Sunday, October 18, 2015

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon - The Debrief

What I Learned:

1) My children suck.  Well, not really, but they do make reading REALLY HARD.  Since the Husband is away, all the needs of the Heir and the Spare fall to me.  And boy, were they ever needy.  The Heir was constantly complaining about food and toys and the Spare decided it was the perfect day to rebel against all naps.

2) Choose shorter books.  I started with Uprooted by Naomi Novik because it has been on my TBR list for the longest and I was really excited to read it.  BUT it is over 400 pages and I started to get discouraged when I saw other people posting that they had finished one or two books already before I was even halfway through.  Next time, I will check page counts before compiling my list so that I can feel like I accomplished more. 

3) Choose different books.  I saw lots of people reading graphic novels like Nimona and I think next time I will take the readathon as an opportunity to add a little spice to my reading life with something that doesn't make up the bulk of my normal reading (YA, Fiction).

4) Buy books.  I read a lot of ebooks, mostly because that is the format I usually get review copies and it is just so damn convenient to carry an entire library in my purse.  BUT there is something so satisfying about closing the cover on a physical copy or just in being able to see how far you have gotten.  I also think, since I normally purchase ebooks, it would be nice to make the readathon extra special by buying books that will sit on my shelf and remind me of that great day.

5) Plan better food.  I came to the readathon late (I found out about it just a couple days ago) so I didn't take as much time as I could in planning meals and snacks.  Around lunchtime I found myself distracted from my book thinking about what to feed my children that would take the least amount of time.  I usually meal plan dinner, but I ended up throwing the plan out the window and went to pick up a pizza (which the heir didn't mind at all!)

All in all, it was a really fun experience.  I loved interacting with people on Twitter and completing some of the challenges.  I can't wait for the next one in April and I REALLY hope that the Husband is home then so I can do a better job of ignoring my children! 

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon - Closing Survey

Which hour was most daunting for you?

Hour 14.  Since I have kids who rise at the crack of dawn and my husband is away, I had to pack it in to get some sleep

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

I saw someone reading The Thirteenth Tale.  It is a great mystery and the way the narrator talks about books will really speak to the type of person who would participate in a readathon

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

Maybe provide some Gifs and Banners to add to our own blog posts.  And I think it would be great if we had a way to connect people who will be reading the same books.  Perhaps through Goodreads?  That way we could be reading/discussing at the same time - like the ultimate book club!

What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

The twitter presence was so much fun and I loved having lots of challenges across many social media platforms.

How many books did you read?

Just one, over 400 pages

What were the names of the books you read?

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?


And my own question:

What would you, personally, change next time?

I think my biggest challenge was the fact that I was single parenting.  I tried to involve the kids, but they are too young for any sustained reading time and it seemed like they were EXTRA NEEDY.  I'm really hoping the Husband will be home for the next one so I can hide away with my books.

I also think I will buy physical copies of the books I plan to read.  I usually buy ebooks and I think spending the extra money to have physical copies will make it a little more special and every time I look at the book on my shelf I will remember the readathon

I also need to plan snacks better.  I found out about the Readathon a little late and didn't get to the snack side of things but now I can see how important they are!  I usually do meal planning for the week, but I ended up scrapping the dinner plan yesterday and just ordered pizza because I didn't want to take time out to cook.  

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Readathon: Mid-Event Survey:

Mid-Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now?

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

2. How many books have you read so far?

Still working on the one - my children have taken more than their fair share of my time today.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender.  I love Alender's books and saved this one as a spooky October read

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

So. Many. Interruptions.  The Heir kept coming to me with demands (usually for food) and the Spare decided that naps just weren't for him today.  

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

How much I would love for my husband to be here so that I could pawn the children off on him and go hide with my book.

Readathon Mini Challenge: Cover Escape!

Readathon Mini Challenge: Cover Escape!

The Challenge

Dig through your shelves and share with us a book cover you'd like to escape into! Doesn't matter if the subject, plot, or genre isn't typically your thing; in this case, we're totally judging the book by its cover!

