Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Alphabet Challenge


1. 26 books!

runs January 1st 2011 –December 31, 2011. For each letter, read a book that has a main character or key supporting character (not some random minor character mentioned twice!) whose name starts with that letter. It doesn’t have to be the title of the book, just the name. Ex: Alice (in wonderland), Bella (twilight), Cathy (Wuthering Heights), Dracula (Dracula) Estella (Great Expectations), etc.

2. only one letter per book!

3. Crossovers are fine

4. audio, e-book, bound book, someone reading it out loud to you, reading a book to your little brother or sister, it all counts.

5. any length—short stories, books of the Bible, etc. they all count for this one.

Level 1: 10 Letters
Level 2: 20 Letters
Level 3: Completes all 26 letters (yes, that means X and Z and Q. I’m sure you can find something.)

Hosted by The Life (and lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object

My List

C: Catherine--The Sculptor (February)
G: Gettler--The Poisoner's Handbook (March)
H: Henrietta--The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (April)
J: Jo--Little Women (February)
K: Katherine--Tinkers (April)
L: Lisbeth--The Girl Who Played with Fire (January)
O: Osceola--Swamplandia (March)
Q: Qussim--The City and The City (March)
V: Vanessa: The Informationist (March)


Author: Karen Russell

Pages: 336

Personal Rating: 3/5

From the back cover:

From the celebrated twenty-nine-year-old author of the everywhere-heralded short-story collection St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (“How I wish these were my own words, instead of the breakneck demon writer Karen Russell’s . . . Run for your life. This girl is on fire”—Los Angeles Times Book Review) comes a blazingly original debut novel that takes us back to the swamps of the Florida Everglades, and introduces us to Ava Bigtree, an unforgettable young heroine.

The Bigtree alligator-wrestling dynasty is in decline, and Swamplandia!, their island home and gator-wrestling theme park, formerly #1 in the region, is swiftly being encroached upon by a fearsome and sophisticated competitor called the World of Darkness. Ava’s mother, the park’s indomitable headliner, has just died; her sister, Ossie, has fallen in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, who may or may not be an actual ghost; and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, who dreams of becoming a scholar, has just defected to the World of Darkness in a last-ditch effort to keep their family business from going under. Ava’s father, affectionately known as Chief Bigtree, is AWOL; and that leaves Ava, a resourceful but terrified thirteen, to manage ninety-eight gators and the vast, inscrutable landscape of her own grief.

Against a backdrop of hauntingly fecund plant life animated by ancient lizards and lawless hungers, Karen Russell has written an utterly singular novel about a family’s struggle to stay afloat in a world that is inexorably sinking. An arrestingly beautiful and inventive work from a vibrant new voice in fiction

I'm not exactly sure how I feeling about Swamplandia. Each time I try to put down what I liked or didn't like about this book it keeps getting tangled together.

In general I would say this is a good book and I would recommend it. That being said, I would also say it reads more slowly than it should. This may have been because of my own personal expectations. I expected more of the book to be set in the park and deal with the alligator wrestling itself and it didn't. This didn't make it bad, just different. It's hard to talk about what happens in this story without giving away spoilers so I'll just make a few comment.

The characters were phenomenal. Ava, Osceola and Kiwi are the three children who live at Swamplandia!. Each of them is different from each other, strange and still completely relatable.

Russell's descriptions of the swamp were vivid. I felt like I was in the swamp with Ava. I swear I could feel mosquitoes crawling on me at some points while reading. I could feel mud drying on me and making my skin shrink. She also did a great job at conveying the "obnoxiousness???" you can observe if you head out to any amusement park or large public gathering these days.

Possible, though unlikely SPOILER (i just tell if i like the end, not what happened)--

I felt the ending was too neat and tidy. Improbable. It was too nice. Do people need a "nice" ending to enjoy a book? Can an unhappy ending still make an enjoyable, good read?

If you are undecided I would grab the book and give it a go!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Hosted by Historical Tapestry

Some of the "nuts and bolts"

• Any kind of historical fiction is accepted (HF fantasy, HF young adult,...)
• You can overlap this challenge with others kind of challenges
• During these following 12 months you can choose one of the different reading levels:

1. Severe Bookaholism: 20 books
2. Undoubtedly Obsessed: 15 books
3. Struggling the Addiction: 10 books
4. Daring & Curious: 5 books
5. Out of My Comfort Zone: 2 books

The challenge will run from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2011

I've been checking out other participants blogs and I see many interesting picks being read for this challenge. So I think I'm going to to sign up for

Daring and Curious: 5 books
1. Captain Alatriste: Arturo Perez-Reverte
2. The Reincarnationist: M. J. Rose
3. The Serpent's Tale: Ariana Franklin

Now I just need to decide which books I actually want to read!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Booking Through Thursday

If you’re like me, you grew up reading everything under the sun, like the cereal boxes while you ate your breakfast, the newspapers held by strangers on the subway, the tabloid headlines at the grocery store.

What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever read? (You know, something NOT a book, magazine, short story, poem or article.) Booking Through Thursday

This was a tough question! What finally came to mind was a series of signs I came across while visiting China. They were meant to "educate" people on safe behaviors. Some examples...don't poke others while biking in traffic, try not to trample people while fleeing, using a mop won't help you put out a building fire. Now, I'm not sure if this is what they actually said since they are in Chinese, but just LOOK at them!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Salon

This is my first salon in almost two years! I stopped blogging after my broken foot started to heal. Its taken me awhile to get back to blogging but I'm looking forward to it. I think the key for me will be to keep it simple to start. So, what have I been up to???

