Challenges, challenges and more challenges!

Ok, so there were a few challenges that ended this month.  There are also some new challenges starting tomorrow, so I figured I do somewhat of a challenge round up.  First off . . .


This was actually the first challenge I ever entered and I wanted to make sure I didn’t over-extend myself, so I only obligated myself to complete Peril in the Second, which required me to read two books by today.  I actually went way above and beyond the two books–it’s hard not to get caught up in the Halloween/fall spirit around this time!  I read:

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, by Katherine Howe

Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger

One Foot Wrong, Sofie Laguna

Twilight, Stephenie Meyer

The House of the Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne

Honestly, I would have read more for this challenge if I’d had the time!  I’m already anticipating RIP V!


The Maud Hart Lovelace reading challenge only ran for a month, so I knew when I started it that I would never be able to read all ten Betsy and Tacy books unless I chose to forego all other reading material.  I am happy to say, however, that I read the first four books.  I hope to read the remaining six very soon.  I read:


Betsy, Tacy and Tib

Betsy and Tacy go Over the Big Hill

Betsy and Tacy go Downtown

For those of you that aren’t familiar with this series, I strongly urge you to check it out!


There is still a month left for this challenge, but I wanted to give a status update.  For the month of October, my stats are:

19 books read

9 were books I owned

3 were review copies

1 was a loaner from my mom

2 were from Bookswim

4 were from the library

So overall I did really well in this challenge for this month, with a 47%!!  Of course, the read-a-thon helped my cause immensly–I am willing to bet my percentage next month is nowhere near this high.

And now for a new challenge!!


You can find all the info on this challenge at the blog created specifically for it, but I will go ahead and list some of the specifications and rules below.

The challenge runs from November 1, 2009-November 30, 2010, but you may join in the fun whenever you wish!   Participants are encouraged to read nonfiction and fiction books related to the rather broad idea of ‘women’s studies.’

For nonfiction, this would include books on feminism, history books focused on women, biographies of women, memoirs (or travelogues) by women, essays by women and cultural books focused on women (body image, motherhood, etc.).  The topics I’ve listed aren’t mean to be exhaustive; if you come across a nonfiction book whose subject is female-related, it counts!  Of course, if you’re not sure you can always ask about it in a comment.  And if you need some ideas for specific books, check out the ‘Reading Lists’ page.

It’s trickier to say what is applicable as fiction. Obviously, any classic fiction written by a feminist is applicable. But where do we go from there? To speak generally, if the book takes a thoughtful look at the place of women in society, it will probably count. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to explain in your review why you chose this for the challenge and its connection to women’s studies. Once again, if you need some specific ideas, check out the ‘Reading Lists’ page.

One quick note about author gender. There isn’t a rule if a book’s written by a woman it counts and if by a man it doesn’t count. I firmly believe that men can be feminists and that not all women are feminists. As long as the book adheres to the definition of women’s studies I’ve shared above, it counts.

Interested in participating? Great! There are three levels you can choose as a reader (you can count books for other challenges as well):

  • Philogynist: read at least two books, including at least one nonfiction one.
  • Bluestocking: read at least five books, including at least two nonfiction ones.
  • Suffragette: read at least eight books, including at least three nonfiction ones.

I plan on participating at the bluestocking level.  I am unsure at this point what books I’ll be reading, but here are the possibilities:


Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson

Beloved, Toni Morrison

The Color Purple, Alice Walker

Housekeeping, Marilynn Robinson


Death and the Maidens, Janet Todd

Obviously my list is lacking, especially when it comes to nonfiction.  Hopefully I’ll be adding to it–I’m open to suggestions!

Book Review: Betsy and Tacy go Downtown

downtownBetsy and Tacy go Downtown

Maud Hart Lovelace

Harper Trophy


Originally titled Downtown and published in 1943, Betsy and Tacy go Downtown is the fourth book in Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy series.  Just last month, the last six Besty-Tacy books were reissued, and I had made it my goal to read all of them, including the first four books that are for a younger audience and were not reissued.  This coincided with the Maud Hart Lovelace reading challenge going on at A Library is a Hospital for the Mind.  Unfortunately, the challenge ends tomorrow, but I knew going into it that I wouldn’t read all ten books.  I’m happy to have gotten the first four books read though so that now I can move on to the new reissues.

