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Posts Tagged ‘what\’s in a name’

Book: Sugarcane Academy: How a New Orleans Teacher and His Storm-Struck Students Created a School to Remember by Michael Tisserand
Pages: 192
Entertainment Rating: 4.5/5
Snooty Rating: 5/5
Total Rating: 9.5/10
Books Read Total: 20/50
Pages Read Total: 3875/15,000

This book may be small, but it packs a punch. Riding on the wave of emotions from my recent trip down to NOLA this book could not have come at a time when I was more vulnerable. Frequently I found myself in tears over the hugeness of it all. The hugeness of the hurricane and the aftershocks, the hugeness of the indignities forced upon so many citizens, and the immeasurable outpouring of awareness on the part of those capable of giving something to the people who had nothing. In a society where education is so bound by rules and regulations, this small section of a community banded together to give families what they needed. This is education as it should be: active, responsive, aware. What these children needed was not a standardized test or even a normal classroom. They needed time and space to express their experiences, to learn about their relations to the world around them, and to make sense of all that they experienced in such a short time. Much was lost during Hurricane Katrina, but the disaster laid bare the strength, courage, determination and love that human beings are capable of giving.

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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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For the What’s in a Name? challenge: A book with an animal in its title

Book: The Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
Pages: 240
Entertainment Rating: 4/5
Snooty Rating: 3/5
Total Rating: 7/10
Books Read Total: 6/50
Pages Read Total: 1630/15,000

There’s something very quaint and comforting about Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books. The writing is simple and the story line is straightforward and to the point. The characters are lovable and sometimes surprising. I never feel frustrated or like I’ve wasted my time when I read these books, and yet there is nothing about them that is exceptionally striking. Read them on the beach, on a rainy day, or in the bath (if you’re prone to reading in the bath, as I am).

P.s. I thought it was fitting to put “Marginalia” one of my favorite poems, in the margins of my blog. (Haha, get it?) Check it!

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For the What’s in a Name? challenge: A book with a place in its title

Book: Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck
Pages: 277
Entertainment Rating: 4.5/5
Snooty Rating: 4.5/5
Total Rating: 9/10
Books Read Total: 4/50
Pages Read Total: 1066/15,000

Steinbeck really does something for me. I didn’t like The Grapes of Wrath but I loved the sense of connection it gave me and the cultural references it informed. Neil Young songs took on a whole new meaning. Travels with Charley gave me the same feeling of awareness, though I didn’t go into the book feeling that way. If you want a taste of this country, read Steinbeck.

Travels was written with much more humor than Grapes but it is still a critical observation. Steinbeck and his dog, Charley, travel across the country in a pick-up with a camper top, “rediscovering” the country that has changed so much in their lifetime. The relationship between these two is comical and endearing. I think what makes Steinbeck exceptional is in his talent for humanizing. He conveys emotions, characters, and connections in an accessible and natural voice, and makes no effort to raise himself above basic human reactions and thoughts.

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The challenge is to read a book who’s title fits into each of the 6 catagories found What’s in a Name.

My list is as follows:

1. A book with a color in its title: The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde (heh, does that count?)

2. A book with an animal in its title: Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith

3. A book with a first name in its title: Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

4. A book with a place in its title: Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

5. A book with a weather event in its title: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

6. A book with a plant in its title: Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet

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