Books

A Clash of Kings

ACoK US After Thrones I went straight to A Clash of Kings.  I got a little bogged down at the beginning but then regained my momentum and read much of it on vacation in CT.  By the end I was quite engaged again.  After one of the last chapters ended in an unexpected and disappointing way, I actually flipped ahead over the final few chapters to see which characters narrated them (hoping that what had apparently just happened actually hadn't...though I managed to miss the one that thankfully showed it hadn't).

I give it 4 out of 5.

On now to A Storm of Swords.

A Game of Thrones

thrones A while back on old friend recommended George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series.  When I heard that the first book, A Game of Thrones, was set to become TV series on HBO, I bumped it up to the top of the "To Read" list.

From Wikipedia:

The series is set in a fictitious world reminiscent of Medieval Europe, primarily on a continent called Westeros. In this world the seasons can last for many years, sometimes decades.

I enjoyed it.  It's been quite a while (nearly 20 years?) since I'd read anything similar (Stephen R. Donaldson? I take that back; I read a couple of Donaldson books during the last few years).  I read much of Thrones during a day and a half I spent in bed with back pain.

I give it 4 out of 5.

Seeing

200px-Seeing_(novel)_cover

I recently finished reading José Saramago's Seeing, a novel slightly connected to Saramago's Blindness, for which he is best-known.  From Wikipedia:

Seeing is a story set in the same country featured in Blindness and begins with a parliamentary election in which the majority of the populace casts blank ballots. The story revolves around the struggles of the government and its various members as they try to simultaneously understand and destroy the amorphous non-movement of blank-voters.

This story had an intriguing start for me but seemed to get bogged down...and therefore ultimately was much less engaging/interesting than Blindness.

Breaking Dawn

250px-Breaking_Dawn_cover I recently finished reading the last book in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn.  It was my favorite of the 4...probably for the same that Lisa liked it the least...more fantasy/adventure and less realism.  On the other hand, it's still hard to buy the dogs and blood suckers teaming up.  Reminds me of the Rebels and Empire joining forces to battle the invading alien reptiles (link).  It just ain't right.

Call It Courage

CallItCourage_1sted

A few weeks back Elliot brought Call It Courage (1941) by Armstrong Sperry home from school to read.  From Wikipedia:

Call It Courage is a coming of age story set in the Pacific Islands. It chronicles the journey of Mafatu, the son of the chief of Hikueru Island. Mafatu is afraid of the sea due to witnessing his mother drown as a young child, which makes him a shame to his father, and a coward among his tribe. One night Mafatu takes a dugout canoe and sets sail into the ocean without knowing where he will end up.

Elliot loved it which sparked interest in Finn.  I checked out the book on cd from the library for Finn and me.  Finn loved it too (calling it one of the best he’s ever read).  It’s got plenty to engage a little boy’s imagination: battling sharks and wild boars, fleeing “eaters of men,” etc.

Eclipse

Eclipsecover I recently finished reading the 3rd book in the Twilight series, Eclipse.  I think I liked this one a little more than the previous one although I thought the latter portion was kind of a let-down…stuck with the people waiting for the action to be over rather than with the action that we’d been headed towards.

New Moon

200px-Newmoonposter I enjoyed reading Twilight enough that I continued on with reading and then recently going to see New Moon (2009,PG-13) with Lisa.  From ScreenIt!:

A teen must not only contend with her vampire boyfriend suddenly dumping her and moving away, but also the discovery that her best friend is a werewolf.

I pretty much felt the same about this one as the first one.  The book was enjoyable enough, and the film was tolerable as a companion to the book.

I give it 3 out of 5.

Twilight

250px-Twilightbook On our 15th anniversary cruise back in July, Twilight (2008,PG-13) was showing in the ship’s theater.  I’d been planning to read it anyway (if the ladies occasionally watch football with us, we can occasionally read about romantic vampires), so I knocked the book out over a few days before watching it with the Crumps.  From ScreenIt!:

After relocating to a small town to live with her dad, a teenager meets and ends up falling for a teenage vampire who's torn between his love for her and his appetite for her blood.

I didn’t love the book or anything, but it was enjoyable enough.  Having read the book also made the film more interesting than it would have been otherwise.

I give the film 3 out of 5.

Outcasts United

cover-home Back during the summer I read Warren St. John's "Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference."  From the book's web site:

Outcasts United is the story of a refugee soccer team, a remarkable woman coach and a small southern town turned upside down by the process of refugee resettlement.

In the 1990s, that town, Clarkston, Georgia, became a resettlement center for refugees and a modern-day Ellis Island for scores of families from war zones in Liberia, Congo, Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan. The town also became home to Luma Mufleh, an American-educated Jordanian woman who founded a youth soccer team to help keep Clarkston’s boys off the streets. These boys named themselves the Fugees -- short for refugees.

Outcasts United follows a pivotal season in the life of the Fugees, their families and their charismatic coach as they struggle to build new lives in a fading town overwhelmed by change. Theirs is a story about resilience in the face of extraordinary hardship, the power of one person to make a difference and the daunting challenge of creating community in a place where people seem to have so little in common.

I never played organized soccer, but I've had more interest in the sport as adult between following the World Cup and the boys each playing one or two seasons every year.  The combination of the descriptions of youth soccer and the inspiring story of Luma doing whatever she can to make a difference in those kids lives makes for enjoyable reading.

Blindness

51I7PdIYtML._SY120_ I recently finished reading José Saramago's novel Blindness.  From Wikipedia:

Blindness is the story of an unexplained mass epidemic of blindness afflicting nearly everyone in an unnamed city, and the social breakdown that swiftly follows.

I enjoyed it...enough to go ahead and order and start the sequel, Seeing.  I  couldn't help thinking of The Road (another society in extreme crisis).  With an exception or two (one of them big), Blindness didn't explore the potential for evil, for the strong to prey on the weak, to the extent that The Road did.

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