Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 2011 Wrap-Up

Happy almost New Year's! Here's a summary of my book-related activity for December. It was a busy month for reading and book buying!

Books I read (linked to the reviews)


Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (TBR pile)
14 Favorite Christmas Stories by various authors (TBR pile)
The Winter Solstice by Ellen Jackson (library book)
The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas by John Matthews (library book)
The Solstice Cup by Rachel Dunstan Muller (library book)
Star Trek and Philosophy: The Wrath of Kant by various authors (TBR pile)
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum (library book)
The End (A Series of Unfortunate Events #13) by Lemony Snicket (TBR pile)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Random Riggs (new book)
Bitten by Kelley Armstrong (re-read)

Books I bought


Living With the Dead
by Kelley Armstrong
A Complete Guide to the
Tarot by Eden Gray

Personal Demon by
Kelley Armstrong
Broken by
Kelley Armstrong
No Humans Involved
by Kelley Armstrong

Books I got for prezzies!


Charmed Volume 1
by Paul Ruditis
The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
Midnight Never Come
by Marie Brennan


Books that magically appeared in my mailbox!


Steam-Powered 2: More
Lesbian Steampunk Stories
Behind the Beautiful Forevers
by Katherine Boo


Progress on challenges


Little Brother was my December book for the Read Your OWN Library! Challenge.

I did not read any of the books I bought this month, so I'll have a bit of catching up to do in January (OK, a lot of catching up to do, what with all those book presents). I know I was bad, but there were deals! Such wonderful deals! I pledge not to buy any new books in January, even though I have gift cards! That should give me the chance to get mostly caught up.

I read 5 more books for the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge, achieving my goals for that challenge.

Don't forget to sign up for the 2012 Anne Rice Challenge!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Get Read-y for 2012 - Fourth Check-in

It's time for my fourth Get Read-y for 2012 check-in! I'm nearly done my reading list. Since last's week's check-in, I've finished The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, read The End, and started Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

So far I'm really enjoying Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. I just started it yesterday and I'm already 100 pages in, so I should have this done by New Year's no problem!

My to-read list for January is getting enormous, though. I just got another surprise book in the mail! It's one I requested a while back: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. I'm really looking forward to it!

If you're trying to get some stuff done before New Year's, how's that working out for you? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum

Title: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
Author: L. Frank Baum
Publication Date:1902
Length: 224 pages

A couple of years ago, I read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and adored it, so when I found out that L. Frank Baum had written a story about the life of Santa, and how he came to become the man he is, I had to check it out. And I sure am happy I did.

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus tells the story of a human baby who is adopted by a nymph, and raised among the immortals. When he grows up and leaves the forest to help his fellow mortals, he especially wants to make the children happy. The book tells how he came to make his first toy, and how he started travelling in a sleigh pulled by reindeer.

This story is absolutely delightful. Much like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, it is a story that any kid would love to be read at bedtime, and that you will continue to love throughout adulthood. I love how it explains all those little details you might wonder about, like why Santa started putting toys into hanging socks.

There's not much more to say about this book, except that you just have to read it. It's positively brimming with the spirit of the season. 5 stars!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Star Trek and Philosophy: The Wrath of Kant

Title: Star Trek and Philosophy: The Wrath of Kant
Author: various, edited by Jason T. Eberl and Kevin S. Decker
Publication Date: August 2008
Length: 288 pages

I'M FINALLY DONE!

OK, that came out a little harsh. It's not that the book is really terrible or anything. It's just so long, and so much philosophy! I have a minor in philosophy, actually, so you'd think I'd like that kind of thing, but for some reason I just kept falling asleep. I've been working on this book in between other books for many months.

I think part of what kept this book from being as awesome as it should have been for me was the audience (or lack thereof) that the various authors were writing for. Most of them bored me with their explanations of first-year philosophy concepts (understandably, as they probably weren't writing for the philosophy-studying crowd), but then other essays left my head spinning, and not in a wow-you-just-blew-my-mind! kind of way, but in an I-have-no-clue-what-you-just-said kind of way.

To be fair, some of the essays were really cool. My favourite was the last one in the book, Harry Mudd Always Lies by Jerry Kapus. It's about logic, and how our whole concept of logic and truth gets thrown off my statements like "This sentence is not true." Crazy! I've decided logic is definitely my favourite type of philosophy.

There is some really interesting philosophy in Star Trek. The show dealt with almost every important issue imaginable, and really gets you questioning a lot of your philosophical ideas. So, the ideas for these essays were great. Most of them just didn't do anything for me. It was as if they were just brushing the surface of all the interesting questions.

I would recommend maybe reading one essay at a time from this book, picking ones that interest you, rather than trying to read the whole book through.

2 stars, and I can't believe I'm doing that to a Star Trek-related book.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Solstice Cup by Rachel Dunstan Muller

Title: The Solstice Cup
Author: Rachel Dunstan Muller
Publication Date: 2009
Length: 169 pages

Twin sisters Mackenzie and Breanne are in Ireland visiting relatives, with the Winter Solstice approaching. The last time they were there, something strange happened to them, having to do with the Faerie world. Thanks largely to Breanne's "Irish people are crazy; I don't believe in Faeries! Let's go walking around at night on the Solstice! Nothing happened to me before, that was your imagination!" attitude, the two get trapped in the Otherworld, which turns out to be an enchanting but dangerous place for humans.

My goodness, Breanne was annoying. I never like characters that are so foolhardy that you have to wonder if they have a death wish or if they're just really, really stupid. Mackenzie, on the other hand, is the Chuckie to Breanne's Tommy (which personally I see as a good thing).

Besides that, though, I really have no complaints. The story is wonderful. I love stories about faeries and the Otherworld, and this one has a nice mixture of traditional elements and new ideas. It's also a real page-turner. I couldn't wait to find out whether they'd escape or become trapped as mindless slaves to the Faeries!

Overall, a good YA read. Light on the character development, but a great story. Recommended for budding young fantasy lovers, or for adults who just want a nice, light read.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Get Read-y for 2012 - Third Check-in

It's time for my third Get Read-y for 2012 check-in! I've made great progress on my reading list this week! Since last's week's check-in, I've had my biggest accomplishment of all: I finished Star Trek and Philosophy!! This is a huge deal! This book has taken me many months to get through. I may have to start a Victory Garden like Jennifer at The Beauty of Eclecticism for this one!

Additionally, I wasn't in the mood for any more non-fiction (especially non-fiction about the Winter Solstice, which I've had plenty of for one holiday season!), so I found a book to replace The Solstice Evergreen so I could still reach the level I set out for in the Yule Spirit Reading Challenge: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum! I've read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and loved it, so this seemed like a safe choice. I've already started reading it, and will probably be done by tomorrow, which means...

I have over a week in which to read the last two books on my reading list! And after this Friday I'm off work until after New Year's, which means lots of reading time for me! (In between all the sleeping and opening presents, that is...)

If you're trying to get some stuff done before New Year's, how's that working out for you? Let me know in the comments!

Teaser Tuesday: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

To participate, just do the following:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page. (I always cheat and use more than 2!)
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser this week is from The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum:
Therefore, one year when the wicked tribe was to elect a new King, they chose an Awgwa who proposed to destroy Claus and take him away from the children.
"There are, as you know, fewer naughty children in the world since Claus came to the Laughing Valley and began to make his toys," said the new King, as he squatted upon a rock and looked around at the scowling faces of his people.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I won I won I won!!!

I won my first Goodreads giveaway! This is me right now:

Doin' a happy dance.

So. I got home yesterday, and found a package waiting for me. A package!!! I exclaimed with glee. It looked like a book. It felt like a book. It was a book! It was Steam-Powered 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories. I had entered the giveaway for it on Goodreads, and then soon forgotten, as I tend to do (that happens when you never win...), but then I won! So, hopefully I'll have time to read it in January. I will make time! Stay tuned for my review coming up in January!


Friday, December 16, 2011

The Winter Solstice by John Matthews

Title: The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas
Author: John Matthews
Publication Date: 1998
Length: 241 pages

The Winter Solstice is a non-fiction book that examines the major traditions and symbols associated with the Winter Solstice and Christmas, and goes into great detail about their history and meaning. Major topics include Santa Claus, the evergreen tree, and the Child of Wonder (ie. Jesus, Mithras, the Sun).

I'm very picky about non-fiction, as it easily gets too long and dry for my liking, but this book passed the test. It's broken up into short, easily digestable sections, with lots of pictures, and I felt like it didn't have a lot of filler, even though it's pretty long.

I think this book is especially good for people who celebrate both the Solstice and Christmas due to upbringing, family compromises, etc. It really shows you how similar the two holidays are, since Christmas essentially developed from the Winter Solstice celebrations. I also think it's great for people who are celebrating on their own or just with their own families, who don't have a large community to practice their traditions with. The book really left me with the feeling that I am perfectly capable of celebrating the passing of the seasons with just what I have in my own home.

Overall, I recommend this to anyone who celebrates the Winter Solstice, as well as to anyone who celebrates Christmas and wants to know more about its history (though that depends on your taste, as there are probably more Christian-aimed books that do this).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Winter Solstice by Ellen Jackson

Title: The Winter Solstice
Author: Ellen Jackson
Illustrator: Jan Davey Ellis
Publication Date: 1994
Length: 30 pages

This book was not at all what I was expecting. What I was expecting was a nice book about celebrating the Winter Solstice. Something Pagan parents could read to their children around the holiday season.

Instead, this book describes a few "ancient" (a word which here means "still practiced today by many people") rituals and celebrations surrounding the Winter Solstice, while occasionally suggesting that these people were quite primitive. It then goes into a page about how we today do not believe such silliness because SCIENCE, which is all well and good because I love science, but then it's all "today the solstice has been replaced by Christmas and Hanukkah because apparently we're all Christian or Jewish".

Also, this book uses the phrase "people in the United States and Europe". There is no phrase I hate more than that phrase. What do the United States and Europe have in common that Canada doesn't? Or Australia or New Zealand? American authors, please stop using this phrase, forever. It is always used in contexts that suggest that these are the "Western people", and if you're going to do that and list countries, and least list them all.

Ahem, where was I?

So anyway, this book is not Pagan friendly. Nor is it supportive of cultural diversity, really. The one part of this book I liked was that at the end there's a little story that says it was adapted from a Cherokee tale of creation, and it describes how the evergreen trees got to be evergreen. It was a nice little story. If that story was the whole book this review would be a whole lot better. As it is, I found most of this book mildly offensive. And it's a kids' book. 1 star.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Get Read-y for 2012 - Second Check-in

It's time for my second Get Read-y for 2012 check-in! I've made a bit more progress on my reading list this week. Since last's week's check-in, I've finished The Winter Solstice by John Matthews and read The Solstice Cup by Rachel Dunstan Muller.

I've decided to save Pagan Christmas for next year, since it looks pretty similar to another book I just read, which means my list is down to 4 books, one of which I'm half done already! So, with 17 days left to read 3.5 books, that gives me 4.5(ish) days per book. That would seem daunting (none of the books I have left are especially small), but I have the week between Christmas and New Year's off! That's right! No work and all read for a week! I'm confident that that will let me catch up should I need it.

If you're trying to get some stuff done before New Year's, how's that working out for you? Let me know in the comments!

Teaser Tuesday: The Solstice Cup

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

To participate, just do the following:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page. (I always cheat and use more than 2!)
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser this week is from The Solstice Cup by Rachel Dunstan Muller:
"This is insane!" Breanne hissed. "We're in the middle of a bog, who knows how many miles away from where we should be, with some whacked old woman who wants to make us her houseguests for a week. It's like something out of some twisted horror movie!"

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Full Moon is Rising by Marilyn Singer

Title: A Full Moon is Rising
Author: Marilyn Singer
Illustrator: Julia Cairns
Publication Date: August 1, 2011
Length: 47 pages

A Full Moon is Rising is a delightul children's book about how people around the world celebrate the full moon. Each page contains a poem set in a different place, along with a beautiful illustration.

At the back of the book, there are a few pages of explanations of the poems, which help to put them into context. The one complaint I have is that I got so much more out of the poems when I went back and read them again having read the explanations, so I wish they weren't at the back. Although, I guess a little kid might not want their poems and pictures interrupted by explanations, so maybe I'm looking at it from too adult a perspective.

My favourite poem in the book is probably Wolf Moon, the setting of which is Algonquin Park, Canada (I'm a sucker for things set in Canada). In it, children are sitting around a campfire under a full moon, warning each other about werewolves. Meanwhile, the wolves out in the wilderness are warning each other about humans.

