Bloggiesta progress update #3

Pedro

So, after taking a four hour break to eat and relax a little… very little as it turned out, as the kids screamed and fought and fussed until I sent them to bed, which they fought and fussed about with me (When a 17-year-old tells you “No”, it’s a delicate situation.  Diffusing nuclear BOMBS are less dangerous).  But it’s quasi-quiet, and after trying to read, only to fall asleep, give up and decide to sleep, only to have screaming and yelling and fighting start just after I slip into unconsciousness… Well, I’m wide awake now.  So, back to the Bloggiesta fiesta 🙂

I decided to go ahead and make a separate blog for The Welsh Reading Challenge, but it’s still some work before linking it up here.  It’s coming along nicely, though 🙂  I figure with a devoted blog, I can make all the lists and links that the challenge deserves without turning Mt. TBR into a chaotic mess.  Thanks BethFishReads and Rhinoa’s Ramblings for sharing their wisdom from their first year of hosting challenges 🙂

So now I’m doing a few mini-challenges…

First up, cleaning out the reader. The Book Lady’s Blog is hosting a mini-challenge to clean up your blog reader.  I use Google Reader, and currently have 64 subscriptions.  She puts it like this:

If you’re like me, you subscribe to more blogs than you can keep straight. You love some of them, you skim some others, and you might even mark some as “read” without even glancing. This mini-challenge is all about organizing your feedreader to make it work for you.

yeah… sadly, that’s true for me with a couple blogs.  Why I put them in my reader, I don’t even remember anymore.  Maybe they had a funny Friday Fill-In, so I thought I’d love their whole blog, but it always seems to be about rock collections or dogs in tutus… IDK… lol.  Actually, I’d probably read the dogs in tutus *glances over and Missy, looks to her left and sees the camera… wonders where the tutu and princess cone hat went*  Hehehehe.

So I’m cleaning out the reader and I’ve found one blog that’s moved several months ago, as well as a few dormant blogs and a couple whose content I never read.  As I’m going through the blogs that haven’t had a new post in more than three months, the thought hits me:  What if what happened to Katie in Undiscovered Gyrl happened to them?  What if they’re missing or dead, and I’m just callously ticking off their blog to unsub because they don’t post from the Great Beyond? 

So now I’m down to 51.  There is the possibility of 10 dead and missing bloggers somewhere out there and 2 blogs whose content I groan after skimming.  What’s next?  Categories and folders.  Good idea… if I’d have thought of that before unsubbing, I could’ve just made an “MIA” folder incase they’re found before the guy hacks them to bits and they return to blogging to tell their story.  BUT… I think I’m following them on twitter, so it’s all good.  Okay, so now I have a Welsh Challenge folder and a Meme folder, then the rest are regular bloggers that I read in general.

After that, all I need is to catch up on the reading, which I got caught up on a couple weeks ago, and have stayed caught up 🙂

Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Clean Up Your Feedreader! DONE 🙂

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Next up is BethFishRead’s Mini-Challenge to write up a rainy day post.  Either one of an opinion or a list.  I’ve actually got a half-done post that I started about a year ago… lol.  It’s a Fantasy Island list thing, so I think I’ll go ahead and finish it up for this. 

…… On second thought, after looking at what I thought was a half-finished post that turned out to be two lines of what I thought would be a fun post but I no longer know what I was talking about, I’ll write a new one. LOL.  But what to write… hmmmm…  I pretty much exhausted my opinions with the Festivus posts.  Okay, so it’ll be a list then.  BUT, you know me… it won’t be a dry, sensible list… oh, no… it’s going to be goofy and random.

*Tick-tock… minutes have passed*  Okay, got it done.  I set out to make a list, but it ended up more of a humorous rant, so I guess that’s an opinion… lol.

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And for my last mini-challenge before calling it a night, I’m going to Go forth and comment as commanded by Soft Drink at Fizzy Thoughts.

So for this mini-challenge, I (actually, it’s Natasha’s idea, I’m just channeling her for the moment) challenge you to seek out 10 (yes, ten!) new blogs (from the list of bloggers who signed up for the Bloggiesta) and leave a thoughtful comment on their blog. Saying “Just popping in to say hey ‘cause Softdrink told me to” ain’t gonna cut it for this challenge. Find a book review that intrigues you and tell them why. Look for something you have in common and chat about it. Ask them a question about their blog design. You get the idea, right? Be original…be engaging…be yourself!

