So there’s no way I’m getting time logged in for the 48 hour book challenge proper, but I’ve been longing for a break from myself (I was sick for a week and felt guilty about not doing housework the whole time).  I’m going to try doing my own 48 hour book challenge from 10 am Wednesday to 10 am Friday.  We’ll see how it goes.

My sister and husband are living with a broken air conditioner right now, and with temperatures poised to be in the 90s and up, and the inside of their home tending to be hotter than outdoors, I’m going to be hosting them for much of the next few days.  I like them very much, and so I’d like to be a good host, which probably means spending time with them, as opposed to ignoring them while I read books, so while I’ll officially sign on tomorrow morning when I get up, I don’t anticipate getting many hours of reading done.

For the past couple of years, MotherReader’s 48 hour book challenge has signified the start of summer for me.  Now that I’m back in academia instead of K-12, I actually feel as though a third of my summer has passed me by.  This is the start of the rest of the summer, this time.  It runs from 7 am Friday to 7 am Monday, and you choose a 48 hour block within that window of time to do your reading.  I’ll be running 7 am Saturday to 7 am Monday.  What will I be reading?

By Richard Peck: Are You in the House Alone?, Father Figure, Ghosts I Have Been, Remembering the Good Times
By Patricia McCormack: Cut, Sold
By Jacqueline Wilson: The Illustrated Mum
By Robin McKinley: The Blue Sword, The Hero and the Crown
By Gail Carson Levine: The Two Princesses of Bamarre
By Azar Nafisi: Reading Lolita in Tehran
By Holly Black: Ironside
By Christopher Golden: The Ferryman
By Herbie Brennan: Faerie Wars
By Meg Rosoff: How I Live Now
By Susan Beth Pfeffer: Life As We Knew It
By Catherine Gilbert Murdock: Dairy Queen, The Off-Season
By Sarah Miller: Miss Spitfire: Reaching Hellen Keller
By Laurie Halse Anderson: Fever 1793
By Shannon Hale: Book of a Thousand Days
By Kirby Larson: Hattie Big Sky
By Russell Freedman: The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marion Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights
By Maya Angelou: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Do I expect to read all 24 of those in that time?  No, but it’s always good to have some extra books lying around in case you’re not in the right headspace for one of the ones you pick up.

Will you be joining me in the challenge?

I didn’t keep track of any blogging or networking time, because I did so little of it.  Next year.

Total Time Spent Reading: 9 hrs 14 min
Total Pages: 1120

Books Completed: Death’s Daughter, French Kiss, Stop Pretending, The Queen of Cool, Accidental Love.

Accidental LoveBook: Accidental Love by Gary Soto
Time Spent Reading It: 1 hr 31 min

Another cute, fun read.  (Aside from Stop Pretending, which had me sniffling a good bit, that’s what I was really going for this weekend.)  Marisa, a girl with a penchant for fighting, accidentally switches cell phones with Rene, a nerdy boy from another school.  When they meet to switch back, she realizes she kinda likes him.  This was a very sweet book.  I kind of like this type of romance better than French Kiss – sweet, youngish, with all of the problems externally generated.  (I’d much rather have parental disapproval be an obstacle in a romance than the fact that both of the love interests are incredibly moody, for example.) 

Total Time Spent Reading: 9 hrs 14 min

Even though I technically have another hour and a half in my 48 hours, that’s probably going to do it for me.  I’ll be back with an official summary later this evening.

So I’ve read 4 books in the past couple of days, which is more than I’ve read in the past several weeks.  I’m at the point now where I’m not loving the book I picked up.  Granted, I got sleepy part of the way in and took a nap.  But I’m actually motivated to clean my office/craft room, so I’m going to take advantage of that motivation when I have it.

I was all, “But that’s not reading!”

But you know, this is a FUN thing, so if I need to do something else to keep it fun and not work, so be it.

There’s less than 4 hours left in my time, so I don’t think I’m going to make it to the 12 hour mark, but that’s okay.  I still did a lot more reading than is typical of me on a weekend.  (Though I hope the amount that is “typical reading” for me changes once it’s properly summer.)

Book: The Queen of Cool by Cecil Castellucci
Time Spent Reading It: 1 hr 15 min

I really enjoyed this book.  It surprised me in many ways.  I’d never read anything by Cecil Castellucci before, but I know a bit about her (I almost interviewed her once, then decided I couldn’t take the time to do the interview justice) and expected her main characters to be kind of hipstery thrift shoppers with cool glasses and entertainingly affected speech patterns.  You know, the kind of people I like to have as friends.  Instead, I found out that the Queen of Cool was ACTUALLY, you know, cool, like, popular-kid cool.  At first I was disappointed, but as I read on, it was really refreshing.  There are tons of teen books about not fitting in, not being part of the popular crowd, being a nerd and a loser (and let’s face it, the book-reading population probably skews heavily towards the less “glamorous” kids – I know I was horribly unglamorous as a middle and high schooler except for the few times I tried really hard, when I was fabulous) but you don’t get many books from the popular girl’s perspective.  It’s always nice to be reminded that, oh yeah, popular kids are people too.  And then, it’s also nice to read about all the stuff “cool” kids do that you didn’t and not feel like you were actually missing anything at all by being unpopular, because you gave your friends silly awards and did absurd fashion shows from your childhood dress-up box with the boys who were your friends and invented silly games and generally made your own fun.  A good, fast, fun read.  I recommend it.

Total Time Spent Reading: 7 hrs 43 min

I haven’t been keeping up with my blogging/networking, but I think all told it comes to less than an hour.  Maybe closer to half an hour, even.

Next up: Accidental Love by Gary Soto

So since I last posted, I spent a lot of time going to dinner, wandering around stores, hanging out at my sister’s house, and sleeping.

And a little time reading.

Two mini-reviews for you:
Book: French Kiss by Sarra Manning (Diary of a Crush: Book 1)
Time Spent Reading It: 2 hrs 7 min

It’s a cute, quick read.  It falls squarely in the category of romance, which means there’s not much of a plot besides the romance part.  That made me a bit sad, because romance on its own just isn’t that interesting to me.  I’m much more in favor of adventure with a little romance.  This was just a sixteen year old British young woman bopping around France with a bunch of 19 year olds and having a bizarre, intense attraction to a moody art boy.  If you’re looking for a sweet romance, it’s a good read.  It treads carefully in the department of sex, having the main character emphasize how she knows she’s not ready for it while she’s in the midst of all of these university-aged other kids who are hooking up all the time.  I think it’s a very good perspective. 

After Death’s Daughter and French Kiss, I was ready for something more serious…

Book: Stop Pretending by Sonya Sones
Time Spent Reading It: 29 min

Boy, howdy, did this one take me in a new direction.  This is a verse novel about a twelve-year-old girl whose older sister has a breakdown.  It’s based on Sonya Sones’s actual experience when her sister had a breakdown.  It made me cry a lot.  Mental illness is an important issue to me, and reading about it always kinda pokes me in a vulnerable spot and is a bit like pushing down on a bruise – it doesn’t hurt when you’re not touching it, it’s easy to forget it’s there, but then when you do touch it, boy is it intense.  I was so happy to read in the note Sonya Sones wrote at the end of the book that her sister is married and a librarian and stuff.  It was such a nice thing to know, that her sister wasn’t forever stuck in a mental hospital unable to connect with anyone or do anything besides just be crazy.  (I know it’s not PC to call folks crazy but when you’re on the inside looking out, it’s easier to call it like you see it.)

Total Time Spent Reading: 6 hrs 28 min

Next Up: The Queen of Cool by Cecil Castellucci

So I’ve been “participating” for almost 17 hours now and spent less than 4 of it reading.  Oops?

Non-48HBC activities have included sleeping, eating, and trying to find a crochet pattern to make as a present for a friend.  (In the end, I found something in my stash of already-made items to give her, yay.)  Maybe watching Pushing Daisies, too?

I’m just updating as I complete each book.

So, let’s begin the update itself.

Book: Death’s Daughter by Amber Benson
Time Spent: 3 hrs 52 min
Total Time Spent on Challenge: 3 hrs 52 min

Quick Review:
Death’s Daughter is a fun, quick read.  (Less than 400 pages.)  It’s Amber Benson’s solo debut.  It’s supernatural chick-lit, which I’m not sure if that’s an actual genre, but if it isn’t, it should be.  (I know it’s a subgenre of romance novels.)  It read like a less-graphic Mary Janice Davidson novel.  It provoked me to think a lot about the whole … is it a genre?  trope? thing… with 20-something apparently-shallow ladies finding out that no, they’re actually very competent individuals.  For a fun read, it brought in some good weighty themes like family (the inevitably of being part of them, and the ways in which that’s both pleasant and un) and women’s sexuality.  A good time all around.  Expect a more detailed review later.

