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Posts Tagged ‘50bookchallenge’

Book: The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
Pages: 218
Entertainment Rating: 4/5
Snooty Rating: 4/5
Total Rating: 8/10
Books Read Total: 32/50
Pages Read Total: 7066/15,000

A solid story of love, loss, secrets, discovery, horror, and some sort of forgiveness. I found this book very readable and I read it straight through (it even prompted me to spend an extra 20 minutes on the treadmill this morning) but I never quite felt like I got what I was looking for. The plot is great, but I got lost in the execution. I didn’t feel particularly sympathetic or angry or really any sort of emotion, despite the emotionally driven plot, and it seems to me that that’s a fairly significant shortcoming. I wouldn’t say don’t read it, because it is an interesting book, but I can’t quite agree with the LA times when they say that it “ensnares both heart and mind”. Unless maybe my heart is made of stone (which we know is not the case from the emotional gushing that sometimes appears on this blog).

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Book: The Land of the Silver Apples by Nancy Farmer
Pages: 495
Entertainment Rating: 4.5/5
Snooty Rating: 4/5
Total Rating: 8.5/10
Books Read Total: 19/50
Pages Read Total: 3683/15,000

This book is the sequel to The Sea of Trolls. I can’t remember the last time I had such a hard time putting down a book as I do with Farmer’s. Even Harry Potter doesn’t hold the control over me that she does. Her stories are excellent, witty, vivid and fun.

In Silver Apples Jack’s little sister Lucy disapears, and saving her is up to him and his new “friends”, a recently freed slave with a “froggy” face by the name of Pega, a wishy washy guy named Brutus, a monk named Aiden and some newly acquired skills. Together they experience the beauty and danger of the magical world of the silver apples, where time never passes. Their quest is filled with surprises, both good and bad, and the end results may not be what you think!

As a sequel this book was excellent, just enough plot overlap to be related, but a totally new adventure and many new characters. Also, way less of the bratty Lucy dialog! The religion humor is excellent, as always. I really admire Farmer’s even keel in that regard. She makes fun of everyone’s gods equally, while never actually putting any of them down, and giving all opinions without seeming contrived. Another great book!

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Book: A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
Pages: Audiobook
Entertainment Rating: N/A
Snooty Rating: 5/5
Total Rating: 10/10
Books Read Total: 18/50
Pages Read Total: 3188/15,000

This book will blow your mind. It will probably give you nightmares, and if you have any soul at all it will make you cry. It will make your stomach turn, your heart ache, and your palms sweat. There will be times when you absolutely must put the book down and walk away, but I promise you it is worth it. I cannot describe this book to you in any way that will do it justice, but I beg you to read it.

From the website:
A gripping story of a child’s journey through hell and back.

There may be as many as 300,000 child soldiers, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s, in more than fifty conflicts around the world. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. He is one of the first to tell his story in his own words.

In A LONG WAY GONE, Beah, now twenty-six years old, tells a riveting story. At the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. Eventually released by the army and sent to a UNICEF rehabilitation center, he struggled to regain his humanity and to reenter the world of civilians, who viewed him with fear and suspicion. This is, at last, a story of redemption and hope.

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Book: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Pages: Audiobook
Entertainment Rating: 4/5
Snooty Rating: 4/5
Total Rating: 8/10
Books Read Total: 17/50
Pages Read Total: 3188/15,000

Let me preface by saying that I listened to this book more than a month ago. A lot has happened since then, including a week in New Orleans with Habitat for Humanity, some emotional meltdowns and a lot of work. Anyhow, I do remember enjoying this book quite a bit. I was pleasantly surprised, in fact, thinking from my past attempt at the book that I wouldn’t particularly enjoy Vonnegut’s style. Only my brother’s devotion to him made me give him another try (my brother hates to read, but he’ll read Vonnegut).

I’m sorry I don’t have a whole lot more to say about this book but it feels like it was years ago. So much happens in a month of my life, it feels like ages.

For sure a good book, interesting, emotional, weird. Read it.

