Sunday, June 10, 2007

Book Challenge - Update 4

Well, it's nearly 6:30 pm and I'm throwing in the towel. I did read for another 5 and a half hours and finished two books.

Magic or Madness is a terrific first book in a trilogy. I loved Reason Cansino. Her voice is unusual, her knowledge of numbers and science and logical explanations appealed to me. The author has drawn believable pictures of both New York City and Sydney. I was intrigued from the very first page, and could not put it down. Is magic real? Is it a force for good or evil? The book moves quickly towards and ending that simply makes the reader want to continue on with the second book. Alas, Magic Lessons, must wait for tomorrow.

Since I was running out of time, the last book I finished was a bit shorter. I picked up The Second Mrs. Gioconda by E.L. Konigsburg before I left for China, but never got a chance to read it. Though a bit slow, I was drawn in by Salai, the descriptions of da Vinci, and the mystery of the Mona Lisa. This excerpt from the end of the book really moved me.
This was a woman who knew that she was not pretty and who had learned to live with that knowledge. This was a woman whose acceptance of herself made her beautiful in a deep and hidden way. A woman whose look told you that you were being sized by a measuring rod in her head; a measuring rod on which she alone had etched the units. A woman who knew how to give pleasures and how to give pain. A woman who knew how to endure. A woman of layers.

As soon as that thought came to him, Salai knew that he could persuade Leonardo to do it. He know that there was something haunting about this lady's looks, something that only Leonardo could capture in paint.
This is a fine piece of historical fiction that nicely captures the spirit of life of Italy during the late 1400s.

This challenge has been fun, but exhausting. I generally am fairly committed to reading during the summer, but find it much harder to keep up during the academic year. I suppose that's why I spend so much time reading picture books (cookbooks too!) during this time. I do need to make more time for longer selections, both YA and adult when we are actually in session. Perhaps that will be one of my goals for the upcoming year.

I've been reading the posts of some of the other contestants and am blown away by how quickly they read and how much ground they've covered. Some of them are reading machines, and I bow to their greatness. You can see what I mean by checking out the sites of Little Willow and Bookshelves of Doom.

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