Hi, I'm Mrs. F-B!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

some winter break books

I read three books over break and listened to a fourth.

The three I read were Wish You Were Eyre by Oregon author Heather Vogel Frederick, The Queen of Katwe, a nonfiction title by Tim Crothers, and Keeping the Castle, by Patrice Kindl. the audiobook I read is an adult psychological thriller by Gillian Flynn called Gone Girl.

 Wish You Were Eyre is the final book in the Mother-Daughter Book Club series which I have loved. I read the first of these books with the first mother-daughter book club I had a WOMS!  I've followed the girls in the series over the years, and as characters in a series often do, they sort of became my friends.   I love how the book club always reads one of the classics and how the author weaves bits from the classic stories into the girls' stories.  I like how these books have a little something for everyone.  One girl is really into fashion, another is really into sports, one's family has lots of money, other girls don't, some girls like reading, some don't.  And I really appreciate that the girls don't always get along perfectly either, because real girls - real people - don't. I'm sad that this is the end of the series, but it's been a fun journey!

The nonfiction book I read, The Queen of Katwe, is actually subtitled, A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming A Grandmaster. It's a fascinating story, although I would not say it's the most well-written piece of nonfiction I've read.  I felt it was a little jumpy.  The story is of a project in Uganda to teach children to play chess - a project which actually started as an experiment because they weren't even sure it would work. 

Phiona, the extraordinary girl, lives in the slums of  Kampala, Uganda.  Here, a group called Sports Outreach started a soccer program.  but many kids weren't playing soccer, so one of the guys thought, hey, maybe I can teach them to play chess.  It was challenging, but he kept at it, and little by little, the children began to play.  Phiona was not one of the original players, but she followed her brother to the center one day and began to learn.  The leader saw her potential and entered her in a competition.  At age ten, she became the Ugandan junior chess champion and then the junior champion for all of Africa.

Since then, she has played in the World Chess Olympiad in Siberia and also just this past fall in turkey.  She is recognized as one of the world's best young chess players!!!  You can read more about Phiona and see some videos of her here.  It's a pretty amazing story.

Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl is an Austenesque novel, meaning it's a book written in a similar style to a Jane Austen novel.  Meaning I will of course read it because I love all things Jane Austen.  Except I would not have loved living in Jane Austen's time, because like Althea, it might have meant I would have to look for a husband for money instead of love. 

Althea is a seventeen year-old young woman whose father has died and who has a younger brother who will inherit the house, if they can keep it from falling down or sliding down the hill...Their house, called Crooked Castle by most because of its crazy, hodge-podge design, is in a major state of disrepair, but they've no money to fix it up.  Hence the reason Althea needs a husband with money!  Well, actually, Althea has two wealthy stepsisters, but they're unwilling to give any of their money to repair the house - except in the case of mice and dripping ceilings, of course.  But Althea wouldn't know anything about that...
The story is funny and I love Althea's no-nonsense approach to Mr. Fredericks.  It was fairly predictable from my perspective, although I don't know if it would be in a younger reader's eyes, and in any case, it didn't really make a difference to me.  If you want to interest readers in Jane Austen but they're not quite ready for her, this is a perfect introduction.

The last book, Gone Girl, was my January book club book, and as it is really not appropriate for younger readers, I will just do a very short review here and say that for the first 2/3-3/4 I was in, and then it was all too much. I can see why the reviews are all over the board. Wished I'd developed more sympathy for either of the main characters.

What did you read over winter break?

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

After reading Wish You Were Eyre I really wanted to visit the Maud Hart Lovelace house in Minnesota. I have a friend nearby. Road trip!