Category Archives: Read-Alongs

RIPX: The Quick Readalong

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One of my favorite things about being part of this community is joining with other bloggers to participate in a challenge or read-along or some other sort of bookish project. I especially love read-alongs because they often expand my reading horizons and I get to answer discussion questions. I love discussion questions! For R.I.P. X, the lovely ladies at The Estella Society hosted a group read of Lauren Owen’s The Quick.

What genre (or genres) would you say THE QUICK falls into? What genre or author influences do you see in this book?

Well, definitely historical fiction, as the book is set in Victorian England. I would also place it under horror/supernatural/gothic. Even though I didn’t really find it scary, there isn’t really a better category. As for influences, maybe Anne Rice?

Emily Richter figures into many of the book’s most pivotal early scenes. How much do you think she knows or doesn’t know about James and Christopher, and about Eustace’s change?

I really like Emily as a character, and I think she knows way more than she lets on. In fact, I think she knows everything, but she’s way too smart to bring that to everyone’s attention. I just wish we had seen more of her, that she didn’t just kind of fall away as the book progressed.

Did you notice the repetition of owls? What’s up with that?

A little bit, and I have no idea.

Characters agree to the Exchange for different reasons. Are there any reasons that would tempt you to join the Aegolius Club?

Absolutely not. It seems despicable to me. Yes, they may be influential, but they care nothing for scholarship or learning. And they aren’t really doing anything. They mostly hang around the club and drink.

Why do you think Mrs. Price turns children? How does their group compare to other family units in the book?

I think children can get away with a lot more than adults can, depending on the circumstances. Especially in Victorian London, they would have been more inconspicuous. Also, free labor. Why hire someone to pass messages and run errands when you can just turn a child? For comparison purposes, I didn’t actually see them as a family group. There’s not the same level of bonding and attachment and commitment that you see in a family. I think I mostly saw them as a motley crew that banded together out of necessity.

Why do the Club members refer to the living as the “Quick”?

You know, my roommate asked me what the phrase refers to, but for the life of me, I just can’t remember. Their blood runs quicker? Their hearts beat faster? They can move about in daylight and don’t face the same restrictions? Please, someone remind me.

How does Mould change over the course of the book? Do you think he remains a man of science to the end?

I honestly didn’t see too much change, except he seemed a little more willing to please and hop on board at the beginning. But as the years pass, he realizes he’s just being used by the club? I don’t really remember him grappling with morality or anything like that. I also think he starts to go a little mad. Like, at the beginning he was in it for the science, but the methods he uses starts to seem more like torture.

Charlotte’s quiet life is altered drastically by the book’s events. In what ways does it change for the better?

Although definitely more dangerous, Charlotte is no longer sitting at home uselessly. That’s one of the things I hate about history, that women were expected to be part of polite society, and when they weren’t, they should be at home tending to household. But when Charlotte leaves for London, she gains autonomy. She makes new friends. She takes control of her destiny.

Had you heard of a priest hole before reading THE QUICK? Why do you think Owen chose to begin and end the book there?

It sounds familiar, but I can’t place where I’ve heard about it before. I think Owen was foreshadowing with the beginning of the book, placing James in the priest hole for an extended period of time, which was quite a traumatic event for him. So to end it there as well was just fitting.

The ending of THE QUICK seems to beg for a sequel. What do you think about it?

Eh, this wasn’t my favorite book ever. But I’ll certainly read the sequel. I do have to know what happens, after all.

 

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Doing Dewey’s Nonfiction Book Club – The Sixth Extinction Part 2

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One of my favorite things about being part of this community is joining with other bloggers to participate in a challenge or read-along or some other sort of bookish project. I especially love read-alongs because they often expand my reading horizons and I get to answer discussion questions. I love discussion questions! This month over at Doing Dewey, we’re reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction.

If you want to read my discussion answers for the first half of the book, check those out here.

Did you learn anything from this book that surprised you?

I learned a ton! I had never heard of ocean acidification, I apparently had a huge knowledge gap regarding the Neanderthals, and I didn’t know that all of this science was quite so recent! I was really impressed by all of the facts that she managed to cram into each chapter – history, science, geography!

Have you ever participated in any citizen-science projects, such as bird counts?

I haven’t. To be honest, I’m not sure these things existed. And even if I knew about them, I’m not sure that I thought regular, everyday people could participate. I think I would want to help out, but I would be scared to screw everything up. It’s like, what they’re doing is so important, what if I do something wrong?

Still, this is something people should know about. I feel like if you could form a good partnership between schools and community organizations, projects like this would be great hands-on type activities to get kids interested in science!

Are human-driven extinctions inherently bad or unnatural? As Kelly asked in our discussion, should this be considered natural selection?

I think human-drive extinctions go way beyond natural selection. I think natural selection is we win in a fight, so we get to survive. We use resources to eat and survive. You know, primal needs. Instead, we dominate. We kill things because we can. We expand because of greed. We are driven by what we want now, instead of what we need.

