Summer Reading: 48 Hour Book Challenge 2014 Wrap Up

I did squeeze in 30 more minutes of listening to the audio book of One Good Turn this morning, even with the busy-ness of getting everything together to head to church.  I didn’t quite finish, but I do think that is the longest amount time I have spent listening to an audio book as part of the 48 Hour Book Challenge.

I really liked reading on Friday as in years past I have not been able to do so, and it was nice to settle in and read.  I didn’t get as much networking/commenting as I would have liked, but now I can cheer on everyone else who is still reading.  I liked the focus for the challenge on diverse books, although I would really only count Don’t Touch by Rachel Wilson out of the books I read.

I surpassed by time spent reading from last year which makes me much happier than it probably should.  20 hours 10 minutes read, 1 hour 30 minutes networking/blogging.  

Summer Reading: 48 Hour Book Challenge 2014

weneeddiversebooks-logoSunday Morning, 1:15 a.m. A fairly typical day at work, although I did squeeze in some reading.  Came home to make dinner and listened to more of One Good Turn.  Took a break and ate, watched television with my husband, then back to the audio book while I made dill dip, vegetables and mini cupcakes for coffee hour at church tomorrow.  Then I finished sewing a fleece blanket for a gift for a friend and wrapped up the blanket and a copy of I am the Messenger to celebrate her recent graduation from high school.  Sat down and read the last few pages of Don’t Touch by Rachel Wilson, and I have to say this book really speaks to me.

I have not read many books for the challenge that I would say are diverse, but this is one.  Caddie’s anxiety is so real it hurts,  and I should know, having dealt with my own anxiety as an adult.  I do not struggle with OCD or magical thinking, but I know what it feels like to think you might fly into a million pieces or to consider doing something that seems freeing but is really a cry for help.  If there are other books for teens featuring this kind of anxiety I am not recalling one off hand.  I wish I could say we don’t need books like this one but we do.  I feel like I have a second wind, but reality is telling me I have t get up in five hours and be somewhat functional.  Although I will say it is quite tempting to finish the audio book.  19 hours 40 minutes, 737 pages read, 1 hour 30 minutes blogging/networking

Saturday Morning, 8:30 a.m. I did manage to make it till 12:30 a.m. last night.  I went to bed not because I wasn’t interested in what I was reading, but because I knew I had to be up and get ready for work this morning.  I ended up choosing Don’t Touch by Rachel Wilson.  A debut novel that has a main character who is immediately compelling, trying to navigate a new school, old friendships, and her parents’ possible divorce through severe anxiety.  I managed another hour of reading this morning.  12 hours, 585+ pages read, 1 hour 15 minutes blogging/networking.

Friday Night, 11:30 p.m. Took an extended break to cook dinner and spend time with my husband this evening.  That being said, I started and finished Death Comes Silently by Carolyn Hart.  I noted in my review of the previous entry in the series that it seemed like Hart was making the series “fit” contemporary preferences by placing the characters in more serious danger and suspense as opposed to having most of the violence take place off stage.  The same was true with this entry.  I enjoyed it, although I did find myself wondering how many murders could there be on a small island?  Also a couple of references to popular culture threw me a little, although I loved her saying that Max was like Joe Hardy, as I have often compared Annie Darling to Nancy Drew.  Now trying to decide what to read next.  I have a feeling if I can’t engage with a title, I will probably get sleepy quickly.  However, I also think that I have read more hours at this point into the challenge then any other year.  10 hours, 30 minutes and 476+ pages read.  1 hour blogging/networking.

Friday Afternoon, 4:00 p.m.  Considering it is my day off and I did the grocery shopping last night, I had a bit to do around the house today.  I did my normal cleaning plus cleaned the shower and cooked several casseroles for the freezer.  I was delighted to find the downloadable audio book of Kate Atkinson’s One Good Turn to listen to while I worked.  I was just thinking about the genius of her work, that there are mysteries and mysterious events surrounding a diverse cast of characters, often seeming discrete and divergent that somehow connect and relate or intertwine so that many stories are really one, and the important parts are not what you first thought. I think listening to these on audio is ideal because I can really savor them  I also finished I am the Weapon by Allen Zadoff (which I had started yesterday I think?)  This first in a series is very well paced, and fills a niche left by Alex Rider, although for me the actual meat of the story was a little more realistic, even if the set up for how the main character got there is less so (and now that I think of it, very Alex Rider-esque).  Seems that this book is being re-released under this new title with a bigger push, perhaps because it has been optioned for development.  6 hours, 25 minutes and 200+ pages read.

Friday Morning, 8:15 a.m.: It is that time of year again, time for the 48 Hour Book Challenge.  I guess I talk about it more than I realize, as a coworker mentioned it to me as I was leaving work yesterday.  In past years I had always wished to do the challenge on Friday and Saturday, and this year that is what I am doing. My work schedule has changed, so I have Fridays off.  Of course, still going to be reading while running errands, cooking, cleaning and all of that.

My goals again this year are to have fun, read a variety of books, and try to network more. I have been trying to blog more, at which I have only been marginally successful.  I have been trying to read more, which is going much better.  I do have lots of books all over as well as a ton of e-galleys on my tablet, but will likely take a trip to the library JUST to be safe. (Running out of books, not going to happen.  Staying awake? Now that remains to be seen.)

If you want to participate, it isn’t too late to get in on the action. More information here. The twitter hash tag for the challenge is #48hbc, if anyone else wants to follow along. The challenge is back on Mother Reader’s blog, and she is focusing on the recent (and unfortunately not so recent) push for diversity in children’s and young adult literature #weneeddiversebooks.

Florida Mystery Writers Association Breakfast

Florida Chapter Mystery Writers of America Breakfast FLA 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had the pleasure to attend my 2nd Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America Breakfast at the Florida Library Association 2014 Annual Conference in Orlando.  Librarians love free food and free coffee more but what we really love is listening to authors talk about their books.

The panel was led, as it was last year, by Nancy J. Cohen who in addition to writing several series of books has an extremely dry sense of humor and wit that is so subtle you almost don’t realize how funny she is.  Each author spoke for a few minutes about their books and then there was time for the audience to ask questions.  Here is some of what stood out for me.

FoundA veteran of the U.S. Army and former lawyer, H. Terrell Griffin writes the Matt Royal series set in Longboat Key, Florida.   One thing he finds interesting about being a writer is that people are impressed with that.  One morning he was having his picture taken outside for a magazine.  A guy drives up, sees the photographer and all the camera gear and asks what’s going on?  The photographer says I’m taking this man’s picture.  The guy says why?  For a magazine, he’s a writer.  The guy says have I ever heard of you?  H. Terrell says I’m James Patterson.  The guy says nope, I’ve never heard of you.  H. Terrell served on the library board of his local public library and has great respect for what librarians do.

Joanna Campbell Slan writes the Kiki Lowenstein series, the Jane Eyre Chronicles and the Cara Mia Delgatto series.picture perfect corpse   Joanna says she writes about ordinary women doing extraordinary things.  Whatever goes wrong in her life, she can put it into one of her books.  Once when she was travelling, she realized she was one pair of panties short for her trip.  So she washed out a pair in the sink and hung it up to dry.  It seems like the crotch of the panties never dry as fast, so she hung it over the hotel lamp and went about whatever else she was doing until she smelled something burning.  When her husband was doing laundry, he said why does it look like your panties caught on fire?

Joanna grew up in a violent, alcoholic family.   She became a voracious reader and would walk to the public library to check out an armful of books that she would start reading on the way home (she has the scars on her knees from tripping while reading to show for it).  One day her mom said don’t you have anything to read?  Joanna said I read them all already.  Her mom put her in the car and they drove to the library.  Her mom told the librarian you need to give this child bigger books.  The librarian introduced me to Jane Eyre.  Joanna identified with the book and with Jane, and decided she needed to be like her–get an education which is a path to a better life.  As librarians you might never know that the next book you give someone could be the key.

