And while we're adding next year's challenges, here's another one I'm in for: The A to Z Reading Challenge. I am choosing option B, which is to read 26 books with titles beginning with all 26 letters of the alphabet.
Why not? Even though I have only read 58 books thus far in 2008, I'm feeling gutsy. So I have signed up for the 100+ Reading Challenge. Since I met my Book-a-Week goal, I might as well strive for higher, right?
Genre: Fiction Year Published: 1992 Pages: Rating: 4/5
Another really good read this year. In this novel the protagonist, Taylor, leaves her small town in Tennessee and travels west. Stopping on the way at an Indian reservation, she acquires an abandoned and abused baby. Spunky and vibrant, Taylor is a true heroine as she manages to find a place for herself and Turtle, the baby, in Arizona. There she creates friendships with a newly-single mother, two old-fashioned spinsters (one of whom is blind), and a woman who runs an auto body shop when she is not aiding refugees from Central America. The book is about friendship and belonging, about helping others, and about realizing that life is bigger than oneself. While I wouldn't say this book was as good as The Poisonwood Bible, it is still a worthy read.
Book-a-week # 52!!!! I made it!!!!! Challenge/s: Decades--1980s
Genre: Gothic Fiction Year Published: 2006 Pages: 406 Rating: 5/5
Oh how I loved this book! I was swept away by Setterfield's version of gothic fiction. For days my vision was clouded by dank moors and hidden children, and a dark, doomed, looming house. This was one of those books that you wish would never end even as you zoom toward the finish to find out what happens.
The book is a story within a story. A biographer named Margaret Lea who lives above her father's bookstore and grapples with the fact that she is a single twin whose sister died at birth is contacted by a well-known author, Vida Winter. Ms. Winter is known not only for her books, but for the fact that she has never disclosed the truth about herself to any biographer. Now, she wants that truth told, and Margaret is the person she wishes to tell it to.
Margaret moves into Ms. Winter's house on the moors, and becomes immersed in her story. I will give away nothing, but I will tell you that the story includes insanity, twins, abandoned children, incest, a house falling into disrepair, a governess, a fire, an asylum, and many, many references to the novel Jane Eyre.
I didn't think I would like this book, but it was one of my favorite reads of the year. So even if you think it doesn't sound like your thing, I'd advise you to give it a shot.
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult Year Published: 2002 Pages: 192 Rating: 4/5
I really, really liked this book. Granted, I love the Arthurian mythology, and it is hard for me to not enjoy ANY retelling of that story. But I think what I really enjoyed about this book was the deeper theme of predestination--is it possible for us to avoid what we are meant to become?
In this novel, no. Destiny wins in the end, despite all of Mordred's better efforts. The reader is privy to his feelings of love and hate for Arthur, the father whom he is destined to destroy. We watch as he tries to let goodness overcome fate. We see Arthur's struggle as well, for he too knows that the son he loves but cannot acknowledge as his own will one day kill him. And in the end, it comes down to an effort between the two to save poor Mordred's soul.
The story is sad and captivating, simple and complex, and I recommend it to anyone, especially those with an interest in Arthurian retellings.
P.S. Does anyone else have an odd feeling that that is Brad Pitt under the helmet on the cover?
Book-a-week # 50 Challenge/s: Young Adult, Arthurian, Naming Conventions
Genre: Young Adult Year Published: 2002 Pages: 352 Rating: 4/5
This is another good young adult novel. The narrator is telling the story to his mother, by whom he feels abandoned since she has taken up with a man who abuses him. The story is sad and funny, as he outlines his adventures in classes, in the mall as his friend is arrested for stealing an eggroll, in his date's basement trying to avoid her angry father, and various other scenarios. Perhaps not very realistic (the character certainly is unlike any fifteen year old I've ever encountered) the book is still entertaining and viable, especially considering the difficult subject matter the author is tackling.
Genre: Young Adult Year Published: 1996 Pages: 224 Rating: 3/5
I liked this book, although it was rather simplistic compared to the other Myers book I read this year, Fallen Angels. The story is about a young man who is drawn into a gang by his criminalized brother and his intense hatred of the school bully. It is hard to review without spoiling, but suffice to say that there is a lesson to be learned here, not only about the choices we make, but about how friendships are affected by said choices. My students really like this book, and I often recommend it to them.
I am still reeling from the election Tuesday. What an exciting and inspiring night! Watching the rally in Grant Park on TV (I know, I should've been there) I was struck by the unification and diversity of the crowd. I think this bodes very well for our nation.
For as long as she can remember, Lisa Litberg has loved to write. Over the years she has amassed quite a collection of short stories and poetry, but Free is her first novel. A high school teacher for 15 years, she tries to empower her urban students with the written word. When she isn’t writing or teaching, Lisa might be dancing, singing with a cover band or performing her own songs with a guitar, but it’s more likely she’s hanging out in her Chicago apartment with her son Trevor watching The Walking Dead.
"The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience." (Atticus, To Kill a Mockingbird;Harper Lee) "But maybe the last part of the symphony was the music she loved the best--glad and like the greatest people in the world running and springing up in a hard, free way. Wonderful music like this was the worst hurt there could be. The whole world was this symphony, and there was not enough of her to listen." (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers)
"Dark of the invisible moon. The nights now only slightly less black. By day the banished sun circles the earth like a grieving mother with a lamp." (The Road; Cormac McCarthy)
"There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened." (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; Douglas Adams)
"I ought not to have listened to her," he confided to me one day. "One never ought to listen to the flowers. One should simply look at them and breathe their fragrance. Mine perfumed all my planet. But I did not know how to take pleasure in all her grace. This tale of claws, which disturbed me so much, should only have filled my heart with tenderness and pity."
And he continued his confidences: "The fact is that I did not know how to understand anything! I ought to have judged by deeds and not by words. She cast her fragrance and her radiance over me. I ought never to have run away from her... I ought to have guessed all the affection that lay behind her poor little strategems. Flowers are so inconsistent! But I was too young to know how to love her..." (The Little Prince; Anton de Saint-Exupery)
Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead. (Betting on the Muse; Charles Bukowski)
Disbelief in magic can force a poor soul into believing in government and business. (Tom Robbins)
But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears. (The Prophet; Kahlil Gibran)
You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body. (C.S. Lewis)
"For in a swift radiance of illumination he saw a glimpse of human struggle and of valor. Of the endless fluid passage of humanity through endless time. And of those who labor and of those who--one word--love." (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers)