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March 2013 Book Challenge

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

So, just by way of clarification (for comers both new and old), 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 2013 ... or not
5) Have fun with books (This one, unfortunately, is MANDATORY)

post #2 of 23

A Perfect Blood, Harrison

 

Quote:

Ritually murdered corpses are appearing across Cincinnati, terrifying amalgams of human and other. Pulled in to help investigate by the I.S. and FIB, former witch turned day-walking demon Rachel Morgan soon realizes a horrifying truth: a human hate group is trying to create its own demons to destroy all Inderlanders, and to do so, it needs her blood.

 

 

The Twelve, Cronin

Quote:

At the end of The Passage, the great viral plague had left a small group of survivors clinging to life amidst a world transformed into a nightmare. In the second volume of this epic trilogy, this same group of survivors, led by the mysterious, charismatic Amy, go on the attack, leading an insurrection against the virals: the first offensives of the Second Viral War.
 

 

Wow...there is just so much here.  I wish I had at least skimmed The Passage before delving into The Twelve, but nonetheless, there is so much good stuff here. The original group has been separated, each going their different ways -- some to fight the Twelve, some just to stay alive and whole.  The imagery and symbolism are remarkable. 

post #3 of 23

5. No Apparent Danger: The True Story of Volcanic Disaster at Galeras and Nevado del Ruiz by Victoria Bruce

post #4 of 23

Ella Enchanted, Levine

Quote:

At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the "gift" of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: "Instead of making me docile, Lucinda's curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally."..Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you'll ever read.
 

 

I love retellings of the Cinderella story, and this one was absolutely wonderful.  Ella is a charming, delightful heroine; and her spunk and ability to think about the most difficult situations with wit and grace make her a favorite.

post #5 of 23

kofduke, the book (or audio book) of Ella Enchanted is great. The movie was completely Disney-fied. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't the same story at all.

 

I've been reading, but don't have time to review now. Will post more later.

post #6 of 23

Dd checked out the Ella Enchanted movie from the library a while back, but I thought I remembered that there was a book by that name, so I sort of tucked it away and returned it later without watching it.  We're trying to read the book first, if the movie is based on a book.  Now I'm really glad I did that, hearing that the movie isn't as good as the book!

post #7 of 23

fremontmama, it was just completely different. It was like they took the characters; names and basic plot details and made a whole new thing out of it. It was enjoyable enough, but it was a big silly romp, with little of the thoughtfulness of the book. 

post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

 

 

Quote:
"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver’s license...records my first name simply as Cal."

So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of l967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction.

 

Interesting story, but left me a bit frustrated and was very slow moving.  The book spans so many years, but skips 25 of the most crucial, important years of the main character & narrator?  And those 25 years are the pivotal ones where Callie makes the most important decision of her life.  

post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 

Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park

 

 

Quote:
He was tall, at least six feet, with dirty blond hair that hung over his eyes. His T-shirt read Nietzsche Is My Homeboy.

So, that was Matt.  Who Julie Seagle likes. A lot.  But there is also Finn.  Who she flat out loves.

Complicated? Awkward?  Completely.

But really, how was this freshly-minted Boston transplant and newbie college freshman supposed to know that she would end up living with the family of an old friend of her mother's? This was all supposed to be temporary.  Julie wasn't supposed to be important to the Watkins family, or to fall in love with one of the brothers.  Especially the one she's never quite met. But what does that really matter?  Finn gets her, like no one ever has before. They have connection.

But here's the thing about love, in all its twisty, bumpy permutations—it always throws you a few curves.  And no one ever escapes unscathed.

 

Although I immediately figured out the main twist of the story, it didn't matter I was immediately gripped by the characters and desire to know the "full story" behind this twist.  The characters, all of them, are awesome!  The dialogues between the characters often left me laughing out loud.  Just a really good book.   

post #10 of 23

So I have read:

 

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

 

I'm just getting into Neil Gaiman. I really liked the audiobook (read by the author with the author's preferred text — I assume that means he changed a few things) I posted about in Feb of Neverwhere. I didn't enjoy Anansi Boys quite as much. I think I'm reading things out of order, but I'm just getting what the library has. I think Anansi Boys is sort of a followup to American Gods. It is about gods, a major Gaiman theme. Again, there's the reluctant hero who turns out to be special. It just didn't grab me the way Neverwhere did. I would give it one thumbs up thumb.gif, but not two.

 

Hard Man by Allan Guthrie

I'm trying to find a Tartan Noir author I like as much as Ian Rankin, Denise Mina, and Stuart MacBride, but not hitting on anyone so far. This book had lots of twists and turns, but no likeable characters. It was violent (but who cares since you didn't like any of the characters) and had some violent, not-so-bright criminals get into situations they could barely, or couldn't at all, get out of. It was sort of farcical. I might give the author another try, but I would have to give this one a sideways thumb. Not quite a thumbs down — I did finish it, and I now give myself permission to stop reading a book if I dislike it — but I could have used a likable character to hang my hat on. eyesroll.gif

 

Are we interested in kids books?

