Good Evening, Ladies & Gents

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This enjoyment courtesy of Overdrive Media Console

Aaaahhhh, the smooth and calming effects Mr. Neil Gaiman’s voice is having on me right now, like RIGHT THIS SECOND. I am enjoying a re-reading of chapters 1-3 of “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” (I started the book last night). I think I’m pretty much hooked on this audiobook thing, and I openly welcome this new method of readage! *deep sigh of contentment* Have I finally found my snuggly reading blanket?

I was thinking this afternoon that I’m learning how to literally SAVOR a book, bit by bit, piece by piece, and it’s a nice feeling to calmly traverse the waters of a novel. This book has me on a great start in the audiobook world, and tonight I’m going coffee-free, so I think it’s pretty amazing that I’m motivated enough to post and talk about this. I should be clear and say that although I am excited about reading this one, I’m also making sure not to rush the reading. I’m tired of trying to beat the band in getting through books; I’m just not a fast reader and I’ve had to accept it.

I know that a lot of the appeal for me is that Mr. Gaiman himself is reading the audiobook, and he has a lovely British accent that just pulls me into the reading like a lullaby. Whoever had the idea to have him read his book is a genius…how can anyone not enjoy the quality of this reading? (A side-note: I adore British accents!!!)

In other bookish news in my little life, I had a good sweep through my APL today and didn’t leave with any less than six books and an audiobook: John Irving’s “Last Night in Twisted River.” (By the way, John Irving has another book coming out in November! I think that’s when it’s due. Although that’s an awfully long wait for Irving fans, such as myself, at least it won’t be 10 years before we have another book of his to read!) I love my public library, and I’d love to talk about it for just a minute. Although I have moved farther out from town and am not as close to my beloved second home, I still take every opportunity to stop by the wonderful place and touch the books. I’m not even going to lie, should I ever get accidentally locked in any building other than my home, that library is it! It’s the best one I’ve ever had the privilege to access, and it’s always right on it with the new releases…like day of publication…there it is on the shelf! I couldn’t ask for a more rewarding library experience, and I honestly hope to raise a child who loves libraries the obsessive way that I do. Wouldn’t that be a dream come true for me!

Ok, so moving on…I’m mid-way through the summer here and I’m missing blogging way too much to keep on the sidelines for much longer. I’m hoping to come up with some fresh ideas that I can incorporate into Twitter and Instagram and do something different, shake things up a little because I’m bored with the stagnant ways of my current blogging. Obviously, I need to do more reading in order to have anything of interest to write about here, so that’s priority number one. The next thing is to find something I can enthusiastically keep my blogging head on about, and that’s harder than I once thought.

I have to sign off for now, as I promised myself I would be more responsible and get into bed before 3 in the morning! I would love to hear from you people and get more involved in your reading lives! Please send me a note or comment or anything really, I’d really appreciate hearing what you’re reading and enjoying this first week of July. Please keep in touch.

Forever Between Pages, and yawn…

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Update: 2015 Reading Challenge

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Hello!

I had a few minutes early this morning to write a quick update to my 2015 Reading Challenge. Not many new additions since the last update, and I’ve since downsized my 2015 Reading Challenge anyway…but I’m getting there.

4) a book published this year: “The Girl on the Train,” Paula Hawkins (library copy)

27) a book you can finish in a day: “Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong,” Jen Yates (read this while browsing in Hastings in March; store copy)

41) a book by an author you’ve never read before: “Yes Please,” Amy Poehler (library copy)

I’m working on several books right now. Tonight I started Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” on audio and I hope to sweep through it quickly, as it’s rather short and already very intriguing.

I just signed up for my first 24in48 Readathon for this upcoming weekend. I hope I have the energy to participate! I’ve been staying up way too late these past few days, to the detriment of my schedule the next day…I’m such a pain in my own ass about this…

So…anyway, that’s about it for now. Hope to see you all much more regularly for the next few weeks at least. I miss the activity of Word Press so much when I am away for long stretches of time…

Forever Between Pages,

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Update and Super-Mini Book Reviews: “The Girl on the Train” and “Yes Please”

Hey guys and gals!

How has everyone been? Hopefully, everyone is surviving summer and staying out of the heat with some shade and good books.

