Entries in 2015 (5)

Sunday
Feb012015

Reading Challenge: Monthly Update

I'm doing a different reading challenge this year - I'm going to share the books here while I read as well as an updated list on a monthly basis.   Here's the updated list (items crossed out are complete and the books read are listed below in bold).

2015 Reading Challenge (50 books listed because there's a trilogy in there which equals 52 books)

  1. A book with more than 500 pages
  2. A classic romance
  3. A book that became a movie
  4. A book published this year (2015)
  5. A book with a number in the title
  6. A book written by someone under 30
  7. A book with non-human characters
  8. A funny book
  9. A book by a female author
  10. A mystery or thriller
  11. A book with a one-word title
  12. A book of short stories
  13. A book set in a different country
  14. A non-fiction book
  15. A popular author’s first book
  16. A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet
  17. A book a friend recommended
  18. A Pulitzer Prize winning book
  19. A book based on a true story
  20. A book at the bottom of your to-read list
  21. A book your mom loves
  22. A book that scares you
  23. A book more than 100 years old (published before 1915)
  24. A book based entirely on its cover
  25. A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t
  26. A memoir
  27. A book you can finish in a day
  28. A book with antonyms in the title
  29. A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit
  30. A book that came out the year you were born (1979)
  31. A book with bad reviews
  32. A trilogy
  33. A book from your childhood
  34. A book with a love triangle
  35. A book set in the future
  36. A book set in high school
  37. A book with a color in the title
  38. A book that made you cry
  39. A book with magic
  40. A graphic novel
  41. A book by an author you’ve never read before
  42. A book you own but have never read
  43. A book that place in your hometown (Monroe, GA... may have to modify to Athens, GA to find a book)
  44. A book that was originally written in a different language
  45. A book set during Christmas
  46. A book written by an author with your same initials (L.H.)
  47. A play
  48. A banned book
  49. A book based on or turned into a TV show
  50. A book you started but never finished

Books

1. Elements of Style by Erin Gates

2. Divergant by Veronica Roth

3. Insurgent by Veronica Roth

4.  Allegiant by Veronica Roth

5. New England White by Stephen L. Carter

Monday
Jan262015

Book #5: New England White

"Give me a man or woman who has read a thousand books and you give me an interesting companion.  Give me a man or woman who has read perhaps three and you give me a dangerous enemy indeed." - Anne Rice

I found Stephen L. Carter a couple of years ago when I read The Emperor of Ocean Park which is an excellent book with a thrilling, twisted ending.  I really enjoyed reading it so when I came across New England White and saw his name, I immediately picked it up.  It's been sitting in my to read pile for a couple of months and I was glad to be able to use it for my reading challenge; it qualifies as a book with over 500 pages. 

         

      

I may have set Mr. Carter up to fail with this book because I remembered enjoying TEOOP so much.  Or it could have been how crazy busy my life has been so far this year which didn't allow me large amounts of time to read and really get pulled into the story. I think I missed things and I constantly had to go back to the beginning of the chapter or passage to remember where I left off. 

The premise of the story is good and I enjoyed the ending - I was dying to find out "who done it".  The twists and turns and the world of secrecy was multi-layered and complex.  The story surrounds a power couple who are both employed by a loosely disguised Yale University, even featuring the Vanderbilt Suite which the main character's husband lived in with a descendant (in the book, it's the Hilliman family) while a student.

The plot carries some serious themes of race, racism and power on a national level - there is a presidential race at stake in the book and shows the workings behind the scenes and how dangerous having the power or seeking the power can be.  The plot is historic in the making, going back for generations and reaching further than Julia, the main character can imagine. Carter keeps it suspenseful by using secret socities, cracked mirrors and coded anagrams (some worked better than others) and multiple villians.   No one is innocent in this story. 

I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading more from Mr. Carter.

{Side Note:  one of the most clever touches was naming the family cat, Rainbow Coalition.  It played along with the color theme...  And cracked me up every time I read it.  It also made me want to start singing Kermit's Rainbow Connection. }

 

Thursday
Jan152015

Book #2, 3 & 4: The Divergent Trilogy

"To read a writer is for me not merely to get an idea of what he say, but to go off with him and travel in his company." - Andre Gide

I wasn't originally interested in the Divergent Triology even though I had heard good things about the story and the movie.  And then one night I was flipping channels and caught the movie on HBO when nothing else was on.  And it was good... the topic, the story and what happened next intrigued me (It also doesn't hurt that I think Shailene Woodley is an amazing actress and adorable).

