Jul 31, 2014

Semi Charmed Summer Book Challenge Complete!

Book Challenge and Mini Reviews Completed

I finished the challenge!  It has been a blast, and I'm so glad Megan at Semi Charmed Kind of Life ran it, because I had, ready for this?, this is pretty terrible... stopped reading.  (gasp!)

Not entirely, I suppose.  I have a few things at home that I pick up when I get bored, but I was watching a lot more TV than reading, and I don't feel like it does as much for my brain.  So having something to remind how awesome reading is was nice (and it got me a bit more involved on Goodreads, which is fun!  Come friend me to talk books).

So now I've got 5 more mini reviews for you, if you're interested in what I think.  Here's a heads-up, blanket SPOILER ALERT for everything to follow, since I'm so bad at not discussing endings (but not quite as bad as Sister3, who will give you such a sad look when you tell her not to give away the end that you almost always cave and sigh, "Go ahead.").

3 Cups of Tea

The start and the end of this were easy to read and held my attention, but there's a pretty good chunk in the middle where you struggle to maintain interest in the main character.  He's got such a great mission that you almost feel like a bad person for not being interested in it, but he blunders around so much and puts himself in danger.  Like, I said, it gets hard to read.

The premise is that this man becomes inspired to start charity work building schools for children (mostly girls) in order to improve the lives of remote villagers in the middle east.  As he continues his work, he starts to see more fully the value of his work, and that a well balanced education is our best defense against terrorism (treat the disease and not the symptom).  It's a really powerful message, but it feels at times that you're getting sidetracked and distracted by other things.

Daughter of the Forest

Loved it, mostly!  The story is compelling and I love reading adaptations of fairy tales (in this case the 7 Swans story).  The only part that left me unsatisfied was the romance and I can't quite put my finger on why.  Maybe it was just a little forced, or the end was too tidy.  I'm not sure.  But it was close to 5 stars - I had to debate between 4 and 5.


Speaking of tidy endings... this story was fantastic!  Right up until the end.  And after a well-paced beginning, and even slow start, you're getting excited as you reach the climax of the story and then, boom, it's over.  And everyone's beautiful and everyone's problems are solved and they're all wealthy and happy forever.  It doesn't match the rest of the story and it's a bit disappointing.  I still like it, and it was a fun adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, but thinking of the ending makes me a bit sad, and might prevent me from rereading.

Player Piano

I didn't enjoy this as much as other Kurt Vonnegut books I've read.  I felt like I was already 1/3 of the way through and they were still setting the scene, and overall it just kind of dragged on.  I wish I could say better things, because for the most part I love his books (and because this was recommended to me by someone).  But at least this time I got through it!


I liked this better the 2nd time around, but it was still a weird follow up for the first 2 books.  And in each consecutive book, I feel less and less attached to Katniss.  I realize she's a teenager, but I still feel like the author didn't go out of her way to make us like or even sympathize with her.  Normally when a story is from the main character's point of view, it's a great opportunity to explain his/her side of the story, and to make you understand his/her less than stellar behavior.

In this case, Katniss is so out of touch with her own emotions and reasons for doing things that she can't explain the irrational ways she behaves.  And she vacillates back and forth between wanting to be a hero and being a little, whiny girl who doesn't want to do anything helpful for anyone.  So, while I wasn't disappointed the way I was the first time I read the series, I'd be perfectly happy to stop after book 1.

Full list and point system for the challenge:

Link to Semi-Charmed Summer Book Challenge Post

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 200 pages long.
— Words of Radiance, Brandon Sanderson (1,087 pages - Finished! x a Million)

Book cover for Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

10 points: Read a book that was written before you were born.
— The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas (1,276 pages - Finished! ♥♥♥♥)

Book cover for The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

10 points: Finish reading a book you couldn't finish the first time around.
— Player Piano, Kurt Vonnegut (341 pages - Finished!)

Book cover for Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut

10 points: Read a book from the children’s section of the library or bookstore.
— The Two Princesses of Bamarre, Gail Carson Levine (304 pages - Finished! ♥♥♥♥)

Book cover for The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

15 points: Read a book that is on The New York Times' Best Sellers List when you begin.
— The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman (208 pages - Finished! ♥♥♥♥)

Book cover for The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

15 points: Read a historical fiction book that does not take place in Europe.
— Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden (434 pages - Finished! ♥♥♥♥♥)

Book cover for Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

15 points: Read a book another blogger has already read for the challenge.
Let's Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson (318 pages - Finished! ♥♥♥♥)

Book cover for Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

20 points: Read a book with “son(s),” “daughter(s)” or “child(ren)” in the title.
— Daughter of the Forest, Juliet Marillier (560 pages - Finished! ♥♥♥♥)

Book cover for Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

20 points: Read a book that was/will be adapted to film in 2014.
— Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (392 pages - Finished! ♥♥♥) - So sad that the Giver wasn't long enough to be considered for this challenge.  It's such a good book!  Also, a bit scared to see what they do to it...

25 points: Read a book written by a blogger.
— Hyperbole and a Half, Allie Brosh (384 pages - Finished! ♥♥♥♥) [blog of the same name]

Book cover for Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

25 points: Read a biography, autobiography or memoir.
— Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson (349 pages - Finished! ♥♥♥)

Book cover for Three Cups of Tea

30 points: Read a pair of books with antonyms in the titles.
— Beauty, Robin McKinley (256 pages - Finished! ♥♥♥♥♥) & God Don't Like Ugly, Mary Monroe (432 pages - Finished! ♥♥♥♥)

Book cover for Beauty by Robin McKinley Book cover for God Don't Like Ugly by Mary Monroe

What have you read from the challenge list?  What books do you love (or hate)?

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  1. I loved the book by The Bloggess. She's one of my long time favorites.

  2. I'm definitely scared to see what they do with The Giver. It looks pretty sci-fi to me, which is not how I remember the book. Thanks for doing my challenge! And congrats on finishing!!


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