 

We've been listening to the audiobooks of the Theodosia series by R.L. LaFevers. I really love these. They get two thumbs up thumbsup.gif in the kids books category. They are great for elementary aged kids, maybe older elementary. Might be too much for some K-2ers. They are set around 1900 in England. The main character, Theodosia Throckmorton is the daughter of two archaeologists and museum curators whose specialty is Ancient Egypt. There are lots of cursed artifacts and intrigue and secret societies. There is some mild violence, so it might be better for the upper elementary grades and would appeal to some middle schoolers. Theodosia is 11. I think kids who like the first Harry Potter might like these although they are nowhere near as deep as the later Harry Potters and maybe a bit lighter than the first one. They are also funny which my kids appreciated. We were very disheartened, though, to only find the first 3 in the series on audiobook. We checked the 4th out in book form, but the reader for the audiobooks was really great and it was nice to have that shared time. With the book-book it's harder to build in the shared time since we already have a bedtime reading of Harry Potter 6 going and that's not going to be over anytime soon. 

 

Since we've dispatched the first 3 Theodosias in audiobook, we've moved on to the second in the series about the Troubletwisters by Garth Nix and Sean Williams. It is a bit of a let down compared to Theodosia. We listened to the first Troubletwisters some time ago, but it didn't take too long to refresh our memories. The Troubletwisters are twins, boy and girl, who have come to the age (13?) where their inherited magical powers awaken, but they don't have them under control yet. In the first book they were sent to live with Grandma X so she could help them learn to control their "gifts" and fight The Evil. This book features a monster that could be under the control of The Evil. Apparently from what I've read online Garth Nix (author of Mister Monday and the Keys to the Kingdom series, the Abhorsen series, and others) and Sean Williams (author of many books including the Star Wars books) have been writing this by one of them writing the first chapter and then trading it back and forth and building on it and editing. It sounds about like that, too. It's gotten good reviews and the kids seem to be enjoying it, but it falls far short of Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series which, while pretty weird and out there, we enjoyed. I also don't like the audiobook reader that much. I liked the first Troubletwisters more—can't remember if it had the same reader or not, but the series seemed to have potential. It's supposed to be a 5 book series I think. We may continue, but it's not really doing a whole lot for me at this point. It's okay and somewhat enjoyable, but I don't think I can give it a full thumbs up. Maybe it gets this guy: redface.gif or sort of between this guy: eyesroll.gif and thumb.gif; kinda 3.5 stars. 

post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

 

We've been listening to the audiobooks of the Theodosia series by R.L. LaFevers. I really love these. They get two thumbs up thumbsup.gif in the kids books category.

 

She has another good children's series, Nathaniel Fludd Beastologist that you and your kiddos might also like.   My son and I are reading the first book and we both like it.  

 

Additionally, she has a new YA series that is also very good. The first book, Grave Mercy, was awesome!  The second book is being released next month. 

post #12 of 23

Thanks for the tip. We might check Nathaniel out. It looks a teeny bit lighter than Theodosia both in weight (Theo is 350ish pages vs 150 for Nat) and age range — on Amazon School Library Journal's review suggests 3-5th grade for Nat and  4th-8th grade for Theo. Would you agree with that? My girls are 9 & 12, so Nat might be a bit young for the 12 yr old. Theo is fine, but dd1 does like some drama and appreciates a story about kids her age.

 

She might like Grave Mercy, but I wondered how goth and romance-y it was. She's not so romance-y. She's okay with it being in the book as a subtext, but she's not ready for it to be the main plot device. Not into Twilight, thank G*d, but does like Harry Potter and the first Hunger Games (hasn't read the others yet). 

post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

fremontmama, it was just completely different. It was like they took the characters; names and basic plot details and made a whole new thing out of it. It was enjoyable enough, but it was a big silly romp, with little of the thoughtfulness of the book. 

 

Bummer!  I'm glad we stuck with our agreement then!  We're reading the book before watching the movie on everything.  It's fun!  And I like that every time, we get to imagine the story ourselves before the movie imagines it for us :)

 

Too bad about Anansi Boys, I think I expect all of his books to be amazing! :)  I LOVED American Gods.  That was an amazing book.  I think Neverwhere was pretty good too, but I think I liked American Gods more.  Perhaps just a bit juicier b/c there was more book to read......

post #14 of 23
I definitely LIKED Anansi Boys, but I just didn't LOVE it the way I did Neverwhere. I listened to Neil's audio book of Neverwhere and he was such a good reader that may have made it more enjoyable than reading it myself would have been. I've got Americsn Gods on request at the library.
post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

Thanks for the tip. We might check Nathaniel out. It looks a teeny bit lighter than Theodosia both in weight (Theo is 350ish pages vs 150 for Nat) and age range — on Amazon School Library Journal's review suggests 3-5th grade for Nat and  4th-8th grade for Theo. Would you agree with that? My girls are 9 & 12, so Nat might be a bit young for the 12 yr old. Theo is fine, but dd1 does like some drama and appreciates a story about kids her age.

 

She might like Grave Mercy, but I wondered how goth and romance-y it was. She's not so romance-y. She's okay with it being in the book as a subtext, but she's not ready for it to be the main plot device. Not into Twilight, thank G*d, but does like Harry Potter and the first Hunger Games (hasn't read the others yet). 

