Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon Master Post (April 2017)

Closing Survey

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
    • Hour 8 – I had a short nap, which I thought would be good, but when I tried to go outside, I decided to go back to bed and slept for another hour and a half…
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a reader engaged for next year?
    • I did really well at choosing books suitable for a read-a-thon this year. I recommend Amina’s Voice or From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (both short yet enjoyable middle grade fiction).
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season?
    • I wasn’t active much online this time around, so can’t comment on this.
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
    • See above.
  5. How many books did you read?
    • I finished one book, read four others in their entirety, and started two more. I finally did a read-a-thon like people have been saying to! (Choosing multiple short reads instead of a few long ones ^^;)
  6. What were the names of the books you read?
    • A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab – finished reading
    • Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan – entire book
    • The Luck of the Karluk by L.D. Cross – entire book
    • Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day George – entire book
    • From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – entire book
    • Icemen by Mick Conefrey and Tim Jordan – started
    • If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo – started
  7. Which book did you enjoy most?
    • I’m happy to report I enjoyed all the books I read. I don’t know if I can pick one the most! I had a lot of fun reading Wednesday in the Tower, because it had been so long since I read the first book and I enjoy the characters and setting.
  8. Which did you enjoy least?
    • Technically, I enjoyed The Luck of the Karluk the ‘least’, but I still found it to be a good read and introduction to the Karluk.
  9. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? 
    • I won’t be able to participate in the next read-a-thon (October 21) as I will be in Seattle for a Depeche Mode concert~

I read 924 pages in 8.25 hours. Although I didn’t meet my hours read goal, I definitely surpassed my time in the previous read-a-thon. For the first time ever, I read all the books I had picked specifically for the read-a-thon, and a little bit more! I allowed myself a lot of flexibility with regards to meals – I cooked up a Thai soup for my family for lunch and went out with my family for dinner. I had a lovely day, even if it wasn’t 100% read-a-thon focused. How was your Read-a-thon?

Somewhere in Hour 3

In a pleasant twist of expectations, I woke up well-rested shortly after 7:00AM. I finished A Conjuring of Light in bed. Then I got up to do my usual morning chores and eat breakfast. After breakfast, I read Amina’s Voice in one sitting, in my cozy reading spot. It has occurred to me this will be my last read-a-thon in that spot :O Now I’m taking a little break to complete the introductory survey and check out some mini-challenges.

  1. What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
    • Winnipeg, Canada. Primarily snuggled up in my bedroom.
  2. Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
    • I have a lot of good choices in my stack today, but I was most looking forward to Amina’s Voice which turned out to be just as good as I’ve heard.
  3. Which snack are you most looking forward to?
    • Rootbeer – it’s been ages since I’ve drank some.
  4. Tell us a little something about yourself!
    • Hm, what random fact can I throw out this time…I am in love with my diffuser from Saje. I don’t know if I buy into aromatherapy, but I can appreciate a pleasant scent while I’m reading 😛
  5. If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? 
    • Last October I had already had a bunch of plans on read-a-thon day, so I didn’t get to read as much as I wanted to. Today I hope to read twice as much as last time.

Preparation

Good morning! Today is Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon. I can’t believe this is my seventh time participating. I will update this post a few times throughout the day, but I will be most active on Twitter. I have had a hectic week and I am looking forward to indulging in reading today. For the first time ever, I have curated a TBR that I think I could actually get through today). I focused on middle grade and short non-fiction.

  • Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan (197 pages, middle grade fiction) – My hold finally came in from the library a few days ago (just in time for read-a-thon!)
  • The Luck of the Karluk by L.D. Cross (137 pages, non-fiction) – I’ve read three books about the Karluk (two non-fiction, one fiction) and am hoping for a more objective perspective from this book published in 2015.
  • Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day George (225 pages, middle grade fantasy) – I read Tuesdays at the Castle, the first book in this series, exactly two years ago during a previous read-a-thon. I think these books are a good choice for today.
  • From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (162 pages, middle grade fiction) – A classic middle-grade that I’ve been meaning to read.
  • Icemen: A History of the Arctic and its Explorers by Mick Conefrey and Tim Jordan (180 pages, non-fiction) – I found this book while waiting for somebody at the library. I’m hoping it’ll brush up my overall knowledge of Arctic exploration (I only really know about the Franklin expedition and the last voyage of the Karluk). Not sure I’ll be in the mood for two Arctic books, though.