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is probably the first book I ever really escaped into.  I always loved this amazing world that C.S. Lewis had created and I re-read this book at least once a year. 

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon - Introductory Meme

In an effort to help you get squared away before GO TIME! here is the Introductory Meme for you to fill out if you wish! Post to your blog (and link up below!), here in the comments, or wherever else you may be participating!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? 

Nova Scotia, Canada
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Uprooted by Naomi Novik - It has been on my TBR list for ages and I have been waiting for the "RIGHT" time.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

CHEESECAKE! Homemade and chocolate!

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I am a military wife who is single parenting right now.  I have two boys, ages 4 and 10 months who are going to make this day a challenge for me (one is currently complaining about food and the other is begging to be picked up, COME ON NAP TIME!)
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?

It is my first read-a-thon.  I am most looking forward to connecting with others while they are reading.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon: The Plan

I am going to attempt Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon for the first time.  If you don't know about it, this is a twice annual event where participants pledge to do their best to read for 24 hours.  There is an online communal component with cheerleaders, games and prizes.


1) I have children.
2) The Husband is on the other side of the world right now
3) Due to the combination of #1 and 2, I tend to fall comatose at about 10pm each night


1) Involve the children.  Or at least the Heir (he's 4 now).  On Saturday morning, I'm going to take him book "shopping" on the bookshelf where I keep the special children's books (which is basically anything that I don't want him to tear to shreds) and have him pick out some books that we can read together.  Also, I always read a book to the Spare before bed, but I am going to add in a book before each nap as well.

2) Ignore the children.  As I mentioned, the Spare still takes two naps during the day.  That gives me a considerable chunk of time in which I can read uninterrupted, that is, if it wasn't for the Heir.  Since I realize his "reading" time will mostly be me reading to him, in order to get any reading time to myself I am going to have to take drastic measures.  That means unlimited tablet time (gasp!) and so much kids Netflix that I will be singing the Rescue Bots theme song in my sleep.

3) Quit when I have to.  I honestly don't know how I'm going to pull off the late night portion of this event.  I figure I can probably make it to 11 or 12, but by then I'm going to have to give up in order to prepare for the Spare's 6am wakeup time.  BUT because of the time change here, that means I will still have around 3 hours until the end of the challenge! So I'm going to try and squeeze in some last minute, early morning, reading time to end off on a strong note.


I decided to compile a list of possible books for reading and then see how I feel about each choice when the time comes to pick it up.  So far, here is the list I have compiled:

I didn't really want to chose ARCs that I have for review since I like to write my reviews RIGHT AFTER finishing and then I wouldn't be able to just move onto the next book, which sort of ruins the spirit of the readathon.  So I chose books that have been on my TBR list and I just haven't gotten to them yet.

Anyone else participating? Do you have a plan of attack?  Any books I should add to my list?

Monday, October 12, 2015

We'll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean

Title: We'll Never Be Apart
Author: Emiko Jean
HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date:
Oct 6, 2015

The Gist:



That’s all seventeen-year-old Alice Monroe thinks about. Committed to a mental ward at Savage Isle, Alice is haunted by memories of the fire that killed her boyfriend, Jason. A blaze her twin sister Cellie set. But when Chase, a mysterious, charismatic patient, agrees to help her seek vengeance, Alice begins to rethink everything. Writing out the story of her troubled past in a journal, she must confront hidden truths.

Is the one person she trusts only telling her half the story? Nothing is as it seems in this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from the debut author Emiko Jean.

Ok, non-spoilery part first:  Alice wakes in the mental ward; a place that is not unfamiliar to her.  She learns that the fire that burnt her also killed her boyfriend and that she is being charged.  She knows that it is her sister, Cellie, that set the fire and that she must be in the D wing, the only part of the hospital that Alice does not have access to.  She also knows that the only way to be free of Cellie's madness is to kill her.  She seeks out the aid of another patient, one who seems to know how to acquire the things she needs, and is cute to boot.  As she seeks out her sister and unravels her past, Alice comes to know far more than she ever realized about who Cellie is, and who that makes her.

