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Spring Reading Contest - First Installment

It is that time again. Time to hang my head in shame. T.R., once again, was victorious in our reading contest. All I had to do was read twice as many pages as he did and I have gone down in flames. This summer, it’s mano a mano, page for page. If I lose this time, I’ll have to relinquish my title as chief bookworm. For those keeping score, T. read 7,108 pages and I read 11,856 since the new year.

And what did we read? I’m so glad you asked because my Permanent Record in the Sky needs another book report.

T.R. has discovered, once again, the wonder of series. He read The Sea of Trolls and The Land of Silver Apples and The Islands of the Blessed, a wonderful trilogy by Nancy Farmer. (I got credit for the last one, too, but I read the other two a long time ago.) Trolls, mermaids, magic, and engaging characters. Nancy Farmer also has a gift for getting inside cultures and making them intelligible to others.

John Flanagan continues to churn out highly entertaining books in the Ranger’s Apprentice series. We both read The Kings of Clonmel and Erak’s Ransom. The characters have aged well over the seven or so books of the series, which is a feat in itself. There is plenty of violent action to entertain the testosterone set, but also plenty of diplomacy and lots and lots of skill. I appreciate that there is humor mixed in with all the other ingredients.

Because I did not think the Club of People Who Wish Very Nicely That George R.R. Martin Would Write Faster was quite large enough, I got T. started on A Game of Thrones. I figured it would take him a while. It did, but not as long as I thought: he read the rest of the books and continues to wait impatiently along with me for Dances With Dragons. I would not have recommended them to T. earlier than now because there is plenty of graphic sex and violence, but he seems old enough and well balanced enough to handle it. (Other parents might not agree. My attitude was formed in my own childhood when my parents rarely if ever asked me what I was reading. I was forbidden to read Wifey, so of course I did, but it was such a silly book that I wouldn’t have bothered except that I was told not to read it.) (End of digression.)

Rick Riordan has started a new series with The Red Pyramid. Neither T. nor I liked it as much as the Percy Jackson books, but it was definitely worth reading. Stylistically, it was more interesting because the chapters alternate between the points of view of the two siblings who are the main characters, which gives a good point of entry for both boys and girls.

Angie Sage’s Septimus Heap series continues. We’ve both somewhat outgrown it, but still felt compelled to know what happened next. Syren is another strong offering. I liked that Simon, one of the troublesome characters, moves toward redemption in this book. It’s not a common enough theme, in my humble opinion.

Jonathan Stroud, of the Bartimaeus books, gave us Heroes of the Valley, a Nordic saga sort of book full of heroes likely and unlikely. Things did not turn out at all the way I expected. The tension between rule by might and by law added depth to what could have been a simple story. The relationships between the characters also kept my interest. However, Jonathan Stroud also gave us Buried Fire, which was even better. The tale of dragons and brothers, of history and legend, was wonderfully told. I think this was the most rewarding book on T.’s list.

Next time, I’ll talk about the items on my list…

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