Musings on children's and YA literature, the academy, and the relationship between them, from an English professor and mother.

Showing posts with label book challenge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book challenge. Show all posts

Sunday, June 06, 2010

a couple of lines

from Here, There Be Dragons...

"Astraues," Aven called out. "God of the four winds and friend to sailors. Say a little prayer when you look at him, so he will give us what we need to keep on our course."
"A little prayer?" said Jack. "To a constellation?"
"To what it represents," said Aven.
"But I don't believe in what it represents," said Jack.
"Prayers aren't for the deity," said Aven. "They're for you, to recommit yourself to what you believe."
"Can't you do that without praying to a dead Greek god?"
"Sure," said Aven. "But how often would anyone do that, if not in prayer?" (p. 218)

"The Summer Country is a land greater than any in the Archipelago of Dreams, because it has within it everything to be found in the Archipelago, and more. But where someone like Ordo Maas could find it anywhere, the Winter King would never find it at all. Because to him, it is always just out of his reach--when, in truth, he had it in reach all along."
"It sounds," John said, "as if you're talking about our world."
"Yes," said Bert. "Your world is the Summer Country." (p. 310)

The Finish Line

Here's the summary of my 48-hour book challenge efforts:

I read 7 books, including all four (to date) in The Alchemyst series, and the first in "The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica," Here, There Be Dragons. I can't wait to read some more in that series! All the books I read were fantasy (not a big surprise). I'm particularly intrigued by the overlaps in the two latter series--I want to think more about that, maybe after I read the rest of the Imaginarium Geographica books.

I read a total of 2778 pages.

I put in 16.75 reading hours, and 3 hours of social networking, for a total of 19.75 hours.

Thanks, MotherReader, for putting this together again! It was a weekend well spent!

and one more...

The last book I read for the 48 hour book challenge is another series book, Here There Be Dragons, by James A. Owen. What a great way to end! It's a terrific quest story, with a similar mix of characters and motifs as the Alchemyst books has, but put to entirely different effect--more comic, and more directly intertextual. There's great pleasure to be had in trying to puzzle out the references and connections, some of which come as quite a surprise at the end--though, really, they shouldn't, now that I know what they are. And there are three more books in the series, so I have plenty of fun to come...

(Nick told me I'd enjoy this one. Why is he always right?)

Saturday, June 05, 2010

is this it?

OK, I've finished my 6th book in the challenge, and put in 2 more hours and 389 more pages. So here are the updated totals:

2454 pages
14.75 reading hours
2.5 blogging/networking hours
6 novels

And now I've caught up in The Alchemyst series and I'm seriously annoyed that The Warlock is not yet available for me to read. The little teaser at the end of The Necromancer is pretty tantalizing...

There are other books on my TBR stack so I may pick up another one, but I have to say, I'm pretty close to done. And I'm still kind of stuck in The Alchemyst's world--and liking it--so I'm not sure I'm ready to break that spell. On the other hand, there's still plenty of reading time left this evening. I don't expect to do much tomorrow morning--my time is up at 10:30 and I'm headed to church at about 8:45. So this may be it. But I'll check in again tomorrow morning to confirm the totals, one way or the other.

48 Hour Book Challenge Update

Whew! I'm surprising myself by how much I've read. The quick totals, 28 hours in:

12.75 hours of reading
let's call it 2 hours of social networking, blogging, reading updates, etc.
2065 pages
5 novels

The last three I've read are the first three books in Michael Scott's Alchemyst series; we have one more in the house and that's the next up. This is one appealing series: gods, demigods, and monsters from all kinds of mythology, a nice mix of the historical and the present-day, and all kinds of ambiguity about who's on whose side. I'm only sorry that the fifth novel isn't out yet--I'll finish the weekend without closure, but at least caught up on a series I'm enjoying.

But now I really need to get out of the house. I hit the farmer's market this morning and now it's time to get to Trader Joe's.

