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As you all probably don’t know, I am participating in SJ’s summer read-along of all books Tolkien. Well, all of the ring-related books (unless there’s more that I don’t know about). The read-along kicked off on the 23rd with the reading of the first five chapters of The Hobbit. The read-along will continue on through the end of August with the reading of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, following our reading of The Hobbit. For more info on SJ’s readalong, check out her announcement over at Snobbery.

the hobbit cartoonA little background on my prior knowledge of The Hobbit: my dad kept copies of Tolkien around the house growing up, but I don’t remember him ever really encouraging me to read them; my 7th grade teacher showed us the cartoon version of The Hobbit in class (he was a big fan of movies adapted from books–we never actually read any of the books); once the LOTR films were released, my dad got back into Tolkien, and I joined in and read the LOTR series; after I graduated college and moved back home, I finally read The Hobbit for the first time.

So, that’s my background with Tolkien, but I don’t think I was as good a reader in those days as I am now (surprising, actually, since I read them while and after majoring in English at SDSU). Thus, I’m expecting to get quite a bit more out of these books than I did the first time around. Plus, now I have buddies to discuss the books with, which always adds to one’s comprehension and analysis. I’m pretty excited to really soak up Middle-Earth!

SJ has posted her first discussion post over at Snobbery, so I’m going to reflect here in a sort of a reply to her post, with additional highlights for me and questions I have for SJ and any other readers who may be well-versed in Tolkien. I’m gonna split up my reflection by chapters. Here we go!

the hobbit

Chapter I: An Unexpected Party

Here we meet Bilbo, Gandalf, and the many dwarves. In reading the first chapter, I was struck by

  • the tone of The Hobbit vs the tone of the LOTR series. It feels like a wonderful children’s book. Was this Tolkien’s purpose? Was he setting out to write a children’s book with The Hobbit?
  • my love of the Took ancestry. Bilbo is related to the Tooks, who are known for their adventuring ways (which is very unconventional for hobbits). Bilbo struggles with a deep-rooted desire for adventure, which stems from his Took blood. It’s a completely different genre, but this reminded me of Mr. Prosser, the man heading the demolition of Arthur Dent’s house in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Prosser, a very mild-mannered simp of a man, had a deep-rooted desire for battle, due to his distant relation to Genghis Khan. Love these kinds of internal conflicts!
  • the humor of Bilbo’s extreme flusteredness (to use SJ’s coined term) at the unexpected arrival of a pack of strange dwarves. Bilbo is a creature of habit, enjoys MANY meals throughout the day, and these uninvited guests completely screwed up his routine. I’ve been there, Bilbo!

Chapter II: Roast Mutton

And, they’re off on their journey! The big highlight of this chapter, for me, were the three trolls. I loved the scene with the three trolls, and so far they are my favorite characters. Lucky for Bilbo, they’re not too hungry when they catch him trying to burgle the troll William’s pocket. Bilbo gets all flustered (again) when they question him, and, surprisingly, William apparently has a sensitive heart and wants to let Bilbo go. I love the trolls’ exchange over Bilbo:

‘Poor little blighter,’ said William. He had already had as much supper as he could hold; also he had lots of beer. ‘Poor little blighter! Let him go!’

‘Not till he says what he means by lots and none at all,’ said Bert. ‘I don’t want to have me throat cut in my sleep! Hold his toes in the fire, till he talks!’

‘I won’t have it,’ said William. ‘I caught him anyway.’

‘You’re a fat fool, William,’ said Bert, ‘as I’ve said afore this evening.’

‘And you’re a lout!’

‘And I won’t take that from you, Bill Huggins,’ says Bert, and puts his fist in William’s eye.

Then there was a gorgeous row.

the hobbit trolls pewter

I would totally buy this! Love these guys!

Gandalf, of course, rescues Bilbo and the dwarves, and when splitting up the trolls’ booty, Bilbo, Gandalf, and Thorin get some super-cool elven blades. They glow when goblins are near–how cool is that?!

