in the reading room: more RIP, Dewey’s Read-a-thon, FrightFall, and #15in31

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SalemslothardcoverLast weekend, I asserted that I didn’t care much for vampire stories. So why did I choose to read ‘Salem’s Lot? It was a combination of little reasons, I suppose. After finishing up The Sharing Knife series, I wanted a new audiobook to listen to during the many hours it took me to paint Max’s room. And I was sort of in the mood for a Stephen King book. And I do have that reading challenge going with myself to read/reread all of his fictional works. And Scribd had this one available. (I listened to slightly more than half of it before quitting Scribd. The library didn’t have it in audio, so I finished it reading my print copy.)

Anyway. I read this oh-so-many years ago. Like in high school. So yeah, 35-ish years back. And back then, I loved it. This go round, well, not so much. Yep, disappointing.

King’s books tend to have things that I find problematic in them. But I usually find so much that I love about his books that I can enjoy them in spite of problems. I generally find his stories quite interesting, often downright gripping. But even more than that, what makes me love his works so much are his characters. He makes characters come to life so damn well. I usually feel like I know these people. Some I love, some I hate…but I always feel something. And that’s where I feel let down this time. I just didn’t connect with anyone, accept possibly Matt Burke. And maybe Jimmy Cody. Oh yeah, there were people that I didn’t like, but they felt a little flat. And it’s not that I disliked the main characters, but I just didn’t feel like I got to know them well enough to really care all that much.

And frankly, an okay story with okay characters just didn’t do enough to make me put those problematic issues in the background. Unkind ways of referring to fat people, certain sexist elements, a mention of rape that felt inappropriate (not really in a dismissive way, but more in a I-don’t-think-you-truly-understand-what-it’s-like way) and others that weren’t quite gratuitous but came close to being so. So yeah, this reread wasn’t an awesome one for me. But at least I get to cross it off my list…so that’s something…I guess..

parasiteI had much better luck with Parasite by Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire). Much better, as in I loved this book! This is my favorite kind of sci-fi. The medical sort. And there was definitely enough creepiness, enough unsettledness, to make me feel this is RIP-appropriate. Heck, the character of Tansy alone is enough to make it RIP-ish! 😛  So yep, we’ve got unsettling medical “breakthroughs,” and some intriguing, slightly off characters, and sweet dogs, and some characters that you’d like smack their smugness right off their faces, and science, and that overall feeling that you just don’t know who the hell to trust. I’m not sure if what’s revealed at the end of this book is meant to come as a surprise, but I tend to think not. Anyway, I am eager as all get out to start the second in the series, Symbiont. 

I listened to this as an audiobook; audiobooks have suddenly become my new best friends. It’s hard to believe that just a few months back I never listened to them…and now I always have at least one going.

death atAnd finally, there was Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn. Another audiobook. Eva had mentioned the series on Instagram just when I was needing a new audiobook. I figured if she was enjoying them, I would too. And a cozy mystery sounded perfect for my addled brain.

And yep, I did enjoy it. Quite a bit actually. I adored Daisy Dalrymple. Independent, extremely kind, ambitious, intelligent. She didn’t completely abandon the “rules” of upper class life, but she didn’t feel the need to judge people on ridiculous notions of what’s proper.

I was a bit annoyed with the events at the end of the book, but then was made less so when it was acknowledged that such a “solution” was a privilege only someone in the upper classes could have gotten away with. So yeah, I do think I’ll be giving the next one in the series a go.

And hooray for me! I actually completed Peril the First! In fact, these are books 3, 4, and 5. And four was the goal.

*****

deweysIt’s almost time for Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon again. October 17th, to be exact. I’ve come to the conclusion after all these years that this will always be bittersweet. It can never be anything but. Sadness and joy. It is what it is. I will never, ever not miss you, Dewey.

