Challenge: 50 Books discussion

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Finish Line 2009! > Becky's Shifty Fifty

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message 1: by Becky (new)

Becky | 36 comments I honestly don't know if fifty is too hard or too easy for me...but I'm excited to start keeping track!


message 2: by Becky (last edited Jul 06, 2009 07:13AM) (new)

Becky | 36 comments
1. House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones.
Well, this was a fun way to start trying to read 50 books in a year. I've read quite a few Diana Wynne Jones books previously, and I'm happy to say that this one fit in perfectly. It is a 'sequel' to Howl's Moving Castle, which everyone should read and then see the movie by Hayao Miyazaki. It was fun, with a a great plot and great characters. BUT...and there is a BUT. I've read this book by her before. It feels like many times. And while I DO enjoy her writing style, I feel like she used to have books that were different from EACH OTHER as well as different from the stories of other authors. This one was: selfish girl goes out on her own -> meets dreamy boy she finds annoying at first then learns to work with him as a team -> the surprise solution to the mystery was IN FRONT OF THEM THE WHOLE TIME...I mean, great stuff, but not so much when you've read it more than a few times before. All in all, I enjoyed it, but I'm disappointed at the lack of originality in an author who used to blow me away with her imagination.


message 3: by Becky (last edited Jul 06, 2009 07:13AM) (new)

Becky | 36 comments

2. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris


OK. Well, first of all, I liked the book. Harris does a fine job of making Sookie both sympathetic and engaging. On the other hand, this beef kept running through my head...
I have read Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series. And I have read the first book in the Twilight series (and that was more than enough of that). WHY is it that the ONLY romantic plot line that these authors can come up with is having the protagonist choose between a VAMPIRE and a SHAPESHIFTER?!!! EVERY time!!!!!Every time, it's like "Oh, here's this really hot vampire who loves me, but he's dead, so there's also this really hot shapeshifter who loves me, but he turns into animals! But at least he's alive. But there's something about the dead one..." ARGH!!
Don't get me wrong. I DO love both vamps and 'shifters. But you have to admit that:
Jean-Claude = Edward Cullen = Bill (I DO love that she named him Bill,btw)
&
Richard = Jacob = Sam

SAME character. SAME romantic plot line involving the character. Seriously, people. The vampire is an edgy bad boy who's only good to her. The 'shifter is a misunderstood-because-of-his-ability-but-generally-the-beta-male-nice-guy-type. EVERY TIME. Lame. Lame lame lame. It makes me yearn for an alpha male 'shifter and a vampire without edge. Lame.
Granted, I read Anita Blake first. So, it was new to me then, and I truly enjoyed the Jean-Claude/Richard triangle thing. I was annoyed to find it repeated in Twilight, but that was just one of the many problems I had with that book and I wasn't surprised that it lacked originality with the romantic triangle. But I had higher hopes for this Sookie Stackhouse series. And I know it's not the series' fault. I mean, if I had read Charlaine Harris first, I wouldn't have felt this way.
BUT, reading this plot line AGAIN, especially after it was in the horrible Twilight, was really disappointing and I'm not sure I can bring myself to continue the series. Which is too bad. Cause Sookie really kinda rules. I love the small town atmosphere, her job, her brother is really fleshed out, I LOVE that the vampire is named Bill (indicating that she doesn't take the whole vampire thing as seriously as say, someone who names their vamp 'Jean-Claude' for Cripe's sake), but I just don't KNOW if I can stand this 'shifter/vamp triangle thing AGAIN. Sigh. I'll give the series another chance with the second book, and hope it surprises me. I know, I'm a sucker.


message 4: by Becky (last edited Jul 06, 2009 07:14AM) (new)

Becky | 36 comments [image error]

3.Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan.


