So, I just finished my first selection from Africa with Little Bee by Chris Cleave.  There has been a lot of buzz (pun intended) about this book since it was released a couple of years ago.  The inside flap makes it sound like something totally mysterious and shocking is going to happen.  So Shocking, in fact that they barely give away any of the plot in the blurb. 

The big shocking event happens about halfway through the book.  It is pretty horrifying, but not that shocking really.   And then there isn’t anywhere else to go but downhill after that.  I read the first half of the book in about a day, it took me almost a month to force myself to sit down and read the second half.  I just really didn’t care anymore.  It picked up again a little bit before then end, but it was too little too late for me.

I really wanted to like this book.  I had read really good reviews and I was excited to read something that was at least partly set in Africa.  But as you may have noticed I really like character driven fiction, being interested in the development of the characters is what keeps me reading a book, and Chris Cleave’s characters in my opinion left a little to be desired.  I feel like he was trying too hard to create theses quirky, wise-beyond-their-years characters.  They just didn’t seem like real people.  He does write some very clever dialogue though. 

In the end I thought the book was just okay.  I probably sabotaged myself by having such high hopes for it.

I can’t believe that it’s been so long since I updated this blog.  I have kind of fallen behind on my Global Reading Challenge lately.  I recently broke up and then made up with my boyfriend twice in the last month, also I subscribed to Netflix.  So I have been dealing with all these high emotions by laying in bed eating cheetos and streaming all five seasons of Weeds to my laptop.

I did manage to read the new Charlainne Harris book, Dead in the Family.  So that’s one of my North America books.  It feels a little bit like cheating to count it towards the challenge, because I would have read it either way.

I am really invested in the lives of Bill, Sookie, and Eric from the books.  If I wasn’t so fond of the characters, I would have stopped reading these books a long time ago.  (Also I have a pathological need to complete things, like series’ and reading challenges.)  I got about halfway through the book and found myself wondering why I was still reading it. 

There are just far too many characters in these books now; I cannot keep track of them all.  This really annoys me.  Also a whole lotta nothing happens in the books.  There is all this build up, then it just sort of fizzles out in the end.

I would say that I’m not going to read another one of her books, but I know myself well enough to be sure that next year I’ll do this to myself all over again and wonder why I am such a glutton for punishment.

Just finished reading my second book set in Antarctica.  The Big Bang Symphony, by Lucy Jane Bledsoe.  It’s a new book, we just got it in a few days ago, which was really fortuitous for me.  I had just put Blood on Ice on hold to be my second selection and I was totally dreading reading it (Thrillers=blah).

So I was really excited to get my hands on a book that was set in Antarctica that was neither Sci-Fi nor a thriller.  After I read the blurb on the inside cover I thought it might be a little dull.  But it wasn’t.  The characters were really well-developed.  The plot moved at a steady pace that kept me interested and when I finished the book I really felt like I had a bit of an idea about what it was like to live in a research station near the South Pole.

The story is basically about three women who go to Antarctica for different reasons and have their lives become intertwined.  They are looking for some answers about themselves and they are all a little bit broken.    What they find is alot more than they expected.

I felt that the ending was maybe a little bit convenient, but at the same time I had become fairly invested in the characters, so I’m not sure I would have been happy if it had ended any other way.

I have become so interested in life in Antarctica, that I just want to read dozens of books on the subject now.  But it is time to move on to another continent for now.  Though something tells me that I will be coming back to Antarctica when this reading challenge is all over with.

Currenty reading:  Bone People, by Keri Hulme.

I have finished my first book for the Global Reading Challenge.  It’s called Surviving Antarctica and it’s by Andrea White.  I had never read anything by her, but this book is totally up my alley.  It’s a futuristic dystopian novel set in 2083.  Teenagers compete on a reality show titled “Historical Survivor” to win money. 

The book follows five, fourteen year olds who have been selected for the show and are sent to Antarctica to recreate Robert Scott’s doomed Antarctic expedition from 1912.  In this dystopian future, children are taught by television through “tele school” programs like these.  If they survive the trip, they will be awarded $10,000 dollars.  Seems like a pretty paltry sum, when you consider the dangers.  But in this imaginary future, the poor vastly outnumber the wealthy and money is hard to come by. 

The teens don’t actually get to Antarctica till about a third of the way through the book.  We also get bits of information along the way about Scott’s original expedition, which I knew next to nothing about.  The journey is predictably cold and dangerous, however less went wrong than I expected.   I actually got more out of the quotes and tidbits of information from Scott’s journals. 

In short the book was okay.  The ending was kind of a let down and felt very hurried.  But it would be a great recommendation for teenagers and young adults who are fans of the Hunger Games books.

I was going to read the Brief History of the Dead, by Kevin Brockmeier next.  Part of the book takes place in Antarctica, but it is also a future Antarctica.  But after reading Surviving Antarctica, I think I want to read something that takes place almost entirely in Antarctica and that also takes place in the present or past.  I’d really like to find something that was written by someone who had actually visited the continent too.

So back to the drawing board.

So, I have decided to give the Global reading Challenge a try this year.  I know the year is almost half way over, but I only have to read 14 books which I can totally do between now and December 31st.  Two books from each continent, including Antarctica. 

I decided to start with Antarctica because it seems like the most challenging, and I always like to get the hard stuff out-of-the-way first.  Not surprisingly it seems that most of the novels I have found that are set in Antarctica are thrillers or Sci-Fi.  I do sometimes read science fiction, but I NEVER read thrillers.  But the whole point of this exercise is to get me to get out of my usual reading patterns and try some new things. 

I put some books on hold that are in my library system to get me started.  Hopefully by the time I finish the two books I am currently reading, my Antarctica books will have come in. 

Currently reading:  Men and Dogs, by Katie Crouch   and Devotion, by Dani Shapiro.