Chapter III: A Short Rest

In this chapter, our adventurers take a break with Elrond and the elven gang at Rivendell. I had forgotten that Elrond was in this book, albeit for a short time. I wonder for how long Peter Jackson will extend his role in the upcoming film adaptation? Jackson loves those elves!

My favorite part about this chapter was the revelation of the moon-letters on the adventurers’ map, and the discussion of runes overall. I am a nerd who has a handy guide to runes in my library, so, at this chapter, I pulled it out and set about translating the runes on the map. I dig that stuff!

Chapter IV: Over Hill and Under Hill

Here the gang has a run-in with some goblins. It was fun to get more backstory on the goblins vs. dwarves conflict, but, for some reason, this chapter paled in comparison to the other four. But, that’s just me. : )

Chapter V: Riddles in the Dark

You are absolutely right, SJ. This is a very creepy chapter–it definitely came off as more creepy than the first time I read it. I wonder why. Mood always affects my reading, and I was reading this chapter when I was alone in the house, in the dark. Maybe that’s why? Or maybe it’s my extreme aversion to cannibalism (duh, Mandy, no one likes cannibalism. But, that’s in my top 3 scary elements! Some people hate clowns, I hate cannibals!). Gollum wants to eat Bilbo. That’s creepy. Plus, his little lake is super creepy, with him going around in his little boat. And his descriptions of hunting down goblins for dinner was creepy too. I dug this chapter–I love to be creeped out!

Now for SJ’s discussion topics:

1. Tolkien’s songs I read all of the songs, not skipping any. I don’t hear them or sing along with them, but I definitely read them. These serve as backstory and act in a way similar to the chorus in Greek tragedies. Therefore, it’s essential that the reader doesn’t skip them, as they are serving the plot.

2. Has my opinion changed about these chapters since my first reading of The Hobbit? Not necessarily my opinion–I knew what a masterpiece The Hobbit was when I read it the first time–but, I am a much more conscious and curious reader on this go-round. I have more questions than before, and I am noticing a lot more details than I did at 22.

3. Did Bilbo cheat in the riddling challenge? Nahhh. If this were a proper riddling contest, like, say, with a train named Blaine, it would definitely be cheating. But, Blaine wouldn’t put up with crap like that, so it would never be considered cheating. It would never get to that level because he would simply say “that is not a riddle, Roland, son of blah blah blah (oh crap, I’ve already forgotten his father’s name! It’s just like Derry…you step away from it, and details start to disappear!)” and that would be the end of it. Move on! But, that was a proper, structured riddling contest. Bilbo and Gollum really don’t have any official rules going on, and Gollum, unlike Blaine, actually fell for the “What’s in my pocket?” question. It wasn’t even intentional by Bilbo. I say that the moment Gollum went for it, it became an official entry. Besides, Gollum’s a big cheater too–he was going to eat Bilbo either way. So, no, it wasn’t cheating!

Alright, so this week is chapters 6-12 of The Hobbit, which I will get started on (and probably finish) tonight!

Anyone else reading The Hobbit?

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Wizard and Glass by Stephen King; The Dark Tower

Wizard and Glass by Stephen King

• Paperback: 668 pages

• Publisher: Plume, 2003 (originally published in 1997)

• ISBN: 0452284724

• Genre: Fantasy/Horror

• Recommended For: Any reader of the Dark Tower series (you have to read this one to continue on); anyone who wants to read a Stephen King romance (75% of the book is romance!).

Quick Review: Two stories in one. The ongoing story of the Dark Tower ka-tet continues in Wizard and Glass and is awesome. Unfortunately, this story only constitutes 25% of the book. The other 75% of the novel is Roland’s back story, and this story is lackluster to say the least. But, you’ve got to get through it to continue on with the ka-tet and the genius that is the Dark Tower series. So, I recommend you read Wizard and Glass.

Overall, the book receives a 72% or 3.6 stars. This score has been calculated by rating the two different sections of the book: the present-time plot and the flashback plot. See critique and analysis below for a full explanation of the score and the corresponding rubrics.

How I Got Here: The Waste Lands ends on a MAJOR cliffhanger, and Wizard and Glass picks up right where it left off. This book satisfies tasks for The Dark Tower Challenge and The Stephen King project.

The Book: Goodreads’ Synopsis

Roland and his band have narrowly escaped the city of Lud and boarded Blaine, a train that will take them to, of all places, Kansas, where the ghost city of Topeka has been depopulated by a superflu and where, alongside Interstate 70, an emerald palace rises enchantingly. Before Roland and the companions of his ka-tet continue along the Path of the Beam, Roland must tell his companions the tale that defines him both as a man and hero, a long-ago romance of witchery and evil, of the beautiful, unforgettable Susan Delgado, of the Big Coffin Hunters and Rhea of the Coos. And when his tale is finished, Roland confronts a man who goes by many names, a man who “darkles and tincts” and who holds perhaps the key to the Dark Tower.

My Analysis and Critique:

Ahh…Wizard and Glass. Was I so eager for all things Dark Tower the first time, or am I just not interested in flashbacks? Am I so jaded when it comes to first love? Or do I only care about my precious ka-tet of Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy? I don’t remember disliking this book or trudging through it the first time I read it, but this second time, seven years later, I struggled. Not with all, but the majority. Let me break it down…

Wizard and Glass can be broken into two very unequal parts. There’s 25% of the book that covers our main Dark Tower characters: Roland, Eddie, Jake, Susannah, and Oy. The book begins with them and their ongoing predicament aboard Blaine the Mono and their few subsequent adventures. Then, Roland and the gang take a seat (literally) in the middle of the road and Roland finally tells the ka-tet the story of his first love and his first real challenge as a bona fide gunslinger in the small town of Mejis. This flashback portion of the novel takes up exactly 75% of the novel. The remaining bits of the 25% of present-set story arc show what happens to the ka-tet after they finish their story-time with Roland. This is a measly 52 pages more. While the present-day story of the ka-tet is, as always, very strong, it very quickly gets overshadowed by the “Susan story”, the not-so-interesting flashback to Roland’s youth that is mainly told via Susan (his one true love)’s perspective (how Roland knows her perspective so well is unknown, and unfortunate for the readers).

Because this novel is really two stories in one, and one is very strong while the other is weak, I made a difficult decision, one that I sometimes make as a teacher grading student essays and stories. I decided to critique this novel in two parts instead of as a whole. So, I completed two rubrics: one for the present-day story of the ka-tet and one for the flashback story of Susan and Roland. I then gave each portion its due based upon the percentage of the book it occupies. Thus, the grade for the flashback story counts for 75% of the overall grade, while the grade for the present-day story counts for 25% of the overall grade. Here are the rubrics: The Present-Day Story: Wizard and Glass_present Rubric and The Flashback Story: Wizard and Glass_past

and here are the calculations and overall grade:

The Present-Day Story earns a 96% and provides 24 points to the overall grade out of 100.

The Flashback Story earns a 64% and provides 48 points to the overall grade out of 100.

Therefore, Wizard and Glass earns 72 points out of 100, or 3.6 stars.

So, now let me explain a few points for and against these two parts of the novel.

The Present-Day Story: This book starts off with thrills and chills. Blaine the Mono (the creepiest train that ever was) is tormenting our ka-tet on a suicide mission, forcing our gang to try to come up with a riddle that Blaine can’t solve. Unfortunately, Blaine knows every riddle there ever was. This opening plot was just jaw-dropping “wow!” and the characterization was perfect, every member’s riddles fit them perfectly and their interactions with the ultimate bad guy Blaine were so fitting for their individual personalities. The climax of this scene was a fist in the air, Arsenio Hall-style “Whoo-whoo-whoo!”. So, exciting!

The plot goes on to reveal new twists and connectivity between the Dark Tower plot and other King works (namely, The Stand), which this constant reader always loves. The themes were solid and intriguing, it was super-addictive, and the setting came alive. Everything was as solid as The Waste Lands. Then, Roland had to go and ruin it all.

The Flashback Story: I really am interested in Roland’s back story. What happened to all of the other gunslingers? What was he like before he was so cold and stoic? What does it exactly mean that “the world has moved on”? Moved on from what?

