Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

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Miss Kate’s CBRV review #4: Lorna Doone: A Romance Of Exmoor, by R.D. Blackmore

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I read Lorna Doone as part of my effort to read more of the classics, and I’m glad I did. This is the late 17th century in England, a time of political and religious strife. Charles II has just reclaimed the throne after years of exile.

Told in the first person, it is the story of John Ridd, a simple farmer living in Exmoor with his mother and sisters. Nearby live the outlaw clan the Doones. The Doones had once been wealthy nobles, but had lost their title and lands due to a lawsuit, and have since taken up banditry. John is a young boy when his father is murdered by them during a highway robbery. The Doones live in a heavily guarded valley and are pretty much untouchable.

One day, while out hunting, young John meets Lorna Doone. (She was kidnapped as a little girl and raised as a Doone.) Over the years they meet in secret, and fall in love. Eventually she tells John that she is slated to marry Carver Doone, the son of the Doone leader and a pretty bad guy. The Doones will then take her inheritance. As their romance matures, John becomes determined to save Lorna from her wicked family.

The story starts off slow, but builds and becomes exciting in parts. There is love, loss, battle scenes. Lorna Doone has never been out of print, and it’s easy to see why. The writing is extremely Victorian – Blackmore suffers in some parts from excessive wordiness, and his female characters are a bit one-note. Frankly, I found Lorna herself to be somewhat of a simpering bore. But as a modern kid of girl, I can’t expect a 19th century male author to share my sensibilities!

Where Blackmore’s writing shines, though, is in his descriptions of country life. Taking into account the upheaval in England during the Industrial Revolution, the author’s love of nature and the older ways of doing things are evident on every page. (Now I want to re-read Middlemarch.) Lorna Doone is not a quick beach read, but it’s a good one!

Read more reviews at Miss Kate Says: http://misskatesays.com/2014/01/03/lorna-doone-a-romance-of-exmoor-by-r-d-blackmore/

So I manged to read 43 books total and review 26 on time. I’ll finish the other reviews in the next couple of weeks and post them to my blog at http://competitivenonfiction.tumblr.com.

Book 25 of 2102 – Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Looking forward to CBR V next year!

 

Jen K’s #CBR IV Wrap Up

Here is a list of all the books I read this year and didn’t get around to reviewing. Some where better than others, but I did make sure to write about all the ones I truly disliked – they’re just so inspiring sometimes. This is the first time in four years that I didn’t read over 100 books – I wonder if I should blame my iPhone.

meilufay’s #CBR4 review #97 Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been rereading Georgette Heyer’s historical romances chronologically.  Devil’s Cub is a sequel to These Old Shades (which is one of my all-time favorite of Heyer’s novels) and has as its hero Vidal, the son of Avon and Léonie from the earlier novel.  Because the book is set a generation after These Old Shades, it can be read on its own.  While this book isn’t my favorite of Heyer’s books, it’s easily in the top ten of her best books.  It’s laugh out loud funny, moves along at a smart pace and is peopled by vivid characters.  Great fun.

genericwhitegirl’s #CBRIV Review #11: Fireproof by Gerard Brennan

ImageThis book is about a man who dies, is sent to hell, somehow resists eternal torture, and is sent back to earth to recruit followers for Satan.

Now before any holy rollers tsk tsk me for reading such a book, if you haven’t already realized, much of Fireproof is tongue in cheek. Brennan manages to make topics like murder, hell, and satanism seem blase, in a darkly comedic way.

Our story begins with Mike Rocks, who used to live in Northern Ireland, until he died. Now Mike is in hell with his demon roommate who can’t seem to effect eternal torture on him. So Satan calls Mike in for a meeting and decides to send him back to Ireland to recruit followers. But besides leaving hell, Mike has another reason to take this journey, and that is revenge. Mike didn’t just die from natural causes, you see. And along the way, Mike meets new associates including a girlfriend who has a very casual attitude about homicide, and a homeless man with peculiar abilities. Satan also sends a helper, the imp, to keep an eye on Mike. That’s because if Mike fails, Satan will sic Cerberus, the famed three headed dog on him. 

Strange, but entertaining, that’s for sure. The story at hand, about revenge and all that, is nothing terribly interesting. But the interactions Mike has with Satan, the imp, and basically everyone around him is worth the read. Brennan’s writing is funny and witty, and I enjoyed reading the book.

