Thursday, October 30, 2008

Anne Frank Remembered Winner

The Winner of Anne Frank Remembered is Ashlee!! This is super crazy because Ashlee was my roommate freshman year of college--so I'm thrilled to pass her on this book.

Thanks to Random.org, I generated a list--and...
Here they are in random order (I only listed top 5):
1. Ashlee
2. Nymeth
3. Lit Feline
4. Corinne
5. Joanna
Timestamp: 2008-10-30 11:25:52 UTC
Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Coraline - Neil Gaiman

Title: Coraline
Author: Neil Gaiman
Date Finished: Oct 19, 2008 #62
Pages: 161
Published: 2002
Rating: 4/5

What a deliciously creepy book! This was my last for the read-a-thon, and even when my eyes were growing increasingly droopy, I was still thoroughly frightened! This is my third Gaiman book this year, and though I liked Stardust better, I think this is Gaiman at his best.

Coraline is the story of a curious girl who yearns to explore her new home and its surroundings, but during a particular rainy day her mother insists she must stay indoors. So she explores her home once more and finds a peculiar door that does not go anywhere. When her mother unlocks the door for her, she sees that it has been bricked shut--once upon a time her flat and the empty one next door were joined by this doorway.

The next day, Coraline is once again bored and itching to do something to occupy her time. Her mother has left to run errands, so Coraline takes the key to the door and opens it. Instead of finding a brick wall like she expected, she finds a dark hallway. She enters the hallway and discovers that it leads to a flat just like her own--except that it is better than her flat. And in the kitchen she finds a woman who is just like her mother--just like her mother except for the buttons sewed onto her eyes. She has discovered her Other Mother.

At first glance Other Mother is wonderful. She cooks the food that Coraline loves, she pays her lots of attention, and she promises to love her forever and ever. After spending some time there, Coraline goes back to her own home, but her parents aren't there. And they don't come back that night. When Coraline is awakened by the strange neighborhood cat, she begins searching for her parents. She finally sees their reflection in the hallway mirror--as if they are stuck within and cannot get out. Upon seeing her trapped parents, Coraline knows she must go to the Other House to rescue them from Other Mother. But will Coraline be able to escape the clenches of her soul hungry Other Mother and save herself and her parents?

First--kids must have a higher tolerance for scary stuff than I do because this book plain and simple freaked me out! I don't do scary, and I'm a little embarrassed to report that while reading this book at 3 am I had to cover the illustrations with my hand so I wouldn't have nightmares when I finally crawled into bed. Even now when flipping through a book I landed on a particularly scary picture Other Mother that made my heart skip a beat.

But the illustrations are only a small part of what makes this book so bonechilling. Gaiman does a wonderful job of creating the other world where our fears feed upon more fear until they become out of control and consume our beings. I know that the more I think about how frightened I am, the worse the situation becomes and the smallest sound will send me right out of my skin. But Coraline is such a brave girl and she must separate her fears from what she believes to be good in order to make sense of the other world and her world so she can make things right.

I would recommend this little book--especially as a Halloween spook, but I can't imagine reading it when I was younger! (of course I am the supreme wimp!) Do you get scared while reading books? Do you enjoy being frightened?

They also read it: (let me know if I've missed you--I have trouble catching them all when the book is so widely read...)
Biblioaddict, Chris (Book-a-Rama), Rhinoa, Kim L., Stephanie, Joy, 3M, Terri B, Raidergirl3, Eva, Nymeth, Valentina

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Ice Queen - Alice Hoffman

Title: The Ice Queen
Author: Alice Hoffman
Date Finished: Oct 19, 2008 #61
Pages: 211
Published: 2005
Rating: 4.25/5

I read my first Hoffman book, Here on Earth, about five years ago and haven't had a strong desire to read something else by her since then. But I have heard such fantastic things about her books and finally decided to give her another go during the read-a-thon. And I'm glad that I did because this book was spellbinding and captivating from the opening sentences:

"Be careful what you wish for. I know that for a fact. Wishes are brutal, unforgiving things. They burn your tongue the moment they're spoken and you can never take them back. They bruise and bake and come back to haunt you" (3).

The Ice Queen begins with a little girl who makes a simple wish that changes her entire life. She always had a relatively quiet existence, but when she wished that her mother would disappear, everything changed forever. After her mother's death, her brother and she lived with her grandmother and she grew into a reticent woman fascinated with death. Several years after her initial wish upon her mother, the woman wished herself dead, and the wish half came true when she was struck by lightening causing her to be constantly chilled, her heart began skipping beats, and she could no longer see the color red.

Through a support group for individuals who have been struck by lightening, she learns of a man, Lazarus Jones, who was brought back to life by lightening. Upon a whim, she seeks out this man who has received a second chance at living. The two slowly enter into a strange love affair--one where her cold is finally offset by his intense heat, but the closer she gets to him, the more she realizes that Lazarus has his own dark secrets about who and what he is.

The Ice Queen is a beautiful and subtle book about loss and redemption as Hoffman explores how life can instantly change in the smallest moment. She talks about the chaos effect (I've also heard this called the butterfly effect) where the beating of a butterfly's wings can send fate into a completely different direction. But while this might imply that there are things in our lives that we cannot control, Hoffman also shows us a life where our decisions and choices impact the outcome of who we are and where our lives will take us.

The story itself is enchanting, but I was also swept away by Hoffman's writing. Her character development is powerful without being forceful, and while most of the novel is introspective, the plot is smooth and engaging. It was the perfect book for the read-a-thon because there is never a moment where the story lulls, and though there are some fantastical elements to the book, Hoffman makes you believe everything that she writes. I would recommend this book and will definitely be picking up others by her.

They also read it:Mrs. S, Rhinoa, Nymeth (let me know if I've missed yours)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (and Giveaway!!)

Title: Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
Author: Anne Frank
Date Finished: Oct 18, 2008 #60
Pages: 258
Published: 1947

This probably was not the best book to pick for the read-a-thon, but since reading Anne Frank Remembered several months ago I've been looking for a good time to revisit this one (it's been about 15 years since I read it last). I loved getting to know Anne again, but her story is so heartbreaking. Just as I was coming to the end of the book, with about 15 pages left, I started thinking about how it would probably be best if I put the book in the freezer and pick something else up for the read-a-thon. And then I flipped the page. And the book was over. There was nothing left except the Afterward. And that was enough to leave me a sobbing heap on the couch as I cried for the hope that Anne felt, her hope that was never realized.

For those who might not know, Anne and her family, who were Jewish, went into hiding in Amsterdam in 1942. Her father, Otto Frank, and his coworkers devised a plan for him and another family to live in the secret annex of his work office. For two years, eight people lived in the cramped quarters of the second and third floor of the building. Anne, who was 13 when her family went into hiding, kept a journal (which she named Kitty) about the daily happenings in the Annex for the two years they lived there.

There are several things that surprised me about Anne. First, she has become so immortalized and idolized that I think we forget that she was a just little girl (whew...going to try and make it through this without balling my eyes out). While Anne was incredibly brave, she was hardly perfect. At times she was love sick, others she fought with her parents (and really did not like her mother). She didn't want to stay cooped up in the Annex and at times she was a little bit of a pest. And all of these things, all of Anne's imperfections, make me love her all the more:

"In spite of all justice and thankfulness, you can't crush feelings. Cycling, dancing, whistling, looking out into the world, feeling young, to know that I'm free--that's what I long for; still, I mustn't show it, because I think if all eight of us began to pity ourselves, or went about with discontented faces, where would it lead us? Sometimes I ask myself, 'Would anyone, either Jew or non-Jew, understand this about me, that I am simply a young girl badly in need of some rollicking fun?' I don't know, and I couldn't talk about it to anyone, because then I know I should cry. Crying can bring such relief" (111).

Another thing that surprised me was how mundane some of the entries were. This goes back to the idea that Anne is a real girl, not an idealistic caricature. And while some of her entries were simply what the dinner conversation was that night or what their weekly menu was or how she was tired of Mr. Dussel, she also talks about her dreams and desires--some immediate and some for the future. She is a hopeful girl who is full of life. But the book was not written as a memoir in hindsight of the events--what she writes about is immediate. To me this makes her story a little more untainted than some of the other accounts might be (I hate to say that any of the others might be colored--but she was writing about what she knew/felt when she knew/felt those things).

Anne Frank's diary is incredibly touching. Not only is it a look into the lives of the eight in hiding, but it is also the look at how the hiding and war affected a teenaged girl who on one hand grew up entirely too fast but on the other never really got to grow up at all. If you haven't read it, I would highly recommend it. The book isn't terribly long, and while it isn't necessarily "light" reading it is insightful and beautiful.

GIVEAWAY!!

Several months ago I read Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies. I was surprised at how many people had not heard of this wonderful book. I have an extra, gently used copy that I would love to pass on to you. To be entered to win Anne Frank Remembered, please leave a comment below letting me know you're interested. To be entered TWICE, also leave a comment on the original post (please make it more substantial than "hi"). To be entered THREE times, blog about the giveaway. Don't forget to tell me about it! Because I feel that this is a very special story that needs to be shared, the giveaway is open to everyone (but be sure I can easily get ahold of you).

I'll draw a name on Thursday October 30 at 6:30 am central time.

*If you want to be entered and have already commented on the original post, you don't need to do so again. ;)

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Tale Out of Luck - Willie Nelson

Title: A Tale Out of Luck
Author: Willie Nelson
Date Finished: Oct 18, 2008 #69
Pages: 248
Published: 2008 (ARC)
Rating: 3.5/5

Whew! The thought of writing about four books is a little daunting to me, but I'm going to try and spread it out throughout the week--maybe one a day. And be sure to check in for my thoughts on Anne Frank as I will be giving away a copy of Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies.

Alright--now let's talk about Willie Nelson's new book. When I saw the opportunity to receive an ARC of this one from Hachette Book Group I couldn't help myself. I looooooove Willie Nelson's music. How can any Texan not? Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys?? Let's go to Luckenback, Texas with Waylon, Willie and the boys...? *Sigh* I love it. Oh ya--the book...

When Jay Blue makes the decision to hit the local saloon for a few drinks and a flirt with Jane Catlett instead of guarding the ranch, he lands himself into a heap of trouble with his father because their race horse is stolen, presumably by Comanches. While Jay Blue and his best friend Skeeter are searching for the horse, a mysterious murder is uncovered. An unknown brand doctor (someone who "doctors" existing brands into his own so he can steal cattle) is found shot to death by arrows just outside of Luck, Texas. Thus begins a whirlwind adventure of feuds between Texans and Comanches, renegade Texas Rangers against the federal army, a budding love, broken friendships, and a ghost from the past.

