Long time, no post. Seems I've been missing out on a few challenges.
The Chunkster Challenge,
the G.I.F.T. Challenge,
and the Winter Classics Challenge.
Since I have yet to finish any of the challenges I've signed up for, I am determined that I will finish at least one of these! Still need to sit down and figure out what I'm going to read/write for each.
Despite the holiday madness, I did manage to squeeze in a couple of good books recently, each of which deserve mention here. One Mississippi by Mark Childress was wonderful. I was captivated by the first page and remained captivated until the last page.
From Publisher's Weekly: "When his father is relocated from Indiana to Minor, Miss., in 1973, 16-year-old Daniel Musgrove finds himself a classic fish out of water. At Minor High, the Midwestern teenager finds a kindred spirit in wiseacre Tim Cousins, whose motto is "Everything is funny all the time." The two indulge their love of Sonny and Cher, get recruited by a local Baptist church to perform in an amateur musical called Christ! and endure the bullying of football star Red Martin. When, on prom night, the boys accidentally run over Arnita Beecham, a beautiful, popular black girl, the boys flee, letting Red take the fall. Arnita wakes from her coma believing she's white and promptly falls for Daniel—which makes Tim extremely jealous and puts their coverup at risk. Childress's comic tone and well-written adolescent confusion make his late shift into darker territory jarring, and readers might not follow him all the way to his violent destination."
Next up was Francine Prose's A Changed Man. I'd actually never read any of her books before, even though I seem to own several of them.
From Publisher's Weekly: Prose (Blue Angel; The Lives of the Muses) tests assumptions about class, hatred and the possibility of change in her latest novel, a good-natured satire of liberal pieties, the radical right and the fund-raising world. The "changed man" of the title is Vincent Nolan, a 32-year-old tattooed ex-skinhead who appears one morning in the New York offices of World Brotherhood Watch, a foundation headed by Meyer Maslow, a Holocaust survivor. Vincent declares that he has had a personal conversion (never mind that it was triggered by a heavy dose of Ecstasy) and wants to work with the foundation to "save guys like me from becoming guys like me." Meyer takes Vincent on faith—and convinces Bonnie Kalen, the foundation's fund-raiser, to put Vincent up in the suburban home she shares with her two sons, Max, 12, and Danny, 16. Prose tears into this unusual premise with the piercing wit that has become her trademark. Vincent becomes a media darling of sorts, and everyone wants a piece of him: the liberal donors and the television talk shows; Meyer, a figurehead so celebrated that even his close friends kiss up to him; and maybe even divorced Bonnie, who finds herself drawn to Vincent's charms. In more hostile pursuit of Vincent is his cousin Raymond, a member of the Aryan Resistance Movement, from which Vincent stole a truck, drugs and cash. In these circumstances, can a man truly change? And what is change—not only for Vincent but for the other principals as well? Prose doesn't shy away from exposing the vanities and banalities behind the drive to do good. Fortunately, her characters are sturdy enough to bear the weight of the baggage she piles on them. Her lively skewering of a whole cross-section of society ensures that this tale hits comic high notes even as it probes serious issues."
Back with more later after I've made my picks for each of the ongoing challenges!