*****

frightfall2015button_zpspqsxncayI think I’m going to leisurely participate in another readathon during the month of October as well, the Fright Fall Readathon. It’s one of those more laid-back weeklong sort of readathons, and it runs from the 5th through the 11th. It does have the requirement that you read one scary sort of book as one of your reads, but that’s not a hard rule to follow, considering we’re smack in the middle of RIP.

*****

15in31I also signed up for Andi’s #15in31. I tried to resist, really. Largely because I know I’ll fail. But what the hell, huh? Knowing I’ll fail is a horribly lousy reason to forgo trying. So yep, 15 books in 31 days.

October, you’re going to be awesome!

in the reading room: books read, RIP X, a readathon, and our fall family bingo cards

Seeing how this covers the last two and a half-ish weeks, one might think there ought to be more to report as far as books read. Well, one would be wrong. One tends to think she accomplishes more than she actually does, apparently. 😛

children of green*Finished up The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston. A short children’s book written in the 1950s. For the most part, it was charming and enjoyable. Cool old castle, a pretty awesome great-grandmother, and friendly, spirited ghosts–what’s not to love, right? But actually there was one thing that wasn’t at all lovable–a dose of horrid antiziganism. Eva warned of this when I mentioned that I was about to start reading it, and she sure wasn’t kidding. While in general, I try to avoid spoilers, problematic issues like that are one thing I appreciate knowing ahead of time. I think when I’m blindsided by some sort of ugliness like that, I then find I can’t focus on any good a book has to offer, but when I’m forewarned, I’m better able to appreciate the good despite the problems. I’m not sure if that makes any sense outside my own head.

bitter brew*Next up was A Bitter Brew: Faith, Power, and Poison in a Small New England Town by Christine Ellen Young. We made up a family summer reading bingo game to play this summer, complete with rewards. I had one last item–“read a book that involves a crime”–to complete my entire card. I’ve sort of been in the mood for a true crime read lately, so that worked out nicely. But I started and abandoned two other true crime books before settling into this one. I remembered vaguely the incident this book chronicles, the arsenic in the coffee at a church in Maine, but didn’t know a lot about it. After reading the book, I now feel that in some ways I know too much about it, and in some ways I don’t really know much at all. It was just horrendously sad in about a thousand different ways. But oh my goodness, am I glad I was not a part of that church community–they seemed to just thrive on drama. Exactly the kind of thing I try to avoid at all costs. If it hadn’t been over a third of the way through the book before the author started delving into the relationships and power struggles and such, I’m not sure I would have continued. To be honest, I’m sort of wondering if maybe true crime just isn’t for me anymore. Or maybe it was just my mood–being in a flare up, I may just have needed more peaceful or comforting or fun sort of reads. Actually, that’s probably it.

*While Rich and I were off on our glorious four-day getaway to a “cabin” in the woods, I read the first volume of four different comic series. Two I pretty much fell head-over-heels in love with and two that I was left feeling ambivalent about. I’ve really struggled in the past about whether to continue with a series when I’m not completely in love with it. It would be one thing if I hated it, or even disliked it. But it’s those ones that I sort of like, but don’t really love that cause me decision-stress. Well, I’ve made an executive decision–if I don’t love it, I won’t continue. There are just too many awesome books left to read in this world and too few years of life to even make a dent. I do realize that a the second or third volume might turn a “meh” experience into a “wow” experience with a series, but really there’s that potential with any book. I’m happy to have set myself this policy, as frankly, decision-making is not my strong suit.

So…the four series I started, two of which I will happily be continuing with:

Rat Queens, Volume One: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch was one of the most fun comics I’ve read recently. I seriously loved it with a passion! How could one not fall in love with the Rat Queens themselves, Betty and Violet and Dee and Hannah?!! They’re funny and irreverent and badass. And maybe what I love best about them is the way they care about one another. The art–awesome. I wish so badly that I had volume two already.