You learn a bit about this in the flashback story, but not enough. Mostly, you learn what it’s like to be a girl whored off to a knuckle-cracking old man in Mid-World, and how much it sucks when you’re secretly in love with a dashing 14-year-old gunslinger from the Camelot-like barony of Gilead. Too much Susan! I don’t hate Susan, but I didn’t really want her story. Well, I didn’t want it from her point of view. I wanted Roland’s story! The plot was not exactly light in the flashback (there are definitely some intense, gruesome scenes), but it wasn’t strong either. The characterization was lackluster because the reader didn’t get to know the truly interesting characters as well as they might’ve liked, but really got to know Susan. The supporting cast was very strong–I loved all of the chapters that focused upon the tension between the three young gunslingers (Roland, Alain, and Cuthbert) and their nemeses, the Coffin Hunters. Plus, the setting of Mejis did truly come alive. Yet, if I had a choice, I would NOT re-read this portion of the book again. It did very little for me, and did not sate my appetite for more answers about the world of the gunslingers. I’ll check out the graphic novels for this and hope I get the story I really want.

Back to the Present Day Story: After the long story of Susan, I just really wasn’t feeling it anymore. I think that the remaining pages of Wizard and Glass were solid again, but I wasn’t as engaged with the plot anymore. The mood was gone. This is unfortunate, but hopefully I’ll be all amped up to be back with the ka-tet again when I begin reading The Wind through the Keyhole, the latest Dark Tower novel, next!

Links:

Goodreads Reviews


Everything in my brain is coming out in pauses. My thinking has been stunted from little sleep. So, I’m not going to write much here.

I had something already planned and written out to post today, but I’m really out of it, so I’ll probably post it tomorrow.

Why am I so tired? Because….

I finally caught up on Season Two of Game of Thrones last night! It was a late night viewing with a friend who is starting the graveyard shift tonight at her new job! Good luck Leigh! Speaking of this graveyard shift, we all, of course, groan when we think of working the hellish hours of 11pm to 7am, five days a week. But, Leigh doesn’t have it too bad. Guess what she does…

You can’t guess how wonderful her late-night job is, so I’ll just tell you:

SHE WORKS IN A KITTEN NURSERY!!!

So, she spends the wee hours of the night/morning caring for little orphan kitties who mew all night and need cuddles and milk and love! It’s a lot of this:

Cute kitten

and this

Another cute kitten

and this

Another kitten

but truly it is this:

only it’s in San Diego.

So, to help her get used to her new late-night schedule, I proposed that we watch the first two episodes of Game of Thrones at 10:00 last night. Except, that I’m always tardy, so I got there around 10:30. Then, we had one of our lovely pre-watching discussions, recapping where we last left off, and what can be expected from the first two episodes.

We started around 11 or so, and it was good! I was very satisfied! I loved the new additions to the map in the opening credits (episode one included Dragonstone and episode 2 included Pyke). They changed the order of events a bit in the first episode, but it stayed true to the book for the most part. Of course, some sex was interpolated, but not as much as the second episode! I don’t mind all of the sex, it adds a bit of color to the Westeros world, but I’m sure a lot of viewers were disgusted by it. As long as the show is true to the story, and as long as Tyrion continues to rock it like he does, I’m happy!

And Joffrey…that SOB (ha! literally in this case!)…he is such a little…I love Joffrey’s character. I love to hate him. He is so very, very awful. And the kid who plays him is ABSOLUTELY PERFECT! I love shaking my fist at the TV and growling his name. Last night, in episode 1, I especially loved my first re-introduction to this little asshole via this scene, which also is our reunion with Tyrion and (ugh) Sansa:

Leigh and I kept wondering about and pitying the viewers that watch the show without ever having read the books. How do they possibly know who these new characters are and where they are? I personally love the lack of set-up and exposition in each scene, as I have read the books and come fully prepared with all of the necessary history and back stories needed for each scene. But, episode one zooms right in on Stannis and Melissandre and Dragonstone without even so much as a subtitle explaining where they are. I wonder if viewers are able to figure it out from the little bits they get from the scenes. Do they even remember Stannis being discussed in Season One, when Neddard Stark discusses him with Renly and others? Do they remember Renly?