Overall, I think this would be a great book to read to your kids. It's always nice to find kids' books that include cultural and religious diversity. More this, please, kids' book publishers!



Full disclosure: Free ebook copy received from the publisher.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

14 Favorite Christmas Stories

Title: 14 Favorite Christmas Stories
Author: various
Publication Date: 1964
Length: 156 pages

I don't know why I expected a collection of Christmas stories from the 30s to the 60s to be good. It wasn't.

There were a couple stories that had sort of nice endings. For example, the first story starts out all depressing because it's about an old woman who's losing her memory and is gradually realising that she sent the frilly dress for her daughter to her friend who lives in the woods, and the warm socks for her friend to her daughter. But then it ends up all "aww!" because she gets letters from both of them about how much they love their presents, even though they were the wrong ones.

Unfortunately, most of the stories didn't have particularly great endings, or beginnings, or middles. They were just boring. I was hopeful as I got to the end because the last story was by Ray Bradbury, but even it was kind of confusing and dissatisfying.

That's really all there is to say about this one. 1 star.

This book would count towards the Read Your OWN Library! Challenge (hosted by The Beauty of Eclecticism) for December, but I've already got one for this month! Bonus!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Title: Little Brother
Author: Cory Doctorow
Publication Date: 2008
Length: 380 pages

Little Brother is about a teenager named Marcus (aka w1n5t0n) who is an experienced hacker. When San Francisco is hit by a terrorist attack while Marcus and his friends are skipping school, they are captured by the Department of Homeland Security and ruthlessly interrogated. After Marcus is released, he sees that San Francisco has become a police state (there are some disturbing parallels to 1984), and he starts using his hacking skills to wage war against the Department of Homeland Security.

This book is so many kinds of awesome. I will admit that I am a person with a degree in computer science, so my nerdiness is of the kind that I couldn't not like this book. However, it does not assume knowledge of computer science, so you will like it too, non-comp-sci people! Actually, all kinds of cryptography concepts are explained in this book in ways that made me say "oh my goodness I took a course on this but never understood that until just now".

At the same time as being a really cool book about hacking, Little Brother deals with some pretty intense themes, including torture, and the role of government. It makes you look at things like the Patriot Act and shudder. Seriously, I can't count the number of times in this book that I was suddenly terrified that these events could legitimately happen. And I'm not even the paranoid type.

Anywho, I seem to be rambling. You should read this book. Five stars! Out of five!

This book counts towards the Read Your OWN Library! Challenge (hosted by The Beauty of Eclecticism) for December. For January, my book for the challenge will be Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Get Read-y for 2012 - First Check-in

It's time for my first Get Read-y for 2012 check-in! A couple of days ago I posted my reading list, and I haven't made a whole lot of progress on it so far. The book I'm reading right now (The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas) is huge. However, it is better than most non-fiction, since it's divided into nice little sections with lots of pictures.

Yesterday I picked up the last 2 library books I had on hold, so I now have my pile all ready to go. I flipped through Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide, and it looked a lot like the one I'm reading now, so I might end up leaving that one for next Yule. That would make my goal way more achievable!

So, if I leave out that new library book, that leaves 6 books on my list, two of which I'm about halfway through, with 24 days to go in 2011. Totally doable! I hope...

Also, a big accomplishment I had this week was catching up on my reviews! I had fallen a wee bit behind when I read a few short books, and also did a read-a-thon. But I sat down and hammered them out and now I'm all caught up. Yay!

The Return of the Light by Carolyn McVickar Edwards

Title: The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice
Author: Carolyn McVickar Edwards
Publication Date: 2000
Length: 172 pages (paperback)

The Return of the Light is a collection of stories, most of them involving someone stealing the Sun, and then other characters getting it back. The idea behind these stories is that at the Winter Solstice, the Sun has moved away as far as it's going to, and appears to stay far away, sitting still, causing people to worry that it might not come back.

I normally don't like book introductions very much, for whatever reason. But the introduction to this book really made the book, in my opinion. It describes how ancient people saw the Winter Solstice. Reading it, I could easily imagine living in a time when such an event could be a cause for worry. The Sun has been moving away, and now is sitting still, and the people have to convince it to come back. That's where traditions like the Yule log come from: the log burns, showing the Sun how it's done and convincing it to come back and be bright and hot again. This was a really interesting topic to read about.

