Bloggiesta Wrap-up

Bloggiesta ended nearly a week ago now, but finally, here is my wrap-up post! I participated mostly on the Thursday. I’m happy with what I achieved, though I didn’t work on any reviews which is the point of this blog, so tomorrow I’m going to focus on scheduling a few. Here’s a recap of my to do list:

  • Catch up on commenting
    • Success! I commented on a number of posts I had saved for later reading, as well as more recent posts.
  • Write and schedule posts currently in drafts
    • No success… bumped to tomorrow’s to do!
  • Cross post reviews to Goodreads
    • No success…but really this is just a ‘someday’ item
  • Finish writing ‘about me’
    • Success! It’s still not phrased quite as nicely I would like it to be, but it’s got all the essential information I wanted to include.
  • Brainstorm a monthly schedule and ideas for posts that are different from what I currently do
    • Partial success! I have a pile of ideas…now to determine the best way to implement them, on a schedule I could realistically maintain. Figuring out my schedule may still take a bit of time, as I just moved to a new country in August and started my first full time job this month.
  • Streamline social media links (add icons?)
    • Success! I found some clean and simple icons in a colour to match my blog.
  • Organize the sidebar (add a second one?)
    • Success! I hope the sidebar is more useful now.
  • Participate in a mini challenge or two, and check out other participants’ blogs to see what everyone is working on!
    • Partial success! I didn’t participate in any mini challenges, but I did visit other blogs and explored old challenges to have a go at in the future. 

Thanks to everyone who stopped by my blog during this event and to those book bloggers who continue to inspire me!

A Quick Review In Disguise: Emberton by Peter Norman

Author: Peter Norman
Title: Emberton
Format/Source: Paperback/library 
Published: March 2014
Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre
Length: 295 pages
Genre:Um, some sort of literary (see below)
Why I Read: Reviewed in local paper; “comic gothic thriller for lovers of books and language”!!
Read If You’re: Looking for a strange mystery, interested in the power of language
Rating:  β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜… [ratings guide]
Links: GoodReadsIndieBound Chapters | Book Depository 
I finished this book just before I left for Japan (end of July). I started to outline a review because I really enjoyed this book and I think it could use a signal boost, but I ran out of time!Although this looks like a full review, it’s really just a bits and pieces one…I had all the formatting done before I left Japan, though, so I’ve left it in πŸ˜›

I loved the noir atmosphere of this book, even if it got a bit twisted towards the end (see next paragraph). I loved the mystery of an old school dictionary company going out of their way to hire an illiterate man. What’s the catch?! I enjoyed the writing style and wish I had a copy of the book still so I could post a quote or two. I think this is a good debut novel and I will be intrigued by what Norman publishes next.

The ending of the book felt a bit slow and drawn out. I did like the strangeness of it all, but it gave me a weird feeling. It unsettled me? It was an odd feeling, one I haven’t really encountered while reading. I like the idea of how everything played out, but it was definitely a bit odd and maybe even creepy for me. The last forty or fifty pages took a shift in mood that made me feel off. The unique mix of mystery, language, humour and horror really comes to a head in the book’s ending. Ack, hard to describe…

I really liked Lance (the main character) as a person. I don’t usually think that about characters – how  much I like or dislike them – but with Lance, I did think “Wow, he is a really likeable character!” I would like to be friends with Lance. I thought Norman portrayed Lance’s illiteracy very well, in a manner that broke my heart to realize what being illiterate means for many people. Some of the other characters are less interesting (Elena failed to really capture my interest) but I think Lance makes up for that.

The Bottom Line: If you love reading or language and have an interest in something a little strange, give this book a go.


Bloggiesta To Do

    In short, Bloggiesta is a blogging marathon revolving around ticking off those items on your to-do list and improving your blog while in the good company of other awesome bloggers doing the same thing. Our awesome mascot Pedro (Plan. Edit. Develop. Review. Organize) is ready to break out the nachos, enchiladas, drinks, mariachi music and whack a pinata or two! It’s nothing short of an awesome fiesta!”

    I’m participating in Bloggiesta this weekend! I have a very ambitious to do list. These are all things I’d like to get done sooner or later, so I want to cross some off during Bloggiesta.

