Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd

Monday, October 31, 2016

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd
by Alan Bradley 

The one big problem I had with this novel is that I read it way too fast! I’ve grown to love Flavia de Luce and I look forward to reading each new release, but it goes way too quickly. It’s a good problem to have. This is one of the few series I’ve read where the books just keep getting better.

Flavia is back from Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Canada, but the halls of her beloved Buckshaw are quieter than normal. Her father is sick with pneumonia in the hospital. Bradley carries the reader effortlessly into Bishop’s Lacey in the 1950s. Once again, Flavia discovers a dead body and we’re off!

As is always true for me with these books, the murder mystery is secondary to the characters. Each new book adds layer upon layer to Flavia and her relationships with her family and friends. She is growing into a brilliantly astute woman, but she still has the self-involved innocence of a child in some areas of life. 

Dogger, Buckshaw’s caretaker, remains my favorite character. His steadfast devotion to Flavia’s father and his quiet guidance never disappoint. 
BOTTOM LINE: I love this series now so much more than when I read the first books. The deeper you get into Flavia’s world, the more attached you are to her and the people of Bishop’s Lacey.

“Growing up is like that, I suppose: the strings fall away and you’re left standing on your own. It was sad in a way that is hard to describe.”

“One can learn from a glance at a person’s library, not what they are, but what they wish to be.”

"I do not encourage early-morning chirpiness, even in those whom I know and love. It is generally a sign of sloppy mind and is not to be encouraged."

Tree of Codes

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Tree of Codes
by Jonathan Safran Foer
This is the strangest concept for a book that I’ve ever read. I’ve always enjoyed Jonathan Safran Foer’s work, so when this one came out I was immediately intrigued. I bought a copy in 2011 and it’s been on my shelf ever since. It’s not one of those books you can easily pick up and read.

The entire book is created out of the text of another book, Bruno Schulz’s The Street of Crocodiles. Foer chose his favorite book and then painstakingly chose a few words from each page to craft a new work. Every single page is die-cut, which makes it difficult to read. I finally found that the easiest way for me to read it was to place a dark sheet of paper after each page that I read. It was time-consuming, but that slowed me down enough to reflect on the words.

It’s absolutely a gimmick that could be a crutch, but somehow the novel is beautiful and haunting in its own right. Here’s one section…
"In the depths of the grayness, weeks passed like boats waiting to sail into the starless dawn, we were full of aimless endless darkness."

The plot revolves around a boy watching his father’s decent into madness or depression. The lyrical lines convey the anguish, but the plot is secondary.

My only regret is that I didn’t read The Street of Crocodiles first. That’s the main reason I waited so long to read Foer’s book, but I just haven’t found a copy yet. I need to just order one online, because I’d love to compare the works.

BOTTOM LINE: A fascinating work of art. The plot matters very little, but Foer’s skill as a writer comes through even when he is whittling away instead of building from scratch. It was an experience to read it. Not one I’d repeat, but definitely worth doing once.

Top photo from here, bottom photo by me.

Dewey 24 Hour Readathon!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

*********  UPDATED HOUR 17 ********
This is my 11th readathon, although the April one wasn’t quite what I was expecting. We ended up in the hospital for a week with my 3-month-old daughter. It was scary and there wasn’t a lot of reading. I’m excited to have a calm readathon today (with my husband's help)! 

Pages Read: 1,012 pages 
Currently Reading: Dark Matter and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic
Books Finished: 5: Tree of Codes, We Should All Be Feminist,
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, Brown Girl Dreaming, The Miracle Worker
Breaks Taken: lots, (nursing, blog updates, lunch, garage cleaning, diaper changes, fell asleep about 11 pm)
Mini-Challenges Completed: 14 (intro, six words, Litsy spine poetry, book & snack, birthday poem, memories, travel, casting, political, mid-event, video game, Fit, beverage, frightful)

You can also find me here on Instagram, Twitter, and LibraryThing and at @avidreader25 on LITSY!

End of Event Meme:
1) Which hour was most daunting for you?
Hour 15, I fell asleep and woke up two hours later.

2) Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Dark Matter, We Should All Be Feminist, and Brown Girl Dreaming

3) Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Nothing, it was great! Maybe ask for more volunteers if it takes any of the stress off of Heather and Andi.