At first I wasn't too sure about the book. The first couple of chapters jump around from character to character and the result was choppy and my interested waned. The dialogue is pretty darn cheesy and there didn't seem to be a lot of development with the characters. But, the more I got into the book the more I was surprised at how much fun I was having reading it. The plot evened out and stopped jumping between characters, the dialogue became much more readable, and the characters were flawed and realistic. I don't know how much depth can be found in the book, but overall it was a fun and exciting read. And a little bit of a twist--who doesn't like that?? Plus--who doesn't love Willie Nelson?? :)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Read-a-thon Complete!!!

Well, it's now almost noon and I'm up for the day and feeling great. Much better than I did last time! I think I might be able to squeeze a real day out of today. :)

So how did I make out?

Last year I read for 735 minutes (12.25 hours) and 739 pages. I thought that was pretty good, but I also took a little shopping break and a cat nap during the night. This year I knew I wanted to do better.

And I did...by the skin of my teeth:

TOTALS:
840 pages read
877 minutes reading (14.6 hours)
320? minutes blogging (actually, I lost count--but this is 5.3 hours)
22 hours of participating (1360 minutes!!)
4 books finished: A Tale Out of Luck, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Ice Queen, Coraline
2 caffeine beverages and lots of water! And ice cream, and fruit, and peanuts, and twizzlers, and crackers, and sushi...I did a lot of munching in 22 hours!
8 or so mini challenges entered? 0 prizes

END-EVENT SURVEY

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
Hour 21 (3 am) was the most difficult. I kept falling asleep while reading Coraline. I finally got up and walked around and was able to finish it without any other problems, but that's when I knew it was best just to go to bed.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
The Ice Queen was a great book for the read-a-thon. If Scott and his friend hadn't made an entrance while I was reading it I could have finished it easily in two sittings (not their fault--I was the one who HAD to show them the Harry Potter video from the mid-event survey)

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Everything was great! Thanks to all our hostesses who did such a fantastic job! And I LOVED that the read-a-thon started much earlier this time. Made it easier to get through the middle of the night.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
The multiple hostesses seemed to work really well--everything was always very smooth over at Dewey's. And THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU again to EVERYONE who came by to cheerlead. Again I had some cheerleaders that weren't even participating in the event and I can't tell you guys how much it means to me. Rah Rah Rast, you are reading Fast; Rah Rah Read, Kick 'em in the Knee. ;)

5. How many books did you read?
4 whole books! I slowed down a little with Anne Frank, but overall I'm thrilled!

6. What were the names of the books you read?
A Tale Out of Luck (Willie Nelson); Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl; The Ice Queen (Alice Hoffman); Coraline (Neil Gaiman)

7. Which book did you enjoy most?
I enjoyed them all for different reasons but The Ice Queen was definitely the most captivating

8. Which did you enjoy least?
None--although the pictures in Coraline scared me a bit. :P

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
I wasn't a cheerleader--but you guys ROCK. Keep doing what you're doing!

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
I'd love to participate again--most likely as a reader (although I spent a quarter of the time on the computer leaving comments anyway). I now look forward to these events!

Read-a-thon: Update Hour 21&22

Off to bed. Yup...it's true. I just finished Coraline and struggled through most of it to keep my eyes open. I'll get my final tallies up tomorrow but for these hours:

Pages: 128
Minutes: 105

Goodnight! And thanks everyone for such a great read-a-thon. :)

Read-a-thon: Update Hour 19&20



Since we're now in the wee hours of the night and Carl's RIP mini-challenge has commenced, I thought I would post a picture of my Halloween village. There are lights and sounds and movement but you can't capture all that with the picture. I thought about doing a video, but at 2 in the morning I don't think Scott would have been thrilled. Usually I put little leaves and bushes and roads on the village, but I was too damn lazy this year...

UPDATE FOR HOURS 19&20

Pages: 78 pages (The Ice Queen - finished and Coraline - just started)
Time: 75 minutes

TOTALS:
712 pages read
775 minutes reading
270? minutes blogging (actually, I lost count)
3 books finished: Just Out of Luck, The Diary of Anne Frank, and The Ice Queen
2 caffeine beverages and lots of water! And ice cream :D
6? mini-challenges? Can't remember. No prizes. :(

Still having fun but am slowing down. Since there are only 4 hours left I'm going to do my best to stay up the rest of the night!

And this ice cream is GOOOOOOOOOOD. Should have pulled it out much earlier!!

Read-a-thon: Update Hour 17&18


Which would you choose??? Ya, I'm thinking Ice Cream also. ;)

UPDATE FOR HOURS 17&18

Pages: 60 pages (The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman--still liking it)
Time: 63 minutes

TOTALS:
634 pages read
700 minutes reading
220 minutes blogging (actually, I lost count)
2 books finished: Just Out of Luck and The Diary of Anne Frank
2 caffeine beverages and lots of water! I want some coffee but my tummy feels like it has a giant rock in it. I'm not entirely sure the chicken artichoke salad I'm eating is helping...
Lost count on mini challenges--will up date next time. Haven't won anything though...boo!

Thank you to everyone for all the super comments! YOU are my motivation. And I want to send out a special hug to LISA who isn't officially doing anything but has been the best cheerleader I could have asked for (seriously--have you seen her cheers and haikus??). Lisa--I told Scott the Rah Rah Rah cheer but he didn't think it was any funnier than the HP video or my pirate joke. Arrrrrrrrr.

