Tuesday, 21 July 2015

#1. Reading Challenge 2015 books' reviews

Taking hiatus from my blog is becoming a habit. Never before has writing and school hoarded my time as now, but I shouldn’t complain because both have been very productive. A short story of mine got published in an anthology called In Rain We Met. And four of my poems are also set to get published in another! And I’m currently interning under a Judge in the High Court so that is something I couldn’t be happier about! I finally feel I’m going somewhere instead of just hoping I am, that is a good feeling. Something else I’ve been keeping up with is the Reading Challenge. I’m reading Gone With the Wind and wow, what a book! It got me thinking that I had better get around to writing out those reviews of the books I’ve read towards the challenge. I decided to do short reviews of three/five books each post, that way I’ll have something to keep my blogging up.

I’ll start with these-

A book you started but never finished: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

A book based entirely on its cover: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
A book with a one word title: Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
A book set in a different country: Specials by Scott Westerfeld
A book by an author you have never tried: Extras by Scott Westerfeld

A book set during Christmas:  Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

A Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire) by George R R Martin.

There is no more popular a person that George R R Martin. The HBO TV drama set on his books had become an addiction and I who love the show wanted to see just how well the show was keeping up with the books. So, in spite of its scary thickness, I set about reading the book. I already knew the story and it seemed to make the book come more alive for me. Martin is an exceptional story teller and I didn’t find a dull moment. The characters are so well rounded and the politics in the story cannot be more thrilling. As compared to the show, the gore and sex scenes didn’t affect me as much but they are definitely more gruesomely defined.
His writing is so honest and bland in its facts; there is no hiding behind pretty happenings, no evil thought gone unrecorded, no scene beautified. The characters are candid – with no clear distinction between good person, bad person (as it so less often happens in life) – that you get to see why they do what they do. You have to accept a reluctant respect for even the vilest of characters (Cersie Lannister, for instance) because you get to understand them. I think that is what makes his story so powerful.
If you have watched the show, you know how well the Game of Throne world is created. The book has created a place as tangible as the Harry Potter world is to Potterfans. I love that he has so many dominant female characters. There is something gravitating about bad-ass female characters and the book definitely feeds that need.
It is definitely a powerful book. If you have loved the show, you need to give his book a read to understand the bits and pieces the series has left out. 

The Uglies series by Scott Westerfield.

I came across Uglies when I found a link for books one who like if they enjoyed the Hunger Games. The name coupled with the cover made me curious so I tracked down the ebooks.

The story is set in the future where once a person turns sixteen they undergo a surgery that makes them “pretty”. Those under sixteen are called Uglies. The “Pretties'” only job is to have fun and party is their way of life. Tally Youngblood, the protagonist, is an Ugly waiting to undergo her surgery. She has been waiting for the day all her Ugly life and then she meets Shay who introduces thoughts Tally has never had before. Shay doesn’t want to be a Pretty but remain as she is. This idea goes against everything Tally had believed so far and is the seed that initiates a series of rebellious acts. Shay tells Tally about the Smoke, a hideout settlement where the those who prefer not to have the surgery run away to. When Shay disappears the Government recruits Tally as a spy and asks her to locate Shay and find out the secret place of the Smoke. But when she reaches the Smoke Tally sees a world that is both frightening and alluring. She meets David, head of the Smoke, and everything changes for Tally. She sees the beauty in remaining as one is born and living in a world that doesn’t involve all round the clock partying. But things go wrong and Smoke is invaded by the authorities.
In book two, Tally undergoes the surgery and is now a Pretty. Tally discovers that by becoming Pretty an aberration is introduced in their brains that prevents one from having clear thoughts. Tally finds a loop hole, by keeping one high on adrenaline, she is able to think clearly. Zane (her boyfriend) and she self induce pain/hunger/thrill to keep their mind from going hazy to think their way through this life and to find the relocated site of Smoke.

Book three is when I started to lose interest in the story. The plot started to gain a routine. Go to Smoke- get caught- get a surgery- try to beat the authorities again. In book three Tally gets a special surgery that makes her something of a superhuman and is called “Specials”.

Book four’s protagonist is no longer Tally and is set in a world after the revolution Tally Youngblood had caused. Yet, even this world has its weirdness and shortcomings.