Friday, June 04, 2010


First in a series, Byron Davis's Starlighter gives us two planets, linked by tales that each has told of the other. Jason, our human hero, is a warrior in training who isn't sure whether to believe the stories his family tells of humans abducted by dragons, and a world beyond his own. On the other planet, children slave in mines and memorize a story that may be their salvation. Storytelling is key to this novel--Keron, the Starlighter of the title, weaves stories of amazing power that hypnotize their listeners and reveal hidden truths, even to her. The story is fast-paced and the characters--especially Jason and Keron, but also Arxad (the "most human" of the dragons)--are compelling. I'll be on the lookout for the next in this series.

[I received a copy of this book from the publicist and then handed it off to Nick and only just rediscovered it. Book 2 in the 48-hour book challenge.]

Friday, December 12, 2008

and again...

Which is worse, ripping the pages out of a book but still providing it to students, or removing it from the curriculum altogether?

(The latest is about Sherman Alexie's Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Read a (banned) book

It's banned book week again, the week when the American Library Association reminds us that "free people read freely." I'm proud to say I've read 2007's most challenged book, though there are several on last year's list that I haven't read yet. It turns out that this fall I'm only teaching one book* on the 100 most challenged books 2000-2007 list, but I'll try to make up for it by reminding my students of the issue--in fact, one of their research paper assignments asks them to look into a challenge and analyze it.

For more on book challenges and the like, check out Little Willow's great post over at Bildungsroman. And let me know your favorite banned/challenged book.**

*Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, #65.

**I think mine from the most recent list would be the His Dark Materials trilogy, though there are many great contenders.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

At least I'm in good company

Well, that bit about mandating happy endings turns out to have been a hoax. It was a marketing ploy for Lemony Snicket books, apparently, which were (after all) the only books mentioned in the piece. So, fine. Lots of us bit at this one, so I don't feel to bad for being taken in, especially when (as I noted) it's so similar to so many other complaints.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

again with the complaints

Apparently The Christian Science Monitor hasn't been keeping up. Now it's their turn to publish yet another complaint about how kids are being forced to read depressing books.

Didn't anyone else just revel in depressing books as a kid? I know I did--nothing like a good cry over a book rather than your real life. And for a professor of creative writing to admit to not actually reading the books in question...well, the argument fell apart right there for me. If not before.

Ah, well, at least she's not just making a list of the dirty words. (Why, yes, it is Banned Books week! And no, I'm not linking to parents against bad books in schools, though I do find their website highly amusing...when I don't find it scary.)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

packing it in

I think I chose my time badly for the Reading Challenge, but I'm satisfied with my achievement anyway. I have to end before 11 today so I can get to church, so I'm calling it closed now. My totals? 8 books, 2094 pages, 15 hours out of the 48. The last few books were a real mixed bag. I started yesterday afternoon with Mildred Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, because I'd heard a talk about it last March and couldn't remember reading it. Well, turns out I had: I remembered Cassie, the narrator, Mama and Big Ma, T.J.--I remembered the plot, even, once I got moving in it. Still, it was worth the re-read; another way of working through some history that doesn't often get told. (And, of course, it turns out that the one I haven't read is The Land, which I still haven't read. Ah, well.)

We had a party to go to last night and I had some cooking to do before that, as well as just some general down-time, but after the party I picked up Farthing, by Jo Walton. I had remembered that Jenny Davidson recommended it, though I didn't remember why. What a fabulous book! It starts out like a terrific country-house mystery (and remains that) but at the same time it's an alternate history: what if Britain had negotiated a peace with Hitler in 1941? Turns out Walton doesn't think that would have been a good idea. Lovely, lovely writing and a plot that was just twisty enough without being (as Fforde's quite deliberately are) too convoluted.

This weekend's reading reminded me of how much I used to love reading mystery novels, which I've almost completely given up. Maybe it's time to rethink that.

