Book and Blogging Blitz Results

This past weekend, I held a personal Book and Blogging Blitz, as warm-up for next week’s 48-Hour Book Challenge.

One thing I’m learning from these weekend blitzes is how much shorter a weekend is than I think it is. No, I didn’t get caught up on posting reviews. I didn’t make a dent on my stack of picture books to review. I did, however, make a little progress. And I did have fun.

One thing that ate some time was totally worth it. I posted the first time for a long time on Sonderjourneys, after I caught the local egret on camera.

Altogether, I spent 20 hours on books and blogging. That was made up of 5 hours and 50 minutes blogging, 8 hours reading, 2 hours 30 minutes listening to an audiobook, 10 minutes networking, 1 hour and 5 minutes unpacking book boxes, and 2 hours 25 minutes posting reviews.

I read a total of 518 pages, finishing 3 books. I posted 4 reviews, wrote 2 new reviews, and posted 3 other posts, including Sonderjourneys and Sonderling Sunday. I also unpacked 7 boxes of books.

So, no, it didn’t nearly finish the task I’d set myself. But again, I made progress, and I had fun.

Going forward, I’m going to keep trying to post at least one review most days, and eventually I’ll get caught up. I’m planning to be choosier about which books I review, and use Goodreads for the ones I’m a little bit less excited about. But it’s hard to set a book aside!

I do plan to dive into the 48-Hour Book Challenge next weekend. Yes, I’m working on Saturday and have church on Sunday, but I may be able to move some chores outside the 48-hour window and give some time to books. It’s worth a try!

Anyway, I feel like I’m back in the saddle again. By adding some unpacking into my process, I learned that unpacking one box of books only takes about 5 minutes, so I can add that easily into my daily routine. And I don’t have to stop blogging while I’m unpacking. It will be done some day!

Read on!

Book and Blogging Blitz Begins!

So, when I was doing my Unpack-a-thons, it was partly to get unpacking out of the way before the annual 48-Hour Book Challenge. It’s always at the beginning of June, so I was hoping it would hit this weekend. When I learned it’s going to hit next weekend, when I am scheduled to work both Friday and Saturday, I decided I will have to celebrate this weekend on my own.

I got to thinking: I still want to participate in the official event. So why don’t I use this weekend as a sort of warm-up? But I will use my own rules instead of the official rules.

For starters, I will count time reading picture books. I have a big stack of picture books I’ve been meaning to review for quite some time now. I will tackle that stack.

I also think I’ll make a concession to the unpacking that still needs to be done by unpacking one box of books per hour.

And I will try not to stress out if my totals are not so impressive as in previous years. As I write this, I have a mild vestibular migraine, and if that gets worse, I will take naps as necessary, without guilt. I will not set an alarm in the morning, and if I sleep late, that’s all good. I recently started a walking program, and I will go out walking both days this weekend. I will do the grocery shopping, and I really should go driving with my son, who needs several more hours practice before he can get his license. (I am probably looking for excuses not to do that.) I will do my weekly ironing — but I will probably listen to an audiobook while doing it, instead of the usual movie. Hmm. I can listen to an audiobook while cooking dinner, too. (Though maybe I can talk my son into cooking.) I have a new audiobook checked out, all ready to listen. (The Plantagenets, by Dan Jones, based on Liz Burns’ recommendation.)

Now, with the 48-Hour Book Challenge, it’s a lot more fun if you spend most of the time actually reading. That’s what makes it an indulgence. But the thing I really want to get around to doing is posting reviews. I have reviews still waiting to be posted that I wrote in 2012! And I have that aforementioned stack of picture books. And another of children’s nonfiction. So I’m thinking I’ll focus on writing reviews this weekend, and then for the Actual 48-Hour Book Challenge, with what time I have, I can indulge myself and simply read.

All that said, here’s my plan for Sondy’s Book and Blogging Blitz:

1) Each hour, I will begin by posting a review. (Or, in this case, a post about progress.)

2) Each hour, I will then unpack a box of books. (Yes, despite two Unpack-a-thons, I can safely say I have more than 20 boxes of books left to unpack. If I finish, great!)

