Thursday, June 24, 2010

If I was going to be at ALA...

If I was in D.C. for ALA these are the ARCs I would be hunting down:

Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord (Scholastic)
Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson (Simon & Schuster)
Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press)
Guys Read: Funny Stuff by Jon Scieszka et al. (Walden Pond Press)
The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester by Barbara O'Connor (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Memory Bank by Carolyn Coman (Scholastic)
Blank Confession by Pete Hautman (Simon & Schuster)
Selling Hope by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb (Feiwel & Friends)
Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter (Feiwel & Friends)

I would likely spend the rest of my time standing in line for Rebecca Stead's signature.

oh well maybe next year in the big easy.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Advanced Review: Sapphique

If you haven't read Catherine Fisher's Incarceron stop reading, go to your local bookstore, buy it and give it a read.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Finish Line

So, I read five complete books and a little more than a half of a sixth book. In all I read for 25 hours and 5 minutes. I also spent 1 hour and 30 minutes blogging/updating goodreads. For a grand total of 26 hours and 35 minutes, which is a only55.3% of the 48 hours. Honestly I am a little disappointed with my final number. I certainly slept way more than I needed to this weekend. I also feel that if the challenge could have begun in the middle of the week instead of the weekend I could have done significantly better, that or I could have just told my friends I couldn't go out Friday night because I was reading...

Anyway after finishing The Fire-Eaters and updating the blog I jumped into Andrew Clements' Things Not Seen. I really didn't not know what to expect from this one. I have of course read Frindle and I think one of younger Clements title but Things Not Seen is aimed toward an older audience than most of Clements books. I liked the premise here, a teenage boy wakes up one morning to find that he has gone invisible. I liked the characters and thought the story was very well plotted. The writing kept the story moving a a brisk pace and overall I really enjoyed the ride. I am much too exhausted to say much more other than that.

I started but unfortunately did not finish The Snark Boys & The Avocado of Death by Daniel Manus Pinkwater. I am a late comer to Pinkwater's stuff but would consider myself a big big fan. Loved Lizard Music, loved Wingman and had so much fun reading The Hoboken Chicken Emergency to my third graders last year. Of course his true masterpiece is The Big Orange Splot which some how I had never encountered until it showed up in Fuse#8's picture book poll last year. My students absolutely love it. We also have a special affinity towards Uncle Melvin, an unfortunately out of print picture book about a boy who spends his days cared for by his crazy (like straight from the looney bin crazy) uncle.
Anyway The Snark Boys & The Avocado of Death does not disappoint. The openning pages had me laughing out loud. I especially loved the antisemitic English teacher who freaks out each year when all her students, Jewish or not, who show up the first day of class with a Star of David around their necks. Also love the Snark movie theater which shows the most eclectic double features 24 hours a day. Great films and awful ones are mentioned throughout and all I could think about was how sad it is that cable TV killed the repertory business. At one point a character disses Visconti, well disses La terra trema at least, and this is not cool at all. I wanted to scream at her "How would any one in their right mind miss a Visconti marathon, even if you sleep through La terra trema there's still Senso and The Leopard!!!! Who misses two of the most beautiful color films ever made (Powell & Pressburger exclued of course)??? Seriously I was yelling at the book at 7:00 this morning. Still have 45 pages left so I don't know what's going to happen but like all the Pinkwater I've encountered its a laugh a minute and the plot of secondary at best. I can't wait to get some sleep and finish it!

Nitty gritty details.

Like I said above I read 5 (almost 6 books) and read & blogged for 26 hours and 35 minutes.

Complete book list: The Cardturner, Keeper, As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth, The Fire-Eaters, Things Not Seen, and 1/2 of The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death.

Total page count is 1666 pages or 1.045 pages a minute. I guess I'm a slow reader.

Okay now it's time to get some sleep, or maybe finish the Pinkwater first...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

36 hour update

Only 12 hours left in the 48 Hour Book Challenge and I'm still going. Last night's break lasted a little too long and made for a slow start this morning but I feel like I can stay up in to the wee hours of the morning as I approach the 9 am finish line.