Do you think that programs attempting to keep otherwise extinct or nearly extinct animals alive in zoos are worthwhile?

I want to believe so. I want to believe that we can successfully build populations and reintroduce animals to the wild. The truth is though, after growing up in such an environment, it’s gotta be hard for animals to adapt into an environment where they suddenly have to take care of themselves. I know in some cases, these projects are super effective. Others are not. So I’ll go with yes. It’s better to at least try than just stand by and watch.

Were you surprised the author’s conclusion was so bleak?

By the time I got to the end, no. The book is fairly bleak from the beginning. Chapter after chapter, I was growing a bit more hopeless, to be honest. Especially because she didn’t really offer up any suggestions as to how to change things.

What did you think of the book overall?

It was a bit dry. Honestly, the more I read, the more bogged down I got. But I’m glad I read the whole thing. I think the book is important, even if it could use some humor or a more narrative tone. I also wish the book was better structured and had a chapter at the end on some things we can do to change our future into a more positive one. But I don’t regret reading this book at all.

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R.I.P. X Is Finally Here!

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Artwork courtesy of Abigail Larson!

Yay! It’s Halloween season again! Each year around this time, I have a mental shift toward all things spooky and macabre. It may just be me, but it seems like there’s a tangible shift in the atmosphere as days begin to shorten, the air gets cooler, and the wind whips fallen leaves into a frenzy. It’s the perfect time of year to indulge in a scary novel, spine-tingling short story, or campy horror film while drinking a cup of tea or cocoa and snuggling deeper into a blanket.

Fall is my favorite season, Halloween is my favorite holiday, and the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril (R.I.P.) challenge is my favorite reading event of the year. Running from September 1 to October 31, the whole goal of the challenge is to read creepy, spooky, scary, macabre, mysterious things. This year, for the challenge’s tenth annivesary, the lovely ladies of The Estella Society are hosting the challenge. Like previous years, there are multiple levels of participation and all reviews can be posted to the R.I.P. X Review Site to share with others!

I have a ton of thematic stuff that would work perfectly for the challenge (and I’ll definitely read a ton!), but there are some very specific things that I’m going to focus on this year. I saved a couple of ARCS and an audiobook I won in a giveaway especially for this challenge, my next roomie reading challenge book fits well, and I have some books checked out or on hold at the library that I’ll read. Here’s my actual list.

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  • The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall – This was on the new books shelf at the library the other day, and I couldn’t resist picking it up. Can’t wait to dive in, as this one has been on my list for a while now.
  • The Library at Mount Char – I have an ARC of this that I haven’t had time to read until now. Which is actually perfect, because my anticipation has been steadily building for this one.
  • The Witches: Salem, 1692 – I loved Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra: A Life, so I can only imagine that I’ll love this even more, as this subject matter is way more up my alley.
  • The Boxcar Children Ghost-Hunting Special – The Boxcar Children books were a formative part of my childhood, and I still read them today. I love that they are still releasing new adventures, and I’m excited to read this new compilation of 3 of the spookier novels.
  • The Winter People – This one will be my audio companion on commutes. I don’t know too much about it, but I won it in a giveaway and I’ve been saving it specifically for this!

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  • Tales – This is a collection of short stories by the master of horror, H.P. Lovecraft. Katie and I are doing a roomie reading challenge this month, and what better way to usher in Halloween season than with some Cthulhu?
  • Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories – This is a new collection curated and edited by Audrey Niffenegger and chock full of some of the greatest ghost stories of all time. Perfect for dipping in and out when it’s hard to concentrate on something longer.
  • Halloween: Magic, Mystery, and the Macabre – This anthology of original stories just looks really intriguing. I don’t recognize most of the authors, so I feel like I’m in for a treat!

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  • Hotel Transylvania/Hotel Transylvania 2 – Okay, these are animated and more kooky than scary, but still favorites in my household.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas – This is a classic and no year would be complete without a viewing (or 10) of it.
  • Hocus Pocus – Same with this one, we watch it annually and usually just keep it on repeat during the Halloween season.
  • Various horror films – As part of our movie project, we are trying to watch great films that we’ve somehow missed. We don’t watch much horror, so we’ve missed a ton in this area. I’m not exactly sure what we’ll be brave enough to try, but you can be sure that my Twitter account will most likely be hilarious during this time.

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  • The Quick – I’ve wanted to read this for a while now, but thank goodness I didn’t. I love group reads and I can’t wait to see what everyone thinks of the book!

 

And that’s it! I’m super excited and can’t wait to get started. I’ve been trying to clear out my stacks so I can concentrate fully on the awesomeness that is this challenge, and I’ve almost succeeded! I should be reading my R.I.P. X picks in no time! Any of you participating this year?

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