Monday 8 July 2013

Once Upon A Readathon

Monday, 11AM

Well, hello there! Here on the Isle of Wight the sky is blue, the sun is shining and it is promising to be a hot day. The long-awaited summer has definitely arrived. As such, I am left with no choice but to take my book to the beach to take part in the Once Upon a Readathon there.

Once Upon a Readathon is an annual readathon organised by Lori at Pure Imagination, Angela and Loretta at Reading Angels and Candace at Candace's Book Blog. It takes place from today until Wednesday at midnight, and as well as the reading (lots of it and preferably with ice cream!) there will be some blogging challenges and prizes.

Today (Monday) will be my most active readathon day (if you can call lying on a beach reading "active") as tomorrow and Wednesday I will be back at work. As such, I will probably keep my updates in this one post, instead of having separate posts for each day.

My main goal for this readathon is to finish a couple of books which I've been reading for ages: Iain M. Banks' first Culture novel, Consider Phlebas and the second volume of Sandman, The Doll's House. I'd like to get those finished by the end of today, especially the Banks. My to-read pile has now emigrated from by bookshelf to a big ricketty pile beside the bookcase, so I have plenty to choose from for what to read next, but I think it will either be Veronica Roth's Divergent (because I want to see what all the fuss is about) or Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop by Abby Clements, which promises to be a cute and fluffy and very seasonal read.


I complain a lot about living on the Isle of Wight - as a reasonably intelligent young person, there are few career prospects, and just as few potential romantic partners (I'd rather be single right now but it sucks that this seems to be my only option whether I like it or not.) Still, there is no denying that it's a great place to be in the summertime. Wherever you are, you're never more than about a half hour drive from the sea. As I don't drive, it can take up to an hour on buses, but I actually quite enjoy travelling on public transport. It was a close one today, though, with late and full-up connector buses, traffic lights, jaywalkers and fake-queuers (you know, when someone's standing at the bus stop, so you wait behind them, but it turns out that they don't want that bus after all, and the driver leaves without you - grrr!) all doing their best to make me miss the bus and have to wait an hour for the next one. Or, I could have got a different bus and walked along the seafront for ten minutes, an idea that did not appeal in today's heat. My beach of choice was Yaverland, a slightly less touristy beach than its next neighbour, Sandown. (It had toilets and a little cafe/shop, what more do you need?)

I was relieved to get to the end of Consider Phlebas. I'm just discovering science fiction now, but as much as I wanted to enjoy the late Iain M. Banks' first Culture novel, I just couldn't connect with it, and it has been slow work. Perhaps I'd get on better with his books authored without an "M" in his name - I remember finding The Wasp Factory fascinating, in a horrifying sort of way, and have had The Crow Road recommended by a customer. I rewarded myself with a swim - Yaverland is a great swimming beach, without much seaweed or rocks, and big, splashy but not menacing waves, and the water was glorious.

Edited to add: I understand that, although Consider Phlebas is the first of the Culture books, newcomers are better off starting with The Player of Games. Would anyone who's read the books confirm that? I didn't enjoy Phlebas that much, but am reluctant to give up on the series entirely.

After Consider Phlebas, Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop is a very easy read, a sweet and likeable story about two sisters who inherit their grandmother's ice cream business and decide to give it a new lease of life, with a vintage make-over, ice cream van and a trip to Italy for a gelato-making course. Of course, they have their fair share of disasters, heartbreaks and family crises to deal with along the way. Vivien's is lighter than my usual reading, but contains all the ingredients for a perfect beach read - complete with an ice cream of my own, naturally! I sometimes daydream about opening my very own seaside ice cream shop with homemade gelato, so Vivien's indulges that fantasy as well as warning the reader what mistakes to avoid.

