November was quite the month for reading! Not sure if it was just the lack of worthwhile television or I just craved some quality time with stories, but I’m not complaining (smile). In addition to those books that qualify for the Winter Book Challenge, I also completed a short YA series (Saving Angels 2.5 stars) and read a book from the perspective of a cave man (Transcendence 3 stars). Both were very…interesting. Anyway, be sure to check out the challenge page – it runs through February 2015 so there’s still plenty of time to join the fun
5 points: Freebie – The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (582 pages paperback edition, 4 stars)
I came across this book on a list of “Halloween” books. It is a little creepy I suppose, but definitely not Halloween related. The story centers around a modern day burn victim who encounters a woman claiming to be his soul mate. What makes this book interesting is that while it is grounded in modern day, it’s also a historical account of a love across centuries. While the modern story gives you more details of the burn recovery process than any squeamish person may be interested in, the flashback/story portion gives you a most intriguing historical insight. Truly, this book is difficult to describe (although Goodreads does a better job than me). For anyone interested in this sort of theme, I recommend it.
10 points: Read a book written by an author who has published at least 10 books – Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella (448 pages paperback edition, 2 stars)
I’ve read several of Kinsella’s books, but this one is by far my least favorite. The story centers around a modern day girl on a mission to find a family heirloom so that her great aunt will stop haunting her and rest in piece. There are funny parts to the story, but for the most part I just found it a bit annoying. The ghostly great aunt is the only real saving grace in the story. The main character starts off a little shaky and just never quite seems to evolve as most characters are expected to do in these sorts of books. Overall, there are other Kinsella books I would recommend above this one.
20 points: Read a “bookish book” – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (550 pages paperback edition, 5 stars)
Set in Nazi Germany, this book tells the story of a orphan who takes opportune moments to obtain books as well as her friends and life in her small town. Narrated by death/the grim reaper, you know from the beginning that it will not be a story of rainbows. Yet that narrator lends a surprisingly fresh perspective on an incredibly grim situation. It was a brilliant move – and there are even a few rainbows after all.
When this book first came out, I was in an audio book phase and tried to listen to it. I cannot tell you what a mistake that was! It just doesn’t translate well into the oral format for me. As a result, I’ve put off trying to read this story for some time now, convinced that I would not like the book at all. I figured this challenge was a good opportunity to try it again – I started one afternoon and was finished by the next. I simply couldn’t put it down!
20 points: Read a book with a direction in the title – Summer in the South by Cathy Holton (352 pages hardcover edition, 3.5 stars)
A bit of a mystery, this story centers on a yankee (sorry, but that’s the term y’all) who ends up in Tennessee to write a novel. While staying with two aunts and an uncle of a college friend, the main character uncovers a family secret buried under the Southern charm and pride that threatens the fabric of a community. Overall I found this book to be true to its setting and the story intriguing. I was satisfied with the ending – it wasn’t rushed as some mysteries are and it had just enough of a twist to be plausible. I enjoyed the characters as well as the history. I suppose my only complaint was in the writing style itself. Some books read themselves (like The Book Thief) and are thus effortless to consume. This one took a little work. Sometimes that’s just how it works I suppose.
Total: 55 points