Ratty (blinger) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 9, 10 & 11 - 2012

Book 9: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray – 390 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island. Teen beauty queens. A "Lost"-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to email. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.

I have read every single Libba Bray book including the first in her new series ‘The Diviners’. She is hands down one of my favourite authors. Everything she writes, though ridiculously diverse in genre, is amazing, quirky, and funny but also deeply reflective. Beauty Queens is probably her funniest book, but its also probably one of her most reflective as it lays out there a laugh-out-loud, cutting critique of our obsession with reality TV, celebrity and image. A group of teen beauty queens find themselves crashed on a ‘Lost’ like island, and quickly things descend into the female version of ‘Lord of the Flies’. Even funnier is the quirky little asides throughout the book about the expectations of the studio putting on the beauty contest. As the reality of the situation becomes apparent, the girls, like their male ‘Lord of the flies’ counterparts either rise or fall. It’s the kind of book you almost can’t describe, you simply have to tell people to read it. The characters are diverse, and their reasons for being in the beauty contest in the first place are equally so. Perhaps most fascinating/horrifying is the attitude of the TV studio and their involvement in the whole thing. It all seems too terrible to be true, but after reading some of which has come out over the last few years, and the impacts of music/movie/TV studios etc on people like Britney and Kesha, I’ve come to appreciate that in fact, its probably not far away from what really happens. A very, very, very funny book for some important reflections on the society we live in (okay at least here in the West!).

9 / 50 books. 18% done!

3189 / 15000 pages. 21% done!

Book 10: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer – 326 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
In a vase in a closet, a couple of years after his father died in 9/11, nine-year-old Oskar discovers a key...The key belonged to his father, he's sure of that. But which of New York's 162 million locks does it open? So begins a quest that takes Oskar - inventor, letter-writer and amateur detective - across New York's five boroughs and into the jumbled lives of friends, relatives and complete strangers. He gets heavy boots, he gives himself little bruises and he inches ever nearer to the heart of a family mystery that stretches back fifty years. But will it take him any closer to, or even further from, his lost father?

Very rarely does a book make me cry. This one did (whilst on the London Tube no less!). 9/11 is still fresh enough in recent history to evoke the memories that day represented (I was fourteen, I can still remember coming out to breakfast that morning (it was 9/12 by the time I found out about it on the other side of the planet) and watching the ‘surely-its-a-movie’ images of planes flying into buildings) and this book does exactly that through the eyes of a confused child. Oskar’s father dies in one of the towers, and together he and his mother are trying to put their lives back together. And then Oskar finds a key belonging to his father, and so he goes on a quest to find out what the key unlocks. Along the way he meets a variety of fascinating people, some important, some not. At the same time, another story is told, about another individual, fifty years earlier, and so stories intersect, and history shadows itself. It’s a truly beautiful book, one I definitely recommend, though if you were personally affected by 9/11, it will probably hurt. For me, half a world away, it’s a reminder that, no matter what, we’re all human and we all grieve in our own special ways.

10 / 50 books. 20% done!

3515 / 15000 pages. 23% done!

Book 11: Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs – 304 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Now in mass market from the bestselling author, forensic anthropologist, and producer of the FOX television hit "Bones"--the riveting #1 "New York Times "bestselling Temperance Brennan novel. In a house under renovation in Charlotte, North Carolina, a plumber discovers a forgotten cellar, and some rather grisly remains--the severed head of a teenage girl, several decapitated chickens, and a couple of cauldrons containing beads, feathers, bones, and other relics of religious ceremonies. In a river not far away, an adolescent boy's torso carved with a pentagram, is found. Are these crimes the work of Satanists and devil worshippers? Nothing is clear, neither when the deaths occurred, nor where. Was the skull brought to the cellar or was the girl murdered there? As Temperance Brennan is called in to investigate, citizen vigilantes intent on a witch hunt are led by a preacher turned politician, looking for revenge.

This Tempe Brennan book I do remember cause I only read it a week ago (NB: I wrote this review about two years ago!). It was mildly interesting because someone got shot and died (ie. Someone important, a recurring character, rather than just, well, the victim!) and cause Ryan came down to North Carolina from Canada (he does sound mighty sexy, though when Tempe commented that he was nearly 50 I must say I did have to redesign him in my mind and it did take away something. I don’t know why but for some reason I have been pretending in my mind that he’s like a sexy 35-50, more like Booth in the TV show – silly me!). The plot involved voodooism and paganism to a degree, so that got my interested because I’m into faith systems (I studied them at uni). The murder chain seemed rather convoluted though, and I must say, the final ‘baddie’ didn’t really make sense to me. I’m not a fan of Reichs’ plot line dumps in the last few pages. Nonetheless, a pretty quick read, and not a bad use of my 3 hour daily commute.

11 / 50 books. 22% done!

3819 / 15000 pages. 25% done!

Currently reading:
-        The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory – 437 pages
-        The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest by Stieg Larsson – 746 pages
-        How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran – 301 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages
Tags: crime fiction, family saga, grief, in the media, literature, murder mystery, satire, teen lit, young adult

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