Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Alphabet Challenge


1. 26 books!

runs January 1st 2011 –December 31, 2011. For each letter, read a book that has a main character or key supporting character (not some random minor character mentioned twice!) whose name starts with that letter. It doesn’t have to be the title of the book, just the name. Ex: Alice (in wonderland), Bella (twilight), Cathy (Wuthering Heights), Dracula (Dracula) Estella (Great Expectations), etc.

2. only one letter per book!

3. Crossovers are fine

4. audio, e-book, bound book, someone reading it out loud to you, reading a book to your little brother or sister, it all counts.

5. any length—short stories, books of the Bible, etc. they all count for this one.

Level 1: 10 Letters
Level 2: 20 Letters
Level 3: Completes all 26 letters (yes, that means X and Z and Q. I’m sure you can find something.)

Hosted by The Life (and lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object

My List

C: Catherine--The Sculptor (February)
G: Gettler--The Poisoner's Handbook (March)
H: Henrietta--The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (April)
J: Jo--Little Women (February)
K: Katherine--Tinkers (April)
L: Lisbeth--The Girl Who Played with Fire (January)
O: Osceola--Swamplandia (March)
Q: Qussim--The City and The City (March)
V: Vanessa: The Informationist (March)


Author: Karen Russell

Pages: 336

Personal Rating: 3/5

From the back cover:

From the celebrated twenty-nine-year-old author of the everywhere-heralded short-story collection St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (“How I wish these were my own words, instead of the breakneck demon writer Karen Russell’s . . . Run for your life. This girl is on fire”—Los Angeles Times Book Review) comes a blazingly original debut novel that takes us back to the swamps of the Florida Everglades, and introduces us to Ava Bigtree, an unforgettable young heroine.

The Bigtree alligator-wrestling dynasty is in decline, and Swamplandia!, their island home and gator-wrestling theme park, formerly #1 in the region, is swiftly being encroached upon by a fearsome and sophisticated competitor called the World of Darkness. Ava’s mother, the park’s indomitable headliner, has just died; her sister, Ossie, has fallen in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, who may or may not be an actual ghost; and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, who dreams of becoming a scholar, has just defected to the World of Darkness in a last-ditch effort to keep their family business from going under. Ava’s father, affectionately known as Chief Bigtree, is AWOL; and that leaves Ava, a resourceful but terrified thirteen, to manage ninety-eight gators and the vast, inscrutable landscape of her own grief.

Against a backdrop of hauntingly fecund plant life animated by ancient lizards and lawless hungers, Karen Russell has written an utterly singular novel about a family’s struggle to stay afloat in a world that is inexorably sinking. An arrestingly beautiful and inventive work from a vibrant new voice in fiction

I'm not exactly sure how I feeling about Swamplandia. Each time I try to put down what I liked or didn't like about this book it keeps getting tangled together.

In general I would say this is a good book and I would recommend it. That being said, I would also say it reads more slowly than it should. This may have been because of my own personal expectations. I expected more of the book to be set in the park and deal with the alligator wrestling itself and it didn't. This didn't make it bad, just different. It's hard to talk about what happens in this story without giving away spoilers so I'll just make a few comment.

The characters were phenomenal. Ava, Osceola and Kiwi are the three children who live at Swamplandia!. Each of them is different from each other, strange and still completely relatable.

Russell's descriptions of the swamp were vivid. I felt like I was in the swamp with Ava. I swear I could feel mosquitoes crawling on me at some points while reading. I could feel mud drying on me and making my skin shrink. She also did a great job at conveying the "obnoxiousness???" you can observe if you head out to any amusement park or large public gathering these days.

Possible, though unlikely SPOILER (i just tell if i like the end, not what happened)--

I felt the ending was too neat and tidy. Improbable. It was too nice. Do people need a "nice" ending to enjoy a book? Can an unhappy ending still make an enjoyable, good read?

If you are undecided I would grab the book and give it a go!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Hosted by Historical Tapestry

Some of the "nuts and bolts"

• Any kind of historical fiction is accepted (HF fantasy, HF young adult,...)
• You can overlap this challenge with others kind of challenges
• During these following 12 months you can choose one of the different reading levels:

1. Severe Bookaholism: 20 books
2. Undoubtedly Obsessed: 15 books
3. Struggling the Addiction: 10 books
4. Daring & Curious: 5 books
5. Out of My Comfort Zone: 2 books

The challenge will run from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2011

I've been checking out other participants blogs and I see many interesting picks being read for this challenge. So I think I'm going to to sign up for

Daring and Curious: 5 books
1. Captain Alatriste: Arturo Perez-Reverte
2. The Reincarnationist: M. J. Rose
3. The Serpent's Tale: Ariana Franklin

Now I just need to decide which books I actually want to read!
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