Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Bout of Books Read-a-thon

Yay! A read-a-thon scheduled for after the kids go to school! Here's more info:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 8.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Back to School Reading Challenge

I know, I know. I'm already doing a reading challenge for the month of August but I decided to add this one as well because it's open to any kind of book. I haven't decided what level I'm going to do. I'll just see how the month goes. The challenge is being hosted by Joy's Book Blog. Here is more info:

August and September are a favorite time of year for me — back to school season! I love the early apples, store displays of school supplies, and my first sighting of a big yellow school bus. I would love to send each of you a bouquet of sharpened pencils. My reading orientation turns from the purely pleasurable beach book to another kind of pleasure: learning something new. To give myself and others a little structure during this transition, I’m starting the Back to School Reading Challenge and Wednesday Book Club to run during the months of August and September.

No one fails at the Back to School Reading Challenge, so choose a level that works to challenge you but not so much it causes stress. Here are the levels:

Freshman: 1-2 books
Sophomore: 3-4 books
Junior: 5-6 books
Senior: 7-8 books

Read books on one topic or eight different ones or anything in between. Fiction is fine. I’ve learned a lot of history from novels set in other times and a lot about other cultures from novels set in other places. As long as you’re reading the book to learn something new, it counts for the Back to School Reading Challenge.

 A sign-up post is not required, but it does help spread the word. If you write one, link it here so we can all see who is playing. Feel free to grab the logo and to ask for suggestions for books in your categories of study.

There will be a new post each Wednesday in August and September with a link list for any discussions or reviews related to the Back to School Reading Challenge. On four Wednesdays, there will also be a Twitter Chat. More about that later. We may also do a read-along if there’s interest.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Inferno by Dan Brown

I was so excited when I saw that Dan Brown had finally written another book. I was even more excited when I found it at the library as a 7-Day Express book. This meant I didn't have to wait weeks in the queue for my turn to have the book.

What I Liked About the Book
I loved the way this book started. You are right in the action. I think Brown's previous books took awhile before they became exciting. This book is a race against time. Langdon doesn't just have to save one person, or even several people. He has to save the entire world. I felt this book could have been titled Robert Langdon: Superhero.

You also couldn't figure out exactly who was the good guys and who were the bad guys. Once you do have some figured out Brown switches them at the end.

I loved the descriptions of the art. I loved imagining what the different settings looked like. I was tempted to look some of them up online but decided not to because I actually think it's more fun to imagine them in my head. Brown is excellent at describing art, sculpture, and buildings so you know almost what they look like. I find my imagination is always a bit better than the real thing.

My favorite part of the book (as is my favorite part of all Dan Brown books) is watching Langdon solve the clues, riddles, and puzzles.

I never once felt Inferno slow down or drag. The pacing of the book kept me interested right up until the very end. I noticed many people complained about the description in their reviews on Amazon and that it slowed the story down but I never felt this way at all.

What I Didn't Like About the Book
Trying to do this without spoilers will be a challenge, but I will do my best.

The bad guy, Zobrist, was a bit cliche. A super rich, mad scientist with a lair? Really? As was the character of Sienna, the genius that just wants to belong and make a difference in the world who is tempted by evil. And I still don't quite understand why she was bald.

The very first clue of the painting where sections were changed around was so boring. If I were Langdon I would have been laughing at how easy it was to solve it. The clue just seemed so amateurish. But then again, Zobrist was a scientist, not an art historian or a symbologist.

I was disappointed by the real reason people were trying to kill Langdon. It was really kind of a let down. I also found the idea that certain settings and people were faked completely unrealistic. The reason for Langdon's head wound was just absurd.

I was absolutely fascinated by The Consortium. I find the idea that a secret organization that helps governments create illusions and create false scandals or cover ups absolutely fascinating. However, when the provost (head of The Consortium) bragged about his part in creating the illusion of WMDs in Iraq, I literally burst out laughing. That "illusion" ended up being an utter failure and sure as heck was nothing to brag about. But maybe in Langdon's universe no one ever found out the Iraq WMDs was total bullcrap.