Glad everyone is enjoying the HP video (even is spouses are laughing too hard you can't concentrate). I showed it to Scott and his friend (Scott's had to endure me singing "Ron, Ron, Ron Weasley" all night) and they both rolled their eyes. :( Oh well--it still makes me giggle.

I'm starting to struggle a little bit. I only have 40 pages left in the book and then I move on to Coraline. But I confess that I crawled into bed with hubby for a few minutes and did not want to get back out...I love my bed. So much.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Read-a-thon: Update Hour 15&16










UPDATE FOR HOURS 15 & 16
Pages: 104 pages (The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman--really liking it!!)
Time: 105 minutes

TOTALS:
574 pages read
637 minutes reading
170 minutes blogging (actually, I lost count. Laura--we need to include this next time)
Blog Stalkings: Laura, Nymeth, Bethany, Debi, Lezlie Go cheer these lovely ladies on!!!
2 books finished: Just Out of Luck and The Diary of Anne Frank
2 caffeine beverages and lots of water!
6 mini-challenge entered. Most recently I found out that the closest library cat is Liberty
3: times watched Harry Potter Youtube video (go HERE if you don't know what I'm talking about) I love love love it. :)

Feeling much better now after sobbing over Anne. Thanks for the hugs. :)

I'm starting to get a little sleepy--how about you?

Read-a-thon: Update Hour 13 and a half


I'm here a little earlier than normal and I'm not going to do any blog hopping just yet because I need an emotional break. I just finished Anne and am a little shaken up. I was reading an entry in the diary--with about 18 pages left. I was just thinking to myself how I wanted to put the book in the freezer and didn't think I could bear to continue when I flipped the page and realized I had read all that was left. Nothing more. My heart broke. Anyway, I didn't read the Afterward--I'll do that another night. But for now, I'm going to take a little breather and come back in an hour (which puts me off schedule but I'll adapt).

UPDATE FOR HOURS 13 and a half

Pages: 55 (Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl)
Time: 60 minutes

TOTALS:
532 minutes reading
470 pages
140 minutes blogging (including now)
Lost count of comments - NEXT post I'll leave blog stalkings...
2 books finished: Just Out of Luck and The Diary of Anne Frank
2 caffeine beverages
3 mini-challenge entered
Hope everyone is doing well! I'll catch up soon with your blogs soon. :D

Read-a-thon: Update Hour 11&12 - HALFWAY!

Mid-Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now? Anne Frank (will finish in the next session)

2. How many books have you read so far? 1 :( But will finish #2 soon!

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

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? Nope.

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Phone calls, hubby wanting me to look up stuff for him on the Internet. Handled with patience.

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? How dang fast the time is going!! I can't believe we're halfway through. It certainly helps that the read-a-thon is earlier this year

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Same old suggestion--give us a definitive time of when mini-challenges end...even the hour # helps

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? It's going pretty well so far, but I might have my posts already drafted to save some time

9. Are you getting tired yet? Not tired, but restless--really want to finish Anne.

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? Keeping a schedule or routine. Definitely helping!
************************************************************************

UPDATE FOR HOURS 11 & 12:

Pages: 65 (from The Diary of Anne Frank. Will finish soon!)
Time: 75 minutes

TOTALS:
472 minutes reading (almost 8 hours--the rest spent blogging, etc)
415 pages (my last update I think was wrong?)
105 minutes blogging (including now)
Lost count on comments--next update I'll include some blogs i've been haunting
1 books finished: Just Out of Luck
2 caffeine beverages
3 mini-challenge entered

And now I leave you with my favorite Youtube video. Harry Potter fans will especially like, I think (yes, it is incredibly cheesy--my 12 yo brother introduced me to it). You'll be singing "Ron Ron Ron Weasley" "Dumbledore!" for a while so be careful... ;)



*Laura - yes the toy still squeaks but she doesn't squeak it too often
*Debi - I'm not THAT young ;)

And a note on Maggie and Lexi--they get along fine. Lexi is curious and doesn't know how to "handle" Maggie and will chase her around a little bit and then get scared. Maggie just doesn't care. Sometimes she doesn't even run away from Lexi anymore.

Read-a-thon: Update Hour 9&10

I always think it's funny when I get to the computer and there are hardly any new posts and then BAM there are 10 at one time!! I guess we are all kind of on the same schedule! I read from 15 after the hour to 15 to the hour...

Above is Lexi and her new baby. I thought I'd give y'all a break from Maggie pictures (and I think poor Lexi was feeling bad that she wasn't getting any attention). Also--lots comments about the sushi and Maggie. First, I bought the sushi at the grocery last night (yes, it was still good) and Maggie was no where to be seen when I was eating it. She only really goes crazy over people food when I pull out a can of tuna.

Thank you to all the cheerleaders!!! You guys ROCK! I think my favorite cheer so far comes from Lisa:

Rah rah read! Kick 'em in the knee!
Rah rah rast, the day is going fast!

UPDATE FOR HOURS 9 & 10:

Pages: 70 (from The Diary of Anne Frank. It is breaking my heart knowing how it ends. I have read it before but not since 7th grade 15 years ago!)
Time: 85 minutes

TOTALS:
327 minutes reading (just over 4 hours)
295 pages
105 minutes blogging (including now)
Countless comments left
1 books finished: Just Out of Luck
2 caffeine beverages
3 mini-challenge entered

Head over to Icedream's blog for the name that cover mini-challenge

Some quotes from Anne:
"Ordinary people simply don't know what books mean to us, shut up here" (77).
"'Would anyone, either Jew or non-Jew, understand this about me, that I am simply a young girl badly in need of some rollicking fun?"

