105 Ways to Give a Book

Losing My Job and the Lump in My Throat

For weeks now I’ve had a lump in my throat like the kind you get when you’re about to cry. But this one would come at seemingly random times — as I was washing the dishes, sitting by the pool, trying to fall asleep. In those breaks from my hectic life, I’d be forced to remember, “Oh yeah, I’m losing my job at the end of June.”

It would fit my ironic existence that I moved to an exempt job — no, fought for the reduced-hours position — and then that category of job was slated for elimination for the first time in twenty years. This isn’t the fault of My Fair County, but of my own unlucky choices. I’ve known since October when the economy tanked that my position would be cut. Since February I’ve been sure that there wouldn’t be another position for me to take since all jobs were frozen. Since April’s budget decision, it’s been a matter of time.

Through this school year of waiting, I’ve been pretty much okay. My salary is helpful for future savings, but not absolutely necessary. For months I’ve looked at the end of my job as a sabbatical where I could finally take a break, enjoy my family, write the book, and focus on KidLitosphere business. But today is my last day of work, and all I can feel is the loss.

It doesn’t help that I had found the perfect branch. It was built a year ago, and features huge windows overlooking the trees, thousands of freshly ordered books, and that new library smell. The library is fairly quiet, but my programs were always full. My position put me low on status, but my opinions were respected. The staff was wonderful, the five-minute commute amazing, and the pace perfect. And while I love the idea of not working in the summer, I’ll deeply miss the chance to give kids great books when they finally have time to ask me for suggestions.

Also, it’s hitting me that however much I’ve talked about going back to the library when jobs open up, it may not happen. The current staffing norm for new employees wouldn’t allow me to take a job unless I’d work every weekend. I’ve grown too attached to my branch to really consider another. Even the idea that jobs will open up is optimistic when an article in today’s paper shows the county will probably face an additional seven percent budget loss in this fiscal year. I’m realizing that I may not be able to go back.

Of course, there’s also the possibility that my situation will change. Maybe my writing will find a publishing home. Maybe I’ll contract out my services for a newsletter or expand my involvement in PBS or coordinate conferences for cash. Maybe my recycled jewelry hobby can turn a little profit in the holiday season. Maybe I can devote the time to my talented daughters who have missed opportunities with my mixed-up schedule. I may not want to go back.

Right now it doesn’t matter if I am not able to go back or don’t want to go back or even if eventually I can go back. Today it’s about losing something. A job, certainly, but also a refuge from a busy home life and an identity of what I do. It almost makes me cry, and it’s the almost that’s leaving the lump in my throat. I’m ready to lose that lump too.

Tomorrow I’m heading to the beach with my girls to see family and sit by the shore. I need to clear my head in the ocean breeze and let the salty sea absorb any tears. I need to have fun and sunshine. I need to reflect and regroup. I’ll read email, but otherwise will be offline for the week. That’s what I’m going to do for me.

When I get back, I’ll be getting KidLitosphere Central updated as it suffered from my Three Months of Busyness. I want those of you going to ALA to feel good about promoting it as a way to access our thriving community. I’ll also be pouring my energy into the sessions and registration for the KidLitosphere Conference. If you already know you’re coming, I’d encourage you to make reservations at the Sheraton in Crystal City. I can basically tell you that the conference fee will be about $100 and will include the conference sessions, along with breakfast and the nice dinner on Saturday, October 17th. I’ll be working on pulling together the sessions and presenters, but last year’s conference will give you an idea of what to expect. I’m thinking about a Library of Congress field trip on that Friday, for those who’d be interested. I’m looking at Politics and Prose for something on Sunday. Both of those outings are optional. Honestly, the specific sessions and field trips are almost irrelevant, as you should come to the conference if you are looking for an opportunity to meet/reconnect/network with the kidlitosphere bloggers/authors/publishers you know online while using some of the time to learn/collaborate/discuss issues.

Why am I giving you a preview of that conference information when I just said that I’m going to tackle it next week? Well, for two reasons. First, I want to end this post on a positive, forward-thinking note. Second, I know you, my blogging friends, may want to do something to help me feel better and nothing would be more helpful than getting the ball rolling for the conference. So mark your calendar, make reservations, and let me know you’re coming. One door closes, another opens.

Interview with Grace Lin

Where the Mountain Meets the MoonWhere the Mountain Meets the Moon is simply beautiful — not just for the artwork, but for the storytelling and the message contained within.

Grace Lin grew up on stories, loving the books and illustrations that were classics in the United States. Seeing her love of stories, her mother brought in Chinese fairy tale books, allowing Grace to learn a little of her cultural heritage. These early experiences inspired the perfect mixture of the themes of both Asian fairytales and North American classics in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.

But did I mention it was gorgeous? I’ve been in love with the cover since I first saw the sketches at Blue Rose Girls, and color illustrations are featured throughout the book.

What can you share about the artwork, especially that brilliant cover?

In late 2003, I did a cover illustration for Cricket magazine of an Asian girl riding a flying red dragon. As I painted the image, the girl captivated me. I had painted her in traditional clothing, over an idealized Asian landscape. I imagined her full of delight on her ride in the sky, full of adventure and life... That image I painted for Cricket was to transform into my website logo and then into the cover of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.

In China, we visited a cloisonné factory (a tourist standard!) and I I found the many steps that the artists do to create cloisonné images fascinating. The intricate patterns, the ornate borders had a certain jewel-type richness that I felt fit the magical atmosphere I wanted to achieve in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. So the cover illustration was very much inspired by that. The full-page illustrations also had cloisonné as their muse, but they were also mixed with influences of traditional Chinese paintings and the art of antique Chinese vases and ceramics.

How did you incorporate your own personal experiences into Where the Mountain Meets the Moon?

When I first began writing this book, I had visited Hong Kong and Taiwan, which were wonderful trips. Being Asian-American (and more American than Asian), it was a fascinating experience to be surrounded by a culture that was so foreign and familiar at the same time. Whenever I viewed the landscape, saw a temple or a sampan in the water, I suddenly would remember the Chinese folktales I had read as a child. I could see them happening in the setting around me and I knew in there was a book waiting to be written.

I was almost three-quarters finished with writing the book when I went to visit China. This was the perfect time to go, as I had an idea of what kinds of things I wanted to see and research there, but the book was still open enough to be changed. And it was wonderful! Actually seeing China with my own eyes and experiencing it added such a rich layer to the story. For example, one of the excursions we took especially for the book was a visit to a tiny mountain village. I wanted to see a mountain village because I knew Minli (the main character in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon) would be visiting one. The whole time we were there, we were freezing cold but the villagers were so friendly and red-cheeked (which I was to find out later was wind-burn, not good circulation). So, those elements of mountain cold and a warm, friendly shelter became the backdrop of the village Minli visits.

Why did you need to write this particular book?

Well, this book has a lot of personal meaning for me. I prefer not to go into it too much, but as much as it is an homage to the folk and fairytales of my childhood, it is really to honor my late husband. I began the book when he was ill and asked me to write a fantasy to help him imagine himself elsewhere. I finished the book after his death, and it helped me realize the important things in life.

What’s next for you?

My next book will be Ling and Ting. It is an early reader (which is a format I have been wanted to try for a while) about Chinese-American twins. It is almost the reverse theme of The Year of the Dog, using twins, I am trying to show how even when people look the same they can be different. After that I have a picture book on the Moon Festival and a picture book set in Beijing. In the meantime, I have started preliminary drafts for a novel that may become Summer of the Pig, to take place in between my past novels The Year of the Dog and The Year of the Rat. I have no plans on writing a sequel to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, but I would like to write another fantasy novel someday.

When is the book coming out, and where can we find the book release information and the celebration?

The online book launch is July 1st at my Facebook page and the book website.

So far Grace has been to Bildungsroman, Shelf Elf, and Paper Tigers, where she has shared other perspectives on her writing and where you’ll see additional pages from the book. Tomorrow she’ll be visiting Charlotte’s Library and then will continue on her blog tour journey for the rest of the week.

Booklights, NYT Articles, and Listening

Today I have some cute picture book recommendations over at Booklights. Head over and add some of your favorites. To clarify: I’m focusing on picture books that are particularly cute, not referring to my own writing of recommendations as cute — though it is indeed possible that both are adorable.

I blew off the article in The New York Times about whether teens like The Catcher in the Rye, because I have come to learn that the NYT writes horrible and poorly researched articles when it comes to children’s and Young Adult literature. I used to think that they gave these assignments to interns as an initiation ritual. Now I have a new possibility in mind...
Scene: A bunch of reporters are gathered in a large room presenting ideas for articles. One woman’s idea is shot down. Guy in baseball cap — Yankees — begins a chant of “To The Jar!” As the chant picks up steam, a large glass jar is taken down from a bookshelf. The woman pulls out a slip of paper, and reads the topic aloud: “Holden Sucks, Discuss.” As the room full of people groan at the bad luck, Baseball Cap Guy shouts, “Snap!” End scene.
Anyway, I was less interested in the original article than in John Green’s analysis. I can’t say that I agree with all of it, but I like that a discussion is taking place in the comments. People talking about their ideas about reading and books — what a concept. One thing that came back to me as I read the comments is that some people were talking but not listening. It’s a thought that’s been at the back of my mind since Roger Sutton said, in terms of book blogging, “I worry that Internet 2.0 is turning us all into better talkers than listeners — that’s what will kill criticism from wherever its source.” When we’re so eager to talk that we don’t listen — or online, read with thoughtful process — then what can we do to change that?

Meerkat Mail

Meerkat MailIllustrations by Emily Gravett always leave me sighing. Or is it singing? I guess whichever one conveys my happiness at being part of the way she sees the world. In Meerkat Mail, Sonny gets tired of always being around everyone ALL OF THE TIME. After all, the meerkat motto is “Stay Safe, Stay Together!” But Sonny longs to explore, and so sets off to visit some of his cousins — different mongoose families across Africa. He sends postcards home to tell where he is and what he’s doing. (Apparently, he doesn’t Twitter.) In the end, of course, there’s no place like home.

The postcards he sends are taped in the book, which is pretty cool. The art is fantastic, the learning is subtle, and the humor is ever-present. Gravett’s books often have a bit of darkness to them, and here that nod is seen in a jackal that stalks Sonny on his journey. The question remains why the predator doesn’t... ahem, eat him along the way. So maybe the threat part is a little contrived. It’s a minor complaint, though, for a majorly great book.

Blog Flu

I was hoping to escape the latest wave of blog angst, as one might hope to miss the latest flu outbreak going around the office, and I suddenly realized that the similarities are uncanny. Both are extremely uncomfortable. Both can cause a weakened state, uneasy sleep, and loss of appetite. Extremely contagious, they can wipe out a community. Recovery can be slow. The best hope is that during the summer, the illness dies out as people are less connected.

In thinking about this latest epidemic, I’ve been wondering what I can do to help myself and my fellow bloggers. Truly, I don’t underestimate the power of the disease. At times, blogs have even died — I’ve seen it happen. As it occupied the back of my mind these last two weeks, the old standards for preventing disease came to me as my own blog salvation, and maybe yours.

