Monday, July 21, 2014

High Summer Read-a-Thon - Goal Post #HighSummerRAT

Here is my goal list for this week:

• get close to or finish The Goldfinch
• complete Road Ends
• work on these books:
     • War & Peace
     • The Count of Monte Cristo
     • The Woman in White
     • The Lady and the Unicorn
     • Mrs. Hemmingway

I will hopefully put up an update each night at around 10 pm, but it might be later.  Happy reading!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (July 21)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a fun weekly meme that is hosted by Shelia at Book Journeyin which we share what we've read and reviewed and what we plan on reading in the coming week.

Books finished in the last month:
• The Perks of Being a Wallflower
• The Remains of the Day
• His Majesty's Hope
• The Rosie Project
• Summer House with Swimming Pool
• The Remains of the Day
• The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
• Speaking from among the Bones
• Levels of Life

Book reviews posted:
• The Orenda by Joseph Boyden (review)
• Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal (review)
• HHhH by Laurent Binet (review)
• Boxers by Gene Luen Yang (review)
• Saints by Gene Luen Yang (review)

Books I hope to finish this week:
• The Goldfinch
• Road Ends

Books I would like to work on:
• The Lady and the Unicorn
• Bittersweet
• Mrs. Hemmingway

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Saints - Gene Luen Yang

Title: Saints (Boxers & Saints #2)
Author: Gene Luen Yang
Pages 170
Published: 2013
Challenges: I Love Libraries, Finish the Series
Genre: Historical Fiction, Graphic Novels
Edition: Paperback
Source: Library

Description: China, 1898. An unwanted and unwelcome fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn't even given a proper name by her family when she's born. She finds friendship--and a name, Vibiana--in the most unlikely of places: Christianity. 

But China is a dangerous place for Christians. The Boxer Rebellion is in full swing, and bands of young men roam the countryside, murdering Westerners and Chinese Christians alike. Torn between her nation and her Christian friends, Vibiana will have to decide where her true loyalties lie...and whether she is willing to die for her faith. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: This was the conclusion to Boxers and used characters and events from the previous book, so it would be very helpful to read Boxers before reading this book.  I was able to get through this book fairly quickly, but I was a little disappointed that this side of the story wasn't as developed as Boxers was developed and felt that the author shortchanged the readers with the second half, but maybe there wasn't as much material to work with as there may have been with Boxers.

But being that its been several months since I read this book, my recollection isn't that great, but as a whole, it is one that I would read,  particularly if I am a fan of graphic novels.

Bottom line: Like I mentioned in my review for Boxers, I would probably recommend this book to those that are either fans of the graphic novel format or are interested in history and reading a fictionalized account of a historical book.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4/5

Pages for 2014: 7568

Boxers - Gene Luen Yang

Title: Boxers (Boxers & Saints #1)
Author: Gene Luen Yang
Pages: 325
Published: 2013
Challenges: I Love Libraries, Complete the Series, Historical Fiction
Genre: Historical Fiction, Graphic Novels
Edition: Paperback
Source: Library

Description: China, 1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants.

Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing the powers of ancient Chinese gods, he recruits an army of Boxers--commoners trained in kung fu--who fight to free China from "foreign devils."

Against all odds, this grass-roots rebellion is violently successful. But nothing is simple. Little Bao is fighting for the glory of China, but at what cost? So many are dying, including thousands of "secondary devils"--Chinese citizens who have converted to Christianity. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: I first heard about this book from Michael Kindness on the podcast Books on the Nightstand, that he co-hosts with a colleague, Ann Kingman.  Not that I am gaining anything from this, but I would highly recommend downloading the podcast, as they have excellent book recommendations and discuss some really important topics and generally have a good time with it.

