Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Twenty-one books read in twenty-nine days

...and I wonder why I don't get more accomplished!

All jokes aside, I really think this is a new record for me (although I have read six books so far in March, and today is only the 5th). Now, if only I could do a better job of posting!

To update my challenges, I've read several books that would qualify for the YA challenge, but I'm only going to write about three now: Code Talker, The Ruby in the Smoke, and Court Duel (Crown Duel). Of those three books (my version of Sherwood Smith's novel is one book, titled Court Duel), I have to say that Court Duel was my favorite, while The Ruby in the Smoke was the novel I was looking forward to the most.

Court Duel, by Sherwood Smith:

Mel and her older brother Bran have promised their dying father that they would start a revolution and dethrone the current king. Easier said then done. It seems that no one wants to help Mel and her brother, except the villagers, wage war against the king. It's only after Mel is taken prisoner by the other side that she begins to see that everything isn't as clear-cut as she believed it to be.

And this is only the first book! I first read Court Duel about two years ago and just recently decided that it was due for a reread. And once again, after reading it, I fell completely head over heels in love with Mel. She's adventurous and foolish, big-hearted and pig-headed, completely sure of what she's doing, but figuring out along the way that really, she doesn't know as much as she thought she did. If I had to sum it up in a sentence, it's: Pride & Prejudice - ten years (YA, remember?) + a world where magic exists. (Really, Mel is Elizabeth Bennett, minus those ten years, and the Marques is a very nice version of Darcy.)

Code Talker, by Joseph Bruchac, is a fictionalized version of how the Navajo language was used during WWII to create codes that the other side couldn't break. It starts by telling how as a young man, Ned Begay is sent to an Indian School where the first thing he and the other children are taught is that their language is worthless, their ways are worthless, and that English is the only language that will be spoken. You can imagine the irony when ten or so years later, Ned and other young men from his village are approached by recruiters from the United States Marine Corps (USMC). Signing up, Ned and the other men become code talkers; it's their job to send and receive messages during the war that are sent coded in the Navajo language. Bruchac does a good job of taking us to the places where the battles were fought in WWII, describing Guadalcanal, Bougainville, and Iwo Jima as the hells they were and what the soldiers there had to face each day while they attempted to stay alive.

I had originally picked this book up a few years ago, but had never gotten around to reading it until last month. It surprised me to learn about the Navajo code talkers; I honestly can't remember even a chapter about them from any of my high school history books.

The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman is a book I picked up to read only because I saw the BBC version of it on Masterpiece Theatre. And because it was written by Philip Pullman. It features sixteen-year-old Sally Lockhart, recently orphaned after the death of her beloved father. She's not given much time to grieve though, not when mysterious notes start arriving, or when an innocently asked questions leads to a man dying at her feet. And when you combine that with a long-lost ruby and the opium trade, well Sally has a lot to figure out if she wants to live to see the next day.

Despite how much I wanted to like this novel, I was somewhat disappointed with The Ruby in the Smoke, but I think that's more because I saw the movie version before I had read the novel. There are two more books in the Sally Lockhart series and I'm hoping that I enjoy them more.

OK, more book reviews to come tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

I didn’t find a post for the reading challenge, so I’ll post here.

Welcome to the 100+ Reading Challenge! :-D I have posted your link on the right sidebar of the blog. Another thing I am doing something, at least I think it is. I'd like to start posting the participating members favorite book for each month on the blog. January is posted on the blog and some have sent February’s. If you send me your favorite book and author of the book for January, I’ll post it in the photo slider.

Best of luck and above all, have fun!

hayden said...

Awesome; thank you! I'm still slightly behind on my posting/updating, but I plan to add something about your challenge.
I'll send you the book and author for January now.