Armchair Book Expo – Introduction

Armchair Book Expo
It’s been a couple years since I participated in Armchair Book Expo. Perhaps it will be just the jolt¬†to get me back into blogging regularly ūüėČ The¬†introduction prompt this year is 10 sentence starters; here are my responses to five of them:

  1. I am . . . a 25 year old Canadian currently working as an EA with dreams of becoming a children’s librarian (I start an MLIS in the fall).
  2. My favorite . . . authors are (in no prioritized order) Haruki Murakami, Helen Oyeyemi, Neil Gaiman, J.R.R. Tolkien, Cornelia Funke, Neal Shusterman, and Catherynne M. Valente.
  3. My current read . . .¬†I have a lot on the go right now. This afternoon I was reading¬†Independent People¬†by Halldor Laxness (Icelandic fiction from the 1950s). I’m also reading The Hobbit,¬†a book of Japanese haiku, and¬†Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right¬†by Arlie Russell Hothschild. (Saving the middle grade for this weekend’s 48 hour book challenge).
  4. My summer plans . . . include enjoying my last Winnipeg Fringe Festival (second largest in North America) before I move to Vancouver in August.
  5. My blog. . .primarily features reviews of a wide variety of books (including fiction and non-fiction), as recording my thoughts on what I read has always been my primary purpose in blogging. I post sporadically but try to work it out to eight times a month.

The other topic for today is¬†best practices in the online book community. I’m not the greatest at participating in community so¬†I don’t have much to say on this topic but I am interested in what other people come up with. (Perhaps what I would have to say could be distilled down to ‘be considerate’.) Time to blog hop!

Are you participating in Armchair BEA? Leave a link to your post in the comments if so~

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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 ūüėõ
  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‚Äôs 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‚ÄĒa tragedy that happened years ago, shadowing Moonacre Manor and the town around it‚ÄĒand 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. ūüėČ

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 ūüôā

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 elent√°ri, 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! ūüôā
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