Read-a-thon: Update Hour 7&8


Well, my Aggies lost--but I'm OK with that. I didn't catch the game, but it seems as though the put up a good fight. Maybe next year (although how many years in a row have they lost to Tech now? Laura--do you know?)
I didn't get as much reading done the past two hours because I had to get cleaned up and fix some lunch (sushi rolls! yum!). For those who asked--Just out of Luck by Willie Nelson was a pleasant surprise. Not a strong beginning but I found myself liking it more and more as the story went on.
Hours 7-8
Pages: 58 (from Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl--Loving it but it is taking me longer to read)
Time: 70 minutes

TOTALS:
312 minutes reading
280 pages
95 minutes blogging (including now)
Lost count of comments on blogs
1 books finished: Just Out of Luck
2 caffeine beverages
3 mini-challenge entered
For last hour's mini-challenge I donated another 1000 grains of rice at freerice.com (up to 2300). There are some other mini-challenges still going on, so be sure to check out Dewey's page!

Read-a-thon: Update Hour 5&6

It isn't really clear from the picture, but I have donned my A&M Maroon Out shirt in honor of my Aggies. The thumbs up is my saying GIG EM!! :) I'm always really excited because I finished my first book.

A note on comments: I'm not subscribing to follow up comments and won't be doing any follow up comments on my blog. BUT I LOVE YOUR COMMENTS!! You guys truly are awesome and make my day. Debi--I'M still grinning from ear to ear!! And for all of those who think Trish is being all healthy? Ha! I have ice cream, chicken salad, honey roasted peanuts, crackers and cheese dip, twizzlers, chex mix, etc for later in the day. :) I did get some pre-cut fruit to balance things, but who wants health food today?? Ha!!

So where do I stand since the last update?

Pages: 67 (from Just Out of Luck by Willie Nelson--FINISHED!)
Time: 75 minutes

TOTALS:
242 minutes reading (just over 4 hours)
222 pages
75 minutes blogging (including now)
28 comments on blogs (or so)
1 books finished: Just Out of Luck
2 caffeine beverages
2 mini-challenge entered

Head over HERE for this hour's (or some hour's) quote mini challenge!

My quote is from page 101 of Just Out of Luck: "Comanches lived by the code of revenge. This wasn't over. Scalps would peel." Ewwww. :P

Read-a-thon: Update Hour 3&4

Finally taking a mini break to eat some breakfast (Special K with berries for those interested) and catch up on some blog hopping. How's it going for everyone? Hubby finally got up and is out of the house running errands, so it's been pretty quiet with the furbabies (Lexi the dog and Maggie the cat).


For hours 3-4

Pages: 80 (from Just Out of Luck by Willie Nelson)
Time: 82 minutes

TOTALS:
167 minutes reading
160 pages
50 minutes blogging (including now)
18 comments on blogs (or so)
0 books finished
1 caffeine beverage
1 mini-challenge entered
0 prizes

Head over HERE for hour 3's mini challenge (since we are approaching hour 5, not sure if it's over yet)

Read-a-thon: Update Hours 1&2

I can't believe there are only 22 hours left! Ok, that does seem like a lot...

For this hour's mini-challenge, head over to freerice.com for a little vocab fun. My favorite vocab word was Shenanigan. No kidding. :) Check out the details at Dewey's. I was able to donate 1300 grains of rice.

Pages: 75 (from Just Out of Luck by Willie Nelson--last line read: "Scalps will be shed")
Time: 85 minutes

TOTALS:
85 minutes
75 pages
0 books finished
1 caffeine beverage (oh coffee how I love you!)
1 mini-challenge entered
0 prizes

Also, the beginning survey:

Where are you reading from today? McKinney, Texas!

3 facts about me … 1. I love my coffee light and sweet. 2. I am a Texas A&M Aggie and I pray that we don't get killed by my husband's Texas Tech Red Raiders today... :( 3. I am SO excited for today (is that a fact? I think so)

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? 11 but I only plan on reading 3 or 4 of these (hopefully!)

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)? 3-4 books, 800 pages, over 12 hours reading, and countless comments--gotta get organized first!!

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time? Find a way to get organized. I have my numbers saved in an excel document so that I can just copy, paste and plug in numbers. Laura and I also created a handy spreadsheet to keep our hours, times, and pages straight. Very helpful! But most importantly HAVE FUN!!!

And so it begins (the read-a-thon)

First a foremost to the non read-a-thon participants. We wish you were with us! Second, my sincerest apologies for junking up your readers. I'll certainly be back to my 1.5 posts a week tomorrow. ;)

Above Maggie is saying, come on mom, let's go!

Wow 7:00 feels early this morning! But I can already smell the brewed coffee and I'm ready to go. Woohoo!! One other item of business (since I'm now ONE minute into the read-a-thon!!). Bethany is donating $5 for every book she reads to Living Water. I've decided to join her by doing the same. For more information, check out the website.

Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

24-hour Read-a-thon!!!

