Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Readathon STACK! And a video!

Hey folks! Here with a video I posted on BookTube with a short Readathon overview, and most importantly, my Readathon TBR!


Here are the physical books in my stack:
  • The Slaves Have Names by Andrea Cumbo-Floyd
  • Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl (currently reading)
  • The Professor's House by Willa Cather
  • Love Begins in Winter by Simon Van Booy
  • The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld
  • The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag
  • A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Buffalo Cake and Indian Pudding by Dr. A.W. Chase (Penguin Great Food)

And the e-books that look tantalizing:
  • Miss Buncle's Book by D. Stevenson
  • Ade by Rebecca Walker
  • The Woodcutter by Kate Danley
  • Saga, volume 3
  • Chew: Flambe, volume 4

What's on your Readathon stack? 

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Readathon Has Eaten My Brain!

It's almost tiiiiiiiiiiiiime! Time for Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon! I admit, it has totally eaten my brain at this point. Heather has been super busy wrangling cheerleaders and doing updates to the site. I've been super busy wrangling hourly challenge hosts, mini-challenges, and prizes.

IT'S GONNA BE SO GREAT, y'all! This week we have the "Warm Up" posts starting, and the schedule looks a little something like this.

  • Sunday - Andi writes about "Choosing Your Own" Readathon adventure. 
  • Monday - Felecia the Geeky Blogger shares her tips for reading for charity
  • Tuesday - Shannon from River City Reading has some book recommendations of the shortish variety
  • Wednesday - Amanda from Fig and Thistle will explain how to Readathon AND be a parent at the same time
  • Thursday - Rachael Turns Pages is all about mastering Readathon updates
  • Friday - Jenn's Bookshelves shares a super-fantastic spreadsheet to help you keep track of your Readathon stats
AND we'll have an incredibly awesome, special tribute to our namesake, the much-beloved Dewey. 

There are lots of great things going on, tons of wonderful surprises in store, and I hope you'll join us! If you can't read for the whole 24 hours, don't let that stop you! Sign up by Wednesday to make sure the cheerleaders stop over at your site! 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

I have a fairly established relationship with Gabrielle Zevin, author of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. She doesn't know it, but I've read two of her books in previous Dewey Readathons, and I've enjoyed both. In fact, she's one of those authors whose work I fully intend to devour any time she releases something new.

So imagine my surprise when EVERYONE started chatting about The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, and I didn't even realize she had a new book out. Egg on my face. Bad fan here!  Once I realized my silliness, I snapped up a copy of this little book and devoured it for the #24in48 readathon. Like so many others, I absolutely adored it, and it's definitely my favorite of her work so far. You can see reviews of her novels, Elsewhere and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac in past blog posts. 

But back to A.J. Fikry. He's awfully unpleasant for a young'ish man. But he has an excuse: his wife has passed away. He's left to run their bookstore on a secluded island well-suited to tourists but not so wonderfully suited to a widower with anger issues. Until the day someone steals a very valuable book, and THEN someone leaves a "special package" in the bookstore, and everyone's lives change. Once A.J. gets his head out of his patoot and notices a quirky publishing rep (who he's known for years, technically), things change some more, the trifecta of BIG EVENTS is in place. And it was so so fantastic.

This is definitely a book for book lovers as the characters are constantly talking books and surrounded by them. One of Fikry's best friends, a local police chief, even starts a book club! Now I want our local police chief to start a book club, though I don't think he's sold on the idea. 

The characterization was one of my favorite parts of this story. Everyone grows in their relationships with each other and their interactions have the bookstore at their center. Even though it's quite short, each character stood out vividly and had expertly developed personalities...their flaws and their charms. And while I don't want to give away the end, I got quite the "epic" feel from this book. Maybe sprawling is a better term. It covered a lot of ground for something like 250 pages. 

Overall, damn fun. Damn fine. And it made me do the UGLY CRY! Those well-developed characters get me every time. This little gem is not to be missed. 