The characters are interesting and there is a spark between Alice and Chase that is fun to watch.  The side characters are rather one dimensional (Alice's roommate is constantly described based on two things that she said on Alice's first day) and the Doctor has no personality whatsoever.  The narrative alternatives through the present and the past, using Alice's journals to tell the story of her, Cellie and Jason and how their lives brought them together and, eventually, into the hands of the law.  The story in the past is far more compelling than the present as the three bounce from foster home to foster home (some horrible, some tolerable, none "home") and how Cellie and Jason seem to have a dark connection to violence and fire.

The plot moves at a steady pace and does not lag in any particular areas.  HOWEVER, nearly all of this is completely negated by one, glaring, mistake:


I FEEL LIKE I HAVE READ THIS BOOK A HUNDRED TIMES.  If you didn't guess it from the first few pages, or even the synopsis: Cellie doesn't exist.  Yes folks, we have another "my violent twin sister is actually my alternative personality and I have NO FREAKING IDEA" plot twist.  I spent the entire book just hoping beyond hope that I was wrong.  Because I actually liked the rest of the story, I didn't want Jean to have gone down the SAME road as so many authors.  In fact, this is my third time this year writing a rant like this about the exact same plot! Come on! Give your readers some credit.  And publishers, give me a break.  There is no way that YOU haven't read this same plot before.  Stop publishing this crap and expecting readers to just forget that they have seen this time and time again. 

Bottom Line: Been done.  Don't bother.

Teaching/Parental Notes:

15 and up
Sex: Kissing, Sex between teenagers
Violence: Arson, Child Abuse, Animal Abuse
Inappropriate Language: Asshole, Cocksucker, Snatch, Bitch, Dick, Christ
Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking, Marijuana Use

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

Title: A Madness So Discreet
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Katherine Tegan Books
Release Date:
Oct 6, 2015

The Gist:
Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.


Grace Mae, pregnant and broken, has been locked away in an asylum by the family that is supposed to love and protect her, but which has done neither.  She endures the abuse and neglect of the asylum until she meets Dr. Thornhollow, who performs surgery on the more violent offenders.  She concocts a scheme which will allow her to escape both the asylum and her family and which leaves her in the care of the doctor as his assistant.  Under his tutelage, she begins to learn the science of profiling and seeking out murderers.  As they get closer and closer to the serial killer they are trailing, Grace's past comes back with a vengeance and she creates a trap to punish her abuser, and save all those who might become his victims. 

A Madness So Discreet explores the emerging science of profiling.  Dr. Thornhollow and Grace study crime scenes in order to create a picture of the murderer and narrow down the pool of suspects until they are able to locate their prey.  Unfortunately, this meant Grace received regular "lessons" in which Dr. Thornhollow droned on about profiling.  If this is new information for the reader, it would be interesting.  However, I feel like profiling has become such a big plot point for so many movies and TV shows now that all of this information seems like something everyone knows already; that murderers like to revisit the crime scene, that they are often impotent, that they have overbearing mothers etc.  Since I was pretty familiar with all of this, these scenes were rather tedious and slowed down the plot.

The plot is can really be broken into three parts: the Boston Asylum, Grace's Instruction, and Grace's Revenge.  The first section is a great read, but is full of triggers.  The treatment of patients in the asylum is deplorable and, as a mother, I found certain scenes very difficult to get through.  However, this sets the tone for a very creepy novel about madness and the treatment of the insane, but that is not the book that we get.    Once she escapes, the tone changes completely and the plot slows considerably as Dr. Thornhollow teaches Grace the basics of profiling and she acclimates to her new hospital.  Things become interesting again in the final part as we start to see a whole new side of Grace.  By this point, she has received enough instruction to be able to operate capably on her own and has finally begun to take control of her own life.  This makes her a much more interesting character.  At this point, the plot moves much more quickly and we get to see just how devious, and forward thinking, Grace can be. 

The novel was hit and miss when it came to the characters.  Some, like Grace, were interesting and well developed while others, like Dr. Thornhollow and his sister were flat and unbelievable.  Thankfully, there were no romantic elements as would often be expected in this type of novel and I was quite glad that the only part of Grace's body that the doctor seemed interested in was her mind.  There are also characters that, while enjoyable, did deplorable things that were applauded.  Overall, there was a theme of women gaining revenge against the men who wronged them, however they often did it in ways that I simply couldn't stomach.     

