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Reading Habits Tag

I saw this cute tag as done by Stephanie from Between Folded Pages and I could not resist doing it myself. I have been struggling mightily with my reading lately and this tag was perfect for evaluating my habits. Make sure and pop over to Stephine’s blog and check out her answers and please, feel free to do this tag yourself!


1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

Nope. I will literally read anywhere. I always have a book in my purse and if I find myself unoccupied for more than 3 minutes I will start reading.

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?

Niether. While I really love cute bookmarks I try to remember the number of the page I am on when I close it. I know it sounds silly but I always feel like Sherlock Holmes when I remember it.

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages?

I can stop mid-sentence if I have to. I rarely care if I am at the end of a chapter. Instead, I will read until I have to stop or fall asleep.

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?

I often do both but I don’t required it. I love to sip a hot beverage and read but I will admit to loving reading while eating popcorn. When I am alone for a meal I always read.

5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?

Neither. I like to immerse myself in the book.

6. One book at a time or several at once?

If I love a book I will read it to the exclusion of everything else. When I come out of a book I love though I will sometimes go through a bit of withdrawal and then I might multi-task. Recently, I have been reading far too many at the same time because I cannot find anything I love as much as my most recent book crush.

7. Reading at home or everywhere?

Home is best because people don’t interrupt me. But, I never let people come between me and a good book so I have to answer honestly: everywhere.

8. Reading out lout or silently in your head?

Silently unless it is poetry which I always appreciate more aloud.

9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

If I really really hate a book I will skip ahead in an attempt to find something that will improve my opinion of the book. If I find something worthwhile, I will backtrack. If not, it goes into the do-not-finish pile. But, I do not like spoilers so I only do it to reassure myself that I am just in a bit of a slump in the story.

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

I never do it on purpose but I always accidentally break them. The only exception is when the book is borrowed from a person or the library. I am far more careful with other people’s books!

11. Do you write in your books?

Not my books for enjoyment. However, I always write in my textbooks. I have also been known to write in non-fiction books but recently I invested in some cute paper tags just for this reason.

Like I said, this one is up for anyone but I’d love to see some more answers! If you don’t feel like doing the whole tag….


Tell me, please!

Which of my answers surprises you or disagrees with you the most?

Classic · Fantasy

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

lastunicornThe Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle is classic fantasy reading on par with The Once and Future King. Here, Beagle tells the tale of a unicorn who lives in the safety of her lilac forest. Death and age cannot touch her and so she has lived a peaceful life since before memory began. But now, she hears whispers that she is the last of her kind. And so she ventures of the safety of her home to find others. Along the way she meets those who would do her harm and two who vow to aid her: the ridiculously inept magician Schmendrick and the unyielding and stalwart Molly Grue. Will the trio be enough to confront the creature that seeks to drive her kind to extinction?

I struggled for the first few chapters of The Last Unicorn. This is most likely because I have become accustomed to the fast pace and immediate action of current YA writing. However, even a measly three chapters into the story and you will know the most important aspects of the tale. More importantly, you will have met the delightful Schmendrick. Soon, Molly Grue joins the journey and, truthfully, I loved the book because I adored these two supporting characters. The unicorn struck me as insipid, but necessary, while Molly and Schmendrick were akin to Inigo and Fezek.

There is an often quoted saying regarding friendship, “Sometimes people come into your life for a moment, a day, or a lifetime. It matters not the time they spent with you but how they impacted your life in that time.” Peter S. Beagle captured the essence of this saying in this wonderful classic story.


Tell me, please!

Have you read this story?

Am I the only person that erroneously thought this was the basis for the Tom Cruise movie Legend?


YA

The Absolutely True Diary of Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

absolutely trueThis book was absolutely nothing like what I expected. Perhaps because the cover reminded me of The Indian in the Cupboard I erroneously assumed the story was a middle grade title. Or the inclusion of cartoons lead me to believe this would be a more mature Captain Underpants. Either way, I started the book ready to enjoy a fish out of water tale sprinkled with hilarity. Instead, I found myself reading a raw and undeniably wrenching story of the experiences of a boy growing up on a Reservation.

Junior is a budding cartoonist who is living (or is waiting to die, depending on your point of view) on the Spokane reservation. Sensing that his life would be better if he got off the reservation, he starts attending a neighboring all white school. This experience gives Junior a new perspective that allows him to reflect on his life in a way that would have been impossible if he had stayed on the reservation. Slowly he sees how staying on the reservation will alter his life. But, if he leaves the reservation, who is he out in the world at large?

