Finish a Book, or Finish a Challenge

Finish a book, or finish a challenge … This is the question I am asking myself as I look at my progress on Dracula, Draculamy fourth and final book for Stainless Steel Droppings’ R.I.P. IV Challenge .

Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying The Count, and I’m not thinking of never finishing, it’s just not a fast read, and with three of four books complete, and a challenge deadline of October 31st, I also want to finish this fun challenge.

That leaves me looking at another set of Vampires sitting on my shelf that I could potentially finish up by Club DeadSaturday night (but even that might be a little too ambitious). Of course I mean Vampire Bill and Vampire Eric in the third book from the Sookie Stackhouse series Club Dead (which would also put me one more book in on another challenge I am in, the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge hosted by Beth Fish Reads).

So, I won’t be leaving Transylvania and that castle on the precipice for good. I just need to spend a chunk of quiet time with The Count, and with pumpkin carving, scary movies and trick-or-treating on the horizon – I don’t see that happening in the next few days. So it looks like the Halloween season will be extending into November for me. And who doesn’t love an extended holiday?!

QUESTION OF THE DAY:
Have you ever changed up your last book at the last minute to better meet a challenge goal?

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Review: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Olive KitteridgeOlive Kitteridge is not just the name of Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, Olive is the heart of this collection of short stories. She is neither warm nor fuzzy. She speaks her mind. In fact she really doesn’t seem to have much of a filter on her thoughts, and she has thoughts about everything: her husband, her son’s new wife, everyone in town.

Even as each chapter is a story, they build one off of the other, in layers, to create a character study of Olive. And whether she is the central character or just passing through – all the stories belong to her. I learned about Olive as a younger woman and the pain that may have made her the hardened woman she was. I felt empathy for Henry, Olive’s long suffering husband. I cringed for Christopher, Olive’s son, as Olive comes to visit him and his new family in New York City.

I found this book enjoyable because it had so much to offer. I didn’t need to love Olive to want to know more about her and the residents of Cosby, Maine. Strout’s storytelling kept me turning the page so that I could learn all of Olive’s facets and try to understand her a little better.

Olive Kitteridge
Author: Elizabeth Strout
ISBN: 978-0812971835
Published: September 30, 2008 (Paperback; Reprint edition)
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Pages: 304

Tuesday Teaser, 27 October 2009 – Dracula

teaser-tuesdayIt’s that time of week again for Should Be Reading’s fun meme Teaser Tuesdays.

So how does this work:

  • Grab your current book
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

DraculaWith only a few days until Halloween, today I am teasing you with Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

As they sank into the darkness I felt a strange chill, and a lonely feeling came over me; but a cloak was thrown over my shoulders, and a rug across my knees, and the driver said in excellent German: – ‘The night is chill, mein Herr, and my master the Count bade me take all care of you. There is a flask of slivovitz [the plum brandy of the country] underneath the seat, if you require it.’ Pg. 15

QUESTION OF THE DAY
What’s your tease for this Tuesday?

What Are You Reading, Monday, 26 October?

on_mondaysThanks to J Kaye’s Book Blog for hosting this weekly meme.

One week to go in The R.I.P. IV Challenge (which stands for Readers Imbibing Peril) hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings. I had hoped to read four books, and with three down, I have started the fourth and final book today … Dracula. I think this is the perfect book to end this challenge, this All Hallows Eve week.

I have not been posting much or keeping up with my Google Reader, so I hope you are all well – and congrats to all who participated in the Read-a-Thon this weekend!

Have a great reading week! What will you be reading?

BOOKS I COMPLETED
1. Dancing with Ana by Nicole Barker
2. The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory
-With The White Queen, which I finished up this morning, I have now read 40 books this year so far, 50 is definitely do-able.

BOOK TO COMPLETE
1. Dracula by Bram Stoker

BOOK TO CONTINUE/BEGIN
1. Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti
2. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Review: Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Her Fearful SymmetryIn Audrey Niffenegger’s latest novel Her Fearful Symmetry, Julia and Valentina are not only twins, they are mirror image twins. Valentina is Julia’s mirror image, even down to organs in reserved places (Valentina would need to use her left hand and go to her right side to “cross her heart”), and this has given Valentina life-long heath problems. For the past twenty years the two have been inseparable.

