Read-a-Thon Fall 2015 Closing Survey

Wow, okay! Mia here again. It’s five or six hours after the Read-a-Thon ended and I have a little bit of a reading hangover. (Time for some hair of the dog, maybe?) I petered out near the end, as is traditional, but overall this fall’s reading felt pretty solid! Let’s do the closing survey.

Which hour was most daunting for you?

It’s all kind of a blur, honestly, but around 9:00pm here we were getting close to the end of reading our New Kids on the Block novel out loud and I was definitely struggling, voice-wise and otherwise.

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

I think Zilpha Keatley Snyder is always a good choice–her books move along with great pacing and her characters all feel extremely human. She writes with such humor and compassion.

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

Nothing really comes to mind at the moment. I know how to improve my own experience, but this part was 100% on me. See, I didn’t participate in any mini-challenges this year because I wanted to make up for the lost reading time I accrued when I took a four-hour break for another activity early on, and I think in retrospect I would’ve enjoyed doing at least one or two. I got a fair amount of reading done but didn’t let myself enjoy the social media aspects of the event!

What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

Things seemed to go pretty smoothly. Again, I didn’t engage with the Read-a-thon itself as much this time as in the past, but I’m sure everyone did a great job. They always work so hard.

How many books did you read?

Six? Six. Most of them were very short.

What were the names of the books you read?

In order of reading: The Headless Cupid, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder; The Gecko and the Three Grave Robbers, a short comic by Cheez Hayama; New Kids on the Block: The Novels: Backstage Surprise, by Seth McEvoy and Laure Smith; Suicide Forest, a short horror comic by Dave Baker and Nicole Goux; Carrie, by Stephen King; and Goosebumps #9: Welcome to Camp Nightmare, by R.L. Stine.

Which book did you enjoy most?

“Enjoy” is a complicated word. I think I straight-up enjoyed The Headless Cupid the most, for the reasons listed above about how ZKS is a wonderful treasure–I’m sad she’s moved on from this world but I’m glad she left such a legacy of books behind. Jessica and I certainly bonded over NKOTB: TN: BS, which we read aloud to each other in its entirety. Please note that at 133 pages, reading the whole book aloud still took approximately three hours. (Then again, we had to keep stopping to laugh or dispute some highly unlikely plot points.)

Which did you enjoy least?

I didn’t get as much of a laugh out of the Goosebumps book as I thought I would! I mean, it was weird and goofy, but it was hard to top that NKOTB book. I mean, DANNY WOOD JUMPED ONTO A MOVING ROLLER COASTER AND CLIMBED ALONG THE OUTSIDE AS IF THIS WERE A TRAIN CAPER. I can’t.

If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

Not applicable, but we got some good cheering from Jessica’s brother! I think letting Cheerleaders strategically target people who wanted/needed cheering was a good idea–was that a thing before?

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

Oh, you know I’m there. I think Jessica and I would like to host the Mad Libs mini-challenge until Earth’s orbit decays and the sun burns out.

Jessica’s turn, if she’s so inclined!

Which hour was most daunting for you? I think I’ll agree with Mia about the hour near the end of the NKotB book. There were still really hilarious moments, but it just took a long time and, in particular, some of the scenes were Too Long. I also really struggled around Hours 21-22, pretty close to when I went to bed. Just plain ol’ tiredness!
Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? I always say that graphic novels are great! I especially recommend Astro City for people who like superhero comics AND people who don’t.
Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? As always, I do think there would be value in shifting the starting times.
What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? Everything seemed to run pretty smoothly!
How many books did you read? I finished four and read parts of 4 others.
What were the names of the books you read? I finished: New Kids on the Block: Backstage Surprise, Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Lost Adventures, Ms Marvel Volume 3: Crushed, Astro City. I did not finish: Shutter, The Invention of Murder, What Matters in Jane Austen, Frankenstein.
Which book did you enjoy most? Hmmm, that’s a good question. As Mia said, we bonded, with MUCH laughter and incredulity, over the NKotB book. I reread Astro City, which has long been one of my favorite comics and that was like returning to an old friend. Shutter was fun and action-y.
Which did you enjoy least? I honestly liked everything, but only got maybe 10% of the way into Frankenstein and haven’t quite gotten into the story yet.
If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? N/A
How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Like Mia said, I’m in. As a reader and mad libs host!