The virus that is found in the end was completely and utterly unbelievable. Dan Brown needs to stay far away from science fiction because I thought it was the stupidest idea in the entire book. In a way, the ridiculousness of the virus almost ruins the book. I wish so much that I could tell you why I hated the idea of the virus but that would be a spoiler that would ruin the entire book for anyone reading this review.

Overall the book was mostly classic Dan Brown, but the science fiction mixed with cliched superheros and supervillians was just too much for me. I felt like they were comic book characters at times. Although a graphic novel version of Inferno would probably be pretty cool. I also have to admit I love to see a movie version of this book.

Despite the flaws it was a good read and I enjoyed it up until the ending. At the ending, I rolled my eyes several times. I really rate it at about 3 1/2 stars but I will be nice and bump it up to Photobucket.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The Semi-Charmed Book Challenge

I found another book challenge for summer! This summer challenge is hosted by Semi-Charmed Kind of Life. Here's more info and the rules:

The Semi-Charmed Book Challenge is back for summer 2013! The challenge will follow the same rules as the winter 2013 challenge, and it will run from July 1 to September 30. See below for the full list of rules and categories, and thanks to all my readers who submitted category ideas!

  • The challenge will run from July 1, 2013, to September 30, 2013. No books that are started before 12 a.m. on July 1 or finished after 11:59 p.m. on September 30 will count.
  • No re-reads (unless specifically stated)! I want you to experience new books with this challenge.
  • Each book must be at least 200 pages long. Audiobooks are fine, as long as the print versions meet the page requirements.
  • A book can only be used for one category. If you want to switch the category later, that's fine, just be sure to account for that in your point total.
  • The highest possible total is 200 points, and the first five people who finish the challenge will win a featured/guest post on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life. Good luck!

The Challenge:
5 points: Freebie! Read any book you'd like, as long as it follows the above rules. :)
5:  Read a book that is less than 150 pages long. (Yes, this is an exception to the general rules! You're welcome haha.)
10: Read a book with a color in the title. Submitted by Erinn of it's the journey on Twitter.
10: Read a book that is not the first in its series. (And yes, it must be in a series.)
15: Read a book it seems everyone but you has read! Submitted by Brighton of Dear Brighton on Twitter.
15: Read a banned book. (For consistency's sake, the book must be found on one of these lists. See the links in the first paragraph for book lists.)
20: Read a book written by a celebrity. This can be a memoir or a fiction book published by someone who was already famous by another means (e.g. James Franco). Submitted by Brighton of Dear Brighton onTwitter.
20: Read a non-fiction book that is not a memoir. It can be pure non-fiction or narrative non-fiction. Submitted by Blair's Head Band onTwitter.
20: Read a book that takes place in a state you have never been in. If you have been to all 50 states, choose a book that takes place in a country you have never been in. Also do the latter option if you are not American.
25: Read a book that is at least 400 pages long.
25: Read a book with a main character who shares your first name. If you have an uncommon name and really can't find a book, let me know and we can come up with an alternative. :) Submitted by Erinn of it's the journey on Twitter.**
30: Read a book written by an author who was born in or died in your birth year.****
**Edited to add: I've decided to amend this category to allow nicknames of your first name and alternate spellings of your first name. I recognize this category is difficult and I don't want anyone to give up looking! :)
****This category was also amended after the original posting when I discovered too many participants were unable to find an author born in their birth year. This website will help you find authors who were born in or died in a specific year.

How to keep track: I’ll post a check-in on the first day of every month, on which you can comment with your progress. I will also include the scoreboard from the previous month on each check-in post. The first check-in post will be Thursday, August 1. I will also host a link-up on Monday, July 1, if anyone wants to share their preliminary reading list for the challenge (see an example post from one of my previous challenges here).

Thanks so much for participating! I can't wait to see what everyone decides to read.Please feel free to link up here with your blog, Goodreads profile, or whatever else you're using to keep track of this challenge! You can also visit the links below to see what other people are reading for the different categories,and remember to use the hashtag #SCSBC13 when tweeting about the book challenge! I will also have a button available with my preliminary list on July 1 if you want to spread the word with your readers. :)