1) Wash Your Hands

The first rule of preventing the spread of illness is based on continual vigilance. If you are in the habit of washing your hands frequently, you’ll pick up fewer germs. If you become even more aware of the practice during particular outbreaks, you can reduce your risk significantly. As it applies to your blog, I’d say you can prevent a blog flu or reduce its severity by maintaining an ongoing awareness of your personal blog mission. Some may find it contained in their review policy, though I tend to see that as more of a statement to the outside world than to yourself. Personally, I could name my reasons for blogging in priority order at any time, and in none of them do ARCs or free books make an appearance. I am comfortable with the choices I’ve made in balancing my relationships with my reviewing and my sense of fun with a nod to professionalism. More important perhaps than my comfort is my constant awareness of those choices.

2) Boost Your Immunity

As illnesses sweep down, I swear by Vitamin C — even though everything I read says it doesn’t make any difference. But I think that there’s a case for it. There is the element that one believes that it is working, but I’d put even more emphasis on the sense of taking control, being active, doing something. For blog flu, you can boost your immunity by getting involved in something you love about book blogging. Do that interview, or write that exciting review, or even take a short break to read that amazing book. Drop briefly the things that are draining your energy, because you need your strength.

3) Cover Your Mouth When You Cough

If we want to prevent the spread of disease, we have to acknowledge that we may become the cause. Perhaps as carriers with a mild case, or on our way to getting sick. Either way, we have a responsibility to cover our mouths when we cough. Okay, this rule may be the most direct an analogy to blogging. Because as bloggers, we tend to share. And when we have something to really share, it’s hard to hold back. But it’s one of the ways we spread the blog flu from blogger to blogger until everyone is sick — sick and tired of talking about blog angst. Notice though that I said cover your mouth when you cough. I didn’t say don’t cough. It isn’t realistic to expect that we would hold back talking about our blog flu any more than it’s realistic to not cough during a cold. But we can be careful about how it impacts others, and maybe that involves softening the sound, reducing the force, turning away.

If, despite efforts at prevention, you find yourself coming down with the blog flu, remember to take good care of yourself. Just as you can go a few days without eating much more than saltines and soup, you can go a few days without blogging (or blogging very little). Your blog won’t starve during a case of blog flu. And just like you don’t lose weight during those days of low-calorie meals, your blog won’t lose statistics. And if you do lose weight or stats, once you’re back at full power, both the pounds and visitors come back.

Look to the things that make you feel good, or at least feel better. Tap into strong relationships. Find things that make you smile. A sense of humor can be a saving grace. A well-developed sense of irony is better than a good night’s sleep.

I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that laughter is the best medicine. Except for Percocet, which is really good, too.

Bloggiesta Update II

With the whole Father’s Day thing I wasn’t able to put as much time into Bloggiesta as I had hoped. Well, that and the trip to Ross and the stop at Petco where I had to hold a kitten up for adoption (no, I didn’t bring it home). And of course the sheets needed changing and the newspapers needed recycling and The Colbert Report needed watching.

I didn’t keep good track of my time, but I think I’ve spent about four hours on the computer today. I don’t feel that I accomplished much for that amount of time. I deleted some bad links from my blogroll. I read some posts I’d been meaning to give a more concentrated look. I deleted a lot of emails. In the month of May, I must not have deleted anything except spam.

The best thing I did was add some of the parenting blogs and general interest blogs to my Google Reader. Originally, I had wanted to keep my reader for book blogs, figuring I’d use my blogroll to visit the others occasionally. Instead I found that I haven’t been to them at all. As I was checking out the links, I found myself laughing and realized how much I’d missed the humor and variety they lent to my blog diet.

I also had a lot of time on the computer getting used to the trackpad. It’s kind of driving me crazy now, but Bill swears I’ll learn to love it. I’m pretty enamored of my laptop in general, so I’m sure we’ll be fine together after we pass the getting-to-know-you stage.

I’ll end my Bloggiesta participation with ten hours and some light blogkeeping completed. I participated in eight of the mini-challenges — which were all excellent. The challenges were helpful in giving me some focus, because this weekend I wasn’t up for thinking through the things I needed to do. I know that the idea came from catching up on reviews after the 48 Hour Book Challenge, but I guess I’d rather do this kind of blog upkeep in the dreary winter months rather than the first days of summer. Overall though, a good opportunity to get some things done.

Bloggiesta Update

I’ve spend six hours on Bloggiesta, much of it on mini-challenges that were offered by various blogs.

I cleaned up my Google Reader a bit by using the “trends” tab to find and remove inactive blogs. Then I added a couple of new blogs through looking at random blogs participating in Bloggiesta. (I tried the Lost numbers first to select my blogging visits — 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42.) I checked up on my Google Alerts, though I’m finding that they are not catching my blog mentions and I don’t know why. I added my blog to various directories, and I secured a blog buddy. (It’s you!) I learned about anchor text at GalleySmith (see, that was using anchor text correctly my making the link the blog name). I read some blogging tips articles at Problogger, including a great one on increasing blog traffic from SEOmoz. I also used website grader to run a report on MotherReader and to make some changes to improve my marketing by search engine. This was my favorite tip, given by Bookish Ruth.

I’m sorry, but I ran out of steam to provide all the links to the many bloggers providing the mini-challenges, but they are all listed at Maw Books. If you are looking for concrete tasks to improve your blog, check them out.

Tomorrow I’ll work on typing in some reviews. Maybe I’ll even play around a bit with templates and such. You know, typical Father’s Day activities.

