Trying a Readathon: Attempt #2 – #SPOOKATHON

Hello and Happy Halloween! For the month, because it’s still twenty-six days until Halloween. Happy general spirit of books and goodness and bookish goodness!

Sorry! I got a little muddled there but the Backspace button and I shall never meet. Probably. Not here.

To the point, I gave #Contemporaryathon a try last month. There were seven prompts with a goal of reading seven book. I finish one book and dnf’d another but, you know what, that book was freakin’ amazing* so I consider the whole thing a complete success. Basically.

But now it’s time for me to try a second readathon and I’m going to try #Spookathon, which is hosted by BooksandLala, Bookerly, and Peter Likes Books (their YouTube names, go see!) because… why not, right?

Right.

So, reserving full rights to make any and all changes because, as BooksandLala said, you can’t really do this readathon wrong, here is my TBR for #Spookathon (which runs from October 15-21, the Twitter handle is @thespookathon, just fyi)…

PROMPT: read a thriller
BOOK: “Cupcakes, Cappuccinos and a Corpse” by Harper Lin

PROMPT: read a book with purple on the cover
BOOK: “The Rain Watcher” by Tatiana de Rosnay

PROMPT: read a book not set in the current time period
BOOK: “The Little Shop of Found Things” by Paula Brackston

PROMPT: read a book with a spooky word in the title
BOOK: “A Soupcon of Poison” by Jennifer Ashley

PROMPT: read a book with pictures
BOOK: “Julia Jones’ Diary” by Katrina Kahler

*That book was VIRGIL WANDER by Leif Enger, please be reading that a.s.a.p, thank you.

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“The Kennedy Debutante” by Kerri Maher

So… I can be a snob about novels that are fictionalized tales of real people in history. I admit to this. I’m obsessed with all things history and have spent many hundreds of hours happily lost in the rabbit holes of history, playing a sort of Word Association as I get lost in Wikipedia articles about obscure people and places I’ve never known just how badly I wanted to study. <b>The Kennedy Debutante</b> is different because, long before Wikipedia was a dream in the eye of whoever it was that started it, I had a bit of an obsession with the Kennedy family.

My family would probably say it was more than a ‘bit’ of an obsession and the stack of biographies still resides in my closet. I have to admit that Wikipedia is a little easier to handle than stacks of thousand pages biographies and histories.

But anyway, my obsession is still alive and well, it seems, because when I saw a novel about Kick Kennedy (JFK’s second sister, fyi) available for request on NetGalley, I clicked Request before I read the synopsis. (Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Books for granting me access in exchange for an honest review!)

So, Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy was a debutante in London in when her father was U.S. Ambassador to England. Eighteen at the time, she was quickly swept up in the elite social circles of aristocratic England, despite her being a Catholic American. And she fell in love with the Marquess of Hartington, who was considered a potential husband for Queen Elizabeth II. He was a Protestant. This caused many problems.

Those are historical facts, a very quick summary.

For the book itself, the novelization of Kick Kennedy’s life… it just works. The looming backdrop of World War II, the fact that Kick is one of the lesser well-known Kennedys, the… I don’t know the reasons, really, but Maher has centered on something magical here. Kick’s view of the world is privileged but unique, bleak but honest, full of love and full of heartbreak.

This fast became one of those novels about real people where you find yourself thinking “I don’t know if this might have happened but… gosh, I hope it did!” because you want them to have their happily ever afters.

But Kick is sort of the forgotten tragedy when it comes to the Kennedy family. Hers was a life cut short at only twenty-eight, one full of love and strength and independence and character. I knew how it ended for her, for her and the Marquess she loved, for her in all things and yet Kerri Maher made me cry for Kick. It’s not easy to make me cry. But that someone as strong as Maher wrote Kick to be, as I believe she was from my dusty stack of biographies, lost so much made me root for her even when I knew how it would end.

If you like historical fiction, read this book. If you like love stories, read this book. If you’re alright with some angst and tragedy, read this book. If you know a little or a lot about the Kennedys, read this book. If you like fiction set around World War II, read this book. If you are human, just read this book!

Anne Shirley is my kindred spirit… I hope

I really do hope that Anne Shirley and I would be kindred spirits, were she real and had I grown up in the late 1800s on Prince Edward Island. A girl can dream, I believe Anne would say, and I have been dreaming the sorts of dreams Anne dreamed since… third grade maybe? I can’t remember exactly.

