RIP II Wrap-Up

So it’s time to bring Carl’s RIP II Challenge to an end and I have to thank him for once again putting together such an incredible challenge and being such an incredible host. This challenge certainly added to my enjoyment of this Halloween season and I’ve read a few books that I’m sure will become a Halloween tradition. Here’s what I read:

1. Dracula by Bram Stoker
2. Renfield: Slave of Dracula by Barbara Hambly
3. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
4. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
5. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
6. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
7. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
8. The Homecoming by Ray Bradbury
9. Surrender by Sonya Hartnett
10. Edgar & Ellen: Rare Beasts by Charles Ogden
11. Edgar & Ellen: Tourist Trap by Charles Ogden
12. Wizards: Magical Tales From The Masters of Modern Fantasy
13. The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

Click on any of the above highlighted in blue for my review. I’m sure you’ll see a few repeats from the above list on my top books of 2007 list. So it’s time for this one to come to a close. I’ll spend the rest of my Halloween in bed watching the Halloween marathon on AMC. I’ve enjoyed reading through this challenge with everyone! Happy Halloween!!

Tomorrow I’ll be posting my picks for a new challenge hosted by none other than Annie! It’s a great one!


The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

I decided to close the RIP II challenge with The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury after having it recommended to me by so many people. Like Debi, I can definitely see this one becoming a Halloween tradition. This is my third Bradbury for the RIP challenge and if there was more than just 6 hours left to the challenge I’d read more! There’s a certain honesty to Bradbury’s writing. The Halloween Tree exudes memories of Halloween as a child. I fell back into my childhood when reading this one and that chill in the air on Halloween night came alive. He did the same thing with Something Wicked This Way Comes. He truly has a gift for capturing the spirit of the fantastic.

The Halloween Tree is the tale of 9 boys and their adventure through the history of Halloween throughout the world. A group of friends gather on Halloween night, dressed in their costumes, to meet their friend Pipkin for trick-or-treating. Pipkin isn’t looking right but sends his friends on their way and tells them to meet him at a house at the end of town…he’ll be there soon dressed in his costume. They arrive at a house that’s shroud in mystery and after knocking on the door things get strange. They discover a tree…a Halloween Tree that is lit up with hundreds of jackolanterns. A man rises from the leaves surrounding the tree…he’s the owner of the house, named Mr. Moundshroud.

Pipkin finally comes running to catch up with his friends when he’s swept up by a dark cloud and disappears. Mr. Moundshroud leads the remaining 8 friends on a chase through Halloween traditions celebrated the world over. There journey starts in Ancient Egypt where they witness the traditions associated with Osiris and continues all the way through Mexico’s Day of the Dead. In between they visit the gargoyles of Notre Dame and the Druid god, Samhain to name a couple. They travel through all these places to find their friend, Pip, while learning about the traditions associated with their costumes along the way.

There’s also a wonderful theme of friendship throughout this book and that’s a theme that is seen in everything I’ve read of Bradbury’s. He writes such heartwarming stories in the midst of such creepy stories. The ending to this book is quite endearing and well worth the read just for that.

A favorite line: “When you reach the stars, boy, yes, and live there forever, all the fears will go, and Death himself will die.” I thought that was just beautiful. A bit morbid that it should be my favorite line, but the words are just perfect.

Last but not least, the cover of this book is fantastic! May be my favorite cover of the year. If you enbiggen (stole that word from bookfool 😉 the picture, the skull is actually made up of the halloween tree and the 8 boys in the book in their costumes! Genius!

I also finished Wizards, which I’m not going to do a full review on because I’m lazy :p I wasn’t overly impressed with it. I loved Neil Gaiman’s story, The Witch’s Headstone and Orson Scott Card’s story, Stonefather, was amazing, but aside from that there were 2 or 3 others that I really enjoyed but nothing else really stood out. My problem with reading anthologies is that I’m thrown off by all of the different styles of writing. If I’m reading one author’s anthology, that’s fine because I can grow accustomed to their style. But with these anthologies, the style changes from story to story and I lose interest and the stories aren’t long enough for me to really gain interest. Unless they’re really good, which a few were. With Gaiman and Card, I was familiar with their styles, so those I enjoyed.

Anyway, The Halloween Tree…Read it!

A War of Gifts by Orson Scott Card

I’ve been waiting patiently for two years for this book to come out and I must say that it far surpassed my expectations. Many Orson Scott Card fans were disappointed that we weren’t getting our “Christmas at Battle School” story last year for Christmas, but it was well worth the wait and Uncle Orson has given all of his readers a wonderful gift indeed with this new addition to the Ender saga.

