The Sunday Salon: 10/23/2011

I expect it to be a quiet day out in blogger land.  The readathon just ended.  I, however, just woke up! I knew it wasn’t feasible to read through the night, so I threw in the towel at midnight.  Some of you may remember I had 50 pages to go in my third book but wasn’t sure if I could make it.  I did!

Total time read: 9 hours, 46 minutes

Total pages read: 752

Books read: I’m Not Her, by Janet Gurtler, The Days of Abandonment, by Elena Ferrante and Hooked, by Catherine Greenman

End of Event Survey

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? Hour 15 when I wasn’t sure if I could finish the last 50 pages of my book before falling asleep.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? YA always does the trick for me!
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? I always answer no to this question.  I like the readathon the way it is!
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I seemed to have a steady stream of cheerleaders, so that was nice.
  5. How many books did you read? 3
  6. What were the names of the books you read? Hooked, I’m Not Her and The Days of Abandonment
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? They were all good, but probably I’m Not Her.
  8. Which did you enjoy least? They were all great!
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? N/A
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I will always be a reader.  I try to participate in every readathon, but it just depends on the date!

I plan to spend the rest of today working and hanging out with my family.  Not sure if there will be any reading involved–I may need a break after yesterday! Fill me in on your stats from the ‘thon!

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Readathon!! It’s Here!

5th and Final Update, 10:56pm EST***

Number of Pages Read since last update: 184

Number of Books read since last update: N/A

Number of Minutes Read since last update: 2 hours, 14 minutes

Total Number of Pages Read: 694

Total Number of Books Read: 2.5

Total Number of Minutes Read: 9 hours, 01 minute
I think I am about to throw in the towel.  I have about 50 pages left in my current book but all of a sudden fatigue has enveloped me.  I am in bed now and will read as much as I can before the inevitable happens.  Overall, I am happy with how far I have gotten, but if I can crank the rest of this book out that will be an added treat.  For all of you still going strong, keep it up!!

Mid Event Survey

1. What are you reading right now? Hooked, by Catherine Greenman
2. How many books have you read so far? I am midway through my third book.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? This one may be my last.  I will have to see how long it takes me to finish it.
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? I actually requested the day off of work! My husband took my stepdaughter over to his parent’s house all afternoon to give me some peace and quiet.
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? I had three breaks that I had to take.  Two were to swing by my cousin’s place and feed her cats and the other was to go speak with my old boss to get my seasonal job back.  That was successful, so worth it, even though it ate up a good chunk of time.
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? I usually do some unofficial cheerleading but that hasn’t happened this time around.  I have been reading instead!
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Nope, it has always been a ton of fun and it seems to run smoothly, at least from my vantage point!
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? Nothing.  I may not have gotten as much reading done as in readathons past, but I think that I have gotten a good amount of reading done and I’m not feeling burnt out.
9. Are you getting tired yet? Nope.  I’m on my third cup of coffee though.  I will probably stay up another two hours.
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? Just don’t over do it.  It can take the fun out of it and make reading feel like more of a chore.

Update #4, 7:01pm EST***

Number of Pages Read since last update: 75

Number of Books read since last update: The Days of Abandonment, Elena Ferrante

Number of Minutes Read since last update: 1 hour

Total Number of Pages Read: 510

Total Number of Books Read: 2

Total Number of Minutes Read: 6 hours, 47 minutes
My break ended up being two hours instead of one, but nothing can be done about that.  My reading pace has picked up again.  The Days of Abandonment was definitely a novel that required more focus, so it took me longer to read than most books of that size.  I am back on YA now with Hooked, by Catherine Greenman.  I am going to read that until my husband gets home with dinner (Jersey Mike’s! Yum), at which time I will take a short break for dinner and then I plan to continue reading for the rest of the night.

Update #3, 3:53pm EST***

Number of Pages Read since last update: 150

Number of Books read since last update: N/A

Number of Minutes Read since last update: 2 hours, 36 minutes

Total Number of Pages Read: 435

Total Number of Books Read: 1.5

Total Number of Minutes Read: 5 hours, 47 minutes

I have about 30 pages left of The Days of Abandonment, by Elena Ferrante.  It was time to take a break though, both because I was getting restless and also because I have an errand that I have to run.  I doubt it will be more than an hour before I am back to my reading though.  I have no idea what my next book will be but I think after the heaviness of my current book, I may need a lighter read. I hope everyone else is having as much fun as I am!

