Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Great and Terrible Beauty Read-a-Long: Mid-Point Discussion


Here is a guide we can use for our discussions as a jumping off point. By no means do we need to be constrained by these questions. Please be warned...the questions may contain ****SPOILERS****.

1. Despite visions and a special destiny, Gemma is not so unlike the other girls at Spence in her feelings of alienation and her yearning for acceptance. Gemma’s need to fit into her new school leads to her being locked in the chapel in the middle of the night. Would you have made the same choice? Have you ever done something you didn’t want to do, to get someone to like you? Have you ever taken advantage of someone who wanted you to like him or her?

2. The Realms are a place where anything seems possible. Each of the four girls wants one thing above all else: Felicity desires power, Pippa seeks love, Ann wants beauty, and Gemma craves self-knowledge. Does any of the characters achieve her goal by the end of the story? Why or why not? What would you want?

3. Gemma says of Felicity, “I don’t yet know what power feels like. But this is surely what it looks like, and I think I’m beginning to understand why those ancient women had to hide in caves. Why our parents and teachers and suitors want us to behave properly and predictably. It’s not that they want to protect us; it’s that they fear us” (p. 207). What kind of power is Gemma talking about? What is it that she thinks the parents and teachers and suitors fear?

4. Women. Power. These two words conjure many images and emotions, and they appear throughout A Great and Terrible Beauty. What connections does Libba Bray draw between the two words? How does she characterize the Victorians’ view of powerful women? How do you think powerful women are viewed today?

5. Bray paints the Victorian age as a time when appearances must be kept up at all times. Appearances matter more than reality, and anything interesting is kept a secret. For example, Gemma’s family hides the nature of Virginia Doyle’s death to avoid scandal. Likewise, in the Realms, appearances are deceiving. Gemma, Ann, Pippa, and Felicity believe their dreams are coming true–but is that really the case? What do you think the author meant by drawing a parallel between reality and paradise? Is it ever really possible to escape or change reality?


6. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly said, “Bray brilliantly depicts a caste system, in which girls are taught to abandon individuality in favor of a man’s wishes, as a deeper and darker horror than most things that go bump in the night.” Do you think Gemma has achieved a certain freedom by the end of the novel? Are her supernatural powers responsible for bringing about this freedom? Do you think she would have been such a rebel if it hadn’t been for her magic?

7. In Diary of an Author on www.AGreatandTerribleBeauty.com, Libba Bray says, “Why do we do this to our girls? Why do we spend a lifetime whittling them down into bite-sized nuggets, something easily digested that will upset no stomach? Why can’t we allow them to ask for what they want?” Does the novel answer that question? If so, how? Do you believe that conditions for women have improved over the past hundred years?

8. The girls of Spence have a great deal of adult supervision, but there is a glaring absence of parental love. What role does this absence play in Gemma’s and her friends’ lives and the choices they make? Do you think Pippa would have made a different choice had her parents behaved differently? How would Gemma’s and Felicity’s lives be changed if their fathers were available–in Gemma’s case mentally, and in Felicity’s case physically? What about Ann?

9. It’s a dream, only a dream,” Gemma thinks of her sexually charged encounter with Kartik (p. 219). Why do you think Gemma stops the fantasy when she does? Why do you think the author chose to make this scene a dream rather than a reality? Do you believe this makes Gemma’s experience any less “real” to her?

10. The Realms’ answer to Gemma’s desire for self-knowledge is Virginia Doyle. Why do you think Gemma must understand her mother in order to understand herself? Gemma concludes, “I’m going to have to let her go to accept the mother I’m only just discovering” (p. 394). How are the two mothers Gemma refers to different? Why does Gemma have to forgive her mother first if she is to understand her?

These questions are from http://www.bookbrowse.com/ and were reprinted there with the permission of Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers.

Discuss your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Sunday, May 31, 2015

The MEGA Perpetual Reading Challenge Read-a-Long/Libba Bray A Great and Terrible Beauty Read-a-Long


In order to increase group interaction (and participation) within this reading challenge, as well as the three other perpetual challenges I host, I've decided to host this MEGA read-a-long event. For The Fantasy Project part of the read-a-long, which is coming in June, I chose A Great And Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. I went through all of your lists and it seemed this was one of the books that most of us (not all) have on our lists. If you don't have it on your list, you can still join us whether you end up adding it to your list or not. Also, feel free to join in on the other read-a-longs. You do not have to sign up for the other reading challenges to join in on the read-a-longs.