4) What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I loved the flow of Twitter posts this year.

5) How many books did you read? 5 completed, two more that I got halfway through.

6) What were the names of the books you read? Tree of Codes, We Should All Be Feminist, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, Brown Girl Dreaming, The Miracle Worker (Dark Matter and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic - unfinished)

7) Which book did you enjoy most? Tree of Codes was unlike any book I've ever read, very memorable!
8) Which did you enjoy least?
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, fun but forgettable.

9) How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Definitely!

Mid-Event Survey

1. What are you reading right now? The Miracle Worker 
2. How many books have you read so far? 4 completed
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
Dark Matter
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? So many! My 9-month-old kiddo is obviously first priority. I've just tried to get more reading done while she naps.
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
I can't believe I haven't taken a nap!

Introduction Quiz:
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Indianapolis, IN
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Tree of Codes
by Jonathan Safran Foer and We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
 3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?  Apple chips and yogurt pretzels.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
This is my first readathon with an infant, so my breaks will include nursing, diaper changes, and cuddles. She’s nine months old, so she’s already crawling and getting into trouble!
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?
I have a kindle book ready to go so I can keep reading one-handed when I need to nurse my kiddo.

- I will be updating this post throughout the day so I don’t bomb people with half a dozen new posts.
- Please turn off your comment word verification for the day! It’s such a pain for cheerleaders.
- Tweet about your day with the hashtag #Readathon or by tagging @readathon 
- If you need any ideas for great readathon books, all my previous readathon posts are below.

April and October 2011  /  April and October 2012 / April and October 2013 / April 2014 / April and October 2015 / April.

Photos by me.

Reading the States: Fiction Complete!

Monday, October 10, 2016

It took me years, but I've finally completed the fiction portion of my Reading the States challenge. My goal is to read one fiction and one nonfiction book set in each state. I try to pick a book that describes the state or really feels like it in someway. Occasionally I'll settle for a book that is just set there if there aren't a lot of options (I'm looking at you Delaware). It's been so fun getting to know each state a bit better through literature. I still have 14 to go on the nonfiction side.

For some of the states I've read multiple books set there and I included a few of my favorites in this list. If you want to see a more complete list of both fiction and nonfiction books set in the state (plus bookstores and authors who live there) check out the complete list here.
Alabama: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Alaska: The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Arizona: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Arkansas: True Grit by Charles Portis (A Painted House by John Grisham) 
California: East of Eden by John Steinbeck (Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler) 
Colorado: Plainsong by Kent Haruf 
Connecticut: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
Delaware: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Florida: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston
Georgia: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Hawaii: The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings
Idaho: Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Illinois: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, The House on Mango Street is Sandra Cisneros)
Indiana: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington)
Iowa: The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Walker (Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella)
Kansas: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (Doc by Mary Dora Russell)
Kentucky: Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
Louisiana: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams)
Maine: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Maryland: The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
Massachusetts: Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
Michigan: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Minnesota: Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Mississippi: The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Missouri: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Montana: Montana 1948 by Larry Watson
Nebraska: O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
Nevada: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
New Hampshire: A Prayer for Own Meany by John Irving
New Jersey: The Plot Against America by Philip Roth, American Pastoral by Philip Roth
New Mexico: Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
New York: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald) 
North Carolina: Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks (The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver) 
North Dakota: The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
Ohio: Beloved by Toni Morrison (Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld)
Oklahoma: Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts (August: Osage County)
Oregon: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey (If I Stay by Gayle Forman)
Pennsylvania: Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Rhode Island: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
South Carolina: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
South Dakota: Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Tennessee: The Firm by John Grisham (An Abundance of Katherines by John Green)
Texas: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (11/22/63 by Stephen King)
Utah: When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka
Vermont: The Secret History by Donna Tartt (Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore)
Virginia: The Known World by Edward P. Jones
Washington: The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen (Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson)
Washington DC: Heartburn by Nora Ephron (Lost Symbol by Dan Brown)
West Virginia: Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Wisconsin: The Story of Edgar Sawtell by David Wroblewski (Loving Frank by Nancy Horan)
Wyoming: Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx