsetshire Chronicles.
  9. Who Are You Again?
    1. Enchanted, Inc. Shanna Swendson
    2. Defending Angels by Mary Stanton
    See my review of Enchanted, Inc. in the September 19th entry and a quick review of Defending Angels at the top of this post.
  10. Up to You!
    1. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
    2. Not Now, Voyager by Lynne Sharon Schwartz
    This category—in which I chose to read two memoirs— is completed. See reviews of both books at the top of this post.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Read-a-Thon: Time's Up!

All done!

Reading Location: at home on my couch

Currently reading: Avenging Angels by Mary Stanton

Total Pages read so far: 649

Total Time spent reading so far: 552 minutes (9 hours 12 minutes)

Other Readers I have visited: None recently.

Mini-challenges completed Back-in-the-Day Children’s Book Challenge, Shake Those Pom Poms, Attempting Audiobooks and the Mid-event meme.

Finished Books: Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton and The Good Ghouls' Guide to Getting Even by Julie Kenner.

Comments: I enjoyed my participation and wish I could have stayed awake for the full 24 hours. Summary post to follow later.

Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton The Good Ghouls' Guide to Getting Even by Julie Kenner Avenging Angels by Mary Stanton

Read-a-Thon: the home stretch

One more hour

Reading Location: at home on my couch

Currently reading: Avenging Angels by Mary Stanton

Total Pages read so far: 627

Total Time spent reading so far: 512 minutes (8 hours 32 minutes)

Other Readers I have visited: None recently.

Mini-challenges completed Back-in-the-Day Children’s Book Challenge, Shake Those Pom Poms, Attempting Audiobooks and the Mid-event meme.

Finished Books: Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton and The Good Ghouls' Guide to Getting Even by Julie Kenner.

Comments: Yeah, I fell asleep! While I feel really rested now, I wish I had been able to stay awake and keep reading instead of sleeping for 6 hours.

Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton The Good Ghouls' Guide to Getting Even by Julie Kenner Avenging Angels by Mary Stanton

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Read-a-Thon: 8 more hours

It's getting late

Reading Location: at home on my couch, but I'm still sitting up

Currently reading: Avenging Angels by Mary Stanton

Total Pages read so far: 616

Total Time spent reading so far: 497 minutes (8 hours 17 minutes)

Other Readers I have visited: None in the last hour or so.

Mini-challenges completed Back-in-the-Day Children’s Book Challenge, Shake Those Pom Poms, Attempting Audiobooks and the Mid-event meme.

Finished Books: Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton and The Good Ghouls' Guide to Getting Even by Julie Kenner.

Comments: I'm slowing down. My eyes feel tired and I think I'm going to need to pick up a different book for a while to build my energy back up. The house is also hot, so I'm either going to have to change into a short-sleeved shirt or adjust the thermostat. Getting too warm is a guaranteed way to fall asleep when I don't intend to.

Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton The Good Ghouls' Guide to Getting Even by Julie Kenner Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton

Bad Bad

I just discovered that assigns a timestamp to the post at the time you click on the "New Post" link and not at the time you click "Publish Post". So, in those cases where it takes me 10-20 minutes (or more) to compose my post, they wind up with a timestamp that's not quite accurate. Normally that wouldn't matter, but today while I'm participating in Dewey's Read-a-Thon and posting every hour or two, that difference can really make the posts look all awkward.

Read-a-Thon: 14 down, 10 to go!

Beginning the home stretch

Reading Location:still at home on my couch

Currently reading: Avenging Angels by Mary Stanton

Total Pages read so far: 580

Total Time spent reading so far: 440 minutes (7 hours 20 minutes)

Other Readers I have visited: Azuki and Kanaye44.

Mini-challenges completed Back-in-the-Day Children’s Book Challenge, Shake Those Pom Poms, Attempting Audiobooks and the Mid-event meme.

Finished Books: Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton and The Good Ghouls' Guide to Getting Even by Julie Kenner.

