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Reading and Ruminations
The delicious breath of rain was in the air
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The Sunday Salon.com After a very productive, post-every-day, first week of November, I came to a screeching halt this week, and haven't blogged about anything since my last Sunday Salon post last week. I'm kind of disappointed in myself; I just wasn't able to keep my head in the game, I guess.

I did some book buying, though- probably more than I should have. I brought home several new treasures for myself. On Wednesday, I ran into Borders to get one of those Wedge-Light things, (Love it, by the way), and also got The Meaning of Night: A Confession by Michael Cox. A trip to Barnes & Noble yesterday brought in a remaindered hardcover of Toni Morrison's Love, and at Borders (also yesterday), I got Bloodsucking Fiends and You Suck, both by Christopher Moore. I'm going through a vampire phase right now, and Christopher Moore's books are supposed to be great. Additionally, I also got a couple books in the mail: The King's Daughter: A Novel of the First Tudor Queen by Sandra Worth, which was sent to me for review, and The Gravedigger's Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates, which came from BookMooch.

I'm hoping to get back on the proverbial wagon this week. I'm hoping that the vampires (both Christopher Moore's and others) will do the trick. Because I've got a ton of great review books that I really, really need to review.

I'm also starting to get really excited for the 999 challenge. I know it doesn't start until next year, but I've got most of my books all planned out (two categories are blank because they literally can't be filled yet). My thread on Library Thing is here. As you can tell from some of the categories, I'm feeling pretty ambitious. And there are books that I plan to read next year that don't fall into those categories. The "chunksters" category will give me the most trouble, as most of those books are really, really long. Clarissa may be too much to hope for, but I do have some others I can sub in if need be. If I decide to throw a category over to miscellaneous, that will probably be the first category to go.

But for now, I've got really high hopes for the challenge. And since I won't be in school at all next year (next semester is my first semester out of school in 19 years), I figure I have a better shot to succeed than I did with the 888 challenge this year (which I gave up on in August). And I might be making some small changes to the way I post reviews next year. We'll see how it all works out. I should easily reach 50 books for this year, so I've got my eye on 100 books for next year. Here's hoping that not being in school will do wonders for my desire and ability to read for leisure.

Well, it's pretty late here (my brain still says it's Saturday- I am posting really early), so I'm going to bed. I'll try to comment on other Salon posts more actively this week. Hope you all have a great Sunday.

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Current Mood: apathetic apathetic
Current Music: Led Zeppelin - Black Dog

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The Sunday Salon.com Wow, this past week has been pretty busy here on Reading and Ruminations. I did the usual Tuesday and Thursday carnival things, reviewed four books, and had the pleasure of hosting my very first author. Dianne Ascroft, author of Hitler and Mars Bars was here on Friday to share some thoughts about war and the role World War II plays in her book. Here are the links for the reviews, as well as the guest post.

-Author visit from Dianne Ascroft
-Review of Hitler and Mars Bars
-Review of Living Dead Girl
-Review of Thirteen Reasons Why
-Review of The Matters at Mansfield

I thought all four of the books were very good, but I thought two were really, truly excellent: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott, and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Living Dead Girl is the kind of book you can't enjoy, but it's powerful; you can't stop reading to see what happens next, and by the end, your emotions are ragged. In light of that, perhaps Thirteen Reasons Why wasn't the best follow-up book. But it was the book that was calling to me. And by the time I finished that one, I was sobbing. My review of Thirteen Reasons Why isn't so much a review as it is my reasons for explaining why and how this book hit so close to home for me (the premise of the book is that a girl committed suicide, and left behind a shoebox full of thirteen tapes to explain why she chose to do so). I lost one ex-boyfriend to suicide two and a half years ago, and I nearly lost another the same way five months ago. At this point, it's my top read for the month of November, and I don't see anything else upstaging it. Because I don't know that there is another book I could connect with on such a powerful and personal level.

So I pose a question: what books have you connected with? I mean, to an extent, I connect to a lot of the books I read. But I haven't connected with any book the way I have with this one. I checked this book out from the library, but I think I might have to go get my own copy. It's quite the book.

With the start I've gotten off to, I really think November is going to be a productive reading month. Here's hoping the next 21 days were as good as the first nine.

Hope everyone has a great Sunday!

