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

End of Event SurveyDewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon

Busy weekend! I feel like my theme for this Read-a-thon was ‘late for everything.’ 😛 Lots of great things have been happening in October, but I will appreciate some breathing time in November. I ended up reading for 5 hours and 15 minutes. I lost three planned hours of reading to socializing of all things. I go to the pub maybe four times a year and of course one of those times had to fall on Read-a-thon night. The occasion was a friend’s going away party, as they’re moving to Arctic, so I didn’t really want to skip that.

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? I didn’t feel ‘daunted’, per se, but I planned to read all through hour eleven and that plan fell out the window in favour of watching hockey.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? The Slacker by Gordon Korman made for a relatively quick and fun read. A good book for when you need a ‘break’.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season? I didn’t participate too much this time, so I can’t say if anything needs to be improved.
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? This kind of ties in to the above question. I don’t know how well it worked, but I think it probably took some stress/expectations by eliminating cheerleading. I signed up to cheerlead in the past and it was a bit frustrating going from blog to blog of people who signed up but weren’t actually participating. I had more fun cheering for people who were visible and actively participating on Twitter.
  5. How many books did you read? I read 50% of one book, 90% of another, and 10% of a third. I guess that makes one and a half!
  6. What were the names of the books you read? The Witches of New York, The Slacker, and When Friendship Followed Me Home
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? The Witches of New York
  8. Which did you enjoy least? The two middle grades are so far on par with each other – nothing amazing, but nothing unenjoyable.
  9. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again?  Very likely! I don’t have any plans, though I suppose it could be early to tell. I hope I will be less busy next time and able to read for 10+ hours.

Hour 3

Three hours into the Read-a-thon, I’m finally filling out the introductory survey.

  1. What fine part of the world are you reading from today? – Winnipeg, Canada. It’s a fine foggy day for reading.
  2. Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? – I’m currently reading The Witches of new York, which I love. I expect it will be hard for any of the other books to beat this.
  3. Which snack are you most looking forward to? – Salt and vinegar Crispers. I’ve had a hankering for them this past week.
  4. Tell us a little something about yourself! – I’m currently in the process of applying to MLIS programs.
  5. If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? I’m taking this one more casually than the last one. There’s been a lot of flux in work-related stuff, so I just want to have a fun day of reading and socializing.

Pre-Read-a-thon

Good morning! Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon kicks off in about 15 minutes. I scheduled this post last night – have I woken up in time? You’ll have to nag me on Twitter if I haven’t posted there yet 😛 I’ll be updating this post a few times throughout the day, but I’ll be most active on Twitter. I do have a few distractions tomorrow – tutoring, a book event at the public library (going to hear Jen Sookfong Lee discuss The Conjoined!) and a farewell party. I have packed my bags and set out my clothes to minimize prep time for the outings.

October 2016 Readathon StackLast night I prepped my reading stack and my munching stack, two stacks that are of almost equal importance when read-a-thoning. I’ve prepared a YA/MG sandwich. I’m focusing on MG fiction for the Cybils, but I’ve thrown in two YAs in case I feel like mixing things up: a book that my Dad and I are doing for Family Reads (Every Hidden Thing) and a book that has to go back to the library soon (Like a River Glorious). I’ll also probably be finishing up The Witches of New York, as I don’t think I’ll have time tonight.

As for food, I’ve planned two out of three meals (figuring out lunch always disrupts my schedule, even when I’m not trying to read all day…). I’ve got muesli, fruit and yogurt ready for breakfast and I’ve discussed ordering in pizza with my family. I’ve tucked my non-perishable snacks under my reading table – pumpkin seeds, candy corn, and salt and vinegar Crispers. I haven’t eaten those in years but I had a craving.

My goal for this year is 8 hours of reading. Are you participating in the Read-a-thon?

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October KidLit Blog Hop

October KidLit Blog HopThis monthly hop is designed to engage a group of people who love everything that has to do with children’s literature. Everyone is welcome to join us: bloggers, authors, publicist, and publishers!

For the October KidLit Blog Hop, I thought I’d review the reading I’ve done and plan to do for the Cybils this month. Public nominations closed on October 15. I went through the nominees list and noted which books my public library has (total: 28).

Read So Far

ocdanielall-rise-for-the-honourable-perryFull of Beans cover my-life-with-the-liars

  • My Life with the Liars by Caella Carter – A strange book about a young girl who is rescued from a cult. I’m not sure who this would appeal to.
  • Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm – A fun story set in a time and place with which I was unfamiliar (Key West in the 1930s). I feel like this book should exemplify middle grade historical fiction.
  • All Rise for the Honourable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor – Although I had to suspend my disbelief at the story’s premise, I came to appreciate its greater significance as a tale about a kid whose family can be found in a correctional centre. I like children’s books that include adult perspectives. Plus Perry is an easily lovable character.
  • OCDaniel by Wesley King – The protagonist of King’s novel struggles with OCD but doesn’t know it. This book offers a realistic portrayal of how kids can experience mental illness. The murder mystery and football plot lines were unexpected but mostly fun.

Slacker book coverI’m currently reading Slacker by Gordon Korman. When I was in fifth grade, my teacher read aloud from his books to us. I adored Radio Fifth Grade, I Want to Go Home, and the MacDonald Hall Books. I remember being disappointed when he began publishing ‘serious’ disaster stories such as Island, but I enjoyed that as well. Slacker sounds to me to be ‘classic’ Korman, and it’s off to a good start. Though it feels a bit strange reading one of his novels set in the present day!

Upcoming Reading

I have the following books currently signed out from the library. Thanksgiving and a road trip interrupted my progress, but this Saturday is Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon – a perfect opportunity to get through a stack of middle grade fiction!

  • When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin
  • Makoons by Louise Erdrich
  • The Nine Lives of Jacob Tibbs by Cylin Busby
  • The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey
  • Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Be sure to check out this master post for a list of other participants in the October KidLit Blog Hop. Have you read any great children’s lit recently?

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