Bout of Books 15 Wrap-up

Bout of Books

Well, another Bout of Books has come and gone! Sadly, I didn’t read as much as I’d hoped — my goal was 1,000 pages, and I only read 226! *blush* But at least I read something, right? I think part of my problem was that I alternated between two sizable books: Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, which is just a brick, and Frances de Pontes Peebles’ The Seamstress, which is a slow-moving historical saga of 600+ pages. Don’t get me wrong; both books are good — War and Peace, in particular, is a very pleasant surprise! But they couldn’t quite hold my focus for sustained periods of time. I would have been better off with shorter books; then I’m sure I would have gotten a lot closer to my goal. I also participated in almost every challenge, which was fun as always. Looking forward to the next installment of Bout of Books in May! 🙂

Bout of Books 15 Progress

Bout of Books

I’m so excited to be participating in another round of Bout of Books! Throughout the week, I’ll be updating this post with my progress and with my entries for the various mini-challenges. As I mentioned in my sign-up post, my overall goal is to read 1,000 pages during the read-a-thon.

Day 1: Monday 1/4

Pages read: 19 — not the world’s greatest start, but it’s better than nothing!
Books read from: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Challenge: Introduce Yourself in Six Words, hosted by Bout of Books. My six words are: Catholic, introvert, Janeite, musician, cheerful, procrastinator.

Day 2: Tuesday 1/5

Pages read: 36 — that’s progress, I guess! 🙂
Books read from: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy; The Seamstress by Frances de Pontes Peebles
Challenge: Would You Rather, hosted by Writing My Own Fairytale. She asks, would you rather…

  • Lend books to someone who dog-ears pages or to someone who reads with cheesy Cheetos fingers? I’m going with dog-ears, because you can more easily unfold a dog-ear than remove a Cheetos stain! (Says the girl who regularly eats cheese-flavored snacks while reading!)
  • Be able to meet one character of your choice or meet one author of your choice? Hmm, I think author. Tempting as it would be to meet Mr. Darcy, I’d rather meet Jane Austen! It’s her brain that created him, after all.
  • Never be allowed in a book store again or never be allowed in a library again? Hmm…I feel like I should say bookstore, because then I could still go to the library and buy all my books from Amazon. But the truth is, I can’t even imagine never going into a bookstore again! So I’m saying library.
  • Have to choose one of your favorite characters to die in their book or have to pick one of your favorite couples to break up in their book? Ugh, neither! But I suppose if I have to choose, I’d say break up. They can always get back together in the sequel…while there’s life, there’s hope!
  • Be required to read Twilight once a year for the rest of your life or The Scarlet Letter once a year for the rest of your life? The Scarlet Letter. It’s not my favorite classic, but it’s really not so bad! And, bonus — it’s shorter than Twilight!

Day 3: Wednesday 1/6

Pages read: 44 — bringing me to a grand total of 99 pages, or 9.9% of my overall goal. What can I say? I haven’t had much reading time this week, and while both of my books are good, neither one is totally grabbing me right now.
Books read from: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy; The Seamstress by Frances de Pontes Peebles
Challenge: Bookish Rainbow, hosted by Ranty Runt of a Reader. My official challenge entry is on Twitter, but I couldn’t resist sharing my rainbow here as well!

book rainbow

Day 4: Thursday 1/7

Pages read: 54, bringing me to 153 pages total. Still plugging away!
Books read from: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy; The Seamstress by Frances de Pontes Peebles
Challenge: Villain Mashup, hosted by Bingeing On Books. Hear me out, but I’d like to see a battle of wits between Don John from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and Acheron Hades from Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair. Both of these characters appear to be villainous for no particular reason; they just both really like evil for its own sake. But Don John is very logical and methodical in plotting to screw over his brother, whereas Acheron Hades is more chaotic (i.e., he basically just runs around kidnapping and murdering people). I’d be interested to see these two villains match wits, and I’m honestly not sure who would win!