I was heartbroken and crushed when I found out I was going to be out of town for this read-a-thon. Scott and I were supposed to head to College Station for the weekend (which happens to coincide with Texas A&M and Texas Tech weekend--I'm an Aggie and Scott is a Red Raider--even though I have a degree from both schools). But, the plans fell through and I am THRILLED to be joining afterall. THRILLED!! Did I mention how excited I am??? :D


Wow that's a crappy picture. So, since you can't see, I've got the following books in the stack:

*The Light Fantastic
*Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
*The Eyre Affair
*Notes from the Underbelly
*The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven
*Much Ado About Nothing
*A Tale Out of Luck
*Cause Celeb
*The Ice Queen
*Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins Comes Back

And next to the stack is my handy timeline sheet so that I can keep track of the time in the wee hours of the night without having to use my brain. :) It has the hour, Central time zone (me) and Pacific (official Read-a-thon time).

Have you read any of the following books? Would any make good read-a-thon material? I'm looking for shorter books that don't require a lot of patience and work (unfortunately none of my remaining challenge books fit the bill...).

Plans for the read-a-thon: I read a little over 700 pages over roughly 12 hours of actual reading time. I'd love to surpass 800 pages this time and do a little bit more reading. I did take a couple of breaks last time for shopping and sleeping, but I love that the read-a-thon starts earlier this year. I still plan on hopping around on the blogosphere when I do take those breaks, but I've got to learn to be more efficient!

So what suggestions do you have for making the most out of the read-a-thon?? What types of books are in your stack? Any late night tips? And most importantly, what snacks will you have handy?? ;)

And you say you haven't signed up yet?? Head over to Dewey's to do so. Even if you can only participate part of the time--it is a blast and I really recommend it.

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!

Giveaways Galore!!

The Read-a-thon is right around the corner and lots of giveaways are going on! (more on the read-a-thon later!!!).

Head over to Dewey's to sign up for the Spooktacular Hachette Book Group Giveaway (and while you're over there, sign up for the read-a-thon!)

For Pratchett/Discworld fans, Nymeth is giving away a copy of The Turtle Moves! by Lawrence Watt-Evans

Dar is giving away a copy of The Professors' Wives' Club AND The Triumph of Deborah

Laura from Shooting Stars Mag is giving away The Dracula Dossier

***I thought there were more--if I missed yours, please let me know. I'm still catching up from when I was out of town...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ride the Wind - Lucia St. Clair Robson

Title: Ride the Wind
Author: Lucia St. Clair Robson
Date Finished: October 13, 2008 #58
Pages: 595
Published: 1982
Rating: 4/5

I'm tired and worn out so I'm taking the easy way out. :)
From the back cover:

In 1836, when she was nine years old, Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped by Comanche Indians from her family's settlement.

She grew up with them, mastered their ways, and married one of their leaders. Except for her brilliant blue eyes and golden mane, Cynthia Ann Parker was in every way a Comanche woman. They called her Naduah - Keeps Warm With Us. She rode a horse named Wind.

This is her story, the story of a proud and innocent people whose lives pulsed with the very heartbeat of the land. It is the story of a way of life that is gone forever.

It will thrill you, absorb you, touch your soul, and make you cry as you celebrate the beauty and mourn the end of the great Comanche nation.

My Thoughts (aka Ramblings):
If you will recall from my Death of a Salesman post, I hated the first part of this book. I think a lot of it was because I was frustrated that it was taking me longer than usual to read the lengthy descriptions and I had major time constraints the past two weeks. Scott and I were headed for New England, which would eat up a weekend of reading time (although no regrets there!!), so I was stressing myself out because I was afraid I wasn't going to finish.

I talked to my friend Kari, who finished the book early (her review here), and she loved the book and urged me to press forward. I did, and I'm so glad. The book is a tough read--the descriptions are incredibly detailed and there is little dialogue. The book is long (it is no secret that I don't do well with longer books--short attention span and little patience) and spans over 50 years. The material is oftentimes graphic in terms of violence (there is a little sex, but it is minimal and tastefully written) and at points I put the book down and told Scott there is no way I could proceed.

In the end, though, I really fell in love with this book. I think I have a special connection to the book and the story because I hail from Texas and I know the landscape and the history and many of the key moments. I've been to Fort Parker, outside of Mexia Texas, where the first scenes of the story took place. I lived in the Staked Plains (Lubbock) where Naduah and her husband, Wander, roamed. But on the other hand this was a glimpse into our past that was difficult to read and really made me reevaluate the Texas history that I was taught as a child.

I think that people who like historical fiction would enjoy this book and I would also recommend it to people who are looking to read an account of Texas history as well as the Comanche history. This is just one little piece to a very large picture, but I am glad that I persevered to finish this touching and heartbreaking story.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

New England - October 2008

I've always wanted to take a trip to New England in the fall, mostly to see the foliage, but also because I have idealistic vision of that part of the country. Half of me would love to live there, but the other half knows that I couldn't live in a small idyllic town (um, tried that in Coleman).

So when Scott and my schedule aligned at the beginning of October, I jumped on the chance for a quick getaway--Trish and Scott style (aka road trip!). Of course, also in Trish and Scott style a million things went wrong before things finally started going right.

Our flight left at 5:45 in the morning out of DFW, so we headed to the airport early. Getting to the airport around 4:30, we hopped on the remote bus and the suitcase handle broke. Then we couldn't find the Delta check in desk and ran around the different entrances trying to find the one Delta desk. Finally checked in, hurried to the gate and got onto the plane without any further troubles.

