Monthly Archives: October 2016

Nonfiction November ~ My Year In Nonfiction (thus far)

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Hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Lory at Emerald City Book Review,
Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves, Rachel at Hibernator’s Library, and Julz at Julz Reads

Week 1: (Oct 31-Nov 4) – (KatieYour Year in Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

Nonfiction sometimes gets a bad rap from hard-core readers. The perception is that nonfiction is dull and dry and that reading nonfiction doesn’t provide the same “benefits” as fiction reading. To that I say, “Pshaw!” and “False dichotomy!” Nonfiction can be just as entertaining as fiction and as edifying. For me, Nonfiction November is a chance to celebrate the best-of and maybe woo some of those fiction-only types.

So far this year, not quite a third of my reading has been nonfiction. That might be a little light for me, but the last two months have mostly been RIP reading. My top three of the year so far:

The Magician and the Cardsharp: The Search for America's Greatest Sleight-of-Hand Artist The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day The Amazing Harry Kellar: Great American Magician

Shocker, two of my favorites have been about magicians:

The Magician and the Cardsharp: The Search for America’s Greatest Sleight-of-Hand Artist by Karl Johnson – Johnson details master card magician Dai Vernon’s search for Allen Kennedy, a gambler known for an undetectable middle deal. This book is not only about a slice of magic history, but about the history of the American mid-west in the 1930s and 1940s.

The Amazing Harry Kellar: Great American Magician by Gail Jarrow – This being a book for children instead of an in-depth biography of a magician from the turn of the 20th century who isn’t Harry Houdini, I was dubious of its seriousness. It’s easy to concentrate on the wiz-bang aspects of a personality rather than the facts. I was happily surprised by The Amazing Harry Kellar. Jarrow gives a great overview of Kellar, warts and all, amid gorgeous reproductions of Kellar’s promotional posters.

The third book is probably the one I would recommend the most:

The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day
by David J. Hand – Really big numbers are difficult fully fathom, but very important to how the world works. How is it possible that someone could win the lottery three times? Or be hit by lightning more than twice? Hand breaks down the hows and whys of big number statistics in a very readable way. Trust me, this is math explained in a way that even I can understand.

#ROW80 ~ Sunday Update, 10/30

Goal

Add 3125 words per week on Wicked Witch, Retired.
(Or, 12,500 per month / 75K in 6 months.)

Update Round 4, Week 4

It was a flat week for me across the board. Which is funny considering how good the week before was. Oh, well. That’s how it goes. The manuscript is badly in need of some rewriting. The last 4K words or so have been sketchy. And, I haven’t been taking good notes/recording details. So, I will start out Week 5 doing a rewrite and try not to lag too far behind in word count land. All the more reason to not engage in some crazy NaNoWriMo plan…*

Word counts:

Monday: 266
Tuesday: 871
Wednesday: 530
Thursday: 525
Friday: 532
Saturday: 534

Week Total: 3,258
Month Total: 13,691
Manuscript Total: 29,135

* Like trying to write 25  2000 word short fiction pieces based on pictures and word prompts. I totally wouldn’t consider doing a nutsy thing like that with a standing goal of 12,500 words on the novel I’m already working on, the usual blog schedule, an attempt to finish a macroeconomics course by the end of the year (with additional reading), the busiest time of year for VOTS going on (including  league finals), and the first holiday that my parents are in-state. I absolutely wouldn’t be *that* crazy.

Research Link of the Week

I got nothing.

Playlist

The Kills, Ash & Ice (2016)

ROW80LogocopyA Round of Words in 80 Days on Facebook

Deal Me In, Week 43 ~ “Beyond the Wall”

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Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What is Deal Me In?

“Beyond the Wall” by Ambrose Bierce

Card picked: Queen of Spades
From: Jay’s Top 10 Ghost Stories

Thoughts: I’m sorry to say it, but a relentless heat wave has zapped my Halloween spirit. (Tomorrow is supposed to be cooler. A high of only 93F!) My spooky reading has bottomed out. Thank goodness for this Deal Me In pick!

My favorite type of horror is the horror of the unintended consequence. Many supernatural tropes are based on the courting of the occult. Playing with a Ouija board. Chanting “Bloody Mary” into a darkened mirror. Studying non-euclidean geometry. In fiction, all these things are pretty much invitations for angry spirits to come visit. But for me, the more nerve-wracking horror is the sort that fills the world with unknown supernatural missteps. Playing party games. Watching a random video tape. Or flirting with the girl next door.

Who hasn’t let love (or, at least, lust or a crush) make them “be an unspeakable idiot”? I know I’ve had my moments. But what if an innocent act flirtation, knocking on a shared wall, leads to something not entirey sinister, but…unintended?

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RIPXI Info | Reviews

Mini #RIPXI Reviews ~ Revenge & The Accidental Alchemist

MiniReviews

Revenge

Revenge by Yoko Ogawa
Translated by Stephen Snyder
Picador, 1998, 2013 (translation), trade paperback

Revenge has been on my Want To Read list for ages, but I was only recently reminded of it by a post at Outlandish Lit. A readathon and a trip to the library converged and here I am. I finally read Revenge! And I’m kind of sad that I didn’t read it before.

Revenge is a surprisingly thin book. Eleven tales are told in only 162 pages. The eleven stories, though, are really one interconnected puzzle of narrative. It was, perhaps, the perfect 24-hour readathon book. The chapters were short; I could put it down every-so-often to do some social media things, but the stories were compelling enough that I didn’t want to stay away for long. While it isn’t full-out supernatural there is definitely a delicious Japanese horror sensibility to Revenge.

The Accidental Alchemist (An Accidental Alchemist Mystery)

The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian
Midnight Ink, 2015, Kindle ebook

This cozy-ish mystery begins so promisingly with an animated gargoyle named Dorian Robert-Houdin. His “father” was historical magician Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin. Obviously, this caught my interest. The mystery set-up is also promising: a murder and theft—and Zoe Faust has only lived in her fixer-upper for a day! Unfortunately, solving the mystery ends up somewhat overly complex with a lot of repetitive scenes. In the end, the confluence of events really wasn’t very satisfying.

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RIPXI Info | Reviews

Magic Monday ~ ‘Twas the week before Halloween…

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I like Mondays. I also like magic. I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

I was trying to find a trick appropriate for the week before Halloween. But instead I found a trick with a duck. I can’t resist magic tricks with ducks.

It’s Monday, What Am I Reading?

Holmes on the Range The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist: Volume 1

This week I’ll be finishing a couple books I started during the readathon. While Holmes on the Range is definitely and #RIPXI book, it’s not at all spooky. But honestly, with temps here in the 90s, I may not get back into a Halloween mood until Thanksgiving.

#ROW80 ~ Sunday Update, 10/23

Goal

Add 3125 words per week on Wicked Witch, Retired.

Update Round 4, Week 3

I’d like to say I was motivated by wanting Saturday off for the readathon, but really I hit a couple of scenes on Mon-Thurs that came together well. Most of that writing occurred in the morning. Friday was rough. I’ll probably rewrite what I wrote on Friday.

Monday: 772
Tuesday: 761
Wednesday: 764
Thursday: 1,050
Friday: 757

Total added to the manuscript this week: 4,104 words

Research Link of the Week

Usage of the word geas. (Usage over time isn’t really notable to my story. I just found it interesting.)

Playlist

Didn’t have anything going on other than the quiet of morning (which means traffic, the light rail, birds, and the graffiti team painting over walls) and the usual TV shows.

ROW80LogocopyA Round of Words in 80 Days on Facebook

Dewey’s 24-hour #Readathon ~ October 2016

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All the Dewey’s Details

Wrap-Up

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? I felt good going into hour 21…and then I tanked. By 01:30, I couldn’t keep my eyes open for anything. Oh well!
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Revenge by Yoko Ogawa worked really well for readathon. It’s a series of connected short stories, all bite-sized. It made it very easy to put the book down and do a little social media stuff, but it was interesting enough that I didn’t want to stay away too long.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season? One tiny thing, since you asked: On the lists for cheering, maybe a index/number column. I would have liked to throw a dice and visited every person with that number as a ones digit. Just to be able to spread my rambly comments around. (Don’t worry, I have 10-sided dice.)
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? Everything was so smooth! Hugh THANKS to Andi, Heather, and everyone who volunteered!
  5. How many books did you read?  I ended up reading 525 pages and listen to an hour and a quarter of audio book. I finished a book I had been working on pre-readathon, read through two others, and started on three others.
  6. What were the names of the books you read? Finished The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian (the last 1/4th of it), Revenge by Yoko Ogawa, and Bunnicula by Deborah & James Howe.
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? I haven’t finished the books I enjoy the most: Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith
  8. Which did you enjoy least? Was a little disappointed by The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian.
  9. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Very likely to participate again! Honestly, I’m going to stay a reader. I’m way too socailly inconsistant to be much else. 😉

Updates & Challenges

Time: 00:21

  • What I’m Reading: Listened to 01:14:30 of The Seer of Shadows by Avi, which was refreshing! Now, I’m switching to The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist!
  • Total Pages So Far: 481, 1hr 14min.
  • Snacks: Iced coffee & Irish cream. A cookie. Water.
  • Other Activities: Minecraft while listening to audio book.

Time: 22:39

  • What I’m Reading: Been working on Holmes on the Range, but I think it’s time to switch it up. Let’s go audio!
  • Total Pages So Far: 481
  • Other Activities: Walk around the neighborhood with my husband.
  • Snacks: After our walk, my husband shared his Lime Freeze Rockstar with me. He’s tops! Also, a cookie.

Time: 20:36

  • What I’m Reading: Read Bunnicula by Deborah & James Howe while eating dinner. Still working on Holmes on the Range.
  • Total Pages So Far: 448
  • Snacks: Water, diet Mtn. Dew, leftover fajitas for dinner.
  • Other Activities: Dozed on the couch a little. Also been listeing to a Halloween playlist.

Challenge:

Frightful Reads

Time: 16:14

  • What I’m Reading: Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith
  • Total Pages So Far: 290
  • Snacks: Pizza rolls! Plus a chocolate-covered chocolate marshmallow pumpkin, a cookie, a Diet Dr. Pepper, and…wait for it…water.
  • Other Activities: Watched the Nebraska/Purdue game—but I had my book with me the whole time!

Mid-Event Survey:

  1. What are you reading right now? Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith. So far, it’s excellent.
  2. How many books have you read so far? 1.25. I’m slow. Also, a Nebraska fan (see Other Activities above).
  3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I still have The Escapist waiting for me.
  4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Most of my “interruptions” have been self-inflicted. I’m just going to go with them.
  5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? I haven’t felt like taking a nap yet!

Time: 12:34

  • What I’m Reading: Decided to finish The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian. I had about a 1/4 left pre-readathon.
  • Total Pages So Far: 253
  • Snacks: Lunch (see below), another cookie, water.
  • Other Activities: A vigorous bout of stretching while reading. Followed the fourth quarter of the Wisconsin/Iowa game online.

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