Downtown is a little more difficult than the first three books but the format is the same.  Now Betsy, Tacy and Tib are twelve, and just as spunky as ever!  We’re introduced to some new characters; Mrs Poppy is the lonely wife of the owner of the opera house.  A portly woman, she is a former actress and seems very glamorous compared to the other women of Deep Valley.  We soon learn, however, that she has lost her only daughter, so to fill that void she becomes friendly with Betsy, Tacy and Tib and often invites them over to keep company with her.

Meanwhile, there is also Winona, a spoiled child who often gets special privilages because her father works for the newspaper.  At the beginning of the book, she has received four tickets to see the stage version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Betsy, Tacy and Tib are dying to go.  The next few chapters showcase their deviousness as they try to formulate plans to get an deccc060ada06a38886e2210.Linvitation to the play.  These exchanges with Winona were my favorite–she was a fun character and able to plot almost as well as Betsy, Tacy and Tib, so their back and forth was fun to read.

I’m glad I’ve now moved on to the rest of the series.  While I’ve enjoyed the first four books, I read them only in anticipation for the later books.  I wanted to lay all the groundwork for the series, and I figured I would be better off reading the earlier books as opposed to just jumping in in the middle.  And now that I have the first four books, I think I may try to get Ally to read them.  She’s nine, so that’s a good age, but I’m afraid she’ll find them dull–she prefers scary stories.  So we’ll see whether I’m successful or not!

Other reviews:

Booking Mama

The Well Read Child

I’m Booking It

A Library is a Hospital for the Mind

Diary of an Eccentric

A Chair, a Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Sunday Salon

TSSbadge1This week was a good one for me reading wise.  I read and reviewed five books.

Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill, by Maud Hart Lovelace

The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness

College Girl, by Patricia Weitz

Love the One You’re With, by Emily Giffin

Labor Day, by Joyce Maynard

Love the One You’re With was an audiobook and the only one on the list that I didn’t particularly care for.

I have now read 3/10 of the Betsy-Tacy books for the Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge.  It runs through October 31, 2009 so I am sure I won’t complete them all by that time.  I wish the challenge were longer but I still plan to read them all, hopefully by the end of the year, challenge or no challenge.

I also joined the YA Dystopian Reading Challenge over at Bart’s Bookshelf.  I have quite possibly been more excited about this challenge than any other challenge to date.  It runs through the end of the year and the goal is to read between 1-4 YA dystopian novels.  My boyfriend was working all day yesterday so I stayed in bed all day and finished up The Knife of Never Letting Go.  It was fabulous (both the book and the staying in bed part).  If you haven’t signed up for this challenge yet, I urge you to do so.

dystopia_lgeSo now this week will be spent preparing for the read-a-thon.  It’s my first one and I’m really excited and a bit indimidated too.  I’m still figuring out my TBR pile and will be adding to it throughout the week.  Plus just trying to figure out the logistics of everything.  My boyfriend’s nine year old daughter will be with us so that should be interesting.  I am hoping to lock myself in my bedroom and let him entertain her for the day, although she has turned into quite the reader so I am sure she’ll participate with me for a little bit.  Other than that, I just need to stock up on coffee and snacks!

How are you preparing for the read-a-thon?

Book Review: Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill

9780064400992Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill

Maud Hart Lovelace

Harper Trophy

171 pages

Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill is the third book in Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy series.  In this book, Betsy, Tacy and Tib turn ten but continue to display the charming childish ideologies they displayed in books one and two.  As mischevious as ever, this time they’re exploring new areas, specifically a Syrian settlement referred to as Little Syria, where they meet a girl their age named Naifi.  Naifi has just come to the US and is trying to integrate herself in the way of American customs as well as learning English.  The girls take an immediate liking to her and attempt to help her fit in.

Meanwhile, Betsy, Tacy and Tib are up to their same old hijinks, where they employ their outlandish imaginations.  Most of the book centers around their preparation for a show they’re putting on at school as well as the crowning of Tib as a queen, an honor bestowed upon her because she has a white pleated dress.  As always, the stories are based on Maud Hart Lovelace’s childhood and her friend Midge, on whom Tib is based, actually had a white MarjorieGerlachPC-webpleated dress herself.