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What I do remember is this… this book, the one in the picture, is the original that I bought. I’d read it enough by the time fifth grade rolled around that, horror of horrors, the cover fell off one day in school. I had my book at school because Mrs. Bright, hands down the best teacher I had ever had, was reading Anne of Green Gables to us after lunch every day. Some kids in the class called this naptime. I did not. I toted my copy and read along with her. I remember she seemed amused and pleased by that. And I remember that when my cover fell off, she used masking tape to put it back on.

 

That tape remains there to this day.

Anyway, enough about Mrs. Carol Bright of Edison Elementary School (eternal thanks to all the teachers who read) and more about Anne.

But basically it is this… Anne Shirley and the world she lived in, the world L.M. Montgomery imagined, mean as much to me in 2018 as they did in 1991.

People who read books need to Wander with Virgil in this Leif Enger book

You know that moment when you finish a book, when you close it and all is right in the world? Except for a fear of the next book you pick up because, honestly, how could anything be as good as this one was?

That is Virgil Wander for me. I’m afraid of my next book because the story Leif Enger created is too good, too perfect, too hard to leave.

(I do now plan to read anything else Leif Enger has written, including his grocery list if I can get it!)

Virgil Wander, you see, is a man of never defined age who wanders, there are some fantastic themes running through this novel, through life until he splurges and buys a failing old movie theater called the Empress in a tiny, seemingly failing town on Lake Superior. And then, in a storm, he drives off the road and into icy water. The novel is not so much about his survival as it is about the life he lived compared to the life he could life compared to the life he wants to live. It is about the community he lives in, and how he is a part of it.

The characters Enger creates in this novel, from Virgil himself on down to ones who died before the story behinds, are so incredibly vivid and unique. Even the scenes in story that might seem small and insignificant are packed with deeper meaning. The underlying meaning and message of the novel seems to be that community is family, even if you don’t realize it in the moment. Virgil, for example, knew he lived in Greenstone and had a few close friends. After he survives the accident, he begins to find out just how much he meant to the people in town.

It’s heartwarming. It’s heartwarming because we all need this. We need to know what we mean to the people around us. We need to tell them what they mean to us.

And we all need to read this book, because I don’t want to be the only one dreaming of bike riding with Virgil, fishing for giant sturgeon with Galen, snowplowing with Lily, and flying fantastic kites with Rune.

Please, people, read this book. I know I will read it again. And again.

I received an uncorrected proof of Virgil Wander through BookishFirst in exchange for an honest, original review.

My first #Readathon… #ContemporaryAThon! (which I will likely fail at)

It’s time.

It’s time for me to give a seven-day #Readathon a try. I don’t know why I keep hashtagging the word instead of putting it in quotation marks. Is there a proper way to say it? Don’t blame me, I’m new at this.

In any case…

It’s time.

I was watching #booktube (really, why stop with the overuse of hashtags now, am I right?), as you do, and found myself watching TBR videos for #ContemporaryAThon (there’s actually supposed to be a hashtag there!). This Readathon is hosted by @chelseadolling (her Twitter handle) and some other people (I apologize to the other people, I looked on Twitter for the proper hashtag and saw her first so we’re going with that… and now overusing parentheses).

For Contemporary-A-Thon, the goal is to read seven (contemporary) books in seven days. The seven days are tomorrow, September 17 through Sunday, September 23. My nephew and niece may be coming to visit this weekend so I will not read seven books, almost certainly, but I figured it’s also a good week to get my feet wet, so to speak, and see if I can read, say, a book a day before trying to actually complete a seven books/seven day challenge, you know, later.

Good plan?

I think so.

Anyway, as you do with these things, I’ve worked up something of a TBR/plan/thought process for this so, without further ado…

  • read a contemporary with orange on the cover –> The Waiter by Matias Faldbakken
  • read a dark/spooky contemporary –> Me (and) Me by Alice Kuipers
  • read a diverse contemporary –> Instructions for a Funeral by David Means
  • read a contemporary written in a non-traditional format –> Julia Jones Diary – Book #1 by Katrina Kahler
  • read a contemporary with my initials somewhere on the cover –> The Mansion by Ezekiel Boone
  • read a contemporary by a new to you (me) author –> Virgil Wander by Leif Enger
  • read a contemporary that is a 5 star prediction –> Paris for One by Jojo Moyes

And that’s my TBR. We’ll see what happens!