I still have a number of books from my TBR stack that I could also read. Perhaps I will finally finish A Conjuring of Light…My goal for today is 10 hours of reading. I think I’ve got enough to keep me interested!

On the snack front, I made an apple scone today and my mom also baked, so there are many treats to sustain me throughout Saturday! I have also done some prep to make a Thai soup for lunch. There’s a two litre of rootbeer open in the fridge, so that will be my ‘indulgence’ of the day.

I am sleeping in today, so who knows when I’ll start reading ^^; Are you participating in the Read-a-thon? Hope everyone has a great day! 

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Celebrating Elizabeth Goudge

Hosted by Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

Back in March, Lory announced she would once again be inviting readers Elizabeth Goudgeto celebrate the birthday of Elizabeth Goudge by reading one of her works and sharing their thoughts. I hadn’t heard of Goudge, so I ventured over to Wikipedia and learnt that one of the works she is most known for is called The Little White Horse, a children’s novel I would classify as a mix between historical and fantasy. Although this book won’t appeal to everyone due to its particular tone and simple plot, I found it a comforting read.

When orphaned young Maria Merryweather arrives at Moonacre Manor, she feels as if she’s entered Paradise. Her new guardian, her uncle Sir Benjamin, is kind and funny; the Manor itself feels like home right away; and every person and animal she meets is like an old friend. But there is something incredibly sad beneath all of this beauty and comfort—a tragedy that happened years ago, shadowing Moonacre Manor and the town around it—and Maria is determined to learn about it, change it, and give her own life story a happy ending. But what can one solitary girl do?

This book kept me grounded this week. I had just begun to take my apartment search to the next level by scheduling a few viewings. I had always known this would be the most stressful part of the ‘getting into grad school’ process. Starting the search made that really sink. The point being, I read The Little White Horse when my mind was all abuzz with concerns of practical adult life. Although I found it difficult at times to focus, this lovely little tale kept me grounded by being the just what I needed to put my head in the clouds. 😉

Despite the title, the ‘little white horse’ plays only a small role in the story. The conflict stems from historical family feuds, with Maria stepping into the role of the one who can finally set everything right. That story is simple enough and resolved relatively easily. What I enjoyed most about this book are the descriptions of the Kindgom of Moonacre. Maria finds herself in a wonderful world, tucked away in its own corner of England. I think many lovers of fantasy would be happy to trade places with Maria, to experience the decorated manor, homecooked meals, and beautiful woodlands would appreciate the scenes depicted in this book. Illustrations by C. Walter Hodges compliment the mood of the story. I particularly liked the map of Moonacre Manor.

Some aspects of the story feel dated. 10 year old me, accustomed to the middle grade fantasies of the nineties, probably wouldn’t have enjoyed this book.  There is some emphasis on God, and womanly duties (though Maria certainly isn’t constrained by them – I think she exemplifies how a character can be feminine and still a hero). The talk of marriage between Maria and Robin felt a bit out of place. But these things all gave the book a unique sort of charm, different from the sorts of contemporary fantasies I read today.

I’m glad I picked up this book. This is one of those little gems I wouldn’t have stumbled upon without book blogging. Goudge has a number of other novels, including more children’s. I wonder how her other works compare to this one… Have you read anything by Elizabeth Goudge? Check out Lory’s blog tomorrow (Friday) for a wrap-up of Goudge Reading Day posts. 

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Tolkien Reading Day 2017

March 25 is Tolkien Reading Day. Organized by the Tolkien Society, the day was chosen to coincide with the defeat of Sauron. The day was established “to encourage fans to celebrate and promote the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien by reading favourite passages”. My posts covers my plans for today + 8 playlists to listen to while reading your favourite Tolkien tales.

