Monday, December 28, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
The Murdoc Jern series
The Foundation series
The Border Trilogy
Series I want to reread include:
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Prydain Series
Hosted here at Youth Services Corner, this challenge has you read young adult books written in different decades, starting with the 1930s or before and ending with the 2000s. Rereads are allowed (yay!!!).
1930s or before: Little Women
1940s: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
1950s: Fahrenheit 451 --1/13/10
1960s: I Am David --11/19/10
1970s: Rumble Fish
1980s: Four's Crossing
2000s: The Hunger Games--2/9/10
Year Published: 1995
I use this book in my classroom occasionally. It is a really interesting and informative account of the Great Chicago Fire, with drawings, photographs, and true-life accounts written by survivors of the fire. Definately worth reading.
Book a week # 60
Year Published: 2007
"All our attempts at subterfuge had been in vain."
Why oh why do I keep reading these books? It isn't the writing, which is awkward and flowery, and seems to deteriorate even more with each subsequent book. It isn't Bella, the main character, who may very well be the WORST female heroine ever--she's spineless, moronic, and an utter doormat. It isn't Edward or Jacob, both of whom behave very badly when it comes to matters of love. I'm completely over the romance between Edward and Bella, so it isn't that (although I will admit the tension between Bella and Jacob got me a little bit). So what is it that keeps me coming back for more nauseating twaddle?
Well, I like the supernatural. I like the mythology behind the vampires and werewolves in the novels--especially the Native American shapeshifting stories. And I feel like I've invested myself in it this far so I sort of have to go all the way. (I thought Eclipse was the last book, however, and was very annoyed that I'm going to have to subject myself to this again). And I guess the story isn't that horrible...although our anti-heroine really truly is.
What happens in this book? More of the same, really: Victoria is still after Bella, Jacob is still in love with her, she still feels torn between him and Edward even though she will never even consider life without Edward because without him she would surely die, her father is still a bumbling fool, she still wants to be a vampire but Edward is still holding out for--gasp--marriage, the werewolves and vampires still hate each other, and Bella still manages to do stupid things and get herself into trouble so that her strong and supernatural lovers can save her. New stuff? Bella graduates, we get the whole story behind the tribe of werewolves, the werewolves and vampires come together to save her, and she makes a choice between the boys and a big decision that will affect her future. Oh, and there's a big party at the vampires' house.
What really disgusts me about these books is the same as I wrote in my last review--Bella is a horrible example for young women. The message here is that it is OK to act like an idiot because a boy will come and rescue you from danger. And that nothing is more important than your love for said boy. And if the boy leaves you life is no longer worth living and you will walk around like an empty shell. Oh--and Bella's revulsion to marriage hardly fits with her as a character. Ditto for the fact that she's supposed to be an honor's student but she's a complete idiot. I could document all of Bella's "Duh!" moments--you know, when the light bulb goes on and she suddenly realizes what the reader figured out ages ago--but why put anyone through that?
Now that I'm done ranting, I must sheepishly admit that I AM going to read the final book in the series.
Book a week # 61
Date Read: 12/21/09
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The Take Another Chance Challenge allows you to find books to read by chance--how fun!! You can find all the guidelines here. There are twelve categories of participation; I am going to try to participate in all twelve (Gambling it All, as they say on the site!). I will list the categories, and the books I plan on reading, below.
1. Read Your Doppelganger: Since no one has the same exact name for me, I am going to read an author with the same initials--Lois Lowry's Number the Stars.
2. Blogroll Roulette: Twilight Children by Torey Hayden
3. 100 Best Book (I chose from the 2009 Best Books for Young Adults List): Debbie Harry Sings in Frency by Meagan Brothers
4. Prize Book Winner: 2666 by Roberto Bolano
5. Title Word Count: Jazz by Toni Morrison
6. Genre Switch Up: Graphic Novel--From Hell by Alan Moore
7. Break a Prejudice: Oh boy. Maybe I'll read The Bourne Identity for this one.
8. Real and Inspired:
9. Same Word, Different Book: Breaking Dawn; Breaking Her Fall
10. Become a Character:
11. All in the Family: 20th Century Ghosts (Joe Hill); Just After Sunset (Stephen King)
12. Author Anthology Pick:
2. Re-read a book assigned to you in high school
3. Re-read a book you loved as an adult
I am going to read two from each category. This challenge crosses over with my Revisit Childhood Favorites as well.
