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!

Author Lisa Mantchev is sponsoring a Shakespeare challenge, which is Liv of Liv’s Book Reviews is hosting. Read three Shakespeare plays between June 1st and August 31st, post about them in your blog, and you’ll be entered to win a few prizes.

One of them is the book Eyes Like Stars, the first in Lisa’s The Théâtre Illuminata trilogy. Here’s a description:

Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the characters of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book–an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family–and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known.

I cannot tell you how much this sounds like the perfect book to me, the book that will top the list of "Books I Wish I’d Written."

So, join me in the challenge, won’t you?
[via Becky’s Book Reviews]

Over at Becky’s Book Reviews, Becky is hosting the Celebrate the Author Challenge.   The basic idea is that each month of 2008, you read a book by an author born in that month.  Go to the post I linked earlier for more details.

Here’s my tentative author list:
January – Lloyd Alexander (hopefully ALL of the Vesper Holly series)
February – Meg Cabot
March – Libba Bray
April – Micol Ostow
May – Scott Westerfeld
June – Annette Curtis Klause
July – Christopher Golden (born the day after me but a few years earlier)
August – Piers Anthony
September – Melissa de la Cruz
October – Gabrielle Zevin
November – Holly Black
December – Stephanie Meyer

Oh my goodness, it’s 1:30 pm.  When did this happen?

Yes, folks, Summer Vacation has begun.  (This is why we suffer the difficulties of working in education.  Granted, it’s an unpaid vacation, but it is a large block of time in which to pursue other interests.  Litblogging, for example.)

I’d like to remind you of my Pirate Reading Challenge.

The original post is here, and the post where I introduce myself as Captain Anne Scarlett is here.

The rules are simple:
1. The challenge begins June 12, 2007 and lasts until September 19, 2007. There be significance to these dates: durin’ the week o’ June 10 in 1718 Blackbeard ran aground his ship Queen Anne’s Revenge.  September 19 be International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

2. The goal be to read books about pirates. Set your own goal for how many pirate books you’d like to read. (I recommend 3 as a minimum; I meself will probably try for 14 or so.)

3. The books can be any level, fiction or nonfiction. The only requirement be that they be about pirates.

4. As you finish the books, review them.

5. Your final summary should be posted in Pirate Speak (thar’s an English to Pirate translator here) on September 19, and include links to your reviews o’ pirate books.

6. Sign your name to the ship’s articles in the comments to the original post.

I haven’t started reading my pirate books yet.  I’m currently working on the first of my books to review for The Edge of the Forest; I have some training for work Friday.  I will probably finish my current audiobook (Celia Rees’s Pirates!) on the drive to the training, and then hit the library on the way home to pick up Treasure Island.  After that, my next pirate selections will probably be Capt. Hook and Pirate Island, because I own both of them.  Then, I’ll probably start in on Bloody Jack, as it’s been recommended to me multiple times.  

My goal is 14 Pirate Books.  What about yours?

Welcome, me hearties!  I be Captain Anne Scarlett, also known as Mermaid Jane, and this be my ship, Melusine.  I’d like ya to be joinin’ me in the Pirate Reading Challenge.  Here be the rules:

1. The challenge begins June 12, 2007 and lasts until September 19, 2007. There be significance to these dates: durin’ the week o’ June 10 in 1718 Blackbeard ran aground his ship Queen Anne’s Revenge.  September 19 be International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

2. The goal be to read books about pirates. Set your own goal for how many pirate books you’d like to read. (I recommend 3 as a minimum; I meself will probably try for 14 or so.)

3. The books can be any level, fiction or nonfiction. The only requirement be that they be about pirates.

4. As you finish the books, review them.

5. Your final summary should be posted in Pirate Speak (thar’s an English to Pirate translator here) on September 19, and include links to your reviews o’ pirate books.