Read The Blist for more reviews by genericwhitegirl

Tits McGee’s Books 17 – 24 of 2012

Clearly I need to improve at posting to the main blog for 2013, and at writing my own reviews. I made it to 43 books in 2012. Not quite the 52 I was aiming for, but I’m still happy and ready to take on the 52 for 2013. I’ll post more of the reviews over the next week

Book 17 of 2012 – The Virgin’s Lover by Phillipa Gregory

Book 18 of 2012 – Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

Book 19 of 2012 – State of Wonder by Ann Pratchett

Book 20 of 2012 – The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Book 21 of 2012 – The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Book 22 of 2012 – The Full Moon Bride by Shobhan Bantwal

Book 23 of 2012 – Divergent by Veronica Roth

Book 24 of 2012 – Guilty Pleasures by Lauren K Hamilton

Congrats to everyone who met their goal this year!

pyrajane’s review #54: Arcadia by Lauren Groff

ArcadiaI finished it before 2013, but I didn’t write the review on time.  But it still totally counts!

I really liked this book and it was a great one to end the year on.  If you believe in free love, drugs and communes while at the same time knowing that things can’t end well, hop on over to my blog and check things out.

While you’re there, I’ll be diving in to my first book of CBRV.

ambern’s #CBR4 Reviews #27-52

Yay, I finished!  And I apologize but I’m going to be lazy and post the links to my reviews here.  I have been really awful about keeping up my reviews this year and have been rushing to finish them today.  Anyways, congratulations to everyone and have a great new year!

Book 27: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Book 28: Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone by JK Rowling

Book 29: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

Book 30: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

Book 31: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

Book 32: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling

Book 33: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling

Book 34: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

Book 35: Blind Fall by Christopher Rice

Book 36: A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz

Book 37: Outwitting History by Aaron Lansky

Book 38: The Saucier’s Apprentice: One Long Strange Trip Through the Great Cooking Schools of Europe by Bob Spitz

Book 39: Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland

Book 40: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Book 41: The Woman Who Dies a Lot by Jasper Fforde

Book 42: The Secret Life of a Boarding School Brat by Amy Gordon

Book 43: My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me edited by Kate Bernheimer

Book 44: Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer

Book 45: The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

Book 46: The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Book 47: Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Book 48: How to Mellify a Corpse by Vikki Leon

Book 49: The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

Book 50: The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy by Maya Slater

Book 51: Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg

Book 52: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Rebecca’s #CBR4 Review #34/52: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

(This is the last review I will post, out of order, because I just found I hadn’t published it)

Another day, another great YA novel. Seriously, modern YA novels may be the most reliable genre as far as quality is concerned.  The authors do a lot of heavy lifting with the narrator’s voice, using their personality and perspectives in illuminating ways. The characters are original and honest. YA books never shy away from difficult or big topics, like teenage sexuality, rape, abuse, eating disorders – you name it, there is probably a YA novel that has tackled it in a forthright way.

Speak easily takes a place in this tradition. It tells the story of Melinda, a high school freshman who is ostracized from her peers. She hardly ever speaks, withdrawing from her parents and skipping school more and more as the novel goes along.

Melinda is an outsider – shunned even by her middle school friends – because she called the police at a party over the summer, where numerous students were busted for underage drinking. The reason she did so is fairly obvious – especially when she refers to an older student as “IT” and describes how he makes her skin crawl. The novel tells the story of her recovery from the trauma of that night.

The fact that the reader can fairly easily guess what happens does not draw power away from the reveal, as Speak is not so much about plot points as about finding strength and facing the past in order to move on. Melinda’s inability to articulate her experience only draws sympathy from the reader, as she moves through the already harrowing world of high school with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Speak takes on rape and abuse in an unflinching and sympathetic manner, portraying the reality of teenagers without condescending or pandering.

Rebecca’s #CBR4 Review #51: Emma by Jane Austen

Emma is a light, funny look at high-class society in England. Emma Wodehouse is a young woman of significant means and breeding, who feels that she knows what is best for everyone. She goes about attempting to set up various relationships between friends and acquaintances, taking a young woman named Harriet under her wing and trying to find her a suitable partner.

Things go awry, and one after the other of Emma’s attempted matches fail to work out. She herself, who did not think she would want to ever be married, ends up marrying the only man who dared to criticize her.

Emma is easy, enjoyable reading, but the dirty secret is that Emma, the character, while she is supposed to be satirical, is just thoroughly unlikeable to most modern readers. She is obsessed with class, finds offense in small things, and criticizes others behind their backs – mostly those who, while annoying, are well-intentioned and kind.

Also, Clueless is better.

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