"Reading With Tequila" has compiled a list of books recommended by bloggers. Of the 234 books on this list, I have read 35. For this challenge, I plan on reading another ten. Here is a tentative list of books I might read:
1. City of Bones--Cassandra Clare
2. The Alchemist--Paulo Coelho
3. Eragon-_Christopher Paolini
4. The Host--Stephanie Meyer
5. Gone With the Wind--Margaret Mitchell
7. A Thousand Splendid Suns--Khaled Hosseini
8. The Prisoner's Wife--Asha Bandele
9. Artemis Fowl--Eoin Colfer
10. The Bell Jar--Sylvia Plath
11. Alas Babylon--Pat Frank
12. The Looking Glass Wars--Frank Beddor
13. Neverwhere--Neil Gaiman
14. My Sister's Keeper--Jodi Picoult
15. Fight Club--Chris Pahlaniak
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Year Published: 1926
"Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton."
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, having recently finished On the Road, it was almost torturous to endure another book about a narcissistic, self-centered group of 'friends' getting drunk all the time. On the other, I did find myself caught up in the romance between Lady Ashley and Jake, and almost feel a warmness for them. And I really liked the ending.
The story takes place in Europe not long after the first World War. Jake is a writer living in Paris, and he and several of his friends, including his on-again off-again lover, Brett Ashley, decide to go to Spain for the Running of the Bulls. Then they get drunk, do some fishing, get drunk, watch some bullfights, get drunk, get mad at one another, get drunk, fight each other, get drunk, find out Brett has left with a young bullfighter, get drunk again, wake up and leave town. That is pretty much the entire plot. What holds the book together is the characters and their relationships to one another. Robert Cohn is a friend of Jake's who has also had an affair with Brett (pretty much everyone has, actually. Brett was quite the afficionado of men), and who follows her around like a lost puppy even though she is with her fiancee. Her fiancee acts like he's fine with her affairs when he's sober, then gets nasty about it when drunk. Brett seems to feel some sort of remorse about her loving and leaving these guys, but not enough to stop her from continuing to do so. She does seem to love Jake, but again, not enough to stop her from continuing to do so. Jake loves Brett but knows that he can't have her on any other terms, so he accepts this way even though it bothers him.
I have to say the anti-semitism weaving through this book bothered me. I have never been bothered by this before when reading a book, so I'm not sure what was different about this one, but every time someone referred to Cohn as "that Jew" or the "kike" it irked me. I did like Lady Ashley--it seemed almost feminist to have a female carry out the "playa" role. Even though she's a real jerk to those poor guys.
I get that the book is meant to represent the post-WWI generation, the loss of innocence, etc. But as far as I'm concerned, the best thing about this book is how it ends. It's a lovely ending, and it manages to sum everything up in an almost whimsical moment. But I certainly can't say that this was one of my favorite reads this year. In fact, I can't really say that I like Hemingway much at all.
Book a week #: 60
Challenge/s: Decades; Modern Library; 1% Well Read
Date Read: 12/14/09
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Year Published: 1912
A sharp clip-clop of iron shod hoofs deadened and died away, and clouds of yellow dust drifted from under the cottonwoods out over the sage.
I was surprised by this book. It was surprisingly readable, considering it was written in the early 1900s--1912, to be exact--and that westerns have never really been my genre. But really it was a lot of fun to read. Dramatic and romantic, heavily outdated, but fun. The story centers around Jane Withersteen, a Mormon woman who has inherited a ranch and riches from her father. The Mormon men in her small Utah town are unhappy with Jane's independence, and more so with her friendliness to the Gentiles (meaning non-Mormons. This confused me greatly, since it actually means non-Jew, but apparently the Mormons actually regard themselves as Isrealite descendants: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentile#Latter-day_Saints_Church_usage) who the church members shun. When Jane refuses to marry Elder Tull her real problems begin. Her cattle and horses disappear, her workers quit, disappear, or turn out to be spies. Enter Lassiter, the gun-slinging hero of the range, who has come to take revenge for a loved-one's death but finds himself instead falling in love with Jane and her adopted daughter, Fay. The two of them are forced to make a stand, with only Jane's former employee (and previous love interest?) Benters, who has been holed up in the cliffs with a notorious cattle-rustler's "Masked Rider", who turns out to not be what everyone presumed.
