Sunday, June 12, 2011

Eric Walters- Part 2

Fly Boy

Fly Boy is one of Eric Walters' more suspenseful books. It is set mostly in England during World War II. I think the description on the back of the book is more accurate than I could ever do, so here it is:

It's 1943, and World War Two is raging across Europe and around the globe. Seventeen-year-old Robbie McWilliams can't wait to follow in his father's footsteps and enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force-he wants to become a Spitfire pilot and fight for his country. The only problem is that he's still too young to join. So with a little help from his best friend, Chip, Robbie devises a plan that will allow him to enlist early and keep it a secret from his mother, from his schoolmaster, and most important, from the authorities at the RCAF.

Using the birth documents issued to his older brother who died in infancy, Robbie joins the air force and begins his training in Brandon, Manitoba. He aces all his classes and shows the makings of a great Spitfire pilot, but is dealt a huge blow when he's assigned to train as navigator on a Lancaster. Soon he's on his way to England, where he completes his training on treacherous missions bombing German targets in enemy territory, all the while wishing he were training to be a pilot. One of his bombing missions goes awry, though, and Robbie is about to learn that you should be careful what you wish for...

This book is exactly what anyone would look for in an adventurous historical fiction book. Its suspense-filled pages keep you on your toes and it's accuracy makes it educational as well as interesting. I would recommend it to anyone.


Reviewed by Kate

Sunday, June 5, 2011

48-Hour Book Challenge: Final Update

My final totals:
Hours of reading: 15
Hours of listening to audiobooks: 3.5
Hours blogging/networking: 2
Books finished: 2
Pages read: 1175

Kate's final totals:
Hours of reading: 15
Books finished: 4
Pages read: 1404

We're at the end of the 48-hour challenge, after 15 hours of reading for each of us! (We actually stopped at 5pm, but after reading all day long, I had to catch up on chores before writing this post.) I didn't surpass my totals for last year, but Kate beat hers by 50%. I suspect that she likes this reading challenge event even more than I do, and the only reason I can keep up with her is that, for now, I can survive on less sleep.

Kate finished Hunger and will post more reviews soon. I finished all 779 pages of Tigana and I'm almost done with The Tiger on audiobook. I also took some time to visit other participants' blogs and have augmented my wishlist greatly after seeing their recommendations.

We've donated $2 to UNICEF (to go toward education) for every hour that we participated, including reading, audiobook listening and blogging/networking time, so that makes $75 in all. We had a great time participating in this event again this year and thank MotherReader for organizing it all. We're both looking forward to participating again next year and hope that we'll convince more of our family and friends to join in the fun. I'll sign off with some brief comments about Tigana, which consumed most of my reading hours this weekend.

Tigana is by Canadian author Guy Gavriel Kay. I've read two of Kay's other works and I enjoy his writing because of the complex plots, the well-developed characters and the detailed settings which are often based on real historical periods. Twenty years ago, a friend insisted I read Tigana after I told him that I didn't like high fantasy. I ended up liking the novel then and I enjoyed it even more this second time around. In the other Kay novels I'd read, the fantastical elements are very light, but in Tigana, sorcery does play a large part. Despite its length, I had a hard time putting this novel down, which made it perfect reading for the 48-hour challenge.

48-Hour Book Challenge: Update #3

My update:
Hours of reading: 13
Hours of listening to audiobooks: 3
Books finished: 1
Books in progress: 2

Kate's update:
Hours of reading: 12
Books finished: 3
Books in progress: 1

I added another 4.5 hours of reading and an hour with my audiobook since the last update, and Kate has added another 5 hours of reading. We both took an extended break yesterday evening to attend a parent-child book club meeting, where we discussed and watched the movie version of Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.

I'm still working on Tigana and The Tiger, and I hope to finish them before the end of the challenge at 5pm EDT. Kate finished Gone early this morning and immediately started its sequel, Hunger.

I'm also very pleased I convinced my sister-in-law Jill to join the challenge, if only unofficially. Maybe next year, I'll be able to get even more members of the family to join.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

48-Hour Book Challenge: Update #2

My update:
Hours of reading: 8.5
Hours of listening to audiobooks: 2
Books finished: 1
Books in progress: 2

Kate's update:
Hours of reading: 7
Books finished: 2
Books in progress: 1

We're at the 24-hour mark, and I've managed to add another 4.5 hours of reading to my total. I also listened to my audiobook for 1.5 hours today, while exercising, cooking and driving.

Kate has had a very productive day so far, finishing Flyboy and writing a review for Alexandria of Africa and Beverly Hills Maasai. She is now working on Gone by Michael Grant and so absorbed in it that I can barely make contact with her.

The book I finished earlier today is Bone China by Roma Tearne. This novel follows three generations of a once-wealthy Tamil family, with matriarch Grace as the central figure. As the family suffers a decline in their fortunes and personal tragedies caused by the political upheaval surrounding them, the members leave Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) one by one and settle in England.

I didn't find the story as engaging as other immigrant stories I've read. However, this novel is worth reading if you want a sense of the cultural and political history of Sri Lanka in the second half of the 20th century. Tearne describes movingly the ordeals faced by those who escape the ethnic violence by relocating to a foreign land as well as those who choose to stay behind in the aftermath.

Eric Walters- Part I

Alexandria of Africa and Beverly Hills Maasai

Alexandria of Africa and Beverly Hills Maasai focus on Alexandria Hyatt, a spoiled and rich fifteen-year-old girl. When she is caught shoplifting, she is faced with the decision of going to a juvenile detention center or joining a diversion program in Africa. When in Africa, Alexandria befriends Ruth, the daughter of a Maasai warrior. Throughout her entire life-changing trip, she learns about the difficult conditions people in third world countries live in and becomes a different person.

I would recommend this book to people who enjoy Eric Walters' writing, but find some of his books scary. This book is "lighter" than his others and doesn't have the same tension and suspense. I would also recommendd this book to people who like inspiring books, that make you see a new perspective to events or situations. Overall, this book was a good read, even though I prefer some of his other books.

Rating: ****

*When we met Eric Walters at the Silver Birch Awards, we mentioned that we had read We All Fall Down for our Mother/Daughter book club. He suggested that Alexandria of Africa would also be a good choice.

Reviewed by Kate

Friday, June 3, 2011

48-Hour Book Challenge: Update #1

My update:
Hours of reading: 4
Hours of listening to audiobooks: 0.5
Books finished: 0
Books in progress: 3

Kate's update:
Hours of reading: 3
Books finished: 1
Books in progress: 1

Kate and I had a full evening of reading. I'm alternating between Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay and Bone China by Roma Tearne. I'm also listening to an audiobook version of The Tiger by John Vaillant.

Kate might be doing an all-Eric Walters weekend. She zoomed through Beverly Hills Maasai tonight, the sequel to Alexandria of Africa which she'd read earlier in the week. She is now working on another Walters book, Flyboy. She promises to post reviews later this weekend.

48-Hour Challenge: The Starting Line

It's 5pm EDT and we're about to start MotherReader's 48-Hour Book Challenge. Kate and I have a pile of books at our side and Todd graciously offered to make supper, so we're ready to go!