6. Sign your name to the ship’s articles in the comments to the original post.

THE BASIC RULES:
1. The challenge begins June 12, 2007 and lasts until September 19, 2007. There be significance to these dates: durin’ the week o’ June 10 in 1718 Blackbeard ran aground his ship Queen Anne’s Revenge.  September 19 be International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

2. The goal be to read books about pirates. Set your own goal for how many pirate books you’d like to read. (I recommend 3 as a minimum; I meself will probably try for 14 or so.)

3. The books can be any level, fiction or nonfiction. The only requirement be that they be about pirates.

4. As you finish the books, review them.

5. Your final summary should be posted in Pirate Speak (thar’s an English to Pirate translator here) on September 19, and include links to your reviews o’ pirate books.

6. Sign your name to the ship’s articles in the comments to this post.

MORE ADVANCED OPTIONS:

1. Give yourself a pirate name. If you can’t come up with your own, here’s a link to some name generators.

2. Name your pirate ship.

3. Hoist your colours! Create your own pirate flag.

4. Go around tellin’ people you’re a “Bookaneer.” (Many thanks to Pirates & Privateers for this word.)

5. Write all your reviews in Pirate Speak.

RESOURCES:
International Talk Like a Pirate Day
The Bookaneer
Pirate Flags
Pirate Books

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!

It is a strange quirk of being a teacher that there are days when you aren’t allowed to go to work, even if you’d like to.  June 8 is one such day for me; Monday, June 11 and Tuesday, June 12 are Teacher Workdays, but Friday, June 8 is a vacation day and I’m just not allowed to go in.

This works out brilliantly because it means I can participate in MotherReader’s 48 Hour Book Challenge!  Won’t you join me?

Here are the rules, copied and pasted from MotherReader’s entry:

Here are the basic guidelines to start. I am open to suggestions if you’ve got them, or ask me questions so I can establish a related rule. Here goes:

  1. The weekend is June 8–10, 2007. Read and blog for any 48-hour period within the Friday-to-Monday-morning window. Start no sooner than 7:00 a.m. on Friday the eighth and end no later than 7:00 a.m. Monday. So, go from 7:00 p.m. Friday to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday… or maybe 7:00 a.m. Saturday to 7:00 a.m. Monday works better for you. But the 48 hours do need to be in a row.

  2. The books should be about fifth-grade level and up. Adult books are fine, especially if any adult book bloggers want to play. If you are generally a picture book blogger, consider this a good time to get caught up on all those wonderful books you’ve been hearing about. No graphic novels. I’m not trying to discriminate, I’m just trying to make sure that the number of books and page counts mean the same thing to everyone.

  3. It’s your call as to how much you want to put into it. If you want to skip sleep and showers to do this, go for it (but don’t stand next to me). If you want to be a bit more laid back, fine. But you have to put something into it or it’s not a challenge.

  4. The length of the reviews are not an issue. You can write a sentence, paragraph, or a full-length review.

  5. For promotion/solidarity purposes, let your readers know when you are starting the challenge with a specific entry on that day. When you write your final summary on Monday, let that be the last thing you write that day, so for one day, we’ll all be on the same page, so to speak.

  6. Your final summary needs to clearly include the number of books read, the approximate hours you spent reading/reviewing, and any other comments you want to make on the experience. It needs to be posted no later than noon on Monday, June 11.

  7. Sign up in today’s comments. You’re welcome to post the challenge on your site to catch the bloggers that come your way but don’t come mine. Point them to today’s post to sign up. On Friday, June 8, I’ll have a starting-line post where you can sign in to say you’re officially starting the challenge.

I’ll work on some prizes for most books read, most hours spent, and most pages read (if it isn’t the same winner as most books read). Last year I allowed an alternate, personal goal challenge, but this year the logistics of that might kill me. If you want to play along, but not really do the Challenge, that’s fine, but no prizes. I’ll have a 48 Hour Book Challenge Solidarity Post to list your personal weekend book challenges.

I’ll post the rules again as we get closer, to incorporate suggestions or to answer questions that have come up. So how many books do you think you could read if you devoted a weekend to the task? Ready to find out?