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Book reviews and discussions may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

April Selections - Please Vote By The 1st!

Jespy asked me, Markie (her favorite Uncle), to pick the next book. But let's face it... my recommendations have not been too popular in the past; so I have decided to have a vote on a few selections in the Young Adult genre. After Watership Down it's probably time for something a little lighter. Please note that I have not read ANY of these books, but they were all highly recommended to me by various strangers who's opinions I asked.

Here are the nominees:

1) The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale.


I'm not sure but I think this book may have been previously nominated. The author also wrote Austenland which I know was previously nominated and that some of you have read. Shannon Hale is a BYU grad like Stephenie Meyer - and Stephenie wrote the following for the cover of the book:
"Shannon Hale's books reignite my love of reading -- that joy of having the time of my life with a great story".
The story is "A magical retelling of the Grimms's fairy tale of the princess who became a goose girl before she could become queen." -I know... kinda gives it all away doesn't it?

Here are the Amazon.com customer ratings for The Goose Girl:
Here is a LINK to the Amazon.com page. You can read the first chapter there if you want; I did... it was good.

2) Redwall by Brian Jacques


Did you like Watership Down? If so, this will probably be right up your alley. Instead of a band of fighting rabbits it is about a band of fighting mice. This is the first in a very long series of at least 20 books, however I am told this is a stand-alone book with a complete story. Unlike Watership Down which seems to take place in the modern world, Redwall is kind of a medieval tale and other than a few random references doesn't mention man or man-made things; apparently in all later books there are no references at all to anything human.

Here are the Amazon.com customer ratings for Redwall:
Here is a LINK to the Amazon.com page. You can read the first chapter there if you want; I did... it was good.

3) The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

This is book 1 of The Queen's Thief series. This recommendation came from the girl working in the Y.A. section of the BYU bookstore, who impressed me with her expansive knowledge of the books in the Y.A. category, and convinced me that she is an avid reader. She claimed these were her favorite books of all time (but quite frankly she didn't look more than about 16 to me). She said that each book (3 in the series) has a complete story, but of course all tie together. She said that each book has some very cool and unexpected twists... oooooh.

Here are the Amazon.com customer ratings for The Thief:
Here is a LINK to the Amazon.com page. You can read the first chapter there if you want; I did... it was good.

And finally...

4) The Queens Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner
Yeah, you see I looked at The Thief in the bookstore and it looks pretty short. The others are a little longer but I think if we pushed ourselves a little we could read all three books in a month. The BYU Bookstore girl mentioned above said each book is better than the last.... so, why not?
The other two books in the series are:

The Queen of Attolia

Amazon Customer Ratings:
Amazon LINK

The King of Attolia
Amazon Customer Ratings:
Amazon LINK

So there are your choices. Please cast a vote for #1, 2, 3, or 4. I want to get started on the selection soon, so voting will end at midnight March 31st, and I will announce the selection on Monday the 1st of April. I will reserve my vote for the case of a tie.

Flem's Post

Discussion

Okay guys here we go. I don't expect high attendance today and I don't think I am going to be very good at this kind of moderation but I thought we could start with questions to lead discussion:

1) What did you like about it?

2) What didn't you like about it?

3) I swear that I always thought it was El-arairah who came for Hazel but a lot of people thought it was the Black Rabbit of Inlé. What say you? What proof do you have?

4) What is the deal with Woudwort? Good leader or bad? And why do all dictators have humble beginnings?

5) Favorite part?

6) Leadership style of Hazel. Why do people follow this guy? Would you?

7) Why does the movie for this book suck so royally?

8) Should Smart Remarks BC read books that are not romances?

Go.

Jespy on Watership Down

Don't have a lot of time to write this, so I might come across bluntly.

Parts 1 & 2 read like required high school reading. Not bad, but not a pure pleasure to read. I began to feel almost resentful of it the more I read, it was so assignment-feeling. Also, I could easily identify it as a book written in the 1970s, as it had a far-out psychedelic vibe. Fiver got into the 'shroom patch a time or two, if you know what I mean.