I know, it seems for a while there I had fallen off the face of the blogging Earth. I guess in some ways I kinda did, but it was to be expected, as my schedule was just too heavy for about 5 weeks with school. Without wasting too much time apologizing for my absence thus far in June, I’m just going to proceed with today’s post and pretend I’ve been a good blogger. (hehe)

Unfortunately, I’m still quite stalled in my reading. I haven’t finished a book that really impressed me in a long time. In fact, the last one I can think of is probably “Mother, Mother” by Koren Zailckas, and I read that in February! I gave that book 4/5 stars and I whipped through it pretty quickly. I’ve started several books since then and I’ve finished a few but haven’t put one down and thought “My god, that was a great book.”

Not taken with this one...and I tried really hard

Not taken with this one…and I tried really hard

I slugged through Paula Hawkins’s “The Girl on the Train” and really disliked most of it. I was planning on writing a quick review of the book but found that I couldn’t summon enough energy or interest to do so, not even a negative review. I don’t understand why so many people have fallen for this book; it was full of tiresome pacing and detestable characters. I didn’t care if anyone (I mean ANYONE) got hurt or done wrong in the book, it was all the same to me. Rachel was terrible, as was Anna, Megan, all the horrible men, etc. Here’s what I would have written had I proceeded with the book review:

“It was terrible. Glad it was just a library loan.”

However, I picked up Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please” last fall when it first came out and I

Much better luck with humor

Much better luck with humor

finally finished it! It was a generally good experience, and I laughed a lot. I took my time with it, and really savored her comedic voice and personality. Safe to say, I am now very interested in starting “Parks and Recreation” on Netflix and

watching her SNL skits. I realize that so many people enjoyed this book on audio, and I really wish I had had that option. I would have flown through it quicker and I feel that my enjoyment would have only increased tenfold. It’s a good read, people, just know that.

Side note: one of the great things about having an iPhone is the variety of podcasts available, and I’ve become hooked on some awesome ones lately. My podcast situation has become a wonderful nightly ritual for me: I brush my teeth, put on my Lavender essential oil (to induce sleep), and proceed to listen to any of these wonderful shows: BOOK RIOT, ALL THE BOOKS! (Book Riot), READING LIVES (Book Riot), FRESH AIR WITH TERRY GROSS, WTF WITH MARC MARON, TED RADIO HOUR, OVERDUE, MORTIFIED PODCAST, and my absolute favorite of the moment SERIAL. Just catching up with some of these podcast backlist episodes is keeping me very busy and entertained! Last night, I discovered that I had enough storage on my phone to download OverDrive Media Console and a new (to me) app called Wattpad. I’m exploring Wattpad, still LOVING Pocket (to save articles/features of interest), and it’s nice to have OverDrive on a device again.

So, I’m still reading in some form or another, just not always in the traditional sense. I’ve had to downsize my reading goals for this year, but that’s ok. I hope to post my 2015 Reading Challenge soon with the updated checklist of books that “check off” each book category, because I think it’s still an awesome idea!

Please, please, PRETTY PLEASE tell me what’s going on in your reading life, lovely bookish people! I wanna know what you’re reading, avoiding, or anticipating! So many books always coming out and it’s just unbearably hard to keep up with all the new releases. But I’m still gonna try…

Until Next Time (whenever that is, honestly),

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Sunny Saturday and Update

Hey guys. Happy sunny Saturday!

I just dropped by the blog to write a very quick post. Those of you who follow this blog may have noticed two things of late:

1) I’m not posting with any kind of regularity (although I tried) and

2) I thinned out the blog considerably recently.

As for 1), I really have been trying to get on here and make it happen, but school is just too intensely busy right now for me to do so. Please understand and I apologize.

As for 2), last Friday I stayed up very late weeding out old, inferior posts that really don’t add to the blog in any considerable way. I went through old image-heavy posts and decided that I don’t want to do much of those anymore. Some of the new features I’ve recently introduced have already gone by the wayside, as I’ve realized that I just don’t like an image-heavy blog. It looks crowded and too busy…

On the reading front, my personal Readage has stalled in light of all the additional reading I’m required to do for school. I hope to post at least a few times this upcoming week and do a Traffic Thursday, where I can catalog and briefly discuss the pleasure reading and the required (sorta pleasure, but mostly not) reading my courses demand of me!

It’s a beautiful day but unfortunately I’m a slave to the screen for several more weeks. I’ve got to grab my moments of sun when I can, and there’s just not enough hours in the day! Ugh…

Have a good weekend, everyone, and I look forward to popping back on here as soon as feasibly possible!

Forever Between Pages,

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Traffic Thursdays

Hey everyone! Have you all made it through the week with me? (I get through my Thursdays on the simple realization that they are wonderful preludes to Fridays.)

traffic thursdaysThis week has me running around like a chicken without a head, but desperately searching for it! School has started and has left precious little time for anything besides attending classes, studying, eating and sleeping. Once again, my personal reading has taken a backseat to the realities of my life as a student. After this next month I do plan to be a little more relaxed, as that’s when I will finish two of my courses.

As far as my pleasure reading goes, I’ve done a little better than I give myself credit for, but still haven’t hit my stride. I knocked off a short story or two, made significant progress with a book or two, and even made time several nights to listen to my beloved Book Riot podcasts. (I love listening to them before falling asleep, by the way). Most of my readage these next few weeks will revolve around course-related material, but I have a nice long weekend coming up so maybe that will be my much-needed catalyst for knocking off some more pages.

  • The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins, 336 pages, Genre(s): mystery/thriller, Interest Level: 8/10, now that it’s finally coming together and getting a little more interesting, Hope to Finish: tonight or tomorrow morning, Notes: it’s speeding right along now that I’m getting to the conclusion, and I’m glad I’m almost done. (By the way, I don’t like saying that when it comes to books!)
  • World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, Max Brooks, 342 pages, Genre(s): action/adventure, horror, thriller, Interest Level: 7-8/10, it’s my Long Distance Book Buddy Read at the moment so the fiance and I are reading it together; it’s an old favorite of his but my first time; I enjoy the grisly descriptions in spite of myself, Hope to Finish: in fictionthe next week or two, depending on the fiance’s progress, Notes: I think this book is going to lead me into zombie territory in the future, and yes it’s hard to believe I’m actually saying that!
  • I Know This Much Is True, Wally Lamb, 897 pages, Genre(s): drama, Interest Level: 7/10, it opened with a bang, so there’s that; I like to savor Wally Lamb’s fiction so it might take a while to make a dent in this large tome! Hope to Finish: It’s been on my shelves forever, which is unforgivable since I adore Wally Lamb’s writing! However, your guess is as good as mine as to when I’ll be done with it! At my rate, let’s hope for 2017! (jk jk)
  • Read short story “Dad Thing” by Jonathan Durbin (via Electric Literature) on 5/4recent readage
  • Read short story “We Can Get Them For You Wholesale” by Neil Gaiman (via the Internet and my fiance’s recommendation) on 5/4
  • Read short story “Signs and Symbols” by Vladimir Nabokov (via the Internet)
    • No short stories in-progress at the moment but I really do enjoy them! They’re perfect when I can’t commit as much time as a novel demands, and sometimes a bite is all I need.

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library loot

Ok lovelies, I have to run. See you tomorrow for a new Frilly-Female Fridays!

Kisses and books,

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Twitter Tuesdays

Another Tuesday, guys! And go…

Whew, the humidity has hit the UNBEARABLE mark here in Auburn and I’m sweating buckets. Even better news, the AC decided to conk out at the worst time ever! (Oh well, May is preferable to July for AC failures! Been there, done that a few times. Let’s not go there…)

So…second day of summer semester packed away and I’m home trying not to melt. Here’s a task to take my mind off my awful heat-problem…literary Twitter ramblings for this Tuesday! Woo hoo! I’m over-compensating, I know :-).

1) 3 minutes ago

I’m A Pornography of Grief by Philip Huang

2) 25 minutes ago

. on why she loves bookish Reese Witherspoon:

3) 27 minutes ago

I am in this awesome reading mood but I just want to read everything at the same time.

twitter tuesdays4) 2 hours ago

Calling all librarians! Come talk about digital media in the library at Digipalooza. Retweet for a chance to win free registration!