Comments:It's been over an hour since I read anything in my book. I visited the blogs of a couple more participants in the Read-a-Thon, and I took the time to update my position in several Virtual Book Boxes at BookObsessed. I really like playing in swaps and virtual book boxes at BookObsessed. There are a great group of people who hand out there and by tracking the books we swap at, it's a lot of fun to see who has read a given book before I received it.

Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton The Good Ghouls' Guide to Getting Even by Julie Kenner Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton

Read-a-Thon: Mid-Event Survey

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon At the beginning of the 12th hour, someone over at the official Dewey's Read-a-Thon site posted that we were at the half-way mark. Unfortunately, she jumped the gun. The half-way mark occurs at the end of 12 hours—which is the beginning of the 13th hour. In other words, right now.

But, the half-way mark brings the Mid-Event Survey. It's fun to jump around the blogosphere and see what others have to say about their day so far.

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now?
2. How many books have you read so far?
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
9. Are you getting tired yet?
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?

My Answers:

  1. Right now—well when I go back to reading after posting—I'm reading Avenging Angels by Mary Stanton. It's the third in her Beaufort & Company mystery series and when I finish it, I will have read all three of these books this week.
  2. I've completed two books. I was only 9 pages into the first book when the Read-a-Thon began, so I pretty much consider that I read the whole book during this event.
  3. I'm eager to finish reading Avenging Angels, and then I'm going to turn to a book which I have loaded onto my Kindle. I'm reading Field of Dishonor by David Weber, which I purchased from Baen's Webscription eBook site.
  4. I told everyone that I was busy all day and not to plan anything. That almost worked.
  5. My husband's parents planned lunch today at a nearby Chinese restaurant. Hubby was helpful and I read in the car all the way there and back so there was just a little bit over an hour during which I couldn't read.
  6. This is my third Read-a-Thon, and I think I'm much more prepared this time. The only surprises that I'm finding are the wonderful posts on some of the blogs I've been visiting.
  7. I'd love to see the beginning time shift some next year. For three years, the Read-a-Thon has begun at 7am my local time. If the time could be shifted so that next year it would begin here at some other time like 1am—and likewise shifted around the world—and shifted again next October, then over time every part of the world would have had the opportunity to begin at a really good time or a really crummy time.
  8. Next year I hope to have more of my posts pre-written so it won't take me away from my reading so long to post updates. I do think I'm doing pretty good, though, as I read almost 7 hours in the first half of the event.
  9. Tired? Me? No, not yet. It's barely past supper time here. I'm afraid the hard time for me is going to be the wee hours of the morning when I'm the only one awake in the house.
  10. My best tip is to find a cozy spot and surround yourself with all the supporting stuff you need. I've got a large stash of Diet Cokes in the nearby fridge and that will keep me going throughout the night.

Read-a-Thon: Half-way there!

The Half-way Mark

Reading Location: still at home on my couch (I think I'll be here all night long!)

Currently reading: Avenging Angels by Mary Stanton

Total Pages read so far: 550

Total Time spent reading so far: 414 minutes (6 hours 54 minutes)

Other Readers I have visited: None since my last post.

Mini-challenges completed Back-in-the-Day Children’s Book Challenge, Shake Those Pom Poms and Attempting Audiobooks.

Finished Books: Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton and The Good Ghouls' Guide to Getting Even by Julie Kenner.

Comments: At 18:22, I finished my second book of the day, The Good Ghouls' Guide to Getting Even by Julie Kenner. Since it was a YA book and since there was at least one blank page at the end of each chapter, the page count per hour went up quite a lot. I'm now reading the third book in the Beaufort & Company Mystery series by Mary Stanton: Avenging Angels. I need to look her up at Fantastic Fiction and see if there are any more books in the series. I'm really enjoying it and sometime next week I'll post a review of the first three books.

Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton The Good Ghouls' Guide to Getting Even by Julie Kenner Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton

Read-a-Thon: At the eleventh hour

Hour the 11th

Reading Location:at home on my couch

Currently reading: The Good Ghouls' Guide to Getting Even by Julie Kenner

Total Pages read so far: 433

Total Time spent reading so far: 347 minutes (5 hours 47 minutes)

Other Readers I have visited: The only place I visited during this break in reading was Devourer of Books, where the hour's challenge was posted. I got so wound up in answering Jen's question about audio books that I'm including my answer in this post.

Mini-challenges completed Back-in-the-Day Children’s Book Challenge, Shake Those Pom Poms and Attempting Audiobooks.

Finished Books: Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton.

Comments: I have this curious relationship with audiobooks. If I happen to "read" the first book in a series in audio, I tend to need to read the rest of the series in audio instead of in text. I discovered this when, after listening to 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith, I tried to read Espresso Tales in print. I just couldn't enjoy it, so I ran out and bought the CDs and simply adored the story. So now, there's a new book in the series, The Importance of Being Seven, so I decided to listen to a sample of that book. Imagine my surprise when, unlike the 5 earlier books, this one was being read by David Rintoul and not by Robert Ian Mackenzie. Oh my! That's almost as bad as hiring a ghost writer! And, this new reader is going to take me some time to get used to.

Well, with that surprise, I decided to look at Corduroy Mansions, also by McCall Smith. Well, there are two editions available with two different readers—both unabridged! The first version is read by Andrew Sachs, and I think it is composed of all the podcast chapters which the The Telegraph broadcast as Corduroy Mansions was published in a serialized manner. The other version is read by Simon Prebble and I'm guessing it's a regular studio production. I listened to a short sample of each and I'm not sure I have a preference.

Lastly, I decided I'd see whether Davina Porter was reading the newest book in McCall Smith's Sunday Philosophy Club series: The Charming Quirks of Others. She's not! This book is being read by Hillary Neville. But, after listening to a sample, I'm feeling much better. I think she's not going to sound so terribly different from Ms. Porter.

So, while I'd much prefer to listen to Davina Porter—after all, she is Isabelle Dalhousie in my mind—I think I'll vote for Hillary Neville as my favorite reader/narrator of all the books I sampled.

Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton The Good Ghouls' Guide to Getting Even by Julie Kenner

Read-a-Thon: It's now the 10th hour

Beginning the 10th hour

Reading Location:at home on my couch

Currently reading: The Good Ghouls' Guide to Getting Even by Julie Kenner

Total Pages read so far: 346

Total Time spent reading so far: 312 minutes (5 hours 12 minutes)

Other Readers I have visited: Darren at Bart's Bookshelf was the first one to sign the Mr. Linky at hour one and post his "3 questions about me" information, so I thought I'd check him out. After all, there are many more gals than guys participating in this thing. (Heck! There are many more gals blogging about books, too.) And, I was curious to know why Darren is blogging at Bart's Bookshelf. Check his site out. You'll find the answer to that question and some well-thought-out reviews.

Mini-challenges completed Back-in-the-Day Children’s Book Challenge and Shake Those Pom Poms.

Finished Books: Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton.

Comments: I'm glad to be back home with no distractions. Hubby is sharing the living room with me, but he's got the remote control in his hand and he's jumping from game to game to keep up with the football. I'm hungry! He's going to fix rice to go with chili and I'm ready for him to go ahead and put it on! Who would have thought that reading would use so many calories?

Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton The Good Ghouls' Guide to Getting Even by Julie Kenner

Read-a-Thon: Shake your Pom-Poms Challenge

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon Well, I was not coordinated enough to be a cheerleader, but I was a very loud cheerer (let's be honest here—shouter). And I still remember several of the cheers from my high school days. This seems to be a pretty good adaptation:

Two books, four books, six books, a pile!
Keep on reading, can you see me smile?

Read-a-Thon: 8 hours down, 16 to go!

First book finished

Reading Location:at home on my couch

Next book to read: The Good Ghouls' Guide to Getting Even by Julie Kenner

Total Pages read so far: 282

Total Time spent reading so far: 277 minutes (4 hours 37 minutes)

Other Readers I have visited: Two more of my BookObsessed friends: Marlene and Shaunesay Next break, I'm going to go check out some of the folks I haven't met yet and see how their day is shaping up.