Out of the three Betsy-Tacy books I’ve read, this one stands out as my favorite so far.  It was much more fluid–most of the stories were continuations of one another, so there was very little disparity.  I am looking forward to reading the fourth book in the series because it is the last one meant for a grade school level.  Books five and up are for an audience is a bit older, so those will probably be more engaging for me.

I read this book as a part of the Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge over at a Library is a Hospital for the Mind.


For other reviews of Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill, check out the following blogs.

Booking Mama

I’m Booking It

A Library is a Hospital for the Mind

Book Review: Betsy, Tacy and Tib

betsy-tacyandtibBetsy, Tacy and Tib

Maud Hart Lovelace

HarperCollins Publishers

141 pages

I read this book as part of the Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge over at A Library is a Hospital for the Mind.  The challenge runs through October 31.


Betsy, Tacy and Tib is the second book in Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy series, which has ten books in all.  The first four books are written for younger, elementary aged children, so for adults they make a quick read.  Betsy, Tacy and Tib is much like the first book of the series, Betsy-Tacy, butfor the fact that it includes another little girl, Tib.  Much like Betsy-Tacy, the stories in this book were based on Lovelace’s life, and Tib is no exception–she is of the likeness of Lovelace’s other childhood friend Marjorie “Midge” Gerlach.  Tib could very well be my favorite of the three girls.  She is a sprightly, elfin little thing with short, blonde curls and seems to say what is on her mind a lot.  many of the chapters of Betsy, Tacy and Tib end along the same line, with the following quote being an example.

‘I’d have liked a cookie, though,’ Tib said matter-of-factly.  Tib always said things like that.  But Betsy and Tacy liked her just the same.

bttThe girls are an imaginative bunch.  In one chapter, they decide they will teach themselves to fly.  Betsy, being the ringleader, as always, asserts that anyone can learn to fly so long as they practice and take it one step at a time.  Tib and Tacy, although reluctant at first, follow suit.  Once the girls eventually realize that maybe flying is not a possibility, a fact made particularly evident by the “flying” lady they see at the fair, they decide instead to put on a show for their family and friends where they merely pretend to fly, going so far as create an illusion that had tricked them in the first place when they went to the fair.

If you enjoyed the first book in the series, Betsy, Tacy and Tib follows the same vein.

For other reviews, check out:

Redlady’s Reading Room

Booking Mama

A Library is a Hospital for the Mind

I’m Booking It

A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy

Book Review: Betsy-Tacy

betsy-tacy 1Betsy-Tacy

by Maud Hart Lovelace

Harper Trophy

122 pages

Betsy-Tacy is the first book in the Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy series.  A Library is a Hospital for the Mind currently has a Maud Hart Lovelace challenge going on that runs through October 31, which coincides nicely with the rerelease of the final six Betsy-Tacy books, published in twosomes in three volumes.  I have the three volumes which were sent to me by the publisher for review, but I wanted to start at the beginning and read the first four books in the series.  Luckily they weren’t hard to find.  They are written for the younger crowd and Betsy-Tacy starts off when the girls are five, so the reading base for that particular book is not much older.  I think that’s probably one of the most fun and endearing aspects of the series; the reader is able to grow with the series.  Unfortunately for me, I was not introduced to Betsy and Tacy as a child, but it’s still fun to read them as an adult.

Betsy-Tacy begins when Tacy moves in across the street from Betsy right before Betsy’s fifth birthday party, which Tacy attends.  The two become fast friends and from that point on, they become inseparable.  Betsy-Tacy is based on the life of the author, Maud Hart Lovelace, and her childhood friend Bick, so much so that the birthday party story actually happened, down to the details of Betsy’s dress and the gift she received from Tacy.  MaudBickPC-web

The first book follows them through fun times as well as sad, and for me, reading about little girls from times long ago is always fun (think of The Little House on the Prairie books).  The series takes place at the beginning of the nineteenth century in a small town in Minnesota.  A time when children still were care free and horses and buggies were still the norm. It was fun to imagine being a child during that time.  And speaking of imagination, the imaginations of Betsy and Tacy are involved in some of the most entertaining parts of this book.

For those of you interested in reading this series and join the challenge, don’t hesitate because it’s impossible not to fall in love with this series.