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Current Music: The Who - Behind Blue Eyes

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After their adventures at Northanger Abbey, Elizabeth and Darcy are looking forward to peacefully celebrating the engagement of his cousin (the older brother of Colonel Fitzwilliam). However, the party comes to an abrupt halt when Anne deBourgh, daughter of the imperious Lady Catherine, runs off to Gretna Green with Henry Crawford to avoid marrying the obsequious Neville Sennex. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam meet up with the married runaways at Gretna Green, and Lady Catherine and Elizabeth join the foursome at Mansfield. Though Henry Crawford is certainly not welcome anywhere near Mansfield Park after abandoning Maria Rushworth (nee Bertram), they are stranded while Anne recovers from an ankle injury. Things are complicated by the arrival of a woman who claims Henry is her husband, John Garrick. Mistaken identity, murder, and duplicity all abound before Anne is able to get her happy ending (and Lady Catherine is appeased enough to accept it).

Like its predecessors in the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery series, The Matters at Mansfield by Carrie Bebris is a (mostly) lighthearted mystery featuring the best and worst of Austen's characters. This novel, in particular, features the return of the wretched Mrs. Norris, a character who could have happily stayed buried in Mansfield Park, as far as I'm concerned. But luckily she wasn't nearly as prominent in this novel. Anne and Colonel Fitzwilliam benefit from the attention of Ms. Bebris' development. Lady Catherine and Elizabeth are quite humorous as they again go toe-to-toe over every perceived slight.

There were parts in the middle that kind of dragged, but overall, I found the book to be satisfactory, and definitely enjoyed the ending. This is a good series for those who are interested in following Austen's characters, but aren't interested in the more erotic bent that seems to characterize a good deal of the Austen "sequels."

Buy this book on Amazon

Rating: 3.5 stars
Pages: 286
Publisher, ISBN: Forge, 9780765318473

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Current Music: Incubus - Nice To Know You

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Two weeks ago, Hannah Baker committed suicide. When Clay Jenkins gets home from school, he's surprised by the shoebox full of audiocassettes waiting by the front door. He's even more surprised when he plays the tapes and hears Hannah's voice, explaining that there were thirteen reasons she chose to commit suicide- and if you're one of the ones listening, you're one of the reasons. He spends the night listening to the tapes as he walks through town, allowing Hannah's story to guide him. He's a bit confused as to why he is there. He doesn't know what he did to Hannah; rather than tormenting her, he had a crush on her.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher is the story of what might drive someone to commit suicide- and what the people who are left behind are feeling. And this is perhaps the most personal book review I will ever write. Because I am one of the people who was left behind.

I tend not to let my emotions run away with me when I read. But this book, more than any book I've read in recent memory, hit close to home. Too close to home. Because I know exactly what Clay was feeling. Two and a half years ago, my ex-boyfriend decided his life was no longer worth living. And he shot himself. It took me a week to cry. And once I started crying at his funeral, I didn't think I would ever stop. It took me a long time to come to grips with it. And I'm still not sure that I have, because as I was reading this book, reading why someone would choose to end their life, all I could do is think of him. Hannah had thirteen reasons; I wonder what his reasons were. Was it one thing, or was it the culmination of years of problems? We weren't close in the years before he died, but he was such an important part of my life and my history, that he will always be a part of me. And I think Clay will always feel that way about Hannah.

Thirteen Reasons Why is a powerful read. It rang so true for me, and it made me wonder whether Asher was a part of the club of those left behind once, too. I think it is deeply important that teenagers read this book. I think it's important that everyone read this book, and take a few minutes to think about their actions. You may think your behavior is harmless, but you never know how what you do might affect someone else.

I know this review isn't particularly coherent. But I wasn't necessarily capable of coherent thought on finishing this book. It's beautiful, and it's devastating. I highly recommend it to everyone. For those who know someone who committed suicide, I recommend reading it with tissues handy.

Buy this book on Amazon

Rating: 5 stars
Pages: 288
Publisher, ISBN: Razorbill, 9781595141712

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Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

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I am very excited to be hosting Dianne Ascroft today. Dianne is the author of Hitler and Mars Bars, which I reviewed earlier this week (you can find my review here). Below, Dianne shares some thoughts on war as we approach Veteran's Day here in the United States. Thank you, Dianne, for allowing me to be a part of your virtual blog tour.