3) Then I will spend the rest of the time writing reviews, with this rotation:
— Novels (I only have 2 to review)
— Picture Books
— Children’s Nonfiction
— Short Fiction (graphic novels, short chapter books)
— Adult Nonfiction
I’m thinking I’ll spend the rest of an hour on an item in the rotation, alternating back to the top of the list. (I really want to get that stack of picture books done.) Like this: Novels (which I’ll finish up the first time), picture books, children’s NF, picture books, short fiction, picture books…. Once I finish all the picture books, I’ll cycle back to children’s nonfiction. And so on.

4) Bedtime or naptime reading will be exceptions to the above. I’ll just read a novel until I fall asleep. Other exceptions will be my quiet time in the morning (nonfiction reading) and the aforementioned listening to an audiobook while cooking or ironing.

5) After I’ve gone through all the categories above, like in the 48-Hour Book Challenge, I’ll spend the remainder of an hour visiting other blogs. In that hour, instead of posting a review, I’ll write an update post and a post for one of my series.

And at the end I will post all my stats.

Now, I admit, it’s much more fun to do this along with others. So this will be my warm-up, to build enthusiasm for participating next week, even though I have to work.

I’ve also been hesitant to post more than one or two reviews in a day, since they get buried in a blog. But I’m just going to go for it! I want to get caught up! Of course, what takes me so long to post reviews is that I also post them on my main site, which takes some html fiddling. But at least there, I can highlight ALL of the weekend’s reviews, and the ones at the start of the weekend won’t just get lost on the second page of the blog.

So, enough rattling on! This constitutes a blog post, so now I’m going to unpack a box! Let the Blitz begin!

Unpack-a-thon #2 Results

On Memorial Day weekend, I held another personal Unpack-a-thon. And though there’s still a long way to go, I think I got things to where I’m happy with unpacking a few boxes each night, and no longer feel that desperate need to clear more floor space so I can think.

Best of all, I completely finished the job of unpacking kitchen things. That was difficult — so much involved figuring out where doodads I’d put in drawers should now be stowed, with less drawers and less cupboards. But the job is done! Mind you, I then moved boxes of pictures into the kitchen alcove where they will be out of the way while I unpack everything else. But everything that belongs in the kitchen is now put away! Woo-hoo!

Here are the stats: Total time spent was 19 hours. A wicked migraine I woke up with on Sunday was what kept this number down — requiring a long nap Sunday afternoon. But I was happy with how much I was able to do anyway, and the headache did let up, and unpacking was a great distraction.

Total boxes unpacked: 34
Total bags, baskets, or suitcases unpacked: 9

The boxes are broken down into 19 boxes of books unpacked and 15 other boxes. The book boxes are much easier, and that’s what I’ve started focusing on now that I’m doing a little bit each night — progress is faster and more obvious. Those are what I took pictures of after the Unpack-a-thon was done.

In the living room, I unpacked 10 book boxes, 3 other boxes, and 6 bags or baskets.

In the office, I finished filling the bookcase of picture books and collections (Harry Potter, The Black Stallion, and Oz) This involved 6 book boxes and 2 other boxes.

In the bedroom, I unpacked 3 suitcases. This was difficult, since I had gotten rid of an old falling-apart sweater chest and had to figure out where to put things and what I could get rid of. I also did unpack 3 book boxes and one other box. And I put shelves in one bookcase.

Now, the 19 hours was not spent only on unpacking, I’m afraid. I ended up spending 4 hours the whole weekend cleaning. Since I hadn’t given the house a good cleaning since I moved in, this was overdue. And I spent 2 hours on Monday building a bookcase! Here it is:

I credit my son with the lovely excuse to buy a bookcase. He noticed that my two-shelf bookcase would fit at the foot of his bed and should be able to hold the books he’d brought back from college. I was annoyed at first, since I’d worked hard to fit all my books on shelves — until I realized I could fit a 3-shelf bookcase where I’d put the 2-shelfer. 🙂 Call him an Enabler.

So I still haven’t finished the job, but I’ve had enough of focusing on it for awhile. I’m trying to decide if I will just take it easy next weekend, or if I can find the time to treat myself to a Blog-a-thon and try to catch up on my blog posts.

Meanwhile, today at the library, I booktalked our Summer Reading Program in one of the local schools with my co-worker. It was my first booktalks in four years, and I’d completely forgotten how much fun it is to see all those kids’ faces and get to tell them about great books!