This evening, I'm planning to take a bit of a break from reading, and watch a couple of episodes of Star Trek. After watching the JJ Abrams reboot films, I've borrowed the first Original Series box set from my friend, and reluctantly, bewilderedly, I'm finding myself enjoying it a lot more than I had expected. Despite the series containing enough cheese and ham for a round of sandwiches, there are some good stories and characters in there, and I can see why people get so invested in it.

Readathon Challenge: Book BFF

The Book BFFs want to know: who is your "Book BFF*" and how did you meet? Well, I will have to go with my best friend, Judi, who I have known for as long as I can remember. Our mothers have been friends since they were kids, and we grew up together, going to the same mum-and-toddler groups, etc. We don't have identical reading tastes - she likes more non-fiction and science fiction, whereas I tend more towards the literary, historical or general fiction - but there is enough of an overlap (especially in fantasy genres) that we are always lending each other books. From time to time we decide to tackle a book or series together as a "book club" of two - which translates to reading the book and then going to the pub to talk about it over a glass or three of wine. Last year we read A Song of Ice And Fire together, which was a lot of fun. We are quite content to meet up and spend time just reading and ignoring each other. Now that's what friends are for!

Pages read today: 403
Books read today: Consider Phlebas - Iain M. Banks, 
Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop - Abby Clements
No. of books read (total): 2
No. of books finished (total): 1
Reading snacks: Mint Magnum, Graze "Herb Garden" nibbles, raspberries, strawberry Cornetto (Yes, that is two ice creams. Deal with it.)
Today #insixwords: Sun, sea and plentiful ice cream

Tuesday, 7:40PM

Back at work today, where it was pretty quiet - no doubt most people were in the park or on the beach, and who can blame them? At lunch time I finished Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop, which had a satisfying, if perhaps predictable ending. Certainly I found myself wanting to invest in an ice cream maker and try out some of the delicious recipes that the author was kind enough to include in the back of the book.

Coming in from work I lost myself in the Sandman graphic novel, The Doll's House. This is my second reading of the series, and this time around it was interesting to see characters and plot strands which seem at this early stage to be stand-alone stories, but which make a lot more sense when you know how Gaiman is going to weave the threads into the overall story. The story "Men of Good Fortune," which follows a man who has refused to die, meeting with Dream once every hundred years, is outstanding, showing the details of a changing world, and highlighting that, when you look at the bigger picture, nothing really changes at all. Next up is a complete contrast in story and tone, in "The Collectors," one of the more lingeringly creepy chapters of the series.

I didn't get to watch any Star Trek last night after all, thanks to my computer playing up, but I did listen to Radio 4's "Book at Bedtime," which is The Ocean At the End of the Lane, read by Michael Sheen. This evening I plan to finish The Doll's House, watch those episodes of Star Trek, and then listen to part two of Ocean in bed.

Pages read today: 101
Books read today: Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop - Abby Clements
The Sandman: The Doll's House - Neil Gaiman
No. of books read (total): 3
No. of books finished (total): 2
Reading snacks: Cadbury's Dairy Milk "Strawberries and Creme" edition
Today #insixwords: Forgotten how good that story was.

Wednesday (updated Thursday)

Not a lot of reading got done on the final day of Once Upon a Readathon, although I managed to finish off The Doll's House. The weather was beautiful, so I took my lunch and book to the nearby park. After work, I met up with friends for a last-minute cinema trip on Orange Wednesdays. We were torn between Now You See Me and Despicable Me 2, but the yellow minions won. The film is very silly, as befits a family movie, but genuinely funny (see aforementioned minions and cute orphan Agnes) and I was crying with laughter by the end.

Pages read today: Approx. 75 (didn't count)
Books read today: The Sandman: The Doll's House - Neil Gaiman
Books bought today - On Writing - Stephen King
No. of books read (total): 3
No. of books finished (total): 3
Reading snacks: lunch, iced latte and chocolate biscuit
Today #insixwords: I want an army of minions!