Bloggiesta Begins

I’m getting a late start on Bloggiesta, but for good reason — I was waiting for Bill to set up my new laptop! It’s a nice little MacBook Pro with plenty of kick in a tidy space. However, I’m such a creature of habit that I know it will take me some time to get used to this baby. The typing feels different. The trackpad is very different for someone as mouse-dependent as me. Adjusting to working literally on my lap is crazy — even if it means I can sit on the couch by the open window smelling the rain-soaked air.

I said different, not bad.

In any case, even though I have a million things that I should be doing, I thought that by spending time with Sonny the laptop, we could get to know each other better. Laundry can wait — even if it means I’ll be wearing the grannypants undies tomorrow.

Since plan is part of the PEDRO mascot acronym, I’ll come up with a partial plan now. I have a bunch of handwritten notes/reviews that I need to get into a usable format. I have some email cleaning to do at the MotherReader email. I also have a lot of email cleaning to do at the Yahoo account that includes kidlit stuff. That’s all I can handle thinking about now.

Happy Bloggiesta, everyone!

Frankie Pickle and Booklights

With Father’s Day coming up, today’s post at Booklights features three picture books about dads. I didn’t select my personal favorites, choosing instead to highlight ones that were a little bit different. Head over and add your recommendations in the comments. Oh, I also mentioned Book Dads as a website/blog devoted to finding books that feature positive images of fatherhood. Just a site you should know, if you don’t already.

I had all these mighty plans to review like the wind this week, but I am beat. Really beat. I know that the period between mid-April and mid-June is crazy-busy for me, but I’m usually able to keep enough in reserve to make it to the end without falling apart. This time I’m crawling to the finish line.

The house is a disaster. It wasn’t great anyway, as I’d let the cleaning fall back in order to tackle other more pressing projects. But now as the school papers come home, it’s a nightmare. But there is one good thing about it. Perfect jumping off point to introduce...

Frankie Pickle and the Closet of DoomFrankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom, by Eric Wight. Frankie is a hero in his own mind, tackling mighty adventures even without the benefit of the dryer-sheet cape he hopes to make. Real life keeps pulling him back, specifically in the form of a mom who wants him to clean his room. When nagging fails, a bargain is struck, leaving Frankie to enjoy his squalor in peace. Or at least until it gets truly out of control. And then there’s that mysterious smell...

Graphic novel sections of Frankie’s imagined adventures lend a sense of fun to the story of a regular boy. It’s like a boy version of Judy Moody meets Babymouse meets Indiana Jones. This great early chapter book, with lots of humor and fun, is one to watch for a sequel.

Emily’s Sharing and Caring Book

Emily’s Sharing and Caring BookEmily’s Sharing and Caring Book, by Cindy Post Senning and Peggy Post, conveys the message that sharing IS a way of caring, and could be especially helpful if you have a toddler or preschooler having trouble with that concept. Could you relate your feelings without this book? Sure, but this book offers extra help bringing the message home, and in a gentle way.

I wouldn’t make the case for this title if it were one of those issue books posing as a fun storybook. But it is clearly categorized as a nonfiction book in manners, having been written by co-directors of the Emily Post Institute. You know, the etiquette people. Having a niece with some sharing... challenges, I thought the concept was handled well.

In the book, sharing is shown as a special way that the character makes others smile, which puts the focus on the reward instead of on the moral argument. That sharing gets a smile — rather than that sharing is the Right Thing To Do — seems more appropriate for a toddler or young preschooler’s stage of moral development. The illustrations by Leo Landry bring warmth to the story, as a little girl interacts with several people including a grandma, a dad, a mom and peers — brothers or friends. I also like the inclusion of a child of color on the cover.

The Summer I Turned Pretty

The Summer I Turned PrettyI’m a sucker for summer stories. I love being in the middle of summer and reading about someone else’s summer. It’s like having two for the price of one. I guess I kind of collect summer books, at least in my mind. Off the top of my head, some of my favorites are: The Liberation of Gabriel King, The Penderwicks, Monsoon Summer , An Abundance of Katherines, Cicada Summer, Lowji Discovers America, and Cassie Was Here.

Anyway, while Jenny Han had me interested in her book the moment I knew that she was writing one — huge Shug fan here — I was especially excited when seeing the title for the first time: The Summer I Turned Pretty.

I felt a particular connection to the story, having spent my childhood years at the New Jersey shore for weeks at a time. I looked forward to those days of digging in the sand, swimming in the ocean, and watching the sunrise. As I turned to teenager, it became less about playing with the shovels and more about walking along the ocean in my bikini.

In Han’s book, Belly measures her life by summers when she stays in a beach house with a family friend. While Belly’s mom and her friend Susannah spend time together, Belly tags along behind her brother and Susannah’s boys. She takes on the role of younger sister to Jeremiah and Conrad, and sometimes it chafes her like the sand in her swimsuit. But this summer is different, because Belly has finally come into her own. She’s grown up now and things are changing.

Going back and forth between the present time and Belly’s previous summers, the book gives a full sense of Belly’s relationships and her growth. The shore setting gives us crab dinners, boardwalk outings, beach parties, and midnight swims. You can practically smell the salt air. Simply a wonderful summer book.

If you’re in the DC area, Jenny Han will be signing books in Northern Virginia. On Saturday, June 13th, she’ll be at Aladdin’s Lamp in Arlington at 2:00 p.m., and on Sunday, June 14th, it’s Hooray for Books in Alexandria, also at 2:00 p.m. I plan to be at the Sunday signing with my daughter and some of her Girl Scout friends.

I mentioned some of my favorite summer books. What other wonderful Young Adult and Middle Grade titles should I add to my collection? (Not to disrespect picture books, which I know have plenty of stories. But I’m looking for the books where you can escape for hours into someone else’s summer days.)