1. I decided on the Kindle. I really think it is a matter of personal preference. For me the deciding factors were
  • "e ink" and no back lighting. My husband has some eye problems and I wanted to cut down on eye fatigue

  • color screen didn't matter, nor did a touch screen since I already have an iphone

  • it was lighter

  • I found it visually more appealing.

I love it!!!! It is one of the best purchases I've made. For the first time since I was nine I went on vacation without physically carrying a book with me. This from the girl who took a 1000+ page hardback on the plane to China bcs I couldn't wait to read it. The convenience can't be beat. One issue I would like to see improved is the page numbering. My issue is that there isn't any. When you read there is a scroll bar across the bottom that tells you that you are "5% complete". You just don't know if that is 5% of 100 pages or 5% of 800 pages. I would somehow like to see real page numbers incorporated. I know this might be difficult to compare electronic page to actual page to electronic pages but I'm sure they could make it work somehow.

2. I'm trying to read more. Aren't we all? The Kindle makes it easier to read more and read more often. I read more in Febuarary than I did in January. I'll probably read as much in March as I did in Febuary. Some books just read easier than others.

The City & the City
by China Melville ate up a lot of my reading time. While others books I was able to fly right through. I'm hoping to start adding reviews to my blog as I have time.

I'm currently reading Swamplandia! by Karen Russell and I have 28% complete. It started off very well. Right now it is starting to flag and flounder. I hope it picks back up.

My upcoming reading is: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Sunday

Friday, March 25, 2011

What's in a Name 4 Challenge

Between January 1 and December 31, 2011, read one book in each of the following categories:
  1. A book with a number in the title: First to Die, Seven Up, Thirteen Reasons Why
  2. A book with jewelry or a gem in the title: Diamond Ruby, Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Opal Deception
  3. A book with a size in the title: Wide Sargasso Sea, Small Wars, Little Bee
  4. A book with travel or movement in the title: Dead Witch Walking, Crawling with Zombies, Time Traveler's Wife
  5. A book with evil in the title: Bad Marie, Fallen, Wicked Lovely
  6. A book with a life stage in the title: No Country for Old Men, Brideshead Revisited, Bog Child

The book titles are just suggestions, you can read whatever book you want to fit the category.

Other Things to Know

Books may be any form (audio, print, e-book).
Books may overlap other challenges.
Books may not overlap categories; you need a different book for each category.
Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed but encouraged.

You do not have to make a list of books before hand.
You do not have to read through the categories in any particular order

My tentative book list:

1. Number:
2. Jewelry/Gem:
3. Size: A Short History of Nearly Everything (Bill Bryson)
4. Travel/Movement: Snow Falling on Cedars (David Guterson)
5. Evil:
6. Life Stage:

Books Awards Reading Challenge V

hosted by Michelle at 1Morechapter


1.Read 5 books from 5 different awards during Feb 1, 2011 through Dec 1, 2011.
2.Overlaps with other challenges are permitted.
3.Choices don't have to be posted right away, and lists may be changed at any time.
4.'Award winners' is loosely defined; make the challenge fit your needs.

This had always been one of my favorite challenges in the pasts. I've decided to go back through my old challenges and list what never got read and pick from those reads. If I have time I'll try to add some new ones too.

  • Holes: Louis Sachar (Newbery)
  • Shiloh: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Newbery)
  • Half of a Yellow Sun: Adichie (Orange Prize)
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin: Shriver (Orange Prize)
  • Guns, Germs and Steel: Jared Diamond
  • Anil's Ghost:Michael Ondaatje
  • The Shipping News: E. Annie Proulx
  • Snow Falling on Cedars: David Guterson
  • Life of Pi: Yann Martel
  • The Throat: Peter Straub
  • The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
  • Plague’s Progress by Arno Karlen
  • Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring Reading Thing 2011 Challenge

March 20th - June 20th hosted by Katrina at Callapidder days

Make a list of books you want to read (or finish reading) this spring. Your list can be as long or as short as you’d like. (Also, feel free to modify your list during the challenge if it’s not working for you.) Write a blog post containing your list and submit it to this post using the Mr. Linky below. Get reading! The challenge goes from today, March 20th, through June 20th. Check out other participants’ lists and add to your own to-read-someday pile! Write a post about your challenge experience in June, telling us all about whether you reached your goals and how Spring Reading Thing went for you. But remember: this is a low-pressure challenge that should be fun. As long as you do some reading this spring (and enjoy it!), that’s good enough for me.

My first challenge in 2011. Acutally, my first challenge is two years.

My Reading List:

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: Rebecca Skloot 4.10.11
  • The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers: Thomas Mullen
  • The Clan of the Cave Bear: Jean M. Auel
  • Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches
  • The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest: Stieg Larsson

Additional Books:

  • Swamplandia!: Karen Russell (4.2.11)

Blogging Again???

I think I feel like blogging again. The past few days I've found myself cruising around my blog, reading old posts and comments, checking out old challenges. I was in a reading funk for a long time. I simply didn't feel like reading and really didn't feel like writing about. I'm ready to pick it back up...I think.

I redesigned my background. I removed a few of the old challenges that were taking up space along the sides. I guess now I just need to join a few challenges and write a few reviews. Time will tell how it goes.
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