Thanks for inviting me to Reading and Ruminations today, Shauna, to tell your readers a bit about my historical fiction novel, Hitler and Mars Bars. When I was considering what to talk about I realized that November 11 is only a few days away. Depending on the country you are in, November 11 may be known as Remembrance Day, Armistice Day or Veterans Day. Since the end of the First World War in many countries it is a day to remember and honour military personnel and civilians who died during war and other conflicts. So I’ve chosen war as my theme today and I’ll share the Second World War’s impact on my main character, Erich.

The opening chapter of Hitler and Mars Bars is set in the industrialised Ruhr area of Germany during the last few months of World War 2. The area is devastated by heavy bombing and food supplies are scarce; people are starving. Here’s an excerpt from the chapter -

HITLER AND MARS BARS: Excerpt from Chapter 1

The Gingerbread House
Bredenscheid, near Hattingen, Germany
March 1945


“The bodies were piled one on top of the other on the hill, arms and legs flung in every direction. Jackets flapped open in the wind, blood dripped from ripped shirts. Dirt and blood covered their faces. An arm hung partially severed from its body. Erich crept closer to look at them, horrified and fascinated. There was such a huge pile. He grimaced at the sight confronting him, too frightened to make a sound.

Erich tossed restlessly until shuffling and banging in the large dormitory penetrated the images racing through his mind. The horrible scene faded as he opened his eyes. Boys pushed and shoved, scrambling under beds in search of their boots. The sky was lit with a red glow. Erich stared out of the balcony door. Sharp bangs punctuated the night. Each small explosion was answered by a larger one and flames leapt into the air. It was closer than he had ever seen before. Erich craned his neck upwards watching white sparkles popping and floating towards the ground. The sparkles marked the bombs’ course as they fell.
“Are the bombs falling on our garden?” Erich asked Karl.
“No, it’s not that close. Tante Gretchen says the oil tanks at the plant in Hattingen are on fire. Don’t they make a great bang!” Erich nodded wide-eyed as he watched the display outside.
Staff rushed to and fro, urging the boys to hurry as they herded them towards the door.
Tante Gretchen said, “Erich, get up. We must go to the shelter.” She pulled his bedclothes back.
He sat up and pulled on his boots. Tante Gretchen threw his coat over his shoulders and bundled him towards the door. The dying embers of the fire, glowing in the dark room, warmed him briefly as he passed. The boys jostled each other to be first out of the door. Pushed into the melee, Erich grabbed the doorframe to brace himself against a taller boy’s shove. Ducking down, he pushed through the doorway and stepped into the hall. A muffled pounding rose from the wooden stairs as the children descended.
Small, even for four years old, Erich could not see through the throng. His nose brushed the torn pullover of the boy in front of him as he was pushed forward by the others. On the ground floor Tante Helga stood at an open door, ushering them down the stairs into the musty smelling cellar.
Several years of heavy bombing in the Essen area made these night-time forays a familiar occurrence. The staff counted heads as the children settled wearily into whatever space they could find. Erich laid his head on the lap of an older girl, Hilde, wedged between her and his friend, Karl. Hilde leaned her head on the shoulder of the girl next to her, her hand resting on Erich’s hip.
“Maybe they’ll bomb us tonight. It might just be rubble when we go out in the morning!” Karl exclaimed.
“Don’t say such things! Where would we live?” Hilde scolded.
“No talking,” Tante Helga said firmly. “You must sleep now.”
Silence descended and only the occasional cough disturbed the regular breathing of the roomful of dozing children. Explosions were heard in the distance as the night wore on. But nothing landed near the Home. The bombs fell in the more heavily populated areas.
Dawn broke sending a sliver of light creeping under the door at the top of the stairs. Erich woke and sat up.
“Is the house still there?” Karl whispered.
“You snore so loud, Karl, that you would never hear it if we were bombed! But I think it is still there,” Bernhardt answered the younger, dark-haired boy.
“Maybe everything is gone except our house!” Karl cried.
“Even the forest?” Erich asked.
“Every tree,” Karl asserted. Erich frowned; he liked to go to the forest.
Exaggerated claims and assertions dominated the children’s whispered conversation. After what seemed an unbearable wait, Tantchen Trude led them upstairs. Erich and the other children darted around the house an out into the grounds looking for damage, grey metal fragments or bodies that may have fallen from the sky. But everything was as it had been the night before. Despite the carnage in nearby Hattingen it was another ordinary morning. With a sigh Erich trooped upstairs to his dormitory with the other children to wash and dress. He wondered if his mother would come today. Maybe she wouldn’t have to work if the railway station had been hit. Excited by this thought, he hurried to get ready.”