Good stuff. I love that this series can take Greek Mythology (which frankly, I thought I was done with a long time ago) and make it new and interesting. The character of Briares was perfect, I had never even HEARD of him before, and then I found his name in Paradise Lost. Percy is a very likeable character, and who WOULDN'T want to be a descendant of Poseidon? He was always my favorite. In this one, they meet Daedalus, and hear his tragic story (Icarus, Perdix, Minos, Ariadne)...he's still alive because he has created automatons and then been able to transfer his animus to them. Fascinating. Sympathetic character, even though you see him murder his nephew...Kronos is rising, and scary...great battle scenes...angst between Percy and Annabeth as they get older, I really like Rachel Elizabeth Dare...and TYSON is the MAN. New side of Dionysus, and you find yourself really rooting for the Olympian gods...although Annabeth makes the mistake of getting on the wrong side of Hera.

Another great entry in a great series.


MB (What she read) Becky said: "...but I just don't KNOW if I can stand this 'shifter/vamp triangle thing AGAIN. Sigh. I'll give the series another chance with the second book, and hope it surprises me. I know, I'm a sucker."

What an interesting insight as to similarities between LHH, CH, & Twilight!

I hope you'll continue with Sookie Stackhouse. I think/hope you'll be pleasantly surprised. Harris plays with the trope a little more, I think.



message 6: by Becky (new)

Becky | 36 comments Thanks for the comment, MB! Now that you say so, I will DEFINITELY read the next Sookie Stackhouse. I compared books with you and really like your taste. Also, I have now added about 50 new books to my 'to-read' shelf, based on your reviews, and that was only from the first two hundred! :) So, if you start to notice that some of my Fifty in One Year books look a lot like ones that you've read before, you'll know why.
Also, this might be personal, but are you a librarian? I ask because I noticed some librarian-related books on your list, and because i am one myself.


message 7: by MB (What she read) (last edited Jun 17, 2009 01:01PM) (new)

MB (What she read) Hi Becky! I'm going to friend you (if you agree) because the recommendations go both ways! I bet I'll get some from you too!

I'm not a librarian (no MLA), but I'm a long-time library employee. I get to spend most of my time in one of my favorite places in the world and I have free access to almost anything...in order to feed my reading addiction! ...And to pay my bills, of course.


message 8: by Becky (new)

Becky | 36 comments Hehe. I became a librarian for pretty much the same reason...I worked at Barnes & Noble for years, but they DO make you pay for your books, still. And their prices are pretty steep, even with a 30% discount. :) Also, when I got hired at my first librarian job, they told me not to hesitate to buy books JUST BECAUSE I wanted to read them - apparently, a librarian buying books according to her personal taste makes the collection stronger and her recommendations better. I remember thinking, 'This must be the greatest job of all time.' That was when I bought the entire Sandman graphic novel series, and boy, do they circulate! I was a YA librarian for a while, and I really enjoyed buying those books. :) And yes, this much fun, and they pay my bills, too!


MB (What she read) ...we must be twins, separated at birth!


message 10: by Becky (last edited Jul 06, 2009 07:14AM) (new)

Becky | 36 comments
4.Bigfoot: I not dead by Graham Roumieu

Pretty funny, although I didn't laugh until I peed like the blurb from Slate.com on the back said I would...

Quick, light, fast, entertaining. Funny illustrations. Wouldn't want to buy it because it's too short, and not funny enough. I would recommend it to a friend with a quirky sense of humor, or possibly a strange love for Bigfoot. :)


message 11: by Becky (last edited Jul 06, 2009 07:15AM) (new)

Becky | 36 comments

5.The Orphan's Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice by Catherynne M. Valente


This book, and its predecessor, are both so amazing that it's almost difficult to describe. It's a story about stories, and there are stories within stories within stories in a kaleidoscopic whirl that leaves you dizzy in that good way, like when you were little and someone you trusted spun you around and around...
There's a Firebird who loved a goose who used to be a girl...a beastly Princess...a fox who sails...a Saint with three breasts who nurses the last Griffin...a ship that sails into the Boiling Sea...a selkie...a huldra...a girl with violin bows for hands who dances and plays on her hair...you get the picture. And they are all interconnected, all part of each other's story. Awesomesauce.
I didn't want it to end. I will read everything this author has written. Highly recommended for everyone.