*BFF = Best Friend Forever


  1. Oooh, happy beach reading! Sounds wonderful! Town's gone crazy today, the river's heaving and there are sweating lobster-coloured grannies as far as the eye can see... I really want to read the Ice Cream Shop book, it looks delicious. Have fun! :)

  2. Hold on, is there a Judi AND a Judith? Or are they the same person? That's confusing for such a small island. In regards to all my comments ever, I meant your fellow Peak District tour buddy/bookshop visitor, for the record. :)

    I really really want to read the Ice Cream Shop book now. It does sound perfect for summer reading, and even though I sometimes get frustrated with chick lit I'm loving the trend for food-related ones that make me hungry. Cupcakes, ice cream, sweet shops, it's all good, as long as I have suitable snacks close by. Good luck for day 2!

    1. Don't worry, Judi is the same person as Judith - sorry to be confusing. She started going by "Judi" in high school, but as I've known her since infancy the names are pretty interchangeable (like I'm Katie short for Katherine.)

      I can send you the Ice Cream Shop book if you don't mind it being possibly a little bit sandy. I really enjoyed it but am unlikely to read it more than once. Definitely a lovely comfort read.

    2. Not at all - I was fairly sure it was the same person - I just suddenly worried that I was planning to booknap someone completely different, which might have been a bit perplexing for all involved. No amount of ice cream related bribery makes that okay... ;)

      REALLY? Sandy books make me think of holidays. That would be amazing but only if you're 125% sure you don't want it any more. I can send you postage costs on Paypal!

      In other news, I'm hoping tomorrow will be quiet at work because all the sensible people will be in the park/by the river/at home in the garden and not shopping in 30 degree heat. Michael Sheen reading Neil Gaiman sounds like a reader's wet dream. And OH SWEET JESUS THERE'S A STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM DAIRY MILK? I haven't been near the sweet aisle recently, clearly I need to remedy this AT ONCE. :)

    3. I'll send you the book - is it okay to send it to the shop? - but will have to take a photocopy of the recipe pages first. I don't think it's very sandy.

      I rather suspect Judi would be very pleased to be kidnapped and held hostage in a bookshop with ice cream, as long as you let her out occasionally for day trips.

      Unfortunately, if the sensible people are outdoors enjoying the sunshine, that might leave you with a disproportionate number of rubbish customers - we can hope not, though.

      Loving Mr Sheen's reading of "Ocean" (even though I've read it twice already in the past month and can tell where it's been abridged already.) He's got a good voice for that sort of thing.

      And YES DAIRY MILK STRAWBERRY! I think it's limited edition, so snap it up quickly. I've been quite healthy with my snacking lately... er... ish... no, no I haven't, but I think I've been eating less chocolate, but I could not resist that one. It is YUM.

    4. Yes, thank you! The shop's actually better because the postman here holds our post when we're off and doesn't do stupid things like leaving parcels in the bin. I did that with the cupcake book though, took out the recipes I wanted first. Just in case... :)

      I will heartily agree to let Judi out for day trips, as long as she takes me along too and we can have cake. In fact, this plan is sounding better and better the more I think about it!

      I've decided that we're going to stop off at the Co-Op after work today because I'm having a Munchie Week (there may be pizza involved), so I'll be sure to go hunting for this mysterious chocolate of which you speak. They're a bit crap for chocolate but they're pretty good on anything limited edition and yummy, so fingers crossed...

  3. Love the selection of books. I loved Divergent myself. I haven't seen Vivian's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop, but looked it up and it sounds good. I enjoyed your BFF story. I grew up with a girl whose mother grew up with mine. Best of luck with your reading goals.
    - Belle

    1. I've heard only great things about Divergent, and want to read it before the film comes out. I might not get started on it until after the readathon's finished now, though. But it's next on the list.

  4. Katie, you won the Book BFF challenge, you have a message on youtube!


    1. I WANT AN ARMY OF MINIONS! :D (Will post your book today.)


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