Mini-challenges completed Back-in-the-Day Children’s Book Challenge

Finished Books: Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton.

Comments: So now the Read-a-Thon is 1/3 over. Given the time zone I'm in, this is the easy stretch. I remember last April when I took an involuntary nap around 3am, so I'm going to try awfully hard to resist and keep reading through the wee hours. I'm pleased to have finished one book. It's the second of three and I have the third one sitting here ready for me to read. But for now, I'm going to take a break from celestial mysteries and read a Young Adult Paranormal book: The Good Ghouls' Guide to Getting Even by Julie Kenner. It looks like it's going to be funny.

Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton The Good Ghouls' Guide to Getting Even by Julie Kenner

Read-a-Thon: 7 hours in!

Update at the beginning of hour 8

Reading Location: back at home on my couch

Currently Reading: Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton

Total Pages read so far: 213

Total Time spent reading so far: 224 minutes

Other Readers I have visited: No new visits since my last post.

Mini-challenges completed Back-in-the-Day Children’s Book Challenge

Finished Books: none so far, but I'm getting close

Comments: At the beginning of the 5th hour (11am local time), we left the house to meet my parents-in-law for lunch. Hubby was driving, so I kept reading for the 16 minutes it took to get to the Chinese restaurant down the road. Lunch took right at an hour and I immediately picked up my book as soon as we were back in the car. We had to stop at the art supply store to pick up some things I needed for my Art Journaling class and then I read all the way home. So, in the 2.5 hours we were out and about, I read for 69 minutes, covering 71 pages and bringing me to a very thrilling place in my book. I've checked in over at BookObsessed, opened my mail, taken a short bio break, and gathered another Diet Coke to keep me company through the next hour. I'm settling in for a serious hour of reading and then I'll see what's been going on over on the official Read-a-Thon site.

Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton

Read-a-Thon: A quick hour 4 update

Update at the beginning of hour 4

Reading Location: still at home on my couch

Currently Reading: Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton

Total Pages read so far: 106

Total Time spent reading so far: 118 minutes

Other Readers I have visited: Two fellow BookObssessors: VeganMedusa in New Zealand and Dancing-dog in Tennessee.

Mini-challenges completed Back-in-the-Day Children’s Book Challenge

Finished Books: none so far

Comments: In the 3rd hour, I got myself a small snack consisting of a Granny Smith apple and some raw almonds. I should be good until lunch. Also, Hubby is watching NCAA football pre-game stuff on ESPN and I got distracted by a short feature on the Missouri-Colorado game which had 5 downs instead of the normal 4—which mistake by the officials cost Missouri the win. OK, so it wasn't reading, but I am better informed than when I sat down at the top of the hour. Otherwis, I'm making good progress through Angel's Advocate; looks like I'm reading about one page per minute on average. I'm going to pass on the mini-challenges for hour 2 and hour 3. Although I'm a big fan of Indie publishing, I'm not currently reading one right now and that appears to be the criteria for participating in this challenge.

Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton

Read-a-Thon: Hour 3 Update

Hour 3 Update

Reading Location: still at home on my couch

Currently Reading: Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton

Total Pages read so far: 82

Total Time spent reading so far: 92 minutes

Other Readers I have visited: Life as List who was one of the featured participants during hour 2. I left a comment.

Mini-challenges completed Back-in-the-Day Children’s Book Challenge

Finished Books: none so far

Comments: I'm splitting my non-reading time between Read-a-Thon activities—such as visiting the blogs of fellow participants and entering a few of the mini-challenges—and BookObsessed—where I'm posting in a Read-a-Thon thread and playing in the Cozy Mystery Swap.

Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton

My Third Read-a-Thon

Dewey's Read-A-Thon Time again for Dewey's Read-a-Thon. This semi-annual event draws together hundreds of readers all over the world as they dedicate 24 hours for serious reading, blogging about reading, and reading blogs about reading. For those of us who adore books, it's positively intoxicating.

This will be the third time that I have participated in the Read-a-Thon, and I'm hoping I've gotten just a little bit smarter and more organized. I'm using the same posting template that I developed for last April. That will allow me to copy it rapidly into a new blog entry and spend the minimum amount of time updating my blog and the maximum amount of time reading. There are a couple of family obligations at mid-day which will distract me and will somewhat cut into my total dedication to the Read-a-Thon, but families are important, too. Right?

By my clock, we start in approximately 15 minutes, so I'm going to quickly fix myself some breakfast, pop open a Diet Coke, and have my finger in my book ready to start reading right on the dot of 7am.

We Begin!

Reading Location: My house; the couch in the living room

Currently Reading: Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton

Comments: I'm starting on page 9 in Angel's Advocate. I figured I'd begin this 24-hour marathon with the second book of Mary Stanton's fascinating mystery series. I finished the first book, Defending Angels, last night so I'm all revved up and ready to go. I've pulled out several high-interest books to change things around during the day. It's going to be important to avoid getting tired or bored, and I'm never timid to switch things up. And, since I have several books in progress right now, I'm hoping to finish a couple of them before 7am tomorrow.

Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton

Thursday, September 30, 2010

BTT: Series

Booking Through Thursday logoIt's Thursday, so that means it's time for another Booking Through Thursday prompt. This week, bloggers are asked:

If you read series, do you ever find a series “jumping the shark?” How do you feel about that?

And, do you keep reading anyway?

I read series. I read lots of series. Right now, I can't think of a series where I've seen a definitive “jump the shark” episode. But if I run into one, I will not have a problem abandoning the series—particularly if I feel the stories are deteriorating, though it will probably take a couple of books for me to come to the decision that I'm not going to continue reading it.

I've said many times that I often decide what to read by what mood I'm in. This means that I will often step away from a series for quite some time before I return to it. Sometimes this is necessitated by the discrepancy between how fast I read and how slowly the publishers bring out books in a series. I read so many series that I have found it necessary to keep a master of list of the series I'm reading and my exact position in the on-going series so that I don't inadvertently buy a book that I've already read.

One other peculiarity is that I don't like to read series books out of order. Where this has become painful is with the free or deeply discounted eBooks that publishers have been giving away for the past year or so. I've got Persuader by Lee Child, the seventh in his Jack Reacher mystery series sitting on my Kindle, waiting until I can read books 2-6 and catch up to this point in the series and continue. Likewise, I picked up The Last Camel Died at Noon by Elizabeth Peters, sixth in her Amelia Peabody series, and I still need to read 2-5. And I was happy to take advantage of a “buy one, get one free” offer for Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand and Kitty Raises Hell, numbers 5 and 6 in Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville series. If I didn't already have so many books on hand which need to be read, I might just stock up on either Kindle editions or used paperbacks. But, I'm trying to be somewhat restrained in my book buying ...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hopping around the Blogoverse

Book Blogger Hop After last Friday's post announcing that I was joining the Book Blogger Hop over the weekend, I needed to do my part to visit the blogs of several fellow participants. I love visiting other bloggers' sites. The downside of that is how much I love reading other people's blogs. I could spend hours and hours reading about reading!

The first site I visited was That Bookish Girl written by Sarah. There, I read several reviews for PUF (Paranormal and Urban Fiction) novels. BAD Sarah! Tempt me to buy even more books! And, Sarah also reviews Young Adult fiction.

At That Bookish Girl, I discovered that there will be a Halloween Read-a-Thon the weekend of 15-17 October. Much as I might enjoy participating, I think my son's wedding will have priority. Maybe next year.

Two paths led to Lesley's Young Adult Books Reviewed site. Not only was she participating in the Book Blogger Hop, she's also the organizer for the Halloween Read-a-Thon. As her site's title says, she reviews YA books. These are a special favorite—particularly since J. K. Rowling revised the genre. YA books are now longer and more complex, making them—for me—much more enjoyable.

