Category Archives: challenges

NYE Readathon is here!

30th December 2012

Grab this for your own #nyereadathon post!

Grab this for your own #nyereadathon post!

The readathon is coming! The readathon is coming! Guys, I can’t quite tell you how excited I am about our NYE Readathon. We drove my brother back to the airport for his flight home yesterday, and all the family fun is just about coming to an end, with people going back to work next week, and let’s just not talk about it…

All that to say, I have been so looking forward to tomorrow. Lazily getting up to a lovely stack of books and snacks and reading with all of you sounds like the most perfect way to spend the last day of 2012.

Rules: There are no rules! It’s New Year’s Eve. Who wants to worry? All I ask is that you post once, either tonight or at some point tomorrow to let everyone know you’re participating. You can link up below. I’ll have an intro post up tomorrow morning, and I’ll also have some other fun break topics. But the point is to read, so I’m not going to overdo it on the posts.

I do have some tips, though, to make it a bit more fun:

  • If you take any photos throughout the day, use the hashtag #nyereadathon on Instagram. And let us all know your handle!
  • If you tweet throughout the day, use the hashtag #nyereadathon. We’d love to hear from you and share the fun.
  • Don’t stress if you have to run out to a party or go grab more bubbly. The goal is to have fun, not restrict your fun.
  • Holler if you’re feeling lonely/rushed/stressed/whatever. Half the fun of the readathon is knowing others are out there reading too.
  • Take a chance to check out the other bloggers participating. Tweet them, comment on their posts. Because this is laidback, I didn’t organize any specific cheerleaders, thinking we could cheer as needed. May be a big mistake. May be heaven.
  • READ. What you want. When you want. At whatever pace you choose. In the bathtub. In bed. Outside. With green eggs and ham.

If you have questions or suggestions, let me know. If anyone wants to host a giveaway, just email or tweet me, and I’ll make sure to post here.

I’ll be back later to post my preparation plans.

Happy New Year’s Eve Readathon eve! 🙂

Audiobook Review: Dr. No by Ian Fleming

15th November 2011

Bond is in the doghouse because of a botched assignment in From Russia With Love. Of course, being in a British doghouse involves M staring daggers at Bond and speaking in harsh metaphors, along with sending him on an easy case in Jamaica to lie in the sun and hold down the fort after two agents disappear.

Strangways and the other agent are thought to have run off together, but having met Strangways on a case in Live and Let Die, Bond isn’t so sure. When he discovers Strangways was investigating several odd deaths in connection with Crab Key Island, Bond’s suspicions are increased.

The island is home to Dr. No and a natural moneymaker – guano – along with a small reserve home to roseate spoonbills, owned by the Audubon Society. Dr. No is not someone you want to mess with. Quarrel, another recurring figure from Live and Let Die, and Bond encounter trouble right away: auto accidents, poisoned fruit, and what is one of the most tense scenes I’ve read in a while – a killer centipede.

Dr. No is one of the best-paced Bond novels I’ve read so far, with Bond and Quarrel prepping and investigating before checking out Crab Key in person. Once on the island, they meet Honeychile Rider, who is innocently trolling for shells. Quickly, they are discovered and have to fend for themselves in Dr. No’s deadly island traps.

I enjoy this challenge more and more as time passes, and honestly Simon Vance is the voice of Bond for me. I don’t even want to pick up the print copies because I miss his voice reading to me. I know Jennifer of Literate Housewife agrees. 🙂

 

If you want to join in the Shaken Not Stirred Audiobook Challenge, we are most likely taking December off – join us!

See my other Bond reviews here:

Casino Royale

Live and Let Die

Moonraker

Diamonds Are Forever

Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming

6th October 2011

With its two fighting claws held forward like a wrestler’s arms the big pandinus scorpion emerged with a dry rustle from the finger-sized hole under the rock.

There was a small patch of hard, flat earth outside the hole and the scorpion stood in the centre of this on the tips of its four pairs of legs, its nerves and muscles braced for a quick retreat and its senses questing for the minute vibrations which would decide its next move.

The moonlight, glittering down through the great thorn bush, threw sapphire highlights off the hard, black polish of the six-inch body and glinted palely on the moist white sting which protruded from the last segment of the tail, now curved over parallel with the scorpion’s flat back.

The scorpion had decided. Greed had won over fear.

Thus begins Diamonds Are Forever. Quite a vivid image and quite a lot of symbolism as well. With Simon Vance once again narrating in perfect pitch, I was immediately ready for this fourth installment of Bond’s adventures. Diamond mining, mob activity, scorpions, and more Felix Leiter…what could possibly go wrong?

The premise: M sends Bond on a mission to help smuggle diamonds into the States, to try to infiltrate the pipeline and gather information in order to shut the operation down. Taking on another’s identity, Bond meets with Tiffany Case to get his instructions. Case, with a backstory of her own, is wary of Bond but fills him in on how he should proceed to get the diamonds out of the country. Once he’s there, he’s to hook up with one half of the Spang brothers, a mob outfit running diamonds. There he meets up with Felix Leiter.

