Friday, October 2, 2015

Third Quarter Book Report....

My reading challenge continues and I am thoroughly enjoying it!  I can't believe I have only 19 books left, I think I may be done way before the end of the year.....

Anyway, here we go with the Third Quarter....
and I start with pure fluff, no substance in this one....

#15.  A popular author's first book.
  Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts

I'll admit it, I'm a Nora Roberts fan.  I think I have read all of her books, and some more than once.  Yes, they are fluffy; yes, you know who is going to end up together on page 3; and yes, the plot lines in the early books are a bit iffy, but sometimes when I read, I just want to shut off my brain and enjoy, and her books fall nicely into that category.  Reading her very first novel again showed me how far her writing style has come.  Her female leads have always been feisty and Adelia is no exception, but what I realized the most is how much the male characters have evolved throughout the years... It was nice to see.

#7.  A book with nonhuman characters.
Fluke by James Herbert

A puppy is born into this world and you follow his life and thoughts as he grows up.  There is a major plot twist that I can not give away, but this is a great book.  James Herbert is akin to a British  Steven King, known more for his horror books, but this is a tale of connections and kindness and the legacy we leave.  I loved this book and can not recommend it enough!

#5.  A book with a number in the title.
 Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

So it that is, and this book.  Buy your ticket, take a seat, buckle up and enjoy the mastery that is Kurt Vonnegut.  World War 2, time travel, aliens, of the outer space kind, are all in this.  So it goes.  Life, death, heartache, success..... So it goes.  I have read Kurt Vonnegut before, 'The Sirens of Titan', and will do so again, and I get the feeling that at the end of the next one, I will say, like I have with the previous two, 'It was an adventure and I'd do it again.'

#13.  A book set in a different country.
(France)  Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda

You are dropped into people's lives without all the details and as you, the reader, and the characters gain trust, you begin to gain an understanding of what made them and why they are they way they are.  The book does not really have a plot yet it works, because it is such a great character study of how people, who on the surface have not a lot in common, can come together and heal and form very strong bonds.   I'm finding that I love authors who are French and the way they tell stories, so I'm going to hunt up some other French authors when my challenge is done.

#4.  A book published in 2015
 The Season of Migration by Nellie Hermann

A short (250 pages) dense book about a period of Vincent VanGogh's life in which he was estranged from his brother, Theo, who was his greatest supporter.   The book was at times very slow and chaotic, it jumped around in time, but in spite of that or maybe because of it, you get a real feel for the angst and frustration of a man who deeply wanted to make a difference, yet had not found his place.

#42.  A book you own but have never read.
              The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

I've owned this book for a couple of years now and it has sat in digital purgatory on my kindle bumped by library due dates and other books that had captured my attention.  This challenge has gotten me to read books I hadn't thought to read or made time for and it has shown me what I have missed by keeping to my normal reads.  

'By telling stories, you objectify your own experiences.  You separate from yourself.  You pin down certain truths.  You make up others.'  This selection sums up this collection of short stories perfectly.  A narrator who is based on the author, but not really.  Stories of Alpha company in Vietnam that may or may not be real.  The stories have a way of showing the horrors of war, but also the absurdity and yes, even the humor of men just trying to survive....

#1.  A book with more than 500 pages.
 Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

I'm not going to lie, I was not sure I was going to make it thru this epic novel.  The story was easy enough to follow, but it was a slow and heavy read for the first half of the novel.  Now that I have finished, I can't really say that I loved it, but I didn't hate it either, and with the greatest of irony, the title character is the one I liked the least.  It is a novel about a game and the written and unwritten rules of it.  The heartbreaking and frustrating part is that the game is love.  Family love, romantic love, love of God, love of country, really love in any form are all explored....and the saddest part is that the majority of the characters do not seem to 'grow up' for lack of a better phrase and accept and protect the love in their lives.  It is a novel well worth reading, and I am glad the challenge got me to do so.

#28.  A book with antonyms in the title.
 Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman

Through a series of memos, suggestion slips, and actual letters you are submerged into a first year teacher's adventures in a New York City High School in the 1960's.  While I appreciated the struggles, it felt disjointed due to the way it written and  it felt incomplete in some ways.  As the book nears the end, the main character is torn between staying at the high school or taking a new job at a college, and by the words and feelings presented, I was shocked and a bit confused why she stayed.....  I think teachers, who read this book, might appreciate it a bit more than I did, but in the end, I am still recommending it.

#50.  A book you started but never finished
 Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach

I have no idea what my problem with this book was before...  From the first chapter, I was hooked! Technical information delivered with humor and a bit of snark, this is right up my alley.  Some of the footnotes made me laugh out loud.  Yes, there are 2 whole chapters to pooping in space, which at times got a little old, but there were practicalities (and gross ones) that had to be dealt with and NASA is still dealing with.  I thoroughly enjoyed the author's writing style and humor and will be reading more of her books in the future.

#47.  A play.
   A Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare

I saw the play preformed at the Utah Shakespeare Festival years ago and fell in love it due to the fact that no one had to die in order to learn the lessons needed to be learned.  Reading it, however, it was not as wonderful as I remembered.  The first half is a very serious tragedy, then it falls into a farce.  It is very uneven and contradicts itself multiple times.  The only good thing, I really found was that it is a short play.....  It was very interesting to revisit this play.

#9.  A book by a female author. 
    First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

This is a sequel to one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors and it did not disappoint.  It did not, however, wow me.  I enjoyed seeing where the characters went and it let a child in the first book take a larger role, but there was a bit of an unneeded character that distracted from the characters I wanted to spend more time.  Overall, an enjoyable read!

I read in streaks this quarter, due to the fact life has gotten very, very, very busy, but putting a book in my hands is something that will be always a priority...

On to the 4th Quarter.

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