Update #2, 12:52pm EST***

Number of Pages Read since last update: 122

Number of Books read since last update: I’m Not Her, by Janet Gurtler

Number of Minutes Read since last update: 1 hour, 18 minutes

Total Number of Pages Read: 285

Total Number of Books Read: 1

Total Number of Minutes Read: 3 hours, 11 minutes
I read a little slower this time around because I was trying to read and stuff my face at the same time.  I reheated some leftover pizza for lunch and then had some Ben and Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream.  Now my belly’s full and I am getting back into the swing of things.  My husband and stepdaughter just left too so I will have the house all to myself!

Update #1, 10:55am EST***

Number of Pages Read since last update: 163

Number of Books read since last update: Still in the middle of I’m Not Her, by Janet Gurtler

Number of Minutes Read since last update: 1 hour, 49 minutes

Total Number of Pages Read: 163

Total Number of Books Read: N/A

Total Number of Minutes Read: 1 hour, 49 minutes
I am now off to my cousin’s house to feed her cats, so I’ll be taking a half hour break! I hope everyone else is chugging along 🙂
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My alarm failed to go off this morning but my husband graciously woke me at around 8:45.  So I am only a tad late to the party.  I have my coffee in hand (my first of many I am guessing!) and I am ready to go!

1)Where are you reading from today? Columbus, Ohio
2)Three random facts about me… I am the oldest of four girls. I wake up in the middle of the night to eat sometimes. I am a foot shorter than my husband (I’m 5’5″, he’s 6’5″!)
3)How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? 8 plus my kindle.
4)Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? Nope.  Just to have fun! Although I do hope to finish at least 3 books.
5)If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time? Take breaks.  It is easy to get burnt out, so if you start getting restless, do something else for awhile.

Readathon Prep

It’s here, it’s here, the readathon is (almost) here! I am so excited guys.  I have been eagerly anticipating the readathon for the past few weeks and everything is falling in to place. I have tomorrow off of work and my husband is off too, so although it is our weekend with my stepdaughter, he will be home to entertain her so I can read.

The readathon starts at 9am here and that is usually around the time I wake up, so my plan is to get up as normal, make a big cup of coffee, and settle back down in bed with a good book.  I can guarantee I will not be reading for 24 straight hours.  It just won’t happen.  But I plan to spend all day tomorrow reading and blogging.

I now need to head off to the grocery store to stock up on snacks for tomorrow.  I will probably be a gluttonous lump by the time Sunday rolls around, but it will all be in good fun.  I leave you now with a picture of  my readathon stack!

First off, I have my kindle.  I am not sure what I will be reading off of it, but You Are My Only, by Beth Kephart is definitely on the top of my list of options. The Corn Maiden, by Joyce Carol Oates is also a viable option, because although I don’t normally read short stories, they do come in handy during the readathon!

Practical Jean, by Trevor Cole is part of my pile because I have a blog tour coming up for it at the start of next month!

Ditto for Cloyne Court, by Dodie Katague!

The Days of Abandonment, by Elena Ferrante is pretty short and promises to hold my attention.  Plus sometimes I need something a bit heavier during the readathon tol hold my attention.

I’m Not Her, by Janet Gurtler is part of my stack because I read her other book last week and though it was awesome.  Plus YA is an important part of the readathon diet.

An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green is another great YA addition.

The Truth Teller’s Lie, by Sophie Hannah was added to the pile because I have yet to read a book of hers that I didn’t enjoy.  And a good mystery is always a smart idea for the readathon.

Delirium, by Lauren Oliver is there because I have yet to read a bad review for it!

A Curtain Falls, by Stefanie Pintoff is the second book in a series and because it’s a mystery and the first book was really good, this addition was a no brainer.

So tell me which of these books you have read and whether or not they are good inclusions!

Book Review: If I Tell

If I Tell

Janet Gurtler

Sourcebooks

256 pages

Jasmine is a a teen brimming with angst.  She hasn’t lived a charmed life.  Her mother was just a teenager when she was born and couldn’t handle the responsibility of raising a child so Jasmine was raised by her maternal grandparents.  Jasmine’s father has been out of the picture so she looked up to her grandfather, who died just a few years ago.  Jasmine’s real father is black, so Jasmine is biracial.  Her racial identity is something she has struggled with, so her mom’s black boyfriend Simon has been a major influence in her life, since he is one of the only black people she knows. That’s what makes his behavior that much more hurtful.