Booklights and Thanks

This week I had planned on writing reviews of books from my 48 Hour Book Challenge reading, but I needed some time for blogging detox. I may be back this afternoon with one write-up, but it looks like everything else will have to wait for next week. I’m pooped, people.

Today I’m offering a three-part plan for developing reading skills during the summer at Booklights. Come on by and lend your suggestions. Not going to click through? I can break it down to:
  1. Make the Time (not Find the Time)
  2. Bring Home the Books (library plug)
  3. Mix It Up (reading time variety)
I also want to say thanks for all of your thanks. But don’t now thank me for my thanks to you for your thanks, or this will never stop.

Yippee-Ki-Yay, MotherReader!

48 Hour Book Challenge“FatherReader” here — one of the advantages of being the site’s editor is that I have full posting privileges, and can add messages without MotherReader’s approval or authorization. I just wanted to add my own thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s 48 Hour Book Challenge — the turnout was far greater than we ever could have expected, and everyone who joined in deserves special recognition.

But mostly, I wanted to congratulate MotherReader on all the hard work she’s put in on the competition. For something that started as just a “Hey, wouldn’t it be neat to see how much my blog-friends and I could read in 48 hours?” notion has really blossomed into a seminal kidlitosphere event. The downside, of course, is that the amount of preparation and coordination involved has gone through the roof. I know that — even with the event officially “over” — Pam spent the entire day yesterday checking blogs, running tallies, and otherwise wrapping things up in a neat little bow (and with my day booked at work, I couldn’t even pitch in to help out).

And for the record, yesterday was also Pam’s birthday — which just goes to show you how much a labor of love this really is. (Not having time to go out for a formal birthday dinner, we settled for a quiet meal at home — Baja Fresh carryout and a couple of old episodes of The Office — but we’ll plan to go out soon.)

Congratulations, Pam, and thanks! (Oh, and happy birthday, too!)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

The Fourth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge Final Post

First, prizes! I have books for participants selected with the Random Integer Generator. Participants had to complete twelve hours of reading/blogging/networking to be eligible for prizes. In the order drawn, the winners are:
Prize winners, please write me at MotherReader AT gmail DOT com with your address, and the types of book you’d be interested in receiving. I’ll do my best to accommodate. (I have some middle-grade books that can be personalized, and signed picture books, middle grade, Young Adult, and adult books. The post of potential prizes may be helpful.)

What an amazing year for the 48 Hour Book Challenge. We had 112 people complete the challenge. These are the sixty blogs that showed totals of twenty hours or more:
Many bloggers also connected their personal readathons with a cause. Here’s a list of Blogging for The Greater Good:
Visit the blogs above for more information about their specific causes. And bloggers above, feel free to correct me if I’ve made mistakes in listing your information.

Andromeda from A Wrung Sponge volunteered to give a framed photo with original haiku to the blogger who collected the most money, and she is Karen Healey, with $1,000 given to the Alannah and Madeline Foundation. Great job!

Thanks to all the authors and bloggers who contributed prizes, with a special thanks to Rasco from RIF, who is going to round up three more trophies! Thanks to all of the bloggers who mentioned, tweeted about, and otherwise promoted the 48 Hour Book Challenge. We would have never had such a fantastic turnout without your help. Thanks to the bloggers who supported a cause — and supported each other in raising money.

Of course, thanks to all of you who participated and made this such a special, amazing, fabulous event! Rock n’ Read!

The Fourth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge: Winners

48 Hour Book ChallengeEven though the contest is called the 48 Hour Book Challenge, I never thought that people would read for the entire time. Boy, was I ever wrong. This year not one, but FOUR people read and blogged for the entire forty-eight hours! They didn’t sleep. They didn’t take breaks. They didn’t shower (though one employed a creative use of the audiobook allowance to take a bath). I am officially blown away.

The winners of The Fourth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge are:
I’ve listed the winners in the order in which I discovered their mind-boggling, sleep-deprived achievements. A few couldn’t even stop reading and added a some extra hours to their totals. Absolutely amazing.

Since I didn’t plan on four winners — FOUR — I’m going to be spending a bit of extra time pulling together prize packages for each. Anyone have two more copies of Catching Fire?

Later today, I’ll have a second post with all the members of the Twenty Hours Club, the donations collected, and random prizes for players. Congratulations to this year’s remarkable winners!

The Fourth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge: Finish Line

48 Hour Book ChallengeThat was fun, right? I hope everyone shrunk their TBR pile a little bit more and had a blast doing it. Let’s see how we did.

Please link to your final summary post with Mr. Linky here no later than noon EST on Monday, June 8th. If you supported a charity or cause in connection with your reading, please note that in the comments. I’ll announce the winners Monday afternoon or evening, depending on how long it takes to sort things out.

Thanks for playing!