Until we got to Atlanta. Apparently there was some sort of problem with landing timing, so we circled above Atlanta for 45 minutes. As soon as we landed, I had Scott check our connecting time and we had five minutes to get to our Manchester, New Hamphire flight. We ran off the plane (of course we were in the last row), and checked the departure screen. Manchester--DEPARTED. Without us. Infinite sad face.

I fought sooooooo hard to hold back my tears. Especially when we got our next flight to Manchester, which was the next day. How do you not start crying? Luckily, we were able to get a flight into Boston, but we lost our entire day (the original plan was to fly to Manchester, drive through NH to Maine and spend the night in Portland then spend the next two days in Mass).

Once we got to Boston, we got our rental car, uploaded our Street and Road Trip Planner and headed to Gloucester for dinner:

GLOUCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS

I had been to Gloucester once before, but I thought Scott would get a kick out of the city because of the movie, A Perfect Storm. We got to the town just as the sun was setting, which provided the perfect golden tint to the sleepy fishing town. We walked around along the water for a bit and headed to dinner. Actually, a couple asked us where Captain Carlo's Restaurant was--because it wasn't apparent from our self-timed picture taking that we were tourists, so we followed them and ate a lovely meal on the patio. Scott had delicious seared tuna and I had baked scallops--oh, and we shared an incredibly rich and delicious bowl (read: vat) of clam chowder. Yummmmmy!!

Since it was getting dark and a little chilly, we headed back to the rental after dinner, made a quick stop to the Fishermen's Memorial (see picture below) and hit the road to Maine. Because we lost time on the flight(s), we decided to spend the night in Portland as originally planned and then make the drive through the rest of Maine and New Hampshire the next day.





Trish and Scott - Gloucester, Massachusetts

Gloucester, Massachusetts

Scott looking over water / Scott at Fisherman Memorial

MAINE

When planning the trip, I was paranoid--to the point of anxiety--that the leaves wouldn't be what I expected them to be. I linked to several foliage reports online, did numerous research, bugged others, and still feared that the leaves would either not be changed or all fallen. Since we drove through the rest of Mass and into Maine in the evening, I had no idea what to expect. And I feared that because we were heading further north, the leaves would have already fallen and another day would be gone.

There is nothing...Nothing that I can say that will do what we saw justice. The leaves were Gorgeous. The brilliant reds, bright oranges, blinding yellows--we don't have much color in Texas, so to say that every expectation was met would be an understatement. The day that we spent driving through Maine and New Hampshire is a trip that I will never forget. Absolutely breathtaking. And my camera sucks.

From Portland, we headed up highway 26 to Bethel. Several times I made Scott pull over the car so that we could take pictures of the scenery (and use my Awesome gorillapod to take timed pictures of us).











Along the road, we saw an Elk farm (probably not what it was called), and we hopped out and took picture with the Elk. Unfortunately the picture the kind gentleman took of Scott and I is blurry--so here is the Vampire Smile Trish picture. (The weather was perfect--high 60s and not a cloud in the sky).








When we got to Bethel, we stopped at a little restaurant, S S Milton, for lunch. Scott was convinced that we were going to have seafood for every meal, so he ordered the Lobster Roll and I ordered the Crab Cake Sandwich and we switched halves. Ohmygoodness was the food good!

Back on the road and into New Hampshire.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Shortly after we left Bethel, we entered New Hampshire and the White Mountains on highway 16. We drove for about three of four hours through the mountains (or according to Scott, a very very long time), stopping a few times again to take some shots. The leaves in Maine were mainly yellow and red, but in New Hamsphire we saw a lot more orange and yellows.








Day-use Park in White Mountains, New Hampshire

Trish - White Mountains, New Hampshire
Gorgeous New England Fall Foliage


One of the things that Scott really wanted to do on the trip was drive down the Atlantic coast. From Rochester, NH we headed to Portsmouth to drive down Highway 1A along the coast. I was desperately trying to secure plans for a hotel for the night and entertainment in Salem, so I didn't enjoy the scenery as much as I did earlier in the day, but from what I did see, the coast was stunning. We stopped for a little bit to take a few pictures. Scott says that driving along the coast was "awesome, delightful, scenic, it was water. I saw water." Thanks Scott for the commentary.











Atlantic Coast - Portsmouth, New Hampshire

SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS

Unfortunately we didn't get to Salem until after dark, so we didn't see much of the city, but we arrive just in time to take a really fun walking tour of the Salem Witch Trials. It being a few weekends before Halloween, the town was packed full of fun-goers for the different Halloween festivals and nighttime walking tours. I would highly recommend going to Salem, but especially during this time of year.

Salem cemetary where Simon Bradstreet and John Hathorne, among others, are buried. The headstones are incredibly weathered, and it was a little freaky walking among them during the evening, but what history! After our walking tour, we did head over to The House of the Seven Gables, but it was way too dark to get any pictures. Next time.

Scott in the stocks--can I get one of those for the house??

BOSTON

We had planned on spending much more time in Boston, but we only had enough time to take a walking tour of the Freedom Trail, eat some Boston Cream Cake (how could I deny my little lovey his favorite dessert), chow on some street hot dogs on the Boston Common, and race back to Manchester to make our flight back home (even though our flight came into Boston, we still had our departing flight out of NH).

If you are going to Boston, I would recommend the Freedom Trail tour to anyone. This was my second tour and I will gladly and happily take it again and again. Things we saw on the tour: Boston Common, Granary Burial Ground, King's Chapel, Old South Meeting Hall, Boston Massacre Site, Old State House, and ending at Faneuil Hall (the freedom trail continues from there but the tour ends at Faneuil Hall).