Jasmine’s mom recently found out she was pregnant.  The news has come as a shock to everyone, including Simon.  He reacts by going to a party with his teenage brother, where Jasmine spies him making out with her best friend Lacey.  Jasmine’s anger and humiliation is compounded by her mom’s pregnancy, and she has no idea whether to tell her mom the truth about Simon.  The longer she keeps the secret inside, the more she lashes out at those around her, and the rage she feels is painfully apparent.

Jasmine is also forging a relationship with the new guy in town, Jackson, but she has always closed herself off to those around her, and she is pushing him away with all her might.  It was too bad because Jackson was my favorite character in the book.  He is introspective and genuine in a way most high school boys aren’t, and his feelings toward Jasmine were heartfelt.

If I Tell dealt with so many issues that are relevant today, and not even issues that are exclusive to teens.  The racial identity themes were portrayed realistically and I could really understand where she was coming from.  I think this book will speak volumes to anyone that has similar feeling and confusion.  What really interested me about this book though was Jasmine’s struggle about whether to keep Simon’s secret or not.

I am usually pretty black and white when it comes to situations like this.  I would have been unequivocal about the fact that Jasmine should have told her mom the truth.  And for at least the first part of the book, I was silently urging her to spill the beans.  I just feel like honesty is the best policy.  But the further the story went, the more I realized it wasn’t as clear cut as all that.  For one, Jasmine’s mom had a difficult pregnancy, and once the baby was born she suffered from severe post partum depression.  So I started to wonder if maybe it was a secret Jasmine should keep.

If I Tell makes such an impact and is one of the most powerful YA books I have read in a long time.

Other Reviews:

Linus’s Blanket (author interview)

Books, Movies and Chinese Food

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

TLC Blog Tour: Everything We Ever Wanted

Everything We Ever Wanted

Sara Shepard

Harper Paperbacks

352 pages

It’s typical, especially in smaller towns, for there to be a family that is revered above all others, whose wealth and legacy makes them seem special.  The Bates-McAllisters are that family.  Sylvie Bates-McAllister is the granddaughter of Charles Bates, founder of the private school Swithin, and she had also inherited the family estate Roderick, where she now lives as a middle aged widow.  Sylvie and her deceased husband James have two adult sons, Charles and Scott.  Charles is a meek man who keeps everything bottled up.  He is recently married to Joanna and his new marriage is already showing cracks due to Charles’s unwillingness to open up.

Meanwhile, Scott has his own troubles.  He is very a combative, caustic man, a lot of that owing to his adoption.  While Charles is the biological son of James and Sylvie, Scott is not, and has always felt different because of it.  Now Scott is coming under fire because of the apparent suicide of a student at Swithin, where Scott is a wrestling coach.  The headmaster informs Sylvie that there is suspicion that there has been hazing on the wrestling team that may have instigated the suicide and that Scott may be involved in the hazing.  All of a sudden, the reputation that has taken generations to build seems to be shattering right before Sylvie’s eyes.

Everything We Ever Wanted is told by three different people: Sylvie, Joanna and Charles.  At first it was hard to see where the book was going and how the narration of all three characters fit together.  It then started to become clear that the hazing situation, while being a major plot point, was just a fraction of what the book was about.  Instead, it was a great expose on family as well as reputation and what is really important.  Scott quickly became a sympathetic character.  In fact, they all did, but his was the character that I felt the most towards.  He went from being a despicable person to being someone that was tormented by his own demons.  Scott had never been able to forge relationships with the people around him.  He had always felt like an outcast, and that’s the way he was treated.  It was sad; Sylvie had tried her hardest to be a good mother, but she let James dictate the way the bonds were formed in their household and her children suffered because of it.  Everyone became a victim of the circumstances and it wasn’t until James had been dead a few months and the scandal hit that everyone was eventually able to break out of the cycle they had been trapped in and finally reach out to one another.

I was hesitant about this book for the first thirty pages or so.  I couldn’t see myself caring about the characters and I was unsure of where the story would go. I am glad I put aside my doubts and kept on reading because this book actually exceeded my expectations.  It was such a great look into the dynamic of a troubled family and I found myself thinking about it long after I turned the last page.

