A fiesta that caught me unawares

Oh how I like unusual words!

unawares adv. so as to surprise.

What I like less, is when things catch me unawares. (Please, stay! I promise I have a point with this post!)

You may have noticed how, at the beginning of September, I said that I would do this, that and the other, and then just kind of fell off the radar altogether. There is a reason for that, one that I may well tell you about — no, don’t worry, it won’t be now. Because now I have something more important to say.

While I was off the radar, September went by and Bloggiesta crept up on me and is suddenly here! I didn’t realize it was this late. Ahem. Well. Oh well.
I do have plenty to do, but little time to blog over the weekend… and I’ll have to change my Bloggiesta plans a bit. But I plan to enjoy the sudden fiesta all the same!

Here’s my to-do list:

  1. Finish reading The Rock (I know, I know, it’s not a readathon, but I do want to finish it before the end of the month and it fits the following points too, so I’ll stretch the rules and make it a readathon/bloggathon fiesta — there’s no rule saying I can’t, right?)
  2. Write the stats post for the end of September (see? I need to finish that book!)
  3. Write the October list post
  4. Think about what I want to do with this blog
  5. Reply to that guest post offer (as soon as I decide what to reply, which will only be after I complete #3)
  6. Design the button for a personal project that I am pushing back again and again (no, I won’t tell you what it’s about, not yet. A hint? Are you asking me for a hint? Oh, OK: it’s for the Italian section, and it’s about words)
  7. Write (or at least give myself a clear schedule to do so) some other non-review posts, such as: “T___ with G,R&N”, “S___ under the same ___” and “Book K___” (wondering about all those blanks? Well I couldn’t give away the titles like that, could I?)
  8. Explore blogs and mini-challenges (of course, that’s the whole point)

You may have noticed that there’s no technical side to my list. Well, what can I say: at the moment I am more concerned with the content and where I want to go with that. But if you think there are issues with my container (are those annoying CAPTCHAs still there? Do you find my language setup confusing? Does the theme make your browser crash?) please do let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

Happy Bloggiesta, everybody!

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Oh, September…

September is here and summer is over. Or not really over, there’s still plenty of sun ’round here and maybe a couple of trips to the sea ahead, but around the blogosphere it feels like summer is over. (I guess it has to do with school schedules, but that’s something that I’m not concerned with at all at this point in life.)

I finished yesterday the Semi-Charmed Summer 2012 Book Challenge organized by Megan. It was a fun experience, different from most because it worked with points and felt more like a competition than a reading challenge, but it fit the summer feeling perfectly and allowed me to get some reading done. (I did have to tweak the last couple of categories in order to finish in time, but still.) So I guess yes, in blogging terms summer is really over for me too. And I am ready for more “serious” reading (not that I stopped reading serious things, but I did get more fluff than usual this summer).

So. September. The good thing with the end of summer is that there’s plenty of interesting things starting to happen. I wonder how much I can do — let’s see.

September 1st to October 31st: here comes the seventh edition of R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril, hosted by Carl V. @ Stainless Steel Droppings. I’ve never participated before because Gothic/Horror is not really my thing, but the experiences organized by Carl are always great fun, so I thought I would try. I’ll start easy, with “Peril the Third or, the One Book Only option”, and I think I have one book that fits the bill. Or more than one, possibly.

September-October is also the timeframe of the current Read-a-Long @ Unputdownables. I so loved the first experience that I was looking forward to Wallace’s next read-a-long that would catch my interest. The current read is Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, which I remember loving more than I expected to when I read it for the first time. So it will be a re-read, and at the same time not a re-read, because I read it in Italian and will try the original this time. I am looking forward to an interesting discussion on this one!

September is also Chunky Book Club month. This is probably the only month I can participate in the discussion this year and I am looking forward to it, but I still have to start reading. September’s pick is Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants, and discussion starts on the 15th.

In non-readalong news, September is the month of the Book Blogger Appreciation Week, which will be hosted on September 10th to 14th. This is a first for me and I am sad that I won’t be able to participate in full, but I’m still curious to see how it goes and looking forward to participating as much as I can!

I recently and totally by chance became aware of the Antonio Tabucchi Week which will be hosted by Caroline of Beauty is a Sleeping Cat on September 17th to 23rd. I don’t know that I can read more by him right now, but I hope it will be a chance to discuss two works I read recently, Sostiene Pereira and Requiem.

Towards the end of the month, it’s time for a new Bloggiesta on September 28th to 30th. Fun and a chance to blog better? Count me in. There’s so much more I’d like to put into my blogging!

To close the circle, let me finish with something for October: as part of the R.I.P VII, Carl is hosting a read-a-long for Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. Guess who’s not going to miss that?

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Post summary: a list of books I want to read in September (did I mention I want to finish a couple of challenges too?)

  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  • Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
  • Kraken by China Mieville or The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
  • Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield
  • The Rock by John Masters
  • The Most Beautiful Thing by Fiona Robyn
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory

Hasta la Bloggiesta!

It’s time to close for me folks! Bloggiesta ends here for this edition. So here’s the bottom line.

My tasks:

  1. redo the blogroll — DONE, sort of: this is a never-ending task
  2. deal with the great tag-to-category haul — DONE, at least the categories are fine now
  3. finish the review backlog — DONE! I know there are still a couple of non-reviewed books, but those are waiting for me to read some more.
  4. write and schedule some more posts — DONE! Ok, just one post written and scheduled, but a full list of ideas for Italian posts to come.
  5. contact three bloggers to whom I have to ask/propose something – DONE and received an answer from two of them already
  6. set up the linked within widget – NOT DONE, because it’s not available for wordpress.com
  7. take time to write older Travel with books posts — NOT DONE 😦
  8. learn to comment more and better — NOT DONE 😦
  9. organize my sources for ideas for the Italian section — NOT DONE 😦

All in all I am happy with what I managed. Three posts over the weekend (and two for my other blog) is already over average for me, and I managed to do most of the housecleaning tasks I had set. (I am sorry about not commenting more, though. But I have a feeling that things were mostly happening in Twitter anyway.)

My mini challenges:

  • Beth’s categories/tags challenge: I finally have the categories I want!
  • Jessica’s spiffed up reviews challenge: see my levanter cloud image in the Gibraltar review? That’s it!
  • Melanie’s faster reviews challenge: it resulted in my review of Rome Burning
  • Beth’s opinion/list post challenge: I have scheduled an opinion post for tomorrow, stay tuned!
  • Emily’s fresh content challenge: I made up a ideas for future posts (but it’s secret… no spoiling the fun!)

And the rest:

I am set with a lot of things to do, now I only need not to let it go. We’ll see how it goes.

Thank you to our wonderful hosts! See you next time for more Bloggiesta!

ETA: I wrote the above before the official end-of-Bloggiesta post was published. Now that I’ve seen it, let me add a couple of things.

  • I appreciated the idea of Bloggiesta and it did turn out very useful, I’m glad there will be another soon-ish!
  • At the same time, for me it was quite a lonesome experience (despite a boom in visits and some comments). I know most of the activity was on Twitter, but am I the only one not twittering? (I really have no time nor sympathy for either that or Facebook…)
  • As for mini-challenges, I’d love to see one about organizing one’s reader and one’s sources for ideas, more in general. I guess there was something on those lines in past Bloggiestas, but I’d like a new take on it. And hosting one next time? Who knows… Maybe! I don’t know if I will be able to attend, but I will consider it.

And until next time: September 28, 29 and 30!

Books: Gibraltar reading and more

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The book: Fall of a Sparrow, by Sam Benady and Mary Chiappe

The edition: HKB Press paperback, 285 pages, with an hilarious cast of characters

The story: at the beginning of the Great Siege, Giovanni Bresciano is the second of only two Gibraltarian to join the army to defend their country. On his second day in the army, his first friend among soldiers falls from a precipice. Is it an accident, or is it something sinister? Is there a murderer or a spy on the loose? As the siege goes on and the city suffers from hunger and smallpox, Bresciano tries to uncover the truth.

My experience with the book & my thoughts: I was suspicious of this book, because I had read another one by Sam Benady (see below) and it had failed to impress me. But I was wrong. It may be little known, but this book is as good a crime novel as you can get. Not only it has an extremely well-developed and puzzling plot, it also has well-rounded characters (down to Bresciano’s own teenager weaknesses, which I didn’t have patience for but still rang very true). And it pairs it all off with an accurate period setting and plenty of very well-written descriptions.

Language & writing: the authors are quite good at rendering the multilingualism of the place. Also, it’s too bad that I didn’t take notes while reading, because this book is full of good words; I don’t know for sure, but some of them may be Gibraltar-speech too — one is for sure:

Monday morning brought with it a damp easterly wind that rapidly swathed the Rock in a heavy levanter cloud.

(The levanter cloud is a weather effect happening in Gibraltar, as explained here. Below is a picture of it.)