Day 5: Friday 1/8

Pages read: 0
Books read from: N/A
Challenge: N/A

So, life happened and I actually didn’t read anything today! But I’m definitely planning on some quality reading time this weekend…although I think it’s obvious at this point that I won’t hit my 1,000-page goal! *blush*

Day 6: Saturday 1/9

Pages read: 73
Books read from: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy; The Seamstress by Frances de Pontes Peebles
Challenge: Comfy Reading Spot, hosted by Once Upon a Chapter. My spot is pretty boring…it’s just my couch. Sometimes there’s a blanket. I usually have a glass of water on the neighboring bookshelf, so it’s within easy reach. Super exciting, right? 🙂

comfy reading spot

Day 7: Sunday 1/10

Pages read: 0
Books read from: N/A
Challenge: none

Bout of Books 14 Progress

Bout of BooksMonday 8/17

Hooray, Bout of Books 14 started today! I meant to set up a post earlier, but time just got away from me (by which I mean I was watching “Gilmore Girls” and then listening to the Gilmore Guys podcast. This is my life now). I didn’t even get any reading done today! But I did manage to take a look at the Fictional World Travel challenge, which asked us to list 3-6 books set in a country other than our own. I think we were supposed to pick 3-6 different countries, but all the books I chose are set in France! I wanted to do a fun theme…plus, I really just wanted to make a bookish Eiffel Tower!

Vive la France!

  1. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy — One of my all-time favorite books, involving spies and romance during the French Revolution! Part of the book takes place in England as well, but I’m still counting it. 🙂
  2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins — A lovely YA contemporary romance about an American teen at a French boarding school who falls for the most swoonworthy boy in the world!
  3. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery — A novel about a middle-aged concierge and a 12-year-old girl, both of whom are highly intelligent social outcasts who yearn for — and eventually find — human connection. It starts slowly but gets much better as it goes on!
  4. Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda — A charming Parisian romance that develops when an artist, a chef, and an aristocrat become roommates and unlikely friends.

So, that’s my challenge entry! Any other French books or books set in France that I should check out?

Tuesday 8/18

I’m getting a head start on Bout of Books today with the Scavenger Hunt challenge! While I don’t own all of these books, each one is a book I’ve really enjoyed or can’t wait to read! Here’s what I “found” for this challenge:

Blue Lily, Lily BlueBridge of SpiesJackaby

1. A book that begins with B: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (review is here)
2. A book I’m currently reading for Bout of Books: Bridge of Spies: A True Story of the Cold War by Giles Whittell
3. A blue book: Jackaby by William Ritter (review is here)

Sorcery and CeceliaCut to the QuickLure of the Moonflower, The

4. Books from my favorite genres: Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer (historical fiction & fantasy); Cut to the Quick by Kate Ross (historical fiction & mystery — review is here)
5. A book from my TBR pile: The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig

I also managed to read about 40 pages of my current book, Bridge of Spies. I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, and it tends to go slowly for me because there’s no story to latch onto. But I am enjoying the book — lots of fascinating stuff about spycraft in the Cold War era!

Wednesday 8/19

Today’s MASH challenge was a real blast from the past! My friends and I definitely did this in elementary school. Here’s my game (I got the number 3 from the random number generator):


As you can see, I will marry Julian Kestrel (the detective in Kate Ross’ wonderful Regency mystery series)! We will live in a house in Stars Hollow with our pet dragon and four kids, and I’ll drive a Rolls Royce. But I’ll probably be away from home a lot because of my career as a rock star! Yes, I accept this future. 🙂

Also, I decided to switch gears with my reading today. Instead of continuing with Bridge of Spies (which I’m reading in tandem with an online friend), I read the first few chapters of Leigh Bardugo’s Siege and Storm! This is my first time reading the Grisha trilogy, and I’m enjoying it so far…hoping to finish before my pre-order of Six of Crows arrives!

Thursday 8/20

So, Thursday was a total wash for me! I didn’t do any reading, nor did I complete the daily challenge. Oh well — hopefully I’ll do better over the weekend!

Friday 8/21

Another non-reading, non-challenge-doing day! I blame Netflix; I started re-watching “Friday Night Lights” and basically lost track of everything. 🙂

Saturday 8/22

No reading, no challenges. Womp womp.

Sunday 8/23

And once again, no reading, no challenges! I certainly ended this Bout of Books “not with a bang but a whimper”!

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon

readathon - dewey's 24 hour 10-9-10The long-awaited day has finally arrived: Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon is upon us! This post will be my home base throughout the day, where I’ll be logging my progress and participating in mini-challenges. I’ve got a bunch of snacks and a stack of books all ready to go, so let the games begin!

11:04 a.m. — Argh, I overslept! So I haven’t actually started reading yet…but I’m about to get going with Every Breath by Ellie Marney! Hope everyone is enjoying his/her day so far!

Classic Words of Wisdom Mini-Challenge

From the host’s website: “[C]reate a post highlighting your favorite ‘Classic Words of Wisdom’ and then explain their meaning to you.” This is one of my absolute favorite quotes, from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit:

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

To me, this quote is a reminder to focus on life’s simple pleasures and to be “merry” whenever possible. Not bad life advice, I think!

