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I wrapped up the 48 Hour Book Challenge a little early at 5:30, having spent about a third of the time reading.  Actually, that surprises me because it didn’t feel like that much time.  I probably spent a third of the time sleeping, a third reading, and a third doing everything else.  I didn’t post this sooner since I had to run off to a bbq.

Time spent reading & reviewing: 15 hours, 35 minutes.

I read parts of 5 different books during the challenge: Hester Among the Ruins, Princess of the Midnight Ball, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, Chicks with Sticks (It’s a Purl Thing), and Tom’s Midnight Garden. I’d started Hester before the challenge began, and I’ve still got a good chunk of Deliverance Dane to go, so I read 3 books cover to cover during the 48 hours.

Will I do it again?  Totally – provided it doesn’t fall on a working weekend.  The hardest part was keeping track of my time and tallying it up, and then deciding whether to spend time reviewing or to just keep reading.  I focused mostly on actually reading.  I also had a lot of things planned that took time away from reading, but that helped it feel more exciting and broke up the big chunks of reading.

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to clear some of the dustier things off my to-read shelf, but I did make some room and that’s what counts.  More reviews to follow.

Princess of the Midnight Ball Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’m a sucker for fairy tale retellings, I’ll admit here. As a dance-obsessed kid, I always liked the story of the dancing princesses, worn-out slippers and all. I also really liked the Faerie Tale Theatre version, and strangely I’m more familiar with that than any written version, so I was quite pleased to see a lot of the same elements in George’s retelling. I recently read Wildwood Dancing, another Dancing Princesses retelling that took the story in a very different direction. This one is more satisfying to my childhood self, with enough fleshing out to make it work as a novel.

Unlike the Faerie Tale Theatre version, this one includes darker elements that explain why the princesses dance nightly. This backstory gives the book the perfect amount of tensio, making me wonder why the princesses in other versions are so willing to dance quite so much – what about sleep? The perspective shifts from Galen, a young soldier returning from war, to Rose, the eldest princess. There were a few structural things that I admired in the plotting, particularly the way the reader never follows the princesses to their nightly dancing until Galen does, even though we know what it happening all along.

As a side note, I loved that Galen was a knitter, pulling out wool and needles in any spare moment. For a former solider, it’s a practical skill, plus it makes sense that he’s thrifty and unwilling to waste time sitting around. He’s a wonderfully likable character, and the story has a nice element of romance while still being friendly and appropriate for younger readers. I’d definitely recommend this to fans of Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast, Ella Enchanted, and the like.

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Hester Among the Ruins: A Novel Hester Among the Ruins: A Novel by Binnie Kirshenbaum

This is one of those stories where part of the fascination comes from the fact that the characters are often unlikeable. I never really identified with anyone, but somehow their actions still made sense as part of their personalities. Character and setting are the key players here, with plot taking a backseat. Themes of guilt, culture, and responsibility and restitution for the past run throughout, making an interesting parallel to the story of an affair.

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Well, I’ve had quite a few (fun) distractions from reading in the last day, but am cramming in reading whenever I can.  It turns out I’m unwilling to sacrifice sleep (once I hit the sleepy point) but all the little 10 and 20 minute segments do add up.  Here’s what I’ve been up to since the last check in:

11:50 am – 12:10 pm – listened to The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane in the car.  I intended to go grocery shopping and get back to the books, but got a call from my mom and ended up at my cousin’s birthday party instead.  It was a gorgeous sunny day – a little miracle in weeks and weeks of endless rain – plus a birthday party, a combination I couldn’t refuse.

2:30-2:35, 2:50-3:10, and 3:15-5:05 – continued listening to Deliverance Dane while putting my two batches of sherbet in the ice cream maker, eating cherries, and playing solitaire.

5:05-5:50 pm – took a break from reading to put together a list of recommendations for a friend and choose the next Long Distance Kitchen recipe.

5:50-6:30 – started reading Chicks with Sticks (It’s a Purl Thing) by Elizabeth Lenhard, a fairly light, fun YA book about girls learning to knit.  Tons of descriptions of yarn and knitting projects, with a few patterns included in the back.

6:30-10:45 pm – another long break to get dressed up and go to the ballet.  I splurged on a pair of season tickets for the super-cheap seats last year, one of the best splurges I’ve ever indulged in – and I did the same thing for next year.  Not much more than going to an evening movie, plus a fun excuse to get fancied up and go out.  Plus I love the ballet.

10:45-11:30 pm – read more of Chicks.  Realized I’ve never timed myself on how many hours it takes to read a book – I generally look at it in terms of days, something like “I read 16 books last month, which averages out to about a book every other day.”  My eyes started drooping, so then I went to sleep.

7:50-9:10 am – woke up and continued with Chicks, then got ready for church.

9:40-10:00 am, 12:10-12:20 pm, and 12:30-12:40 pm – listened to Deliverance Dane on the way to church and home again, with a stop at the grocery store because the character ate doughnuts and gave me an awful craving.

12:50-1:15 pm – finished reading Chicks while tucking into the doughnut, coffee, cherries, and a fried egg.

1:15-present – calculated my hours so far and wrote this update.  If I did the math correctly, and I’m making no promises, I’ll be at 12 hours and 35 minutes once I finish this post.  Then it’s back to the books before I miss the last couple hours of my 48 by going to a bbq.  C’est la vie.

June 2010

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