The hub for the entire event will be at my The True Book Addict blog but the individual read-a-longs will be hosted at their respective blogs (I will list those below). The Libba Bray read-a-long will be hosted here at the main Fantasy Project blog and I will also post the discussions in our Goodreads group. Look for a page in the menu at The True Book Addict which serves as this MEGA read-a-long's hub.

So, here is the schedule of read-a-longs and their respective blog urls:

June 2015: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray - hosted here and in Goodreads group.

July/August 2015: The Covenant by James A. Michener - hosted at The Michener Challenge blog.

September 2015: The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice - hosted at The Never-Ending Anne Rice Challenge blog.

October 2015: Salem's Lot by Stephen King - hosted at The Stephen King Challenge blog.


Now, here is the reading schedule for A Great and Terrible Beauty. We start reading today, June 1st! We will have two discussions...at midway point and at the end. 

June 1-14:  Read pages 1 - 205 (Ch. 1 - 17)
June 15:  Stop by and discuss here or at the Goodreads group.
June 16-29: Read pages 206 - end (Ch. 18 - 39)
June 30: Stop by and discuss here or at the Goodreads group.

I hope you will join me...for this one, or all of the read-a-longs. Feel free to comment below if you have any questions or comments.

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Our Wheel of Fortune Spin Number!


Guess what number came up in my random draw? Number 4! So, what did you get?

Here's my list:  http://thetruebookaddict.blogspot.com/2013/08/wheel-of-fortune-spin-and-rip-viii-lists.html

I ended up with Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert.

Tell me what the Wheel of Fortune picked for you in the comments...and how you feel about it.

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Fantasy Project--Challenge News!

We now have a Goodreads group! You can join the group and interact with us HERE.


How does everyone feel about doing a Wheel of Fortune spin for September/October? The premise is to choose 15 books from your list (see more in depth details in the sign-up post HERE) and then on September 1st, I will randomly choose a number between 1-15. Whichever number that comes up will be the book you read in September/October.

Let me know in the comments if you're game, then go make your list and come back and share the link in the comments.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

101 Fantasy Reading Challenge is now The Fantasy Project #101FantasyProject


I've been wanting to make some changes to this challenge for a while now. It seems if I neglect any genre, it always ends up being fantasy which is kind of funny seeing how it's one of my favorite genres. And the problem has been that there is no deadline and I'm a deadline kind of gal. I thought about making it a five year challenge, but I'm already participating in three other five year challenges (The Classics Club, A Non-Fiction Adventure (my challenge) and the Fill in the Gaps: 100 project) so I thought ten years would be good. The 101 Books part is an homage to the original challenge, The 101 Fantasy Reading Challenge, which was created originally by Bella, formerly of A Bibliophile's Bookshelf. I took the challenge over in early 2010. The original premise was based on the list itself. Here are the details of how it was created:

The list was compiled by Bella (formerly of A Bibliophile's Bookshelf), who currently blogs at A Prairie Girl Reads, and Jo (Ink & Paper) when they held a mammoth poll in 2009 inviting readers to nominate their favorite fantasy books. The list is compiled of all the books nominated and voted for (813 total) in order by number of votes. The challenge started out with a year long format and then I changed it to a perpetual challenge. In both instances, books could be read from the top 101 or the entire list of 813.

Below are the guidelines for this revamped challenge. I hope you will join me!