The last site I visited this week was The Bookish Snob where Belinda carries on a love affair with romance and paranormal fiction.

One thing that was surprising to me was that all three of these girls are relative newbies on the blogging scene. Belinda's first post was in May 2010, while both Sarah and Lesley started blogging in July. Another thing that they have in common is that they are enthusiastic bloggers and reviewers. They bring a lot of energy to the community and I wish them well.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Return to Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop It's been three and a half months since I last participated in the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books. She's updated the process and now includes a question of the week similar to the Booking Through Thursday weekly meme.

This week's question comes from Elizabeth who blogs at Silver's Reviews.

When you write reviews, do you write them as you are reading or wait until you have read the entire book?

I never write a review before I finish reading a book. Actually, I don't write many reviews. I think it's because I keep flashing back to book reports in the fifth grade and how they ruined the pleasure I had in reading a book with the addition of the chore to write a report. And yet, I really appreciate a well-written review—particularly one which doesn't just reiterate the plot of the book but which also draws you in and makes you really want to read the book. Maybe I should work on this?

An on-going aspect of the Book Blogger Hop is that participants are asked to "hop" over to other blogger's sites and check them out. I will visit at least three other blogs and then post on Monday who I visited and what I saw. Meanwhile, if you're reading my blog because of the Hop, welcome.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

BTT: Current

Booking Through Thursday logoLaura is repeating a question from some time ago, but as she points out, for avid readers, the answer is continually changing.

What are you reading right now? What made you choose it? Are you enjoying it? Would you recommend it? (And, by all means, discuss everything, if you’re reading more than one thing!)

I try to keep the home page up to date with the books I'm currently reading. Even when I'm taking a break from blogging, I still update the home page regularly. So, if you take a look today, you'll see this:

Currently Reading

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown Field of Dishonor by David Weber The Warden by Anthony Trollope Reap the Wild Wind by Julie Czerneda

I only have space for four book covers in this section, so even if I'm reading more than four books at once—and yes that occurs from time to time—I'll list the four most "active" reads.

The first book in my list is The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. I'm listening to this book on unabridged CDs. Since the only time that I listen to it is when I'm alone in the car, I expect it will take me months and months to finish reading this book. I'm currently on disk 8 of 15, so I guess that means I'm about midway into the book. I'm enjoying it, and even though I have a print copy of the book available, I really like the reader, Paul Michael, so I'm going to stick with the audio book. I originally picked this book when I saw the CDs at the public library. It was taking me so long to read through the book—at most one or two disks on any day—that I returned the audio book to the library and picked up a used copy at the local recycled book store.

I'm an eBook junkie. (After reading any of my posts, does this come as a surprise?) So, on my Blackberry, I have David Weber's Field of Dishonor, fourth book in his Honor Harrington series. I purchased this book from Baen's online Webscriptions store. Reading on the Blackberry isn't something that I'll do for a sustained period of time. Rather, it provides me with very convenient access to a book at times when it might not be easy to pull out a paper or electronic book. It's probably obvious that I picked this book because I'm reading my way through the series and this is how far I've gotten so far.

For at least six months I've had a copy of The Warden by Anthony Trollope loaded on my Kindle. I'm somewhere in chapter 5 (of 21), but it's been quite some time since I read anything in this book, so I'm going to have to back up and do some re-reading to get myself back into the story. Trollope's writing is quite different from contemporary authors and requires me to pay more attention as I'm reading. I set myself a goal of reading at least two of Trollope's novels this year, so I need to buckle down and spend some serious time in Barsetshire. I have to rave about the version of this book that I'm reading. I downloaded it from MobileRead, and it is a very high quality eBook—much more so that some commercially produced books that I've purchased.

And the final book in my active list is Reap the Wild Wind, first in Julie Czerneda's Stratification trilogy. I am a real fan of Czerneda's books and I own a paperback copy of this book as well as a copy I purchased for the Kindle. I'm in the middle of chapter six and since this book is also on my Kindle, I'm going to have to resist the pull of this book on my flight home tonight and keep my focus on making progress through the Trollope novel.