The author, Sherman Alexie, himself grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. This essential fact dramatically altered the lens through which I read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Without knowing that the author was Native American and had based his writings on his own first hand experience I fear I would have chalked this story up to researched cliches. Instead, it felt like a powerful indictment of the reservation system and highlights the devastating effect alcohol has had on the Native American population.

This book is described as “heartbreaking, funny and beautifully written.” All of those things are true. But this book does more that entertain. It shows, elegantly, that Native Americans on reservations are not unlike other marginalized populations around the world. The more we see a similarity in someone different than ourselves, the more we can work together for change. This book felt vital and important. I only regret that I had it sitting there, waiting, for so long.


Tell me, please!

Have you ever misjudged a book by its cover only to be pleasantly surprised?


Fantasy · series · YA

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

thepiratekingEveryone knows that women aboard pirate ships are unlucky. When I first saw Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller I assumed, erroneously, that the daughter from the title would be another left-behind maiden yearning to travel the sea with her father. I could not have been more wrong.

Seventeen year old Alosa has been raised by her father aboard his ship. She is deadly, demanding, strong, and smart. She has her own ship, a crew of mostly women to which she is deeply dedicated. But, when ordered by the Pirate King to locate a piece of a legendary map she doesn’t balk in getting herself captured aboard a rival’s ship. The only thing between Alosa and successfully completing her mission is Riden, the clever and attractive first mate aboard the infiltrated vessel.

It took me a few chapters to be truly drawn into this story. The capture is exhilarating but then there is a fairly boring cycle of being fake captured, escaping, and being re-captured that quickly grew stale. Still, like most series books, the action increased dramatically in the second half of the story and the culminating chapters left me excited for the next book.

Most of all, Alosa is a wonderful character. Strong, both physically and mentally, she has been raised by her father to be a weapon. As a Princess and a Pirate she must follow his command but she longs for equal independence. Further complicating her life is the legacy gifted to her by her mother. The real question is whether Riden will be her equal in this journey or just another complication? My hopes are pinned on him letting her continue to kick ass. All I know is that I cannot wait to see more of Alosa’s story.


Tell me, please!

What makes a strong female character real to you?


WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday August 15, 2018

WWW

It is time for WWW Wednesday! This week I’ve done a lot of reading, no reviewing and very little interacting. Thank goodness for Sam and Taking on a World of Words to help me hit the reset button mid-week. Make sure and check out her site for loads of other blog’s wonderful WWW posts. Also, feel free to leave your WWW below in my comments section!


What Did I Just Finish Reading?

This week I carved out a huge chunk of time for reading and finished several books. Daughter of a Pirate King and The Last Unicorn were utter delights. I also finished the audiobook of Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairytales. This was a very good narration of the classic tales done by a cast. Some of the voices were grating but they matched the characters perfectly. There were a few new ones for me and one I just cannot stop thinking about called The Rags. I also finished Preludes and Nocturnes and loved it. I cannot wait to read the next book. Finally, one night of insomnia I read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. There were things I liked, things I was confused about but in the end the story hooked me enough to warrant reading the next two.

All in all it was a great week of reading with everything landing in the good pile! Unfortunately, that puts me seriously behind with reviews.


What am I Currently Reading?

I am still chipping away at The Two Towers and, honestly, at this point I want to scream, “Just give me the damn ring and I’ll take it to Mordor!!!” I am also in the middle of two audiobooks, Homey Don’t Play That! and How to Train Your Dragon, How to be a Pirate. The story of In Living Color is fascinating and a great look at the history and rise of black comedy in America. However, I have ten chapters left in the book and it is starting to drag just a little as the cast and crew begin in-fighting. So, I started weaving in How to Train Your Dragon on audiobook. Finally, I am really enjoying Front Cover which goes through the history of cover designs. History, books and art combined makes for delightful reading!


What Will I Read Next?

I am trying to work through my physical TBR and so I have selected the next two to reflect the coming fall. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is the story of Junior who lives on a reservation but attends an all-white school. The Darkling Bride by Laura Andersen is a mix of historical fiction and mystery and I cannot wait to read it. This type of book all but screams fall to me.


Tell me, please!

How was your week?


 

Audio Book · nonfiction

Non-Fiction Friday! Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik

I have a great love of unusual facts. Like most people who enjoy trivia I also live to bring it up randomly in conversation. So, Mark Miodownik’s book Stuff Matters, about the origin, history, and possible future use of everyday things is an ideal book for me to gather tidbits to later regurgitate.

stuffmattersAs a materials profession Miodownik is well versed in the subject and understands how to communicate the information in a consumable manner. His writing style is beautiful but easy to comprehend. And, I appreciated that the explanations of the chemical makeup was understandable even when it veered into the anatomical explanation of materials. More importantly, Miodownik clearly loves materials and enthusiastically shares their uniqueness.

In each of the eleven chapters, Miodownik covers eleven different materials that make up ordinary items. Some chapters have an anectode or a personal pondering that introduces the material. All the chapters give the history, original uses, modern application and possible future form of the material. Whether he was talking about china, concrete, titanium, or paper I was riveted.

The only chapter I struggled with was the one on plastic. Here, Miodownik tells the story of a plastic candy wrapper at the movie showing of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He found himself in an argument regarding the appropriateness of plastic at the movie theatre. The information and delivery of the information would have been superb but he used Butch Cassidy’s storyline to deliver it. This meant that the delicious clipped British accent of narrator Michael Page took on the drawl of a movie cowboy. Also, I have never seen Butch Cassidy so many parrellels made to the story were meaningless for me. Still, I learned much about plastics and this chapter was not bad, at all, just the only less than perfect one of the eleven.

Mark Miodownik has been fascinated by materials his whole life. He ponders them in a way I would never have before listening to his book. But now, when I hold my china teacup, you can be sure I will be telling anyone around me about its origins in China and the humble lifecycle of its cousin, the mug. Oh thank you Stuff Matters for the wealth of ridiculous information I now have at my fingertips.


Tell me, please!

Do you wonder about the materials in everyday objects?


WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday August 8, 2018

WWW

Sam from Taking on a World of Words is back from her vacation! If you are curious about what she read for the past few weeks make sure and check out her site! If you want to participate, simply answer three questions: What are you currently reading, what did you just finish and what do you plan to read next. Or, if you are into chronology (like myself) you will go in order.


What Did I Just Finish Reading?

Ummm….not much. The upside of reading lots of books at the same time is that some weeks you finish 10 and other weeks you finish a measly little two. This week was a small finish for me with only Black Panther, The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith and Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid landing in my finish pile.


What am I currently Reading?

Oh Lord. Look what I have done. I am still working through The Two Towers and I started Daughter of the Pirate King and The Last Unicorn. I have had an erratic schedule this week and that means books all over everywhere and audiobooks in between. So, I have Homey Don’t Play That running while I commute and exercise and Hans Christen Andersen’s Fairytales playing while I clean, fold laundry, etc. I lost track of The Sandman for a few days and relocated it yesterday morning so that should be finished soon. As for the rest, we shall see what the schedule allows!


What Will I Read Next?

front cover

The only book I know for certain I will be reading next is Front Cover, Great Book Jackets and Cover Design by Alan Powers. We all know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but we all do it anyway. This book goes through the history of the art that catches our eye.


Tell me, please!

What’s on your WWW list?


fiction · humor

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

I always enjoy Sophie Kinsella’s books. I have even featured her in an Author Obsession spotlight. Most people know her for her Shopoholic series but I vastly prefer the books she has written outside of Becky Bloomwood’s insatiable thirst for things. I didn’t even know Kinsella had a new book coming out until I ran across it in the Indigo bookstore in Montreal. It is the lone fiction book I purchased in my Canadian travels.

surprise_meSurprise Me is the story of Sylvie and Dan. They have been blissfully coupled for ten years, they have twin girls and they are so in sync that they can predict each others meal choices and finish one anothers sentences. All is idyllic. Except, of course, it can never stay that way. After a visit to their doctor they are told they could live another sixty-eight years. The realization that they will be eating together and sleeping together for that much longer fills them with panic. They decide (well, mostly Sylvie decides) to embark on Project Surprise Me to shake up their predictable routine. But not all surprises are fun.

The magic of Sophie Kinsella lies in her ability to redeem her character from the tailspin of poor choices they make in the first half of each story and present you with a reformed character that you adore by the end of the book. This may be a predictable formula but it never stales since Kinsella always manages to make me cheer and applaud as the characters eventually climb out of the mess. This particular story went a step farther and I found myself gasping aloud in surprise at one of the plot points. I went so far as to make a friend read the book so we could have the following conversation.

Me, “(Character redacted to avoid spoilers) was the absolute worst right?!?”

Friend, “The worst.”

Me, “But could you believe…???!!!??”

Friends, “NO.I.COULD.NOT.”

I admit that there were moments I wanted to strangle or slap Sylvie. It is difficult to explain why without spoiling some of the finer moments, but she just struck me as too fragile to be a true fictional friend. Dan had his moments with me as well. And just when I wondered how this was going to end, Sophie Kinsella worked her magic and gave me another fantastic read.


Tell me, please!