In any war individuals are harmed - frightened, wounded, displaced and killed. People disappear or die and their loved ones do not know what has happened to them.

Erich knows this.

He spends nights wearily huddled in the Children’s Home cellar, sheltering from the threat of bombs.
His mother disappears after a bombing raid.
Aided by the Red Cross, he leaves his stricken homeland, without finding his mother.
He settles in a foreign land, adapting to new families, strange customs and learning a new language.

During the Second World War it’s estimated that –

* 55 million people died
* Bombing raids displaced 60 million people in Europe from their homes
* For every tonne of bombs dropped on Britain, 315 tonnes were dropped on Germany

The statistics are staggering but they don’t make the horrors of war real to us. Telling a story about a single child, even a fictional one, does. While I did not write the book as an anti-war treatise, the privations and horrors Erich experiences, in the book’s early chapters, remind the reader how terrible war is – and that’s something we shouldn’t forget.

But Hitler and Mars Bars is not only a war story. It’s Erich’s story – a German boy growing up in war-torn Germany and post war rural Ireland. As Shauna has recounted in her review of the book, Erich spends his early years in a Children’s Home in the embattled Ruhr area of Germany. His mother disappears and he is left responsible for his younger brother. Aided by the Red Cross project, Operation Shamrock, after the war he is transported, with hundreds of other German children, to Ireland to recuperate from the devastation in his homeland. During the next few years he moves around Ireland, through a string of foster families, experiencing the best and worst of Irish life. Plucky and resilient, he faces every challenge and the future undaunted. Erich’s childhood is a remarkable journey through loss, loneliness, fear, uncertainty, love and hope.

If this small slice of Erich’s life has piqued your interest, you can learn more about Hitler and Mars Bars at www.geocities.com/dianne_ascroft. The novel is available to order from Amazon and other online retailers, Trafford Publishing and my website. You can also drop by other stops on my Virtual Book Tour. For the full tour schedule check my blog, ‘Ascroft, eh?’.

Thanks for allowing me to share a glimpse of Erich’s life with your readers, Shauna. It’s been a pleasure to be here today.

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Current Mood: excited excited

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What, if any, memorable or special book have you ever gotten as a present? Birthday or otherwise. What made it so notable? The person who gave it? The book itself? The “gift aura?”

A few years ago, my best friend gave me a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I ended up returning it because I already had a copy, but I remember being really touched that she would remember that I loved a book, and try to give me the gift of owning it (I'd actually just bought it a few months before my birthday, so she wasn't too far off).

I've received a lot of books over the years, but this is one that really sticks out to me.

What about you? What great gift experiences have you had with books?

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Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

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Fifteen year old Alice has belonged to Ray since she was ten years old- since he took her from her family, her friends, and her life. Now that she is fifteen and getting too old, Ray enlists her help in finding a new little girl to be Alice. She must choose the next little girl to live the nightmare she's been living the last five years, all the while anticipating her fate- the same fate that fell upon the previous Alice.

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott is one of the hardest books I've read all year- but I absolutely think everyone needs to read it. It is horrifying, and unlike most young adult novels, there is no relief from the horror. But it's not really a blood-and-guts kind of horror. It's mostly psychological. I know other readers have had this experience: at more than one point, I literally had to put the book down because I couldn't process any more, but I picked it up again within minutes because I needed to know what was going to happen to Alice. I read it in just a few hours, but it's a book I won't be forgetting or letting go of anytime soon.

Highly recommended to all. I gave this book a five-star rating, but I don't know that anyone could say they enjoyed it. It's gritty, and it's harsh, but Ms. Scott should be very, very proud of the work she has accomplished with this book.

Buy this book on Amazon

Rating: 5 stars
Pages: 170
Publisher, ISBN: Simon Pulse, 9781416960591

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Current Mood: discontent discontent

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As a small child, Erich and his brother Hans live at the Goldschmidthaus in Germany while their mother works at a nearby train station during World War II. Following the war, the children from Goldschmidthaus are taken to Ireland as a part of Operation Shamrock, a Red Cross initiative that removed children from post-war Germany and fostered them with Irish families. Upon their arrival in Ireland, Erich and Hans are separated and sent to different foster families. The first family for each child does not work out, and the two find themselves reunited when they are fostered by the Elliotts, who they call Daddy Davy and Aunt Elsie. The two spend several happy years there. However, they are forced to leave when the Elliotts are no longer able to care for them. They remain together for a time, but the situation is less than ideal. They are once again separated- Hans will go to live with his friend Bobby, and Erich returns to the Elliotts. Once again, though, it is not meant to last, and Erich is sent away again to try to make his way in a world that does not seem to want him.

