The Rest Of The Mini Reviews

This week has been a BAD blogging week for me. Not because I’m in a bad mood or because I don’t feel like blogging, just because I’ve been very busy with work. And the migraines have been killer. But the good news is I’ve been migraine free for 2 days now! Yay! May have something to do with the new “all natural” diet I’m doing or it may have something to do with the new Magnesium supplements I’m taking….don’t know. But whatever it is, it’s good. I wanted to get my last 4 mini reviews up though before NaNoWriMo starts on Sunday!! Because, let’s face it, there won’t be much time for reading or reviewing come November :p I will be blogging though and keeping everyone updated on my progress! As far as mini animals, lets have mini dogs instead of mini cats this time for us dog people:

loldog1The first book up for review today is The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo. This is the other book aside from Between Mom and Jo that will make my favorite reads of the year. I’ve loved everything that DiCamillo has written. Everyone who is a regular reader of this blog knows that I love her books. She has this beautiful, magical quality to all of her books that is so endearing and special, but she tops even her best with this one. To put it shortly, The Magician’s Elephant is about a young boy who is living with his grouchy and overbearing (to put it lightly) uncle, who longs for his sister that he believes to be dead. That is, until he meets a fortune teller that tells him that his sister is alive and he will find her by following an elephant who will lead him to her. Of course this makes no sense to him until he hears of a magician who causes an elephant to fall through the roof of an opera house onto the lap of woman, paralyzing her, when he meant only for a bouquet of lillies to fall from the sky.

From the synopsis, you may gather that the story is meant to be comical, but it is not. It’s actually quiet a somber and melancholy story that evokes shades of grey and feelings of a cold winter. With an ending that warms your heart and tears it to shreds all at once. A thing that DiCamillo does so well. That bittersweet thing. Her story is accompanied by gorgeous black and white illustrations by Yoko Tanaka that I absolutely loved. She always has some of the most amazing illustrators working with her. I’ll forever be a fan of DiCamillo’s. At this point, I’m convinced that she can do no wrong!

Second up is The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling. I had put off reading this book for SO LONG!! The reason being, I 2did not want the Harry Potter universe to come to a close for me. I know that I can always go back and reread the books, but I didn’t want to run out of new material. And while these stories don’t directly take place in Harry’s time and place, there are echoes of that time there. The Tales of Beedle the Bard is actually a book that the students at Hogwarts might read! It’s a book of folktales for wizards and witches and it’s enchanting to say the least.

J.K. Rowling can write a mean folktale and I really hope that she revisits this type of book. I think my favorite story of all them was the one that actually did not involve any magic, The Fountain of Fair Fortune, but of course, you’re going to have to read it to see what I mean 😉 I think all of these are very applicable to us as humans as well 😉 And there are lessons to be learned for all. What I loved most about this book is the commentary by Dumbledore at the end of each story. It was so nice to hear his voice again! My only complaint about this book was that it wasn’t longer. As I said, I could’ve read many more and I hope Rowling decides down the road to write some more!

3I read Fables Vol. 4 – March of the Wooden Soldiers and as always, I don’t really know how to talk about it!! It’s difficult talking about a book in the middle of a series, much less a graphic novel that’s really just one continuation of a story. What I can say is that I see Willingham just taking the plot to a darker and darker place, which personally, I like. For anyone not reading Fables yet, you really should jump on the bandwagon! It’s such an inventive series and portrays fairy tale characters in a way I’ve never seen before. He keeps their original roles and puts his own spin on them, bringing them into the modern world and mixing them in to our own society in a way that just works. What I love most about Willingham is his bravery as an author. He’s not afraid to “go there”…and “go there” he does. There are so many times that he takes a beloved character and does something horrible to them! And he doesn’t hesitate. Not that I’m saying that I think every great character in literature should die or have something horrible happen to them, but the characters in Fables are at war. And in war, there are not happy endings for everyone. Yet some authors create happy endings for all of their main characters and I just don’t find that to be realistic. This one also left me with a big enough cliff hanger that I HAD to break my book buying ban and go out to buy Volume 5 right away :p (which I still haven’t read :/)

