Book Club – October 2014

book club octoberHappy Hallowe’en! Did you hear that J.K. Rowling is apparently publishing another short story on Pottermore today? I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty excited about it!

I read some really great books this month! I think that’s why I got through so many – they just flew past! October’s books were:

  • Graceling by Kristen Cashore (fantasy/young adult)
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London (classic)
  • Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (romance/young adult)
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (classic/young adult)
  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (fantasy/young adult)
  • Waiting to be Heard by Amanda Knox (memoir/crime)
  • A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (fantasy)

Summary

This was apparently the official month of young adult literature – 4 out of the 7 books that I read notionally fell into that category. Graceling was my first book for the month, and I thought it was brilliant. It’s set in a fantasy world with a female protagonist who is physically tougher than anyone around her – she is ‘graced’ with fighting. Lucky for readers, and especially for girls looking for a positive role model, she is also mentally, emotionally and morally strong, and Graceling makes for a surprisingly awesome feminist read. Plus there are dashings of romance and adventure, so that’s a bonus. It actually didn’t particularly feel like a young adult book at all, and I wonder if it has been classified as such purely for marketing purposes. It dealt with some pretty deep themes.

My other standout young adult read was The Lighting Thief, which was aimed at a younger audience. While reading it, I remember commenting that it was really close in terms of atmosphere and ambience to Harry Potter – in an awesome way, because I loooooove HP. Since I finished it and read some reviews, however, I’ve seen quite a few people who think it was TOO close to HP. I guess I can see where they’re coming from – both books involve magic, three protagonists (two guys, one genius girl) and an adventure quest – but there’s plenty of differences too, and I very much enjoyed it. I would consider reading the next one in the series (for Graceling too), but I have ruled out reading any sequels until I get through my ‘to-read’ list.

My favourite book of this month was Waiting to be Heard, which is a memoir by Amanda Knox. Knox was convicted of murdering her roommate while studying abroad in Italy, and spent four years in jail. Her memoir is a good account of the circumstances, the crime and the judicial process that she went through, and it actually substantially changed my opinion of the case. I won’t venture a theory on whether she is innocent or guilty, but I will say this: if she did it, she is a cold-blooded sociopath, capable of murder and completely lacking in any empathy; if, on the other hand, she didn’t do it, she has been subject to literally the most shocking, inhumane and cruel treatment possible, and has lost not only four years of her life, but her entire reputation and privacy. She’s only one day younger than me, in fact, and this thought kept occurring to me while I was reading what turned out to be an incredibly interesting and gripping account. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in true crime, and true it is: you can find many of the crime scene reports and photographs online. It reminded me of In Cold Blood by Truman Capote in that sense.

Finally, I finished A Memory of Light, the very last Wheel of Time book. It was very bittersweet. I laughed, I cried, and, ultimately, I was satisfied with how things turned out. It makes me sad that Robert Jordan isn’t around to see his magnum opus finished, and sad that we were deprived of the chance to see how he would have written it. Nevertheless, Sanderson did a great job at an absolutely mammoth task.

Mini Reviews:

Graceling: A fantasy narrative set in a world where certain people are ‘graced’ with special abilities, Graceling follows a graced fighter named Katsa as she struggles with her identity and escaping people who try to use her for their own purposes. It was a joy to read such a strong female protagonist. There’s plenty of steamy romance thrown in too!

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The Call of the Wild: A classic tale that tells the story of a dog – yes, that’s right – who is dognapped from California during the Klondike gold rush and used as a sled dog. It is followed by a companion book, White Fang, which I loved as a child.

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Isla and the Happily Ever After: A sweet high school romance lacking in any particular depth or character development, this book was nevertheless a fun and quick read. It is the final book in a loose series of three, and I have heard the first two are better, but I haven’t read them myself.

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four-stars-hiCatcher in the Rye: A young adult school room classic, the Catcher in the Rye follows a teenage boy as he plays hooky in New York for a few days. Filled with teenage angst and hypocrisy.

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The Lightning Thief: An eleven year old boy discovers that he is the son of a Greek god, and goes to a summer camp to meet and study with other half breeds. Meanwhile, trouble is brewing in Olympus, and Percy has an important role to play. This was a very fun read, and I felt like it captured the voice of the protagonists really well. If it can be compared to Harry Potter, it must be doing something right.

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Waiting to be Heard: A memoir written by Knox who was convicted of murder and spent four years in prison in Italy, this is a fascinating and, at times, horrifying look at crime and punishment in the real world.

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A Memory of Light: The final book in the epic Wheel of Time series, it would not stand on its own, but managed to finally wrap up the Last Battle, tying up plenty of loose ends in the process. It felt rushed and sloppy at times, and dragged at others, but I enjoyed it on the whole.

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This was a very satisfying month for books – I gave 5 of them 4 stars, which is pretty good! I have noticed that I am getting a little jaded though, because I used to give out 5 stars all the time!

For the month of November I have a couple of books lined up already – I’m making my way through the Poisonwood Bible currently, and I’ve just started listening to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on audiobook – only for the 4 millionth time :).

One thought on “Book Club – October 2014

  1. Jacinta says:

    Your monthly book lists are like my ultimate year long list! I always like reading your reviews and mentally put them onto my “will read one day” list. Hope you reach your annual goal of must read books by December :)

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