Category Archives: Nox

Readathon Wrap-up: Nox

After not getting home from game night at a friend’s house until after midnight, I was doubting my ability to start the readathon on time.

Capture

But I woke up even before my alarm went off! I guess I was excited.

I read or listened throughout the day until sometime during Hour 17 when I passed out on the couch so hard that I woke up 20 minutes later with what seemed like permanent lines across my entire face. I decided that I’d made a valiant attempt and went to bed.

I ended up finishing 2 books and started on another. I read a total of 1,147 pages and I listened to 2 hours and 24 minutes of my audiobook. To be honest, this is probably the most I’ve listened to since moving to Wyoming. My town is so much smaller now that I can only do audiobooks on long car trips whereas before I would listen driving around town, running errands, or on my way to work. I should start running so I have more of a chance to listen. Or if anyone has a waterproof way for me to listen while swimming, that would be ideal. 🙂

Finished Books:

  • Life after Life. 4 stars. 162 pages. A book club pick that I had started before the readathon began
  • The Fireman. 5 stars. 747 pages. Review to come!

Progress Made:

  • The Turning Point. 238 of 470 pages. I blame this book for my falling asleep – it’s really not very good.
  • The Summer Before the War. 2 hours, 25 minutes of 15 hours, 48 minutes. I’m really liking it so far, so I’ll have to find time to continue listening.

Not Read:

  • The Girls
  • Death at Breakfast

I’m glad I participated again; I was much more successful than last time. I do want to find a way to make it more interactive though. The knowledge that there are others out there doing the same thing helps, but personally I find going to the GoodReads group is more of a distraction than anything else. I’m taking over my library’s “After Hours” Book Club at one of the local bars, so maybe by October we can make it a group thing in town.

Advertisements

Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon: Nox

Tomorrow, I’ll be participating in my 2nd ever readathon! I attempted this same challenge back in October, but didn’t get nearly as much accomplished as I had meant to: I overslept (it starts at 6am!), I lost interest in my books, I ended up having to go into work for a while, life happened, etc. This time, I’m determined to do better.

In October I tried following along with the hourly challenges on GoodReads, but the group is so large it was overwhelming and I think ultimately made me give up faster. This time Madeleine is also participating so we can remotely hassle each other to stay motivated and I can avoid the chaos that is GoodReads.

So, what am I reading? ARCs! (for the most part) I was recently at PLA and ended up coming up with a stack of upcoming novels. I tend not to read books that I own (no library due dates looming), so the best motivation for getting those read before their release date is to do that as part of a project, like this one.


To keep from being overwhelmed, I’m going to focus on a smaller number of books tomorrow. I tried to pick some different genres and made sure that none take place at the same time in case I need to switch back and forth and can’t rember who belongs in which book. If by some miracle I do finish these, I have no shortage of other reading material in my house. In case you’re wondering, The Summer Before the War is an audiobook so I keep reading while getting ready for the day or cooking or if my eyes just need a break.

Now I must run to the store for last-minute snackies. Wish me luck! And follow my progress tomorrow on twitter @megaden.

Heartbreak at Sea

light between oceans

Author: M.L. Stedman
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 343 pages

This is the story of Tom, who after returning to Australia after fighting in World War I feels adrift. Luckily he’s able to find his new calling as a lighthouse keeper and is stationed on Janus Rock, one of the most remote stations off the coast. While on shore leave he meets Isabel who after only seeing each other a few times (he’s only on the mainland for a few days every 6 months) get married and she joins him on the Island. What begins as an adventure between two people in love becomes lonely and isolating as Isabel suffers repeated miscarriages. They finally have a chance at happiness again when a dinghy washes up on shore with a crying child. Not until years later do Tom and Isabel realize that their decision to adopt the baby as their own has had devastating consequences for another family.

The Light Between Oceans had been on my radar since it was published a few years ago. It was on bestseller lists seemingly forever, it won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction, and many of my library internet friends had read and enjoyed it. What finally convinced me to pick it up was the trailer for the upcoming movie adaption, which I hadn’t even realized was happening. Go ahead and watch it, I’ll wait.