Four Seasons, Four Books Mini-Challenge

From the host’s website: “This mini challenge is to convey the four seasons in four book covers, by colour, title, author, cover, or something a little less obvious. Just arrange your covers, snap a photo and then upload it.” Here are my choices for spring, summer, fall, and winter:

Peach Keeper, TheSince You've Been GoneOutlaws of Sherwood, TheWinter Long, The

1:21 p.m. — About halfway through Every Breath now, and it’s SO GOOD! I’ve just put the sequel on my wishlist. 🙂

3:17 p.m. — Finished Every Breath and really, really liked it! I did guess the culprit’s identity fairly early on, but the fun is in getting there, and in watching the slow burn of Watts and Mycroft’s relationship. Now I’m on to French Leave by Anna Gavalda, of which I have high hopes, since I really enjoyed Gavalda’s previous novel Hunting and Gathering!

Treasure Hunt Mini-Challenge

From the host’s website: “[F]ind a book with one of the listed items on the cover.” The listed items were a tree, snow, and a weapon, and here’s what I found:

Treasure Hunt mini-challenge

Tree — Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
Snow — The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire
Weapon — The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

Book Spine Poetry Mini-Challenge

From the host’s website: “Using the titles on book spines, make a short poem at least three ‘books’ long/tall.” This is one of my very favorite mini-challenges — it’s always so much fun to get creative with the books on my shelves! Here’s my poem:

book spine poetry

A song for summer, season of storms:
Let’s get lost in the woods.
Bewitching season, endless summer.

5:07 p.m. — I just finished French Leave, which was quite charming and a perfect palate-cleanser after the intense Every Breath. I did love this one passage, which is about a conversation between four adult siblings:

And then we talked about our parents. The way we always did. About Mom and Pop. Their new lives. Their own love stories. And our future. In short, the everyday trifles and the handful of people that filled our lives.

It wasn’t much, trifles to many people, and yet a boundless fortune.

9:32 p.m. — I took a little break from the readathon this evening to play in a community orchestra concert. But now it’s back to reading, and I’m in the middle of Katie Van Ark’s The Boy Next Door, which is really making me want to watch “The Cutting Edge”!

11:40 p.m. Finished The Boy Next Door, which was fine but lacked that spark that makes me really excited about a book. Not sure it will have a permanent home on my shelves. Oh well! On to my next pick, Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).

Music Is Muse Mini-Challenge

From the host’s website: “Whilst you’ve been reading I wonder if you’ve felt a particular musical connection to a book, or a character. I want to know what songs remind you of that character, or connect you to something you’ve read today. For this hour’s mini challenge please tell me the name of the song, and the connection you feel to it.” For this challenge, I’ve assigned a song to each of the books I’ve read so far:

  • Every Breath by Ellie Marnie — “You Really Got Me” by the Kinks (listen here). I think this is a song that main character Mycroft would listen to; he has an appreciation for the classics! Plus, the book as a whole gives me the vibe of a high-energy rock song with snarly/angry vocals.
  • French Leave by Anna Gavalda — “Absolutely Cuckoo” by the Magnetic Fields (listen here). The song is short and whimsical, the perfect complement to this charming French novella! For some reason, I can imagine the characters riding bikes through the French countryside with this song as a soundtrack.
  • The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark — “Love Story” by Taylor Swift (listen here). This song is THE perfect choice for this book, which is about two young lovers who believe they’re destined to be together. And Romeo and Juliet is a prominent narrative in both the book and the song!

Reading Story Mini-Challenge

From the host’s website: “For this challenge you will be writing a six word story based on your read-a-thon experience so far or what you hope for the rest of your read-a-thon.” Here is my six-word story: “Read three books on couch. Success!”

1:13 a.m. Well, it’s Hour 18, and I think I’m going to have to call it quits! Sadly, I have to get up at a decent hour tomorrow morning. 😦 But before I go, I want to leave you all with this brilliant quote from Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), where Mindy Kaling is describing her first NYC apartment:

It was a staircase for killing someone and making it seem like an accident.

I’ve been cackling so loudly over this book that I think I’m disturbing the neighbors. Anyhow, this is me signing off, but best of luck to those of you who are still reading! You can do it!!!