And when I got home, after resting an hour or so, I was treated to the sight of my son enjoying the balcony:

This made me smile as much as being out there myself! Truly, life is good!

Unpack-a-thon #2

Last weekend, I held my first Unpack-a-thon moving into my new home. My results were good, but there’s still a long way to go.

So, for Memorial Day Weekend, I’m going to do Unpack-a-thon #2. And maybe make this place look more like a home and less like a warehouse.

Mind you, I would much rather do a Read-a-thon or a Blog-a-thon. But if I get a lot done on the Unpack-a-thon, that can be my reward.

The Unpack-a-thon starts tomorrow, Friday, since that’s my day off this weekend. My optimistic plan (It’s okay if I don’t reach it.) is this:

Friday: 8 hours
Saturday (after work): 2 hours
Sunday: 3 hours
Monday (Memorial Day): 7 hours

I managed 9 hours total last week, so it would be great if I could hit 20 this week, with the extra day in there.

Last time, I ended up rotating between rooms, always starting with the kitchen. You know what the hard part is? It’s finding a place for things. I have less storage in my new home than I did before, so the hard part is figuring out where I can fit things or if I can do without things.

So, this time, each hour I’ll start again with a box in the kitchen. Then I’ll rotate to other rooms, but in each other room, I’ll empty one book box and one other box. The book boxes are much much easier — because I made sure all my books fit on bookcases before I moved, and all the boxes are labeled with which bookcase they came from. A lot of these boxes sitting around are book boxes, so I want to let myself tackle the easy ones this time.

Another thing: After 4 hours unpacking, I’m allowed to spend the next half-hour cleaning, and count it as part of the unpack-a-thon. I have so many boxes in the way, I haven’t done much cleaning since I moved in — and it’s getting where it needs to happen! So if I hit 20 hours of unpacking, that would end up including 2 hours of cleaning, which should get things in much better shape.

I don’t have as many other things calling me away this weekend (at least not yet), so maybe I’ll hit the 20 hour goal. If I do, I may treat myself to one of the cool board games we unpacked with my son Tim, who’s home from college.

And if I get enough done, the following weekend, I was going to have my own personal 48-Hour Book Challenge.

However, I discovered today that this year it’s going to be hosted by Ms Yingling, and it’s actually scheduled for the following weekend — a weekend when I’m working both Friday and Saturday. So, I think the only solution is to do a Book Challenge both weekends, don’t you? I’ll do one on the weekend of June 7th following their rules, and I’ll do one the weekend of the 30th making up my own. For example, I’m going to allow myself to count time reading picture books, because I’ve got a big pile of picture books I want to review but never quite get around to. I also want to spend lots of time posting reviews I’d written earlier. So maybe my personal Book Challenge weekend would be a good weekend to do those things. I will be working out a plan this week….

Anyway, meanwhile, let the Unpack-a-thon begin!

Unpack-a-thon #1 Results

I did it! I devoted 9 hours to unpacking last weekend. I unpacked 32 boxes and 13 bags.

I still have a loooooong way to go!

However, it dawned on me that I can do another Unpack-a-thon on Memorial Day weekend. The following weekend, I want to do the 48-Hour Book Challenge. The weekend after that, I won’t have a weekend because I traded Fridays so that the weekend after that I can have my birthday off. So I hope I’ll make good headway on Memorial Day weekend.

And it’s already nice to have room to walk around in my kitchen! And to have found some things that were missing.

I ended up, except for the last hour, rotating between the rooms I was working in, starting each hour in the kitchen. So here’s how it went:

In the kitchen, I unpacked 7 boxes and 7 bags. Here was the before picture:

And here is the After picture:

Of course, the main kitchen is a galley kitchen, and I didn’t picture the boxes on shelves, or the four boxes still stacked right outside it. But good progress was made!

Next, each hour I worked on unpacking games, which went in my son’s closet. That is, until the last hour, when I focused on only that, and FINISHED the task! Woo-hoo! All games are stored, besides the ones I brought to the library for our monthly “Brain Games at the Library” program. That program is now well-stocked!

