reading challenge

30 Day Blog Challenge

I’m doing something different this year.  Instead of diving head first into NaNoWriMo with all guts and bluster on November 1st, I’m going to ease into.  I’m taking up the 30 Day Blog Challenge.  Other friends have done it and it’s fun to see what they come up with to write about everyday.  I have something of a leg up as I’m not just using this blog but also three others I write for, one I guest write for and one super secret one that I’m just starting.  They run from personal to professional so I should have enough material for 30 posts, if not opportunity.

Here on Library Mountain I’m planning on some posts about…you guessed it, libraries.  Specifically the interesting experiences I’m having working full-time at a closed library.  It really makes you aware of how the job is about people, not books.  I’m also going to draft some NaNo ideas and thoughts so I’m ready to go come 11/1.  I am not failing at NaNo again this year.  No excuses.

I might also post some pictures of books I’m reading and update my reading challenge for 2011.  Currently I’m 68% done on my way to reading 200 books this year.  There’s an insanity in my goals I realize but hey, gotta work toward something.

If you have any other thoughts on what topics you’d like to hear me go on about let me know.  It can be like blogging on demand!  Except I won’t charge you Comcast prices.  Well if I could, I would.

Currently reading this:

My Audiobook Awards

I made it to 100 books read this year!  Actually I’m now at #105 and not stopping anytime soon.  I’m not sure which book was book #100, Why I Let My Hair Grow Out by Maryrose Wood (excellent YA fantasy/romance) or the first 39 Clues book on audio.

The reason I’m not sure is also a big reason I’ve gotten to #100 so fast this year.  With a two plus hour commute everyday, audiobooks have become my salvation.  So I made up some awards for the audiobooks I’ve read(listened) so far this year.

Most FunHeist Society by Ally Carter, narrated by Angela Dawe.  Carter’s newest series about a teenage master thief and her merry band of thieves was not going to disappoint but the audio went beyond.  With large cast of characters I worry about following different voices but Dawe gave each character a distinct sound without going over board.  Loved the break-in scene.

Best Celebrity NarratorThe Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge, narrated by Milo Ventimiglia. (Aside: Anyone ever interview one of these Patterson “collaborators?” Just wondering what they have to say.)  I don’t hide my feelings for Patterson.  My disdain started when I worked at a big B bookstore.  He had a new book out every month and no way dude writes all/any of that.  But the kids seem to be digging his YA titles so gave one a go.  Milo “Jesse for Gilmore Girls” Ventimiglia really makes the book pop.  I can forgive the clichés and pat phrases when delivered with such charm.  And although I find the storyline slightly creepy (Daniel X hangs out and dates imaginary people, creepy!) and shallow story I can see the guy appeal in the action and gross-out moments.  Not a total waste of time and I surprised myself by listening to the second book. 

Worst Celebrity NarratorWitch and Wizard by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet, narrated by Spenser Locke and Elisha Wood.  Even my 12-year old crush on Elisha Wood can not overcome all the bad contained in those discs.  Take what I said about clichés and pat phrases and times by ten, keep in the creepy imaginary girlfriend storyline (seriously Patterson, WTF?) and add an obnoxious female narrator.  Whole lot of bad.  I still heart you Elisha.

The “Wish I’d Read This” AwardInsatiable by Meg Cabot, narrated by Emily Bauer. I wanted a pic of Midwest Tape’s very terrible cover.  Which I don’t get why they do that but then I don’t know enough about the audiobook industry.  Anywhos I listened to other Cabots on audio and was pleased but this one I got impatient, wishing I could fast forward to the good bits.  Not to say I didn’t enjoy, it’s Meg Cabot.  Breezy, clever and with a heroine you really can’t stand yet grow to like anyway.  The narrator also struggled with the male lead voices sounding too similar and had a bad habit of turning the ends of sentences into half-laughs.  But Crack Cabot will always suck you back in.

Best Do Over Series – Jacky Faber series, Under the Jolly Roger by L.A. Meyer, narrated by Katherine Kellgren.  Loved reading the books and then saw a recent title was up for an Odessy Award.  Clearly.  Kellgren is Jacky Faber and is pitch perfect with various British accents and makes every moment tense, hilarious and exhilarating.  Definitely one I found myself sitting in the car long after I’d parked.  I wish I would have found this on audio from the beginning.

DNF Liar by Justine Larbalestier, narrated by Channie Waites. Didn’t get into this one but it’s this month book club so I’ll try reading it instead.

Best in Kidslit AudioEmma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree, Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell in Love by Lauren Tarshis, narrated by Mamie Gummer.  Love Emma-Jean and love Mamie Gummer.  She has Emma-Jean’s voice down and also handles the other characters wonderfully. Gummer is the gorgeous daughter of Meryl Strep so, obviously.  Best three hours you could spend.
Honorable Mention: The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan, narrated by David Pittu

Most DrowsyThe Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, narrated by Del Roy.  Don’t get me wrong, Del Roy has an amazing voice and I could see younger child being drawn in by his grandfatherly tone.  But this was a long audiobook, 13+ hours and driving home at night it didn’t keep my attention or my eyes open. 

Most Likely to Keep You Up At NightDead and Gone by Charlaine Harris, narrated by Johanna Parker.  Holy torture Batman! But seriously if I had read this I probably wouldn’t have slept either.  The story is more brutal and graphic than Harris’ other Sookie books but I’ve read her other series and she goes there so I wasn’t too shocked.  Parker at least has a better Louisiana accent than Anna Paquin so there’s that.