As for the stories themselves, I enjoyed them, but I tend to find stories like that kind of repetitive. Which sort of makes sense, since it's basically the same event being explained by different groups of people from around the world. So the interesting thing about them is how similar they are. So I guess I just shouldn't have read them all in a row (the same problem I had when I read The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales).

So overall, I still recommend this book. The introduction is great, and the stories are nice to dip into when you just want to read one short story. They'd be good for reading to kids around the Solstice time, teaching them about the origins of the holiday.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Little Brother

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

To participate, just do the following:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page. (I always cheat and use more than 2!)
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser this week is from Little Brother by Cory Doctorow:
"If you want to really screw the DSH, you have to embarass them. It's not like you're going to be able to outshoot them. Your only weapon is your ability to make them look like morons."

Monday, December 5, 2011

Get Read-y for 2012 - My reading list

Since this month is time to Get Read-y for 2012, it's time to set some goals for what I want to accomplish this month, as our lovely host has done. So, here's my (perhaps unrealistic) list of books I'd like to have read before the new year.

  • The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas by John Matthews (library book) (already about 1/3 done)
  • The Solstice Evergreen by Sheryl Ann Karas (library book)
  • Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide by Christian R├Ątsch (library book)
  • The Solstice Cup by Rachel Dunstan Muller (library book) 
  • Star Trek and Philosophy: The Wrath of Kant by various authors (I've been reading it off and on for months and don't like things stretching into the next year)
  • The End (A Series of Unfortunate Events #13)
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (new book)
If I somehow manage to finish all these, I will complete the 2012 Yule Spirit Reading Challenge (the first 4 books on the list), have all my library books read and returned (the first 4 books on the list), have finally completed Star Trek and Philosophy, and will be caught up with my recently purchased books (the last book on the list). This will give me a nice clean slate for 2012, so I will be free to read the books I get for Christmas/Yule. :)

The first five are my top priorities, and I'm already part of the way through two of them, so I do have some hope! There's going to be an update on Get Read-y for 2012 every Wednesday, so I'll keep you updated on how my goals are going. What do you want to read before the new year?

Musing Mondays: December 5

Today's Musing Monday asks:
How many books do you read in a week? Month? Year?
My reading speed is hugely variable. I say that it averages out to about a book a week, but that's not really that accurate. In 2009 and 2010 I didn't reach my goal of 50 books a year, but in 2011 I'm already at 62, so obviously graduating university gave me way more reading time.

Also, I read a wide variety of books. So one week I might read 3 graphic novels, but then I'll read a big novel that takes me 3 weeks.

For 2012 my goal is 75 books, which is nowhere near what some people read (I don't know how they do it!) but will be a pretty big achievement for me!

2012 A-Z Book Challenge

I've found another challenge for 2012! For the A-Z Book Challenge, the goal is to read a book whose title starts with each letter of the alphabet. See the challenge page for the full rules.

I'll be going with the second option, which is to not plan out what books I'm going to read. I'll just fill it in as I read what I was going to read anyway, and then near the end of the year I'll seek out books that start with the letters I'm missing.

As I read and review the books for this challenge I'll fill them in here:

A: Against the Fall of Night by Arthur C. Clarke
B: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
C: Caught in Crystal by Patricia C. Wrede
D: Dream Magic: Awakenings by Dawn Harshaw
E: The Encounter (Animorphs #3) by K.A. Applegate
F: Final Crossing by Carter Wilson
G: The Grimoire Chronicles: Veil Between Worlds by Sally Dubats
H: The Hollow Tree by Janet Lunn
I: Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice
J: John Dies at the End by David Wong
K: Killer Virus (Choose Your Own Adventure #177) by R.A. Montgomery
L: Lucretia and the Kroons by Victor LaValle
M: MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche
N: North Pole High: A Rebel Without a Claus by Candace Jane Kringle
O: Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides by Ariel Meadow Stallings
P: The Predator (Animorphs #5) by K.A. Applegate
Q: The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice
R: Risen (The Dark Victorian #1) by Elizabeth Watasin
S: Steam-Powered 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories edited by JoSelle Vanderhooft
T: Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
U: Uglies: Shay's Story by Scott Westerfeld
V: The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice
W: The Whipping Club by Deborah Henry
X: Xoc by Matt Dembicki
Y: You are Microscopic (Choose Your Own Adventure #130) by Edward Packard
Z: Zombie Surf Commandos from Mars by Tony Abbott

