Thursday, December 29, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 31: Dragons of Autumn Twilight


I end the year 21 books behind schedule, but not to fret. This is the first year I'm doing this, and also, I've read 31 books this year. 31! That's a fantastic accomplishment in today's busy world, and personally, I'm quite proud of my achievement.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 30: The Great Gatsby


I am 11 books behind schedule. UGH! At my roommate's request I picked up The Great Gatsby, which is not a long read at all. It is, however, a book that I don't really enjoy, so I wasn't diligent in my reading. What could have been an excellent "catch-up" novel became, instead, a hindrance to my cause.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Reading Challenge Books 26-29: The Raven Cycle


This will be my last update for today (so many updates!). This one is a group update for a series of four books I finished this morning. I learned about this series when I was teaching in Alaska because The Raven Boys was selected for Battle of the Books. I think only one of my girls read it for the competition, but it was one I definitely wanted to read. My roommate told me she had started reading the The Raven Boys and I immediately downloaded all four onto my Kindle app. I'm ever so glad that I did.

Reading Challenge Book 25: I Am Jazz


Now, the rules for the #52BooksIn52Weeks challenge do state that qualifying books shouldn't be children's books, and should be a minimum of 100 pages in length. Regarding children's literature, a story must have significant complexity in order to count for this challenge.

Reading Challenge Book 24: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child


I realize now that I don't have the exact dates written down for when I finished this batch of books. Sad, that. It's ok, though, because what's most important about the #52BooksIn52Weeks Challenge is to, well, read. My blog posts and perfectly-remembered details matter somewhat less than the journey itself.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 23: Outlaw


Lots of updates coming today now that I have a shiny new Chromebook. I have had access to my PC, but it has been limited. For now I have to keep it in a shared space with my roommates, and I don't like to use it for anything other than watching movies when I'm with them.

Ok, so here's the first update!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 22: Herland


I wrapped up this little beauty before lunch. I would have finished it sooner but the meds I'm on at the moment (a temporary measure) knock me right out, so I haven't been up to my usual late-night activities of late. Sad, that. Anyway, I'm on the mend and this book was wonderful.

I'm also typing this up on my iPad using my dying Zagg Bluetooth keyboard. I will go back and reformat this entry later with the usual links, picture sizes, read more break, and whatnot.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 21: Pierced by the Sun


I finished this one with a quickness! If I can get a few more in like this then I can get back on track. My calendar tells me I am in week 26. I'm only five books behind, that's not SO bad, right? Anyway, enough stalling. More info after the bump.

Pierced by the Sun
Laura Esquivel

This is my second free book that I got via Amazon's Kindle First program. It seemed interesting, and it was something that would broaden my reading horizons, so I downloaded it. I just finished it tonight, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This book's protagonist is Lupita, a very real woman with serious problems. Though she works in law enforcement, she is in a corrupt part of Mexico. Lupita has a troubled and violent past, and she has vices that cause her to fail time and again. Still, I couldn't help but root for her as the story progressed. This is a story of healing, a journey of finding oneself. I found myself struggling alongside Lupita and asking myself some deep questions as the book moved on.

This book was written by a Mexican woman. Though many elements are familiar, it has its own flavor that sets it apart from American or European literature. It references Spanish and Mexican history, Aztec and Mayan folklore, and other things exotic to me as a white male who grew up in New Jersey and consumed fantasy that was firmly grounded in European tropes and trappings. I think this "otherness" of the book made it more enjoyable. 

Esquivel's protagonist, Lupita, was someone I felt drawn to. Like I wrote above, she is a flawed hero who "falls off the wagon" a few times during the story, yet is still likable and relatable enough that I never once found myself wanting to throw my hands up and walk away, giving up hope on her. I wanted Lupita to make better choices, to learn from her mistakes, to heal and become the Lupita she desperately longed to be. If she could do it, there is hope for me, too.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

June 2016 Check-In


This blog didn't start off to be exclusively about the books I'm reading, but those posts have dominated 2016. While the #52BooksIn52Weeks challenge is great, there is more to me than just reading. So for my imaginary long-time readers I figured I'd take a moment or three tonight to check in. I should make an effort to check in more regularly and, you know, keep my blog active. If you're just here for the books, though, go ahead and move along.

