Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dewey's Read-a-thon: Final Post

I managed another hour of reading last night and half-hour this morning to get halfway through Dragon Turn. Kate read for two hours last night and another this morning. She finished Haunting Violet and started The Once and Future King by T. H. White.

Here are Kate's totals:
Hours of reading: 9
Total pages read: 656
Books finished: 2 (Home Truths by Jill Maclean and Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey)
Other books started: 1 (The Once and Future King by T. H. White)

My totals:
Hours of reading: 7.5
Total pages read: 475
Books finished: 1
Other books started: 1
Mini-challenges done: 3 (Hour 1 end-of-event meme, Hour 6 Top 5, Hour 12 end-of-event meme)
Cheerleading hours: 1.5

Kate and I spent 18 hours participating (reading and cheerleading) in the read-a-thon, so as promised, we've donated $36 to UNICEF.

Now for the end-of-event meme:
  1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
    Definitely the hour that coincided with my normal bedtime.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
    Young adult books are always good for these events.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
    I always wish I could have more time for visiting other people's blogs and still have time to read. I would love to extend the read-a-thon by a couple of hours so we could have an "intermission" or post-event period for blog visiting, to leave encouraging or congratulatory posts.
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
    I'm really happy the read-a-thon didn't land on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend this year, as we're usually busy with travelling or family activities on holiday weekends.
  5. How many books did you read?
    For me: one finished and another started. For Kate: two finished and another started.
  6. What were the names of the books you read?
    For me: The Guardian by Andrew Pyper and The Dragon Turn by Shane Peacock
    For Kate: Home Truths by Jill Maclean, Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey, and The Once and Future King by T. H. White.
  7. Which book did you enjoy most?
    Can't decide -- we liked them all!
  8. Which did you enjoy least?
    Can't decide -- we liked them all!
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
    I temporarily subscribed to all the blogs I was covering so I could immediately see the updated ones in Google Reader.
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
    Kate and I will definitely participate again. I will try to do more cheerleading next time.
Thanks to the organizers for another extremely well-run event!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dewey's Read-a-thon: Update #2

We are at the halfway point of the challenge. Since the last update, I've read 3 more hours and Kate has read 2.5, to make a total of 6 hours for each of us. I finished The Guardians by Andrew Pyper and have just started The Dragon Turn: The Boy Sherlock Holmes, His 5th Case by Shane Peacock. Kate is halfway through Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey, another book from the Red Maple list.

I've also spent some time on my cheerleading duties, checking out other readers' blogs and getting some good recommendations as a result. Because of a social commitment this evening, I'll be offline and away from my books for a while, but I hope to squeeze in a bit more reading before I go off to bed tonight.

Dewey's Read-a-thon: Top 5 Mini-Challenge

Lisa's World of Books is hosting one of the Dewey's Read-a-thon mini-challenges, which are always a lot of fun. This one asks, "What are the 5 books you are looking forward to in the next few months or really into next year?"

Here are Kate's top 5:
  • The Mark of Athena, next in the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordon, to be published in fall 2012.
  • The Calling, the next book in the Darkness Rising series by Kelley Armstrong, to be published in April 2012.
  • Fear, the next book in the Gone series by Michael Grant, to be published in April 2012.
  • The Ghost of Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen.
  • The next book in the Kane Chronicles series by Rick Riordon, to be published in spring 2012.
Here are my top 5:
  • River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh
  • Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
  • Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
  • Vortex by Robert Charles Wilson
  • The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel (whenever that will be published)

Dewey's Read-a-thon: Update #1

Seven hours have gone by since the start of the read-a-thon and here is where we're at. I've read for about 3 hours and accomplished this:
  • Finished the last 20 pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, to finally complete my year-long reread of the Harry Potter series!
  • Am halfway through The Guardians by Andrew Pyper, his most recent novel about a group of friends and a haunted house.
  • Listened to Linger by Maggie Stiefvater on audiobook during a half-hour walk.

Kate has done even better. She finished Home Truths by Jill Maclean in 3.5 hours of reading. She was so absorbed in this book that she pretty much read it continuously, with only one big break to go for her voice lesson. I'm hoping that she'll provide a full review later, but she says that this novel, about bullying and child abuse, is a very good story. It is on the Ontario Library Association's recently announced 2012 Red Maple list.

