Tuesday, April 21, 2015

TBR Pile Challenge Update

We are only 4 months into 2015, and I already have 6 out of 12 books completed for the TBR Pile Challenge, hosted by Adam at Roof Beam Reader.

The TBR Pile Challenge List 
1. Dragonwings by Laurence Yep (2001)
2. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien (1971)
3. The Menagerie by Tui T. Sutherland ~ Completed 4.19.2015 ~ Review Below
4. Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence ~ Completed 4.9.2015 ~ My Review
5. Flawed Dogs by Berkeley Breathed ~ Completed 2.20.2015 ~ My Review
6. We Are Not Eaten by Yaks by C. Alexander London ~ Completed 4.20.2015 ~ Review Below
7. Watership Down by Richard Adams (1972)
8. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper (1973)
9. Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve ~ Completed 4.5.2015 ~ My Review
10. HIVE by Mark Walden ~ Completed 1.4.2015 ~ My Review
11. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (1964)
12. Airborn by Kenneth Oppel (2004)
1. The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander (1964)
2. The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley (1984)

Like last year, I am using half of my TBR Pile List to make progress on the 50-book Classics Club Challenge.

Not to toot my own horn, but I'm pretty proud to be half way through the list 2 months early. Go me! My favorite book of these 6 has been Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve. It is a really cool dystopia about cities that migrate on giant mechanisms and eat one another.

Just this past week I finished two books on the list, so I thought that I'd combine the reviews here:

Title: The Menagerie
Author: Tui T. Sutherland
Genre: Fantasy (book 1 of 3)
Length: 288 pages
Audience: Grades 4-7

Seventh grader Logan Wilde gets involved in tracking down a group of missing griffin cubs. The cubs have escaped from a secret facility that houses and protects mythical creatures. Along the way we encounter arrogant unicorns, temperamental pheonixes, and an adorable mammoth. This book was a fun, but light read. There are ample doses of humor, adventure, mystery, and unicorns. The Menagerie is totally accessible for the target audience, so lots of middle grade students love it. However, for me, it didn't feel very original and just blended into the crowd of other similar MG fantasies (Fablehaven, Spiderwick, etc).
Rating: 3 stars

Title: We Are Not Eaten by Yaks
Author: C. Alexander London
Genre: Fantasy (book 1 of 4)
Length: 384 pages
Audience: Grades 4-6

Two TV-obsessed kids end up on a quest to find the lost Library of Alexandria, the same quest on which their mother disappeared 3 years ago. London gives this story an intentionally over-the-top tone with ridiculous obstacles (being thrown from a plane and surviving via a raft/poncho), outrageous villains (evil witches who love television), and strange allies (Buddhist oracles). It's super fun and works well for students who love both silliness and adventure. However, the humor felt kind of forced to me. Some of the characters were really annoying - the protagonists with their constant complaining and desire to watch TV, and the main villain with his excessive arrogance.
Rating: 3 stars

Both of these books remind me that I am not the target audience. Some books appeal to middle grade readers and adults equally well, others seem to appeal more to one or the other. I really think both of these books would be loved by lots of readers in grades 4-7. They didn't work for me, but since I'm not the target audience... take that for what it's worth.

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