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Daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend. Living each day to the fullest. I know God has a plan for me, if I could just see it all through His eyes.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Well Seasoned Reader Challenge

I picked up this challenge over at Book Nut. I think this will be the last challenge I sign up for until this one is over. I have a few going and I want to be able to keep up with them. But this sounds good and it will definitely get me into some new books.

Here's how it works:
Rule #1: The challenge runs from January 1 to March 31. (No cheating and starting before!)Rule
#2: You must read three books. After that, it's up to you how much you want to read.
Rule #3: The books must:
have a food name in the title
be about cooking/eating
have a place name in the title
be about one (or more) person's travel experience
ORbe about a specific cultureOR
be by an author whose ethnicity is other than your own (see, I squeezed it in!)
I'll leave it up to you to choose how the three books you read fit the criteria.
Rule #4: They must be middle-grade on up, but can be either fiction or non-fiction.
The purpose, this winter, is to take yourself someplace out of the ordinary, to go on a literary trip, whether that be challenging your expectations, discovering a new place, or enjoying the experience of reading about good food, places, and people.
So, I will add my reviews here as I finish my 3 books. Stay tuned!
My first book to fall into this challenge-I say fall because I was already reading it when I stumbled upon this challenge last week-is A Father's Law by Richard Wright. This falls under an author of an ethnicity other than my own category. Mr. Wright was an African American writer that made his way into the world of writing through Communist groups in Chicago in the 1920's. Mr. Wright's last novel, A Father's Law, is an unfinished work. I wasn't too sure if I'd even read through to the "end" when I was a chapter into the book. It was a bit on the dry, psychological side. But as Mr. Wright builds up the characters of Ruddy (the father) and Tommy (his son) it kind of grips you. The story is about a father that is promoted as police chief into an area with 5 unsolved murders and for reasons unexplained, besides misunderstanding, he suspects his son is involved somehow. As the story progresses, the reader can't help but side with the Ruddy and than Tommy alternately, and almost believe Tommy's guilt right along with Ruddy. Mr. Wright died before he finished the book but his family believed it was his best work yet so published it "as-is". I won't ruin the last page for anyone but let me just say this....You'll be wishing he'd survived to finish it. A Father's Law is one of the best "chance picks" I've ever read. *****
Vampire in Moscow begins in ancient Rome during the reign of Emperor Nero. There the author sets the tone for what becomes a very interesting read. Quickly we catch up to a more modern era of post-war Russia and Richard Henrick entertwines the lives of 6 main characters. What I liked most about his book is that he really goes into details of each of the victims' lives. They aren't just a name or body discovered. You know why they are where they are and you know they are the expendable characters but after you've had a glimpse into their lives you want them to survive. There are some weaknesses in the plot that could have used some shoring up, just as there are a few characters that need to be fleshed out a little more. Overall, I was pleased with this read-especially since I went into it thinking it would be a cheap-o novel. Also, except for a couple paragraphs of slight allusions to sex, it is a very clean book with no profanity. Mr. Henrick also does a good job of describing the godless society communist Russia propagated. I do recommend it for anyone that likes historical fiction with a penchant for the darker side of fantasy, but it's not for everyone. ***
Woo Hoo!
This is #3 for me. A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam is fits the challenge as the author is a different ethnicity than my own and the book is about a specific culture other than my own. It also mentions ethnic food, a lot. Does that count? A Golden Age is set in 1971 East Pakistan during the Bangladesh War of Independance. It is a masterful telling of a family affected in all aspects by the war. It is poetic and suspenseful. There were times I could not put it down because I just had to know what was going to happen.
I came upon this book by accident. I was at our local Target and was actually looking to buy a totally different book--The Love Dare. Then I remembered that I needed to get this challenge wrapped up very quickly. I turned around, saw this book on the shelf, read the synopsis and bought it instead. For a chance find, it is a great read.
Rehana Haque, a young widow, blissfully prepared for the party she will host for her son and daughter. But this is 1971 in East Pakistan, and change is in the air.
Set against teh backdrop of the Bangladesh War of Independance, A Golden Age is a story of passion and revolution; of hope, faith, and unexpected heroism in the midst of chaos--and of one woman's heartbreaking struggle to keep her family safe. From A Golden Age
I found myself inspired by the character, Rehana. The edition I purchased included an interview with Tahmima Anam. I was awed by the account of her maternal grandmother's tale of life during the war, on which A Golden Age is based. The story is at once believable but also fairytale-like in it's ending. It took me by surprise to learn it was based on fact.
I have to say this was my favorite read during this challenge. I enjoyed all the books I read but this one really took me away, beyond the borders of what I know and understand about the world and opened my curiousity towards a custom and way of life I had never regarded closely before.


Melissa said...

Welcome. Hope you can find some books that take you away this winter. Thanks for joining up!

Nikki said...

You sure are doing a lot of reading challenges! I love to read, too, but it's hard to find the time with two little ones.

Blue Castle said...

If it's as cold where you are as where I am, hopefully you won't have any trouble getting all your reading done. :) I'm seriously thinking I should just hole up at home and not go anywhere for the next 3 months. It's. just. too. cold.

MyKidsMom said...

This sounds like a good book, but I hate being left hanging at the end. However, since you still consider it worth reading, maybe I should give it a try.

I'm trying to broaden my reading horizens this year as well. It's easy to get stuck in the same rut.

Melissa said...

I will have to find A Golden Age. I sounds absolutely wonderful.