24-hour Read-a-Thon Updates

24hr readathon girl readingIt’s time: Dewey’s 24-hour read-a-thon starts now! I already know I won’t be reading for all 24 hours…I have a prior commitment for a few hours this evening, plus I’m on allergy meds that are knocking me out, so I’ll definitely be needing some sleep tonight! But I still plan to read as much as I can, and I’ll be updating my progress in this post throughout the day. Looking forward to checking out other people’s progress as well!

So, without further ado, the intro meme!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Arlington, VA
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I don’t really have a stack this year…but I’m hoping to make some more headway in Sharon Kay Penman’s The Sunne in Splendour, which I started a while ago but had to set aside because it was taking so long to read! Don’t get me wrong, I like it a lot — it’s just giant and time-consuming.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Again, I don’t really have specific snacks, although there are some cut-up veggies in the fridge. I am really underprepared for this read-a-thon!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I have a baby grand piano in my one-bedroom apartment.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? The main difference this year is that I’m not able to set aside the whole day! So I think I’m going to approach this read-a-thon in a much less structured way than usual. I won’t be counting the pages I read or logging my reading time down to the minute…I’m just going to try to read a lot and have fun!

10:47 a.m. — So I’ve been reading for about an hour and a half, and I finished my first book of the read-a-thon! It was Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins, a very quick read (although I did start it yesterday) with a great feel-good romance. I also did this mini-challenge in which you get to put jigsaw puzzles together! And now I think it’s time for a break…I need to shower, put on clothes that aren’t pajamas, eat something, and perhaps take a quick walk. Hope everyone is still going strong!

12:52 p.m. — Time for one of my favorite challenges of the read-a-thon, Book Puzzles! Try to guess what book I’m thinking of, based on the following pictures (short words like articles and prepositions have been left out). Winner gets bragging rights!

2:46 p.m. — More challenges, anyone? Here are some of the best books of my reading year:

  • Best sci-fi: Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding. If you still mourn the loss of “Firefly,” you should definitely track down this book! I haven’t gotten to the sequels (YET), but I hear they’re just as good!
  • Best romance: Unsticky by Sarra Manning. This may be British chick lit, but it’s no Bridget Jones’s Diary. This book is about a romance, but it’s not afraid to explore the darker, grittier side of relationships.
  • Best children’s book: The Giver by Lois Lowry. HOW did I miss this book as a child?! If you like dystopian literature, you have to check it out!
  • Best debut author: B.J. Novak. I just finished his first book, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, which came out in February. The stories are mostly hilarious, but a lot of them have a sharp bite to them as well. I had high expectations because of his experience with “The Office,” but I was still very impressed.

And here is my six-word celebration of Dewey’s read-a-thon: No distractions, no guilt, just reading!

3:04 p.m. — OK, I had to do one more challenge because it was just too much fun to resist! The bookish brew I have created is: The Pitcher of Dorian Earl Gray. It’s very easy to make — simply brew the tea, let it cool to room temperature, then pour it over ice and serve. Mix the room-temperature beverage with a syrup composed of sugar and water, if you’re craving something a little more sinfully decadent. But above all, make sure you take a photo of the pitcher before serving the tea. The picture will look less and less appealing with time, but you’ll ensure that your beverage will taste fresh and delicious forever!

9:01 p.m. — I haven’t been able to update in a while (stupid prior commitments!), but rest assured, I haven’t given up just yet! I’m still plugging away at The Sunne in Splendour, which continues to be fascinating but time-consuming. And what edition of The Sunne in Splendour am I actually reading? Apparently it is the 15th printing (as indicated by the lowest number in the series of numbers at the bottom of the page). Who knew?

sunne in splendour copyright page

And here’s my name in book titles:

  • C – Cotillion by Georgette Heyer (a must-read if you like Regency romances!)
  • H – Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley (love all her books)
  • R – Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (such a lovely, bittersweet novel)
  • I – Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”
  • S – Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (oh, Austen, how I love thee)
  • T – Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare (still one of my favorites, although I love Much Ado the most)
  • I – Impossible Things by Connie Willis (recommended for sci-fi fans, although some of the stories are better than others)
  • N – Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (deliciously creepy and creative)
  • A – Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery (my favorite in the Anne of Green Gables series)

11:05 p.m. — Still reading The Sunne in Splendour. I was hoping that I’d be able to finish it during this read-a-thon, but that is definitely not going to happen, since I plan to be asleep in an hour or two at most! But it looks like the plot has finally moved into its endgame, so it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.

12:06 a.m. — All right, I’m too tired to stay awake, so I’m officially calling it. Good night, and good luck to all of you who are still reading!