Pub. Date: April 2014
Publisher: Workman
Format: E-book
ISBN: 9781616203214
Source: Bought!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Beloved by Toni Morrison

When I saw Beloved by Toni Morrison in our little free library at work, I knew it COULD be the book to bust my slump. That might sound odd, since Morrison's work is known to be quite dense and challenging, but that's what I was craving...something heftier than the "sea of threes" I've been stuck in lately.

Morrison delivered with this book. Technically, it was a re-read. I picked it up for the first time in 1998 or so. I was a high school junior looking for a good ghost story, but this is much more a novel about being haunted than a book about a ghost. 

In the troubled years following the Civil War, the spirit of a murdered child haunts the Ohio home of a former slave. This angry, destructive ghost breaks mirrors, leaves its fingerprints in cake icing, and generally makes life difficult for Sethe and her family; nevertheless, the woman finds the haunting oddly comforting for the spirit is that of her own dead baby, never named, thought of only as Beloved. A dead child, a runaway slave, a terrible secret--these are the central concerns of Toni Morrison's Pulitzer Prize-winning Beloved (from Goodreads).

At the beginning of the book, Sethe and her daughter, Denver, are navigating life alone. Sethe works in a local restaurant and Denver is lonely, kept company mostly by the spirit. Soon, one of Sethe's fellow slaves from the plantation, Sweet Home, shows up on her doorstep. Paul D, like all of the slaves, has had a rough time...first within slavery itself and then as a runaway and prisoner. He's a drifter, continually running from the past. 

All of the characters in Beloved, contend heavily with the past. They run from it, shy away from the memories, or try too hard to atone for it...to the detriment of their loved ones. The idea of the spirit in Sethe's house is such a massive metaphor. So touching, terrible, and raw. 

Morrison's writing is difficult to grasp at times. She likes to plop the reader down in a situation, knowing very little, and let us wriggle and struggle a bit as the truth unfolds. I was totally fine with that, since the wriggling and struggling was worthwhile. Beautiful, terrible words. A lovely, terrifying story. Lines like this one...
It wasn't blacks who brought the jungle within them. It was the white folks who put it there, and it grew until it overtook them. 
That's a slight paraphrase since I don't have the book with me. I noted it as I was reading the book, and then it came up again when I had an impromptu literature discussion with a friend of mine from graduate school on Facebook. 

There were times Beloved turned my stomach with its scenes are barbarism, and there were times it made my feelings soar. The writing was just amazing, and the overall plotting was excellent. I already loved Morrison for The Bluest Eye, but I'm glad I gave this book another go at a different time in life when I could appreciate it more. I'll definitely be reading it again in the future. 

Pub. Date: 1987
Publisher: Plume/Penguin
Format: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 0452264464
Source: Borrowed!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

#CoverHo: Spring Cover Picks

The #coverhos are back again! Jennifer from Book-alicious Mama and myself are presenting you some our fave spring covers. Now, what do we mean by that? Spring releases? Covers that remind us of spring? YES!

Both Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line, by Michael Gibney and The Vacationers, by Emma Straub, are spring releases, and I loooove these covers. The chunky script and vivid orange of Sous Chef were perfect for grabbing my attention. And The Vacationers is so stinkin' serene (and I love the typography). Here in Texas, we start feeling like summer halfway through spring, so this one hits just the right note for me. Swimming? Anyone? 

Now, these are a couple of books that I've already read that make me think of spring. No spring list would be complete without something by Sarah Addison Allen, and Garden Spells just happens to be my fave with all of its beautiful foliage and rich colors.  Glaciers, by Alexis M. Smith is a winner with it's beautiful sky blue and gorgeous texture. I also have a tendency to shop more during the spring for new clothes and jewelry, so this book (and cover) immediately popped into my head. 

Last, but certainly not least, is Mary McCartney's cookbook, FOOD: Vegetarian Home Cooking. Our garden is planted and sprouting, so I'm already thinking of ways to use all the veggies we'll have piled up on our table soon. What better way to brainstorm than by using this GORGEOUS cookbook? The photography really is stunning. 

What are your favorite spring covers? New releases or just "springy"?