DeadStickDawnS.L. Menear is a debut author and the first book in the Samantha Starr series sounds fascinating and fun.  She was only 11 months younger than her brother and when they were growing up, she did everything he did: flying airplanes, riding motorcycles, scuba diving, para sailing, hang gliding.  In her 20s she went to work for Pan-Am as a flight attendant.  As the new person she was always on call if someone more senior called in sick.   So she traveled all over but most of her fellow crew had been there and done that before, so she found herself wandering around by herself.  She found herself in revolutions, gunfire, earthquakes, bombs going off.

All of these things happened in her life, and she stored them up and figured she would put them in a book.

When she heard that the commercial airlines were going to hire one female pilot each, she decided to train to be a pilot.  She was hired as one of the first of these and flew for many years.  Then when she developed a rare eye disease, had to stop.  Her mother was a writer, and suggested why don’t you write a book?  Deadstick Dawn was that book.  Deadstick refers to flying with the engine off.  The series features a female pilot in her 20s, Samantha Starr, who flies for an elite charter airline.  (The kind where the planes have luxury cabins!)  It might be more properly called a thriller than a straight mystery.  The second book is due out later this year.

Miriam Auerbach writes the Dirty Harriet series.  Harriet is “just like” Miriam–Harriet rides a motorcycle, Miriam a bicycle.  Harriet lives in a log cabin in the Everglades, Miriam in an air conditioned home in a gated community.  Harriet shot and killed her husband, Miriam shot and kDirtyHarriet200illed a beer can.  Miriam came up with the idea for Dirty Harriet when she was in a funk after being passed over for a promotion.  She was sitting in bed, eating chocolate and watching Dirty Harry movies.  She didn’t understand that character, but then realized, what if he was a she? Dirty Harriet.

A former Boca Babe (high maintenance woman married to a high income man) who looks like she lives a charmed life but is in an abusive relationship.  One day he pushed her too far.  “Go ahead, make my day” and she shoots him.  Harriet leaves the high consumption lifestyle behind, moves to the Everglades and becomes a P.I.

hangingbyahairNancy J. Cohen writes The Bad Hair Day series.  She likes to include things that actually happened to her.  For example, once neighbors were building a fence and it appeared to be on her property.  If it were built, her sprinkler piped would be in their side of the fence.  She went out and confronted the workmen (who happened to be driving a truck without a license plate).  This become the premise for Hanging by a Hair.

As far as libraries and books go, she was a fan of Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton and Cherry Ames.  Judy for character development and Cherry for inspiring her to become a nurse.  Later on she read the Horatio Hornblower series and again loved the character development.  What she looks for is characters that grow and change.  She also tried to incorporate issues that are reality for anyone living in Florida, such as child drowning and skin cancer detection tips.  She hopes to make readers as eager for the ext installment as she was for the next Nancy Drew.

This was followed by a Question and Answer period.  I will maybe post that as a part 2.

 

 

Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

WeWereLiarsBibliography: Lockhart, E. (2014). We Were Liars. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN: 978-0385741262    

Plot Summary: From the publisher (I don’t usually use these but I really like this one, the content, language and form…)

A beautiful and distinguished family.

A private island.

A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.

A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.

A revolution. An accident. A secret.

Lies upon lies.

True love.

The truth.