message 12: by Becky (last edited Jul 06, 2009 07:15AM) (new)

Becky | 36 comments

6.The Secret Hour (Midnighters #1) by Scott Westerfeld


Eh. I'll probably read the rest. The secret hour thing is cool, but the rest of it is pretty predictable.


message 13: by Becky (last edited Jul 28, 2009 11:04AM) (new)

Becky | 36 comments [image error]

7.An Alien Heat (Dancers at the End of Time #1) by Micheal Moorcock


Satire, mystery, romance - and the very best meaning of 'speculative' science fiction. The characters are wonderful, their journey fascinating. The total alienness of the far distant future, mixed with the comfortable familiarity of the Victorian era. A totally convincing and meaningful love story. Highly recommended, can't wait to read the next one.


message 14: by Becky (last edited Jul 06, 2009 07:16AM) (new)

Becky | 36 comments [image error]

8. Locke and Key by Joe Hill

This book is about a family that experiences a devastating loss and how they deal with it, but it's also a horror story that makes you feel sick to your stomach and frightened...
The author, Joe Hill, is Stephen King's son, and in some ways, his approach to horror is similar. You learn enough about the 'bad guy' so that he is human enough to really horrify and sicken you, WHILE you feel bad for him. The Echo is the supernatural scary thing, and BOY is it scary. The family is human and funny and relatable. The artwork is glorious. The haunted house is wicked cool. Definitely recommended, and I'll read the next when it comes out


message 15: by Becky (last edited Jul 30, 2009 01:06PM) (new)

Becky | 36 comments
9.The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #5) by Rick Riordan

Ahhhh...I love it when a series ending leaves you with the feeling that everything is tied up, all is right in the world, and that maybe, just maybe, there's going to be a spinoff involving other characters one day...

This book did all of that and so much more. This series has been a wonderful read. Just when you thought Greek mythology was lame and overdone, the series breathes new life into it. The characters were wonderful, and I'm truly sorry that I won't be reading any more books from Percy Jackson's first person perspective. Contrast that with my feelings for Bella and the HER first person perspective in the Twilight series - as in, I can't read those books because I hate Bella so much...

And, OMG, the final battle was everything a battle should be. I mean, it took up like, the last half of the book. And it was a mile a minute. One of the best sieges I've read about since Helmsdeep... :)


message 16: by Becky (last edited Jul 30, 2009 01:06PM) (new)

Becky | 36 comments
10.The Shadow Door & The Shadow Spies & The Master of Shadows (The Elsewhere Chronicles #1,#2 ) by Nykko

I'll count these three as one because they are so short...as so many graphic novels are. I'm not going to complain, though - you get all the artwork, too, after all.
Speaking of the artwork, it was great. The characters were distinctively drawn, and the way they looked added a lot to your perception of the character. The storyline is good, intriguing, and more than a little scary/disturbing. Young children go exploring in a haunted house and find a lot more than they bargained for...



message 17: by Becky (last edited Jul 20, 2009 12:07PM) (new)

Becky | 36 comments [image error]
11. Living Dead in Dallas (Sookie Stackhouse #2) by Charlaine Harris

Loved it. Love Sookie. Love the vamps. LOVED the Godfrey-meets-the-dawn thing. Loved the Fellowship. Really really really love the Southern small-town setting. Might read it just for that even if there weren't no vamps. ;) And MAN do I love Jason. Bill's OK. :) Eric's way cool. Really loved how tough Sookie was. Can't wait to read all the rest. :)
And yes, I DO remember my original complaints. I was a fool.


message 18: by Becky (last edited Jul 30, 2009 01:05PM) (new)

Becky | 36 comments [image error]
12. The Hollow Lands (Dancers at the End of Time #2) by Micheal Moorcock

Loved it. Love this whole series. So imaginative...and the love story really makes you invested in the story. He satirizes a future world far removed from our own, but depicts romantic love in a way that is truly timeless. He makes the citizens of the future almost alien...then shows how human nature hasn't changed at all. Like Gulliver's Travels at the End of Time, with a sincere love story thrown in, and characters that transcend their role in the satire to capture your heart. Brilliant and hilarious.


message 19: by Becky (new)

Becky | 36 comments
13.The Dragons of Ordinary Farm by Tad Williams.

A wonderful mix of science fiction and fantasy. Super fun to read, pretty scary. Just as good as you'd expect from Tad Williams!


message 20: by Becky (last edited Aug 04, 2009 11:30AM) (new)

Becky | 36 comments
14. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder.

I really, really enjoyed this book. The alternate world was believable and fully realized. The characters were multi-dimensional and compelling. Yelena's journey from victim to someone in control of her own destiny was wonderful to watch. Her boy Valek was dreamy and tough, and the romance was both meaningful and important to her journey. There were many surprises, a lot of meaningful examination of gender roles, and some kick-butt fight scenes. I can't wait to read the next one.


message 21: by Becky (new)

Becky | 36 comments
15. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

I wasn't sure how much I would like this book. I thought it might be obnoxious having a heroine who was BOTH newly very attractive and smart. But it wasn't. Frankie totally rules. She reads and loves P.G. Wodehouse and practices social criticism through practical jokes, but she is realistically naive about boys (what they want, who she wants to be in relation to them).
She wants more than a cute boy who thinks that she's 'adorable'. She wants to be a force to be reckoned with in her own right. It's not worth dumbing yourself down to get a guy, but it's hard to find one secure and awesome enough to keep up with you...but if you can't find one, you have to decide whether to settle or stay single...I think Frankie has a very promising future ahead of her. Being very intelligent often makes it more difficult to figure out where you belong in the world, but it's the journey itself that matters anyways...
Highly recommended.


message 22: by Becky (new)

Becky | 36 comments
16. Genesis by Bernard Beckett

So so so so good. Short, fast, meaningful, dark, thought-provoking. Anaximander has to take an Examination by a group of philospher-kings (such as in Plato's Republic) - but nothing, absolutely nothing is as it seems. Deals with many classic sci-fi t...more So so so so good. Short, fast, meaningful, dark, thought-provoking. Anaximander has to take an Examination by a group of philospher-kings (such as in Plato's Republic) - but nothing, absolutely nothing is as it seems. Deals with many classic sci-fi themes, such as the meaning of being human in a post-apocalyptic world where artificial intelligence is being developed at at rapid rate and how badly people can fail when they try to create a Utopia. This book poses these questions in new ways, and brings more (such as the evolution of the next dominate life form - what will it be?!) to the table. All this, and it took me about an hour to read. Wonderful, wonderful wonderful.



message 23: by Becky (new)

Becky | 36 comments
17.What Angels Fear: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery by C.S. Harris

Very good blend of historical fact and a fascinating storyline. Will be reading more, for sure.


message 24: by Becky (new)

Becky | 36 comments
18.Plan B by Jonathon Tropper

It's quite seldom that a book gives me an epiphany like this one did. I'm not sure if this book would affect others the way that it did me; one storyline between two characters REALLY hit home for me. I still think that most people would enjoy it. But for me, I'm turning thirty and this book captured a lot of what I felt. I did find the narrator to be more than a little self absorbed and whiny...and I didn't really feel the storyline between him and his girl. But overall, pretty true to life, and personally quite moving.


message 25: by Becky (new)

Becky | 36 comments
19.Scarlett by Cathy Cassidy
Cute and sweet. About a young girl finding her way after a divorce. Pretty heavy-handed...not alot of subtlety.


message 26: by Becky (new)

Becky | 36 comments
20.The Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird by Vivian Vande Velde.
I love retellings of classic stories. This collection was one of the best.


message 27: by Becky (new)

Becky | 36 comments
21.A Hidden Magic by Vivian Vande Velde.
A well-written fairy tale about why we love who we do...I love this author.


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