Summer Reading Challenge Recap

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This summer I participated in a reading challenge in which we were required to choose books according to various prompts, such as “Involving time travel” or “You picked for the cover”.  I read ten books, some old favorites, and some new or out of my comfort zone. So I decided that for today’s post I would share brief observations on each.

  1. The Silver Branch by Rosemary Sutcliff: I love this author’s books, and this one is no exception. Set in Roman Britain just as Rome was beginning to show signs of failing, it follows two cousins, both in the Roman army, as they deal with trials, failure, spies, and usurpers. It’s a riveting tale with less tragedy than most of her books, and I highly recommend it.
  2. Anchors Aweigh by Jean Lee Latham: This was a book I grew up reading, and my admiration of the ease with which Latham writes about ships and the sea never ceases. It follows the adventures of David Glasgow Farragut, an American Civil War naval hero, from life as a midshipman during the War of 1812, until after the Civil War. Great historical fiction book.
  3. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World Official Movie Guide by Tom McGregor: Laugh if you like, but I enjoyed this book immensely. It was better than most movie guides, as it focused on the lengths they went to for historical detail, the ship itself, the actors’ experiences on set, and their portrayal of the characters. So if you liked the movie, I highly recommend the movie guide.
  4. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis: Every time I read this book I love it a little more. My parents read this whole series aloud to me and my siblings when we were little, and ever since I have loved Narnia. But there is something special about that first book, about the adventure just beginning, that I have always loved. I actually listened to it this time, read aloud by Kenneth Branagh. He does a fantastic job bringing across the story and doing brilliant voice changes with different characters.
  5. Pendragon’s Heir by Suzannah Rowntree: This was a book that through random circumstances I was shamefully long in reading. When I finally finished it, though, I was so glad that I did. I was only intending to read a chapter or so that day, and ended up getting swept into the last ten. It is a very exciting story, and a great mix of legend and knights and 1900’s England. However, I will not say any more, because I am going to post a full review on Saturday.
  6. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: I wouldn’t normally pick up this kind of book on my own, but I considered this more of a research read. (For more on the subject, see this article.) As for the book itself, I found it well-written and very engaging, and I really loved some of the characters. However, I also found it violent in places, dark in others, and I really didn’t care for the main character. It is a book I will likely not read again.
  7. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens: This was the first full Dickens that I’ve completed (A Christmas Carol and skimming aside), and I loved it dearly. The characters were warm and lively, and in the end, the bad guys were served justice (often by their own hand) and the good characters came round happy.
  8. The Prince of Fishes by Suzannah Rowntree: I am now at the point where I eagerly look forward to anything this author puts out. This was a retelling of a fairy tale, cleverly set in the Byzantium Empire. Suzannah pulled this setting off beautifully; I could see everything in my head, the colors were vivid, and I did feel like I had actually been there when I finished. I liked most of the characters, especially the father and his children. However, I did not like or sympathize with the wife in the story. She was well-written, but she drove me crazy with her nagging and pushing, and my heart always sank when I saw her coming.
  9. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson: I love Stevenson’s writing, and it is only made better by the history, the Scottish countryside, and the unforgettable characters. I forgot how much I had enjoyed this book in the past, and it was quite worth the revisiting.
  10. The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse: On a recommendation from a friend, I picked up my first Wodehouse book. The first chapter had me in stitches, and the book continued to deliver. By the time I had finished it, two more members of my family were avidly reading it and a half-dozen of Wodehouse’s other works. If you want a good laugh, and a very clever one at that, then please, look it up.

What have you been reading recently? Which are some of your favorites?

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2 thoughts on “Summer Reading Challenge Recap

  1. Suzannah

    What a teriffic list of books, Emily. THE SILVER BRANCH was my favourite of the Roman Britain trilogy. One of the only two books on this list I haven’t read (beside the movie guidebook!) is ANCHORS AWEIGH, and I think I really should–I loved that author’s book CARRY ON, MR BOWDITCH!

    I’m glad you enjoyed most of THE PRINCE OF FISHES! Alas, I knew the fisherman’s wife was going to be a tough character to pull off, and I’ve been frankly quite surprised that so many of my readers loved her. I’ll hope to do better next time 🙂

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    1. Thanks! Of the Roman Britain trilogy, The Silver Branch was also my favorite.
      I think you would really enjoy Anchors Aweigh. The first book I ever read of Jean Lee Latham’s was Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, and much of what I loved about it (funny moments, touching moments, and great triumphs) Anchors Aweigh has also.
      And don’t worry about the fisherman’s wife–she was good for the plot, just not for me. 😉

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