4Finally, I read Pictures for Sad Children by John Campbell and I really need to reread this one. You see, I read it at 3 in the morning when I was half asleep, so it really didn’t do much for me. I think the reason being, it’s not very plot based. It’s more of a cute (in a sort of sick/the world is not a happy place/this is life, deal with it kind of way) book that’s meant to give a few laughs, make some commentary and entertain. And I love it for what it is. In fact, I bought the book because I love the creator’s blog, Goodbye, Foom so much. There is somewhat of a plot here, and that is that a man has een hit by a car and killed and has returned as a ghost, seeking his job back. And from there, he mingles with humanity as a ghost. And I promise that it’s SO SO much better than I’m making it out to be. Just go read his blog and you’ll get an idea of his comics. They truly are wonderful things.

Ok!! All caught up now!! I feel so much better now. As for what I’m STILL reading. I’m STILL reading all of my pre-readathon books which include Her Fearful Symmetry, Gil’s All Fright Diner, 20th Century Ghosts, and The Wild Things. Isn’t that sad? Hopefully I’ll be finished them by the end of November! The one good thing is that they’re all fantastic! Just no time to read lately 😦

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Mini Reviews Part 1

I have 7 reviews to write up following the read-a-thon, so you’re going to get them in mini-format 🙂 Because everything is just cuter in mini-format, isn’t it?

tinykittyMost of these reviews will probably only be about a paragraph long. I’ll give you three reviews today and four tomorrow! So let’s get talking about some books!!

betweenFirst up is one of my favorite reads of the year. It’s called Between Mom and Jo and it’s written by Julie Anne Peters. Sadly, it was a library book, so I had to return it. But I may end up doing like Amanda, the lovely person who recommended it to me, and buying a copy for my permanent shelves. The book focuses on a young boy named Nick who is finding his way through adolescence while growing up in a house with two lesbian mothers who are trying to find their way through adulthood. While Nick struggles with the normal questions of adolescence – namely, his sexuality, his relationship with his parents, his body, he also has to struggle with the teasing he gets from his classmates for having two mom’s. Though he comes to accept it and deals with it fairly well in my opinion, he has a much harder time dealing with the turmoil that his parents put him through. His biological mother and his other mother, Jo are not getting along. His bio mom can be a bit over controlling and too the book due to her own past and her parents unacceptance of her choices in life, while his other mother, Jo has a serious problem with alcohol and cannot hold down a job and nor can she control her mouth at times. Nick is often put into situations that no child should be put in because of this dynamic and it ultimately ends up in a heartbreaking turn of events.

I can’t tell you how good this book was. I think it was an extremely honest portrayal of growing up in a familiy with same gendered parents. Now I must say that I’ve never known anyone with same gendered parents, but this book didn’t seem to use that idea as a gimmick. The relationship was real. I never looked as the characters as “lesbians”, I looked at them as two people in love at times and at each others throats at times. It really was a heartbreaking love story and a heartbreaking coming of age story all wrapped into one. I loved Nick’s character as well. What a fantastic kid he was. I could actually relate to him quite a bit even though I didn’t go through half of what he went through. I think he was a great portrayal of any 14 year old boy who’s been confused and lost in his life. I may come back and do a full review of this one…I have so much to say about it. But I’ll leave at this for now….read it!

Next up is Rose by Jeff Smith and Illustrated by the wonderful Charles Vess. Debi sent this to me awhile back and I love her for rosethat!! Well, I love Debi for many things, and this is one very little thing of MANY! This is actually a prequel to the Bone graphic novel series and if you haven’t read that yet, then what are you waiting for?? This can most definitely be read as a standalone book. It’s the story of Rose and her sister Briar, and the process of them learning to cultivate their powers as a dreamer so that one of them can take their place as a prophet who will assure their kingdom’s safety. Rose, however has the sight while her sister Briar, the ice queen, does not and this causes quite a bit of jealousy between the two sisters. And we all know that jealousy can be dangerous!!