Julia and Valentina’s mom Edie is also an identical twin. Edie and Elspeth however have separated, with an ocean between them, and have not seen each other in twenty years. The girls have never met their aunt Elspeth, who lives in London, and have had no contact with or from her until she dies leaving the twins everything, including her London flat. But, there are conditions (aren’t there always) – when they turn 21 they must go to London and live in the flat for a year, and their parents are not allowed inside.

To Julia this is her dream come true, a kick start to a life. Valentina does not want to go and would rather return to one of the three colleges the twins went to, or any school really, but she knows she must go with her sister. (Julia is the dominate twin, she calls the shots and calls her twin “Mouse” for obvious reasons.)

Over the course of their year, the twins meet and become involved in the lives of those who knew Elspeth. Julia spends time with their upstairs neighbor Martin who will not leave his flat because of his OCD. Valentina forms a relationship with her aunt’s boyfriend Robert. But not only do the twins meet these people who were a part of Elspeth’s life, they eventually even meet Elspeth herself, as the ghost who lives in the flat with them. As Elspeth becomes stronger in her ghostly skills, she becomes more involved in the lives of the twins.

London is an adventure for Julia, a one year sentence for Valentina. While Valentina is not happy to be in London, it is the place where she comes in to her own. She gains personal strength and space, to try and decide what it is she wants out of life, one that is her own.

This book was definitely a good read right before Halloween. Without being scary, there was always a great eerie, suspenseful factor that lingered throughout the book. It may have had something to do with another character in the book that to me was as integral as any of the other main characters – London’s Highgate Cemetery (I linked you to the About Us page for easy access to the photo album). In my travels I have never gone there, but have visited Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise, in Paris (final resting place for many, including Jim Morrison), definitely not the same, but it gave me an idea of a sprawling, beautiful cemetery.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, but would not say it will be listed as one of my top favorites of this year. Niffenegger has a great use of language, and pulled me in – but I did not connect with any of the characters or storylines (and there are a lot that I haven’t gone in to) as fully as I had hoped when I excitedly picked up this book. But it’s not a story I will soon forget, and I will definitely be adding Highgate to one of my must-see places if I ever find myself back in London.

Her Fearful Symmetry
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
ISBN: 978-1439165393
Published: September 29, 2009 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Scribner
Pages: 416

Tuesday Teaser, 20 October 2009 – The White Queen

teaser-tuesdayIt’s that time of week again for Should Be Reading’s fun meme Teaser Tuesdays.

So how does this work:

  • Grab your current book
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The White QueenToday’s tease comes from Philippa Gregory’s latest, The White Queen.

Of course, for the rest of the day, my sisters and cousins are in a frenzy, trying on clothes, washing their hair, exchanging ribbons, and rehearsing their curtseys. Anthony’s wife Elizabeth and two of our quieter companions say they won’t come, but all my sisters are beside themselves with excitement.Pg. 33

I won this book from a Twitter contest (@WhiteQueen_book) by the publisher.

QUESTION OF THE DAY
What’s your tease for this Tuesday?

What Are You Reading Monday, 19 October

on_mondaysThanks to J Kaye’s Book Blog for hosting this weekly meme.

Here we are in the middle of October, less than two weeks away from my favorite holiday!

Life in my reading universe is progressing nicely. I am a far cry away from the 75 books I dreamed of reading when I joined the “75 Books Challenge” on LibraryThing, but think I will hit 50, which is still more than last year (I am currently at 38). Thanks to all the kind words of encouragement from LT members, such a nice group there.

I finished up only one book last week, but am on my way to finishing another by tonight, hopefully. I continue to leave The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown on my shelf, only 50 pages in. I think of this like my bonus book if I finish up everything else I want to over the week (which I never seem to do). I might have to give him a little more time this week.

My challenges are going well this year, except for the Back to School challenge which has just gotten away from me. I really don’t want to drop it, so might be doing some cramming over the next two months.

Hope you have a great reading week! What will you be reading?

BOOK I COMPLETED
1. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

BOOK TO COMPLETE
1. Dancing with Ana by Nicole Barker

BOOKS TO CONTINUE/BEGIN
1. The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory
2. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown