Saturday, May 31, 2008

A to Z

The End of the Alphabet
CS Richardson
119 pages
Rating: 5/5

I rarely reread books. I can give you many excuses: I'm too tired, there's not enough time, too many new books in the world... I rather not. I just don't feel like rereading most books. The End of the Alphabet is so good that I just finished reading it for the second time in six months.

"This story is unlikely. Were it otherwise, or at the least more wished for, it would have begun on a Sunday morning. Early, as that was his best time of the day, and in April, that odd time between thin winter and a plump spring..."
Ambrose Zephyr and his wife Zipper find out Ambrose has only thirty days to live. Soon the two are traveling around the world alphabetically from Amsterdam to Zanzibar, trying to see all the places they have yet to see and visiting old favorites like Paris again. Throughout their travels, Ambrose and Zipper reflect on their past and present together, trying not to think about the dark future. The story is one of love that's realistic but yet subtle. The End of the Alphabet makes you impatient, waiting for newcomer CS Richardson to write another tale.
Winner of the 2008 Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best First Book in Canada and the Carribean Region

Friday, May 30, 2008

Southern Haiku Contest

Maggie, the host of the Southern Reading Challenge at MaggieReads is hosting the 2nd of 5 contests to giveaway Hilary Jordan's Mudbound. I thought the first contest was hard, in which you had to name your homeplace. But no, contest #2 is much harder. You have to come up with a southern haiku. I think that's such a great haiku, though I doubt I can come up with one. Why don't you go to Maggie Reads and give it a try?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I'm free! I'm finally free! My last final was today and now I can spend the next four days doing whatever I want to do (almost) before summer semester begins Monday. Then I have to dedicate the next two months to contemporary literature, physical fitness, and a counseling class. I'm sick and the kids are sick, so what's better than staying in bed on a cool California day and reading as many books as I can? For some reason I thought Mother Reader's 48 Hour Reading Challenge starts this weekend, but I was wrong. It starts next weekend and last whatever 48 hours you pick. But I'm too excited to wait. I think this weekend I'm just going to throw my own reading spree. The kids and I will have our own books and journals, plus snacks to eat. We'll just hang out around the house reading, eating, and watching movies that are adapted from books. I can't wait to see The Secret Garden.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

2008 Read-a-thon

Dewey at The Hidden Side of a Leaf is hosting a Read-a-thon. I can't wait for it to start. I have some serious catching up to do with most of my challenges. The read-a-thon starts June 28th at 9am Pacific DST, which is perfect since I live in Cali. There's mini-challenges, door prizes, and much more. The event lasts for 24 hours. So you read books, post in your blogs about the books you've read, and visit the blogs of other participants.
One of the great things about this event (besides the reading,) is that participants can get their friends and loved ones to sponsor them to raise money for Reading Is Fundamental. I think I'm going to just donate a set amount to RIF.
The read-a-thon is a month away and already I'm forming a list of the things I want to read and the challenges I need to read for. I'm such a dork.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Book Awards 2

Dear Friends,

Please pay no attention to my previous posts about not signing up for any more book challenges. I've come to realize that I am addicted to book challenges and every time one catches my eye, I join. I cannot ignore the temptation. I will join every book challenge that I feel like joining and try to overlap as many books as possible with other challenges. So hello, Friends, my name is Vasilly and I'm addicted to books and challenges.
With that said, I just joined another challenge. The Book Awards Reading Challenge 2 hosted by 3m. The first annual Book Awards Challenge is still going on now, but will end June 30th. BARC2 has slightly different rules than the first. The challenge will only last 10 months, from August 1, 2008 through June 1, 2009. You read 10 award-winning books, with at least 5 of those titles in different awards. Here's my rough draft of what I'm going to read:
1. Looking for Alaska - John Green (Printz 2006)
2. The Giver - Lois Lowry (Newbery 1994)
3. The Color Purple - Alice Walker (National Book Award 1983)
4. Anything by Samuel Beckett (Novel Prize 1969)
5. Driving Miss Daisy - Alfred Uhry (Pulitzer Prize for Drama 1988)
6. Saturday - Ian McEwan (James Tait Black Memorial 2005)
7. August: Osage County - Tracy Letts (Pulitzer for Drama 2008)
8. Housekeeping -Marilynne Robinson (Pen/Hemingway 1981)
9. Angels in America - Tony Kushner (Pulitzer for Drama 1993)
10. Who knows?
Okay, that's it. Now I'm off to study. I have finals in just two short days.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

So many book challenges, so little time

I could've sworn that I said I wasn't going to join anymore challenges. But who can resist? I still have Carl's R.I.P. challenge coming up in September and now Trish is hosting The Classics Challenge. I really don't read enough classics, so I'm joining. I'll just think of this as an extra credit project for school. The challenge starts July 1st and ends December 31st of this year. I plan on reading five classics and a book I think will become a classic. I'm going to pick five from my list:
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (one of my favorite books)
Grimm's Fairy Tales
I am Legend - Robert Matheson
anything by Jane Austen
Dracula - Bram Stroker
The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (all-time favorite)
Waiting for Godot - Samuel Beckett
The Sea, the Sea - Iris Murdoch
Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
My modern classics:
Something wicked this way comes - Bradbury
The Known World - Edward P. Jones
Wit: a play - Margaret Edson
I am no one you know - Joyce Carol Oates
On Beauty - Zadie Smith
Classics Challenge Meme
1. My favorite classic is... a four-way tie between To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Of Mice and Men, and East of Eden by Steinbeck, and last but not least is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
2. The classic I had the hardest time finishing is... Crime and Punishment. I got to the fourth page of the introduction, looked at how many pages I had left, and closed the book forever.
3. I would recommend... (see #1) ... to someone who don't read classics because all four books has made me fall in love with literature even more. All are so simple in language. They seem as if they took no time to write. Only the best writers can make writing look so easy.
4. To me a classic book is one that... makes me want to reread it right after I finish it. It also makes me want to carry it around for a few days after I finish it, just to have its presence near.
5. The type of relationship I have with classics... needs to be better.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Name Your Homeplace Contest

Maggie over at MaggieReads is giving away an autographed copy of Mudbound by Hillary Jordan. To play, you have to look around your house and create the best name for it. Right now as I'm looking around, there are children's books on the floor along with some of the kids' pencils and artwork. The living couches are sporting the latest pencil marks, while the kids' bookcase is piled with books. If you listen closely you can hear a cartoon on in the background.
I was thinking about naming my home Kid Kingdom. There are five kids living here, ages 2, 4, 6, and 8 (twins), and they haven't left even one corner of this house for Mama or me. Which I don't mind. Living with so many kids is challenging but a whole lot of fun. Max and Ruby is tied with Scooby Doo for favorite cartoon, pink is the hottest colors for the girls, nap time is the most hated time (but my favorite), and going to Target is the best place in the world.
But then I started thinking about how Mama and I have arrived to where we are now, not just physically but emotionally. It took a lot of love, determination, prayer, and patience to get here. We've battled homelessness, poverty, single motherhood... The list is long. All that we've went through were lessons for us to learn how strong we are and what we can do. I'm glad for it all and to be where I'm at now. I went back to school and earned my high school diploma and now I'm in college, working toward my business and English degrees. I want to change the world with books, though exactly how I haven't figured out yet. I know how important school is, my relationship with my mom is the strongest it's ever been, and my kids worship their grandmother. So after thinking about everything from the past, the present and what I want the future to be, I decided to call my home Not quite what I was planning. A perfect name because to me I couldn't have planned it any better.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Weekly Geek #3

I think Maxine Hong Kingston said it best "Without you, I am nothing". Though she was talking about her relationship to her readers, I'm taking about books. I cannot fathom where I would be right now without books. Just as I breathe, I read to live. There is no other way to say how much I love books and feel kinship to other bookworms.

I grew up poor, dirt poor. My family barely had enough money for the basics. Sometimes we didn't have the basics, but my mom still managed to put books into my hands. I cannot thank her enough for introducing me to my childhood favorites Alexander and the terrible, no good, very bad day, Where the wild things are, and Little Women. My mother was not a reader but she still feed me books and watched as my love for them grew. I can spend the rest of my life trying to pay her back, but my debt to her will never be paid in full.

Spending my life immersed in books and sharing my love of them with others is the closest I will ever get. Some of my favorite books growing up were The Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin. I loved the whole gang of pre-teen girls who were smart, funny, and sure enough of themselves to start their own company, helping their community in return. They were girls who I identified with and would have loved being friends with.

I discovered the Judy Blume when I was a teenager and loved so many of her books. Tales of a fourth grade nothing and Double Fudge are still the funniest books I have ever read. Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret helped me get through adolescence while Iggie's House, a quiet but profound story of friendship and racism is still in my head, so many years later.
In eighth grade I discovered The Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson. It was a new edition that was never checked out by anyone. Except me. At my school's library you could only keep a book for a week. I used to turn it in and then check it right back out, just a second later. I read and reread that book for almost a year. One of my favorite poems is "If I can stop one heart from breaking". I realized how true this poem is just this weekend.
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again
I shall not live in vain.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Late Fragment

Rest In Peace
Gloria Jean Floyd
May 4, 1945 - May 3, 2008

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

-Raymond Carver

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Stolen Child

The Stolen Child (2007)
Keith Donohue
336 pages
4.5 out of 5

The Stolen Child is Keith Donahue's enchanting debut novel that's part-fairy tale, part coming of age story. One afternoon after running away from home, a seven year old boy named Henry Day hides in a tree. Soon he is found, stripped, and tied up by a band of children, who he later finds out are changelings. One of the changeling takes his place in the real world becoming Henry Day and goes undetected, while the new member of the group is named "Aniday" and has to live in the forest and learn the ways of the faeries. After many years Henry Day realized that he too, was a human boy at one time and tries to find out about his lost family, stolen from him by the changelings. Both Henry Day and Aniday are going through life trying to figure out how they are and how to their the lives they have been given.
I love how much folklore Donohue found and invented about changelings. If you don't know changelings are fairies that take children, leaving one of their own in the child's place or something else like a log. Some folklore have changelings down as trolls or other "earthly beings".
I really liked this book and it's now on my top ten list for books that I read this year. This was my second attempt in reading it and it proved to be worth it. I was hooked from the first sentence "Don't call me a fairy", and spent almost every waking moment reading this book until I finished. Donohue did such a good job describing the everyday life of a changeling, changeling folklore, the aftermath of the switch between changeling and human, and what happens when the world changes and no longer needs folklore or the creatures who created it. What surprised me is that I grew to love almost every character in the book. One of the characters I couldn't love was the changeling Henry Day. He was one dimension until the end. I think Donohue showed with such skill Henry Day as a changeling that lived the fairy ways for more than a century before he made the switch with Aniday, and then had to figure out how to be human again. It's only at the end of the story that both Henry and Aniday find their humanity and also peace.
My fourth read for the Once Upon a Time 2 challenge.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Challenges Progress

I don't think I'm going to sign up for anymore challenges this year. I'm starting to get just a little swamped.

In their shoes : 3 out of 10
Triple 8: 27/56
Short story: 2/5
The Pub Challenge 2/8
Once upon a time: 3/5
Mini-challenge 9/12
Man Booker 1/7

Spirituality 0/3
Soup's On 1/4
Graphic Novel 7/6
You set it paperback 0/6
Book Awards 9/12
Southern Reading Challenge 0/3
D.E.A.R. completed
48 hour challenge start date pending

Okay, that's it, no more challenges. Now I'm off to read.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Southern Reading Challenge

Maggie at MaggieReads is throwing the Southern Reading Challenge. I can't wait, this will the my first one ever. The challenge runs from May 5 through August 15. The rules are you read at least three southern books by southern authors. Here's my list:
1. The Known World - Edward P. Jones
2. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
3. The Wednesday Letters - Jason F. Wright

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Day of Poetry


I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
hav ebeen otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

Jane Kenyon, from "Otherwise" (19997)