A War of Gifts is much more than just the story of Christmas at battle school. It is a story of human connections, the spirit of a child, and a story of facing that moment where the spirit of a child begins to awaken into an adult. The story takes place at battle school during the events of Card’s novel Ender’s Game. A new child by the name of Zeck has been drafted into the army. Zeck is the child of a minister who claims to be somewhat of a vessel through which God speaks to his congregation. Zeck has been raised in a home where he has been brainwashed against any form of popular culture and is often beaten by his father as a way to cleanse his soul. Zeck’s father preaches that Santa Claus is the creation of Satan and is nothing but a false idol paraded to children. Zeck also has a very special gift of being able to memorize anything he hears and is highly intelligent. He’s recruited by battle school and is taken against his will…for battle school does not allow the expression of religion for the sake of uniformity.

On Sinterklaas Eve, a young boy in battle school leaves his shoes out in the hope that Sinterklaas will leave him a present and another child soldier in battle school notices the gesture and tries to fulfill the boys wish. Zeck sees this and reports it to the commanders as expression of religion in the hopes that others will turn against him and he can be sent home where he can once again practice his religion. But what escalates is beyond what he had planned for.

This book was just perfect and fans of the Ender series will love it. If you’ve never read a single book in the Ender series, you’ll love this book. You don’t have to have read any of the other books to enjoy this one. It’s a short one at just 126 pages and I’d recommend it to be on anyone’s holiday list. Of course, I’m just a bit partial to Orson Scott Card 😉 But it’s a great book!

You’d All Be So Proud…

I went to Barnes and Noble after work today with the intention of buying the new Orson Scott Card book that came out today, War of Gifts, and guess what…I bought it and it was the only book I bought! For those who have read my blog for awhile, you will know that it’s a rare occasion that I walk out of a bookstore with only the book that I intended to leave with. It’s usually at least a $50 bill. But today, it was only $10.14 with my member discount 🙂

Oh sure, there were plenty of distractions along the way. As soon as I walked in I was greeted by the beautiful new edition of War and Peace that Dark Orpheus made me aware of. So I drooled over that one for a little while and then put it back on the display slightly more damp than it was before. But I will be buying that one next year. I want to read some more Tolstoy and that edition is just to nice to pass up!

Then I pass the huge dark fantasy/horror display…now how I managed to get past this one without taking any home is beyond me…I just kept saying “no!” Of course now they have a bajillion copies of The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury now that I’ve gone and ordered it off of Amazon since I couldn’t find it there the other night. So if it doesn’t arrive from Amazon by tomorrow, I now know that I can go buy the $5.50 copy at B&N for my Halloween night reading pleasure.

So basically, I found a bunch of books that I’ll be buying eventually anyway, but the important thing is that I didn’t blow my whole paycheck today! Maybe the kid is finally learning how to control spending habits…er, yeah, that’s it….

I was very happy to find War of Gifts though! I was preparing myself for disappointment. My poor favorite author never gets the attention he deserves on the day his books are released. So I went to the Sci-Fi section and sure enough there were none there…I kept looking and as I was about to give up I saw a huge pile of the books by the front door! I’m guessing this one actually got some promotion because it’s an Ender story. It’s a cool little book and I’m sure I’ll read all of it’s 126 pages tonight. It’s what all of us Ender fans have been referring to as “Christmas in Battle School” for the last 2 or 3 years. And that’s what it is. It’s the story of Christmas (which is banned) during the events of Ender’s Game.

In other news, I’m waiting to the very last minute to post my RIP wrap-up because I want to squeeze in The Halloween Tree tomorrow night. I’m also reading Rebecca right now, which is amazing, but I’m only about 200 pages in, so I doubt I’ll finish that by tomorrow with the new Orson Scott Card and The Halloween Tree to read. So that one will count as a November read. But I have completed the RIP Challenge and have read 11 books so far. I have one more short story in the Wizards anthology which I’ll probably read tonight which will bring me up to 12. That’s all my book news for the day!

