Monday, April 30, 2012

Continuing with Aya

Aya, staged for
the mini-challenge
Aya of Yop City
By Marguerite Abouet
Illustrated by Clément Oubrerie

Aya of Yop City is the second in a series of graphic novels by Ivorian born writer Marguerite Abouet. There are six novels published in French, but only three have been released so far in English. The fourth is set to come out this summer (if anyone knows of a way to get a review copy to this blogger, she'd be eternally grateful, *hint, hint*). I read the first one, Aya, last year and loved it.

I was happy to find that my library had the second book. It picks up right where Aya left off, and it was fun to fall right back in with the delightful cast of characters populating 1970s Ivory Coast. Aya and her friends all have their own worries, but they are there to lend a hand when one of them needs something, be it babysitting or boyfriend advice.

This time around, it's not just Bintou who needs help. The girls' parents are in for some big surprises, too. Unfortunately, the book ends rather abruptly, on a big reveal that is sure to have major consequences in the third volume, Aya: The Secrets Come Out.

I read this during the April edition of Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon. I also used it as inspiration for a book-staging mini challenge hosted by Midnight Book Girl. I chose to surround the book with a bold patterned scarf, since the women in the book are find of them, stick a picture of my cute nephew in to represent the baby, and add a bright lipgloss for the town beauty contest.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Salon: Slump Busted?

Yeah, I think the first slump of 2012 is officially busted. After last weekend's readathon, I finished two more books, and started two more. Right now I'm still on a Tamora Pierce kick. I just finished Mastiff, the third in the Beka Cooper trilogy (and OMG it was so good!) I checked it out from the library last week, and hurried to finish it, as I believe there are more people waiting for it. I know I get irritated when I have to wait for my holds, so I don't want to make someone else wait.

I'd like to finish at least one more book this month. The hubby is heading out of town this afternoon. He'll be gone a few days, so I'll have some time to myself. I might finally go see The Hunger Games with my friend who convinced me to read the books.

I do need to catch up on my reviews. I've only had two review posts in the entire month of April! What kind of book blogger am I? I'm aiming to finish up a review for tomorrow, so that will be three for the month. I like to have a few posts ready to go for when I'm in a slow spell. Since I have several library books checked out, I should concentrate on writing those up first. Wish me luck!

What are your plans this Sunday?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pin It, Do It

Trish over at Love, Laughter, and a Bit of Insanity is hosting a Pin It and Do It challenge for May. I really like Pinterest, and use it on a pretty regular basis. I do make a lot of the recipes I find on there, and I use the "Pin It" bookmarking tool to save recipes and projects I find elsewhere on the interwebz. 
Of course, as is typical for me, I have to put my own twist on this challenge. This is a book blog, and although I tie in other topics, I like my blog firmly rooted in the "bookish" category. So, all the projects I choose will be book-related somehow.

I've committed to 1-3 pins, or the "Timid Pinner" level, so I don't overwhelm my blog with crafty posts. But hey - if people like them, maybe I'll make them a more regular feature! One never knows...

Here's my Pinterest profile - if you have suggestions for me, let me know!

Oh, and on a not-bookish note (since I don't think they make me put my hand on the Bible or anything), I'm getting sworn in to the Florida Bar today!!! Officially a real lawyer!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the lovely bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is
Top Ten Favorite Characters

I confess: I'm not a very character driven reader. Half the time I couldn't even tell you the names of most of a books' characters (sometimes even the main ones!) I don't know why, it's just how I read. But in going over some of the books I've really liked, I realized that some of the characters have stood the test of time. Here they are:
Jennifer Jones as Carrie
Carrie, from Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser. I love this tale of a young woman from Missouri determined to get ahead and make it in the big city, no matter what. She has affairs, lives it up, and makes it as an actress, in spite of society's disapproval.

Beka, from Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper series. A young girl from a poor background who wants nothing more than to become a loyal member of the police force protecting her beloved city and the man who saved her family from ruin.