Even I am having trouble remembering some of the details not shown on the show, so (of course) I am adding yet another book to my Currently Reading list. Geez, where am I at now? Seven books? Egads, I’ll never finish any of them with this kind of fractured focus.

It doesn’t matter…I’m reading A Clash of Kings again, the only book in the series that I didn’t re-read last year in anticipation of the publication of A Dance with Dragons. That’s probably what I’m going to be doing today…reading about 210 pages of that.

I’m starting to wake up now, but this is it for me today. I’ve got a lot of reading to do!

Post Script: On a GOT-related note, when I googled “Game of Thrones” for adding my links, I saw this Forbes article come up: Will the ‘Game of Thrones’ TV Series Overtake the Novels?  Uh…NO. I haven’t read the article yet, but my hackles are up anyway. No. What are you talking about, Forbes? Don’t be ridiculous. Good attention-grabbing title though.


The Waste Lands by Stephen King Dark Tower

The Waste Lands by Stephen King

• Paperback: 588 pages

• Publisher: Signet, 2003 (originally published in 1991)

• ISBN: 0451210867

• Genre: Fantasy/Horror

• Recommended For: Any serious Stephen King fan who wants to truly understand the Stephen King universe via reading the Dark Tower series; fans of fantasy.

Quick Review: Earns a 98 %, or 4.9 stars out of 5. Check out my rubric for my detailed assessment. The Waste Lands Rubric

Simply put, this book (the third in the series) is amazing! If you have tried to read The Dark Tower series and couldn’t get into it, I’m guessing that you didn’t get this far. Keep going!

How I Got Here: It was next. It should be noted that this, and all of the Dark Tower series, is a re-read for me. I first read the series in 2004-2005. This book satisfies tasks for The Dark Tower Challenge and The Stephen King Project.

The Book: Goodreads’ Synopsis

Roland, the last gunslinger, moves ever closer to the Dark Tower of his dreams and nightmares as he travels through city and country in Mid-World – a macabre world that is a twisted image of our own. With him are those he has drawn to this world: street-smart Eddie and courageous, wheelchair-bound Susannah.

Ahead of him are mind-bending revelations about who and what is driving him. Against him is arrayed a swelling legion of foes-both more and less than human…

My Analysis and Critique:

When you love a book as much as I loved this one, the review is either very easy to write, or very hard. I’ll do my best to write well. Sometimes the best writing is simple, so I’ll keep it simple.

Simply put, this book (the third in the series) is amazing! If you have tried to read the Dark Tower series and couldn’t get into it, I’m guessing that you didn’t get this far. Keep going! Although I loved The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three, neither are as good as The Waste Lands. Yet, they are definitely essential for building the back story leading to this action-packed thriller/horror/fantasy novel.

So much happens in this book, and I don’t know how to discuss it without giving spoilers (ugh, I hate the limitations caused by spoilers!). The plot is quick, yet full, loaded with world-building, mystery, and suspense. The characters are fully-functioning and developed–I have completely fallen in love with the Ka-tet of Eddie, Roland, Jake, and, of course, the billy-bumbler Oy (Susannah still needs room to grow, but I remember loving her in book 5, so I’ll give it time). The themes have grown huge in this novel–I have questions about other dimensions, nuclear holocaust, time travel, cross-textual themes, and so much more that I can’t even explain. This book makes one think and question.

The Waste Lands is the point where my Dark Tower addiction begins. I can’t get enough of the connectivity between the Dark Tower series and King’s other novels, and this is where it really begins (fans of The Stand–if you want more Randall Flagg, you’ve gotta read this series!). I love the mystery of The Beams, the legends behind the Guardians of The Beams, the horrors of a world devastated by some sort of nuclear disaster (you know when King writes it, it results in some seriously frightening mutants), and the thrills I get when Jake is in danger (twice in this book). And then there’s Blaine. Blaine the pain.

Hopefully, I’ve sold you. Read the Dark Tower series. Read it so that you can read The Waste Lands. You won’t be sorry.

