Friday, 14 September 2012

Challenge 14: 'The Scorpio Races'

The book: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater is a very hard book to describe. It's about horse racing, and killer sea horses, and magic and superstition, and living on an island and moving away, and feminism and independence. I said when I finished it a few weeks ago that it was the best book I've read this year, but trying to convince other people to read about killer horses that come out of the ocean was a bit of a hard sell.

Why I liked it: I loved the phrases that Stiefvater chooses. I loved the connection that Puck and Sean have to the island and to the horses. I loved their relationship and their independence.

Why Luke will like it: It is a "horse book"... kind of, but only in the loosest sense of the word, and definitely not a giggly girly horse book. There is a boy main character and a girl one who kicks arse. There are fantasy elements to the story, although it feels very grounded to me, and while they're not like anything he's probably read before, I think that side will appeal to him.

Why Luke should read it: I may be wrong, but I think most of what Luke reads is written in fairly basic prose. I want him to appreciate language, and the poetry of word choices, and to feel like he just has to re-read or underline or email me a particular turn of phrase because it's just so perfect. Not to say that this is the best ever example of that, or that there aren't other books that could do this (in fact I have another one in mind for a future Challenge), but I think The Scorpio Races is a nice place to start.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Challenge 13: 'The Final Empire'

The Final Empire is the first in the Mistborn series, but can be read by itself. It is centred on Vin (female)*, who starts as a street urchin and is revealed to be a Mistborn, and Kelsier (Also a Mistborn), the leader of a group of thieves who plan to topple an oppressive Emperor. The Mistborn can burn some metals ( Iron, Steel, Tin, Pewter, Zinc, Brass, Copper and Bronze)** in their bodies to give themselves magical powers. This is the primary reason I chose this book for the Challenge, the magic in The Final Empire is very different from that in most other books, and is a nice change.

Who uses mouseover text these days anyway? Me, apparently.

I read this one a fair while ago, so I can't remember all the details, but  I remember liking the way Kelsier's background was slowly revealed, which suited his character (Mysterious, always with a plan, and never revealing all of his motives.). Vin was less complicated, but still had an entertaining history.

This is your Challenge: Read it, preferably all the way through this time (I'll forgive you DNFing the last book, it did look kinda long).

 - L

*Hey, look! More female protagonists!
** There's actually more than this, but they're the basics. Each metal does something different.

Review 12: 'Let's Pretend This Never Happened'

This book was... Not quite what I expected. Having said that, I'm not entirely sure quite what I expected. Perhaps just for it to be less engaging. I loved that way Jenny Lawson wrote this (and it was half the reason I enjoyed the book), it was very conversational, and did tend to run off onto amusing tangents, but nevertheless worked well to tell her story.

The rural Texas setting of her childhood, combined with (an admittedly odd) taxidermist father, makes for some great stories, which made me laugh frequently enough to keep reading. Even after she moved the 'Big City' (I can't actually remember where) with her husband Victor, interesting things kept happening* (Should I tell you about that Halloween party.. nah, you can read just the book yourself.).

I can't say that I'd go out and tell everyone that they should read this, but if it came up in conversation (admittedly unlikely) I'd recommend it. The wit, editors comments to cut down on tangents and occasional bouts of psychosis all contributed to something that was an interesting read, even if it wasn't something that I'd read all the time.

So yeah, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, good book, I'd recommend it, if you are into this sort of thing, and maybe even if you aren't. And I think there is a sequel coming, which I'd consider reading. Your next Challenge will be up shortly Em.

 - L

*Totally unfair, I think she stole my share of interesting life events.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

DNF Review 11: 'Insurrection'

This is our first Did Not Finish Challenge, which makes me a bit sad. I'm not even sure why I didn't finish, except that book? I'm pretty sure it's not you, it's me.

Or it might be you. Let's see.

You aren't really my favourite type of historical fiction. You spend a lot of time sounding like a history book giving a recount of battles or overarching policy. I prefer my historical fiction to be much more personal. Maybe you're trying to tell too much? More details and a shorter timeframe might have been better for me.

And speaking of personal, maybe I didn't persevere long enough (I read 348 out of 633 pages) but I didn't really connect with your hero. Maybe that's your point, and the whole thing is about how he's going to grow from this kinda boring, kinda self-centered, kinda average guy into this amazing leader of men and whatever. But you didn't make me want to stick around to find out. Plus he was having an affair with a married woman. I don't find that appealing.

And through no fault of your own, you are a book that I own. It's hard to compete against library books that demand to be read in a specific amount of time. And if FYA stopped recommending books I wanted to request, maybe this wouldn't have been a problem. But I'm sorry book, there are just too many things against you right now.

I have no doubt that you will be read sometime. Shall I aim for the Christmas holidays? I do want to finish you, because you cover a part of history that I'm not especially familiar with. But for right now, you are holding up this Challenge business, so I have to let you go. See you again.