I have to say that I didn’t like this one as much as Bone, but I still really enjoyed it. And it was so neat to see Rose as a younger character! She’s actually the grandmother in Bone 🙂 The art was just absolutely gorgeous and it was nothing less than what I expected. Charles Vess is one of my very favorite artists and you’ve heard me rave about him before here. He shines brightest when he’s doing this type of fantasy work. I just love it. Especially the gorgeous dragons that he creates!

sometimesThe final book that I’m reviewing today was just a gem! It’s a collection of poetry called Sometimes my Heart Pushes my Ribs by Ellen Kennedy. My disclaimer is that I don’t know crap about poetry so pay no attention as I try to talk about it. What I do know is how I experience poetry and the emotions that I go through as I read them, and the emotions that I felt while reading these were mostly warm fuzzies, love, melancholy and at times disgust. And those are all emotions that I love to have evoked by literature in general. Ellen Kennedy’s poetry is a type of pop poetry, I guess you would call it. It’s very modern and I imagine her to be this super cool person with really great taste in music. The collection starts off with a bizarre piece of free verse poetic prose that features Woody Allen and Ned Vizinni having sex and the death of Moby. Truly bizarre. I didn’t know what to think of this one. But then she gets into some fantastic poetry that I just loved and wanted to scribble all over my walls (and probably would have if I were a teenager). Here’s one of my favorites:

Orange

I wish my life consisted only of
riding my bike with you
down a giant hill that never stopped
while listening to music
with no one else around
in the middle of nothing,
except a few shiny and relaxing lights above in the sky
like stars but a little brighter
and more orange

Later in the book there’s a poem called Shit Poem that well, disturbed the shit out of me, and I’m guessing that is exactly what it was supposed to do. It actually reminded me quite a bit of Charlotte Roche’s novel, Wetlands, which I loved and read earlier this year. I love things that make me wince while reading them, but if you don’t, you may want to just skip that poem. Aside from that one, this is such a fantastic collection and I hope that people check it out! Thanks to bookfool for the recommendation!

The Uh-Oh! Bad Bloggers Post

It’s Debi’s fault!! Actually, I can’t blame Debi at all :p She told me NOT to buy books but I did not listen to her :/ No, I did not. Actually, I coaxed her into telling me I can buy just one little book and what did I do? I bouth THREE!! #chrisfail 😦 This all started over a football game. Said football game ended in both Debi and I offending many people on twitter, I’m sure, with our many expletives. You see, Debi cheers for the Dolphins, I of course, cheer for the Saints. And they played each other yesterday. And it was one HELL of a game with emotions flying all over the place. I told Debi that I was going to need to go spend $50 on books to stabilize myself and we made a deal. If the Saints lost, I could buy books. If they won, I could not. Well we won…and I somehow still managed to talk her into letting me buy ONE book….but I bought three…..god I’m a horrible person T_T Oh, but the books are so good!! Oh wait…#megachrisfail. I’m actually realizing that four of the books in my loot this week were bought by me because I accidentally bought Pictures for Sad Chilren….I swear it was an accident though…long story. I was supporting a fellow blogger and didn’t realize until after I purchased it that I was on a ban!

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You can click the pic to enbiggen it of course!

1. Fables Vol. 5 – The Mean Seasons by Bill Willingham – So this is the first one that I bought tonight! I just had to have this one after last night!! During the readathon I read volume 4, March of the Wooden Soldiers and after that last panel, I just couldn’t wait to see what happened next….though in all likelihood this will wait on my shelf for awhile :p But we can hope that it won’t! (bought)

2. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest – So. Freaking. Excited. about this book!!!! Seriously! Amazingly excited about this book! I’ve been looking forward to this one since it was first announced. In fact, I really can’t contain myself over this one. Cherie Priest is one of those authors that I just fell in love with immediately after reading Four and Twenty Blackbirds. She’s so amazing. (bought)

3. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld – It seems I’m in a steampunk mood, huh? This book is OMG gorgeous! I’m so glad that I picked this one up!! And I don’t think I would have it wouldn’t have been for the recent flood of publicity on it! I think the review that finally sold it to me was Kailana’s. Yep, definitely her’s, so she’s getting a point for it. I can’t stop looking at this book!!(bought)

4. Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters – I’ve been wanting to read this one forever! It’s been on my wishlist ever since Eva reviewed it ages ago. She wrote a wonderful review of it. I’m sorry I’m not linking to reviews here :/ I’m too lazy post readathon. But I assure you her review is wonderful 🙂 And thanks to Paperback Swap, I’ll finally get to read it! Point for Eva! (PaperbackSwap)

5. Pictures for Sad Children by John Campbell – I actually read this one for the Read-a-Thon yesterday! It was my last book and it was horribly adorable! It’s from the blog, Goodbye, Foom and it’s probably my favorite web comic! I think it would be great if you hopped on over to his site and supported him by picking up a copy of his book!! He’s an independent comic artist who self published this book, so you can’t get it anywhere else. If you want to see what his comics are like, just check out his awesome blog 🙂 (bought)

Bad, bad chris this week :/ So now I really need to catch up on reviews!!! I have 7 to write so far, and I’m still in the middle of my four books that I was reading pre-readathon and should finish those soon. Sheesh! I’m just going to write a bunch of mini-reviews. I remember those going over really well last time. As per the rules and Eva’s suggestion :p I’m giving away one of my own TBR books for each book that I bought. I’ll add them either to my PBS or Bookmooch inventory. I’ve gotta keep the TBR balanced at least!! No more ADDING to the pile. If I’m going to add, then I need to take away too! Have a great week everyone! I’ll be back soon with some reviews.

The Read-A-Thon Hangover Post

Ah…it felt SO good to sleep. :p I threw in the towel at about 3:30 this morning with three and a half hours to go in the read-a-thon. I didn’t actually go to bed until about five, but I just couldn’t read anymore. It was making my eyes shut. But I was quite happy with myself yesterday!! I read 7 books!! And 1200 pages!! And I got a tarot card reading from Jason! And I won my first ever prize during the readathon! I’d say it was a huge success. As for today, I plan on sitting on my ass yet again and watching the Saints kick the Dolphins’ ass. And then maybe hanging out with a friend tonight because I’m off of work tomorrow!! I thought I’d go ahead and do the read-a-thon End of Event Questionairre, so here are my answers:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

I had 2 hours that were really bad..the first was around 5 pm…I got a killer headache and that was when the first wave of tiredness cam, the second hour was about 3 o’clock…I finally had to throw in the towel then :p

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

Definitely, The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo and Between Mom and Jo by Julie Ann Peters were certainly my favorites and excellent readathon books!!

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

For the most part, I think it ran super smoothly!!

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

The cheerleaders were so good!!! Seriously, I got so many wonderful comments that kept me going when I was wearing down :p They really perked me up. There was a lot of variety in the mini-challenges so there was a lot to choose from. It was just fun!

5. How many books did you read?

7!

6. What were the names of the books you read?

Between Mom and Jo by Julie Anne Peters, Sometimes My Heart Pushes My Ribs by Ellen Kennedy, Rose by Jeff Smith, The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling, The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo, Fables Vol. 4 by Bill Willingham, Picture for Sad Children by John Campbell

7. Which book did you enjoy most?

The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

8. Which did you enjoy least?

Probably Pictures for Sad Children and that’s ONLY because I was falling asleep while reading it :/ It was super cute though and I love the blog that it comes from!!

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

Wasn’t a cheerleader.

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

Oh, I’ll always participate :p I love doing this too much. I’ll probably just be a reader again. I don’t know how you all do multiple roles!!