My (let’s say) 7 1/2 Days of Confusion (and happiness) with Evelyn Hardcastle

Right. So. I’m giving this book five stars.

This is a surprise.

To me.

Because I’m not entirely sure what I just read but… apparently I loved it? *shrugs*

My experience reading this… gotta be honest, I’m not even sure how how to classify this book so let’s say… this book by Stuart Turton went something like this…

*while reading*

me: ooh, historical fiction murder mystery, I like
me: huh?
me: oh that makes…
me: no, that doesn’t make sense at all
me: now it’s starting to make sense
me: no, it’s really not… is this dude (is he Sebastian or Aiden?!?! like, originally) inhabiting other people’s bodies?! wtf?!
me: this is such a… weird way to tell this story
me: these people take a lot of naps
me: huh?
me: and also, huh???
me: why I am emotionally invested in Evelyn Hardcastle and who murdered (or didn’t… and also keeps murdering) her?
me: I accept my emotional investment in these people, how many ever of them are in one body at the same damn time
me: still a little bit huh?
me: omg, I did not expect that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
me: that was a ridiculous and perfect ending! it should not be the same ending with those two words
me: I’ve gotta read this again
me: also, Stuart Turton, sir? are you writing a prequel? a sequel? a series? more to explain the twist? I’d totally read them! I have no idea why, but I will!

(Many thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for the ARC copy of this book, which I reviewed in happy confusion, or tried to, with all honesty.)

Better late than never… seeing how I’m doing on reading challenges: part 1

I had grand plans, people. Grand plans of being a Reader this year. Not just reading books but reading books to complete challenges, reading those books because they’d make me a ‘better’ reader. I thought. Good times, those grand plans were. I wished to complete a challenge or two. But, as they say

if wishes were horses, the world would be knee deep in horse shit

(I think it was Stephen King who said that, maybe? Don’t quote me on it. My grandmother said ‘beggars would ride’ so there’s a PG option to it too. You’re welcome.)

Anyway, life happened.

As it does.

I’ve read 41 books so far this year (one ahead of my Goodreads goal schedule, go me!), nothing to frown about at all, but I actually lost the list I was using to keep track of (in this case) the PopSugar 2018 Reading Challenge. Then I forgot about the challenge until I rededicated myself to… this.

So here we are, seeing how I’m accidentally faring at the PopSugar 2018 Reading Challenge by reading whatever the hell I want when I want. Should be fun, right? Hmm…

There are, strictly speaking, 50 prompts on this challenge – 40 regular and 10 ‘advanced’. There’s no way that I’m even close to all 50 so it’d be silly of me to type them all out when I could be, you know, reading. And you would not want to read a list of my… not failures but… things I didn’t do. I hope.

So here’s the plan. I’ll look at the list and give you, should you actually care, only the list of things I did do. It won’t be a rose-colored glasses, make myself look like Super Reader sort of thing because I already told you there are 50 and you’re about to see the paltry number assigned to what I did do. Good deal?

Good. Now, without further ado…

Prompts I Can Accidentally Check Off

  1. the next book in a series you started – Scandal Above Stairs by Jennifer Ashley (book 2 in the Kat Holloway Mysteries)
  2. a novel based on a real person – Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar (based on the life of Helene Hanneman)
  3. a book set in a country that fascinates you – The Last Days of Cafe Leila by Donia Bijan
  4. a book with a time of day in the title – After Nightfall by A.J. Banner
  5. a book by an author of a different ethnicity than you – How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs
  6. a book about mental health – Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly
  7. a book you borrowed or that was given to you as a gift – Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare (I adore you, Jaclyn, my parabatai!)
  8. a book about or involving a sport – Brave Enough by Kati Gardner (ballet counts as a sport!)
  9. a book that’s published in 2018 – Bunburry – Murder at the Mousetrap by Helena Marchmont
  10. a book set in the decade you were born – Entangled Lives by Imran Omer
  11. a book you meant to read in 2017 but didn’t get to – Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
  12. a microhistory – Seven Sovereign Queens by Geoffrey Trease (7 microbiographies of 7 queens)
  13. a book about a problem facing society today – The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward (illegal immigration)

Hey! Thirteen! That’s not bad at all, if I do say so myself. And I do.

I’m not stressed about completing the challenge, we’ll just pretend I’m going to try harder for their 2019 challenge, but I will check back in at the end of the year for sure.

What about you? How are your 2018 reading challenges going?