There are many reasons I could have disliked this book: it reads like a soap opera, the plot is easy to figure out, the characters are simplistic and stereotypical, the Mormons are over-vilified, it's preachy, and horses die. But I didn't dislike it at all. The story was fun, and even after I knew what was going to happen I still wanted to read it. The female characters are surprisingly strong for the time, especially Jane (although she does faint). The romance is overdramatic and ridiculous, but not anymore so than in the Twilight series, and more enjoyable. This book has left me with visions of the barren wastes of the Utah cliffs, the wind rustling through the sage, and the proud and noble people riding into the sunset.
Book-a-week # 59
Date Read: 12/8/09
Year Published: 20056
"I don't belong here."
I don't usually read thrillers, but I needed to read something that started with "Z" for my A-Z challenge, and this was one of the only books I could find. It was good. Well-developed characters, good plot, kept me guessing through much of it. It centers around the US Congress, which was an interesting touch, and deals with secret projects hidden deep below the earth in a defunct South Dakota gold mine. Enjoyable, easy to read, and now I've read my "Z"!
Book a week #: 58
Date Read: 12/4/09
Year Published: 2004
It was 7 minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs. Shears house.
This book was a delight to read, featuring one of the most unique narrative voices I have ever read. The narrator, 15-year old Christopher Boone, thinks differently than most of us. Some might call him autistic. Some might call him a savant. Some other kids call him stupid but he knows this is not so, just as he knows all the prime numbers up to 7,057 and the Monty Hall Problem and why Occam's razor is true. When Christopher finds his neighbor's dog dead on her lawn, he is determined to find out who committed the crime, although he dislikes interacting with others. In deciphering this mystery, Christopher finds out far more than he expected about his own family life, with extreme results.
More than anything I am impressed with Haddon's ability to give a voice to a person like Christopher. His character is so real and so likeable that it helps further understanding towards those who may not relate to the world in the way most of us might expect. But aside from that, the story is captivating and suspenseful, touching and disturbing, and altogether human. I skimmed through all the higher math problems because they made my head hurt, but they were a nice touch as well, along with the diagrams and visual aids. Altogether a very good book.
Book a week #57
Date Read: 12/1/09
Challenge/s: What's in a Name
Year Published: 1996
I needed a book that started with X (although I suppose this one actually starts with "E") for a reading challenge, so I pulled this off my classroom bookshelf. I had already seen the episode, so I knew what was coming, but it was a decent retelling that is good for older kids with lower reading levels, as well as younger kids who are interested in (and ready for) X-Files material.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Between January 1 and December 31, 2010, read one book in each of the following categories:
A book with a food in the title: Oranges are Not the Only Fruit
A book with a body of water in the title: Lake Woebegone Days
A book with a title (queen, president) in the title: Queen of Babble
A book with a plant in the title: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
A book with a place name (city, country) in the title: City of Bones
A book with a music term in the title: Jazz
Some of the alternates are books I never got to from last year's TBR alternate list. Maybe this year...
1. Eragon--Christopher Paolini
Atwood, Margaret (The Robber Bride) 1/23/10
Bradbury, Ray (Fahrenheit 451) 2/13/10
Collins, Suzanne (Gregor the Overlander) 1/1/10
Gaiman, Neil (American Gods) 6/6/10
Holland, Kevin Crossley (The Seeing Stone) 1/4/10
King, Stephen (multiple)
Lawhead, Stephen R (Taliesin) 1/8/10
McCarthy, Cormac (Blood Meridian) 2/23/10
Paulsen, Gary (The Crossing) 3/24/10
Vonnegut JR., Kurt (Slaughterhouse 5) 3/10/10
1. Abarat 2: Days of Magic, Nights of War--Clive Barker
2. The Hunger Game--Suzanne Collins
Gregor the Overlander--Suzanne Collins (1/1/10)
4. The Nature of Jade--Deb Caletti
5. Among the Hidden
6. I Am David
7. The Host--Stephanie Meyer
9. Artemis Fowl
10. Eragon--Christopher Paolini
11. City of Bones
12. Breaking Dawn--Stephanie Meyer
13. The Seeing Stone
14. The Invention of Hugo Cabret
15. A Solitary Blue--Cynthia Voigt
16. Number the Stars--Lois Lowry
17. Debbie Harry Sings in French--Meagan Brothers
18. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn--
Even though I didn't make 100+ books in last year's 100+ Challenge, that doesn't deter me from signing up for this year's. Hopefully this year I will be able to focus and channel my energy and make the 100 book mark. This is where I will be listing books for the Book a Week Challenge as well.