Okies… so here’s the blogs I visited and left comments:

  1. Reading With Tequila’s review of Mockingbird by Charles J. Shields lol, ended up ordering the book from PBS.
  2. English Major’s Junk Food review of Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen I’m safe from a new book addition, at least 🙂
  3. Books of Mee’s review of The Sandman Volume 1:  Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman Again, another safe, non-book-getter one 😉
  4. Notes from the North’s The Sunday Salon:  Terry Pratchett OooOOoo… now I’m whining because I want to join the Terry Pratchett reading challenge.
  5. ReadingAdventures Terry Pratchett 2010 Challenge lol, wouldn’t you know it… she’d be a Bloggiesta participant.  Must be fate!  I joined the challenge for the 1-3 book range: Cashier at Ankh-Morpork Mint.  I can add ONE more book to my list this year, right?  lol
  6. Graasland’s The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (The Sunday Salon of December 27th, 2009) safe from another book or challenge 🙂  Except… that I want to re-read it and I mooched my copy away… crap.
  7.  Coffeespoon’s review of Slumdog Millionaire (or Q&A) by Vikras Swarup Already have it on Mt. TBR somewhere, and I’ve seen the movie… safe. 🙂
  8. Michelle’s Masterful Musings’ review of Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris It’s already on my reading list for this month… or next.
  9. The Zen Leaf’s review of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards Already read it, and found it okay, but the movie version killed it for me.
  10. Bibliofreak’s review of All the King’s Men:  the movie I’ve seen the movie and liked it, but she says the book is even better… and I have the book, Yay!

Wow, 10 was kind of hard.  I got to about 7 and wanted to poop out.  Of course, it IS 3:30 am… and I have put in about 11 and a half hours on Bloggiesta… so I have a good excuse for being tire.

All in all, I think I really got a LOT done today.  While doing the commenting mini-challenge, I came across a few blogs that I always loved reading, but somehow never managed to get in my Google Reader, so my GR sub list is longer now, too 🙂

Kk.. I’m knocking off for the night.  The library is having a family movie event tomorrow, so I’ll probably start back on more mini-challenges sometime in the afternoon.

11:10 am – 7:25 pm… took a break… 11:20 pm – 3:45 am… going to bed.

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TSS ~ I’m Planning a Realignment

The Sunday Salon.com

This is the last Sunday Salon of 2009, and it’s got me thinking about how things has gone this year, as well as what I want to do next year.  For one thing, in looking back at all the books I’ve read this year (76 as of right now), it seems like it’s been a LOOOONG year, lol.  AND I started the year late, finishing my first book, Bedlam, Bath and Beyond by J.D. Warren on February 10.  I also took a detour into the land of Azeroth, discovering the world of MMORPG (the acronym for “Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game”) when I decided to check out what all the WoW fuss was.  And while I still enjoy playing, I’ve gotten over it as such an obsessive distraction.  Recently, a friend of mine tried to get me into another game like World of Warcraft (or WoW is like it, since it was first) called Guild Wars, but I didn’t really dig it.  I also gave Warhammer a try, and was unimpressed by it, as well.  Books just beat any other medium of escape!

This past year I’ve read a variety of genres from sci-fi like Freedom’s Landing, Dune and Dune Messiah (not yet reviewed) to classics such as Silas Marner, Emma, and Northanger Abbey (not yet reviewed).  I’ve read horror, like Heart-Shaped Box, children’s books, like The Tutu Ballet, and serial books like Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6 of the Harry Potter series), Marked (Book 1 of The House of Night series), and Brisingr (Book 3 of The Inheritance Cycle).  I’ve read books that have been made into movies, sometimes for the better, like Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day, The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons, and Confessions of a Shopoholic.  I didn’t limit myself to fiction, either, and read The World Without Us, The Stettheimer Dollhouse, and  An Inconvenient Book (not yet reviewed) and read poetry and plays like Dr. Faustus and Custard and Company, too.

For the most part, I’ve enjoyed the books I’ve read this year and it’s hard to pick favorites.  But I shall try!  The following are my stars of 2009 (in no particular order):

1.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak ~ My all-time favorite book, I fell in love with the story and Zusak’s writing style.  I hope to give his other books a read as well someday.  After finishing this book, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I couldn’t start another book for awhile.  I still find myself thinking about the beauty of the writing, the characters, and I want to reread it sometime soon.

2.  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury ~ First off, I love dystopic books, it’s probably my favorite genre.  My definition of dystopia is:  Someone’s Utopia is another’s HELL.  I’ve been thinking a lot about this book lately, as I look at pictures I’ve taken of my 16-year-old this year.  In every one she’s got her mp3 player going in her ears.  At one point in time this year, all four of us were sitting in the same room, all of us listening to our own little soundtracks of our own lives.  We were all in huggable difference, and yet we were in different universes.  All I could think about were the seashells that Montag’s wife wore in her ears.  It was a disturbing and surreal moment.