Parts 3 & 4 were a pure pleasure to read. I whipped through it quickly enough without falling asleep every few pages, and did not feel like putting it down. I also felt a better connection with the characters from here on out. I absolutely fell in love with a few of the characters, especially Bigwig. If I were a rabbit, I'd mate that. And then go pass hraka in a field of clover.





I wish the book was split in two and I only had to read the second half. Then I would have given it 5 stars for sure. I'm still glad I read it. Eeek, out of time.

Favorite line of the book came when Bigwig was fighting Woundwort and Woundwort asked him to "join him" (a la darth vader) and Bigwig goes, "Silflay hraka" which we all know means "eat S" in rabbitese. Loved it.

StandsMom

Well, I'd read Watership Down years ago. Years after it had been recommended to me. I think I was in a book store and happened upon a used copy - remembered the suggestion and decided to pick it up. Anyway, I remember being really pleased with the ending then and figured it would be an easy second read. I was surprised at how much of the book I'd forgotten. I'm not really good at giving a profound or educated-sounding review. I'll do my best tho.

I found it intriguing at the beginning, that Fiver felt they needed to leave and a few were willing to follow - just on faith. It reminded me of those stories you hear about trusting the Spirit and finding later that it saved your life or put you in a position for something important. It also reminded me of the few people who believed in the Church initially and had to strike out on their own, even with the trials the bunnies faced when trying to just get to a safe place and start a new warren. I couldn't remember right away what it was about that first place that was dangerous, but it was all too good to be true. Lulled into security. The frog in the boiling water analogy. Fattened up and fed a lie. Comfortable enough with the good that they were willing to take the risk with the bad.

My description of General Woundwort and Efrafa would be exactly as Markie put it. He was one nasty fella. It kind of reminds me of the bad guy in Australia (which I just saw last night, so it's fresh and easy to compare to, sorry). Untouchable, well organized and really, really mean. I loved the analogy that his dominance and control over the rabbits was slowly destroying the whole warren. That the female rabbits couldn't have babies anymore, etc.

Anyway, their escape from Efrafa was exciting and I loved the water part. I loved that it ended happy. I loved that Bigwig stood right up to General W. There are so many things to analyze in this book. The stories they told alone could be quite a thing. I do wish I had written my review as soon as I finished - because I'm 2 1/2 books beyond Watership now. Thanks for letting me in on your book club! I can't wait to find out the next book.

Markie's Review

When I saw the selection for March I muttered something under my breath like "Oh hraka", only I used the English equivalent. I wasn't keen on reading a book about bunnies; a book that apparently contained some made-up language; and even worse some kind of deep hidden message about humanity. I was even less thrilled when I went to the library and saw how big the book was. If this had been required reading at my High School, I would have readily taken the "F".

Still, I had resolved myself to reading whatever book was recommended, so I steeled myself to just get through it; kind of like when I was in Guatemala and forced myself to eat some pretty nasty things placed in front of me by the poverty stricken natives who were obviously giving me the best that they had. I was pleasantly surprised however that this literary meal tasted pretty good.

It reminds me of another gustatory experience I had while attending a week long class in San Francisco. One evening a group of us went into Chinatown to eat at a Chinese restaurant that somebody in our group had heard was really good. The place was a run-down looking hole in the wall, sandwiched between a seedy hotel and a strip-club. We asked the old chinese man that seated us at our table if we could have some menu's (I didn't see any when we came in), and he responded "No menu. Not to worry, I take care of you", and walked away. I had a bad feeling about this. Apparently he was going to surprise us with a selection of dishes that we didn't order.

The first dish to come out looked disgusting. It was squid that looked like it had been steamed or sauteed with a variety of weeds pulled from cracks in the sidewalk. This is exactly what I was afraid of, but I was also scared that it might go downhill from there and I was very hungry, so I decided to try it anyway. I was amazed to discover that it was actually very delicious. I would have been happy to just have that entree alone, but the old man kept bringing dish after dish, and each one was more delicious than the last. It ended up being one of the best meals I have ever had in my entire life.

Watership Down ended up being a delicious reading feast for me as well. I devoured it in under a week, and like my Chinese meal it just got better and better. When I was finished I felt completely satisfied. It was one of the best books I have ever read.

