Ratty (blinger) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Ratty
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Books 12 & 13 - 2012

Book 12: Graceling by Kristin Cashore – 370 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, known as a Grace, are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her Uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to carry out his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him. Breaking arms and cutting off fingers are her stock-in-trade. Finding life under his rule increasingly unbearable Katsa forms an underground Council, whose purpose is to combat the destructive behaviour of the seven kings - after all, the Middluns is only one of the Seven Kingdoms, each of them ruled by their own king and his personal agenda for power. When the Council hears that the King of Liend's father has been kidnapped Katsa investigates ...and stumbles across a mystery. Who would want to kidnap him, and why? And who was the extraordinary Graced fighter who challenged her fighting skills, for the first time, as she and the Council rushed the old man to safety? Something dark and deadly is rising in the north and creeping across the continent, and behind it all lurks the shadowy figure of a one-eyed king ...

Thoughts:
I adored this book. I can’t remember what made me put it on my to-read list, but then I was standing there in Barnes and Noble (I think) when I was living in London, and they had a special – 3 books for £30, or something to that effect – and given that books are ridiculously expensive in Australia and I had already read nearly all the books I’d brought with me from home for my three month stint (I hadn’t counted on just how much reading I’d get done during my 3 hour commutes) I justified it. This was one of the books, as was ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ and ‘Flat Earth News’ (both also on my to-read list). I instantly fell in love with it. It has everything Twilight didn’t have, and which would have made said teenage vampire saga so much better! A strong, female lead, an equally strong male lead, lots of self-deprecating humour, a thought-provoking plot, characters with questionable motives, and that beautiful awareness of the world very few authors manage to convey, making ‘controversial’ things perfectly pedestrian, noting in this way that readers actually have the ability to read between the lines, to interpret, and to accept that people are people, in however which way that presents itself, and most of the time, we are perfectly capable of just getting on with life. Katsa is a truly awesome character. She bares some resemblance to Katniss from the Hunger Games, but I love both equally. She is manipulated but strong, loyal and loving, flawed but relatable. Po, her unlikely ally, is one of those men evolved enough to be completely comfortable fighting alongside a woman, who, maybe, just maybe, is more powerful than him. The plot starts in one place, and leads you down into a wicked web set up years earlier, and eventually explained in the equally wonderful prequel/sequel, ‘Fire’ (which I also adored – review to come!). Less depressing than Hunger Games, superior in every way to Twilight, and in my mind, reminiscent of the Looking Glass Wars, but with less magic and maybe a little more ‘grown-up’, I highly recommend this addition to the Young Adult trilogy category.


12 / 50 books. 24% done!


4189 / 15000 pages. 28% done!

Book 13: Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell – 296 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band. Brilliant and entertaining, OUTLIERS is a landmark work that will simultaneously delight and illuminate.

Thoughts:
This is a fascinating, quotable read. Basically it looks at what it is that makes some people able to do extraordinary things, what makes high-achievers high-achievers. I’m not sure how consistent some of Gladwell’s assertions are if you were to look at a broader population than he has, but the idea of the 10,000 hours rule (i.e. that one must practice something for 10,000 hours to master something) definitely has merit, and makes a lot of sense to me. It also genuinely made me think about what I have achieved in life, and the challenges I have faced, and perhaps understand them in a different light. In particular, his piece about when you are born, and therefore, how old you at any point in school makes a lot of sense to me in reflecting on the difference experiences in learning experienced by myself (a January baby – the start of the Australian school year in my day), and my sister (a July baby – mid year in the Australian school year when she went to school; the cut-off has since changed to July to June, which makes no sense, given our school year still starts in January). I really enjoyed the various famous and non-famous people anecdotes, and Gladwell’s style is just generally very readable. An interesting read!


13 / 50 books. 26% done!


4485 / 15000 pages. 30% done!

Currently reading:
-        The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory – 437 pages
-        A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of my Husband, Danny Pearl by Mariane Pearl with Sarah Crichton – 272 pages
-        Celebrity Crimes: The Dark Side of the Limelight by Xavier Waterkeyn – 233 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: academic, fantasy, scholarly, teen lit, young adult
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