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December 2008 Book Challenge

post #1 of 137
Thread Starter 
Sorry for the late start on this ... forgot it was the First!

Alright, this is it ... the last inning of 2008. December is here and all the chips will be called in in 31 days. Get those last books for 2008 in and then we can put this year's book challenge to bed.

I have mixed so many metaphors in that that it is not even funny. I'll stop now.

Happy December to all have a good winter's read to close out the year! :

(Did you know ghost stories are traditional for this time of year? Food for thought.)


Just by way of clarification (for comers both new and old), new and improved guidelines for the Book Challenge Thread are as follows:

1) Post the books you read ... or not
2) Post a recommendation ... or not
3) Number your book ... or not
4) Make a goal ... or not
5) Have fun with books (This one, unfortunately, is MANDATORY)



So, with that, avante and a happy reading December to everyone!



January's thread is HERE
February's thread is HERE
March's thread is HERE
April's thread is HERE
May's thread is HERE
June's thread is HERE
July's thread is HERE
August's thread is HERE
September's thread is HERE
October's thread is HERE
November's thread is HERE
post #2 of 137
Thanks for starting the new thread.

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

From the cover:

Towner Whitney, the self-confessed unreliable narrator of The Lace Reader, hails from a family of Salem women who can read the future in the patterns in lace, and who have guarded a history of secrets going back generations, but the disappearance of two women brings Towner home to Salem and the truth about the death of her twin sister to light.
post #3 of 137
#62 The Underneath by Kathi Appelt

Summary: An abandoned cat with kittens on the way befriends a hound who's chained up all day every day and when he is fed, it usually comes with a kick from a steel-toed boot. The cat, her kittens, and this hound stay underneath the porch where the man with the boot can't get to them. They're safe as long as they stay in The Underneath. But have you ever tried to keep a kitten in one place?

Review: Absolutely gorgeous book. The cover has a quote from Louis Sachar, where he calls the book "poetic." I'm not usually a fan of poetry, so this initially put me off and I prioritized reading another National Book Award nominee, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, first. I did end up enjoying the Frankie book more than this one, but just by the width of the tiniest kitten whisker.

But now I see where Sachar was coming from calling this book "poetic." It's not poetic in the sense of flowery language, aren't trees pretty, la la la. It's poetic because the language is so vivid and true it takes your freaking breath away.

On the whole, this is a sorrowful little story, but so, so worth the emotional ups and downs. As I was flipping through the book to write this review, I actually found myself stopping and re-reading entire chapters!
post #4 of 137
Quote:
Originally Posted by snozzberry View Post
#62 The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
My dd just finished this and loved it. I plan to read it too.
post #5 of 137
"Jitterbug Perfume" by Tom Robbins

The story alternates between modern day (3 separate stories of people in various parts of the world all with something to do with perfume) and an ancient story of a king who searches for immortality.

This was a weird book. It was lent to me by the same friend who lent me "The Man Who Fell In Love with the Moon" so I had high hopes but I never really got that into it. I mean, it was okay and there were parts that were good, but there were other parts where I just wanted to get through them and onto something interesting.
post #6 of 137
#47 Happy To Be Here by Garrison Keillor

Maybe I should stick with listening to Garrison Keillor? I didn't really care for this book. Or maybe I should read a different Garrison Keillor book? Any recommendations?

Nice work on hitting 100 books NCD!

I have about 30 left to hit my goal of 75, think I can make it?
post #7 of 137
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Loved this one! I hope there is a sequel and Frankie gets to kick some major Bassett butt.

Best quote:

"Frankie remembered how Matthew had called her a pretty package, how he'd called her mind little, how he'd told her not to change - as if he had some power over her. A tiny part of her wanted to go over to him and shout, "I can feel like a hag some days if I want! And I can tell everybody how insecure I am if I want! Or I can be pretty and pretend to think I'm a hag out of fake modesty - I can do that if I want, too. Because you, Livingston, are not the boss of me and what kind of girl I become." But most of her simply felt happy that he had put his arm around her and told her he thought she was pretty."
post #8 of 137
Quote:
Originally Posted by cathe View Post
"Jitterbug Perfume" by Tom Robbins

The story alternates between modern day (3 separate stories of people in various parts of the world all with something to do with perfume) and an ancient story of a king who searches for immortality.