I think I've mentioned before in talking about this book that I had no knowledge of Operation Shamrock. United States history classes tend to gloss over the international relief and humanitarian efforts in the post-war period. As it states on the back cover, Hitler and Mars Bars by Dianne Ascroft does not attempt to tell the whole story of Operation Shamrock. But for me, it was a refreshing look at something about which I had no prior knowledge. But Operation Shamrock is only the background. At it's heart, this is Erich's story. You can really feel his confusion about why his mother doesn't come for him, and his desperate desire to feel loved. Throughout the story, Erich struggles to make friends with other boys, and has quite a bit of jealousy where his brother is concerned. This is due in large part to that need to feel loved, I think. Boys tease, and he has a hard time dealing with that. Girls and adults are more compassionate, and he needs to feel that compassion.

Throughout the book, I kept hoping it would lead to a happy ending. I didn't get the happy ending I was exactly looking for, but I did like the way the book ended- with hope. Even though Erich didn't get exactly what he was looking for and what he wanted, he began to realize that there were ways to get some of the things he wanted and needed.

One thing I particularly appreciated was the way in which Erich's voice came across. I've read books told from the point of view of a child before- and the child would always come across as whiny, annoying, and bratty. Erich did not come across this way to me. Erich maintained a child's voice, but it enhanced the story rather than detracted from it.

I very much hope Ms. Ascroft will continue to write, and I look forward to reading more by her in the future. I definitely recommend this to anyone interested in historical fiction or in Irish fiction.

Coming Friday: A guest post by author Dianne Ascroft! Please be sure to stop by to hear what she has to say!

Buy this book on Amazon!

Rating: 4 stars
Pages: 338
Publisher, ISBN: Trafford Publishing, 1425145914

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Current Mood: cold cold

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Today's question: Work multiples. Do you own multiple copies of any books? Which ones? Why? Can you share your list?

You can find the link under Statistics, from either your home page or profile.



I have seven books that have multiples:
1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
2. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
3. Emma by Jane Austen
4. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
5. Atonement by Ian McEwan
6. As You Like It by William Shakespeare
7. The Accidental by Ali Smith

I bought most of my Austen's several years ago, and have been in the process of upgrading from my cheap Penguin copies to Norton Critical Editions. Atonement is my favorite (non-Austen) novel, and I replaced my used paperback with a lovely hardcover that didn't have all the Used Saves! stickers from the university bookstore all over the place. Regarding the Shakespeare- I really have no idea how that happened. As far as The Accidental is concerned- one is an audio book, one is a paperback. I got the audio for $7.99 at Barnes & Noble, but kept getting sidetracked even though I was enjoying the story. So I bought the paperback to keep me on track.

And I actually own(ed) four different copies of Pride and Prejudice. I shipped my Penguin one off to a Moocher, but I have a Norton Critical edition, a hardcover with Jennifer Ehle on the dust jacket from an old boyfriend, and a gorgeous illustrated hardcover that came with a protective box that I got for $2 off the sale shelf at the library I used to work at. It's not a rare edition or anything like that, but it's from the 1970s, and it's in fantastic shape.

What books do you have duplicates of?

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The Sunday Salon.com Happy Sunday, fellow Saloners! This post is going to be pretty brief; I've got a ton of stuff I need to do today. But I wanted to stop in for a minute.

I think I've mentioned before that I've been reading Hitler and Mars Bars by Dianne Ascroft. She is in the middle of a two month book tour, and I am proud to be hosting her for a guest post this coming Friday, November 7. Additionally, I will be posting my review of Hitler and Mars Bars on Wednesday, November 5. Be sure to come by and check it out!

Real life has gotten in the way of my usual posts as well as my reading lately. On Friday, I posted a list of what to expect here on Reading and Ruminations during the month of November. I'm really hoping to have a productive November here. Real life has been in the way this past month, but things should be much better this month.

Hope you're all having a fantastic day!

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After being an absentee blogger the last few weeks, November is gearing up to be a very busy month here on Reading and Ruminations! I think the Real World will give me a chance to take breath (I hope!), so that means lots of time for reading and blogging!