Are you near tears? I was, so of course I decided I needed to read the book as soon as possible. Although the plot was somewhat predictable once I knew what was going on, the book was amazing due to it’s well constructed characters. Tom, Isabel and the rest of the cast are all good people at heart* who make terrible decisions and then have to live with them. The complexities of the moral dilemma these characters find themselves in was portrayed extremely well. In another author’s hands, there easily could have been villains, but in this case the motivations for each character are clear and you have sympathy for each and every person.

*Ok, Isabel is crazy-pants, but I’m blaming that on postpartum depression.

This was Stedman’s first novel and definitely isn’t perfect, but overall it was a wonderful read and now I can’t wait to watch the movie.

Book Madness Villanova completely screwed up my chances at winning my NCAA office pool this year, so books! I took part in Out of Print Clothing’s bracket last year, which was definitely more fun because you got to pit literary characters against each other! Having this year’s theme of classics was made extra difficult by matching children’s books with great literary works. I wish they would have done the seeding a little differently, especially since there were some regions that were hella-strong and other instances where both contenders would be easily knocked-out by someone who only made it to round one in their match up. For example, Harold and the Purple Crayon only made it to round three because of my utter hatred of all things Vonnegut where as The Great Gatsby and Huck Finn could both have beaten a ton of others if they hadn’t been up against each other so early. Such is life, I suppose. By the by, I own two book cover t-shirts from Out of Print and guess who was paired up?

The favorite of my potential match-ups are:

  • Where the Wild Things Are vs. Lord of the Flies aka “The Isle of Craziness”
  • The Catcher in the Rye vs. Hamlet – the battle of the mopey teens

In the final four I have Jane Eyre vs. The Bell Jar and The Outsiders vs. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, with The Bell Jar and The Outsiders advancing to the finals. The Outsiders is great (Stay gold, Ponyboy!), but The Bell Jar is one of my favorite books of all time, so I had to choose it as the winner.

Madeleine’s bracket is way different than mine (her champion was knocked out in my first round) so it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the voting goes. May the madness begin!

*Let it be known that I have not read a surprising number of these books. Maybe next year’s reading challenge?

Another Owl Reads Behind the Beautiful Forevers

BehindBeautifulForeversTitle: Behind the Beautiful Forevers
Author: Katherine Boo
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Non-Fiction, Social welfare
Length: 256 pgs.

Synopsis: When Katherine Boo married her husband 10 years ago, she was excited to gain a new home country in India; however, her husband warned her not to take it at face value. Having written for the Washington Post and The New Yorker about poverty in the U.S., she turned her focus to the struggles of the poor in Mumbai and the juxtaposition between the situation in the slums and the lives of the elite.

Review: The poverty faced by the people in this book is so far removed from my own experiences that I was shocked when Asha’s family takes a trip to visit relatives on the farm and they’re thought of rich. These are people who spend 18 hour days picking through garbage to find plastic water bottles and old batteries to sell. Many are stooped by starvation or riddled by tuberculosis. And they’re considered the rich relatives who have made it in the big city. It was completely mind-blowing.

Another thing that surprised me was the fighting within the community of Annawadi. The people living there looked at any situation from the perspective of how they could make it advantageous for themselves – even in cases where absolutely horrible things are happening to their neighbors. These aren’t bad people, but they have no other options.

The aspect of this book I found most disturbing was the amount of corruption. Corruption is brought up by news media in vague terms all the time when talking about developing countries, but in Behind the Beautiful Forevers you see first-hand the damage it does to the poor. While I’m sure that most of the population isn’t corrupt, it seemed like everyone these people came into contact with was trying to extort them in some way: when they had to go to the hospital you had to bribe the nurse to give care or the doctor to give the medication so desperately needed and even then it was probably expired; the police would arrest random people and then make your family pay to not send you to jail. It’s terrible! I couldn’t believe that all these stories were real.

This book made me feel about myself and the comparative richness in which I live. But what can I do with this information? Nothing. I don’t have the skills to actually make a mission trip to India a good idea, and monetary donations will most likely just end up in the wrong hands. What’s a girl to do?!