Next Up:
French Kiss by Sarra Manning (Diary of a Crush: Book 1)

It’s time for MotherReader’s 48 Hour Book Challenge!

I’ll be starting at 8:15 pm local time tonight and continuing until 8:15 pm local time Sunday.  I will be taking breaks for eating, sleeping, and perhaps a bit of socializing, but I brought no grading home (yes, there’s still a little to do) and have no intention of spending any portion of the weekend cleaning.

Stay tuned for my book reviews.  I’m going to experiment with writing reviews short enough to tweet, but I will probably post longer ones here, as well.

First up: Death’s Daughter by Amber Benson.

See you on the other side!

9:30 AM Friday to 9:30 AM Sunday

Books Read: 4
Pages Read: 1243
Time Spent Reading/Reviewing: 18 hrs

Dancing on the Edge, Han Nolan
244 Pages
3.25 Hrs

Jack Sparrow: The Coming Storm, Rob Kidd
144 Pages
1.25 Hrs

Wildwood Dancing, Juliet Marillier
407 Pages
6.5 Hrs

The Various, Steve Augarde
448 Pages
7 Hrs

***

Lessons learned: 
1. I have a short attention span.  I took a lot of breaks.
2. As much as I love to read, sleep takes precedence over reading.  I was super-sleepy, and spent almost as much time sleeping as I spent reading.
3. I’m not quite sure how the 14ish hrs I didn’t spend reading OR sleeping was spent.

***

I’m content with my showing.  Sure, it’s only 4 books, but two of them were rather long.  And the most important thing is, I finished all my library books, so I can take them back now and get NEW library books (though not too many more as I owe Kelly lots of reviews for Edge of the Forest).

I do believe this is supposed to be my last post today; so I’ll just say stay tuned.  Tomorrow I will be bringing you the Pirate Reading Challenge.

When Midge’s mother goes on a tour with the London Philharmonic, she sends Midge to Mill Farm to stay with her Uncle Brian.  There, Midge finds an injured flying horse named Pegs.  As she helps Pegs, she is drawn into a world of small and magical people called “The Various.”  The Various live in the woods near her Uncle’s farm, and their livelihood is threatened both by the barrenness of the land and the possibility of the forest’s destruction.

To say much more about the plot of The Various would be, I think, to give away too much.  This is a fun book, aimed at middle grade students and those a little younger (grades 5 – 7 according to School Library Journal and ages 9 – 12 according to Amazon).  It holds up well for anyone who likes fairy stories, though, I think.  It was interesting to read this right after Wildwood Dancing, as it handles a similar topic (the entry of a young girl into the world of fairies) but gives it a very different treatment (more modern, mostly).  

I enjoyed The Various and would recommend it to anyone fond of fantasy, especially the child-enters-secret-world genre.  (If that wasn’t officially a genre before, I’ve just declared it one now.)  I could see giving this to a child who was in fifth grade, giving the same child Wildwood Dancing when she was in seventh or eight grade, and then handing her Tithe once she got to high school.

(Stats Below Are For the Whole Challenge, Not Just This Book)
Books Read: 4
Pages Read: 1243
Time Spent Reading/Reviewing: 18 hrs

****

This will probably be my last book of the challenge, as I don’t think I can finish another book of the appropriate level/length in the next slightly-less-than-an-hour.

Wildwood Dancing is a fairytale lover’s dream: familiar tales, retold and mixed with folklore, creating a new and entrancing story.  In this combination of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, The Frog Prince, and various eastern European folktales, 15 year old Jenica finds herself trying to manage her father’s estate as he goes to the shore to recover from grave illness.  Her cousin Cezar quickly appoints himself master of the estate, and sets about restricting the activities of Jena and her four sisters, as well as seeking his revenge on the folk of the wildwood, whom he blames for his brother’s death ten years ago.

The use of familiar stories in Wildwood Dancing is refreshing: Marillier takes care to make the stories recognizable but not predictable.  At several points I thought I saw where the story was going and every time I was a little right and a little wrong.  This is how a book should be: we get the thrill of having figured it out, without the boredom that comes with a more predictable story.  Wildwood Dancing is not only strong in its use of traditional tales, but also in its creation of characters.  The five sisters of Piscul Dracului are five different girls, each with her own whole personality.  At the same time, while Jena is “the sensible one” and Tati is “the pretty one” and Paula is “the smart one,” these girls are not pigeonholed by these roles.