The final exciting bit of news is that we won a Dewey's Read-a-thon random draw prize! We always love participating in this very well-run event.

Dewey's Read-a-thon: Introductory Post

The read-a-thon has started! I'll start with Kate's and my answers for the introductory meme.

1)Where are you reading from today?
We're both comfortably settled in the living room.

2)Three random facts about me…
From Kate:
  • My favourite colour is purple.
  • I play the violin, piano and guitar.
  • I read the newspaper comics every morning.
From me:
  • I usually knit in my free time when I'm not reading.
  • I love every kind of seafood.
  • I've just finished watching all the Star Trek Next Generation season 2 episodes with Kate.
3)How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
I've got about a dozen books in my TBR pile and will pick a few of them for the read-a-thon.

4)Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
I signed up for an hour of cheerleading. Hopefully, I'll be able to spend even more time catching up with all the blogs after the actual read-a-thon is over. I'm hoping to finish two books this time around. Kate has no definite goals. She said she'll just read when she feels like it.

5)If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time?
I like to save up books that I really, really want to read for read-a-thon day. Even if I have other books on the go, I give myself permission to start new books today.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dewey's Read-a-Thon

Kate and I will be participating in Dewey's Read-a-thon once again on Saturday. We will attempt to read for as many hours as we can in the 24-hour period starting 8am EDT. We will donate a toonie to UNICEF for every hour that either of us reads.

Last year, our combined total was 15 hours. As we have some other activities scheduled for Saturday, I suspect we'll fall short of this number, but we'll still read for as many hours as we can!

Seeing that we're coming up to Halloween, I think I'll spend the day with some dark, scary books from the pile of mystery, thriller and horror novels on my shelves. Kate will probably read a couple of books she has on hand from the recently announced Red Maple list.

If you have nothing to do on Saturday, or if whatever you need to do is less appealing than spending the entire day reading, then please join us! You can sign up as a reader and/or as a cheerleader. Cheerleading involves visiting other readers' blogs and leaving encouraging comments. It's a great way to discover new book blogs and get book recommendations.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Accident by Linwood Barclay

This is the fourth Linwood Barclay thriller I’ve read and they have all been enjoyable if somewhat formulaic. His novels typically involve a small-town middle-class guy, a family man who is well educated but not quite working at his potential. This very ordinary person suddenly gets caught up in an extraordinary chain of events and discovers disturbing secrets about his family, neighbours and friends.

In this particular novel, the main character’s wife is killed in a car accident, in unexpected circumstances that seem completely contrary to everything he knows about her character and history. Unwilling to believe the police’s account, he investigates further and finds a complex chain of events leading to her death.

Despite the predictability, I cannot seem to put Barclay’s books down. They are extremely readable, well-paced, and scary because the characters are so ordinary. That family could be yours. The dialogue and characters are completely believable even if the plot seems highly unrealistic at times.

The Accident is not a deep or challenging read. It’s just a really good way to spend a few hours if you enjoy mysteries and thrillers.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Queen of Hearts by Martha Brooks

Intrigued by the premise and the cover design, I picked up Queen of Hearts from a bookstore recently. This is the first book by award-winning Canadian author Martha Brooks that Kate and I have read. The novel is an honest and touching account of life in a sanatorium as seen through the eyes of a French-Canadian teenage girl during the World War II years.

Marie-Claire and her two younger siblings are put into a sanatorium in southern Manitoba after contracting tuberculosis from their uncle, who had succumbed to the illness. Marie Claire must deal with worry and fear for her sister and brother, despair about her own situation, and anger with her parents’ inability to cope with the tragic situation.

In the sanatorium, Marie Claire’s constant companion is Signy, a needy girl that she befriends with great difficulty. In the development of this relationship, Brooks examines the obligations, pains and awkwardness of friendship as well as the joys. In an environment where people are slowing dying, friendship necessarily encompasses a range of emotions, including not so pleasant ones like pity, revulsion and guilt. Yet, in this bleak environment, there is also happiness, love, and even hope for a future life outside this tiny enclosed world.