Note: Madeleine read this book last year and loved it a lot more than I did, so be sure to check out her review as well! https://thebookowls.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/behind-the-beautiful-forevers/

The Eyre Affair

Title: The Eyre Affair
Author: Jasper Fforde 
Rating: 2
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: 374 pgs. 

Synopsis: It’s 1985 in an alternate reality version of England and Thursday Next is a LiteraTec, a detective who investigates literary mysteries. In this world, literature is a *big* deal. There’s also time travel and vampire sand seemingly invincible villains. Thursday’s uncle has managed to create a machine that uses bookworms (actual worms. who eat books) to transport people into works of literature. For example, right now his wife is lost in a Wordsworth poem. Enter Acheron Hades, whose villainy knows no bounds. He’s learned that if you enter the manuscript of a book and make changes, those changes go out to every copy of the book ever created. Hades kidnaps Thursday’s uncle and uses his machine to hold Dicken’s Martin Chuzzlewit hostage. After that plot fails, he decides to go after one of the most beloved books in all of literature, Jane Eyre.

Review: It had so much promise! Who wouldn’t want to read a book with literary detectives, time travel, and the ability to travel into books?! But oh my god, it was bad. Let’s start with the setting: Thursday Next’s world is weird and not in a god way. It’s England, but alternate history, but set in the modern day, but not really, with vampires and genetic splicing, but everything else is normal, but the Crimean war has been going on for 100 years…you get where I’m going with this, it’s just too much. It reminded me of Terry Pratchett, but on a really off day.

The characters left much to be desired as well. Thursday was one of the few fully fleshed out characters, yet her whole focus was on things that happened 10 years ago. Get over it, girl. She has the potential of being a really strong female character, but she ends up being just a stereotype. The other characters were just as bad. Acheron Hades (because of course you’d name your villain after 2 gods of hell) doesn’t have any motivation other than being a pain in the side of the police. He doesn’t seem evil, just bored. Everyone else, including the man Thursday left behind and yet can’t stop think about, were instantly forgettable.

I was all for giving this book 1.5 stars until the point that Thursday went into Jane Eyre. Then the book really picked up and the plot got interesting, it’s just a shame that it waited until the last 50 pages to do so. This book was a waste of my time. Skip it.

The Lace Reader

Rating: 3 stars

Genre: Magical Realism

Length: 390 pgs.

Synopsis: The last time Towner read lace, a form of psychic reading, her twin sister drowned and Towner ended up in a mental institution. Now after 20 years(?) Towner’s great-aunt/adopted mother has gone missing and Towner is called back to Salem. After finding out what happened to her aunt, sort of, Towner and a local police detective end up investigating another missing woman and a local cult leader, who just happens to be Towner’s uncle. The plot of this story isn’t linear and is very hard to explain.

Review: I have a problem with unreliable narrators. I’m an incredibly gullible person who tends to take things at face value when I read, especially when the story is told in first person. How could you lie to me when I’m inside your head?! Well…

I liked Towner from the beginning. Towner is in recovery from surgery when she first gets the news about her auntand having just undergone surgery myself, I was very concerned about the amount of traveling and exercise she was undertaking so soon during her recovery. I absolutely loved the secondary characters. Towner’s hermit mother living on Yellow Dog Island infested by packs of wild golden retrievers (Take a minute and picture that. Remote Island. Adorableness running rampant. Ok, back to the story). Having been fascinated with the Salem witch trials since middle school earlier, I’m surprised I didn’t read this book when it first came out.

Until the last 50 pages or so, I would have given this book four stars and then the twist happened. I’m not going to say what it is, just that I did not see it coming. And now I kind of want to re-read the entire book to see if there were any clues and I’m just ambivalent, or if it was just an oddly written book. In any case, the twist changes the entire feeling of the book and it made me doubt everything I had just read. That being said, if you like family drama, the Northeast, and sort-of-witchy witchiness I would actually highly recommend this book even though I only gave it 3 stars.