Little Willow (slayground) wrote,
Little Willow

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Scholar's Blog Book Group

Michele of Scholar's Blog started an online book group. Anyone may join.

Book Group Discussion Schedule

February: King of Shadows by Susan Cooper

I wish more details had been shared about his time living with Will himself. The idol worship was obvious (it's Shakespeare! fans would say) and seemed natural, but for kids who have never read his works or have little information about him, some more background might have been nice.

I love stories with a time-travel element - always have, always will - especially when they are meaty. This was a lighter read, and it definitely felt like wish fulfillment rather than a full-fledged action-adventure or a trying to figure out how-do-I-get-back-home? (or EARN-my-way-home) mystery.

Overall, I liked it. I like Shakespeare's works, and A Midsummer Night's Dream is my favorite Shakey comedy, so I enjoyed its inclusion and interpretation.

( Discussion thread )

March: The House in Norham Gardens by Penelope Lively

I liked the writing and the story to a point. The overall story was not quite as supernatural as I would have liked. I thought the main character's dreams and nightmares would lead to time travel or prophecies and ancient evils. I was disappointed when they did not, as I enjoy stories of that nature.

I wanted there to be more of a threat, more research done, more of a climax.

I liked the characters and their interactions. The household felt comfortable. I enjoyed the banter between the great aunts, sisters who knew each other well and who took care of each other.

I enjoyed the poem Old Furniture by Thomas Hardy which started the story.

( Discussion thread )

April: A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett

I did not read this title. I have read two other Pratchett novels.

May: Lady Friday by Garth Nix

I have been enjoying the series from the start. I feel that each book has been better than that which preceeded it - except for Lady Friday. This is not to say that Lady Friday was a poorly written story, because it was not, but I did not feel as though it raised the bar. I wanted more explanation/exploration and more insight into Lady Friday's background and intentions.

( Discussion thread )

June: The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman

Michele asked some questions at her blog. Here are my answers:

If you had read His Dark Materials before reading The Ruby in the Smoke, did this book meet your expectations or disappoint you?

I have read His Dark Materials, and I enjoy that trilogy very much. I had been meaning to read the Sally Lockhart books for years, but they always fell into the category of "I'll read them when it's time, when they find me." As time went on, the books hadn't found me, so they had moved to another category: "I'll read them when the mood strikes, or when I'm prompted directly."

In 2007, I heard about the Masterpiece Theatre movie and wanted to read Ruby prior to that airing, but I didn't get the chance to do so. I watched the movie anyway, and I'll address that in the last part of this post.

Back to the matter at hand: I have read other Pullman novels between now and then - Clockwork, which I enjoyed; The Scarecrow and his Servant, which I did not, not really - and I was not feel half as impressed with the plot and execution of Ruby as I was with Materials. However, the writing was still good, and I enjoyed the majority of the ride. Did it disappoint me? No. Scarecrow disappointed me. Ruby was okay. I wanted more out of it. See the next answer.

Did you like this book enough to want to read the other three in the series?

Maybe. I do not feel compelled to rush out and check out the other stories. I will probably wait for them, as I did for this, and see when the mood strikes me.

Have you seen the BBC TV adaptation starring Billie Piper as Sally Lockhart, and if so did you like it? If you liked it, did you prefer it to the book?

I did see it. It felt rather rushed. In the film, I disliked the reveal* and hoped that the book had more leading up to that moment and more afterwards. (It did not.) I did like the costumes and some of the cinematography. Most of the cast was fine. Note: Spoilers ahead, but I'll still be somewhat vague!

*The reveal: That he had the ruby for some time, that he didn't tell Sally, and that she was given it by someone else. It was anti-climactic. The ruby was rather lauded in the first third of the story, but I found the final acquistion and then toss-away unfulfilling. I thought the ruby was important, and I do not feel as though it was set up to be a MacGuffin. I was letdown by the last thirty pages or so.

( Discussion thread )

July: The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar

I'll expand upon this when July comes around. For now, I wanted to note that read this title years ago. I enjoyed the Wayside School books, and I think Sideways Stories from Wayside School, the first book in that line, was the best. My favorite Sachar one-shot story is Sixth Grade Secrets.

August-September: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

October: The Giant Under the Snow by John Gordon

November: The Owl Service by Alan Garner

December-January: The Fetch of Mardy Watt by Charles Butler

I received a copy of this title well in advance, courtesy of Michele and the author himself, and I read it during the 2nd Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge.

If you'd like to be a part of this book group, tell Michele!
Tags: book group, books

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