Granary Burial Ground (Paul Revere's tomb to right)

I love the picture to the right that shows how the city has grown around the historical sites. This is also where the Boston Massacre occured.

Scott and Trish on tour (guy with funny hat in background is our guide)












Scott eating his first street hot dog (actually a brats) / Boston Common




The leaves hadn't really changed yet in Boston, so this orange tree really stood out in Boston Common.

The trip, although short, was amazing. I was afraid that it would bore Scott, especially since my main purpose was leaf peeping, but he mentioned that he wants to go back every year and make it an annual trip. It is certainly one I would love to take again. And the road trip? My favorite kind of trip.

For those curious about how I figured out where we would go--all completely random. I knew the main places I wanted to go--Maine, New Hampshire, Boston, Salem, Gloucester. But in terms of where in Maine and New Hampshire? We got lucky. I looked at a map and decided we would go as far north as Bethel and then drive through the White Mountains. We drove about 500 miles in 2 and a half days, but the loop we made was perfect and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Buenos Aires - Finally

I've finally blogged about the trip I took to Buenos Aires in July. If you're interested, head over HERE. There are four posts published in reverse order. I'm really babbly in my postings (like you didn't know that!!), but there are also a lot of pictures of the city. Enjoy! And if you head over, I'd love to hear what you think. :)

Hopefully I can blog my Toronto trip soon as Scott and I are going to New England this weekend and I'll definitely want to blog about that as well. Man it takes a lot of time to upload all those pictures!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Death of a Salesman - Arthur Miller

Title: Death of a Salesman
Author: Arthur Miller
Date Finished: October 5, 2008 #57
Pages: 139
Published: 1949
Rating: 3/5

Is it bad that I'm currently hating my F2F book club read? Yes, hate (Ride the Wind). So in an effort to procrastinate I thought I would sneak in this short play and cross a book of my classics list! That's much more fun than reading about stuff that, well, I don't want to read about. :)

I have heard so much about this play but really knew nothing about it before I picked up my copy. Death of a Salesman is the story of Willy Loman, an aging traveling salesman who is trying to keep up with the battles that face him once he has arrived home from his latest business trip. He is behind in his finances, his wife fears for his sanity, and his children have lost respect for him through the years--and to top it all off he just been in another car "accident." Willy, though, is trying to live the dream that anyone can control his own fate. Has the dream, though, gotten out of hand and consumed him?

I feel pretty ambivalent toward this play. I didn't love it or hate it and it was a really quick read (2 Acts and 1 short finale). I think there are a lot of things in the play that many of us could relate to--especially at times when it seems we are working our tails off for...what? At one point in the play, Willy's son Biff tells his brother:

"Well, I spent six or seven years after high school trying to work myself up. Shipping clerk, salesman, business of one kind or another. And it's a measly manner of existence. To get on that subway on the hot mornings in summer. To devote your whole life to keeping stock, or making phone calls, or selling or buying. To suffer fifty weeks of the year for the sake of a two-week vacation, when all you really desire is to be outdoors, with your shirt off. And always to have to get ahead of the next fella. And still--that's how you build a future" (22).

And over fifty years later this still rings true.

The play isn't very flashy or fancy. There aren't necessarily different scenes in the two acts, but there are a number of flashbacks of different conversations Willy has had over the years regarding prospecting with his brother Ben in Alaska, different people Willy has come into contact along the way--especially in relationship his children. I would love to see the play acted to see how all of these different parts are transitioned--especially as at times the flashbacks seemed more like delusions that Willy was having while still in the present.

Bottom line: Like I said before, I'm pretty ambivalent about this book but I'd recommend it to anyone who is looking to fit something short in between books or really wants to experience this classic American play first hand. I don't think you'll be sorry you did.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Executive Decision

So, I made the executive decision today to get rid of the blogroll on my side bar. It was TERRIBLY outdated and definitely does not include all the blogs I love to read. And really, I just can't keep up with you kids (um, or my new discoveries). I've been seeing this "Top Commenter" widget around the blogs I haunt and thought that might be a good substitute--except it still doesn't include all the blogs I love! It's there, though--on the sidebar below my 2008 reads.

But I don't believe it is accurate. First, I'm not sure how far back it goes--22 comments just doesn't seem right since I've been blogging for over a year. Second, I don't believe it accurately accounts for my top commenters. Most are there but some aren't. One name on the list I've never even seen before. Well, I've seen the name because a few blogger friends have that name, but the link is a place I hadn't discovered until now. Which brings up a question--does it lump same names together??

What are your suggestions for dumping the blogroll? How can I share with you the blogs that I love so much? I do this occassionally through the awards I pass on but that doesn't cover everyone! I know some of you make a list of the monthly visiters and while I think that's awesome it seems like a ton of work!! I guess maybe I should have saved that blogroll before I so hastily clicked delete. Ha ha--do you even care? :D Sorry for the ranting guys!

The Maggie picture is just because. It's actually an old one--I think from when I still lived in Lubbock almost two years ago! I'm not sure what she's looking at--maybe the dog under my desk, but at least her eyes aren't all freaky. :) I tried taking a few snapshots last night but I couldn't get any where her eyes weren't glowing. Any thoughts on how to take non-glowing eye pictures?

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