Reading May Be Challenging, But So Is Saying NO!

Literary Escapism New Author Challenge 2010Yeah, yeah… I’m already in book-deep with all I would like to accomplish with my reading this year, especially if I get distracted by some new fancy and forget to read for a couple months, but I couldn’t help signing up for a couple more reading challenges!

Well, one isn’t really a stretch for me.  Literary Escapism is hosting the New Author Challenge 2010, and I figured this would be an EASY challenge for me given the majority of my planned reading this year (and it’s pretty much all planned already) is reading ARCs by authors new to the publishing field and therefore new to me.

I want this to be an easy challenge, so you can pick to do either 15, 25 or 50 new authors.  It all depends on how fast you read and how adventurous you want to be.  For me, I’m trying another 50 new authors.  If you reach your goal halfway through the year, don’t stop.

So, if you’ve seen the ARC-alanche page, which I plan on reading everything on it by the end of this year, then you’ll see that signing up for 50 new authors is an easy thing since there are over 60 titles there 😉  AND I’ve already finished 2 with Erick Setiawan and Lori Handeland, so I’ve only got 48 more to go!

By the way, if you hurry over and sign up for this one, you could be the 100th person in Mr. Linky 🙂 (Mr. Monk would love that!)

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Terry Pratchett 2010 ChallengeDuring Bloggiesta, while doing the “comment on a new-to-you blog” mini-challenge, I found out there was a Terry Pratchett reading challenge and squirmed with delight… and pain.  I wanted to do it so badly!  I loved Nation by Pratchett, as well as The Color of Magic mini-series, and wished I could read a few of his books this year.  But, ALAS! my reading schedule is so full already, when and how could I slip in more?

Then I found out I’d only have to read ONE book for it, and surely I could slip in ONE book, right?

Marg at ReadingAdventures is hosting the Terry Pratchett 2010 Reading Challenge

The challenge will start from 1 December 2009 and run through to 30 November 2010. There are several different levels of participation for you to choose from:

1-3 books – Cashier at Ankh-Morpork Mint
4-5 books – Guard of the City Watch
6-8 books – Academic at the Unseen University
9-10 books – Member of Granny Weatherwax’s Coven
10-12 books – Death’s Apprentice

You can either be reading the books for the first time, rereading, or even watching the TV adaptations if you like! As long as everyone has fun I will be happy! Please also do not feel limited to only reading the Discworld books as any books by Terry Pratchett will count for this challenge.

I’m going for the Cashier level, but may end up a little higher, given you can watch the shows, too.  I wouldn’t mind watching The Color of Magic once or twice.. or ten times.. more.  Tim Curry, Sean Astin, that guy from Braveheart who played Hamish’s dad, and Rincewind.. lol.  I have to smile just thinking about Rincewind and Death (who was voiced by Christopher Lee) arguing. 

My planned reading for this so far is:

  • The Color of Magic -already on my “currently reading” pile
  • Good Omens co-authored with Neil Gaiman – I’m dying to get to this one!

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Jane Austen ChallengeHonestly, I’ve felt a bit lazy and guilty for not having a Jane Austen challenge on my list.  I failed miserably on last year’s challenge, but I think that was due to poor planning and organization.  Hopefully that’ll improve this year, so I’m signing up for another go ’round with Jane.  I still have Persuasion to read of her novels, and I have Sanditon, Lady Susan and The Watsons on my to-read list.  Plus Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is somewhere on Mt TBR.  AND I know I’m gonna read her anyway, so why not do it in a challenge.

Haley at the Life (and Lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object (what a name for a blog!) is hosting a Jane Austen Challenge this year.

–Levels:

**Newbie 2 books by J. Austen, 2 re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs (by other authors)

**Lover 4 books by J. Austen, 4 re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs (by other authors)

** Fanatic 6+ books by J. Austen, 5+ re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs (by other authors)

I believe this is a READING challenge, so movie adaptations and such wouldn’t be included, so I’m just going to shoot for Newbie level since, as I said before, my reading planner is already exploding.  My planned reading for this is:

  • Persuasion – already on my currently-reading stack
  • Lady Susan/The Watsons/Sanditon
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies with Seth Grahame-Smith

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Maybe I should change this blog title to “Confessions of a Reading Challenge Addict”?  Though, I KNOW some of you are even WORSE than me.  Y’all are a BAD influence!  LOL  Which is why I love ya 😉

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Marked: A House of Night Novel by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Title:  Marked:  A House of Night Novel

Authors:  P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Paperback:  306 pages

PublisherSt. Martin’s Press

Date Published:  2007

ISBN:  9780312360269

Miscellaneous:  This is the first book in the House of Night series.

I am known by many names… Changing Woman, Gaea, A’akuluujjusi, Kuan Yin, Grandmother Spider, and even Dawn…

As she spoke each name her face was transformed so that I was dizzied by her power.  She must have understood, because she paused and flashed her beautiful smile at me again, and her face settled back into the woman I had first seen.

But you, Zoeybird, my Daughter, may call me by the name by which your world knows me today, Nyx.

“Nyx,” my voice was barely above a whisper.  “The vampyre Goddess?”

… yes, in your world [my]children are called vampyre.  Accept the name, U-we-tsi a-ge-hu-tsa; in it you will find your destiny.

I could feel my Mark burning on my forehead, and all of a sudden I wanted to cry.  “I – I don’t understand.  Find my destiny?  I just want to find a way to deal with my new life – to make this all okay.  Goddess, I just want to fit in someplace.  I don’t think I’m up to finding my destiny.”

Believe in yourself, Zoey Redbird.  I have Marked you as my own.  You will be my first tru  U-we-tsi   a-ge-hu-tsa   v-hna-i   Sv-no-yi … Daughter of Night… in this age…. Within you is combined the magic blood of ancient Wise Women and Elders, as well as insight into and understanding of the modern world.

… “But I’m sixteen!  I can’t even parallel-park!  How am I supposed to know how to be your eyes and ears?”

Marked:  A House of Night Novel by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast, pages 39-40

Marked by P. C. Cast and Kristen Cast was a definite divergence from my typical reading, but I enjoyed it very much.  It’s a Young Adult (though, was edging very close to mostly adult, IMHO) book about a 16 year-old named Zoey who is marked by a Vampyre Tracker and has to leave her world and her old life behind and attend the private vampyre school, House of Night (for which the book series is named).  All young Zoey wants is a place to fit in and belong, but it’s clear from her abnormal Mark that “fitting in” isn’t going to happen.

The book is typical of YA hero books.  Zoey is the good-vamp and immediately knows that Aphrodite is her nemesis.  Zoeylacks the confidence, but overcomes that with the help of her friends who believe in her and encourage her.  She has those few trusted adults to turn to who also encourage her (and of course, none of them are her parents).  She’s surprised by the deep well of abilities and talents, and she sees and feels things others don’t.  And when the time comes to stand up and save the day, she does… over the whimpering and cowering body of Aphrodite, who, afterwards, draws the proverbial line in the sand and tells Zoey “it’s not over.”

But don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the book is like everything else out there, simply that it follows a form.  The writing, owing probably to the way the two authors divvy up the responsibilities, is unique (a trait that is heavily stressed and embraced at the school, btw) and seems almost conversational.  It is narrated by Zoey, who says little asides to herself while telling the story, and we see the world of the fledgling vampyre through her unique perspective.

Whereas Twilight was a fun, reminiscense of high-school romance and first loves, squeeky clean and was more about temptation and timing, Marked is a bit more sullied.  Within the first few free minutes Zoey has in the school, she accidentally walks up on a guy standing in front of a kneeling girl, face in his crotch area and her hair blocking Zoey’s view.  It is an event that sets the tone of the book, as well as the relationship she has with the two later on (after she discovers their identities).  Yeah… I’d have to say, even after they were married, Bella never gave Edward a blow job (and the Casts use that term, too).  I’m trying to think of how I can sneak Marked back to the library before my 16-year-old can read it.

On a technical level, the characters are well-developed and most of them are likable.  The ones you aren’t meant to like, Aphrodite’s sycophants, her step-loser (step-dad), even Kayla, her ex-best friend, aren’t developed beyond the point of, “name, relationship and purpose… next!”  I would also add, that the Casts have dug deep, imagination-wise, to create a half-a-step-away alternate-reality where vampyrism has always existed, and contain everything in our world (stars, books, mythology) but claiming it as it’s own, Faith Hill is a vampyre for instance.  Also, they borrow a bit from Wicca and the Native American, as well as other bits and pieces from other religions, to create the Vampyre religion, worship of the Goddess Nyx.  It’s rather interesting in that regard, as well.

Fun and a bit naughty, Marked by P. C. Cast and Kristen Cast is my beginning into the world of vampyres, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book, Betrayed.  I give Marked 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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I highly recommend visiting The House of Night website, it’s a lot of fun.  You can read the first chapter of Marked there, as well as check out videos of the other HoN books, and even make a pic of yourself with a vampyre Mark.

The video I picked for this book is a lot of fun.  It is a bit long, but you can get a feel for how playful P. C. and Kristen are, both as mother and daughter and as co-authors. It’s a spoof interview, and the Casts contributed to the script.  It’s not so much about Marked, all I found for it were teenage fan-vids, several containing Britney Snow as their hoped-for Stevie Rae… Britney Snow gets on my last nerve D-:< .  But the series has been optioned, so a movie may be coming to a theater near you… or a series on the WB.

TSS ~ Praise and Awards and Pass the Amoxicillin

The Sunday Salon.com

Hello and happy Sunday everyone 🙂 Thank you for your get-wells last week when I had the stomach flu. I finally got all better from that, only to come down with a bad sinus and chest cold. Lol… I’ll take that over the stomach flu any day, though.

Thank you Wrighty Reads for the cool Zombie Chicken Award, it’s quite a funny pic and description. I passed it along to Bermudaonion, Blodeuedd, Literary Feline, Steph Su, and Chartroose. So then Blodeuedd returned the complement by giving me:

Premio Dardos Award
The Premio Dardos Award

This award is for bloggers who distinguish themselves for showing cultural values, ethics, great and fun writing skills, as well individual values, through their creative writing.

The rules are:
1. To accept and show the distinct image
2. Show the link to the blog from which you were given the award
3. Choose 15 blogs to give the Dardos Award (Premio Dardos)

Okay, so I’m going to slack on #3, because 15 awards? I might as well just point to the blogroll. I would like to pick a few who haven’t received the award and that I do really like. So, here are my nominees:

1.  Devourer of Books~ One of my first bloggie friends, also on LibraryThing 🙂

2.  Fashionista Piranha ~ She has a cool layout, interesting giveaways and her reviews offer a slightly different view on things than my own.  It’s always good to receive from those whose thoughts don’t mirror your own, it makes your world a richer place 🙂

3.  Fyrefly’s Book Blog~ Another of my first bloggie friends and fellow LTer, Fyrefly’s blog is bright and pretty, and we often match up on how we felt about a book.

4.  Presenting Lenore~ Whenever I think of Lenore’s blog, the first thing that comes to mind is her interview with P. J. Bracegirdle  (don’t know why it sticks in my mind), and the second thing is the lovely box of chocolates and candies she sent me 😀

5.  S. Krishna’s Books ~ I do NOT know where she finds the time to read as much as she does, maybe a clone?  I suppose I shouldn’t tell her that I mooched a copy of Haunting Bombay last night…. 😀

6.  Book Sandwich~ Mrs. Hall is very busy with life, and has moved a couple times…  AND I believe she was one of my very first mooches on BookMooch 🙂

7.  Just A (Reading) Fool~  unfinishedperson writes smart post with a dry wit.  Another one of my long-time favorite blogs and fellow LTer 🙂

8.  The Book Lady’s Blog~  I just love her blog 🙂

I’m going to reserve the remaining 7 until next week 🙂 That way I can explore some new blogs to visit 😉

As to my reading this week…..

I spent a week or more on Brisingr, and I’m glad I’m done with that book, it felt like I was reading it forever.  I did manage a few smaller books in, as well. 

Right now I’m about 100 or so pages from the end of The Lace Reader.  I will be glad to be done with it, because it’s been giving me bad dreams.  I don’t know if it’s because of my cold or the book, or a combination of the two, but I’ve been having nightmares since starting it.  AND I never have nightmares, I’m a lucid dreamer and if I’m dreaming something I don’t like, I just change it.  Like most of the nightmares I’ve had for the past4 or 5 years, it always stars my deceased father returning to life.  Ugh.  Not like a zombie or anything, just like he never died.   I’m sure it’s not Ms. Barry’s fault I’m having bad dreams, but still…..

Bring On the ZOMBIE CHICKENS!!!