5) 3 hours ago

How To Conquer The Shame Of Being A Writer – An essay I wrote for .

6) 3 hours ago

Get Ep. 2 of All the Books!, a weekly podcast about new releases:

7) 3 hours ago

NIMONA starts goofy & accessible, deepens into “a morally and emotionally complicated fantasy,” says

8) 4 hours ago

I would have access to every book and the time to read, but my reading glasses would break like in The Twilight Zone.

9) 4 hours ago

On-boarding new contributors for Book Riot this week, and so happy to have and joining us!

10) 4 hours ago

Looking for a great zombie read? recommends 21 unique tales of the undead:

*I think I’m taking this list down a notch or two…10 is a better number than 12!

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‘Till next time! Kisses and books,

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Missive Mondays and Update

Hey guys!

I don’t know what to say other than last week kinda sucked. Although it was my last week of vacation until today, I didn’t feel well most of the week and just wasn’t very productive. I missed blogging so much and felt like I would never get through the week, but alas, I did and here I am…

missive mondaysSo…I’m back to the books! (Textbooks, that is!) I can’t believe the summer semester is already upon me but at the same time I’m very glad for the opportunity to continue my education. By the way, I’m taking four courses this time around, and two are seriously condensed courses that will be over in about a month, plus two are distance learning (i.e. online). It’s going to be interesting! Please bear with me, as I’m juggling quite a few plates for the next several weeks (maybe months?) and I’m going to try my absolute best to continue with the blog on a daily basis. I might end up skipping a few days and I apologize ahead of time for this!

The last week didn’t see me knocking off much reading or making any kind of dent in my TBR; however, I did have the guts to reduce my Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge to a more manageable and realistic (for me) 35 books. I always start the New Year off with the hope and excitement to read as much as possible, and then, you know, life intervenes. 50 was just too much for me right now. I aim to keep the expectations low and the motivation high. I hope my current reading dry spell doesn’t last too much longer, and I hope to actually FINISH a book in the next day or two. (I’d like to finally get “The Girl on the Train” off my hands, because I can’t seem to quit it until it’s done).

I found something today for Missive Mondays that I think is pretty interesting. What do you think?

Digital age poses a new challenge to Iran’s relentless book censors

Writers and translators turn to internet to publish their work – and to avoid the anonymous scrutineers who remove words such as ‘kiss’ and ‘wine’

It is an unlikely setting for an international book fair. But around this time of year, the spacious prayer halls of Tehran’s gigantic Mosalla Grand Mosque are transformed into a labyrinth of stalls occupied by publishers exhibiting their latest titles. Offering generous discounts, some sell more books in 10 days than in the rest of the year. The fair attracts nearly 5 million visitors, dwarfing international counterparts such as Frankfurt.

All the books on display have been vetted before publication and some heavily censored, as is routine for every book printed in Iran. Visiting the fair this week the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, received a copy of Henry Kissinger’s On China in Farsi as a gift. Also on display is the Farsi translation of Hillary Clinton’s memoir, Hard Choices.

In parallel, however, is an unofficial Iranian book fair. It is online and free from the shackles of censorship that dominate the traditional publishing in Iran.

Iran is among the top 10 most censored countries, next to Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan and China. However, the digital age is creating a new challenge to Iran’s censorship apparatus. An increasing number of writers and translators are turning to the internet to publish their work, instead of going through the tormenting line-by-line scrutiny required for print publication. A rise in paper prices has concomitantly driven more readers to buy ebooks. State TV has started labelling digital books as a new threat that should be taken seriously.

The ministry of culture and Islamic guidance is in charge of checking books. Anonymous censors, whose job is given the polite Persian word momayezi (evaluating), work round-the-clock to examine texts for anything that could be considered obscene, inappropriate or politically unacceptable. They are masters of finding a needle in a haystack yet no one knows who they are.

Some censors are notorious for their “Ctrl+F” approach, the computer function that allows them to search for and delete blacklisted words such as kiss, dance, pork and wine. Others read books in full, not allowing anything to slip through. But now there are digital alternatives to the old ways. Nogaam, an online Iranian publishing house, helps writers publish their work as ebooks that can be downloaded from Google Books or the publisher’s website.

Its editor, Azadeh Iravani, said it had published 25 titles since 2013, mostly by authors who are living in Iran and know they have no chance of making it into print due to censorship. It is not clear what, if any, penalties writers could face for online publishing deemed unacceptable.

“If you’re in Iran and your book is rejected or censored to the bone then you had to either bin it or put it in a shelf to gather dust. So online publishers like Nogaam are giving people a new choice,” she said.

Among Nogaam’s books is a poetry collection by Payam Feili, who is openly gay. Titles are crowdfunded. Once the author is compensated, the book is available free for download. They are also available in ePub format, readable on many book apps. A book by the satirist Ebrahim Nabavi has been downloaded at least 10,000 times. “It gives you a good experience of reading, it’s not like the old-fashioned scanned books that people could not read,” Iravani said.

James Marchant, the lead researcher behind a forthcoming report by the London-based Small Media on book publishing in Iran, called Writer’s Block, said with internet and smartphone penetration rates growing rapidly in Iran there was enormous potential for e-publishing to revolutionise the Iranian book market.

“E-publishing in Iran is still in its infancy, and there remains a fair amount of scepticism among writers and publishers as to its potential benefits. Despite this uncertainty, diaspora organisations and self-publishing authors inside the country are starting to find some success marketing ebooks,” he said.

“There have been reports of self-published authors selling more than 10,000 copies of their books online, while diaspora publishers such as Nogaam are helping to share banned books with Iranian readers via e-pub formats.” In the words of Ali Asghar Ramezanpour, a former cultural ministry official, online publishing is “growing, and underground publishers are very active”.

Mahmoud Dowlatabadi, Iran’s most celebrated living writer, said restrictions had eased since Hassan Rouhani came to power but censorship still existed. However, he said the priority of Iran’s intellectual community was to help Rouhani bring Iran out of its international isolation. “The situation has got much better but I still have many books that are banned.” Among them is The Colonel, which has been published in English by Haus Publishing.

Reza Shokrollahi from Khabgard, a famous Iranian literary blog, said censors were spending less time scrutinising books, but this did not imply they had become less meticulous. “It appears that censors receive their orders from people outside the ministry because even the minister and the president are critical of their approach.”

In his speech at the opening ceremony of Tehran’s international book fair, Rouhani said censors acted so arbitrarily that a book might get permission for publication for its first run but the second edition of the same book could be listed as banned. Rouhani’s culture minister, Ali Jannati, said in 2013 that if the “Qu’ran was not sent from God, Iranian censors would have rejected it”. In a recent speech, he admitted that Iran’s policy of filtering the internet or blocking satellite channels had proved futile. “It’s like blocking the entire highway for the violation of a few cars,” he said. “The best way to control public opinion is to go with it not to fight it.”

H&S Media is another firm that specialises in digital distribution and on-demand publishing. Its director, Hossein Setareh, said it had published some 460 Iranian books since 2011, available on Google Books. At least half are also available on Kindle. “One of the big problems we face is that Amazon and its Kindle reader don’t support Farsi language,” he said. “Also because of international sanctions people in Iran cannot buy our ebooks from Amazon or similar foreign-based sites.”

Setareh’s firm instead has come up with a creative solution: users in Iran can donate a book’s price to a charity of their choice and send its receipt. They will then be allowed to download the book. Every month, at least 300 books are sold to readers in Iran using this method.

Seyedmostafa Raziei, a young writer and translator, is published in print in Iran but has released nine titles as ebooks, four of which are translations of Charles Bukowski’s poetry that could not get permission from the ministry. “Censorship is futile and we are not in the 20th century any more: people have access to the internet and it has no boundaries.”

Fidibo is Iran’s biggest digital library but it features ebooks that have already received permission for publication. Its director, Majid Ghasemi, said it had published nearly 3,500 books online and has more than 150,000 users. Last year alone, books had been downloaded from Fidibo more than 200,000 times. It has its own app available on App Store and Google Play. “It has been a hugely successful experience,” he said. “We didn’t expect it to become this popular. Last year we estimated to have saved 2,000 trees.”

Article courtesy of The Guardian