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January/February 2011 Book Challenge Thread

post #1 of 110
Thread Starter 

Happy 2011 everybody. I thought I'd go ahead and start the new month/year (NewCrunchyDaddy, feel free to add your special touches).


So, 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 for how many books you want to read in 2011 ... or not
5) Have fun with books (This one, unfortunately, is MANDATORY


Looking forward to another year of sharing books with all of you.

post #2 of 110
Thread Starter 

The Farmer's Daughter by Jim Harrison


A book of three novellas . . . good writing and enjoyable enough, though not a page-turner for me.

post #3 of 110

I've been waiting for the new thread to start -- I've been having a great reading year so far!!


Possession, Byatt




 "Literary critics make natural detectives," says Maud Bailey, heroine of a mystery where the clues lurk in university libraries, old letters, and dusty journals. Together with Roland Michell, a fellow academic and accidental sleuth, Maud discovers a love affair between the two Victorian writers the pair has dedicated their lives to studying: Randolph Ash, a literary great long assumed to be a devoted and faithful husband, and Christabel La Motte, a lesser-known "fairy poetess" and chaste spinster. At first, Roland and Maud's discovery threatens only to alter the direction of their research, but as they unearth the truth about the long-forgotten romance, their involvement becomes increasingly urgent and personal. Desperately concealing their purpose from competing researchers, they embark on a journey that pulls each of them from solitude and loneliness, challenges the most basic assumptions they hold about themselves, and uncovers their unique entitlement to the secret of Ash and La Motte's passion.


I had a hard time starting this one -- but once I got going, it was really intruiging, The addition of the poetry and letters adds a really unique dimension to the storyline.


Room, Donahuge



 In many ways, Jack is a typical 5-year-old. He likes to read books, watch TV, and play games with his Ma. But Jack is different in a big way--he has lived his entire life in a single room, sharing the tiny space with only his mother and an unnerving nighttime visitor known as Old Nick. For Jack, Room is the only world he knows, but for Ma, it is a prison in which she has tried to craft a normal life for her son. When their insular world suddenly expands beyond the confines of their four walls, the consequences are piercing and extraordinary. Despite its profoundly disturbing premise, Emma Donoghue's Room is rife with moments of hope and beauty, and the dogged determination to live, even in the most desolate circumstances.



I was a bit afraid to read this one, I thought I'd just be too disturbed by the premise.  But it ended up being very satisfying, especially the relationship between Ma and Jack, and her struggle to regain her own identity.



#1 Possession, #2 Room, #3 Twenties Girl, #4 Water for Elephants, #5 The Night Villa, #6 I'm Down, #7 Summerland, #8 Shakespeare:The World as Stage, #9 Sold, #10 The Mysterious Benedict Society, #12 Saving Fish from Drowning, #13 The Day the Falls Stood Stil, #14 The Chocolate War, #15 I'm Looking Through You, #16 M is for Magic, #17 Catching Fire, #18 Mockingjay, #19 Yiddish Policeman's Union, #20 The Book Thief, #21 The Windup Girl, #22 Blockade Billy, #23 Beyond the Last Village, #24 Bones of Faerie, #25 Wee Free Men, #26 Once a Runner, #27 Fablehaven, #28 Horns, #29 Fast Food nation, #30 I am the Messenger, #31 Arcadia Falls, #32 Square Foot Gardening, #33 Haunted Ground, #34 Impossible, #35 Going Bovine, #36 Shades of Grey, # 37 In Defense of Food, #38 Bossypants, #39 The Warmth of Other Suns, #40 Bloodroot, #41 Museum of Thieves, #42 The Magicians, #43 Mystery, #44 Save Me, #45 The Name of the Wind, #46 Hoot, #47 Mockingbird, #48 Relic, #49 So Cold the River, #50 The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth, #51 Doc, #52 A Discovery of Witches, #53 22 Brittania Road, #54 Monsters of Templeton


Edited by kofduke - 8/2/11 at 7:28pm
post #4 of 110

Wee Free Men - Terry Pratchett


First of the Tiffany Aching series, which are aimed more at young adult readers than the main Discworld books are.


Nine-year-old Tiffany Aching needs magic--fast! Her sticky little brother Wentworth has been spirited away by the evil Queen of faerie, and it’s up to her to get him back safely. Having already decided to grow up to be a witch, now all Tiffany has to do is find her power. But she quickly learns that it’s not all black cats and broomsticks. According to her witchy mentor Miss Tick, "Witches don’t use magic unless they really have to...We do other things. A witch pays attention to everything that’s going on...A witch uses her head...A witch always has a piece of string!" Luckily, besides her trusty string, Tiffany’s also got the Nac Mac Feegles, or the Wee Free Men on her side. Small, blue, and heavily tattooed, the Feegles love nothing more than a good fight except maybe a drop of strong drink... Prolific fantasy author Terry Pratchett has served up another delicious helping of his famed Discworld fare.
post #5 of 110

Wow, back at square one again biggrinbounce.gif  While I like the beginning of the year, I kind of have a bittersweet feeling about starting at #1 for my number of books again. lol.gif


I didn't make my goal of 85 for last year, I got to 63.  Not too bad!  I'm going to make my goal 75 this year. 


Still working on narrowing down the pile in the closet and got through 3 books over the winter break!


Happy New Year everyone!

post #6 of 110

happy new year, all! i spent the vacation reading from dd's pile of new books, including Erin Hunter's Warriors series and lots of Roald Dahl.  my intended last book of 2010, B. Kingsolver's The Lacuna, still awaits me.


no special book goal yet, but i am recommiting to giving myself more time to read.


on my list: Cutting for Stone (A. Verghese), In the land of invisible women (Q. Ahmed, UK-born doctor in Saudi Arabia)

post #7 of 110

Ooh, I'm glad to find something like this here! I always (try) to keep track of the books I read each year. Last year I made it to something like 35. I'd like to hit 50 this year!

Right now I am reading Fledgling by Octavia Butler.

Not far enough into it to say much yet.

post #8 of 110

Currently reading, concurrently:


1. Lying the couch, Irvin Yalom -- 1/4 way through

2. Deception, Jonathan Kellerman -- almost done with this one.  When I finish this one, I will move onto #3.


3. Look me in the eye: my life with Aspergers, John Elder Robison


By the end of the year, I'd like to have read 60 books.   I'm a grad student, so 60 *pleasurable books* is a pretty big goal, although many of my *pleasurable books* are linked to my studies.  ;o)  

post #9 of 110


Mortal Love by Elizabeth Hand


 This book is very well written.   One thing I liked  is the fact that the characters are"older", in their 50s, which is unusual for Fantasy fiction. However I did not enjoy it as much as other books because there was not one really likeable character in the story.

The Blue Girl by Charles De Lint


Thought I’d finished the last Newford Novel by Charles De Lint, but overlooked his YA novels. It is good to know there are a few more to read. What I love about De Lint is his characters. People that seem real (in spite of the fantasy circumstances) and likeable.




post #10 of 110

Twenties Girl, Kinsella




Kinsella creates an equally vexing and endearing shade, Sadie, a wild-at-heart flapper with unfinished earthly business who badgers 27-year-old great-niece Lara into doing her bidding. Predictable mayhem and the most delicious and delightful romp a ghost and girl-at-loose-ends could ever have in 21st century London ensue. Sadie discovers just how loved she really is, and Lara channels her inner '20s girl to discover the difference between wanting to be in love and finding love. Kinsella, a master of comic pacing and feminine wit (see: the wildly successful Shopaholic series), casts a bigger net with this piece of fun and fluff, weaving family dynamics and an old-fashioned mystery into the familiar chick lit romance. And there's a sweet nod to old folks (All that white hair and wrinkled skin is just cladding.... They were all young, with love affairs and friends and parties and an endless life ahead of them). It's a breath of crackling fresh air that may well keep readers warm right through winter.



I really, really enjoyed this.  It was light and silly -- but in a nice rather than condescending way.  The characters are interesting and well-developed; and both the mystery and the romance are well-played out.

post #11 of 110
Thread Starter 

When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson



I just LOVE the way Atkinson takes all these different characters and their different stories and little by little the become connected and intertwined until I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to find out how it's all going to come together. The beginning of this book took a little patience while the reader gets to know the different characters but there came a point in the book when I was like, 'kids, you're on your own for dinner tonight because I just can't put this book down right now.' The reason I bumped this down from 5 stars to 4 was because I felt the ending was kind of abrupt and too quick and easy after everything that happened. 
I completely recommend this book however . . . the characters of Reggie, Jackson, and Louise are some of Atkinson's best and there were many surprising laugh-out-loud moments in this very intense book. Loved it!
post #12 of 110
Thread Starter 

Farm City by Novella Carpenter


My local library asked me to do a presentation on eating local in March when they are featuring this book so I figured it would be good to read it. This is the story of a women living in Oakland who becomes an "urban farmer" raising veggies, fruit, bees, and animals. Sort of a ghetto version of Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle . . .  but a lot more about the meat which was hard for me to read. Have to admire this woman's spunk though! 


post #13 of 110
Originally Posted by cathe View Post

Farm City by Novella Carpenter


My local library asked me to do a presentation on eating local in March when they are featuring this book so I figured it would be good to read it. This is the story of a women living in Oakland who becomes an "urban farmer" raising veggies, fruit, bees, and animals. Sort of a ghetto version of Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle . . .  but a lot more about the meat which was hard for me to read. Have to admire this woman's spunk though! 



Sorry about my sensitivity, but I live in Oakland and it is definitely not ghetto to me.  Urban, absolutely!      


Anyway, this is the author's blog:  Ghost Town Farm

post #14 of 110

Finished Deception by Jonathan Kellerman.  It was a quick, easy psychological thriller.  Perfect way to end the holiday vacation before classes start up again.  It was also the first book I read on my brand-new Nook Color!  


Off  to finish Yalom's Lying on the couch and start Look me in the eye: my life with Aspergers by John Elder Robison. 

post #15 of 110

#1 The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein


No need to summarize, I am sure.  It was fun.  Looking forward to seeing the movie treatment of the book, and also hankering for another viewing and reading of the trilogy. :D

post #16 of 110
Thread Starter 

Catcher, Caught by Sarah Collins Honenberger


So-so YA novel about a teen boy, Daniel, who has Leukemia and identifies strongly with Holden from The Catcher in the Rye. Among the many story lines are his parents not wanting to give him conventional medical treatments and being prosecuted for it, Daniel's first love and sexual experience, and a best friend with a drug problem.

post #17 of 110

Water for Elephants




  The novel, told in flashback by nonagenarian Jacob Jankowski, recounts the wild and wonderful period he spent with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, a traveling circus he joined during the Great Depression. When 23-year-old Jankowski learns that his parents have been killed in a car crash, leaving him penniless, he drops out of Cornell veterinary school and parlays his expertise with animals into a job with the circus, where he cares for a menagerie of exotic creatures[...] He also falls in love with Marlena, one of the show's star performers—a romance complicated by Marlena's husband, the unbalanced, sadistic circus boss who beats both his wife and the animals Jankowski cares for. Despite her often clichéd prose and the predictability of the story's ending, Gruen skillfully humanizes the midgets, drunks, rubes and freaks who populate her book.


I liked this a lot, and wasn't expecting to.  I'm intruiged by the time period, and the photos were a wonderful touch -- I pored back over them after the book.



Night Villa, Goodman




 Her newest follows the template of The Sonnet Lover (2007), as Sophie Chase, a classics professor at the University of Texas, researches the fate of Petronia Iusta, a slave girl living in Capri in AD 79, the year Vesuvius erupted. After the boyfriend of one her students goes on a shooting rampage, leaving two dead and Sophie wounded, the handsome but rakish professor Elgin Lawrence convinces Sophie to travel to Capri to translate the scrolls of a Roman writer named Phineas Aulus. After all, evidence suggests that Petronia was at the Villa della Notte at the same time as Phineas. Upon arriving, she is soon drawn into a dangerous conspiracy when she encounters an ex-lover and learns that the Tetraktyans, a cult that worships Pythagoras, are equally interested in the scrolls—and will stop at nothing to get them. Graceful, fluid prose; an intricately plotted dual mystery set in the past and present; a strong heroine; and handsome and mysterious men—all combine to make for a thoroughly scintillating read.



Intruiging plot, well-drawn characters -- highly recommended.

post #18 of 110

Can I join in.. I am just getting back into "pleasure reading" alittle, I am going to school to get my RN/ BSN degree, so it seems like all I have been reading is textbooks! I need to read alittle for myself!


Right now I am reading Julie and Julia (just started it today, so not much to report but I have read many mixed reviews about it!)


I also got The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.. So I will be starting those after I am done..

post #19 of 110

Finished Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler. I'm so exhausted right now that I don't have much to say. I also just finished Divided Minds: Twin Sisters and Their Journey Through Schizophrenia by Pamela Spiro Wagner and Carolyn Spiro.

Currently reading The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell.

post #20 of 110
Thread Starter 

Welcome Lactivistmama!

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