So far today I read As Easy as Falling Off the Edge of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins and The Fire- Eaters by David Almond.

As Easy as Falling Off the Edge of the Earth - hmmmm....Not sure how I feel about this one. I liked so many things about it: the initial scenes were wonderful and I loved the narration. Some times the characters just did the dumbest things and once the narrator goes so far as to let the reader know that it is aware that the characters are being stupid. Perkins also leaves some threads only partially cooked. The dogs seem to be forgotten about almost entirely and the grandfathers scenes all seemed incredibly rushed. In the end I understood what Perkins was doing with coincidence and compounding randomness but for some reason it did not entirely work for me today. I may revisit this one in a few months to see if it has grown on me. There was enough worthwhile stuff in here to merit a reexamination I think.

The Fire-Eaters - Last week I read Almond's Skellig, it was my first David Almond title and I really enjoyed it. Because of this I was excited to read The Fire-Eaters. I was equally impressed here and am now looking forward to getting my hands on Kit's Wilderness. The Fire Eaters was a surprising story that places the reader in a very specific time and place and lets said reader discover the world and in leisurely and thought provoking way. As I read I was constantly making comparisons to Deborah Wiles' Countdown which places very different characters into the same historical crisis. I enjoyed seeing the working class British reaction to the missile crisis, having never thought about how people in "uninvolved" countries (i.e. not US, USSR or Cuba) must have reacted to a global situation in which they where on the sidelines. This one is too fresh in my mind to say much else other than it was an enjoyable read which makes me want to read more of Almond's works.

Today's Log so far. I did a lot of sleeping this morning/afternoon, but once the hangover was overcome I got some good work done.

8:30-9:15 Read 45m
915-1040 slept
10:40 - 1:05 read 2h25m
1:05-1:30 break
1:30- 4:00 read 2h30m
400-410 slept
4:10 - 5:20 read 1h10m
520-545 break
5:45-8:40 read 2h55m
8:40 - 9:15 blog

so far today I've read for 9 hours and 45 minutes which including yesterday's 9 hours gives me 18hours and 45 minutes plus 1 hour 25 minutes of blogging.

If I can go straight through to 9am I can break 30 hours but I'm thinking 25 is a much more likely number.

Friday, June 4, 2010

48 Book Challenge

Starting this morning at 9:00 am. The plan is to read The Cardturner at home and then venture to a pool for The Keeper. However, it looks like the weather might not be so cooperative, in which case its the couch for the day. I'm thinking I can read for 15 hours today. With 1 hour for blogging and four 15 minute breaks puts my sleep time at 2am. Optimistic but attainable.

I'll probably update this post every two or three completed titles.

12 hour update.

The Cardturner by Louis Sachar - Completed in one sitting 9:00am - 1:05pm

I realized as I completed The Cardturner that this is the third Sachar book that I completed in a single go. I vividly remember being sick one day in 2nd or 3rd grade and taking Sideway Stories from Wayside School with me to my mom's work. I sat there and read it in one shot. Of course I loved it as much as every other 8 year old on the planet does. (I read it aloud to my class this spring and had so much fun watching them react to the jokes.) A few years ago I read Holes for the first time and I had to go straight through because it was simply too damn perfect to put down.

Anyway, The Cardturner. I really liked it. Mind you its no Holes. But it's really not trying to be so that's okay. Going in I was curious to see not only how Sachar worked all the bridge talk I'd heard about into the book, but also hoped I could learn a little something about bridge myself. Never having played the game I always wonder how one deciphers the bridge diagrams tat often show up next to the crossword puzzle in the newspaper. After reading The Cardturner I'm pretty sure I have enough understanding of the game to figure out those diagrams but I certainly I'm not ready to actually play the game.