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Book: The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
Pages: 380
Entertainment Rating: 5/5
Snooty Rating: 5/5
Total Rating: 10/10
Books Read Total: 16/50
Pages Read Total: 3188/15,000

From Amazon.com:
“Fields of white opium poppies stretch away over the hills, and uniformed workers bend over the rows, harvesting the juice. This is the empire of Matteo Alacran, a feudal drug lord in the country of Opium, which lies between the United States and Aztlan, formerly Mexico. Field work, or any menial tasks, are done by “eejits,” humans in whose brains computer chips have been installed to insure docility. Alacran, or El Patron, has lived 140 years with the help of transplants from a series of clones, a common practice among rich men in this world. The intelligence of clones is usually destroyed at birth, but Matt, the latest of Alacran’s doubles, has been spared because he belongs to El Patron…[Spoilers]”

Goodness this woman is great! It’s extremely rare that I keep reading books from the same author unless they’re in a series. (Tom Robbins and John Steinbeck are exceptions) Nancy Farmer has my undivided attention! While her books are technically “Young Adult” I’m finding that I don’t feel the least bit guilty reading them instead of the work required for my various GE courses. I took this book out of the library on Tuesday, and I finished it last night, despite attending all my classes and spending a great deal of time in the studio. I couldn’t put it down! I carried it (hardcover) around in my bag all week, catching bits here and there when I had a free moment. The characters and the plot are captivating and exquisitely crafted, though the ending leaves room for another book. I just discovered that there’s a sequel to Sea of Trolls called Land of the Silver Apples that must have just been released, so maybe that’s where she’s headed with this one!

LOVED IT!

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For the YA Challenge.

Book: The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
Pages: 455
Entertainment Rating: 5/5
Snooty Rating: 5/5
Total Rating: 10/10
Books Read Total: 15/50
Pages Read Total: 2808/15,000

“The Sea of Trolls is a historical fantasy novel set in a fictional version of 793 C.E. in Anglo-Saxon England, Scandinavia, and Jotunheim. It begins when Jack, a young Saxon boy and the protagonist, is accepted as the village bard’s apprentice. Jack loves learning from the bard who teaches him to better see, hear, and sense the world around him. Jack is content until Northmen invade his village…” Wikiplot

I absolutely cannot say enough good things about this book! I read the first 100 pages or so last night and the rest of it today. All 350 pages or so. I had to make myself put it down when my body demanded that I eat something (that may also be because I can’t taste anything so I don’t want to eat). This book was just so…tight. Well constructed. Engaging. I’m amazed I hadn’t heard of it before, because it could kick Harry Potter’s ass. Rich in mythology and magic, the author does a beautiful job of addressing all the many beliefs existing at the time and it seems to me she remains unbiased about them all (though I think we all know Norse gods were a lot more fun). I was impressed by the appendix in the back, as I hadn’t realized just how much research went into this book. In retrospect it makes perfect sense.

GREAT BOOK!

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What I do when the flu’s got me? I read, and read, and knit, and watch movies, and read. And drink more tea than I thought humanly possible. I should also mention that the flu is a great diet plan, I can’t taste, so I don’t eat!

For the YA Challenge.

Book: The King of Ireland’s Son by Padriac Colum
Pages: 275
Entertainment Rating: 5/5
Snooty Rating: 4/5
Total Rating: 9/10
Books Read Total: 14/50
Pages Read Total: 2353/15,000

I remember being completely obsessed with this book when I was very young. My babysitter would read it to me and to her youngest children on rainy days. This book wasn’t exactly as I remembered it, for some reason I’ve jumbled it in my head with another book that has Baba Yaga in it. (In retrospect that’s silly of me because Baba Yaga is Russian and this is a book of tales from Ireland) Never the less it’s a great book of classic folktales from Ireland constructed in a creative manner, a story of a story within a story, rather than just listed one after the other. Really a great book, I recommend it to anyone with children, looking to entertain children, or who simply enjoys children’s books!

I’m currently reading Nancy Farmer’s The Sea of Trolls and I love it!

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