Image credits: Wikipedia

Links to better understand this book:

Read this if: if you like period detective stories

Counts as: Travel with books project – Gibraltar; Bloggiesta, my goals; Bloggiesta, Jessica’s mini challenge

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I’ll add here my very short thoughts about two more Gibraltar-related (and one non-related) books I read recently, I really don’t have enough to say about them to justify a separate post, sorry.

Sherlock Holmes in Gibraltar by Sam Benady, published by Gibraltar Books, 48 pages
This is one of those books written only to make use of a given setting. It includes two novellas featuring, guess that, Sherlock Holmes in Gibraltar. I am not an expert, but this Holmes was in no way similar to the original character, and the book was nothing comparable to Conan Doyle’s works. It features a nice line drawing, though.

Gil Braltar, by Jules Verne, as published online here
This short novella is intended as a satire against the British, but I only found it cruel and unnecessarily so.

In Honor to Cain, by Francesca Raffaella Guerra, as published by Ubi Minor, 134 pages
This one has nothing to do with Gibraltar and I only mention it here because, like the Sherlock Holmes’ one, it’s only excuse for existing is that it is set in a particular town (namely, in my home region). I’m sorry but I can say absolutely nothing good about this one, so I won’t.

Let’s Bloggiesta!

Bloggiesta weekend is here, people! Are you ready to revamp your blog, make new friends and have fun?

PEDRO: Plan. Edit. Develop. Review. Organize.

I’m starting a bit late, and will actually have limited time over the weekend, but I do plan on doing a few things:

  1. redo the blogroll — I only have a bad excuse of a blogroll, never really took the time to put all my links there…
  2. deal with the great tag-to-category haul — and rationalize tags a little bit. I see that Beth of Beth Fish Reads is hosting a label/tag mini challenge, that’s good!
  3. take time to write older Travel with books posts — at least the Rome one is ready to be written, and the Norway one almost.
  4. finish the review backlog — that’s hoping a lot! But there are actually two mini challenges on review writing, which may help: Jessica from The Bluestocking Society’s Five Ways to Make Your Reviews Stand Out and Melanie from Melanie’s Musings’s Five Tips to Write Reviews Faster.
  5. write and schedule some more posts — as suggested by Beth in her other mini challenge, the Rainy Day, Opinion/List Post Writing mini challenge; there’s also Emily’s challenge 8 Ways to Freshen Up Your Content and Mother Reader’s flashback mini challenge about writing, Be Brave.
  6. enough writing! I want to learn to comment more and better — really I need to network more, I know I tend to be a lurker most of the time. Sheila’s from Book Journey has a challenge about How to Build Readers for Your Blog Through Commenting and although I am more interested in creating relationships than in building a readership, I’m sure I’ve plenty to learn there.
  7. organize my sources for ideas for the Italian section — which means a good look at my reader and some research. I couldn’t find a mini challenge about this 😦 but I’ll take time for it anyway.

Seven is a good number, no? I’ll stop there. I’ll update this post over the weekend as I (hopefully) get things done.

Hey, I didn’t realize it, but it does feel like spring cleaning! 🙂

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Saturday morning update:

Yesterday night I moved tags and categories. It took some moving back and forth, but I think I’ve nailed it. I didn’t cross out task #2 as done for two reasons:

  1. I want to check if those categories feel right after one day. If you come by, please have a look at my English categories (on the sidebar, under Parole mie/My words, in English) and tell me what you think!
  2. Beth’s challenge called for more organized labels, and my tags are a mess right now. I’m not sure if I’ll tackle them, it will require some thought.

Now I’m off to work, I plan to be back to Bloggiesta in the evening. If you come by in the meantime, tell me how you are doing with your goals!

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Saturday evening update:

As I mentioned in the comments, after one day the new categories feel fine. And I don’t have enough time this week to tackle tags, so that’s for another time. One task done.

Also, I’ve published a grouped review, so I’m well on my way. And I included there a picture, as suggested by Jessica in her mini challenge. It looks nice, my levanter cloud, doesn’t it?

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Sunday afternoon update:

I just realized I had two more tasks that I wanted to do this weekend! I’m sure I’ll never make it, but here they are:

  • set up the linked within widget uh-oh, it looks like we can’t have that at wordpress.com 😦
  • contact three bloggers to whom I have to ask/propose something

Also, if you come by, could you please tell me whether or not you are captcha’ed to comment? There should be no captcha, but I feel I’m never quite in control of my commenting form. Thank you.

Here we go!

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Sunday night update:

I’m calling it a day. End-of-event post to follow.