Saturday, October 20, 2018

The 24 Hour Readathon, Fall 2018

And so we say goodbye to another Readathon! Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make Readathon happen. I found that this year, I checked in online periodically but I didn't really feel like participating in the mini-challenges or bingo. So I did a lot of reading and it was lovely.

Closing Survey
1. Which hour was most daunting for you? Friends, I was tired this time around! I usually make it to at least hour 18 or so, which is 2 a.m. on the East Coast of the United States. This time, I was falling asleep in my book before midnight. Oh well!
2. Tell us ALLLLL the books you read! I read When Dimple Met Rishi, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, An Age of License, Every Heart a Doorway, one Flannery O'Connor story, and I listened to 13 chapters of my audiobook Cress. 3. Which books would you recommend to other Read-a-thoners? The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Every Heart a Doorway are perfect for the fall Readathon! They are both short and creepy without being so terrifying that you have to turn every light on in your house. 4. What’s a really rad thing we could do during the next Read-a-thon that would make you happy? I don't know! I look forward to seeing what will happen in April. 
5. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? Would you be interested in volunteering to help organize and prep? If I'm free, I'm always here for Readathon and I would be happy to help out with whatever our intrepid leaders need! 



Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now? I'm reading some Flannery O'Connor short stories and trying to decide on my next book. 
2. How many books have you read so far? Four
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I'm looking forward to dipping back into some comics when I start to get tired (Giant Days, Lucy Knisley) 
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Well, I have two kids and I had to do a few things, so I just kept going. 
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? Nothing really, although the time is going by strangely; sometimes it's really fast and other times, I can't believe how much reading I've done in a little time! 

So it's time to check in again! I've read four books so far--When Dimple Met Rishi, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, An Age of License, and Every Heart a Doorway. I've also been listening to the audiobook of Cress when I had to do some other things.

              The Ocean at the End of the Lane    Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children, #1)
The boy has been sick for the past few days, but he managed to read four books: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Geeked Out, and Game Over, Pete Watson. I also took some time this afternoon and went to the library with the little girl. Tonight at bedtime, we read Yasmin the Fashionista and Lucia the Luchadora. 




Now I'm looking forward to some ice cream and short stories. What are you reading? 




Getting to Know You Survey
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Hello from New Jersey! Today is pretty gloomy, which is fine with me. Who needs to go outside when there is reading to do? 
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I'm pretty excited to read When Dimple Met Rishi and catch up on some Lucy Knisley comics. 3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I have to confess I didn't do a lot of snack planning this year. However, I did make a giant batch of pumpkin pancakes the other day so there will definitely be pancakes at some point. 4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I've lived in New Jersey since I was five, I married the boy I started dating in eighth grade, I have two kids, and I am really enjoying expanding my editing business now that my little one is in kindergarten. 5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I figured out that this is my 15th Readathon (!) so I'm going to relax and enjoy reading lots of fantastic books. Thanks to everyone who makes Readathon possible every year! 



Friday, October 19, 2018

Readathon Prep and Tips

Tomorrow is Readathon! In a world where temperatures drop 40 degrees in one day, it's nice to know that one thing is certain: each fall and spring, readers around the world will assemble an audacious stack of books, fill their fridges and cupboards with snacks, and settle in to read for 24 hours.

If you haven't signed up yet, there is still time! Go here to join us.

Here are the books I'm starting out with tomorrow:

Comics: Displacement, Giant Days
Fiction: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, When Dimple Met Rishi, The Keep
Short stories: The Sadness of Beautiful Things, The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor
I also have A Forever Family on my kindle and the audiobook of Cress on my phone.

I figured out that I have been a part of the Readathon since I started blogging in 2011, which means that this is my 15th Readathon. If you are a newbie, I have some tips for you!

1) Variety, variety, variety
Make your stack of books ridiculously large and as varied as possible. It's terrible to only plan a book or two and then find that you hate them and have to go find something else. Give yourself a lot of options and make sure that you have children's books, short stories, audiobooks, and comics in the mix--you never know what is going to keep you awake when you have been reading for 18 hours!