Too much time has passed since  I read much by or about Tolkien. I recently completed Tolkien in Translation and that has renewed by hunger for Middle-earth. I read that book for a guest post I’m doing as part of Pages Unbound‘s two week long celebration of Tolkien Reading Day. They’ve been featuring a post a day about Tolkien (including many guest posts) since March 19, so be sure to check it out. My review of Tolkien in Translation will be posted there on 31 March.

I actually have some fun plans beyond reading Tolkien all day (see below for my book choices). Way back in October at Comic-con, I bought tickets to an event titled “All Who Wander” that will feature dramatic readings from the Middle-Earth canon and acapella renditions of songs from The Lord of the Rings. Sounds like a fun evening!

Today’s Reading

Tolkien Reading Day 2017 TBR

  • A Secret Vice by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgins – I started this book way back in the summer. I only finished the introduction. Time to delve into the lecture proper.
  • The Botany of Middle-Earth by Dinah Hazell – A lovely hardcover that’s been sitting too long on my shelf.
  • The Hobbit facsimile first edition – I received this edition as a Christmas gift in 2016. This edition replicates both the original text (which Tolkien made some significant modifications to after publishing The Lord of the Rings) and the design of The Hobbit as first published in 1937.

Recommended Listening

One of my favourite websites for discovering thematic background music is 8tracks. 8tracks allows users to create and tag their own mixes. The website has an extensive tagging system so you can pinpoint just the kind of music you want to listen to. I would like to recommend 8 of my favourite Tolkien-themed playlists. Playlist themes include places, races, characters, and particular chapters. Below I’ve listed the title of the playlist and the description given by the playlist creator. Links to listen to the playlists on 8tracks. I’ve embedded my most listened playlist 🙂

Rohan from mindlessdesigns on 8tracks Radio.

  1. In Places Deep – Songs for Erebor (“An instrumental mix for the high, proud halls under the Lonely Mountain, for the clang of hammer-falls and the roar of the forge, gold-veined caverns and lost places deep in the earth.”)
  2. Alix’s Hobbit-Style Birthday Playlist (“Guess what! It’s my birthday today, and in true hobbit fashion I’m giving you all a gift! Here’s a playlist of some of my personal favorite Tolkien-inspired music.”)
  3. Rohan (“A mix for the men of Rohan.”)
  4. Songs of Forgotten Kings (“songs for the Dunedain, the songs of forgotten kings”)
  5. A Elbereth Gilthoniel (“a mostly instrumental mix for varda elentári, queen of the valar and renowned star-kindler”)
  6. The River Run (“Joined by a mysterious Ranger the party races to Rivendell. ‘It is a fair tale, though it is sad, as are all tales of Middle- earth, and yet it may lift up your hearts.’ – Strider.”)
  7. Songs for Middle-Earth IV (“The fourth addition to a never ending collection of fanmixes dedicated to the beauty of Middle-earth. {featuring the soundtracks of BCC Merlin, War in the North & Kingdom of Heaven}”)
  8. Tolkien Readalong‘s playlists – Featuring playlists that follow readalongs of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. Additional playlists cover characters and appendices.

(All the Elvish playlists I saved seem to no longer be in existence :/ Guess I’ll have to find some new ones!) Do you have any plans for Tolkien Reading Day?

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A Champagne Birthday Celebration

Champagne Birthday Celebration

Inspired by Lianne @ Eclectic Tale’s birthday giveaway from last year.

This weekend is my champagne birthday! A champagne birthday occurs when you turn the age of your birthday. In my case, I am 25 on the 25th. I love the symmetry of 25. I feel like at 25, I’m starting to make good progress with my life. I am so happy with everything I’ve achieved thus far. A few highlights just from the recent years include road tripping to two Cloud Cult concerts, graduating from university with a specialization in a field I love, moving to Japan to teach for a year, WWOOFing in Ireland and New Zealand, and of course, keeping up with reading and writing this blog! I haven’t been home for my birthday the past two years (in fact, I am out of town this weekend so hopefully I’ve scheduled everything correctly :P). I am excited to celebrate with friends and family in the upcoming weeks.