Best Do OverShades of Grey by Jasper Fforde, narrated by John Lee.  I had the book for almost two months and couldn’t get past the second chapter.  Made me sad because I love Fforde and determined to give it another go, I listened.  Best idea ever.  Having a Brit read it to me made the surreal and confusion world of High Saffron solidify. 

Honorable Mention: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, narrated byAllan Corduner. Death never sounded so good.  Nation (see below)

Best OverallNation by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs.  If Stephen Briggs comes out with a disc of him reading the phonebook, you get it.  He’s simply incredible and if you ever want to see me laugh so hard to stop breathing, play him reading the Nac Mac Feegle in The Wee Free Men and prepare yourself.  Nation is more subdued, more sophisticated than Pratchett’s other work but still gorgeous and heartbreaking.  So glad I gave it another go on audio.

Honorable Mention: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, read by the author.  Another canidate for Phonebook Reader of the Year.

Reading Challenge 2010 – Midpoint Rally

I spent all weekend at the fabulous Wordcamp Chicago and feel shamed by everyone else’s awesome blogs to get mine in gear and not treat it like a red-headed stepchild. I swear litfromthewastland if it wasn’t for you I’d be nothing, even though I forget your name all the time.

Last year in honor of my spiffy new Goodreads account I decided to challenge myself to read 100 books in a year.  I limited myself to chapter books, aka no picture books although graphic novels counted and were relied heavily upon toward the end.  I made it, barely with 109 that included a few DNFs – did not finishes.  Hey, it’s a readers right to abandon books.

This year I didn’t have a specific number but I wanted to beat my 109.  As of today I’m at 79, well on my way to 100+.  Yes there’s a picture book or two in the mix but there is also some really good stuff, some very mediocre stuff and yes, a DNF.  But for today, we’ll stick with the good, specifically the graphic novels.

I have read some fantastic graphic novels this year, maybe of all time. I continued with Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series and read my favorite so far, A Game of You.  It had everything a good books should, it transported me, it captivated me, it damn well broke my heart, never apologized and then said, call you in the morning.  And I answered the phone.  The Dream Hunters was written as stand-alone story to mark Sandman’s 10 year anniversary.  More of an illustrated story than a graphic novel it still worked its delicious, tempestuous, bittersweet and ultimately redemptive magic.  Yoshitaka Amano’s art is even more devastating and haunting than Gaiman’s words which should be impossible.  But what can I say, Gaiman owns my soul.

George O’Connor decided to start a graphic novel series based on Greek gods and myths and he made a good call.  Zeus, King of the Gods has incredible art that let’s you see the immensity of the Titans, the vastness of Gaia and the terrible violence in creation of the world.  O’Connor also had some sly moments of humanizing Zeus, turning him into a kind of super star quarterback making this a great read for YAs suffering through Survey Lit – Greek Gods.  He also hits home just how much of our modern language and literature is rooted in Greek myth.

Speaking of myths and magic, Cairo.  With so much story going on and characters everywhere its hard to describe how this works, why it works or even what it’s about.  Just know it’s great piece of storytelling, a (cliché upcoming) modern fable, fantastic as it is realistic.  Like I said, it’s beyond explanation, only experience.

And Kirkman continues to go there in his Walking Dead series.  The AMC show looks like it will be fabulous and not sucky.  Thank you AMC for not FOXing this one.

Other Top Notable Graphic Novels – Mercury by Hope Larson, Nightschool series by Svetlana Chnakova, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by way of Eric Shanower and Skottie Young, and lastly but not leastly, Calamity Jack by Shannon Hale and other assorted Hales.  Please, if you do anything, read Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack.  Too much fun and too much awesome.  Hope the Hale team is thinking of another set of traditional folk rhymes to make into fabulous graphic novels.

I’ll save the good, bad and ugly textual books for another day.  Soon, I promise.  Don’t look at me like that blog!  I love you.

My reading challenge update…

The year is halfway gone so I wanted to evaluate progress on my 100 books in a year challenge.

On my ever helpful Goodreads page I have tagged 64 books as “2009.”  Of those, 20 are adult books, 37 youth (kid and YA), 8 graphic novels, 2 did not finish and 5 that I am currently reading.  Yes that does not equal 64, I cross tag certain books. 

I am continuely suprised that I don’t finish books as fast as I think I do.  True I read some books faster, like Nora Roberts or Meg Cabot because its delightful yet mindless drivel.  And I have a habit of retiring books if I can’t get into them *cough* Ghostgirl *cough*.  I wonder if the challenge is taking a toll on my reading habits.  I pressure myself to finish so I can move on to the next book, get that next notch. 

I need to read 36 more before December 31.  Things should start picking up now I read all the Printz books I wanted to and am moving on to the Caudill nominees for this year.  I started with Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life which was amazing.  I have two more that came in this week so I might get to them this weekend.  But first I have to get my Matt Cruse fix.  Kenneth Oppel and his Airborn series might be my new favorite Potter replacement.  Adventure, mystery, like our world but not quite.  And it has this Steampunk vibe that is very cool.  Probably stay up tonight and finish it, my last nod to summer break.

Wouldn’t Colin Morgan from Merlin make a great Matt Cruse?  Sure he’s bit old but he plays the skinny and awkward, yet smart and sensitive so well. 

colin morgan