Sex Criminals, Volume One: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. I expected to love this, I really did. I mean I love Fraction’s Hawkeye; I love the unique concept of the story; I love sex. But I don’t know…it just didn’t wow me. Too high expectations? Maybe. I don’t know, but something about it fell a little flat for me. Which really makes me sad.

Shutter, Volume One: Wanderlost by Joe Keatinge and Leila Del Duca. This was another huge win for me. A robot cat who bakes cookies, a reluctant hitman salamander who drives an apple car reminiscent of Richard Scarry, a slightly scary nanny who goes by the name “General,” previously unknown siblings…come on, what’s not to love?!! Plus an awesome friendship (which we’d better get back to!), a transgender character, dinosaurs, mystery. Yeah, I’m smitten.

Low, Volume One: The Delirium of Hope by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini. As with Sex Criminals, it’s not that I disliked it. And again I like the premise of the story. But it just failed to really grab me. And while I adore the cover of this one, there was something about the coloring of the comic itself that just didn’t appeal to me. I actually think it’s appropriate, but nonetheless it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I really do see potential in this series, but I’m sticking with my decision.

*****

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(fabulously gorgeous art by Abigail Larson)

RIP X is underway! Absolutely one of my favorite reading events of the year! But I must confess, when I first saw the announcement, I sort of felt like I’d been punched in the gut. It just completely threw me to find that Carl wasn’t hosting it this year. Don’t get me wrong–I have no doubt whatsoever that Heather and Andi will do a wonderful job! They are both completely beyond awesome, and I adore them to pieces! What threw me didn’t have to do with the fact that they were hosting it, it was that Carl wasn’t. To me so much of what I associate with RIP (and Once Upon a Time, and the Sci-Fi Experience) is Carl. So maybe it’s just that I’m not good with change or maybe it’s just a nostalgia thing, but it just caught me off guard.

Like I said, I know that Andi and Heather will make RIP X fabulous, and frankly, Carl pours so much work and heart into his events that he more than deserves a break! So now that it’s sunk in, and even more so after an email from Carl, I’m ready to revel in all things creepy and gruesome and mysterious once again.

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I will be aiming to complete Peril the First (which requires four spooky/mysterious/creepy/horrific/you-get-the-idea books). Though I can’t really say what those four (or more) books will be. These are my pools (a comics pile and a pile of novels), but who knows if I’ll even stick with them.

Not shown: I’ve been rereading Salem’s Lot (Stephen King), Rich and I are currently listening to the audiobook of The Passage (Justin Cronin), and my current non-fiction book, Spillover (David Quammen), fits RIP qualifications too (at least I think so).

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I also hope to participate in the Peril of the Short Story. Though if history repeats itself, I will likely read appropriate stories, but then fail to write about them because I just find it so frickin’ hard to do. I pulled a pile of appropriate collections off the shelves to dip into.

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Not shown: A collection of Sherlock Holmes stories that my dear friend Pat sent me, and that I’d set aside just waiting for RIP. And then RIP comes, and I completely forget to put it in the stack. One is also scatter-brained.

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And finally, there is the Peril on the Screen. I’ve no idea what I may watch though. And again, as with short stories, I really have no idea how to talk about movies/TV. But hey, that doesn’t stop me from talking about books, does it? 😛

*****

DDoS ReadathonHeather and Andi are adding yet more fun to my life by hosting the brand-new, Dog Days of Summer Readathon. Just a laid back weekend of reading, which sounds perfect. Even if I have to spend the bulk of my time reading for school.

 

 

*****

Next up, we’ve begun our Fall Family Bingo game. We did this over the summer (with all different categories), largely as a way to keep the boys reading over the summer. Shocking all of us, Max was the first to complete a row during our summer game, though Rich and I were the only ones to fill our entire card. It was a hit, so we’ve decided to do another round, running from September 2nd (the boys’ first day of school) thru December 24th.

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*****

And lastly in this week’s reading room, I only brought one new (to me) book into the house, Sula by Toni Morrison.