Bottom Line: Solidly in the "Meh" category.  It wasn't bad, but there wasn't anything that I LOVED about it. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

15 and up
Sex: None
Violence: Sexual Abuse, Abuse of a patient, Murder
Inappropriate Language: Bitch, Bastard, Whore
Substance Use/Abuse: Smoking

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Title: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness
Release Date:
Oct 6, 2015

The Gist:
What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshiped by mountain lions.

Mikey is a completely normal guy; at least he seems to think so.  In his world you are a normal, or an Indie.  The Indies are the chosen ones.  When the world comes crashing down and aliens invade or vampires take over the school, it is the Indies who save the day.  It is also the Indies who die, a lot.  Mikey and his friends are just trying to get to graduation.  To get into good colleges far away from their home town and leave the messy parts of their lives behind.  However, Mikey suffers from anxiety and OCD, things that got really bad during his mother's last campaign and after his sister nearly died from and eating disorder.  He thinks he has things under control but when mysterious blue lights start showing up in town and Indie kids start disappearing he fears the worst - another end-of-the-world showdown and he and his friends may not escape this time.  
The worldbuilding here is wonderful.  Through the chapter titles we are told a parallel tale of the fight between Satchel, an Indie kid, and The Immortals, strange beings bent on taking over the world, one host at a time.  

"Chapter the Second, in which indie kid Satchel writes a poem, and her mom and dad giver her loving space to just feel what she needs to; then an indie kid called Dylan arrives at her house, terrified, to say a mysterious glowing girl has informed him of the death of indie kid Finn; Satchel and Dylan comfort each other, platonically."
There are also mentions throughout the text of things like 'that time the kids were all dying beautifully of cancer' or how Indie kids never seem to use the Internet and are always flipping through the card catalogue.  The only complaint that I have is that I wanted MORE!  Intense break up scenes in the restaurant every night, a new kid moving in once a week and falling in insta-love with the least likely person, wildly inappropriate declarations of love in public places, groups of teens obsessively waiting on the next big trend and arguing the merits of vampires vs werewolves vs zombies.    
Against this backdrop, we have the quirky, but fairly normal story of Mikey and his friends as they just try to survive the latests attack and figure out where they stand with each other as the prepare to separate for the first time.  Mike not only has to deal with his feelings for Henna, but also the arrival of a strange new kid who seems to have divided her attention.  While Mike is certainly not the kid of character we LOVE, he is the kid of character we root for and he is real.  One of my favorite parts of the novel was the exploration of Mikey's anxiety and OCD.  He speaks about getting stuck in loops, doing something over and over again until he gets it 'right' (even though even he can't say what 'right' is).  He also talks about how scared he is and how going back on medication feels like a failure.  There are far too few novels that show the reality behind mental illness and that it is not just something that can be worked through by the end of the book.  Mikey is really afraid of his illness and what it might cause him to do and he talks about it, he seeks help and he makes steps towards getting better. 

The romance between Mike and Henna is sweet, but where this book really shines is in the group dynamics. They are such a great cast of characters and they mesh so well together than they make me wish I had friends like that in high school (albeit I could skip the whole apocalypse every couple of years part).  I do wish that we had alternating narrators between the four main characters as I would have loved to see their take on this world as allow for the female characters to be fleshed out a little more as they did tend to fall a little flat compared to Mike and Jared.

Bottom Line: The Rest of Us Just Live Here has a fantastic premise and executes it fairly well.  The story it tells is not the exciting I-Saved-The-World story, but it is an interesting and important one.  Here's hoping little sister Meredith has her own story to tell in another book. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

15 and up
Sex: Kissing, Sex between teens (not described), talk of masturbation
Violence: Car crash
Inappropriate Language: Dick, Pissed, Bastard, Shit, Fuck
Substance Use/Abuse: Smoking, Underage Drinking