2) Take a break
Seriously. Get up. Stretch. Go for a walk. Take 10 minutes and clean up your kitchen or vacuum your living room. Sitting in one place for too long is an invitation to fall asleep.

3) Eat and drink well
Half the fun of readathon is planning and eating delicious snacks. But this is not a good time to triple your caffeine consumption or eat only Cheetos for a day. Your body needs good fuel to go with the snacks and lots of water. Keep drinking water!

4) Relax
Readathon is a fun day. It's not the day to beat yourself up because your kid had a soccer game or you only read one book when that crazy lady on twitter read 22. Read things that make you happy, check in and see what wonderful books people are talking about online, and revel in the knowledge that there are people all over the world who love books just as much as you do.

Happy Readathon, Friends!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Review: The Family Tabor

Harry Tabor is about to be honored as the Man of the Decade in Palm Springs. He will be recognized for his work in helping Jewish families escape persecution and resettle in Florida. Harry's family gathers to celebrate his accomplishments--his wife Roma, an insightful child psychologist; his daughter Pheobe who keeps talking about a boyfriend no one has met; his daughter Camille who is trying to discern where to take her anthropology work next; and his son Simon, whose new interest in his Jewish roots is causing problems with his wife. But before Harry can be honored, he vanishes into the night. Each family member has a secret, but it will be Harry's sudden memory of his actions many years ago that could unravel everything that they have worked to accomplish.

The Family Tabor is a story told in fragments: we get a bit of Harry's history and then a piece of a child's present. Cherise Wolas has written a book (and a family) that you must commit to following because it's not linear and it won't go where you expect. The present action is limited but, as each person reveals a little piece of themselves, we understand the full impact of their choices on their family. It's also an examination of how one family and its members fit within the history of a people and a religion as the Tabors decide what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century.

Wolas' writing is insightful and powerfully draws readers into the inner lives of her characters. It is clear that these people care for each other, even if they can't always be honest with each other. This story requires some suspension of belief with its conceit that Harry forgot something important for so long and Wolas is not afraid to leave her readers in unexpected places, but it's worth experiencing these characters and their search for where they fit in their family and the world.

The Family Tabor
By Cherise Wolas
Flatiron Books July 2018
400 pages
Read via Netgalley

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Readalong: The High Wire Edition

A few years ago, I started a series called Readalongs. It fell to the wayside a bit, but I recently read a book that brought it right back to the forefront of my mind. 

As you probably know, I have two littles (10 and 5, respectively). It's fun to read beloved childhood classics with the kids in your life. But it can be even more fun is to pair books for kids and adults that have the same kind of stories. So, welcome to volume 3 of Readalongs!

Mirette on the High Wire was one of my favorite books as a little girl and I've read it with both of my children. Mirette lives with her mother in a boardinghouse. They often get interesting boarders, but Mirette is particularly intrigued by a sad man who used to be a famous high wire walker. She is determined to find out what happened to him and to convince him to teach her to walk the wire.

Older readers can find that love of high wire walking in Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond. Jules Maroni is a proud member of a circus family. But when the join the Cirque American, she discovers there is very bad history between the Maroni family and the Garcia family. Jules finds cursed objects in her costume and trailer and things start to go terribly wrong. Can she figure out who is trying to destroy the Maroni name and make her fall from the wire? 

Whether you are a kid or an adult, there is something alluring about living among the magic of the circus and climbing up to walk the wire each night. Are there other books about high rope walkers that you love?

       Mirette on the High Wire     Girl on a Wire (Cirque American #1)

Other Readalongs:
The Fox Edition
The Pirate Ship Time Travel Edition 

Friday, September 7, 2018

Review: Off the Clock

Laura Vanderkam's entire career revolves around people's ability (or inability) to manage their time. She studies how people order their days and the habits that make them feel productive. When she found herself with an unexpected free day, it surprised her to realize how restorative it was and how difficult it could be to make that free time happen. In her most recent book, Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, Vanderkam investigates how we can find margin in our lives and find good even in the necessary repetition of life.

When I heard people rave about this book, I have to admit I was dubious at first. Surely the author would advise us to take certain steps that would be possible for some and cause the rest of us to laugh a bit before putting the book aside. Instead, Laura Vanderkam guides readers to think differently about their time. While she does begin the book by urging each of us to track our time, she believes that we can all enjoy the time that we prepare for. Once you've decided on your priorities, the key to feeling like you have time might just be taking it. Vanderkam advises leaving white space in your schedule and taking concrete steps to remember unexpected beautiful moments.

It's often hard to manage our time because we don't have hard boundaries. We work from our office and from home or juggle side gigs. We certainly don't get to clock out from raising kids or caring for elderly parents. But Vanderkam is quick to point out that investing in people is a good use of time. When we spend time intentionally strengthening the relationships with our friends and family, it makes us happier and interestingly makes it feel like we have more time, not less.

Laura Vanderkam has written a book that could really change how you view and spend your time. I have a better sense of how I can enjoy my time after reading Off the Clock and I can see returning to this book when I'm feeling a time crunch.


Off The Clock
Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done
By Laura Vanderkam
Portfolio May 2018
256 pages
From the library

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Readers Imbibing Peril XIII

If you've been around here for a while, you know I'm not a big fan of scary. I like to sleep at night and stories where bad things happen to kids are an automatic no for me. In spite of this, I find myself tiptoeing into Readers Imbibing Peril again every fall. This reading challenge is for readers who want to read some mysteries, thrillers, and otherwise spooky books as the leaves start falling and the temperatures start dropping.

I'm never sure I have any books on my radar that will fit and then I discover I have plenty. Peril the First asks that you read four books. I will read at least four of the books below, if not more!

                       

Career of Evil, Cormoran Strike #3 by Robert Galbraith
I need to catch up on this series before the next book comes out!

Deathless by Catherynne Valente
Valente is one of the most interesting authors writing today and I'm excited to read her take on the evil Koschei the Deathless. 

Practical Magic/The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
I know, I know. I'm the only person who hasn't read Practical Magic yet. I'm going to fix it (and read the sequel while I'm at it).

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Zombies, people. Plus I've been meaning to read this book since it came out this spring.

            Deathless (Leningrad Diptych, #1)        Dread Nation (Dread Nation, #1)

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett
Ok, this is nonfiction but I think it counts as a mystery!

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
This story has magic and technology and lots of readers loved it!

The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan
This is the first book in a series featuring two Canadian detectives investigating a case that may be connected to the genocide in Bosnia.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
When children visit magical worlds, what happens to them when they come back home?

            All the Birds in the Sky        Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children, #1)

If you want to sign up for RIP, you can join here! What spooky books are you hoping to read this fall? 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Review: The Ensemble

The Van Ness quartet is on the brink of success. They have given their graduation recital and are off to the Esterhazy competition. If they do well, they will have no problem finding places to perform and patrons to support their music. Henry is a young viola prodigy, Jana is the brash and determined violinist, Daniel is the cellist and works hard as the oldest member, and Brit is the shy second violinist who desperately wants to feel like she belongs. Each one has the potential to destroy everything they have been working to achieve. The Ensemble follows the four musicians as they achieve success, suffer personal tragedies, and discover if there is a place in their lives for these friends with or without music.

Aja Gabel has done an excellent job crafting a story that is specifically about music, but is about relationships at its core. This unique set-up ensures that Henry, Jana, Daniel, and Brit have to be in each other's lives for better or for worse. While many of us experience this kind of closeness when we live and study and work with people during college, their music career forces our ensemble to maintain this closeness for decades and gives readers the chance to see the answers to tough questions. Is it better to date someone you work with or pine for them instead? How do you find the balance between your relationship with your family at home and your work family? Is it possible to put personal disagreements aside for the good of your work?

When an author chooses to tell a story from multiple viewpoints, you often end up liking some characters more than others. The wonderful thing here is that you truly witness each character grow and change; by the end of the story, they are very different people from the confident students you met in the first chapter. The Ensemble deserves every bit of praise it received and I am anxiously waiting for Aja Gabel to bring us new characters to enjoy. 

The Ensemble
By Aja Gabel
Riverhead May 2018
352 pages
From the library