Review Bonus Features:

Artwork from the Book

Soundtrack to the Book (the drums heard throughout the novel):

Links:

Goodreads Reviews


I was always a goody-goody. Never skipped school until college. I didn’t even participate in Senior Skip Day in high school, which was all but posted on the school calendar.

However, if I were to play hooky, I’d want it to be a once-in-a-lifetime, memorable occasion. The following ten characters could surely make it a time I would never forget, or regret!

Bastian from The Neverending Story

1. Bastian from The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

Now, this guy knows how to skip school! Steal an awesome book from a bookstore, hide out in an attic (or storage room) full of blankets and candles, and literally get sucked into a good book. Plus, he brought supplies- an apple and PbJ, which he’s really good at rationing. I would love to skip a day of school so I could read with Bastian.

Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye

2. Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

I’ve always wanted to see New York! I could skip school and explore with Holden at my side…maybe I could even get him to lighten up!

Jake from The Dark Tower

3. Jake from The Waste Lands by Stephen King

I’m still reading The Waste Lands, and Jake just finished the weirdest day of skipping school–opening random doors in hopes of finding a desert, trespassing in vacant lots where he sees and hears trippy things, until he finally passes out in said vacant lot. I know it sounds like Jake might not be the best for a fun day, but he did hang out in a very cool bookstore. Plus, eventually his truancy is going to pay off when he finally finds the door he’s looking for! It would be awesome if I could skip school that day too!

Huckleberry Finn

4. Huckleberry Finn from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Just look at this guy! Skipping school so we can do some hunting and fishing, floating down the Mississippi, avoiding danger. I think Huck would be a blast to skip school with!

Alice in Wonderland

5. Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Falling down the rabbit hole and exploring Wonderland or another typical day at school? I vote hanging with Alice!

6. Bod from The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This kid desperately needs a pal! Particularly a pal who can keep him away from the goblins who’d love to steal him away and the psycho who murdered his whole family. He is pretty fun though, with a good imagination and he plays with ghosts in a graveyard. I could skip a day of school to hang out with him.

Anne of Green Gables

7. Anne Shirley from the Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Now, I know that Anne would never skip school! She’s almost as big of a goody-two-shoes as I am when it comes to school. But, if she did, we would have some fun! We could hang out at the Lake of Shining Waters, imagine ghosts and goblins in the woods, and gossip a bit about Josie Pye!

Harry, Ron, Hermione, Harry Potter series illustration

8. Harry, Hermione, and Ron from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Skipping school with this crew could mean butter beers, hiding under Harry’s invisibility cloak, and standing up to rotten Slytherins. Or getting some sleuthing work done. Either way, it would certainly be a worthy excuse for skipping school!

Ponyboy Curtis and Johnny Cade The Outsiders

9. Ponyboy and Johnny from The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Awww, these cutie pies could use a reassuring voice when they hide out in the abandoned church. I could’ve helped them cut and color their hair so that it didn’t turn out so bad, help them read Gone with the Wind, and fixed them some real food other than bologna sandwiches. Or I could just spend the day giving them hugs and kisses, which is what they so desperately needed!

10. Pippi Longstocking from Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Man, this girl is crazy! Check out the spotted horse on her doorstep! If you skip school, head over to Pippi’s house…she can make anything fun and wild!

This is in response to the Top Ten Tuesday prompt from The Broke and the Bookish.

 


Wow, this week went by slowly!

It’s finally the weekend, and it couldn’t have come any slower. This was one of those weeks where it went by so slowly that I almost feel that it should be next week by now.

But, the week is over now, and I have a lot of bookish things on my radar that I wanted to share.

Currently, I am still reading The Waste Lands by Stephen King. While it’s hard to put down when I’m reading it, in the last couple of days, I haven’t been able to squeeze in time to read! So, I’m hoping that I can get some reading done this weekend, although it’s unlikely that it will happen because I’m gearing up for…

Mad Men! The two-hour season premiere airs tomorrow and I can’t wait! I will be writing about all things Mad Men tomorrow, and will probably re-watch most of season 4 on Netflix all day before the premiere. I am in love with this show–I consider it to be the most consistent, well-developed series on television to date. I can’t wait to see what’s going on with my favorite characters in this new season! How many of you are as excited as I am?!

Also, I mentioned it earlier this week, but now it’s official–Dewey’s Readathon is back! Sign-ups are here! I have officially signed up to read for 24 hours on April 21st, and I hope you will too. I know my buddy Kyle at A Reader’s Pensieve is doing it, but I’m urging the rest of you to set aside the day to do it as well! And, YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO FOR THE FULL 24 HOURS! (I’m looking at you SJ) Just sign up and read for however long you can go! It’s about all of us setting aside a bit of time to read as a community. We can update our reading progress on our blogs or over on Twitter and root each other on. I enjoyed reading alongside Jillian, of A Room of One’s Own, during the last readathon–we checked in with other through the wee hours, and at the witching hour of 3:00 a.m., when you’re reading a super-creepy book like The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, it’s really nice to know someone else is out there still reading as well.  It’s just a very cozy feeling, knowing that you’re reading alongside (virtually) with the rest of your community. Just consider it, please?!

Another bookish event on my radar is Suvudu’s Cage Match 2012 event. Basically, characters from some of the best science fiction and fantasy titles are pitted against each other in a fight to the finish. Participants for this event have included Tyrion Lannister, Zaphod Beeblebrox, The Wicked Witch, Lady Jessica, Bast, and Mr. Wednesday (to name only a few). Check out the round 3 bracket here. The event is almost over (I found out about it on Wednesday, but it’s been going on all month!), but I’m enjoying reading the recaps of the past matches. So far, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Anomander Rake, Moiraine Damodred, Kelsier, Mr. Wednesday, Granny Weatherwax, Kylar Stern, and Erevis Cale are still in it. I’m only familiar with Zaphod and Wednesday, but the cool thing about this event is that it provides me with exposure to characters whom I might want to read about in their respective sci-fi and fantasy titles. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun for fans. I recommend you all check it out!

Finally, I signed up a few weeks ago, but the event has officially started, so I’ll announce now that I am going to take part in The Sarah Addison Allen Challenge hosted by Quirky Girls Read. For those of you who don’t know who Allen is, she writes lovely magical realism novels that always take place in North Carolina and always have something to do with delicious food. When I was in a reading rut last year, I picked up a copy of Allen’s Garden Spells simply for the lovely book cover, and I was surprised to find that I loved it. Her imagery and tone is like drinking an ice-cold Arnold Palmer on a hot summer day. So, for this challenge, I will read all four of Allen’s books in April, and, on the weekend, I will cook or bake something inspired by the story I read. For example, for The Girl Who Chased the Moon, I will bake Hummingbird Cake, as that’s one of the main character’s specialties. I believe that Allen even provides a recipe on her website. It’s gonna be delicious!

This will be my last week of teaching before a month-long Spring Break. So, if I’m not consistent in posting this week, just know that I’ll be a constant presence in April! I can’t wait!


I just started re-reading The Waste Lands, book 3 in the Dark Tower series by Stephen King, and I’m loving it (of course), but I’m also a little bummed.

I miss my pictures!

I think that the first time I read this book, about seven or eight years ago, I read the hardcover. With all of the awesome illustrations. Now, I’m just reading some crummy, mass-marketed paperback with a picture of a skull-faced train on the cover.

Not good enough!

I realized this when I read a description of Mir, the giant cyborg bear, and had an image in my head that I knew wasn’t placed there from reading the description. I was picturing this:

Pretty awesome, right?

But, that awesome picture isn’t there for me now. I have to use my rotten imagination. Boo.

Just check out some of the amazing illustrations that I’m missing out on:

At least, I know that all of my next books in the series are all illustrated (I think that I checked out books 1-3 from the library, and bought all of books 4-7 myself). But, man. I didn’t realize how much I loved the art until it was missing!

How do you feel about book art? Do you think art, such as the above images, really adds to the novel, or is it a far second in importance? There’s some really trippy art in Wizard and Glass, so I can waver on my opinion probably next month (although, I love Dave McKean’s work with Gaiman!).