Thanks for the great read-a-thon, guys! We love it. We love you. <3

Advertisements

Mad libs! Hour 18 Mini-Challenge!

read-a-thon2

Hellooooo, everybody! Welcome to the Hour 16 Mini-Challenge! We–Mia and Jessica–are super excited to host you as we continue on our collective reading journey!  We know it’s getting rough out there for a lot of you (and us too), so how about some Read-a-Thon style mad libs to keep our brains awake?

Here’s what you’re gonna do:
1) pick a paragraph (not too long) from the book you’re reading
2) remove some of the nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, and either
3a) get a friend (in person, over the phone, over the internet–whatever!) to fill in the words for you mad-libs style or
3b) fill them in yourself from the spoiler-texted word list below
4) post your hilarious paragraph on your blog and link us to it or leave it in a comment here!

Easy, right? Here’s an example. I (Jessica) started with this paragraph from about-to-be-published The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor:

“Oh, no,” Ethel laughed. “I’m making a recording for my John so he’ll have my voice to listen to when I’m in the hospital for the new baby.”

“Oh,” I said. “How lovely.” She smiled and touched her free hand to her hat shyly, in a way that made me think someone else had told her this was not such a lovely idea. I wondered about her husband and if he was like Ed when it came to money. I guessed not. Studio time sounded expensive.

I asked Mia for the name of a famous woman, a verb, a place, a body part, an adjective, another name another noun, and another adjective. After plugging everything in, I got:

“Oh, no,” Jessica Fletcher laughed. “I’m making a recording for my John so he’ll have my voice to joust to when I’m in Area 51 for the new baby.”

“Oh,” I said. “How lovely.” She smiled and touched her free ankle to her hat shyly, in a way that made me think someone else had told her this was not such a simple idea. I wondered about her husband and if he was like Tom Selleck when it came to bunk beds. I guessed not. Studio time sounded florid.

It made us both giggle a whole heck of a lot (what is Jessica Fletcher doing in Area 51 and what is her *non* free ankle doing and are those two thing related? And, from Mia, “Are you like Tom Selleck when it comes to bunk beds?”), and we hope it’ll do the same for you!

Here’s the promised list of words if you don’t want to or can’t bother someone (please adapt as necessary, e.g. making nouns plural or changing verb tense):

Adjectives
1. adult
2. bookish
3. cursed
4. weary
5. rowdy
6. beefy
7. edible
8. clammyAdverbs
1. tragically
2. furiously
3. freshly
4. defiantly
5. otherworldly

6. permanently
7. suspiciously
8. locally

Nouns
1. intrigue
2. toad
3. Communism
4. haunted house
5. poison
6. teeth
7. abomination
8. incense

Verbs
1. space out
2. peeve
3. claw
4. niggle
5. separate
6. loathe
7. quake
8. grow

We’ll run the challenge until hour 19 and two winners will receive a book of their choice (worth up to $15) from the Book Depository. Go ahead and get libbing!

Some mini-challenges

I got a late start this morning, so I’m about two and a half hours into my ‘thon. Time to check up on the mini-challenges!

First up, Audra’s Cover Escape challenge. She asked us to find a cover we’d like to escape into and I chose The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

It’s a little somber/creepy maybe, but I love trees and I love rain and there are trees and it looks like it rained recently, so I’d take it!

And over on a Goodreads historical romance reading group (woop woop! That’s my favorite genre of romance!), they asked us to talk about how a book has made us fall in love with it. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson was a book that I read slowly, got to know slowly, and fell in love with slowly. It’s a quiet book and I fell in love with that quiet in my loud world. <3
Ellen is hosting a Halloween read mini-challenge and what do you know? My current read is a spooky one! Shutter by Courtney Alameda follows the descendants of Van Helsing and Bram Stoker as they fight ghosts and other undead things!