 

Yeah, Nathaniel might be a bit too young for your 12 year old. 

 

As for Grave Mercy, might not be the best choice for her.  One of the main plot lines is that the main character has to pretend to be the mistress of the man she is investigating for treason. 

 

If she liked Hunger Games, she might like Legend by Marie Lu.  I actually liked Legend significantly better than Hunger Games. 

post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

I definitely LIKED Anansi Boys, but I just didn't LOVE it the way I did Neverwhere. I listened to Neil's audio book of Neverwhere and he was such a good reader that may have made it more enjoyable than reading it myself would have been. I've got Americsn Gods on request at the library.

 

Ah yes, I hear you there.  I've heard he's a great narrator!

 

#5 Avalon High by Meg Cabot

Pretty fun YA book about the reincarnation of King Arthur in a present day east coast town.  I read it upon the recommendation of Reel Girls blog.  She actually recommended the movie, but I can't find it anywhere.....

 

#6 The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis

Needs no explanation I think.  The kids LOVED it.

 

#7 Simplicity Parenting by Lisa Ross and Kim Payne

Great book.  I cleared out a LOT of clutter in our house b/c of this book, and also have cut way way back on the tv and NPR news listening.  Just simplifying things a bit really helps the whole house feel more calm and in turn, helps the kids feel more calm. 

 

#8 Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

Probably no need to expound on this.  LOVED it.  Can't wait until I get book 2.

 

#9 The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

This was a really good book.  Sort of a gothic-ish mystery/romance.  The premise is a 4yr old girl arrives in Australia alone, on a boat from England.  The harbor master and his wife adopt her.  She later in life tries to find out her roots.  And they lead her back to a titled family in England.  Set in 1903, 1913, 1975, and 2005.  Great ride.

 

#10 Giants Beware by Jorge Aguirre

Graphic novel about a young girl, her brother, and her friend deciding they want to defeat the giant threatening their village in France.  Pretty fun. The kids loved it too.

post #17 of 23

Hey y'all, regarding Neil Gaiman, I just popped over to his website and found out that BBC Radio 4 is doing a radio version of Neverwhere with James MacAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch and a buncha other people. There was a BBC TV series in the 90s, too. He also has a new book coming out soon.

 

In book news, our library is going to be closed for 3 weeks while they move from temporary digs to the new remodeled and much larger home library. I took the kids yesterday and we checked out as many books as we could carry! I doubt if I'll get to all of them in the next 3-4 weeks, but I won't run out.

post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

Hey y'all, regarding Neil Gaiman, I just popped over to his website and found out that BBC Radio 4 is doing a radio version of Neverwhere with James MacAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch and a buncha other people. There was a BBC TV series in the 90s, too. He also has a new book coming out soon.

 

In book news, our library is going to be closed for 3 weeks while they move from temporary digs to the new remodeled and much larger home library. I took the kids yesterday and we checked out as many books as we could carry! I doubt if I'll get to all of them in the next 3-4 weeks, but I won't run out.


Oh, yeah!  I heard about that!  It's supposed to be really really good :)  Can't wait!

post #19 of 23
Thread Starter 

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

 

Quote:
The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

 

This was an absolutely lovely story about a young woman's harrowing, but beautiful, journey to understand and love herself and those who love her. 
 

post #20 of 23

Heart Shaped Box, Hill

Quote:

The complex plot can be simply stated: as a lark, retired heavy metal star Judas Coyne buys a haunted suit online. The ghost turns out to be the very angry stepfather of an ex-groupie/lover of Coyne's who killed herself after he sent her away. The relentless ghost is there to kill Judas and anyone who tries to help him.

 

I was expecting to really like this -- I know it was a favorite around here -- but it was just okay for me.

 

The Woman Who Died a Lot, Fforde

 

Quote:

The Bookworld’s leading enforcement officer, Thursday Next, has been forced into a semiretirement following an assassination attempt, returning home to Swindon and her family to recuperate. But Thursday’s children have problems that demand she become a mother of invention: Friday’s career struggles in the Chronoguard, where he is relegated to a might-have-been; Tuesday’s trouble perfecting the Anti-Smote shield, needed in time to thwart an angry Deity’s promise to wipe Swindon off the face of the earth; and the issue of Thursday’s third child, Jenny, who doesn’t exist except as a confusing and disturbing memory. With Goliath attempting to replace Thursday at every opportunity with synthetic Thursdays, and a call from the Bookworld to hunt down Pagerunners who have jumped into the Realworld, Thursday’s convalescence is going to be anything but restful as the week ahead promises to be one of the Next family’s oddest.
 

 

I have loved the Thursday Next series for two reasons: the sheer oddity and implausibility of the situations; and how Thursday's involvement makes the other books come alive.  This installment didn't work on either level.  Because Thursday is injured she can't read into the bookword -- so there was none of the fun takeoffs from other classic books that one expects.  The oddity is still there, but it's taken to a whole other level.  While still fun, this is definately my least favorite in this series.

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