Thoughts:  I almost wasn’t going to post about this book because I am not sure I know how I feel about it yet although I finished it weeks ago.  On the one hand, we know from almost the first sentence that Cadence is an unreliable narrator, prone to exaggeration and over-wrought emotion.  And yet, with Lockhart’s style, this overwroughtness flirts with magical realism, which I love.  I would love to see more of this in young adult literature.  Perhaps I read this too close together with Julie Berry’s All the Truth That’s in Me…while the setting and characters couldn’t be more different, the protagonists in both are coming to terms with events that have transpired which they either can’t or won’t quite remember.   And yet, as I write this, I realize that the the overwroughtness and the hints of magical realism are the key to the story and maybe I am more irked because I didn’t see the twist coming.  I bought into the emotion and the friendships and the stories and the ending knocked the wind out of me.  I suspected something but that wasn’t it and it was indeed a crushing feeling.  So I think girls especially will be drawn to Cadence and her trials and tribulations and privileged and yet slightly off kilter lifestyle, family, and friends.  And yet, in some ways this is a book for everyone: a family drama, a coming of age tale, a Romeo and Juliet romance, a summer read, a twisty piece of psychological suspense (and it is short).

Extras:  We Were Liars website/tumblr

Review Excerpts:

“Surprising, thrilling, and beautifully executed in spare, precise, and lyrical prose, Lockhart spins a tragic family drama, the roots of which go back generations. And the ending? Shhhh. Not telling. (But it’s a doozy)…This is poised to be big.”-Booklist

“Lockhart has created a mystery with an ending most readers won’t see coming, one so horrific it will prompt some to return immediately to page one to figure out how they missed it. At the center of it is a girl who learns the hardest way of all what family means, and what it means to lose the one that really mattered to you.”-Publishers Weekly

“Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.”-Kirkus

“The ending is a stunner that will haunt readers for a long time to come.”-School Library Journal

“A taut psychological mystery marked by an air of uneasy disorientation…The ultimate reveal is shocking both for its tragedy and for the how-could-I-have-not-suspected-that? feeling it leaves us with. But we didn’t, which is Lockhart’s commendable triumph.”-The Horn Book

“A Lockhart YA is always a treat and this is no exception…The glimpse we get into a life of privilege, a lifestyle most of us can only imagine, is insightful and thrilling. The ending will shock the most jaded of readers, we promise!”-RT Book Reviews

“E. Lockhart’s latest novel will blow readers away. Spectacular plotting and character delineation build to an ending that will hit readers like a tidal wave…This is a love story as much as it is a psychological mystery. The true genius of Lockhart’s plotting comes with the second reading, when we see that the clues were there, just below the surface of the placid island waters.”-Shelf Awareness

So Many Books, So Little Time: Reader’s Advisory for the Rest of Us SWFLN Library Staff Day 2014

So excited to have been asked to present at SWFLN’s Library Staff Day this year.  After some discussion, I settled on a program on reader’s advisory. I consulted the fine librarians at Fiction-L who were extremely helpful and generous with sharing their ideas.   I wanted to have the presentation not just be me taking about content, so I added in several activities and opportunities for interaction.   I also had a dream about my presentation where I set up a display of Blind Date with a Book on each table. I wanted to show the attendees more than just pictures of displays, plus then the books could be used for other activities.   I don’t usually dream about things like that so I figured it must be a sign.  (Or maybe just a way to clear off some of the bookshelves since I brought home so many books from ALA and had received still others from various publishers throughout the year.)

When I started putting the slides together, I knew I wanted lots of pictures for visual interest and to lighten things up.  I remembered a webinar I had attended where the presenter had used images from the Florida Memory site.  So I searched there and found not only tons of pictures of libraries, books and reading, but also a collection of vintage postcards, pictures of animals and lots more.  I also found some wonderful information about reader’s advisory on the web from websites, blogs and other presentations, which lead me to start this huge list of links: reader’s advisory links (which I tried to make using pearltrees but wouldn’t embed so I hand coded using html to make anchors on the page because WordPress doesn’t do it automatically?  Flashback to the year 2000 and the Arlington Public Library!)

Despite a few technical difficulties, a shortened time slot and non-functioning air conditioning (hello 80 degrees.  Glad I went against my inclination and was NOT wearing a suit), people seemed to enjoy the presentation.  Several people spoke to me after to say that one thing or the other I had said to them really was what they needed to hear.  Also the blind date with a book and free books (some autographed) were a hit.  And I have it on good authority that the main negative comment is that people wanted more.  So I guess I need to start working on the next one…