Anyways, after hearing the recommendation for the book and its sequel, Saints, I immediately sought out the books and being a fan of the Maus books by Art Spiegelman, it piqued my interest, even though this is more a fictionalized representation of the Boxer Rebellion.  I wasn't disappointed with the book and was able to get through the book more quickly than I had expected to, especially since it took me sometime to get through Blankets a number of years back.  I did think that it would take me awhile to get through the book, even though it was a graphic novel.

Bottom line: If you have read and enjoyed other historical graphic novels, both fiction and non-fiction, and have an interest in historical events in general, you probably would enjoy this as well.  The illustrations are well done and fit well with the tone of the book.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5

Pages for 2014: 7398

HHhH - Laurent Binet

Title: HHhH
Author: Laurent Binet, Sam Taylor (translator)
Pages: 330
Published: 2012 (first published 2009)
Challenges: I Love Libraries, Eclectic Reading, Historical Fiction
Genre: Historical Fiction, War Fiction, Translation, Literary Fiction
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: HHhH: “Himmlers Hirn heisst Heydrich”, or “Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich”. The most dangerous man in Hitler’s cabinet, Reinhard Heydrich was known as the “Butcher of Prague.” He was feared by all and loathed by most. With his cold Aryan features and implacable cruelty, Heydrich seemed indestructible—until two men, a Slovak and a Czech recruited by the British secret service, killed him in broad daylight on a bustling street in Prague, and thus changed the course of History.

Who were these men, arguably two of the most discreet heroes of the twentieth century? In Laurent Binet’s captivating debut novel, we follow Jozef Gabćik and Jan Kubiš from their dramatic escape of Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia to England; from their recruitment to their harrowing parachute drop into a war zone, from their stealth attack on Heydrich’s car to their own brutal death in the basement of a Prague church.

A seemingly effortlessly blend of historical truth, personal memory, and Laurent Binet’s remarkable imagination, HHhH—an international bestseller and winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman—is a work at once thrilling and intellectually engrossing, a fast-paced novel of the Second World War that is also a profound meditation on the nature of writing and the debt we owe to history. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: I first heard about this novel through Hear...Read This! as one of their first selections and because the book sounded interesting.  I had never heard about Reinhard Heydrich (may have heard his name his name in course of my history courses in university, but it never probably clicked in my head) and once I had received the book, I did some research on him and trust me he was not one you wanted to cross, both in life and in death.

What I liked about the most about the book is that the chapters were very short, mostly about a third to a half page and that you could see the author's thought process, at least I think it was, interjected with a bit of history of the Czech resistance movement.  It was interesting to read a book that took from the Axis side that didn't involved the civilian population.

If there was something that bothered me was that when the author would spend a lot of time in the present and not return to the historical aspect of the book as quickly as I would have liked the author to.

Bottom line: If you are a fan of war fiction, I would highly recommend the book.  Even if you like reading historical fiction that presents something that isn't your typical historical fiction and something more with a literary bent.  Recommended.

Rating: 3.9/5

Pages for 2014: 7073

Sunday Salon - Right Now (7/20/14)

Time: 2:20 pm Pacific

Place: Some place other than home

Listening to… Adventures with Words Live from YALC

Watching... An episode of House Hunters International

Reading... A bunch of stuff, but am planning on doing a bunch out of The Goldfinch

Planning...  To write some reviews this afternoon for Bloggiesta

Feeling... Frustrated; can't really seem to get into a routine at the moment.

Wanting... Some sort of routine

Thinking... Trying not to think too much about things at the moment

Looking forward to... Seeing my friend Alison for the next few days.

Books finished since my last Sunday Salon:

Books reviewed:

Books I hope to finish this week:
The Goldfinch
Road Ends

Bloggiesta sign up

I realize that I putting this up a little late, but I figure whatever.  Here are my plans:

• post 3 or 4 book reviews
• catch up on blog-related emails that have been piling up since a week ago Friday (the 11th)
• listen to a bunch of my book-related podcasts
• read up to at least 40% of The Goldfinch
• write up a start up post for the High-Summer Readathon
• write up my Sunday Salon and What Are You Reading? posts
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