20151018_003538[1]Here’s my Shelfie! I’m sorry it’s so dark – I don’t have great lighting in here. This is my mantle and ~80% of it is the books I’ve bought this year, mostly from Book Outlet and library sales.

And here is my current read + beverage! The wonderful comic, Astro City, and cinnamon tea. I had actually finished both of these before taking this picture, but I don’t have anything new yet!20151018_012505[1]

Read-a-Thon Fall 2015 Introductory Meme

Yes, friends, it’s that time again: that time when Nisaba Be Praised clutters up your feed reader with a marathon of blog posts about reading and reading-related activities. I know–I, Mia, am excited too. I’ll go first for the intro meme.

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

As is traditional, I’m reading from Jessica’s house in the East Bay. It just might rain here today, which is very thrilling for we dehydrated Californians.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Please admire said stack. It is very beautiful.

IMG_2010

I might be most jazzed about New Kids on the Block: Backstage Surprise, if only because I’ve already read part of it, and it is exactly as good as you would expect. I think we’re going to have a wild time reading it out loud to one another.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Oh man, we stocked up on so many good snacks yesterday! Sweet potato tortilla chips and bean dip, those South-African-spiced chips that TJ’s has, crackers and cranberry goat cheese. Jessica also has a subscription box of snacks from around the world, and this month’s was from the Netherlands; in particular, there are these little wafer cookies that, instead of being strawberry or vanilla or whatever, are gouda-flavored. They sound really weird but I LOVE THEM. Come to me, gouda wafers.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I am Mia; my feet are cold; and I have never, ever heard a NKOTB song.

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?

One difference between this year and previous readathons is that I’ll be taking a break in a couple hours to go have brunch and do a clothing swap with some other friends. Events just kind of snowballed this weekend so I’m doing my best to have my cake and eat it too. Or, in this case, my quiche.

20151017_081916[1]

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?  My house in the grand ol’ area of the Bay.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Hmm, I think I have a pretty great stack up there, but I might most be looking forward to Frankenstein, which is living on my Kindle.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Cranberry goat cheese and crackers! I always look forward to that coming back to Trader Joe’s.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I am a big soccer fan (go Quakes!) and went to a game yesterday!
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? I’m not planning on doing much differently, but I do have more comics in my stack than usual and I think that’s a good thing!

September Reading

I, Claudius Robot Jessica, have an off-again-on-again tradition of not posting anything to this blog for most of the year, feeling guilty, making one post before Dewey’s Biannual Brilliant and Amazing and So, So Fun 24-Hour Readathon, and then neglecting it again. Well, we’re on again!

Here’s what I read in September. I read more than normal because I had too many books due at the library (with renewals maxed out already) and two books that I got ARCs of from Goodreads that I thought I should read and review before they came out. Anyway:


Medea! This is an ancient Greek play about a woman who is so angry at her husband that she needs some serious revenge. Give this to a guy who thinks women are irrationally angry all the time and see if he can spot why Medea is so angry cause, from where I’m sitting, she has Good Reasons. It’s pretty amazing to read something that is literally thousands of years old but still so nuanced and, sometimes, quite modern-feeling. For how short it is, Euripedes has your sympathies shifting over and over. Read this after Gone Girl.

My strongest impression upon finishing: Wow, that was really short.


The Walking Dead: Compendium One collects volumes 1-8 of the comic. One of the most popular zombie, post-apocalyptic stories out there, largely thanks to the TV show. While I’m not the biggest fan of the show, I liked it a lot better than the comic, unfortunately. I think the pacing in the show is much better – the first volume in particular moves way too quickly – but I also think the show is more nuanced, or at least believable, in its characters (which are the same as the comic, but you know, not quite the same). The comic has a troubling tendency to have people go “crazy” without seeming to understand what that would actually look like. I also wasn’t a fan of the art. I doubt I will continue on with the series.