3.  Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen ~ This book was vivid and well-researched, and it made me feel the magic of going to a circus as a child for the first time.  It had intrigue, romance, and the Great Depression.  The moving back and forth from the present Jacob Jankowski (who was 92, or 93, or 94.. he couldn’t even remember anymore) to the young Jacob who walked away from his vet finals after the death of his parents, becoming the vet for the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth.

4.  Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen ~ I recently finished this one, but in my rush to reach my goal of 75 books I’ve put off writing a review.  Hopefully I’ll get to it this coming week, but it’ll probably not happened until after the kids get back to school in the new year.  Northanger Abbey is my FAVORITE Austen book.  It’s witty and fun and Austen uses it as a great vehicle for arguing the criticisms of her day.  Reading this book was like watching myself as a teen.  I was soOOo Catherine Morland!  Dreamy, romantic who read way too many books and had no grasp of how the real world worked.

5.  Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper ~ Probably the book with the longest full title I’ve read:  Homer’s Odyssey:  A Fearless Feline Tale, Or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat.  This is my pimping-book for the year, meaning it’s the book I’ve been telling EVERYONE I see to read.  In addition to mad reco’s, I gave away copies as Christmas presents.  It’s such an inspirational and heart-warming story that I just can’t stop talking about it.  I know I’ll reread this one again and again 🙂

So, what are my plans for the New Year?  Well… I don’t really want to say I’ve made RESOLUTIONS because they never really work.  I’ve been thinking in terms of REALIGNMENTS.  I’ve gotten a bit lazy or distracted about things and have gone a bit off mark from where I wanted to go at the beginning of this year.  So, here’s what I’m wanting to do as we begin 2010:

1.  Um… I really need to do some house cleaning.  Bad.  I keep waiting for Miss Niecy to show up, lol, but I don’t think she’s coming.  Honestly, with all my online game-playing (WoW and facebook games being the main offenders) in the last few months, the laundry has piled up as have the dishes, and it’s starting to look like we have a dirt floor in the kitchen.  So, that’s first on my list of what I need to get done.

2.  I need to get back to cooking dinners.  Again, I’ve been lazy about not wanting to stop playing the games, and Domino’s has become #1 on my speed dial.  My kids are probably the only ones in the world that have said “Please, no more pizza!  I’m sick of pizza!”  And no,  frozen dinners don’t count as “cooking more”… lol.

3.  Get back to blogging regularly.  I’ve been bad about writing meme posts (which I enjoy) and writing reviews (which is sometimes a bit of work, but I also enjoy), mostly because *cough* it’d require me to get off the game and write them.  Yeah… like I said, I’ve been bad about the games here lately.

4.  Try to take things in balance.  I have a bad habit of going “all one thing at the expense of everything else”.  When I’m reading, that’s all I’m doing.  That’s how I’ve managed to read almost 20 books in a little over a month.  It’s pretty much all I’ve done.  When I was playing WoW, that was all I did, too.  All day, every day… sometimes for more than 24 hours straight.  I just don’t seem to know how to do moderation.

5.  Get through all my ARC-alanche pile.  Period.  Some of them have been on this pile for almost 2 years now.  I still have Stealing Athena, The Aviary Gate, Zoe’s Tale, and The Good Thief on it.  SOME are now available in AUDIOBOOK FORM.  I really need to focus on getting these books done.  I have FIVE LibraryThing Early Reader books to read, including Any Given Doomsday which I received back in February. 

So, how about you?  Any resolutions?  What do you hope to do in the year to come?

Mags and I love watching Style Network’s Clean House (the ones with Niecy Nash… not the other lady) and we love to veg in my bed together and watch marathons of the show.  Miss Niecy is lovely and hilarious, and after a few shows we can’t help but walk around doing Miss Niecy impressions… lol.  But, of course, it’s never as good as the original 😉 

The Sunday Salon ~ Jane Austen and Henry III in a throw down… who’d win?

The Sunday Salon.com

Read.  Read read read read read.  and then Read some more.  Having been distracted by life and video games, it would seem that the end of the year has snuck up on me.. again.  This is very familiar.  It seems that I was racing to the end of the year last December, as well, only Second Life was my distractor then… World of Warcraft has done it this year (the facebook games don’t help, either).  But I think I’ll make the 75-book goal this year.  I’ve already read more this year than last.  I ended with 63 last year, but I’ve read 71 already, and with only eleven more days to go, I’m confident I’ll hit 75.

This week I finished three books ~

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen is the fifth of the sixth Jane Austen novels.  Though it was written first, it was published, posthumously, next to last.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and have to admit that it’s my new Austen favorite.  I crushed harder on Henry Tilney than I did on Mr. Darcy, and that’s saying something.  Tilney has a bit of an edge over Darcy… Henry is actually a nice person, as well as being funny and smart.  Darcy, while sweet in his private way, was a bit of an ass.  I guess that went along well with Elizabeth, since she liked to jump to conclusions and was a bit proud herself, but it did a little to put one off.  Of course, the ingenue.. the innocent, country flower.. who is a blank slate and, therefore, non-threatening to Tilney’s intellectual authority, ready and willing to be molded by him, which suits his fancy, I think. 