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket

Title: The Beatrice Letters
Author: Lemony Snicket
Publication Date: September 2006
Length: 72 pages (hardcover)

The blurb for this book is simply this:
Top secret—only for readers deeply interested in the Baudelaire case. How I pity these readers

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

This book is fun, but confusing. Basically, it consists of a series of letters, alternating between letters from Lemony Snicket to Beatrice Baudelaire and letters from Beatrice Baudelaire to Lemony Snicket. However, you'll soon realise that it's not really that simple, and also that the letters are not strictly in chronological order. One conclusion I came to is that you should read The End before you read this book (which I haven't yet). This book came out shortly before The End (the last book in A Series of Unfortunate Events), but I found myself rather lost until I looked things up online, and it seems that things would have been clearer if I'd read the last book.

On the other hand, the book is fun to read. There are letters (of the alphabet) in between the letters (that one writes) (he totally made this confusing on purpose) that you pop out of the page, and at the end you move them around to find what they spell (they can spell two things, neither of which actually gives you any hints). So that was fun.

And of course Lemony Snicket's writing style makes everything he writes fun to read. His writing is so funny that it makes me have to share a whole bunch of quotes with you. So here they are:
"I go to bed early and rise late and feel as if I have hardly slept, probably because I have been reading almost the entire time."
"I never want to be apart from you again, Beatrice, except in the restroom, at work, and when one of us is at a movie that the other does not want to see."
"I received all two hundred pages of your book explaining why you cannot marry me, and I gave the carrier pigeons as much seed as they could eat, and I brushed their feathers with my trembling fingers, and bathed their beaks in my tears."
"I will love you even if you announce that the poetry of Edgar Guest is the best in the world and even if you announce that the work of Zilpha Keatley Snyder is unbearably tedious."
That Zilpha Keatley Snyder line made me sooo happy because I LOVE The Egypt Game and it seems so many people have never heard of it.

So basically, the book is fun in a Lemony Snicket kind of way (a phrase which here means "really quite hilarious"), so if you're a fan of the series this is a must-read. But I'd wait until you're done the 13 books of the series itself before reading this one, because I just found it a bit too confusing not having read the last book.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A smaller 24 hour read-a-thon

This post will be updated throughout the day. Scroll down for the latest updates!

It's time for the 24 hour read-a-thon being hosted by Dead White Guys and The Souls of Thought! It's bright and early here in Winnipeg (well, not bright, since it's 7:00am in Winnipeg in December). I just came down with a bit of a cold yesterday, and need to recover at least partially by Monday when I have to go to the dentist (dentist + cough = awful), so I'll be taking it kinda easy today. Not that reading all day is really strenuous, or anything. I'll try to stay up the whole time, but no promises if my sickness worsens.

So here are my plans for the day.

Snacks I've got lined up:
  • fruit salad
  • tortilla chips and hummus
  • sour cream and onion chips
  • this salad thing that is mostly tomatoes and big chunks of cheese (Safeway deli, you have such wonderful and strange salads)
  • Pull 'n Peels
  • a single energy drink for late in the game
Books I've got lined up:
  • Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
  • 12 Favorite Christmas Stories by various authors
Umm, that's actually it. I didn't plan as well this time around, so if I finish both those books, which I'm sure I will, I don't know what else I'll read. I have hundreds of books to choose from on my tbr pile, so I'm sure I'll figure something out. (My library books are currently all non-fiction, and I discovered in my last read-a-thon that non-fiction sucks for read-a-thons.)

I'll probably update every 2 hours or so throughout the day. So, without further ado, let's read!

8:00 Central Time (2 hours down):
What I'm reading: Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
How I'm liking it: It is very good in a terrifying 1984 type way. Other than the problematic language around trans* people and whatnot. That is not so great.
Pages read these hours: 67
Pages read so far: 67 (duh)
Food consumed these hours: None. I am starving. I got up at exactly 6:00 and went straight to reading and my stomach is like "where is breakfast what is this". I think I'll go grab some cereal now.
Anything else interesting?: I am reading curled up in my brand new unbelievably soft blanket and it is awesome. It's one of those ones that are on sale at Chapters right now if you spend $50, which is all too easy to do.

10:00 Central Time (4 hours down):
What I'm reading: Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
How I'm liking it: It's pretty awesome. It might make me paranoid, though.
Pages read these hours: 60
Pages read so far: 127
Food consumed these hours: A bowl of Mini Wheats and a Pull 'n Peel, which my stomach did not like after not enough sleep.
Anything else interesting?: I went to read in my bed and miraculously stayed awake. It made my headache go away and improved my mood immensely. Also, I'm posting this update slightly early because at 10:00 tickets for the Hanson concert go on sale! I'm a total 90s nerd so this is very exciting!

12:00 Central Time (6 hours down):
What I'm reading: Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (it's a bit longer than my usual read-a-thon picks)
How I'm liking it: It is wonderful and terrifying in an omg-the-government-could-get-even-scarier-than-Harper-already-makes-it! kind of way. At least Canada doesn't have a Department of Homeland Security. We don't, right?
Pages read these hours: 49 (how am I this slow a reader?)
Pages read so far: 176
Food consumed these hours: Some of my strange tomato-and-cheese salad thingy.
Anything else interesting?: I got my sister and I fairly decent tickets for the Hanson concert, though when I meant to get us seats across the table from each other, I accidentally got seats at two tables across the aisle from each other so our backs will kind of be to each other. Whoops. Also, I'm watching this video because it never fails to put in an amazing mood. Be forewarned: it will not leave your head, ever.

2:00 Central Time (8 hours down):
What I'm reading: still Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
How I'm liking it: I am loving it and it makes me angry a lot (but at the bad guys, so it's ok).
Pages read these hours: 77
Pages read so far: 253
Food consumed these hours: A Pull 'n Peel and a glass of eggnog. It's weird how just getting up a few hours early and having slightly different activities during the day can completely change my eating habits, in a way that makes my stomach kind of queasy.
Anything else interesting?: Not really. I'm annoyed with the baseboard heaters in my apartment, because they click all the time, and I don't really notice it until I'm reading for hours in the quiet living room. It is infuriating.


4:00 Central Time (10 hours down):
What I'm reading: Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (at this speed it should be another two or three hours)
How I'm liking it: Still a lot. I'm sorry these updates are boring.
Pages read these hours: 34 (umm, what? OK, I know I talked to my mom on the phone for like 20 minutes and also dozed off for what I think was only a few minutes, but 34?)
Pages read so far: 287
Food consumed these hours: I'm just starting in on the sour cream and onion chips.
Anything else interesting?: Umm, I talked to my mom and apparently took a tiny nap. :) Anywho, I'm happy with my progress so far, because even if I only finished Little Brother this would be a huge jump on the reading I've got planned for December. So yay me!

6:00 Central Time (half done!):
What I'm reading: I finished Little Brother and am about to start 14 Favorite [sic] Christmas Stories
How I'm liking it: It was awesome. My review will be up in a week or two (I'm a bit behind with the reviews at the moment!).
Pages read these hours: 86
Pages read so far: 373
Food consumed these hours: Some chips and a can of Ginger Ale.
Anything else interesting?: Jonathon (Mr. Towering Pile) got home from work and has been mildly distracting. I may take a break in a bit to watch Charmed with him. Also: Reading Little Brother today means that I've already fulfilled my Read Your OWN Library! Challenge for December!

8:00 Central Time (14 hours down):
What I'm reading: 14 Favorite Christmas Stories by various authors
How I'm liking it: It is somewhat mediocre.
Pages read these hours: 22 (I also watched an episode of Charmed...)
Pages read so far: 395
Food consumed these hours: The rest of my tomato and cheese salad, and some fruit salad.
Anything else interesting?: The break for Charmed was nice. It might happen again this evening...

