Friday, January 25, 2008

Chunkster Challenge Update - Two for One

Remember when I posted that I was going to participate in the Chunkster Challenge? Well I read my first quarter book and actually a bit more than that.

My first choice was Zelda by Nancy Milford, and at 467 pages it seemed to fit. I should have done some further checking. See the book was those probably all those pages in hardback and including the glossary. Oops! My paperback tiny print book was just at 402 pages including glossary.

As for the book itself, I enjoyed it. I really knew very little about the Fitzgerald's beforehand other than I really like The Great Gatsby. The story of their courtship was fascinating. Zelda was a true free spirit and had the run of her hometown and more admirers than she could keep track of. The relationship between Scott & Zelda was intense and flawed and codependent and so ever-changing. I was stunned by Scott's possessiveness of their history as fodder for only his writing. I was equally amazed by Zelda's fragile mental state and how in the world a child was raised among the two of them.
The author obviously has to discuss both of their writings in the book, but it got a bit repetitious for me in parts since both of them wrote very autobiographical novels. I prefer Nancy Milford's biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay over Zelda, but I really like the way this Milford writes so I can't wait to read her next book (which will apparently be about Rose Kennedy according to wikipedia).
So what's a girl to do when her challenge book doesn't live up to the challenge? Why, pick up another book of course!

At 819 pages, Libba Bray's The Sweet Far Thing easily fit the challenge requirements. The last of Bray's books about Gemma Doyle, this YA novel was really enjoyable and hard to put down.
First off, I have to say though that book one had the loveliest cover, book two was prettyish, but this cover really didn't do much for me. Meh.
As for the story, I have to rave. For one, it isn't all predictable. I was as confused as Gemma about who could be trusted and who couldn't. Also the author doesn't shy away from some pretty adult themes and idea. And best of all its a trilogy and not a never-ending series looking to milk every last bit out of the idea and the readers' pocketbooks. (Can you tell who recently visited the bookstore and was horrified by all the never-ending YA series that looked like cheap knockoffs of Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?)
I'm sure to send this to my niece. She'll love the mix of strong female characters, magic, adventure, and a bit of romance. Plus the themes are a perfect mind expanding stretch for a girl in her early teens.
Also - wow! Being part of one of these challenges forces a girl to write a real review rather than just my too easy "liked it" or "didn't much like it." I feel as if I'm back in school a bit.

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