All in all, I enjoyed Austen’s wit and sarcasm, as well as her parody of Gothic novels of her day.

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar is a humorous walk through many schools of philosophy.  The authors, Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, use jokes to illustrate what each school of thought is about.  Like with Teleology, the philosophy that all things exist for a purpose, one joke used to illustrate this is:

Mrs. Goldstein was walking down the street with her two grandchildren.  A friend stopped to ask her how old they were.  She replied, “The doctor is five and the lawyer is seven.”

I also finished my appointment read, Three to Get Deadly, the third book in the Stephanie Plum numbers series by Janet Evanovich.  I’d been missing Stephanie lately, so I picked this, the next in the series for me, up to read when I was away from home.  I learned an important lesson with it.  Just because a book can fit in your coat pocket doesn’t mean it’s a good appointment book.  By the time I’d gotten to the end of the book, I’d forgotten some of the beginning.  Also, it lost a bit of it’s momentum this way.  In the future, I think I’ll stick to short stories for appointment books.

I’ll write up real reviews for these books later this week… I hope.  I’ve already jumped into my next book, and I’m about 40 pages in it already.  Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert is the second of the Dune series.  I read the first book earlier this year, and I was in the mood for a good sci-fi book, so I picked this up.  I had forgotten how fascinating and fantastic the first book had been, and the second book is, so far, every bit as good.  It is also, however, as much a thinking book as the first.  My brain hurts after a while.   Trying to picture Edric, the fishy-humanoid Guildsman in his tank… picturing the Tleilaxu Face Dancer Scytale manipulate his physical body to be one form one second, then turn into the ghola version of Duncan Idaho (also a mind-bender of a thought), then back again… it’s all an exercising of my imagination muscles… both enjoyable and tiring at the same time.

Reading may be a little easier to do here… but I won’t guarantee it.  Sam, my oldest, has gone to her dad’s for the two-week vacation, and Gwen will go closer to Christmas day, but only stay gone for a week.  Maggie, however, will be here throughout, as her dad has moved back to town.  She’s happy about this, but it has it’s downside, too.  He’s here more, which means he’s nit-picking about my housekeeping more… which means less time to read.   And it means that he no longer needs to take her home with him to spend time, since he can see her whenever he wants. 

LOL.. the remainder of my reading may be Magic Treehouse books with Maggie.

I’ve been watching the Tudors, also.  I got hooked on it when I was sick with the flu last month.  I watched Seasons 1 and 2 straight through on Netflix’s Instant thing.  When the third season came out on DVD this past week, it was on the top of my queue.  I watched the first two discs last night, but I’ll have to wait for the third to come on Monday.  Watching it reminds me how we tend to judge history with modern day values.  Henry VIII was quite a tyrant through 21st century eyes, but was he all that bad or different in his own time-frame?  Sure, he had the north of England hung without trial for rebellion, but the Catholic Church had the Inquisition.  I suppose it all balances out.

I have to admit to a bit of cheating.  I had forgotten which wife Henry took after Jane, so I watched this video.  Now the rest of this season’s lost all suspense for me! 

Happy Reading and have a safe and Merry Christmas, everyone!

Jane-A-Thon In Progress!

Jane Austen

I have finally begun my Jane-a-thon, which I’ve been dying to do for some time now. I’m putting aside ARCs, books to review and overdue library books. But such is the sacrifices I make for my obsession!

Jane Austen (1775-1817) is one of the greatest authors of all times, and possible the greatest woman author as well. She cleared the way for many others, the Brontë sisters, Mary Shelley, Virginia Woolfe, and so many others. There were women writers before her, but there was something in the way that Austen wrote that proved a woman could write with a balance of logic and emotions, and that both sexes could enjoy her work. In Austen’s short life of 41 years she published a book every year or so after the 1811 publication of Sense and Sensibility.

When I was in my high school honors English reading club, I read Pride and Prejudice, and I read Sense and Sensibility after watching the Thompson-Grant movie. These two are the only Austen’s I’ve read before, never really taking notice of the others. However, a couple months ago, I thought it might be interesting to read all of them, straight through chronologically to see how Austen grew as a writer, and to get a fairer sense of the life and times of Georgian England.

The following are the Austens in chronological order:
Sense and Sensibility published in 1811
Pride and Prejudice published in 1813
Mansfield Park published in 1814
Emma published in 1816
published in 1818
Northanger Abbey published in 1818

And now… a Janing I must go!