Wildwood Dancing reminded me of Holly Black’s Tithe, which is odd because the moods of the two books have nothing in common.  I think it was just the notion of teenaged girls interacting with faeries that made the connection in my mind.  Still, there is a spiritual connection between them, somehow, and I feel that fans of one would certainly enjoy the other.

(Stats Below Are For the Whole Challenge, Not Just This Book)
Books Read: 3
Pages Read: 795
Time Spent Reading/Reviewing: 11 hrs

I found myself stuck at Barnes and Noble tonight while waiting to meet my family for dinner, so I sat down and read for a spell.  While The Coming Storm doesn’t meet MotherReader’s 200 page guideline, Amazon says it’s for ages 9 – 12, which is close enough to the 5th grade range that I’m going to go on and count it.

The Coming Storm is a quick read, and fun.  As a self-appointed Captain Jack Sparrow expert and enthusiast, I’m rather picky about folks getting him right.  Rob Kidd does an admirable job here, capturing Captain Jack’s voice and mannerisms so well that I actually pictured a 21 Jump Street-era Johnny Depp acting them out.  The book is very clearly part of a series, and while it could stand alone, there’s no reason you’d want it to.  It has its own arc and ties in with a larger storyline as well.  The book “sets up” familiar characters from the movies, including both Tia Dalma and Davy Jones.  Jack’s desire early on seems to be to rid the world of pirates, or so he tells his crew, and I’m interested to see if the other books explain his apparent distaste for his future profession.

(Stats Below Are For the Whole Challenge, Not Just This Book)
Books Read: 2
Pages Read: 388
Time Spent Reading/Reviewing: 4.5 hrs

Miracle got her name because, as her grandmother Gigi tells her, she was born from a dead woman.  Miracle’s father, Dane, was a prodigy and published his first novel at the age of 13.  Miracle likes to spend her days helping Gigi with her work as a medium, practicing dancing, and sitting in her father’s company.  One day, as Gigi is conducting a seance to contact Miracle’s dead mother, the Ouija board tells them that Dane is gone.  They rush to his room in the basement to find that he’s melted; all that’s left of him is a pile of clothes.

Dancing on the Edge explores how our family shapes who we are and what we believe.  Miracle strongly believes in the symbolism of colors and numbers, in auras, portents, and omens.  She starts to question her beliefs when she first meets her Granddaddy Opal and he tells her, “If your mama was dead when you were born, then you was never born.”  I picked up this book because it was a readergirlz recommendation in May for Mental Health Month; throughout the course of the book Miracle loses and finds herself again.  By the end of it, I was sniffling and tearing up.  That is the mark of a good book.

Books Read: 1
Pages Read: 244
Time Spent Reading/Reviewing: 3.25 hrs

(You can expect longer reviews of most of my 48 Hr Book Challenge Books in the coming weeks.)

Interesting Tidbit: Two of the Challenge Participants were students in the split level 3/4 classes where I did my student teaching; they weren’t MY students as I taught level 4 and my mentor teacher taught level 3, but they are still in that “my former student” brainspace.  They happen to be on the list of top 10 coolest former students.  (I’ve only had about 200 students so far, being somewhat new to this whole teaching thing, but still.  Top 10 out of 200, not bad at all.)  I hope I can convince them to participate in the Pirate Challenge when it comes around.

My official start time for the 48 Hour Book Challenge is going to be 9:30 am.  I will go from 9:30 am today to 9:30 am Sunday.  There will be a few interruptions, mostly sleep I think.  And eating.  And probably a little house cleaning.  But not too many.

Have fun, all!

I’ll be participating in Mother Reader’s 48 Hour Book Challenge starting tomorrow.  I’ll begin at whatever time I happen to wake up or after I finish reading The Phoenix Dance, whichever comes first.  I’ll probably take breaks for eating, making sure my boyfriend hasn’t died of boredom while I’ve been reading, and this sort of thing, but I am hoping to spend most of tomorrow and Saturday reading.

Sound like fun?  To sign yourself up, go to the original post.

I don’t have a booklist/pile set up, but here’s what I expect I’ll be reading tomorrow:

Dancing on the Edge, Han Nolan
Wildwood Dancing, Juliet Marillier
The Various, Steve Augarde

After that, it becomes a competition between Capt. Hook, my stack of borrowed books, and the books I bought at the library sale.

So come join us!