    • Catch up on commenting
      • I’ve saved so many great posts that I made me think and want to leave a comment. Now I need to do so!
    • Write and schedule posts currently in drafts
      • After an August too busy for much reading, I’ve been reading at least an hour a day in September. I have four review posts to work on.
    • Cross post reviews to Goodreads
      • I think a few of my new reviews (from this year) have slipped through the cracks, and I’d like to add some of my better older reviews as well.
    • Finish writing ‘about me’
      • It’s in a very sorry state at the moment! I don’t know how many people really read these things, but I think it looks bad unfinished…
    • Brainstorm a monthly schedule and ideas for posts that are different from what I currently do
      • Right now I get by mostly on reviews and participating in the occasional event as they come, but I would like to do more to get my brain working and my creative juices flowing. I think making a schedule might help me remember to write something different every once in awhile.
    • Streamline social media links (add icons?)
      • I know very little about blog design but I would like to work on mine a bit more. I like checking out the different cute icons bloggers use for social media and would like to get something like that going on my own blog.
    • Organize the sidebar (add a second one?)
      • There’s a lot going on in that sidebar and I can’t decide what I want to prioritize, remove or add. It could use some tidying.
    • Participate in a mini challenge or two, and check out other participants’ blogs to see what everyone is working on!
      • For inspiration and motivation, of course πŸ™‚

    What’s on your blogging to-do list?

    Quick Review: Into Another Life

    These two books I read gave insight into lives very different from my own, set in different times and countries. Read at the end of July.

    • Moon at Nine by Deborah Ellis
      • Rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…Β½ [ratings guide
      • I read some of Ellis’ books when I was a lot younger (probably around the target age, maybe a bit younger) but I didn’t really understand them because I had no context in which to place the stories. I perhaps vaguely knew there was a place called the Middle East, but I knew nothing about it so her stories mostly confused me. I couldn’t (or didn’t want to) believe that they were based in reality, that the stories probably did happen to someone.
        • Because of these confused early encounter, I wasn’t interested in Ellis’ work but the premise of this one was very intriguing and I knew it would at least be a quick read so I gave it a shot.
      • As I thought, a quick and intense read.
      • I think this would be a good educational read for middle grade. The romance is sweet and simple, as the political and geographical settings takes the centre stage. Some might criticize this book for being just another story about ‘tragic gays’, but I think the focus is really more on the political regime of the time (which resulted in tragic gays).
      • However, I found the ending very brutal. Realistic, perhaps, but tough to swallow. Books like this are important, because I think they can shake readers awake to some of the atrocities happening around the world, but how do you do that without scaring the reader too badly? I feel a bit petty thinking this, because whatever uncomfortable feeling you get from reading about something is far less than if you had actually experienced what you’re reading about, but I think there should be some offer of hope if the reader is to be motivated to act against the issues they’ve just read about. I’m not sure there’s enough of that in this book, though Ellis does included resources for those who want to learn further.
    • Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
      •  Rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…Β½ [ratings guide]
      • It had been awhile since I read any Murakami! I wanted to read one before heading to Japan, so I went for one of his most popular books.
      • I’m not sure why this one is popular, though. Maybe because it’s more accessible than something like Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World? Personally, I prefer the magical realism found in most of Murakami’s novels, but that’s nowhere to be in this one.  For me those touches of magic are what set his work apart and give it a distinct flavour. 
      • That being said, the Murakami prose I’ve grown to love is ever present. That’s the key to his works for me – I can read anything he wishes to write about, as long as it’s done in his signature style. That’s how I made it through 1Q84 πŸ˜› 
      • Overall, I still enjoyed the story. It was a very nice read during a quiet weekend at the lake. It just isn’t the Murakami novel I’d champion above all others.

    RIP IX Readalong

    I’ve signed up for my first readalong! I’ve been hungering for some more good quality creepy reading, especially with the fall season approaching, so I was happy to stumble across this one. The Estella Society is hosting a readalong of The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. I’ve only read We Have Always Lived in the Castle but that was enough to make me interested in more of Jackson’s work (I really should get to The Lottery soon…). Are you reading any spooky books this month? Will you join me for this readalong?