Offred, as imagined by Erin McGuire
Offred, from The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Offred is not the most revolutionary character. She's not out on the front lines of the revolution, fighting against the regime. However, I related to her. If our society suddenly disintegrated into a world resembling hers, would I know what to do? Or would I just try to survive the best I could?

Anne, from Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Who doesn't like this spunky orphan who works hard and charms everyone she meets?

Lev, from The City of Thieves by David Benioff. He's a scared teenager in The Soviet Union during World War II, who finally gets up his courage to protect his friends.

Owen Meany, from A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. I think this book makes half the Top Ten Tuesdays I do, in one form or another. Owen is such a compelling character. He's tiny, with a VOICE, and is unfailingly loyal, even after accidently taking out his best friend's mother with a foul ball. He's convinced of his mission in life, and carries it out whatever the personal cost.

Leah, from The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. She's not perfect by any means, and she's a bit too willing to unquestionably worship the man in charge, but she fights for what she feels is right, and is not afraid to change when her mistakes are pointed out.

Lillian, from No Ordinary Matter by Jenny McPhee. Probably one of the more "unlikeable" characters in the book, I loved Lillian's don't-eff-with-me attitude. She knows what she wants and she goes after it.

Sula, from Toni Morrison's Sula. Another "disreputable" woman I can't help loving. Her best friend makes safer, more socially acceptable choices, but Sula's the one who won my respect.

Aya, from the graphic novel series Aya by Marguerite Abouet. She loves her family and friends, and she helps those who need it. She's focused on doing better for herself, but you know that she'll never forget where she came from.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Salon: Read-a-thon Wrap Up

Yesterday I participated in my first read-a-thon, and it was a lot of fun. It was the perfect time for me to do something like this, because my bar results come out tomorrow, and I'm kinda stressing about them. The ability to ignore what's going on in my head and just concentrating on some fun books was really, really nice.

I didn't stay up all night, or read for the entire day, but I did get some serious reading done. Here's my end of event wrap-up survey.
  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? 24? Not that I stayed up all night, but I planned on waking up and reading for the final hour, so I could say I'd read in both hour 1 and 24. I didn't end up waking until after the end of the read-a-thon, but I did wake up and finish the book I was working on when I went to bed last night.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? I really liked reading Tamora Pierce's Immortals series. I'd think any of her books would be good choices.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Nope!
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I thought it was very well run.
  5. How many books did you read? Two entire books, plus parts of two more, including one I finished this morning after the readathon.
  6. What were the names of the books you read? Completed: Emperor Mage, Tamora Pierce; Aya of Yop City, Marguerite Abouet. Worked on: Maps, Nuruddin Farah; The Realm of the Gods, Tamora Pierce (now complete)
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? The Realm of the Gods
  8. Which did you enjoy least? I enjoyed them all! although I was disappointed that Aya ended on such a cliffhanger, and I don't know if I can get the third book :-(
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? I was not a Cheerleader
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I'd definitely participate again. Certainly as a reader, and possibly as an official cheerleader or a mini-challenge host.
I'll probably read a bit more today. I've got another graphic novel checked out from the library, Americus, by MK Reed, that I planned to get to during the read-a-thon. Plus, I still want to finish Maps, and I've only got about 50 pages left.

What are your reading plans for today? Or are you wiped out from too much yesterday?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Read-a-Thon Time!

This is my first time participating in the Dewey's 24 hour read-a-thon, and I'm having fun with it so far. I started reading at 8am, the EST start time, and read for about half an hour. I had to take some time to get acquainted with Maps, because I've neglected it for far too long.  Then, the hubby and I went to breakfast and ran some errands.

I've been back for a couple hours, and have immersed myself in Emperor Mage, the third book in Tamora Pierce's Immortals series. I'm three quarters of the way done, but I had to take a bit of a break and come up for air. Plus, I realized I hadn't written a post to track my progress for the day :-) I'll be updating this post as the day goes one.

Are you participating in the read-a-thon? How's it going so far?

1:30 Update: Finished Emperor Mage. Participated in my  first mini-challenge over at Reflections of a Bookaholic. Going to read a bit more of Maps.

3:45 Update: Read about 20 pages of Maps. Read Aya of Yop City, a graphic novel by Marguerite Abouet. Did Midnight Book Girl's Book-Staging Mini-Challenge. *My submission* Visited some blogs, encouraged some people on Twitter.

6:45 Update: Read another 20 pages of Maps. Went for a walk. Made & ate dinner. Visited some more blogs. Started The Realm of the Gods, the last of Tamora Pierce's Immortals series. I'm a little less than halfway done. Now the hubby wants to go downtown and listen to some music, so I'll be taking another break.

10:30 Update: Got back home, read more of The Realm of the Gods. On page 270. I'd like to finish it tonight, but I'm tired. Maybe in the morning??

Friday, April 20, 2012


The Immortals, Book 2
Tamora Pierce

Yay - I finished a book! On Sunday I posted about my current slump. I'm cautiously hopeful that it will soon be behind me after tearing through this quick novel on Wednesday afternoon.

Wolf-Speaker is the second book in Tamora Pierce's Immortals series. I read the first one, Wild Magic, back in January (back when I was actually reading books). I really enjoyed Wild Magic, and was taken with Daine's journey of self discovery.

In the second book, Daine is on her own, without a human mentor, for most of the book. Of course, she's not totally alone. She's helping her old wolf pack with a new problem - humans invading and destroying their territory. But it's not just the animals that these invaders are threatening. The kingdom of Tortall and King Jonathan are also at risk.

For whatever reason, I didn't like this book as much as I did Book 1. There seemed to be a big jump in Daine's maturity between the two books. In the first, she needs a lot of hand holding by her older mentors. Yes, she is a strong, independent character, but she's still a pretty young girl. In Wolf-Speaker, her teacher leaves her behind in dangerous territory with nary a word. I  understand it was a decision that had to be made quickly, and Daine insisted on staying with her wolf pack. Still, it felt a bit forced.

I do like how the animals refer to them selves as the People. Humans are, well, humans. Not People. The People have a respect for the ecosystem and inter-species relationships that humans lack.

Despite my lack of overwhelming enthusiasm, I still checked Book 3, Emperor Mage, out from the library in preparation for this weekend's read-a-thon. Maybe I should go get the last one, too, just in case...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Salon Slump

It's been pretty quiet here on the blog lately. This reflects the incredibly hectic pace of my life the past two weeks. I flew into Florida on April 1st and started working the next day. It's been quite an adjustment going from working three days a week, where I just was helping someone else with their cases to working 5 days a week with a caseload of my own. Yes, I have supervision, but the primary responsibility is on me. In fact, I'm going into the office a little later today to catch up on work I didn't have time to finish on Friday.

I haven't finished a book in weeks - heck, I've barely been reading at all lately. The books I've been working on are good, but they all are pretty slow paced. I think what I need is so good, quick, YA to bust me out of this slumptitude. I just went onto my library's website and reserved Tamora Pierce's Mastiff. It's the final book in the Beka Cooper Trilogy. I read the first two books in December and really enjoyed them. I don't think my library had the last one then, but they've gotten it in now.

It will probably be a few days before it's ready, but that's fine. Maybe in to meantime I can put a dent in some of my other books.

I also signed up for Dewey's Read-a-thon on April 21st. I figured that would be a great time to get some serious reading done. I don't plan on reading for the whole 24 hours, but a few nice blocks of reading time would be nice. I'll see if I can arrange for the hubby to be out that day so I don't have to explain this weird phenomenon of a "read-a-thon" to him!