You’ve probably heard of Station Eleven. It’s been one of the buzziest books around since last year. Like the Walking Dead, this is post- (and pre- and during) apocalypse, but there are no zombies and I liked it a whole lot better. Still, I’m glad I waited until the buzz wasn’t quite so loud because this wasn’t quite what I wanted. It’s a lovely book and totally worth reading, but post-apocalypse is a setting I really like and have yet to find my perfect story. This one rates near the top, though, and I think you should read it if it sounds at all up your alley. My IRL book club just picked this for November – what good timing!


Goodreads book #1! Count me as one of the ones who liked Gilbert’s smash hit Eat, Pray Love. I found her honest and vulnerable and incredibly privileged. I loved her TED talk(s?) on creativity and creative genius even more, so I was excited to dig into Big Magic which builds on that TED talk. Largely, I quite enjoyed it. As someone who struggles to produce things – creative or otherwise – I was pretty inspired just by reading someone else’s thoughts and engaging with someone else’s ideas, both when they matched my own and when they didn’t. Here’s a link to my Goodreads review if you want to know what I thought in (much) more detail.

On the same day I finished Big Magic, I also finished Things Fall Apart. This is a classic novel that I never read in high school, about Nigeria and colonization. It was less about colonization than I thought it would be – only in the last third does even a missionary (often the first step in colonization) show up. I don’t know what to say about this book. The protagonist is difficult to sympathize with until the colonizers come, from a modern perspective. Neither the traditional protagonist nor the colonizers are idealized, which is clearly Achebe’s purpose, but idk. It left me with some neutral feelings. I left my star rating blank on Goodreads – not because I hated it, but because what I feel about it doesn’t translate into a rating, if that makes any sense.  Things Fall Apart is definitely a classic for a reason, and if you’ve never read it, go on and pick it up! A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid would be an interesting companion.

Goodreads book #2! Applegate is the author of the Animorphs series, which I totally loved SO MUCH as a kid. I was very excited to read this – look at that giant cat on the cover! Unfortunately, that giant cat is imaginary and even more unfortunately, he isn’t in the book all that much? I liked the book well-enough outside of that, with themes like being poor, struggling with housing, and parents who make mistakes, but I’m not sure how much Crenshaw added, outside of one scene that made me tear up. (Crenshaw tells his boy that imaginary friends all hang out in a lounge together when their humans don’t need them and then he tells him about his dad’s imaginary friend! Ahhh, so sweet.) Here’s a happy ending, though: I put my ARC into the Little Free Library on my block, which has a lot of kids, and last I looked, it’s been picked up! My main takeaway: I might need to revisit the Animorphs sooner rather than later. A friend has sent me the first three books. Oh, yes. I’m feelin’ it.

And lastly, The Cuckoo’s Calling by You-Know-Who (hahaha, Harry Potter jokes, am I right?). JKR’s second adult novel, but first mystery, first in a series, first pen name. I like mysteries and I love Harry Potter so I was going to pick this up eventually. I have thoughts and feelings about this, but I’m struggling a little bit to find my words. I’m not sure about her use of dialect, and some of the descriptions of people put me off in their harshness. This book isn’t in tight third person perspective, so it felt a little to me like the author rather than the character being harsh, which put me off even more. That said, I really did like it, especially our two detectives: Cormoran Strike (what a JKR name, right?!) who is rough-around-the-edges and experienced, and Robin, his temp secretary who harbors secret, long-held fantasies of detection which, combined with her intense competence, make her super useful.  Yup, I’ll be seeing those two again in a few months, I’m sure of it!

And that’s it! My September reading. I also read a selection of Philip K. Dick’s short stories for my RL book club but I’ve been getting ranty whenever I talk about those, so I thought I’d leave it for another post (maybe). I’d like to promise more regular posts in the future, whether they are reviews or wrap-ups like this, but I don’t want to make a promise I don’t know if I’ll keep, so I’ll just say: guten nacht, and see you in a few days for the ‘thon!