Overall, if you are really into YA fiction, maybe you will like the book. I soon got tired of the story but sat through the rest to complete what I started. Book Four felt like the author was trying to drag the story longer than needed. I would give the series two and half stars.  

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

Luther and Nora Krank are fed up with the chaos of Christmas. The endless shopping lists, the frenzied dashes through the mall, the hassle of decorating the tree... where has all the joy gone? This year, celebrating seems like too much effort. With their only child off in Peru, they decide that just this once, they'll skip the holidays. They spend their Christmas budget on a Caribbean cruise set to sail on December 25, and happily settle in for a restful holiday season free of rooftop snowmen and festive parties.
But the Kranks soon learn that their vacation from Christmas isn't much of a vacation at all, and that skipping the holidays has consequences they didn't bargain for...
A modern Christmas classic, Skipping Christmas is a charming and hilarious look at the mayhem and madness that have become ingrained in our holiday tradition. (From the publisher.)

I truly enjoyed Skipping Christmas. I wasn’t looking for the Christmas magic so I was not disappointed with this plot that dealt with the mundane of Christmas rather than the fantasy and elves Christmas is usually about.
Grisham’s writing had a humorous touch that kept me reading. I like that Luther Krank was bold enough to come up with the idea of “Skipping Christmas”. It’s funny to see the society’s reaction to it. And the Krank’s reaction to that reaction. Luther comes across as a Scrooge but with his reasons. He breaks tradition and deals with the criticism from neighbors with a determined(almost) outlook. He almost accomplishes this when his daughter calls up and tells them that she is coming home next day for Christmas with her fiancĂ©. Then there is a dramatic rush to prepare for Christmas and putting off the Caribbean cruise. The Kranks soon realize that this last minute preparation is impossible; that is when the entire neighborhood, amused by the Krank’s predicament, chips in to help. Here is where the spirit of Christmas plays its role-the spirit of helping, of giving and of forgiving. When the daughter arrives, she finds her home brimming with people, with food and the atmosphere of Christmas.

That's a warp for today! 
Have you read any of these books? 

note: images don't belong to me!


  1. I am looking forward to knowing what you thought of all the books you've read for the challenge! I have read Game of Thrones (also for my challenge) and whoa did I love that book. I went and bought the entire series and I know it is going to take me a seriously long time to haul through. But I am looking forward to trying book 2!

    As for the uglies series I have only ever read the first two books. I read the first and didn't really like it but stuck with it and enjoyed the second one a lot more! But since I haven't gone back to try the third or fourth. I am worried that it will drag out like you mentioned. Then again, maybe at a later date, I will finish what I started. Not sure.

    I have tried one John Grisham book and rather liked it, although it wasn't the one you read. I hope to try another of his books in the future :)

    1. Hi Olivia!
      Wow, you got the entire series?! How fat do they get real book wise?
      I think the last two book won't be that tiring if you are going to read it after a break. Reading it in a flow makes it draggy.
      Skipping Christmas is really short, fifty pages or so!

  2. Ahhh game of thrones ....wish I could get my hands on the books ...would be so cool ! thanks for reviews ! I'll check those books out :D

    1. Game of thrones has us in its paws! PDFs are available online, if you read ebooks, that is!

  3. I love A Song of Ice and Fire series. Definitely continue with the series, they are great! But I don't think it's Martin's first book - I mean debut novel.

    Andreea Catsfika

    1. I am past book two!
      Oh no! I never thought to think about that! Thank you so much for pointing that out!

  4. I like the GoT show, but can't get into the books because the high fantasy politics and lots of details, and I can't stay in the zone

  5. I tried reading the first Game of Thrones book and DNF'd it in the second chapter. It just wasn't one for me though I know there are hordes of fans. I have been interested in The Uglies series, but not sure how I feel about it now knowing the third book is repetition and you would only give the series as a whole 2.5 stars. So that one's going way down on my list. Skipping Christmas sounds a lot like the film Christmas with the Kranks with Tim Allen. I enjoyed the movie :D

    1. I completely understand! I used to pick up the book, read through few pages and then just couldn't go forward. But I finally got around to it!
      I think you should give Uglies a try. Atleast the first two!
      Yep! Christmas with the Kranks is based on the bokk!

  6. I really, really want to read game of thrones eventually.


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