If you're sticking around, I'm using the Something New, Something Notable, Something Nifty format again. Warning: I'm gonna talk about depression a little bit.

Reading Challenge Book 20: Why Read?


Looking at the title, I probably should have started this whole endeavor with this book!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 19: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight


According to my calendar, today starts week #24 of the year, and I just wrapped up book #19. While I have certainly lost some of the steam I had when I began this endeavor, I still count 19 books (so far) as a worthy feat.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 18: Enemy


So I found out that, as an Amazon Prime member, I can get a free book every month. How cool is that? Also, how much a fool am I for not knowing that? Anyway, the free book I selected was Enemy by K. Eason.

I know I'm still behind on my reading, but I got this bad Larry done and I have the next one planned. It is sitting my shelf, eager to be read. I might even start tonight!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 17: Sleep Donation


Even though my reading schedule has slowed down considerably (this is book 17, but we're in week 20), I'm still reading far more than I have been in years past. Though I'm not willing to admit defeat yet, no matter what, I can chalk up this experiment as a win.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 16: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly


I purchased this book on my Kindle back on August 25, 2013. I know this because Amazon tells me so when I visit it on their site. It was assigned to me during my capstone English course at University of Wyoming yet, like so many school assignments, I didn't give it the effort and attention it deserved. It was definitely a book I have been eager to revisit.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 15: The Killing Season


It took me entirely too long to read this book, but I blame that (mostly) on work. The next closest branch of my school suffered a catastrophic staffing issue, so my branch has been called upon to fill in the gaps. Add to that the recent "breakthroughs" I've made in the tabletop RPG I'm designing, as well as a couple of recent game drops I've been looking forward to, and I've had to carve up my free time a little differently of late.

So now I'm off track. I'm technically 2 weeks behind, which means I'll have to find a couple of shorter titles that are 1) 100 pages or so (no less, but not much more) and 2) fast reads. I have lots of time to make up for lost time, but I don't want to sit on this. Life has a way of piling up nonsense after nonsense after nonsense, and I truly do want to finish 52 books this year.

Funnily enough, The Killing Season was supposed to be a fast read to help me catch up after the last book took a little longer than I had anticipated. Yeah, that didn't happen!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 14: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother


Today a friend asked me why I chose to read this book, and it has to do with me serving in the Army. That doesn't make a lot of sense, I know, so I'll try to briefly explain why I picked this one up:

Two weeks or so ago I posted a funny thing about the military on my Facebook page. It seems some butthurt Soldiers have been complaining that they don't have combat patches, and that some Soldiers who had earned them had been asked to remove them. The humorous post was about the mother  of a patch-less Soldier (a guy fresh out of basic) complaining to someone over social media, who directed her to contact her son's battalion commander (for those of you who don't know, this is exactly what not to do). Anyway, long story short (too late!), someone commented that the mother sounded like a "tiger mother," to which I replied, "a whatnow?"

As I am currently living in Taiwan and dealing with this culture (my job exists only because tiger mothers exist), I decided to read this book. It would not only broaden my horizons, but it would also be a book by a female Chinese-American author. It's important for me to make sure I'm not just reading "old dead white guys." And hey, this was a New York Times Bestseller!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 12: To The Roost


Book #12 took a little longer than the others, but it's a special case. I read a book that hasn't been published yet and kept a notebook full of feedback and suggestions. I'm proud to say that I'm one of the first people in the world to read this novel, written by my friend and coworker for the 2015 NaNoWriMo event.
I sat down to read this book with a mission. I knew when Cat wrote the book, and I realized that I was reading the first draft. My mission was to record thoughts, feedback, and suggested edits for Cat to use as she moved forward with this literary project.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 11: Gaia


Here's what has to say about the book I just finished:
"In this classic work that continues to inspire its many readers, James Lovelock deftly explains his idea that life on earth functions as a single organism. Written for the non-scientist, Gaia is a journey through time and space in search of evidence with which to support a new and radically different model of our planet."