So what does that mean for the blog? It means lots of reviews, my usual Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday fare, and my very first ever author visit and guest post. There is also a possible giveaway in the works, but that is still to be determined.

Here's a look at what you can expect and when.

Nov. 3: My review of The Matters at Mansfield by Carrie Bebris
Nov. 5: My review of Hitler and Mars Bars by Dianne Ascroft
Nov. 7: Guest post by Dianne Ascroft

The dates for the following reviews aren't set yet, but I hope to have them up by the end of the month (these are review copies):
-Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
-Now the Drum of War by Robert Roper
-The Believers by Zoe Heller
-American Buffalo by Steven Rinella
-Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland

And I'm also hoping to get some fun reading done during the month as well (that is, books that aren't review copies). That includes:
-Impossible by Nancy Werlin
-Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
-Testimony by Anita Shreve

The titles of the fun reading are all tentative, but the review copies are pretty much a sure thing. I might push back The Believers and American Buffalo to a time that is closer to their respective release dates (which I don't know off the top of my head, but I think they're both scheduled for release in early 2009).

Regarding Dianne Ascroft: She is currently on a 2-month web tour for Hitler and Mars Bars, so be sure to check out some of her other tour stops. I've tried not to read too many of the posts so far because I'm still finishing the book myself. But she's very nice, and so far, I'm really enjoying the book. It's a fascinating premise. Tour information is available on her blog.

Hope to see you all here during the month of November!



The image is from Getty Images. I claim no ownership of it.
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Today's question: Series. Do you collect any series? Do you read series books? Fantasy? Mystery? Science fiction? Religious? Other genre? Do you use the series feature in LT to help you find new books or figure out what you might be missing from a series?

I'm not much of a genre reader, so I don't look for books that belong to a genre series (ie, the Wheel of Time books in science fiction or Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series in mysteries). I'm not opposed to them, I just don't deliberately seek them out. That being said, I actually use the series feature for work a lot. I'm a library assistant at a small public library and do both circulation and reference work, and quite often, patrons will come in and tell me that they're lost, because they didn't realize the book they were reading belongs to a series. The fastest way for me to find out where they should start sometimes is to check the series on LT. Amazon is too inconsistent with the information, so it's a lot easier for me to make LT my one-stop-shop (our in-house catalog/cataloging program leaves quite a lot to be desired, I have to admit).

As far as my own personal use goes, I do use it sometimes to make sure a book I'm interested in reading or purchasing doesn't fall into the middle of a series. Because there is very little that is more annoying than starting a book, hating the fact that the author seems to be leaving out pertinent details, only to find that said pertinent details are in other books in the series.

And I have to say, it is pretty fun to go to the series coverage page in my statistics section and see all the different series I've somehow managed to come across even without being a "series" reader.

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Following their marriage at the end of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice , Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy have seen more adventure than they'd planned for their first year of marriage, beginning with the events of Pride and Prescience and continuing with Suspense and Sensibility . Now expecting the birth of their first child, Darcy and Elizabeth look forward to settling in at Pemberley with Darcy's sister Georgiana. Fate has other plans, though, as a short trip to Bath and a chance invitation to Northanger Abbey (at the request of Captain Frederick Tilney) turn into a months long ordeal that brings the condescending Lady Catherine to Pemberley and into their daily lives. Between Lady Catherine, pregnancy, and the mystery of what really happened at Northanger Abbey, Elizabeth and Darcy find that life at Pemberley is just as adventurous as life in London.

North By Northanger is the third book in Carrie Bebris' Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery series, and it is just as light and engaging as the first two, which I read last year and briefly reviewed here. Darcy and Elizabeth remain true to the spirit in which Austen conceived them, and Bebris has turned them into quite the pair of sleuths. Additionally, it was nice to see Henry Tilney, the hero of Northanger Abbey , make a cameo, though I wish Catherine would have made one as well (perhaps Ms. Bebris feared having too many Catherines, with the extended role Lady Catherine plays in this novel). This mystery, like the ones in the preceding novels, had a bit of a supernatural element to it as well, though the story is not as dependent on it. Overall, I thought it was a great story, but the "who" in the "whodunnit" shouldn't really come as a surprise to anyone who has read both Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey. But Ms. Bebris certainly has nothing to be ashamed of, and I think Austen would approve of her work, and the way she stays true to the characters.