About Sara Shepard

Sara Shepard graduated from New York University and has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College. The author of the bestselling young adult books Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game, as well as the adult novel The Visibles, She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and dogs.

Visit her website at sarashepardbooks.com, and follow her on Twitter, @sarabooks.

Sara’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, October 11th: A Soul Unsung

Wednesday, October 12th: Life in Review

Thursday, October 13th: Books Like Breathing

Friday, October 14th: A Bookish Way of Life

Monday, October 17th: A Cozy Reader’s Corner

Tuesday, October 18th: Rundpinne

Wednesday, October 19th: Reviews By Lola

Thursday, October 20th: Jo-Jo Loves to Read!

Monday, October 24th: Book Addiction

Tuesday, October 25th: Good Girl Gone Redneck

Wednesday, October 26th: In the Next Room

Thursday, October 27th: Colloquium

 

 

I received a copy of this book via the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for my participation on this tour.

Book Review: The House at Riverton

The House at Riverton

Kate Morton

Washington Square Press

496 pages

Grace Reeves leaves her mother at fourteen years old in order to go work in a local manor with a wealthy family. The year is 1914 and the system in England is still based on centuries of tradition.  Grace is part of the working class and as such, she is used to fading into the background and observing those around her without offering any reaction or emotion.  She soon becomes enamored with the children of the manor though: David, Hannah and Emeline.

The reader becomes aware right as the story starts that something clandestine has occurred at Riverton but we have to wait for the story to unfold.  Grace is now in her nineties and recounting her time at Riverton, slowly revealing what really happened.  She had become close with Hannah and Emmeline as her years in their household went on, and the two girls took on very dynamic personalities.

I loved watching Hannah and Emmeline grew up.  They sort of switched roles in my mind, as Hannah they both chose lives that I had imagined the other one living, which made it that much more interesting.  They were both realistically flawed as well, and I was able to sympathize with them at times while being irritated with them and their decisions a moment later.

Grace’s character developed a lot slower.  She was so encumbered by the role that society expected her to play that she had a hard time seeing what was in front of her.  Normally I would be annoyed that I realized exactly what was happening before she did and I’ll admit, there was a time or two I wanted to shake some sense into her, but it was painfully obvious that she was just a well intentioned, naive girl that was tied down by an antiquated society.

I was unsure of whether I would read anything else by Morton after I finished The Forgotten Garden.  It’s not that I didn’t like the book, but something about it felt a little forced and I definitely didn’t have the WOW reaction that I felt a lot of other bloggers seemed to have.  I am glad I got over that thought because I thought The House at Riverton was fantastic.  Another perfect choice for RIP.  I am on a roll!

Other Reviews:

Caribous Mom

That’s What She Read

Linus’s Blanket

S Krishna’s Books

You’ve GOTTA Read This!

I purchased this book from Barnes & Noble.

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is the brainchild of Marcia and more information can be found here. This month it is being hosted by Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit.

I have had great luck recently when it comes to new books.  (Hopefully I don’t jinx myself with that statement!) This week was no exception.  I got a total of five books, although only four are shown, as my husband already absconded with one of the books!

A Train in Winter, by Caroline Moorehead, is for an upcoming TLC tour. This one is about a large group of women involved in the French Resistance who were imprisoned at Auschwitz during WWII.

The Marriage Artist, by Andrew Winer is this month’s choice for BOOK CLUB.  More information can be found here. The discussion will take place on October 25 at Linus’s Blanket. I know very little about this book but I am looking forward to it!

A Watershed Year, by Susan Schoenberger is another TLC tour book.  The premise reminds me of Ceceilia Ahern’s book PS, I Love You, only in this case a woman is receiving emails from her friend after he passes away, so I am anxious to see whether it is at all similar!

The Rules of the Tunnel, by Neil Zeman is a mystery to me.  I can’t remember if I won it or agreed to review it or what.  So I am sorry–I feel like a jerk! It’s a memoir by a person that suffered severe depression and anxiety.  As someone who has battled an anxiety disorder my entire life, I am always open to books on that subject.

The last book I received, which is not pictured, is The Night Eternal, by Guillarmo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, which is book #3 of The Strain series.  My husband enjoyed the first two books so when I got this one in the mail, his eyes lit up.  He bragged to his coworkers the next day that he was going to get to read the book before it even came out!

Time for you to spill and let me know what came into your house this week!