The guidelines for The Fantasy Project
  • Read 101 fantasy books from the list of 101, or the entire list of 813, in 10 years (access the lists at the top of the blog).
  • choose 101 fantasy books from the list (due to the large amount of urban/paranormal fantasy titles on the list, I have made this exception--26 titles can be titles that are not on the list, i.e. newer releases that came out after the list was compiled, more books of a high fantasy nature, etc.) To break it down...75 titles from the list and 26 that are not on the list = 101 books total.
  • you can read other books in a series in which the first book, or other books in the series, appears on the list, to complete the challenge (for example, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, first book in the Graceling Realm series, made the list in 2009. Further books have been released in the series since the list was compiled and those books can be read for this challenge...these DO NOT have to be part of the 26 titles option--see above).
  • post your list on your blog (or on Goodreads or another social media site, if you do not have a blog)
  • choose your completion goal date ten years in the future and make note of it with your list of titles (like this:  reading goal--101 books  goal dates--August 20, 2013 - August 20, 2023)
  • come back here and post the link to your list in the linky below
  • write a review (or a short summary) on the book when finished and link it to the title in your list (or link to your review on Goodreads, again, if you don't have a blog)
  • there are pages at the top of the blog that link to spreadsheets where you can list/link up your reviews (they will be listed by author's last name, i.e. A - F, etc.)
  • there is a members list page, where I will list your name, blog, goal date, and link to your list
  • there is a "introduce yourself" page for members
  • when you have completed the challenge, come add your link to the Completed Challenges page
  • If you happen to host a read-a-long, or an event or challenge surrounding one of the titles on your list, post about it at this PAGE
  • I will try to have periodic group check-ins too
  • grab the button from sidebar 
A few more important details
  • this challenge can be crossed over with any other challenges
  • your link in the linky below must lead to your list, not just your main blog address. Any links that are blog links only will be deleted
  • the list must be made in advance. The idea is to work toward reading fantasy you may have been otherwise neglecting and/or the fantasy titles/authors you love. However, the list does not have to be set in stone. You can change out titles as the mood suits you.
  • every 2 - 3 months we will have what we'll call the Wheel of Fortune (borrowing from The Classics Club classics spin idea) where you make a list of 15 books from your list (i.e. 5 you're dreading, 5 you can't wait for, 5 favorites or rereads--yes, rereads are okay OR 5 urban fantasy, 5 high fantasy, 5 by the same author...the list is pretty much up to you). On a predetermined date, I will randomly draw (random.org) a number from 1 - 15 and the number that's chosen will be the book you read from your list of fifteen.
  • our Twitter hashtag is #101FantasyProject
  • Addendum:  If you finish the 101 books before the ten years is up, come back and make another list and reset your ten year time limit!
If you have any questions or comments, please leave me a comment below, or email me at truebookaddictATgmailDOTcom

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Thank you to The Classics Club for inspiring this revamp!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mini-Challenge Extended--W-I-N The Mists of Avalon!

Unfortunately, we had no participants in the mini-challenge I set down for February through April so I've extended it through October.  The guidelines are basically the same, but I've crossed out the original months and replaced them with two months, so you get two months to read one book for each category.  Here are all the details:


February May/June -- read a book with "love" or some kind of display/description of affection in the title or on the cover, i.e. Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead or Dark Lover by J.R. Ward.

March July/August - read a classic tale, i.e. A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare or Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

April September/October - a book with an animal in the title or on the cover.

We will not have a mini-challenge in November/December due to the holidays.  No need to sign up here.  Just post your reviews as you complete the categories in the mini-challenge review linky in the sidebar.
  • Remember that all books must be from the challenge list, which can be found in the pages section at the top of the sidebar.  The examples given above are all from the list
  • Review linky is in the right sidebar.
  • Everyone who completes the challenge by reading at least one book per 2 months following the  criteria for those months will be entered in the giveaway (winner will be chosen randomly via random.org)
  • The winner will receive a gently used copy of one of the most awesome fantasy books ever written, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (which is on the list, incidentally).  If the chosen winner is not in the U.S., they will have the option of either paying postage and handling for the book to be sent or choosing a book (under $5) from The Book Depository or Better World Books, whichever company delivers to your country.
  • Have fun and good luck completing the challenge!



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Saturday, February 11, 2012

February, March, April Mini-Challenge!

Yes! I got the help I asked for.  A big thank you to AlleluiaLu for coming up with the idea.  My idea fount had runneth quite dry.  *L*

So, here we go:

February -- read a book with "love" or some kind of display/description of affection in the title or on the cover, i.e. Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead or Dark Lover by J.R. Ward.

March - read a classic tale, i.e. A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare or Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

April - a book with an animal in the title or on the cover.

  • Remember that all books must be from the challenge list, which can be found in the pages section at the top of the sidebar.  The examples given above are all from the list
  • Review linky is in the right sidebar.
  • Everyone who completes the challenge by reading at least one book per month following that month's criteria will be entered in the giveaway (winner will be chosen randomly via random.org)
  • The winner will receive a gently used copy of one of the most awesome fantasy books ever written, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (which is on the list, incidentally).  If the chosen winner is not in the U.S., they will have the option of either paying postage and handling for the book to be sent or choosing a book (under $5) from The Book Depository or Better World Books, whichever company delivers to your country.
  • Have fun and good luck completing the challenge!



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