So of course, then I HAD to read the books. And BONUS! it conveniently fit into my new reading challenge.

Divergent is the debut novel of Veronica Roth which she wrote on her winter break while a senior at Northwestern University and sold the movie rights before graduating (talk about making your classmates feel inadequate).  It introduces Tris in a post-apocalyptic version of Chicago and is followed up by Insurgent and Allegiant books.  As with most books made into films, they didn't match up perfectly and I read the book too soon after seeing the movie so I struggled with the differences in the details. As usual, the book was better - I fail to see why directors go away from the book's storyline and screenwriters think their ideas should replace the authors.  But they do. And it never fails to disappoint. 

As a young adult novels, these were really quick reads and great mindless entertainment while still having series themes lying underneath the angsty love of the two main characters.  In a post-apocalyptic Chicago, survivors were divided into five factions based on their dispositions: Abnegation, for the selfless; Amity, for the peaceful; Candor, for the honest; Dauntless, for the brave; and Erudite, for the intellectual. Each year, all sixteen-year-olds must take an aptitude test that describes the one faction for which they are best suited. After receiving the results, they can decide whether to remain with their family's faction or transfer to a new faction. Those who do not complete initiation into their new faction become "Factionless", and are forced to live in poverty on the streets of the city. 

The division of the factions and the factionless continue through the three books and the subsequent rebellions of the different factions and the life choices made by the main characters. I enjoyed the books and the controversial ending of the third book because it was a real ending versus a 'happily ever after' ending.  I didn't like the back forth narrative Tris and Four... I'll admit that I found it confusing at certain points.  But it made since of why it was needed with the ending so I would just say that it needed but could have been done better. 

Overall, an impressive and entertaining trilogy with great themes of acceptance and personal freedom running through them.  I enjoyed. 

Saturday
Jan102015

Book Challenge... Revised

"Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them" - Lemony Snicket

So... I was struggling with doing a traditional book challenge and then my friend Lori posted a link about a different challenge on Danielle Masterson's page, originally provided by POP SUGAR. And I was struck with inspiration.  I could do this one.  And I was excited to try. 

Reading isn't the challenge for me. I constantly read... the good, the bad and the ugly (50 Shades of Grey anyone?) so having a more specific challenge to work toward is better for me. 

 

Since I was counting Erin Gate's Elements of Style as my first book, it works with this challenge as well and that crosses off the female author on the list. 

2015 Reading Challenge (50 books listed because there's a trilogy in there which equals 52 books)

  1. A book with more than 500 pages
  2. A classic romance
  3. A book that became a movie
  4. A book published this year (2015)
  5. A book with a number in the title
  6. A book written by someone under 30
  7. A book with non-human characters
  8. A funny book
  9. A book by a female author
  10. A mystery or thriller
  11. A book with a one-word title
  12. A book of short stories
  13. A book set in a different country
  14. A non-fiction book
  15. A popular author’s first book
  16. A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet
  17. A book a friend recommended
  18. A Pulitzer Prize winning book
  19. A book based on a true story
  20. A book at the bottom of your to-read list
  21. A book your mom loves
  22. A book that scares you
  23. A book more than 100 years old (published before 1915)
  24. A book based entirely on its cover
  25. A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t
  26. A memoir
  27. A book you can finish in a day
  28. A book with antonyms in the title
  29. A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit
  30. A book that came out the year you were born (1979)
  31. A book with bad reviews
  32. A trilogy
  33. A book from your childhood
  34. A book with a love triangle
  35. A book set in the future
  36. A book set in high school
  37. A book with a color in the title
  38. A book that made you cry
  39. A book with magic
  40. A graphic novel
  41. A book by an author you’ve never read before
  42. A book you own but have never read
  43. A book that place in your hometown (Monroe, GA... may have to modify to Athens, GA to find a book)
  44. A book that was originally written in a different language
  45. A book set during Christmas
  46. A book written by an author with your same initials (L.H.)
  47. A play
  48. A banned book
  49. A book based on or turned into a TV show
  50. A book you started but never finished

 

Thursday
Jan012015

Happy New Year

Ring out the old,

Ring in the new,

Ring, happy bells, across the snow:

The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true.

- Tennyson