F@#%ing SPAMers

I can’t stand SPAM…it aggravates me more than anything. Not so much in my email, because I can just delete it, but now they’re attacking my blog posts. I have comments all over the place that say “Qbo2il Great Bl4G!” from “Finance House” and such…Get the bleep off my blog. So, unfortunately I had to add the word verification thing to my comments. Sorry guys. It’s the only way to keep the spammers out. I was thinking of just changing my blog address to a WordPress blog because I had been thinking of doing that lately, but when I was checking it out I decided I like good old Blogger and I’m just going to stay here. I’ll just have to moderate comments more. Seriously though, SPAMers need to get a life. Like anyone’s going to click on that shit and say “oh, this looks like a great company that’s totally legit, let me finance my house through them!” Get a life…

In other news, I made it through week three of the job and things are still going great! I’ve actually started seeing a few clients and a few parents and more importantly than anything, the first paycheck arrived today 🙂 Migraines have been worse than ever this month for some reason (guessing it’s new job stress) and today’s just about wiped me out! I’m on serious dosages of pain meds right now and can still feel the headache sitting their underneath it all. Hopefully it goes away soon. I have an appointment with my neurologist in a couple of weeks, so I’ll talk to her about it.

I won a book from Eva!! She gave away 4 books to people who had commented during her participation in the 24 hour read-a-thon and I won the 4th book! So I’ll be getting a copy of Marked soon which I’ve been wanting to read ever since Stephanie’s review way back when. In the tradition of good karma, I’ll be doing a giveaway too soon…I like to keep things balanced, so when I when a book, I like to give a book! I just have to think of something cool….until then, peace!

And The Days Roll On….

God I hope work picks up…So far I have no referrals…zero, zilch, nada. Today was my second day at the school and I literally spent the entire 7 hour day checking my email over and over and over again. Oh wait, I went to Wendy’s for a half an hour for lunch. Now keep in mind, I’m at an alternative school, so all of these kids most certainly have behavioral problems…I’m just not getting the referrals. If they haven’t come by tomorrow morning, I’m going to ask my supervisor if I can send a memo out to all the teachers letting them know what I do instead of just waiting for referrals from the social worker. That way, if the teachers notice kids who are struggling, they can make referrals to me themselves. Until I get referrals, I have nothing to do and no clients to see.

One good thing that came out of today was that I started brainstorming for NaNoWriMo and I now have a plot, characters, and even a title!! So I started outlining a little bit and I’m really excited about my story now. Looking forward to starting it. It’s a fantasy and the title will be A Sunrise in Nowhere. The story was inspired by a quote I read while I was bored and, well…reading quotes online. Here it is:

No one who, like me, conjures up the most evil of those half-tamed demons that inhabit the human breast, and seeks to wrestle with them, can expect to come through the struggle unscathed.” -Sigmund Freud (From Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, 1905.)

Update: Look who arrived at their new home today!!!

Time For Another Week & Challenge Completed

Here it is, another weekend over. Tomorrow I actually start at my new school so I have those first day nerves all over again. Training is officially over. But I’m sure things will be fine, I’m really not too worried. I know I’ll start the day in good spirits seeing as both LSU and The Saints came away victorious this weekend!! We also have another cool front coming through and we’ve been warned that we may actually need light jackets for this one in the afternoon! How cool (literally :p)

This weekend was tons of fun. It was such a blast following everyone’s progress for Dewey’s 24 hour reading challenge. Congratulations to all of the participants! Everyone blew me away with the amount of time spent reading and the amount of blogging that they did! I’m definitely in next year. I decided to have my own little readathon and got 3 books read this weekend. I read Because of Winn Dixie and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane for the Four Legged Friends Challenge and started Bud, Not Buddy for the Newbery Challenge yesterday. I finished Bud, Not Buddy today which officially ends the Newbery Challenge for me!

Bud, Not Buddy was a great little book. It’s the story of a young boy who’s in foster care after his mother’s death. All of his belongings fit into a suitcase wrapped in twine and include a picture of his mother, some rocks with dates written on them, a blanket, and a photo of a jazz band with a man that he believes to be his father in it. After having horrible luck in his new foster home, Bud runs away in the hopes of finding his father, hoping to finally find acceptance. It was a very endearing story and I was reminded of many of the kids that I’ve worked with while reading this one. A nice ending to the challenge.

I went hunting all over the place today for a copy of Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree after Debi suggested it during the 24 hour Challenge last night but came up empty handed. I’d really like to read that one on Halloween night. So I ordered it on Amazon today in the hopes that it will get here on time. I also got Kate DiCamillo’s new picture book, Great Joy and Jan Siegel’s Prospero’s Children. So I have a new package of books to look forward to sometime soon 😉

Hope everyone has a great week!