10:00 Central Time (16 hours down):
What I'm reading: 14 Favorite Christmas Stories
How I'm liking it: I'm not, really. It's kind of boring, and I'm not easily impressed by short stories to begin with.
Pages read these hours: 45 (boring book + some distractions)
Pages read so far: 440
Food consumed these hours: A mug of hot chocolate and some Pull 'n Peels... These read-a-thons really aren't good for my health. :P
Anything else interesting?: No, not really. Just reading.

12:00 Central Time (18 hours down):
What I'm reading: 14 Favorite Christmas Stories
How I'm liking it: There have been a couple stories that are kind of nice, but mostly they make me fall asleep.
Pages read these hours: 52
Pages read so far: 492
Food consumed these hours: None.
Anything else interesting?: I think I'm gonna head off to bed right away. I'll still read in bed like usual, so I'll do one last update in the morning, but I just know if I stayed up all night my cold would come back in full force, so I'm gonna choose sleep. Goodnight everyone, and enjoy the rest of the read-a-thon!

Next Morning Update:
How much longer I read: 45 mins.
What I was reading: 14 Favorite Christmas Stories
Pages read since last update: 21

Total pages read: 513

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 2011 Wrap-Up

I can hardly believe November's over already! I've decided to try something new, and write a post at the end of each month summing up my book-related activities for the month.

Books I read (linked to the reviews)


Witch Hunt by Nick Chivers (NetGalley)
The Shining by Stephen King (TBR pile)
Fray by Joss Whedon (Re-read)
The Revenge of the Dwarves by Markus Heitz (New book)
Unraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook (review will go up closer to release date) (Galley Grab)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Volume 4 by Joss Whedon (New book)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Volume 5 by Joss Whedon et al. (New book)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Volume 6 by Jane Espenson (New book)
A Full Moon is Rising by Marilyn Singer (NetGalley)
The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket (New book)
The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice by Carolyn Mcvickar Edwards (Library book)


Books I bought


Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
Predators and Prey by Joss Whedon
The Revenge of the Dwarves
by Markus Heitz
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Time of Your Life
by Joss Whedon
Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
Retreat by Jane Espenson
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar
Children by Random Riggs

The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket


Progress on challenges


The Shining was my November book for the Read Your OWN Library! Challenge.

I also read all the books I bought this month (except the one that I just bought yesterday), which means my tbr list didn't get any bigger!

Don't forget to sign up for the 2012 Anne Rice Challenge!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Volumes 1-6 by Joss Whedon (and others)

I decided to combine all the volumes I've read so far of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 8 into one review, mostly because I read the first 3 before I started this blog, so never wrote reviews for them.

Buffy season 8 takes place (obviously) after the end of season 7 of the show. OK, this is gonna be impossible to do spoiler-free, so if you haven't finished Buffy (the show) yet you should just stop reading now because there be SPOILERS ahead!

OK, so Buffy is at the head of a huge army of Slayers that has bases and squads all over the world and it's pretty awesome. They're up against an Initiative-like military organisation, as well as a mysterious masked Big Bad named Twilight. Those guys might all be working together? I tend to get confused about people's allegiances. There are various subplots along the way, including Buffy going to the future and meeting Fray (awesome) and the Slayers going to Tibet and making what I feel was the most stupid decision in the history of the Buffyverse (not so awesome).
The writing is amazing. Even the parts that are written by people who didn't write for the show are great. The characters talk exactly how you would expect them to, with just the right amount of wittiness.

The art is of mixed quality. I tend not to keep track of who the artists are for each chapter (I'm not a big comic person), but I do know that there are some parts where everyone looks like they should, and others where they're unrecognizable. There were a couple times when a chapter would end by just showing a character and you're supposed to be like "omg it's him!" but instead I was all "wait, who is that?" Because the guys all look the same, except for Xander and Giles.
 
Honestly, I think that if the plot and the writing and everything were exactly the same, but it was in the form of a tv episode (or maybe a novel; I haven't read any Buffy novels yet, so it's hard to say), I would have nothing bad to say. I think all my issues stem from my confusion, which is largely caused by difficult-to-recognise characters. This is the problem I have with comics.

So, the first three volumes were my favourites, and they all get 5 stars. No complaints there. The next three were confusing for me, though I think the sixth one was less so than the fourth and fifth. I'm hoping for more awesome ahead with the last two volumes in the series, which I'll hopefully be getting for the Winter Holidays!