I felt very much like I did after reading another set of books that I dearly love -- "The Lord Of The Rings", and I quickly realized why. Both stories gave me a glimpse into a society and culture, that drew me in, and made me wish I was a part of it. In TLOTR series it was the hobbit culture. And what was special about these hobbits is that even though they were different, small, vulnerable, and by nature shy, and preferred to remain close to the safety of their own hobbitown; they were fiercely loyal to their friends and, when necessary, capable of great courage. By the end of their saga I had grown to love these little fictional characters.

I also learned to love the rabbits of Watership Down. They were also small, and vulnerable; but they had a mission, and a determination to carry it out no matter what the odds. I felt like I watched them grow and develop over the course of the story; Hazel in particular, who started out a fairly ordinary rabbit, but by the end grew into a great leader; supported of course by a great cast of characters, all showing incredible bravery under some very difficult circumstances.

A great story also needs a great villain, and General Woundwort was a classic. The last quarter of the book had all the drama and suspense of a daring rescue from a Nazi concentration camp during WWII, and I had a hard time putting it down. Their final defense of their home and Bigwig's last-stand showdown with Woundwort was epic. Stephanie Meyer should read this book and learn a little something about writing a final showdown between good and evil.

Thank you Queso for your recommendation... sorry for ever doubting you. I only wish I had as a good a book to recommend for next month's selection.

Friday, March 27, 2009

T-Two Days

So our online discussion is coming up in two (TWO) days. Sunday eve to be exact, 8 pm.

In order to prepare please do the following:

Finish the book.

The final questions for the book giveaway secret prize are below. These are hard thinking questions but the prize is something yummy:

1) What do you think Fiver represents?

2) What do you think Efrafa represents?

3) What do you think REALLY happened to General Woundwort?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

El-arairah

Which of the stories about El-arairah did you think best showed his cunning?


EDIT: Discussion on March 29th 8 pm PDT.


EDIT Part deux: it was JESPY not Flem who posted the Rabbit Stew.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Who said it?

These are some of my favorite lines in the story. You get a point each for answering them correctly (you know, who said the quote) and then you get an additional point for identifying which one of these lines is at the peak of the action in the book (according to my opinion) and therefore gives me the chills even writing it up here.

1. "I used to roll a joke along the ground and we both followed it. That was how we kept going."

2. "Damn de lot. Fight plenty."

3. "Can you run? I think not."

4. "There's a large dog loose in the wood."

5. "My Chief Rabbit has told me to defend this run and until he says otherwise I shall stay here."

6. "Come back, you fools! Dogs aren't dangerous! Come back and fight!"

7. "I've come to ask whether you'd care to join my Owsla. We shall be glad to have you and you'll enjoy it. If you're ready, we might go along now."

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Who is your favorite character?

This one is open ended but if you get in my top three you get points. I realize that this is subjective but then again I had to take the risk and pick the book that SOME people still don't like. I still heart you even if you don't like literary masterpieces.

Anyone counts, even the Black Rabbit of Inlé.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Who made who?

Character quiz. Don't use the book or it will be lame (or the wikipedia list of characters cheater).





Character Description
1. Thayli a. Meanest @$%*! in bunnyville
2. Dandelion b. Wimpy hutch girl
3. Strawberry c. "I have a funny feeling"
4. Clover d. Dat dam beeg vater
5. Fiver f. Clever bunny who gets buoyancy
6.Woundwort g."Without my doe I might as well travel with these guys"
7. Kehaar h. CEO of travel crew
8. Hazel i. Savors battle but knows when to avoid it
9. Blackberry j. Best Storyteller


And just for fun I found this little "Which Watership Down Character are you?" link which I thought would be fun until I took the quiz:



You are the Black Rabbit of Inle!

ME???? The Black Rabbit of Inle? I have to disagree. But the quiz is fun if you have a few minutes...

Find out Which
Watership Down Character you are.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Where-?

Cowslip is:

a) Gay
b) On cortisone shots (like Ju'Not)
c) Neutered
d) Dead inside

After answering the question above, here is a real question:

What did you think about Cowslip's Warren? Why do you think Fiver felt all fivery about it? If you KNOW now why he felt weird, why did they stay there?

If you still don't like it, hang in there. Though if you have hit General Woundwort and you are not enthralled, I just can't help you. Sorry there are no hot vampires.