Have you participated in a read-a-thon before? Are you doing this one? Any tips are appreciated!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On Book Lists, and Advice in General

CIA Library, view down an aisle with books stacked on each side.
The advice of the elders to young men is very apt to be as unreal as a list of the hundred best books. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

I came across this quote as I was searching for quotations to use in an office-decorating project that I've yet to fully finish imagining. It made me think of all those "best-of" lists that can never make anyone happy. Shoot, if I made a list of the hundred best books, and revisited it a year (or even a month!) later, *I'd* even disagree with it.

Do you have a favorite "best of" list? Are you reading from any one in particular? I like to browse them, and then feel woefully under read ;-)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Making it Rain

How to Become a Rainmaker
How to Become a Rainmaker
Jeffrey J. Fox

I recently attended a CLE seminar on "Starting Your Own Practice" for lawyers. I wasn't exactly ready to go into business for myself right away, but the job market's been tough, and I figured learning a bit more about what it really takes to work for yourself couldn't hurt.

One of the panelists recommended a couple books on "rainmaking," or business development. He said there were a couple he found particularly helpful, but they all repeated many of the same ideas. He said this wasn't a bad thing, as sometimes the repetition can serve as a helpful reminder of things to do.

My cousin is very into business related issues, so I thought maybe he'd have one of the books. He didn't, but did let me borrow this one, How to Become a Rainmaker.

I read it on two separate days, probably less than a two hour total commitment. It's written in short, simple chapters, suitable for someone who is busy and looking for a quick tip they can read in the morning over their coffee.

The book is definitely geared towards salespeople, but there are tips that are good for people in all professions.

*First is one that I have a problem with, at least in my personal life: return all phone calls the day you get them. I know this is important. My new, "big" boss thinks it's of primary importance. So, I should probably work on this. I should be providing my clients the best service I can, and returning their calls promptly is a big part of that.

*Listen to want your client wants, ask enough questions to understand, and craft a responsive solution. Pretty self explanatory. This is just one that I'm actively working to get better at every day.

*When a client calls, you are never "in a meeting" or "unavailable." You are "with a client," or "in court." Now, I think the point is that you SHOULD be busy doing legitimate work, and if you're not, take your client's call. Otherwise, you're just going to have to call them back later that day :-)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sunday Salon: Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Birthday to Me!

Le Poisson d'Avril
Yes, it's my birthday. No, I'm not joking. (That question gets old by the time you've reached your seventh April Fool's Day birthday.)

I'm spending the day traveling, as it looks like (cross your fingers, everyone!) that I just may have a real job. It was just a few Sundays ago that I was flying from Florida to New York, and now I'm reversing the journey.

As much as I love New York and would love to be here full time, I love Florida and cannot pass up a job opportunity. I had joked that all I wanted for my birthday was a job, and it looks like that may have actually happened :-) It's not totally official yet, but hopefully I'll have some more concrete news in a few weeks. (Long story).

Needless to say, this month has been a bit overwhelming. I did manage to do some reading, but not too much. I only read 4 books. Four! That's the lowest number since I started keeping track in January of last year. I also read 4 books that month, but that number included Bleak House, which probably had as many pages by itself as the total of this month's reading.

My March reading breakdown:
4 books total
2 fiction                50%
2 nonfiction          50%
2 female authors  50%
0 translated           0%

I think this is the first month I didn't complete any works in translation. I am reading The Book of the City of Ladies, originally written in Middle French, in 1405. I thought I'd be done with this one by now, but I'm not. That puts me a bit behind on the Year of Feminist Classics, but I did read enough to participate a bit in the monthly discussion.

In April I'd like to finish two books I've had in the works for quite awhile, Maps and Midnight's Children. Maybe get one or two finished for the Back to the Classics Challenge (finish City of Ladies, and read The Rover, perhaps). Other than that, I think I'll wander my way around my unread books, and maybe make a visit or two to the library.

Happy April, everyone!