Buy this book on Amazon

Rating: 3.5 stars
Pages: 316
Publisher, ISBN: Forge Books, 076531410X

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The Sunday Salon.com

I did not make it until 5 a.m. Pacific. In fact, I didn't make it ten minutes past my last update at 3 a.m. I picked up The Fortunes of Indigo Skye, found my eyes wouldn't focus on the page, and decided sleep was more important. Besides, I'd already missed out on the first five hours, so it's not like I made it 22 hours and then gave up.

So I read for at least a portion of 17 consecutive hours. I read 532 pages and completed two books: Carnegie Libraries Across America: A Public Legacy by Theodore Jones, and North by Northanger by Carrie Bebris. I'd started both previously, but finished them both during the read-a-thon. And honestly, I was only 20 pages into North by Northanger when I started reading it yesterday, so I read the majority of it during the event. I also read 176 pages of Carnegie Libraries by George Bobinski during the event. I tried to make it the full 201 pages, but I knew my retention levels would be non-existent if I read it any later than 1 a.m., so I gave it up to read North by Northanger, which required significantly less brain power.

So, would I do this again? You betcha! (Sorry, I did take a break from reading last night to watch Gov. Palin on SNL) But I would do things a touch differently. For starters, I won't be using the time to multi-task as I work on reading material to write my big paper for my senior seminar (won't be a problem since I'm finished with college after this semester). I'll have a stack of books prepared in advance, and I'll be more diligent about keeping track of the time spent reading during the read-a-thon. I also plan to actually start when it starts, even if I have to drag my butt out of bed at 5 in the morning (this will be the most difficult thing, as I am *not* a morning person). I will also know exactly where my iPod is, so I can stick in my headphones and ignore the world around me- at least until the battery dies. I will also spend more time taking part in the mini-challenges and cheerleading for other readers. I'd also like to read for charity as well- 5 cents for every minute read or page read, or something like that.

But this was my first read-a-thon, and I had such an awesome time participating. Congratulations to anyone who made it the full 24 hours, and really, congratulations to all who participated! And a huge, huge thank you to Dewey and her co-hosts for all their hard work.

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Anyway. Looking forward to the rest of the day, there are plenty of books in my future, but none of them are the fun, fictional type. I'm going to finish Carnegie Libraries, and then move on to another book on the subject of early public library history in America. I'm still trying to wrestle a thesis out of all this reading, and I think I need to read something that isn't specifically about Andrew Carnegie and his library grants for a little while. Granted, he'll be mentioned. It's impossible to talk about the development of the public library in the English-speaking world without mentioning Carnegie libraries. They were vital. But I need to read about someone else as well. It was funny. Last night, my dad was giving me a hard time about not knowing who won game six of the ALCS, or knowing that USC beat Washington State 69-0, and I told him, "Dad, I've been living in a Carnegie-shaped bubble today, and everyone talks with a Scottish accent." Well, it was one of those had-to-be-there-and-know-the-involved-parties kind of funny, but it was amusing all the same.

And on that note, I'm off to finish that book. I've only got 30 more pages to go, and I know I'll be happier once they're no longer hanging over my head.

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Current Mood: tired tired

shootingstarr7
By the time 1 a.m. Pacific rolled around, I still hadn't finished my Carnegie book. But at that point, my brain was about two pages from being soup. So I've decided it's best to wait until I've had some sleep to finish it (and then I can dive into the next school-book immediately after. It'll either be on the history of the public library in general, or on the Homestead Strike of 1892. Haven't decided which yet).

As expected, I found it much easier to make some progress once I switched to fiction and light reading. I finished North by Northanger, and had thought to move on to Hitler and Mars Bars. However, I'm starting to fade, and I know I won't be able to give it the attention I feel it deserves. I thought about starting on The Matters at Mansfield, the next book in the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mystery series, but I suspect I would be unable to review North by Northanger adequately.

Instead, I think I'll read The Fortunes of Indigo Skye by Deb Caletti. I suspect it will engage me, without forcing me to do any thinking. And I really don't want to have to think any more until I've had a full night's rest.

So I've now completed two books, and I read 138 pages between midnight and 3, bringing the total to 532 pages.

I'll update with my final page count and wrap up during a Sunday Salon post later in the day. Again, after I've gotten some rest.

Good luck to everyone else trying to power through the final two hours!

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Current Mood: exhausted exhausted

shootingstarr7
I was making pretty good progress on my reading for awhile, but was distracted a few times during this time period. First by ESPN News (had to find out how USC did today- ouch!) and then by Saturday Night Live- Tina Fey is HILARIOUS.