If you’ve followed any of my other posts on Fleming’s Bond series for the Shaken, Not Stirred Challenge, you know Felix Leiter is a favorite character of mine. We last saw him in Live and Let Die, and after the number done on him, I wasn’t sure we’d see him again. Thankfully, he’s back, but his injuries have relegated him to Pinkerton’s, working in the private sector.

Bond and Leiter have a great relationship, and other than Bond’s relationship with M, it is really the only fleshed-out friendship we see. It is certainly nice to have some continuity. Leiter is trying to take down the Spang brothers because of some rigged gambling. The two decide to tackle their own assignment, helping each other if possible.

The problem with Diamonds Are Forever is that once again, Fleming takes us on what feels like a Disneyland tour of the States. He did it with Live and Let Die, too, so I wonder if it’s because he’s less familiar with the locale. On his home turf, Bond is relentless, intelligent, and meticulous. In the States, he’s a bit lax, taking risks that British Bond would not. From New York to Las Vegas, Bond trips along, and honestly by the end of this book, I knew he would get out of whatever fix he was in, saving Tiffany Case along the way, leaving me with the question: Why is he there? He’s 007, for Pete’s sake. Shouldn’t there be some international intrigue? Shouldn’t the Spang brothers be connected to the Soviets, producing massive warheads? I don’t know. It just felt off, and after such a promising beginning, I was disappointed.

As for the film, do we even need to go there? Just know that after Casino Royale and the edgy Bond we were treated to…well, even Connery can’t stand up to it.

Next up: From Russia with Love , which I hear is quite excellent. Can’t wait…

Audiobook review: Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming

18th August 2011

Wait. YOU don't hold playing cards over your voluminous cleavage? Really? Oh, me neither.

Bond is back, and this time he’s in America, rooting out SMERSH through their Harlem contact, “Mr. Big.” Someone is selling gold coins, part of Sir Henry Morgan’s treasure, to fund socialist interests in America. Bond is sent to throw a wrench in the plans. Mr. Big is larger than life and has absolute power, partially because he is believed to be the zombie of a voodoo leader – and also because he incredibly brutal. Solitaire, a psychic, is brought in to help Mr. Big determine Bond’s plans, but she foils Mr. Big and lies as to Bond’s intentions. Cruel and unyielding, Mr. Big isn’t satisfied to let Bond – or anyone working with him – have a pass.

I wasn’t in love with this book. After thoroughly enjoying Casino Royale, which I thought was so smart and well paced, Live and Let Die felt onerous and heavy. Felix Leiter is back, and his and Bond’s friendship was one of my favorite parts of the book. However, though Simon Vance’s narration was stellar as usual, the latter half of the book seemed to drag. We knew where the gold was coming from, Mr. Big had killed or maimed what seemed like a dozen people, and here we were, following them to Jamaica for a showdown.

Plus, Bond was out of his element. America is very different from the UK, and Harlem in the 50s is unlike anything Bond has experienced. The overt racism was really difficult to get through, though it certainly shed light as to how African Americans and Jamaican Americans were treated even during that time period.

All in all, I will definitely continue with the series; this was just a bit of a miss for me.

 

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

14th July 2011

*I was lucky enough to get a signed copy of this book from Ms. Jones at BEA11. You can purchase a copy of this book pubbed by Algonquin through Indiebound.

Sometimes it is really, really difficult to write a review. Not because you didn’t like a particular book, but because you did. Silver Sparrow is that book for me, and I have saved about six different drafts of this review. So just know, I loved this book.

******

From the first line, “My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist,” Jones tells a story unlike any other I have read, about Witherspoon’s two daughters – Dana, the “outside” daughter and Chaurisse, the “inside” daughter.

James spends one night a week with Dana and her mom Gwen and the rest of the week with Chaurisse and her mom, Laverne. However, Dana and her mom live with the burden of knowing about James’s other family, while Laverne and Chaurisse have no idea of James’s betrayal. But James’s secret (and quite beautiful) wife and daughter don’t remain a secret for long, and inevitably the two girls meet. Dana Lynn is curious about her counterpart – the girl allowed to be called James Witherspoon’s daughter.  Chaurisse, though, is oblivious to Dana’s relation to her. All she knows is she isn’t “silver” or pretty like Dana, and sometimes Dana has an anger that puzzles Chaurisse.

What Chaurisse doesn’t understand is the true selfishness James shows toward Dana. Once, she comes home with a drawing from elementary school. In it, she draws her daddy and his other family in the foreground and Dana and her mother in the background. Her daddy tells her she can’t draw pictures like that because it’s nobody’s business:

“Your other wife and your other girl is a secret?” I asked him.

He put me down from his lap, so we could look each other in the face. “No. You’ve got it the wrong way around. Dana, you are the one that’s a secret.”

I’m not a momma, but I had some choice words for this man when I read this scene. And maybe that’s why it has been so difficult for me to write this review. Because try as I might, I cannot forget what James Witherspoon did to the women he loves. Yes, Silver Sparrow is a story about love, friendship, sisterhood, loss and growing up, but it is also more than anything, a story of one man’s decision and the women he loves having to painfully come to terms with that choice.

 ******

Read this: immediately/as soon as possible/when you get a chance/eh-if you’re bored

jenn aka the picky girl