This involved unpacking 10 boxes. Here were some of them Before:

And the entryway is much clearer After:

Next on the list was the Living Room. I unpacked 10 boxes, mostly books, and 2 bags. They mostly went on my biggest bookcase:

Then I worked on my Office. I unpacked 5 boxes in that room, including some books:

Last in the rotation was the Master Bedroom. I only finished unpacking 4 bags from it. These took a bit longer, since I got rid of a sweater chest that had a broken drawer, and I’m trying to figure out where to put everything. Progress was made, but not worth photographing.

Anyway, my theory is that, knowing I’ll be doing lots more next weekend, I can get back to blogging and posting reviews during the week.

I am finding that driving just a bit farther in stop-and-go traffic instead of a freeway *really* makes me sleepy. I was hoping stopping the migraine preventative I’d been trying would clear that up, and maybe it still will, but all that is to say tonight I laid in bed for an hour after I got home, and then I had some bills to pay. (I made my *first* mortgage payment! What a big girl I am!) So — I hope to start posting reviews again *tomorrow*!

But it was nice to come home to a little bit less clutter of boxes. And remember that I really am happy with my new home.

48-Hour Challenges

So, I’m still in the process of moving in. I love my new home, but I am getting a shorter fuse regarding all these boxes. And annoyed with the things I can’t find. There’s no telling where my DVD remote is. And after watching Episode 1 of Downton Abbey, Season 3, I discovered that I can’t skip an episode or even fast forward without that remote. So I watched Season 1 of Sherlock instead, this time not shutting off the DVD player after I watched Episode 1. I hope I find the remote before my hold on Downton Abbey comes in again!

Yes, I’m trying for a box or two a day, but what I really need is some concentrated time. The first weekend here, I had to spend moving out of my old place. The next weekend, I bought balcony furniture and flowers (*So* worth it!).

And this weekend, I picked up my son from the finish of his first year at William & Mary and spent some time with him for Mother’s Day. Also totally worth it!

But I need some concentrated time! I was thinking about the 48-Hour Book Challenge that Mother Reader usually hosts the weekend after Memorial Day. Well, this year she’s not hosting it, but I think I will probably do it anyway, at least in a low-key way. I’d love to catch up on some reviewing, and it always is such a privilege to set everything else aside and say, “I can’t do that. I’m reading!”

However, I think next weekend, I will hold my own personal Unpack-a-thon. Or perhaps I’ll call it my own 48-Hour Unpacking Challenge. I’ll see how many hours out of 48 I can spend unpacking — and then see if I can match that number in the Book Challenge. Just to get some of it *done*.

For example, I can’t do Sonderling Sunday until I find my German books. I *think* I know which boxes they’re in, but I need to actually open those boxes.

So today, for Mother’s Day, after a nice nap, I will have my son take me out to eat, and then we’ll play the game he bought me, Twilight Struggle, a game about the Cold War. (The first time we played, I “won” when nuclear war started on his turn.) But next week, after my Unpack-a-thon, I’m hoping I’ll have some German books out and be ready to start up Sonderling Sunday again.

I’m Back!

I haven’t been posting for awhile because I bought a home! My first home purchase, in fact!

It’s a two-bedroom condo and the really good part is the lake view!

That’s the view from my bedroom window.

I also love that it’s very close to my church. I hope people will start making a habit of stopping by after church on Sunday.

So on Friday, April 19, I became a homeowner, and on April 20, 24 people from church came to help me move! I felt so loved and cared for. They moved all the big stuff for me, and it was so nice to get moved in.

But it still took a week to finish moving out. I worked four days the following week, and spent all my spare time cleaning out the old place. According to the contract, I had to have the gutters cleaned, the chimney cleaned, and the carpets cleaned, and I decided to hire a maid service to do the scrubbing. My friends hadn’t moved much of the kitchen stuff, since that wasn’t in large pieces of furniture, so I still had to clean out all the cupboards and move that stuff over, which took several trips. Anyway, I finished moving out on Friday, April 26. I got internet hooked up in my new home on Sunday, April 28.

So I should be all set to post Sonderbooks again, right?

Well, here’s an idea of what I’m up against:

I’m currently most obsessed with clearing my garage so I can actually park there:

But then I’ll need to tackle unpacking.

Anyway, the nice thing about moving in is there’s no deadline. There are various little items I very much want to find (without my remote, I can’t watch Episode 2 of season 3 of Downton Abbey unless I let Episode 1 play through all the way!), but they aren’t actually desperate. So far, I’m mostly eating out, for example. But I’ll unbox my cooking utensils soon.

And I’ve been *tired*. Probably from all the toting boxes, but possibly from the latest migraine preventative I’m trying, verapamil. It seems to have worked well during the moving process, but I’m awfully tired. So we’ll see as life settles down if it gets better.

All that is to say, I’m going to try to get back to posting reviews soon! It is less physical work than carrying boxes up from the garage to the condo, and even less physical work than unpacking boxes, so I’m telling myself to get busy, if only for the break!

Review of A Week in Winter, by Maeve Binchy

A Week in Winter

by Maeve Binchy

Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2013. 326 pages.
Starred Review

Maeve Binchy died in July 2012, shortly after finishing this book. I’m so glad to read it, but so sorry to know it’s the last. Like all her books, A Week in Winter is a warm and cozy read that looks right into people’s hearts and lets us see intertwined lives touching one another.

A Week in Winter doesn’t have the punch of some of Maeve Binchy’s books, but it’s a warm and friendly way to say farewell. The book starts with Chicky who grew up in Stoneybridge, on the Irish coast, and ran off to America with a boy who came for the summer.

Chicky’s family thinks she’s a wicked fool to run away with him. So Chicky doesn’t tell them what’s really happening:

She wrote home week after week and believed in the fairy tale more and more. She started to fill a spiral notebook with details of the life she was meant to be living. She didn’t want to slip up on anything.

To console herself, she wrote to them about the wedding. She and Walter had been married in a quiet civil ceremony, she explained. They had a blessing from a Franciscan priest. It had been a wonderful occasion for them, and they knew that both families were delighted that they had made this commitment. Chicky said that Walter’s parents had been abroad at the time and not able to attend the ceremony but that everyone was happy about it.

In many ways, she managed to believe this was true. It was easier than believing that Walter was becoming restless and was going to move on.

Chicky does quite well, even after Walter leaves her. When her nieces talk about coming to visit, the kind husband of her letters suffers a tragic accident. And then, after some time, she goes back to Stoneybridge and purchases the Stone House on the water, using a “legacy” that is really her own hard-earned savings. She works with the last remaining Miss Sheedy (of the three sisters who had owned the house) to make it into a hotel.

Next, we take a look at Rigger, the son of one of Chicky’s friends. He gets into trouble, and needs to leave Dublin for awhile. He comes to work for Chicky, and meets a girl and starts settling down.

Then there’s Orla, Chicky’s niece, wanting some change after her best friend in Dublin gets married. She comes to work for Chicky, only for a year.

And then we start looking at the guests who come for opening week at Stone House. Winnie thinks she’ll book a vacation with the man she loves — and ends up taking it with the mother who has him under her thumb. There are people from all over the world — a Hollywood movie star, a Swede who’s meant to take over his father’s business but is interested in music, a husband and wife who are both doctors, and more. With each person who comes to visit, we get to look at their life leading up to this momentous week, as well as at how the week changes them.

The story is gentle and cozy. No big earth-shaking moments, but lots of rejuvenating ones and life-changing ones for the guests involved. One guest does manage to shake off the charm of the place, but most will leave the better for their vacation.

And the reader is the better for the vacation, too.

I’m so sad this is Maeve Binchy’s last book. She knew how to show her readers what’s really important.

maevebinchy.com
aaknopf.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/week_in_winter.html

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Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

SLJ BoB is Here!

It’s that time of year! School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books is starting up! (I keep hearing this rumbling that other tournaments happen in March, but I’ve never heard about anything so exciting.)

What is SLJ’s Battle of the Books? The stellar Battle Commanders and Commentator choose 16 of the best children’s books of the previous year and arrange them in tournament brackets. The judges are distinguished children’s and young adult authors. Their tales of their travails while judging are my favorite part of the battle (unlike Roger Sutton). The judges usually manage to make an entertaining and brilliant commentary, playing off themes or styles from the books they judged.

And until tomorrow, you can still vote in the Undead Poll for one book, if slighted by the judges, to come back from the dead for the Big Kahuna Round at the end.

But enough about the details! Let’s talk about the books!