Dewey's Read-A-Thon Update #10

Currently Reading: Nothing

Total pages read: 197

Total pages read cumulative: 1,188

Total books read: 7 (Between Mom and Jo by Julie Anne Peters, Sometimes My Heart Pushes My Ribs by Ellen Kennedy, Rose by Jeff Smith, The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling, The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo, Fables Vol. 4 by Bill Willingham, Picture for Sad Children by John Campbell)

Time spent reading: 1 Hour

Total Time Spent Reading: 9 Hours 35 Minutes

Caffeinated drinks consumed: 3

Money going to NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program: $118.80

Progress Report:

I started to read Skellig and just couldn’t do it :/ Novels aren’t working for me right now, so I read one more graphic novel, Pictures for Sad Children which is actually a webcomic from the blog Goodbye, Foom. I bought the book version. And I’m afraid, my dears, that it’s going to be my last read for this read-a-thon! But I’m quite happy with my numbers and I’m quite happy with the day. I’d call it a big success. I want to say a humongous thank you to everyone who spent many hard hours putting this thing together and keeping it alive in Dewey’s honor!! It means so much to all of us who look forward to this all year!! And thank you so much to the wonderful cheerleaders this year and to everyone who stopped by my blog to leave me some wonderful comments 😀 Oh! I almost forgot!! I have to give away a copy of The Magician’s Elephant!! Looks like the winner is Megan at Leafing Through Life 😀 Yay!! Megan’s one of my favorite bloggers and I always feel awful because I just lurk over there most of the time 😦 So I’m glad I can send this gift to her!! Send me your address Megan so I can get it out to you!! My email is chrisa511(at)gmail(dot)com.

Thanks again everyone!!! To those staying up for the next 4 hours…good luck!!! Goodnight everyone 🙂

Dewey's Read-A-Thon Update #9

Currently Reading: Skellig by David Almond

Total pages read: 131

Total pages read cumulative: 991

Total books read: 6 (Between Mom and Jo by Julie Anne Peters, Sometimes My Heart Pushes My Ribs by Ellen Kennedy, Rose by Jeff Smith, The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling, The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo, Fables Vol. 4 by Bill Willingham)

Time spent reading: 1 Hour 15 Minutes

Total Time Spent Reading: 8 Hours 35 Minutes

Caffeinated drinks consumed: 3 (Iced Mocha, 2 Cokes)

Money going to NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program: $99.10

Progress Report:

Looks like I’m going to hit the 1,000 page mark again! I really didn’t think I was going to do it this time, but somehow it looks like this is going to be my best readathon yet as far as page count goes. I’m getting sleepy again…anyone else out there feeling the frequent yawns coming on? I LOVED Fables Vol. 4…I can’t believe what Bill Willingham puts his readers through!! Oh yeah…he goes there. Now I wish I had volume 5 with me!! Looks like random.org has picked Skellig by David Almond as my next read!! Yay!! I get to read a Printz book and I finally get to read some David Almond 🙂

Dewey's Read-A-Thon Update #8

Currently Reading: Fables Vol. 4: March of the Wooden Soldiers by Bill Willingham

Total pages read: 100

Total pages read cumulative: 860

Total books read: 5 (Between Mom and Jo by Julie Anne Peters, Sometimes My Heart Pushes My Ribs by Ellen Kennedy, Rose by Jeff Smith, The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling, The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo)

Time spent reading: 50 Minutes

Total Time Spent Reading: 7 Hours 20 Minutes

Caffeinated drinks consumed: 3 (Iced Mocha, 2 Cokes)

Money going to NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program: $86.00

Progress Report:

Well that was nice!! I just sat in the tub for the last 50 minutes and took a nice warm bath with my book and a LUSH bath bomb! Yeah, I’m a guy and I’m a sucker for baths :p Does anyone else use LUSH’s stuff? I discovered these bathbomb things through Neil Gaiman and they’re awesome!! The one I used tonight is called So White and smells really good :p

Enjoying Fables so far as always! But this is quite a big volume of Fables! It alway takes me a little longer to read Fables than it does most graphic novels. There’s much more to the story and I just love that fact! I’m going to take a quick break and eat a burrito (yeah, keeping it healthy here :pp <—-Nymeth’s new double tounge smiley) and then I’ll be back to reading.