Today’s post continues yesterday’s March Book Challenge Update.
For those of you who missed my initial post on this topic, I have decided to embark on a most enjoyable challenge to read 52 books in 2013. I have chosen to participate in the Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge in which I select my own goal, and a book a week is what I came up with as truly doable this year. Each month I will give you an update on where I am in the challenge and what books I was lucky enough to indulge in. I’ll also include a link to Amazon.com for each book in case you would like to pick a read up for yourself.
In the month of March I have read six books and according to the graph on Goodreads, I am at 35% of my goal, which is seven books (12%) ahead of schedule! Thanks to a very full schedule of school books I have had no problem keeping up with my reading goal and am now even ahead of the game. At this time last year I was barely keeping up. It feels good to be reading books that I might not otherwise have picked up. Of course I still have my favorite authors and genres, but I feel blessed to be introduced to amazing works of literature.
Without further ado, here are my reviews of this month’s last three Book Challenge reads.
Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal- Completed March 12th
I picked up this novel because I was such a fan of Francine Pascal’s wildly successful Sweet Valley High series as a teenager. (I am a little disappointed to have found out later in life that the series is largely written by a ghost writer and not Ms. Pascal herself). I read every single book in the lengthy series, hurrying to the library each week to check out the next installment. In Sweet Valley Confidential Pascal picks up the story of the Wakefield twins ten years and one giant betrayal after high school graduation. Elizabeth Wakefield has fled her idyllic Sweet Valley home and is struggling to make her way as a writer in New York. Jessica Wakefield has done the unthinkable and remains in Sweet Valley in love with her twin sister’s ex-boyfriend Todd.
The writing style is simple and the plot moves quickly. Pascal weaves her way through the past, alternating viewpoints to complete the whole picture. As with her Sweet Valley High novels, the ending us a bit too perfect and simple to be true, but it’s satisfying and feels good to the reader. If you’ve never read any if her teen novels you might find yourself lost in the large cast of characters, but those who loved Sweet Valley High will love reading about the Wakefield twins and their adult dramas.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair- Completed March 14th
This is a compelling novel chronicling the vile working conditions of the meat packing industry. The story follows Jurgis and his Lithuanian immigrant family as they settle in Chicago seeking work and a way if life. Along the way they are conned and swindled. The family faces many hardships, ultimately paying the ultimate price of death. Jurgis is a strong man who reinvents himself many times over in order to survive, although at times he is starving and moments from death.
Sinclair’s novel is full of off-putting descriptions of the slaughterhouses that are sure to sour the stomach. I enjoyed the novel and found the story compelling, although I could have done without the last couple chapters, which are essentially a rally cry for socialism. They seem out of place in the story and do little for resolution.
A Woman Doing Life: Notes From a Prison for Women by Erin George- Completed March 15th
Erin George is serving a 603-year sentence for the murder of her husband at a maximum security women’s prison. Although she denies guilt of her crime, this book does not focus on her culpability. It is a book describing her days as a “lifer” at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women. George has an excellent command for language and offers a compassionate behind-the-scenes look into life as a prisoner. She has learned to stand up for herself and accept the lack of privacy involved in incarceration and is living the best life she can while behind bars.
George does detail the violence and injustices of daily life in prison, yet she brings a humanity and honesty to the stories. She finds herself making friends and finding religion despite her reluctance in the early days. She is just hardened enough to speak the language of the inmates, yet well-educated enough to write poetry and assist other inmates in preparing for their GED exams. She is a lover if words and language and mourns the loss of her right to purchase books almost as much as the loss of life around her. George lives through the everyday changes of the prison and although she will never leave, she seems content to make her life there. This is an amazing and honest book.
Until next time fellow readers!