Tag Archives: YA Historical Fiction Challenge

Book Review: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party

Title: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party

Author: M. T. Anderson

Publication Date:  September 12, 2006

Genre: Young Adult/ HIstorical Fiction

Publisher: Candlewick

Rating: 0/5 stars

Summary (from Barnes & Noble): Young Octavian is being raised by a group of rational philosophers known only by numbers — but it is only after he opens a forbidden door that learns the hideous nature of their experiments, and his own chilling role them. Set in Revolutionary Boston, M. T. Anderson’s mesmerizing novel takes place at a time when Patriots battled to win liberty while African slaves were entreated to risk their lives for a freedom they would never claim. The first of two parts, this deeply provocative novel reimagines past as an eerie place that has startling resonance for readers today.

My Review: I was rather excited to read this book as I’m rather partial to Historical Fiction (as I’m sure you’ve noticed by now) and it had received so many excellent reviews. Then I picked it up and started reading. This book was quite possibly the least exciting book I’ve read in a very long time. There was nothing of merit that drew me in, there were no characters that I became emotionally invested in and there was no story line that grabbed me or compelled me to turn page after page as quick as I could.

To be perfectly honest I find the book slow-going and at times rather dreadful and slightly confusing. The change of text type, format of the book and narrative quality seemed unnecessary and too forced. I didn’t feel that the book flowed naturally and the jumpy feel to it made it difficult for me to absorb the information.

It actually got so bad that I put the book down about 2/3s of the way through and haven’t picked up it since, and I don’t really intend to. I’d been intending on picking of “Feed” by M. T. Anderson soon however,  my experience with this book now has me hesitating. Any thoughts?


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Book Review: The Book Thief

Title: The Book Thief

Author: Markus Zusak

Publication Date: September 11, 2007

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Alfred A. Knop

*Purchased the book at a used bookstore*

Rating: 4/5 stars

I should probably state right off the bat that I am a history minor who concentrated on the Holocaust. As such I read so many books on the topic, both fiction and non-fiction, to gain a better understanding of that atrocities that occurred in Europe at that time. So right from the start I was pulled into to this book, curious to see how the events would play out from this unique point of view.

The use of Death as the omniscient narrator was one that was easily adapted to and it gave the book a unique feel that I don’t believe Zusak would have been able carry out any other way.  However, at times his commentary seemed to jar me out of the story and realize that I was not actually a part of what was going on.

From the beginning of the book I found myself interested in Liesel’s role as the book thief, as she stole her first book very early on. The books that she read and stole helped to build her relationships with those around her, relationships that may not have been as deep without the back drop of the stolen books. From her foster-father who uses The Gravediggers Handbook to lull her to sleep when she’s roused by regular nightmares about her younger brothers death, Max the hidden Jew who writes her a book of her very own and the mayor’s wife who has an entire library of books she allows her to steal.

This book will both bring you joy and break your heart, but it’s a journey that is worth the pan.




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Book Challenges!

In a way to jumpstart my reading for 2011 (as if I need more ways to do that), I’ve decided to signup for a few Book Challenges. These will perhaps push me to read outside of my normal realm of books and hopefully introduce me to a few new authors along the way!

I’m signing up for four challenges for this year. I think that’s good enough to get me going with reading and reviewing!

YA Historical Fiction Challenge (signup page)

Hosts : YA Bliss
Starts: 1st January 2011
Ends: 31st December 2011
Eligible Books: Young Adult or Middle Grade historical fiction.
Levels: Three; I’ve signed up for the third level which requires me to read 15 books
Prizes? Yes!


I love historical fiction, so this one should be a breeze! Here are some of the books I am considering, I’ll add more as I find them:

The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller
Wildwing by Emily Whitman
Nine Days a Queen: The Short Life and Reign of Lady Jane Grey by Ann Rinaldi

Most Awaited YA Releases (signup page)

Starts: 1st January 2011
Ends: 31st December 2011
Eligible Books: Any book released in 2011.
Levels: One: 12 books (review one per month)
Prizes? Yes! Each month one participant will win a book released in 2011.

Here are some of the books I am considering:

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney
Entwined by Heather Dixon
Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Into The Old World Reading Challenge (sign up page)

Starts: 1st January 2011
Ends: 31st December 2011
Eligible Books: Any books published BEFORE 2009 . All Genres included

Here are some of the books I am considering:

The Wild Irish: A Novel of Elizabeth I and the Pirate O’Malley by Robin Maxwell
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke
Nine Days a Queen: The Short Life and Reign of Lady Jane Grey by Ann Rinaldi

Off the Shelf (signup page)

Starts: January 1, 2011
Ends: December 31, 2011
Eligible Books: Books that you own but have not read. Must own the books prior to 2011.
Levels: Seven; I will be trying for Level 2:  15 books
I’ll have to scan the shelf and separate out the books I haven’t read yet! There are quite a few though, that’s for sure.
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Posted by on 31 December, 2010 in Challenges


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