1. Gregor the Overlander--Suzanne Collins (1/1/10); 308p; 3.5/5
2. The Seeing Stone--Kevin Crossly-Holland (1/4/10);
3. Taliesin--Stephen R. Lawhead (1/8/10)
4. The Robber Bride--Margaret Atwood (1/23/10)
5. City of Bones--Cassandra Clare (1/28/10)
6. Hawkes Harbor--SE Hinton (2/4/10)
7. The Hunger Games--Suzanne Collins (2/9/10)
8. Fahrenheit 451--Ray Bradbury (2/13/10)
9. Blood Meridian--Cormac McCarthy (2/23/10)
10. Feast of Snakes--Harry Crews (2/26/10)
11. Jazz--Toni Morrison (3/9/10)
12. Slaughterhouse 5--Kurt Vonnegut (3/10/10)
13. Life of Pi--Yann Martel (3/10/10)
14. The Crossing--Gary Paulsen (3/24/10)
15. Merlin--Stephen R. Lawhead (4/12/10); 448p; 3/5
16. Breaking Dawn--Stephanie Meyer (4/19/10); 754p; 3/5
17. The Host--Stephanie Meyer (5/19/10); 619p; 2.5/5
18. Sin in the Second City--Karen Abbott (5/26/10); 384p; 5/5
19. Blaze--Stephen King (5/29/10); 285p; 4/5
20. American Gods--Neil Gaiman (6/6/10); 592p; 5/5
21. Artemis Fowl--Eoin Coffer (6/18/10)
22. Dead Until Dark--Charlaine Harris (6/25/10)
23. Living Dead in Dallas--Charlaine Harris (6/28/10)
24. Club Dead--Charlaine Harris (7/3/10)
25. Dead to the World--Charlaine Harris (7/6/10)
26. Dead as a Doornail--Charlaine Harris (7/9/10)
27. The Gunslinger--Stephen King (7/16/10)
28. The Drwaing of the Three--Stephen King (7/24/10)
29. A Short History of Nearly Everything--Bill Bryson (7/25/10)
30. The Waste Lands--Stephen King (7/30/10)
31. Wizard and Glass--Stephen King (8/5/10)
32. Wolves of the Calla--Stephen King (8/14/10)
33. Song of Susannah--Stephen King (8/17/10)
34. The Dark Tower--Stephen King (8/25/10)
35. The Colorado Kid--Stephen King (9/7/10)
36. The What's Happening to My Body Book
37. Catching Fire--Suzanne Collins (9/12/10)
38. Mockingjay--Suzanne Collins (9/12/10)
39. Definitely Dead--Charlaine Harris (9/23/10)
40. Altogether Dead--Charlaine Harris (10/4/10)
41. The Gunslinger Born--Multiple (10/13/10)
42. The Long Road Home--Multiple (10/14/10)
43. A Thousand Splendid Suns--Khaled Hosseini (10/20/10)
44. Horns--Joe Hill (10/25/10)
45. The Invention of Hugo Cabret--Brian Selznick (10/25/10)
46. Treachery--Multiple (10/26/10)
47. Under the Dome--Stephen King (11/6/10)
48. I Am David--Anne Holm (11/19/10)
49. Among the Hidden--Margaret Peterson Haddox (11/20/10)
50. Number the Stars--Lois Lowry (11/20/10)
51. The Nature of Jade--Deb Caletti (12/1/10)
52. Fall of Gilead--Multiple (12/2/10)
53. Saving Max--Antoinette van Huegten (12/5/10)
54. Just After Sunset--Stephen King (12/8/10)
55. From Dead to Worse--Charlaine Harris (12/20/10)
56. Survivor--Chuck Pahlaniuk (12/30/10)