Have you read Sophie Kinsella’s books?


Audio Book · funny · nonfiction

Canada by Mike Myers

trudeau_cabinent

It was this picture from Justin Trudeau’s first cabinet that caught my eye. Much like spotting an extremely attractive person, I scrolled past it at first and then did I double take. Look at this magnificence! There are fifty percent women, minorities and a person with a visible disability all right there representing a whole country. Wait. Maybe that isn’t how legislation works in Canada. I had to look it up. My Canadian crush had begun.

Recently I returned from my Canadian adventure.  I spent ten wonderful days traveling by car through the province Quebec starting in Quebec City then up to Tadoussac and around again to Montreal before heading home. By the time I arrived back at my own house I was making promises to myself to never go outside again. But, after one good night of sleep in my own bed my crush roared to life again. Luckily, Mike Myers has a 2016 book entitled Canada and my library even lent me to audiobook. Good on ya library!

Mike Myers only lived in Canada until he was 20. Now, at age 53 his comprehension and eloquence on the subject of his native land is akin to hero worshipping. Or, as he says, “There is no one more Canadian than a Canadian who no longer lives in Canada.” With a straight delivery that I didn’t really expect from Mike Myers he tells the tale of growing up in Canada with two British immigrants for parents and how his family and his country made him who he is today. He added loads of delicious Canadian inside information that I ate up like it was covered in maple syrup.

I delighted in hearing about the morbid sense of humor most Canadians enjoy. Myers fascinated me with the different accents across Canada and the words and phrases unique to Canadians. When he started immitating the rising linguistics employed by most Canadians I was rolling with laughter. You see, I lived in Minnesota for three years before my Canadian crush. Minnesotans are similar to Canadians in only a few ways (to my untrained eye) but they absolute use rising linguistics. On top of all of this, Myers gave me plenty of little Canadian tidbits that I can use to be extra annoying when talking about Canada.

If you don’t have a crush on Canada but you are interested in Mike Myers he spends quite some time talking about how he found fame. His story is intertwined with Canada but he shares a number of personal anecdotes. The most interesting was how he created and popularized Wayne Campbell.

I was initially drawn to the notion of Canada and the ideals put forth by Trudeau before our tumultuous election and subsequent further division in America. It is difficult to explain how upset you become watching your country lose its morality and ideology. Listening to Myers talk about Canada, especially in the final chapter, gives me hope.


Tell me, please!

Have you ever been fascinated by another country?


WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday August 1, 2018

WWW

It is time for WWW Wednesday, my favorite meme! The gracious Sam from Taking On a World of Words continues to host even when she is on vacation! So, without further adieu, I give you…


What Did I Just Finished Reading?

 

I had a doozie of a week! Thanks to the Dewey’s 24 Hour (Reverse) Readathon I had a fire lit under me and I made reading a priority all week long. If you want to see how very poorly and erroneously my participation was you can read about it here. The above are the physical fiction books I read this week. The standouts are, hands down, Circe by Madeline Miller which I gushed about here and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin which I reviewed here. I also enjoyed Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella and that review will be up on Saturday.

As for audiobooks, I finished Stuff Matters by Mike Miodownik and loved it. If you are looking for a non-fiction book narrated in a crisp British accent that uses everyday objects to explain quantum mechanics this one is for you. I will give this gem a more thorough review in my Non-Fiction Friday segment soon.

I am also on the hunt for more Graphic Novels for my Sunday Comics section. I read The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell. It was a sweet short story graphic novel about accepting yourself and others through cosplay. I checked out Robot Dreams by Sara Aaron. And, finally, I got my hands on the second in a children’s series I love called Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke.


What am I Currently Reading?

 

This week I continue to journey through The Two Towers. I am approximately one-third of the way through the book and still enjoying it. Those Ents, even though they are a favorite of mine from the movies, take forever to make a decision and that passage slowed me down. But, I plan to get back to around 20 pages a day.

I am also in the middle of both the graphic novel The Sandman Vol 1, Preludes and Nocturns by Neil Gaiman and the middle-grade book, Black Panther the Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith. Finally, just this morning I started listening to the audiobook of Homey Don’t Play That: The Story of In Living Color and the Black Comedy Revolution by David Peisner.


What Will I Read Next

 

I need to read a western for my Read Harder Challenge and instead of a cowboy perspective I thought I would go with the Native American viewpoint. Yesterday I saw a post by Amanda from Literary Weaponry raving about Daughter of the Pirate King and since I have it waiting on my shelf I decided it was up next.


Tell me, please!

How is your reading this week? You can list your books below or, as always, feel free to link to your WWW post.