SarahMichigan (sarahmichigan) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books #21-22

Book #21 was "The Snow Queen" by Joan Vinge. I'd read this book and the rest of Vinge's books set in this universe back in my 20s and really enjoyed them. My husband and I pick a book to read out loud to one another a few times every year, and this was our latest read. At over 500 pages and only reading 5-6 chapters a week, it took us many months to get through. I think that made the book feel slow-paced but would have felt less so if I'd read it in a shorter timeframe. On a world called Tiamat, two cousins who are also lovers, Moon and Sparks, get caught up in the machinations of their world's Snow Queen Arienrhod. Arienrhod comes from the "Winter" clan and rules for 100 years before the season changes, the off-worlders leave, taking their technology with them, and the Summer clan elects its Summer queen for the next 100 years. The queen and some of her nobility and the off-worlders have access to life-prolonging technology, but during the Summer reign, technology is traditionally shunned. Arienrhod plots to keep Winter in power and to help her world advance technologicallym partly out of self-interest but also because she wants to get out from under the thumb of the multi-world government called the Hegemony, The book is loosely based on the plot of the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale of the same name, and it's kind of fun to see which plot points and characters match up between the two. I recommend this book highly, especially for folks who are looking for complicated and strong female characters in their sci-fi.

Book #22 was "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian" by Sherman Alexie. I've read some of Alexie's other work (Short story collection "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" and the novel "Indian Killer") and enjoyed it, and I'd heard good things about this book, which is his first foray into YA. The book is "semi-autobiographical," and you can tell he uses bits from his real life in his fiction often since I recongized some characters and relationships from "Lone Ranger" and even "Indian Killer" popping up again in this one. I should mention that the book is not a graphic novel but it does have illustrations by Ellen Forney which are fabulous and contribute a lot to the story, since the main character, Arnold Spirit, is an aspiring cartoonist/artist. The book is told from the viewpoint of a young Spokane Indian who wants to get off the reservation and make something of himself, despite the poverty, alcohol abuse and other challenges that surround him. He is ostracized by Indians and not quite accepted by the white kids at his new school, so the book is very much about Arnold finding his place in life, I can see why it gets challenged and people have tried to ban it from school librariees, because Arnold talks frankly about getting erections, masturbating, alcoholism, bulimia, racism and a lot of other controversial topics. I laughed out loud in places and cried in others. It's a very funny and very moving book and I highly recommend it.

1. The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood [non-fiction]- James Gleick
2. Stones from the River [fiction]- Ursula Hegi
3. The Penelopiad [fiction]- Margaret Atwood
4. Woman Warrior [non-fiction/memoir]- Maxine Hong Kingston
5. The Son of Neptune [ficiton]- Rick Riordan (unabridged audiobook)
6. The Poe Shadow [fiction]- Matthew Pearl
7. Nat Turner [non-fiction graphic "novel"]- Kyle Baker (illustrator)
8. Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception [fiction]- Eoin Colfer (unabridged audiobook)
9. The Daughter of Time [fiction]- Josephine Tey
10. Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) [non-fiction/biography]- Stacy Schiff
11. Gilgamesh: A New English Version [literary criticism/epic poetry]- Stephen Mitchell
12. Back When We Were Grownups [fiction]- Anne Tyler
13. Red Azalea [non-fiction/memoir]- Anchee Min
14. The Mark of Athena (#3 in the "Heroes of Olympus" series) [fiction]- Rick Riordan (unabridged audiobook)
15. The Mosquito Coast [fiction]- Paul Theroux
16. The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl: How Two Brave Scientists Battled Typhus and Sabotaged the Nazis [non-fiction]- Arthur Allen
17. The City of Devi [fiction]- Manil Suri
18. The Lovely Bones [fiction]- Alice Sebold (unabridged audiobook)
19. The Office of Mercy [fiction]- Ariel Djanikian (unabridged audiobook)
20. A Thousand Acres[fiction]- Jane Smiley

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