I did manage to get another 70 pages of Carnegie Libraries read. I've got a little less than 40 pages left, and I'm going to try to finish the book tonight. So I'll definitely be reading it until 1 a.m., and possibly later. I want to try to be done by 1, but not at the expense of understanding the material.

So the page total is 394. I fully intend for this to increase once I finish this book and switch to something a little less mentally taxing.

As far as updates go, I expect to update again probably around 3 a.m. Pacific, and then later in the day on Sunday (after several hours of sleep), I'll update with all my final tallies in a Sunday Salon post.

This will be the hard part, these last five hours. But I think I can do it!

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shootingstarr7
Hour 16 is over, and it's time for an update!

I've taken a few breaks during the last three hours, so progress slowed down a little. But I feel better now that I've had dinner and a shower, so hopefully I'll be good to go for the final eight hours.

Since my last update, I've read an additional 98 pages, bringing my page total to 324 for the day. Like I said, though, I took several breaks during this time, and that hampers progress a lot.

I'm still planning to try to make it until 1 a.m. Pacific reading for school. I'll probably post my next update sometime around midnight, so I'll know for sure then whether I have one more hour of school work in me, or whether I should just spend the last five hours reading fun things instead.

The read-a-thon is 2/3 complete! The end is in sight now! We can do it!

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shootingstarr7
We're at the end of hour 13/beginning of hour 14, and I am ready to change from Carnegie libraries to something fun again.

And I've been thinking about the rest of the challenge. I don't think I'll have too much trouble trying to stay up until 5 a.m., since I usually stay up until 2 or 3 anyway. But if I continue my current plan of reading three or four hours for school, then read an hour or two for fun, I'm never going to make it until 5. So from 6-7, I'm going to read for fun, then I'm going to read for school from 7 until 12 or 1. And then I'll read for fun from 12 or 1 until 5. My goal is to make it until 1 with the school books, but I don't know if I'm going to be able to pull it off. That's a lot of time to spend reading academic materials with no real relief.

For now, though, I get to spend an hour with North by Northanger. Yay.

As of right now, I've read 226 pages. I read much faster when I'm reading for fun!

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Current Music: The Fray - Fall Away

shootingstarr7
1. What are you reading right now?
Carnegie Libraries by George Bobinski

2. How many books have you read so far?
I've completed one (Carnegie Libraries Across America: A Public Legacy) and have two others in progress (Carnegie Libraries, and North by Northanger)

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
Getting a lot more reading done. I missed the first five hours of the read-a-thon, but I intend to participate the remaining time.

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
Nope. I just chose to work my other obligation into the challenge.

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
I haven't had too many interruptions, but it's better to just deal with them as they come up, rather than letting them become a big thing and distracting me further.

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
No real surprises yet. I'm having a great time, though.

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Not at this time.

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
Well, for starters, I won't be in school during the next read-a-thon, so that will free me up to read things that are a little more engaging than the school books I'm reading (I love history, and I love that I get to write a paper on libraries, which is a subject near and dear to my heart, but I'd much rather be reading something a little more relaxing). I would also take more time to visit other blogs to cheer other readers on.

9. Are you getting tired yet?
Not tired (re: starting late), but my back and neck are getting a little sore.

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?
I think it's really helping to break up my school reading with something completely light and relaxing. I know most participants aren't using this time to conduct research, but it might be helpful to others to break up heavy reading with something fluffy (or the reverse: add something with a serious subject to light reading to re-engage your brain.

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Current Music: Jon McLaughlin - Already In

shootingstarr7
I've spent the better part of the last three hours reading. I'm currently working my way through Carrie Bebris's North by Northanger, a mystery novel starring Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy. I read the first two books in the series last year and enjoyed them a lot, but hadn't had the chance to get to the third novel before now.

I confess I've been cheating a bit, too, though. I spent most of the last three hours reading a book on Carnegie libraries. The rough draft of my senior paper is due in a week and a half, and I've still got a lot of work to do for it, especially in terms of reading my sources. So I'm planning to do a lot of that during the read-a-thon, as well as taking breaks by reading more relaxing books. North by Northanger is one; Hitler and Mars Bars by Dianne Ascroft is another. I'll be hosting Ms. Ascroft here on Reading and Ruminations early next month, and I'm very excited about it.

And on that note, it's back to NbN for a little while, before I dive into my next research book.

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