This year, by the time the books were announced, I’d read 15 of the 16 books, a new record. (No, I take that back. I was halfway through Bomb.) I still haven’t read Endangered, but it’s next on my TBR pile, so I might (maybe?) finish it before its match on March 14.

What’s more, not only have I read 15 of the books, I’ve reviewed all 15. Now, I only review books I like, and in previous years, let’s just say that I did not review all of the Battle books. Okay, a few of the reviews are not glowing. But I still liked them enough to review them. What’s more, out of the fifteen I’ve read, nine made my 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. Two of the remaining six (Bomb and Three Times Lucky) I didn’t read until 2013, but they are highly likely to be 2013 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. So it’s pretty clear I like their choices this year.

Here are the first round match-ups with my pick listed first:

Match One, judged by Kenneth Oppel:
Wonder vs Bomb
This one’s a toughie. Bomb is probably the more excellently crafted book. But, doggone it, hasn’t it gotten enough awards? The Sibert, the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction, Newbery Honor, oh my! Shouldn’t Wonder at least win a round in Battle of the Books?

Mind you, whichever book wins Match One, I want to win the first round only, because look what’s in the second match:

Match Two, judged by Margarita Engle:
Code Name Verity vs. Titanic: Voices from the Disaster
Sorry, Titanic. I liked you enough to name you #3 Sonderbooks Stand-out in Children’s Nonfiction. But Code Name Verity was my favorite book read in 2012, and that hasn’t changed. Yes, this was also my pick in the Undead Poll, but I don’t really want it to win that way. I want every judge to acknowledge its brilliance. However, I realize not all judges are so perspicacious. We shall see how they do in acknowledging greatness.

Match Three, judged by Kathi Appelt
Three Times Lucky vs. Endangered
Yes, I realize this isn’t fair, since Endangered is the one book I haven’t read yet. But I have a soft spot for Three Times Lucky, and I find myself hoping I don’t like Endangered as much. (Though it would be fun to see Endangered go up against The One and Only Ivan in a later round. If only for the cartoon SLJ’s artist would draw.)

Match Four, judged by Deb Caletti
The Fault in Our Stars vs. Temple Grandin
Again, I’m sorry, Temple Grandin. It’s not that I don’t like nonfiction. But I did think The Fault in Our Stars was wonderful. And this is another case where I’d like to see a stellar book get a bit more recognition. I notice The Fault in Our Stars was #9 in Teen Fiction on my Sonderbooks Stand-outs, but Temple Grandin was #8 in Children’s Nonfiction. So I have to admit that #9 in Teen Fiction is higher in my affections than #8 in Children’s Nonfiction. So sue me.

Speaking of Stars:

Match Five, judged by Adam Gidwitz
Starry River of the Sky vs. Jepp, Who Defied the Stars
My affection for Starry River of the Sky is mingled with admiration for what a sweet person Grace Lin is, since I got to hear her speak at KidLitCon last year. But I also not only read Starry River of the Sky, I also listened to it, and that made me appreciate its structure and craft even more than the first reading. Jepp? Well, I did review it, and I only review books I like…. But I want Starry River of the Sky to come out of this match shining.

Match Six, judged by Franny Billingsley
Liar & Spy vs. Splendors & Glooms
I don’t think my ranking here will surprise anyone. Liar & Spy was a 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out, but Splendors & Glooms was not. Now, Splendors & Glooms is much more similar to Franny Billingsley’s books, all atmospheric and creepy and magical, than Liar & Spy is. But my first year when I tried to predict Battle of the Books choices by thinking judges would pick books similar to their own, I got them all wrong. My current theory is that judges are quicker to see flaws in books like their own, or are perhaps extra admiring of someone who pulls off a book they could never write. So I hope Franny Billingsley will agree with me.

Match Seven, judged by Marie Lu
Seraphina vs Moonbird
Okay, I admit, this time it looks like I’m simply choosing fiction over nonfiction. Because Moonbird was a 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out, but Seraphina wasn’t. And Moonbird was #9 in its category, and Seraphina was in a much tougher category, fantasy for teens. I’d always have a hard time rooting against a good fantasy novel for teens.

Match Eight, judged by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
The One and Only Ivan vs. No Crystal Stair
Sorry, but no contest here. Count me an Ivan fan. Again, my ranking in Sonderbooks Stand-outs is telling: The One and Only Ivan was #2 in Children’s Fiction, but No Crystal Stair, while reviewed, was not a Stand-out.