48 Hour Book Challenge Participants
1. CindyinTempe
2. Rebecca
3. Jen (NerdGirlTalking)
4. LiyanaLand!
5. Paulina
6. Anna
7. Briana (What Bri Reads)
8. Steph (Reviewer X)
9. Susan B. Evans
10. Wendy
11. Katy
12. Becky
13. Lazygal
14. Bibliovore
15. Shannon
16. Amanda (A Patchwork of Books)
17. Melissa (Book Nut)
18. Ami
19. MotherReader
20. Christina @ Flip the Page Book Reviews!
21. SBBO
22. Scott: HPL YA
23. Charlotte
24. tammy
25. Lori
26. Sharon Hrycewicz
27. Jennie (Biblio File)
28. Saints and Spinners
29. Tasses
30. Jen Robinson
31. lakereader
32. iAlessa
33. Sarah-GreenBeanTeenQueen
34. Paige Y.
35. Bethany (Lessons From the Head)
36. Imelda
37. Steph
38. Sandra
39. The Brain Lair
40. Tricia (Miss Rumphius)
41. Jess (The Joys of Reading)
42. Becky (One Literature Nut)
43. Kerri (Bookends)
44. Kristi (The Story Siren)
45. Kristin
46. Monique (The Little Reading Nook)
47. Dreadful Penny
48. Amanda
49. Shannan
50. Megan
51. Kay @ Infiniteshelf
52. Jess (Active Voice)
53. Sondra Eklund
54. Blog from the Windowsill
55. Sherry at Semicolon
56. Erica (The Book Cellar)
57. Reyna
58. Diane ~ The Book Resort
59. Mary Ann (Great Kid Books)
60. beth
61. Erika
62. Laura
63. Abby the Librarian
64. Elisabeth Reads
65. Sandra (Fresh Ink Books)
66. Leah:)
67. Jill (NerdGirl Talking)
68. M
69. Camille @ BookMoot
70. Kathrin
71. Lady Schrapnell
72. Ms. Yingling
73. Rasco from RIF
74. Military76Brat: Celebrate Life w/Bargains
75. Kimberly @ lectitans
76. MillyMarie
77. Shonda
78. Leila
79. Susan
80. Mandy
81. Trisha
82. Kristin
83. Jessi (casual dread)
84. Lawral
85. Karen Healey
86. Mary Lee
87. Crystal F.
88. misskate
89. Natasha @ Maw Books
90. Sarah (TheReadingZone)
91. Emily's Reading Room
92. Muttix
93. myza
94. Little Willow
95. Pippi's Postings
96. Melissa Wiley
97. Franki
98. Lindsay (NerdGirlTalking)
99. Andromeda Jazmon
100. Juli
101. Vasilly
102. Gwen Frankenstien
103. Amy Planchak Graves
104. Cindy(cindysloveofbooks)
105. msmac
106. Courtney
107. Karen at Literate Lives
108. Lizzy
109. Eva
110. Julie
111. Rebecca (Lost in Books)
112. Heather

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MotherReader Challenge Update IV: Final Summary

The continuing schedule:
4:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.Sleep
9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.Networking time
10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.Breakfast
10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.Networking time
11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.Blog
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.Read MagicKeepers: The Eternal Hourglass
1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.Blog
2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.Break
2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.Try audiobook; complete failure
3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.Break for DC KidLit Book Club
5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.Blog
6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.Read The Summer I Turned Pretty

I know I’m jumping the gun on my summary, but I want to get the Finish Line post up and then go back and complete my last book for the challenge.

So I’ll have eight books read, and a total of thirty hours spent reading, blogging, and networking. I’m happy with my total hours which reached my personal goal. I was less happy with my number of books and wondered why I was reading so slowly. But I forgot that I took full advantage of the networking time — which seemed appropriate as the host — so it’s more like twenty-five hours. Then take out the blogging time, and it’s more like eight books in twenty hours, and that’s more like it for my reading pace.

I am so glad I added in the social media option this year. Personally, I liked the breaks to see what others were doing — even though I was only able to visit a fraction of the participants. I loved skimming the Twitter feed, which made me feel more connected to the community as I did the reading. We’ll be keeping that. Overall, I had a great time reading some great books alongside great bloggers. Who could ask for more?

Oh, I’ve decided to do my reviews of three of the books during the week because I have more to say than I can capture on little sleep. So this week you’ll be hearing about Secret Keeper, by Mitali Perkins, Cold Hands, Warm Heart, by Jill Wolfson, and The Summer I Turned Pretty, by Jenny Han.

MagicKeepers: The Eternal Hourglass

MagicKeepersThere was a two-week blog tour for MagicKeepers: The Eternal Hourglass, by Erica Kirov, so I feel like I’ve seen the book everywhere. Good thing that it has an appealing cover — and story.

Nick is living in a third-rate hotel with his father, a fourth-rate magician in Las Vegas. But on Nick’s thirteenth birthday, his circumstances change completely as he finds himself living among a family of magicians. Real magicians, not those illusionists putting on stage shows. And the family is his own extended relations exiled from Russia. Nick finds out about his own powers and the secret that he carries that threatens him and his new family.

I liked the inclusion of Russian culture and history in the book. Houdini also makes an appearance as we learn the back story of a lost magical relic. The writing is engaging and lightly funny. There may be comparisons to Harry Potter, and that’s fine. In fact, it’s probably good, as it may draw readers to this great title. This Middle Grade series will be particularly good for kids who like the idea of the Potter books, but may not be ready to tackle the longer and darker ones. Personally, I’ll be watching for the next book.

For more information, check out the website and blog.

MotherReader Challenge Update IV

Up at 8:30 a.m., but lounged in bed with seventh grader talking about Catching Fire. We also talked about how realistic My Life in Pink and Green was in terms of boy/girl relationships that I’ve seen. Seventh grader told me about some couples in her grade that she’s seen kissing in the halls. I tried not to have a heart attack.

I don’t have a schedule to post, having only been awake a few hours, but I do have a plan. So far, I spent about an hour visiting blogs, now I’m blogging for a bit, and then it’s back to the books. Since I’m doing well on time, I’m going to attend the DC Kid Lit Book Club this afternoon, and then come back for the final couple hours of reading.

If you’re still with us and need a break, here’s one of the funniest videos I’ve ever seen. And because it’s embedded on my blog, you can count the viewing time in your total time. I know — you’re welcome. (And thanks to Bookshelves of Doom for the link.)