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 10: Frankenstein


This book has been on virtual shelf since about the time I purchased my first Kindle. It was one of the first books I decided that I would have to read this year, and shortly after embarking on my quest to read all of Harry Potter I selected Frankenstein as the next book.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 8: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince


I'm nearing the end of the series (well, at least until Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is published later this year), and what an experience it has been thus far.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 7: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


This one took me a little longer than I had anticipated, but that's ok.  I had trouble falling asleep last night, then in sleep I had the noodle dream a dream about Harry Potter.  When I woke up I got down to the business of wrapping up this book before lunch.  Maybe I need to train in Occlumency.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 6: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire


Seven down, and near as I can fathom, I'm on pace to finish 52 books in 52 weeks.  I'll have to make this a yearly thing, because reading is AWESOME!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 5: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban


My fifth book is finished and January still has days left in it.  Aww yeah!

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
J.K. Rowling

Three Harry Potter books finished! For those of you just joining me, I've seen all of the movies and my ex-wife is such a big fan of the series she might as well hang a diploma from Hogwart's on her wall.  What I'm trying to say is that, even though I've never read the series, I'm no Squib.  I know what's up.

HPatPoA kept me on the edge of my seat more than the other two books.  Sure, during the first two I was anticipating reading the scenes I enjoyed in the films, but this one really took it to a new level.  The stuff about Buckbeak and the Time-Turner kept me flipping e-pages, hungrily reading for more.

In a recent conversation with a Potterhead who is reasonably younger than I am, I stated that I'm sorry I hadn't been able to grow up with Harry Potter the way so many did.  I do recall reading certain books with friends and family (some of which I intend to reread later this year), but I'm not sure it reached the fever-pitch that Harry Potter fans are familiar with.  So instead of growing up with these novels, I find myself a little older, stepping into a new world (not entirely unlike Harry when he first arrives at Hogwart's).

Once I finish reading all seven novels I'll have to take a weekend to marathon the films.  I haven't done that since the divorce, and I feel that such lofty film marathons deserve to be repeated yearly.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Game 1: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception


In addition to reading a lot more, I'm going to be working through my massive backlog of video games. Gaming is an important aspect of my life, and I have so many games that I've started and just not finished. So here goes nothing!

Although this is the PS4 remastered edition, I'll still count it as being from my backlog because I had these games on my PS3 before I traded it in (much to my eternal dismay!), and I was always sorry I hadn't played through them. I finished the first two Uncharted games before the new year, so they won't count for this.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 4: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets


I wrapped up Book #4 a day later than I had hoped, but that's due to my spending too much time playing video games this weekend.  That's ok, because time enjoyed is never time wasted.  Besides, if you know me, you know that games are part of my DNA.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 2: The Time Machine


An update so soon? What madness is this? Are the end times upon us?

No. I just finished my second book for the year and I wanted to share my impressions of it before my good-for-nothing memory makes the task more difficult.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 1: Paganism 101

Paganism 101:  An Introduction to Paganism by 101 Pagans
edited by Trevor Greenfield

I started off with this religious text, a collection of essays on various pagan topics written by a whole bunch of pagans! I personally started down the neopagan path years ago, and I'm learning a lot as I go.  Reading this text reassured me in my choice and also showed me that being a solitary isn't at all uncommon.  I still need to study more on this topic before I truly pin down where I fit in the grand scheme of Paganism (as in, what flavor of Pagan I am), but this was a good read.

There is certainly diversity to be had in these pages.  Men and women of varied pagan paths and from various regions of the world come together in this collection to share their beliefs on and anecdotes about Paganism.  Essays are grouped by topic, not by path, which I thought wise.  It was refreshing to get a Wiccan's and a Druid's thoughts on a single topic, for example.

My biggest complaint about the book is the formatting and editing.  As an English major and teacher, I have a deep love of editing.  There were parts of this book that had formatting errors.  I'll give the book the benefit of the doubt on that and blame the Kindle app on my iPad.  Other errors, though, could not be so easily explained away.

Paganism 101 was, overall, an interesting and educational read.  I recommend it to Pagans and non-Pagans alike.

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A Year of Reading


Here comes my first blog post of the new year.  Oh yeah, I intend to give Idle Prattle some love and attention in 2016.

Just the other day I saw the hashtag #52booksin52weeks pop up in a few places on social media.  I also spent most of my 3-day-weekend cooped up in my apartment playing video games on Steam and battling depression without the aid of alcohol.  I'm not really a "New Year New Me" kind of person, but I got to thinking...