On reflection, I’m pretty lucky with the first round — few of my favorites are pitted against one another. But I’m setting up to be much more upset if any of my favorites lose!

Now, I’ll make new predictions for Round Two, but just a run-down on how it would go if I got to judge all the matches:

Code Name Verity would win every match in which it appears.

The Fault in Our Stars would win the second round before succumbing to Code Name Verity‘s brilliance. Though I must admit, I’d cheer for Mo if Three Times Lucky pulled off a win.

In the bottom half of the tournament, I’m almost counting on one of my favorites not advancing, so I won’t have to choose between Starry River of the Sky and Liar & Spy, though I’d probably go with Starry River of the Sky. But I would want Ivan to win all its matches until it faces Code Name Verity.

For the book coming back from the dead, I’m hoping it won’t be necessary for Code Name Verity to be resurrected, making it a match-up with Code Name Verity, The Fault in Our Stars, and The One and Only Ivan, with, you know it, Code Name Verity coming out on top. (It’s gotten enough Honor! Time to WIN!)

But believe me, I don’t expect the judges will see it my way. They never do!

How about you? What are your picks? (Links to blog posts are good, too!)

Embracing Goodreads

So, I don’t know exactly when I joined Goodreads. But I hadn’t done much with it at all. It seemed like enough to try to keep up with my website.

But then I read Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notesarticle on Goodreads. Thinking of Goodreads as a “neat and tidy online counterpart” to my physical bookshelves won me over. I’m going on Goodreads again.

Here’s the deal: All my adult life, I’ve fought a losing battle to have all my books on shelves instead of packed away in boxes. I achieved this goal when I lived in Germany, but that last house we lived in had a wall covered with a built-in bookcase. When I moved back to America, I thought I could remedy it by buying just two or three more bookcases… but then I started going to ALA conferences and getting advance reader copies.

Now I’m moving in a month (buying my first home! Yay!), and moving is when one must face what a book hoarder one is. I currently have books piled all over my bedroom. I told myself this was a perk of being single — no one else will mind the piles, right? (My son did say he was afraid he’d come home some time to find me barricaded in my room, unable to get out.) But before I can even pack up the books in the shelves, I will need to deal with the piles of books in front of them.

So — I ordered ten plastic “book boxes.” I decided I will bow to the inevitable and store some of my books in boxes, but I prefer plastic, dust-free containers, and see-through so it’s easy to tell what’s in them. Who knows, maybe I can get all my books in the bookcases plus book boxes.

But — and here’s where I’m getting to Goodreads — my plan was to catalog the book boxes on my computer. I was going to make a data base and fill it in with title information, so I could do a simple search if I wanted to find a book, and I’d know right away what box it was in.

Then I read Travis’s article. If I used Goodreads, I would not have to build a data base. And I will only have to put in the ISBN. And it will show me a picture of the cover, plus what other people think of the book. I can have a shelf for each box….

That’s looking like such a good option, I thought of another idea. I also have a spreadsheet of books I want to check out. Yes, I constantly have far more books checked out than I can possibly read. When I give in and admit I’m not going to get around to those books any time soon, I make myself feel better by putting them on a list of books to check out later. Mind you, this is a pretend list. The chances are slim that I will ever check the books out later — but I honestly want to.

My spreadsheet has several sheets for different categories of books, plus for authors new to me and authors I already like. But if I start putting those books on a Goodreads shelf instead, then there’s a better chance I’ll remember why I wanted to read it, with a picture of the cover and links to reviews. What’s more, I was delighted to realize when I was turning in books today, I can simply scan the ISBN barcode with the handy-dandy barcode scanner at my computer at work and get the book into my account.

Now, the one thing I’ve meant to do for ages but never did before is link my own reviews to my Goodreads account. Once upon a time I thought I’d go back and do past reviews, but now I can admit that will never happen. However, starting now, I can try, so I did put a link to the review I posted tonight into my account.

So, if any of my readers are on goodreads, I’d be happy to follow you there. Here’s a link to my profile. Little by little, I hope to post more there, and at least, as Travis said, have some virtual bookshelves that are neat and organized.