The Cardturner is full to the brim with amazing characters. The supporting players like Leslie and Gloria don't get a lot of pages but are clearly drawn and incredibly likable. I also love the vibe you get from Alton's mother. From the very beginning I was hoping she wouldn't get squat in the will. Alton's parents are really the exact opposites of Stanley Yelnats' parents.
Sachar writes older teens just as well as he writes kids (no real surprise there) and I am always a fan of a first person narrator. One thing that kept sneaking into the front of my mind as I read the book however was the sneaky suspicion that Konigsburg could have done the story even better. I'm not sure what she would have done differently but I really wish I could read it. The story contains many themes or situations often seen in Konigsburg's stories, non-condescending adult/child conversations and interactions, self reliant kids, etc. Not to slight Sachar at all, I think he's one of the very best, but as I read I kept wanting The Cardturner to be somehow better. It had so much potential and achieves so much, yet I thought I could have been even better, even though I have no idea how so.

Keeper by Kathi Appelt 1:20pm - 830pm with 2+ hours of naps and breaks.

I was a huge huge huge fan of The Underneath read it twice then read it to my 3rd grades last year before Newbery announcements. I was therefore a little apprehensive about Keeper. Would it hold up to the sublime excellence of The Underneath?

A few short chapters in and I realized I had nothing to worry about. Appelt is a master storyteller and I was excited to see where the journey would take me.

I really liked Keeper but missed some of the lyricism in verse that made The Underneath so memorable. Keeper is certainly going to appeal to a certain kind of reader. The best way I can describe it is warm. A much more gentle book than the often frightening and meandering narrative of The Underneath. I really enjoyed the tiny world Appelt created here and again was struck by how much she made me care about pets and animals (which in the real world I usually detest). Appelt is able to build quite a lot of tension with her multiple perspective, tiny chapters and intermittently placed back story. This slow reveal style gives the narrative a slight mystery feel which I found quite compelling even if the "mysteries" were readily apparent.

Next up is As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins. I read and loved Criss Cross but haven't read anything else she's done so I'm excited.
Still looking for that top book of 2010 maybe this will be the one!

Below is a detailed log from my notebook.

9:00 am - 1:05 Reading 4h5m
1:05 - 1:20 break
120 - 150 read 30m
150 - 210 nap
210-250 read 40m
250-305 break
305-4:10 read 1h5m
4:10-4:20 break
420-4:30 read 10m
4:30-5:40 sleep
5:40 - 5:50 read 10m
5:50-6:10 break
6:10- 830 read 2h20m
8:30 - 9:20 Blogging

As you can see unexpected naps have been my enemy.
Total time spent reading: 9 hours
Total time spent blogging: 50 minutes

Time for a bar break after which I will either pass out or read a book. The night could go either way.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

preparing for the 48 Hour Book Challenge

Tomorrow mid morning I plan on beginning my 48 hours clock. This is the first year I've been able to participate because I've always had ultimate tournaments on the same weekend. So I am really happy to finally join in on the fun. MotherReader has all the rules and details here.

School's been out for almost 2 weeks and I have gotten a lot of reading done but tomorrow I plan to really ratchet up my focus and pace. Not living in an apartment with a pool has presented some challenges so far this summer but thanks to some generous friends I have secured access to others' pools so that I can be most productive.

Here's my to read pile as of tonight. I have been saving both Keeper and The Cardturner for this challenge and I am super excited to delve into them. I've got the rest of Collin's Overlander series as well if I somehow make it through this stack.

To prepare for the challenge I've done the following:
  • worked on an acceptable base tan (last weekend in savannah helped here) so as not to lose reading time applying aloe vera.
  • purchased 2 cases of high life so as not to go thirsty.
  • organized my food delivery menus so as to not lose reading time looking for something to eat. Cooking is of course a massive waste of time and so I will refrain from doing so until after the challenge.
  • unplugged television
  • finished all essential laundry (swim trunks and towels)
  • purchased poolside snacks
  • read all emails.
  • read everything that piled up in my google reader
  • read all unread messages in child_lit
So I think I'm ready to read read read. I'll try to post Friday night on my progress. Wish me luck!