This was a weird book. It was lent to me by the same friend who lent me "The Man Who Fell In Love with the Moon" so I had high hopes but I never really got that into it. I mean, it was okay and there were parts that were good, but there were other parts where I just wanted to get through them and onto something interesting.
I read this in my early 20s and loved it. Tried again in my late 30s and couldn't get into it. I think some books might work only for certain times in our lives..before or after that, and they lose their magic.
post #9 of 137
Okay....I haven't been doing much reading lately because i NaNoWriMoed instead, and won! I'm now in the editing process, which is possibly more fun than the writing.

On the reading front....

#59: My Start-Up Life, by Ben Casnocha

About an eighth-grader who starts his own dot-com business, and how he juggles school and business meetings with venture capitalists. There was some great advice in here, particularly for non-business types such as myself who are forced to wear the "business hat" sometimes.

#60: Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific, by J. Maarten Troost

Recommended LONG ago by someone on this forum. Troost goes to Kiribati with his girlfriend for a two-year stay (she gets a job there, he goes along for the ride). He expects palm trees and white sand beaches; he gets trash-filled lagoons and scrawny dogs. Great humor in this one, and wonderful insight about people who try to "advance" cultures other than their own. But it was about 40 pages too long, which I attribute to Troost's lavish use of adverbs. Remove most of those, and the book is a decent length.
post #10 of 137
Quote:
Originally Posted by nancy926 View Post
Okay....I haven't been doing much reading lately because i NaNoWriMoed instead, and won! I'm now in the editing process, which is possibly more fun than the writing.
Congratulations!
post #11 of 137
Imaginary Men by Anjali Banerjee

A perfect chick-lit with an Indian flair. While in India for her sister's wedding he main character --- herself an official matchmaker -- invents a fiance to appease her family's desire for her to be married. When she returns to the San Francisco, she has to find a real man to take the role.
post #12 of 137
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler

I last read this about fifteen years ago for a class, but I only remembered the broadest of contours. It was an absorbing re-read.

First published in 1940, it's a novel set in the late 1930s Stalinist Russia (though Russia and Stalin are never mentioned by name - the Stalin figure is known only as Number One), centering on a (fictitious) old-guard Bolshevik, Rubashov, the last one remaining from an iconic photo that used to adorn all Soviet offices. Now all but Rubashov and Number One are gone, the remaining heroes of the Revolution executed or otherwise dead. Rubashov is jailed at the outset of the novel, accused of fomenting counter-revolution and placed in solitary confinement. Over the course of the novel, he reflects on the revolution, on his own conduct, and considers whether he should confess.
Ultimately, he comes to recognize the true danger in the view he has always espoused, that the end justifies the means.

Great read! And very prescient when you consider it was published in 1940.
post #13 of 137
Quote:
Originally Posted by nancy926 View Post
I read this in my early 20s and loved it. Tried again in my late 30s and couldn't get into it. I think some books might work only for certain times in our lives..before or after that, and they lose their magic.
So true! I really liked the Tom Robbins books in my early 20's too. Now, not so much. But there definitely are other books that I started earlier in my life that didnt resonate, and now do.
post #14 of 137
#33 The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Fun, empowering book. Definately a page turner.
post #15 of 137
Recently I have read some children's books and I recommend them all.

First Light - Rebecca Stead
Found - Margaret Pederson Haddix
Life as We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer

This doesn't count, I suppose, but the last adult book I finished was The City of Trembling Leaves and while it is long and kind of slow reading, I really liked it in the end.
post #16 of 137
"The Fledging" - Octavia E. Butler

This book creeped me out a little too much. I really couldn't like and feel for the main character because she was so freaky and weird. I was really, really turned off by the relationships between the Ina and the symbionts. Really. I was glad when this book was over.
post #17 of 137
#131 The White Mary by Kira Salek

This was a book club read for this Thursday.... It was okay. I felt myself trudging through it...From Amazon:
Quote:
A young reporter embarks on a dangerous adventure in Salak's gripping debut novel, a blend of Heart of Darkness and Tomb Raider. Like her protagonist, Marika Vecera, award-winning journalist Salak has traveled solo—and narrowly escaped death—in the world's most remote and terrifying places, including war-torn Congo and the interior of Papua New Guinea. Marika, an ambitious journalist, travels to discover the truth about war correspondent Robert Lewis, who has observed some of the modern world's greatest atrocities. He is believed to have committed suicide, but a letter from a missionary leaves Marika thinking he may still be alive in the wilds of Papua New Guinea. She sets off on her quest, and eventually malaria, ritual murder and arduous trekking through the wilderness lead Marika to some startling discoveries and a pathway out of her own past trauma. While the book can be harrowing (the graphic descriptions of torture are sobering and hard to put out of mind), it offers Marika a redemptive optimism in the face of the worst humanity has to offer.
post #18 of 137
Another NaNoWriMo winner here.

#63 Chains
by Laurie Halse Anderson


Isabel is a 13-year-old slave girl during the Revolutionary War. Isabel is promised freedom for herself and her sister when their owner dies. But instead, they're sold to a heartless couple in New York, where Isabel becomes entangled in the struggle between the Americans and the British.

If you like historical fiction, you can't get much better than Chains. This book immediately transports you to the time of the Revolutionary War. If you or a child in your life would like to learn more about that period beyond memorizing battle dates and places, check out this book.

You can't help but feel what Isabel feels—scared, trapped, desperate. I usually shy away from stories set during times of slavery because it's too, too much to stomach. (Same reason I avoid war movies.) But this story manages to keep a thread of hope throughout so you don't end up feeling crushed by sadness and outrage.

I'm looking forward to the sequel, Forge.
post #19 of 137
A few of these belong in November, but I'm too lazy to do two threads.

60. A Quick Bite - Lynsay Sans
Paranormal Romance - This was a cutesy paranormal romance - with emphasis on the romance. The main characters is a (born) vampire who passes out at the sight of blood, thus complicating her diet. In this paranormal universe, vamps exist and are just like you and me, with a different diet, but don't advertise their presence to the normals. This was a somewhat funny story, but the world didn't interest me that much and the plot was almost nonexistent. The romance was cute though. I will probably give this series one more shot and then call it good depending on how that one goes down.

61. Blood Drive - Jeanne C. Stein
Book 2 in the Anna Strong Series - Urban Fantasy/Vampires - This series is turning out to be pretty dark and more humorless than I was hoping for. Anna is a strong lead (no pun intended) but I tend to like a little more snark and quirk in my paranormal/urban fantasies. I'll probably continue reading the series just to see where it goes next, but I'm not really highly anticipating the next installment.

62. Succubus Dreams - Richelle Mead
Paranormal Fantasy/Romance - The third installment of Georgina Kincaid, succubus in residence in Seattle. I really like this series, but the ending to this installment was less than satisfactory.

63. You Suck: A Love Story - Christopher Moore
Humor/Urban Fantasy - I didn't realize this was the second installment of a trilogy, but I pretty much loved this book! It was laugh-out-loud funny. I kept thinking I was going to wake up my kid from laughing so hard. This was my second Christopher Moore book, and I definitely want to read more. This was much funnier than The Lust Lizard book. I want to be BFF with Abby Normal!
post #20 of 137
Quote:
Originally Posted by snozzberry View Post
Another NaNoWriMo winner here.
YAY Snozzberry!

I didn't do the NaNoWriMO officially but I did power through the first draft of my next children's chapter book -- working on refining it now.
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