Anyway, this morning I figured I had time for one more, and I managed a quick read through Chicks with Sticks: Knit Two Together, by Elizabeth Lenhard. Turns out this is actually the second in a series (looks like there are at least three), but I actually picked it up by accident, thinking it was a teen knitting book. Rather, it's a teen knitting novel, chick-lit with IMing and knit-night. I'm not sure the knitting actually adds much to the story--I kept second-guessing it, actually, wondering if the descriptions were really that accurate. What the knitting mainly adds is another way to name-drop labels, so along with the Balenciaga bag (really? do teenagers really carry Balenciaga bags?) there's also ArtYarns and Lorna's Laces. Fine.

So that's it. I'm done. And here's what I discovered: I think I make reading enough of a priority most of the time that the contest didn't really add that much. I've never actually counted pages or hours before, and I certainly read later last night than I would have if I weren't trying to finish Farthing so I could blog about it, but otherwise the only thing I did that I might not have otherwise was finish Chicks with Sticks when I could have been reading the Sunday New York Times. That, however, will have to wait until after church. I'm done for now.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

update on the reading challenge

So far it looks like I've spent about 9 hours reading and have consumed 1238 pages. Whew! So here's the report:

After Psyche in a Dress, I wanted something funny and silly, so I read Jasper Fforde's The Big Over Easy. I'm pretty sure I missed some of the twists, but the way Fforde plays with story is genius. Oddly, it linked up with my next book, Cupid, by Julius Lester, which is a retelling of Cupid and Psyche that's much more to my taste (this week, anyway) than the Block. Lester plays with story, too, though not at all in the same way as Fforde; the novel retells the tale with the voice of a black story-teller--one who doesn't, in many ways, seem too far from Lester himself. Interestingly in both Cupid and The Big Over Easy the question of what it means for a mortal to ally herself with an immortal comes up--in the Fforde novel, the immortal (Prometheus) relinquishes his status, while in Cupid Psyche attains immortality. I enjoyed both.

After Cupid I took a brief break and then began Chasing Vermeer, which Nick had just finished. I'm sure I'm not the first person to summarize it as From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler meets The Westing Game--a better description, I think, than the jacket copy, which calls it "The Da Vinci Code for tweens. " Ick. I fell asleep last night before I could finish, but got back to it this morning--what fun! I'm a sucker for codes (though maps leave me cold), and I want to make some pantominoes, too.

Continuing with the YA reads, I picked up Edward Bloor's London Calling next. I'd enjoyed Tangerine, and though I'd try this one out. Very different, but thematically similar. Martin/Johnny is an engaging narrator, and the novel does a nice job of opening up some of the stories behind the official history of the Battle of Britain.

So that's been fun. Now I've got to do some laundry and figure out what's next on the list. I'm not going to get much (if any) reading in tomorrow before my time runs out, so today's the big day. But I've got to say, the eyestrain has started.

Friday, June 08, 2007

One down

I'm not going to blog every time I finish a book this weekend, but I thought I'd mark the first one. I nearly quit on Psyche in a Dress partway through. I wasn't sure I could take any more Francesca Lia Block being poetic about child abuse. (If you've read I was a Teenage Fairy you know what I mean.) This one's not just "poetic" but actually poetry: free verse retellings of Greek myths in Hollywood garb. Psyche becomes Echo becomes Eurydice becomes Persephone becomes Demeter--and in that circle of females it's not quite clear that our heroine can break out of the cycle of abuse, but maybe. I think I would have loved this when I was a teenager: it would have made me feel smart, and capable of handling "important" themes. It would have validated my desire to be more intense, more "deep," than I really was. But even Demeter makes me tired now--too much self-sacrifice, too much angst! Still, it gets better as it goes on. And, as promised, it's very short.

Next up: I haven't quite decided yet.

Starting Now

I'm in the 48 hour book challenge. I'm starting at 11:00 am Friday, and will stop probably at 9:00 am Sunday to go to church. So I have to cut it short, but I figure I won't be reading every second anyway, so what's another two hours?

I'm starting with Francesca Lia Block's Psyche in a Dress. Yes, it's short: I want to get a sense of accomplishment early in the challenge.