To commemorate this occasion on the blog, I’ve decided to share 25 of my favourite books. These are all books that quickly came to mind when I asked myself, “What are some books I love? What are some great books I’ve read recently?” I created this list off the top of my head, without too much thinking, so this is by no means a definitive or prioritized list of my favourites. (Creating this list actually made me realize I should update my favourites shelf on Goodreads…) Links to reviews where applicable.

if you’ve got an opinion on any of these books, I’d love for you to share in the comments. Now onto the celebratory part – the giveaway! I am giving away one book of your choice from the above list (up to $25CAD value) via The Book Depository. The giveaway is open internationally to members of the online book community. A winner will be randomly selected and announced via Twitter on Friday 3 March (you do not need to have a Twitter account to participate). I will contact the winner via e-mail. They will have 48 hours to respond; otherwise I will draw again.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you ever celebrated a champagne birthday? Do any of my favourite coincide with yours? Which of these books are you curious about? Thanks for celebrating my birthday with me! 🙂
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Cybils 2016 Finalists

Cybils 2016

I am excited to share that Cybils 2016 (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards) finalists have been announced! From October to December, I served on a panel of five judges who read through the 100+ nominees in the middle grade fiction category. I had a great time discussing books with Karen, Sarah, Mindy, and Ryan. We had a lot of strong books to choose from this year. Without further ado, here are the middle grade finalists and a few of my thoughts on each:

Slacker by Gordon kormanMs. Bixby's Last Day

Full of Beans by Jennifer HolmSome Kind of Happiness In the Footsteps of Crazy HorseGhost by Jason Reynolds

  • Slacker by Gordon Korman – Slacker is Korman in his element, writing a hilarious tale about Cameron, who just wants to play video games. He creates a fake school club (the Positive Action Group) to convince his parents that he’s participating in extracurricular activities. His plan backfires as other students become interested in joining the club. I grew up reading old editions of the Macdonald Hall books, so it felt a little strange for me to read a Korman book where kids are playing PC games and using cell phones. Regardless of the time period, Slacker is classic Korman.
  • Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan – Check out my Family Reads post on this one.
  • Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson – A humorous yet moving story about three students who plan a special day for their favourite teacher, who has an aggressive form of cancer. Narrated in alternating chapters from the perspectives of the three boys, the reader learns about the friendship between the boys and why Ms. Bixby was such an important teacher to each of them.
  • In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall III – Jimmy McLean, a Lakota boy, undertakes a road trip with his grandfather. They visit historical locations with connection to Crazy Horse. As they travel, Jimmy’s grandfather tells him stories about Crazy Horse (which sometimes differ from the official White versions of the history). This is a great story about an important Indigenous historical figure, grandson-grandfather relationships, Indigenous identity, and American history.
  • Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand – I would have loved this book as a kid. Finley has depression and anxiety, but she doesn’t know that. When she has to spend the summer at her grandparents house with a bunch of family she’s never met, she takes to writing fantasy stories about the woods around the home. What’s the story behind the burned out home in the forest? Some Kind of Happiness deals beautifully with the struggles of mental illness that some children face.
  • Full of Beans by Jennifer Holm – My first impression of this book was “historical fiction for kids as it should be”. Set in 1934 Key West, Florida, money is short and Beans Curry (marbles champion) wants to help his mother out. He strikes up a working deal with a local smuggler. What could go wrong? A fun tale with a unique setting.
  • Ghost by Jason Reynolds – I have never been a reader of ‘sports book’, but here is a book that will appeal to sports fan and non-fans alike – even if the feature sport is track. Ghosts is a story about a kid finding something he loves doing, and learning how to push himself and be better. This is the first book I’ve read by Reynolds. Now I can see his appeal!

You can read more about each book in blurbs written by my fellow panelists on the Cybils website. The awards process will now move onto round two, where another group of judges will select a single winner from this shortlist. Winners will be announced on February 14. I think these are all excellent books and I’m glad I didn’t have to choose just one! There are 12 other categories (including picture books, young adult, and audiobooks) so be sure to check those out too.

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