I am excited and proud to announce that Mt. TBR is the recipient of a prestigious award for excellent content, highly-intelligent writing, and a special gift for sarcasm. That, or I just like to fill my Friday Fill-Ins with the weirdest, off-the-wall, funny things I can think of.

Either way, high-quality content or goofiness, Wrighty Reads has given me:

Zombie Chickens Couldn't Keep Me Away!!!

The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken – excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all…

Wrighty ponders how one might stop a zombie chicken, and the answer’s easy… by removing the head or destroying the brain.  That’s how Shaun did it.

And now for my five picks to pass the award to:

1. Bermudaonion’s Weblog offers book reviews that are clear and concise and are interesting to read, she also gives us a weekly vocabularly lesson 🙂 But more than that, Bermudaonion makes her rounds throughout the blogging world, leaving comments on everyone’s blog. I don’t know how she does it without being a clone!

2. Musings of a Bookish Kitty is the book challenge QUEEN! I’m not sure exactly how many book challenges the Literary Feline participates in, but it’s quite a few. AND I love the cute kitty pics 😀

3. Steph Su Reads offers giveaways, book reviews and more. And in a fun bit of serendipity, I recently recieved a book from PBS with Steph’s return address. It was a fun surprise and made me smile 🙂

4.

Cell by Stephen King

Cell cover art

Title: Cell
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Pocket Books (division of Simon & Schuster)
Publication Date: December 2006
ISBN: 1416524517

The phone-crazies own the days; when the stars come out, that’s us.  We’re like vampires.  We;ve been banished to the night.  Up close we know each other because we can still talk; at a little distance we can be pretty sure of each other by the packs we wear and the guns more and more of us carry; but at a distance, the one sure sign is the waving flashlight beam.  Three days ago we not only ruled the earth, we had survivor’s guil about all the other species we’d wiped out on our climb to the nirvana of round-the-clock cable news and microwave popcorn.  Now we’re the Flashlight People.

          -Page 161 of Cell by Stephen King 

The apocalypse doesn’t begin with the deafening boom of war, but with the quiet ring of a cell phone.

 According to GEARlog, as of Nov. 2007 82% of United States citizens have cell phones, a number of  1/4 billion.  In fact, the United States is second only to China in number their number.  With that number in mind, imagine what would happen if some tech-terrorist broadcasted a virus, relaying it through the cell towers,  and anyone using a cell phone had the hard drive of their brains stripped to the core programming of violent, animalistic survival.  Those on their cells when The Pulse, as it’s called in the book, is activated and they become raging, psychotic, murdeous beasts ripping the throats out of those around them with their teeth and tearing the limbs off people with their bare hands.  If you were witnessing this, your first instict would be to grab your cell phone and call someone, getting an earful of the mind-scrambling Pulse and going mad because of it.

This is what happens to Clayton Riddell on the afternoon of his life, after he’s sold his graphic novel series and has achieved sudden weath.  As he sits on a park bench reflecting on his turn of luck and enjoying a beautiful October afternoon in Boston, he observes a man in a business suit biting a dog’s ear and ripping it off the side of the screaming animal’s head.

Clay is able to survive the initial event and hook up with a few other “normies” and head north to Maine, where Clay’s estranged wife and his 11-year-old son John live.  Reuniting with John is the only thing on Clay’s mind.  Two things plague Riddell, though: One, the ever-present fear John had been on his own cell phone when it happened, and Two,  the “phoners” are evolving, gaining new and unusual powers.

When Clayton’s band of survivors kill a flock of the phoners, they find themselves public enemy number one and are driven to the place of their intended doom by The Raggedy Man, spokesman for the new world.  Can they survive?  Will Clayton find his son?  if he does, What will he find left of the boy?

Stephen King’s Cell is remeniscent of several dystopic/apocalyptic books and stories, including King’s Mist and Stand.  In Cell we find Mrs. Carmody reincarnated in “Bible Thumping Bertha” as they make the exodus out of Boston, and we see a version of Randall Flagg in The Raggedy Man.  I was also reminded of McCarthy’s The Roadby the interactions and relationships of the survivors.  The visciousness of the phoners (they are very much like zombies) made me think of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend.  Though not a dystopic, The way the book ends reminds me of The Kite Runner by Khaled Housseini.  Even with the similarities, and perhaps because of them, Cell is is a gripping page turner that you won’t be able to put down!