Catching Fire

Catching FireI’ve spent the last few hours with this book, but it’s too late for me to write anything and still be careful to not give away any part of it. So, before I get some much needed rest, here’s a quick reaction to Catching Fire from my seventh grader, that I will now echo.

While she was reading and I was on another book, I asked her a question as she was on the last pages. She shushed me. I laughed. A few minutes later she closed the book and uttered the following:
Whoa. That got freakin’ awesome. The first part was boring, then about three-fifths in it gets exciting, but the last twenty pages are so exciting and amazingly... whoa.
Personally, I wouldn’t call the first part boring, but maybe a bit slow. I agree with the rest, but especially the whoa.

MotherReader Challenge Update III

My continuing schedule:
7:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.Break
8:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.Blog
8:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.Networking time
9:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.Blog
10:00 p.m. – 12:00 midRead My Life In Pink and Green
12:00 mid – 12:30 a.m.Blog
12:30 a.m. – 3:30 a.m.Finish Catching Fire
3:30 a.m. – 4:00 a.m. Blog

Now I’m at twenty-three hours and six books so far. Still have tomorrow to go. Those last two hours with Catching Fire raced by, but I’m more than ready for bed.

My Life in Pink and Green

My Life in Pink and GreenMy Life in Pink and Green, by Lisa Greenwald, was just the book I needed at this stage of the 48 Hour Book Challenge. Light and a quick read.

For Lucy, the family-owned pharmacy has always been a second home to her. Now a seventh grader, she even helps out with the workload. Unfortunately, as business has taken a downward turn, both the family’s finances and the pharmacy itself are in danger. But Lucy isn’t one to just give up, and tries to save the day with her love of makeup and the environment.

Lisa Greenwald does a wonderful job capturing tween insecurities and new crushes. With the characters’ involvement in the Earth Club at school, ideas for helping the environment are included naturally in the book. In fact, since Lucy gives information on makeup application during the book, and tips are part of every chapter title, girls can also come away with a healthy look at cosmetics, too. So in one book you get information on going green, looking beautiful, talking to boys, and taking initiative. That’s a bargain!


RiotIf you’ve read Walter Dean Myers’ book Monster, you’ll be excited to see that he’s written another book in the same screenplay format. Unfortunately, you’ll probably be disappointed upon actually reading it. It’s not easy for me to say this, because I respect Myers and what he’s brought to the canon of Young Adult literature, but Riot is no Monster. Not even close.

Monster used the screenplay format to bring the reader into the action. The language was real, and the story was gripping. I remember listening to it on audiobook — something I rarely do — and sitting in my car outside my house because I couldn’t leave. It was masterful.

Riot tries to apply the same technique, but falls flat. The action jumps from scene to scene with no sense of flow. Myers’ grip on contemporary language — the book is set in 1863 — is stifled and the dialogue is stiff. The story incorporates too many characters, scenes, and timelines to work with the style.

The book is about days of violence against African Americans when Irish immigrants, angered by the draft for the Civil War, find another minority to attack. Riot mostly follows Claire, a biracial teenage girl, but also zooms in on her family, her friends, soldiers in the street, and an Irish immigrant couple.

The subject seems interesting for a book, but the format was all wrong. It was hard to follow and hard to stay engaged with the characters. But the worst offense was the language, which didn’t sound realistic at all. It also felt like it was mixing modern terms with the historical. The one that stood out the most for me was the continued use of the characters referring to themselves and to others as black. I don’t have the research, but was this term in common usage in 1863? Overall, the dialogue simply didn’t sound like things people would say. Here’s a excerpt from Claire’s argument with her mother:
If it’s my skin that makes me unsafe, can I take it off and put it in a drawer until the streets are calm again? If it’s my skin that puts me in the sights of murderers, can I change it the way I would change my dress or my apron? Where is the “safe” you’re talking about? And if I’m black and you’re white and that makes me a target, where is this “family” you’re talking about? Where is it, Mum? Where is it?
You can get away with this kind of dialogue in a play, which has its own stylistic conventions of speech. It could have worked in a standard book, where we could follow Claire’s thoughts as well as her words. But for a screenplay, the language is almost painful to read.

Sorry. I wanted it to be good. What can I say?

MotherReader Challenge Update II

My continuing schedule:
2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.Break
3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.Blog
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.Read more Catching Fire
4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.Try three different books
5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.Give up; need a nap instead
6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.Read Riot
7:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.Break for dinner/TV time

I’m at the halfway mark and have fifteen hours, four and a half books so far. Not my best work. Actually, I’ve felt more focused when I’ve had more things on my weekend schedule because I had to get out of the house and do something completely different. I’d come back more refreshed and excited to read again. Today it’s been harder to keep up my energy.

I know that I’m going back to Catching Fire later tonight, after my seventh grader finishes it. Now I need to pick a book that I’m excited about. Or maybe something funny. How are you pacing yourself?

The Hunger Games

I don’t really need to review this book, do I? Is there anyone left that hasn’t read The Hunger Games that is going to read it? Didn’t think so.

The Hunger GamesI remember at one of our DC Kid Lit Book Club meetings, Susan Kusel brought out the ARC for this new Suzanne Collins book and told us that it was going to be big. Not my thing, I thought, and turned it down. So oops. Could have been on the front of that wave, but nooooo.

After everyone was talking about it, I broke down and read a copy from my library. I still wouldn’t call it my kind of book, but I did find it quite the page turner — especially about halfway through, when the actual Hunger Games began in the story. I enjoyed the book, but didn’t love the book. I also didn’t have the sense of needing to know what happened next that’s driven the ARC of Catching Fire to be such a hot item.

I bought a copy during the week because my seventh grader had heard about the Catching Fire buzz at school, and when she realized I had it, she knew she had to read it. Bragging rights. One problem: She hadn’t read the first book. That’s how she ended up spending a lot of Friday reading The Hunger Games and most of today on Catching Fire. I told her that I should have signed her up for the 48HBC, because she’s doing as much reading as many participants.

For me, I wanted to read The Hunger Games again because I was afraid that I’d have forgotten some of the important parts as I moved to the new book. My book retention is terrible. On the second reading, it didn’t hold up for me. It was fine. It was still fast. But the sense of surprise was gone, and with that, the energy of the book.

What do you think? Is this a book you can read again, or is the magic gone the second time around?

MotherReader Challenge Update

Everyone should have signed in by now, and it certainly seems that way with more than one hundred participants! I’m so happy!

I started last night at 7:30 p.m., but didn’t post because I don’t know how to make the Starting Line post “sticky,” as they say. And then this morning, life got in the way for a bit. Now it’s all back on track.

My schedule so far:
7:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.Read Secret Keeper, part of The Hunger Games
11:30 p.m. – 12:00 midBreak
12:00 mid – 12:30 a.m.Networking time
12:30 a.m. – 2:30 a.m.Read The Hunger Games
2:30 a.m. – 3:00 a.m.Networking time
3:00 a.m. – 4:00 a.m.Read Catching Fire
4:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.Sleep
8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.Networking time
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.Dance recital rehearsal stuff
11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.Read Cold Hands, Warm Heart
1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.Write post
2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.Networking time

So that gives me twelve hours and three and a half books as of 2:30 p.m. Decent start. Slower reading for me than usual, but I’m just not rushing it. I haven’t felt like writing reviews, which has always been how I broke up my reading time in past challenges. I think that having the time to check blogs and Facebook and Twitter has been giving me enough of a break from reading. I’m really glad I thought of adding the networking aspect into the challenge and am enjoying popping by the participants’ blogs. After this next networking break, I’m going to spend some reviewing time. And get a turkey sandwich. And a Coke. Two Cokes.

The Fourth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge: Starting Line

48 Hour Book ChallengeYou’ve read the rules. You’ve cleared your schedule — well, except for that graduation/recital/tennis lesson. You’ve stacked your books and stocked your snacks. Let’s go.

When you start your reading, sign in with Mr. Linky here. Keep track of your time — which includes reading, blogging, and some connecting (as stated in the rules).

On Sunday, I’ll have a Finish Line post where you can leave the link to your final summary page. As a backup, link to the Finish Line post in your final summary.

Have fun, read well.

48 Hour Book Challenge Participants
1. LiyanaLand!
2. Shannan
3. Charlotte
4. Cindy's love of books
5. Susan
6. Kristin
7. Military76brat: celebrate life w/bargains up and going
8. Rasco from RIF
9. Katy
10. Amanda (A Patchwork of Books)
11. Laura
12. Pippi's Postings
13. Rebekah
14. Susan B. Evans
15. Sarah-GreenBeanTeenQueen
16. Rebecca
17. Courtney
18. Sherry at Semicolon
19. Lawral
20. Scott: HPL YA
21. Tasses
22. Denise von Minden
23. Sandra
24. Jules (Bookworm Jules)
25. Shannon Bailey
26. Ami
27. Kristin
28. Eva M
29. Anna
30. Becca
31. Melissa
32. Ms. Yingling
33. Jess
34. Bibliovore
35. misskate
36. Lady Schrapnell
37. Crystal F.
38. Cindy Deatsman
39. Saints and Spinners
40. lakereader
41. Becky
42. Andromeda Jazmon
43. Jen Robinson
44. Sarah (TheReadingZone)
45. JessicaLeigh
46. Paulina
47. Julie Johnson
48. Sandra (Fresh Ink Books)
49. Mary Schwander
50. Emily's Reading Room
51. Blog from the Windowsill
52. Lori
53. Julie
54. Shonda
55. Kristi (The Story Siren)
56. Dreadful Penny
57. Briana (What Bri Reads)
58. Muttix
59. Paige Y.
60. MillyMarie
61. Tricia (Miss Rumphius)
62. Jen
63. Amber (NerdGirlTalking)
64. MotherReader
65. iAlessa
66. Jennie (Biblio File)
67. The Brain Lair
68. SBBO
69. Kimberly @ lectitans
70. Jess (Active Voice)
71. Imelda
72. Amanda Blau
73. Bill at Literate Lives
74. Sharon Hrycewicz
75. tmdahle@centurytel.net
76. Natasha @ Maw Books
77. Darcy
78. Kerri
79. Monique @ The Little Reading Nook
80. Juli
81. Sondra Eklund
82. Mandy
83. Karen at Literate Lives
84. Becky (One Literature Nut)
85. Kay @ Infinite Shelf
86. Megan
87. Beth
88. Reyna
89. Diane ~ The Book Resort
90. Heather
91. Elisabeth Reads
92. Erica (The Book Cellar)
93. Mary Ann (Great Kid Books)
94. Amy Planchak Graves
95. Trisha
96. M
97. Lazygal
98. Leila
99. Bethany (Lessons From the Head)
100. Liz Burns
101. Steph
102. Steph (Reviewer X)
103. Camille@BookMoot
104. Rebecca @ Lost in Books
105. Kathrin
106. Jessi (casual dread)
107. Vasilly
108. Jill
109. Lindsay
110. Melissa Wiley after all
111. Booking It
112. Christina @ Flip the Page Book Reviews!
113. Abby the Librarian
114. Karen Healey
115. Erika
116. Leah
117. Lazygal
118. Little Willow
119. Gwen Frankenstien
120. msmac
121. TrendyBrandyKids Boutique

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