Category Archives: review

My last few months in reading

What have I been reading lately?  Well, some adult non-fiction like Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table and Quiverfull, a book about the Christian Patriarchy and Biblical Womanhood movements.  And some YA fiction, of course.  The real standout of which was Jellicoe Road.  I loved it enough that I don’t even hate it for beating Tender Morsels for the Printz.  I also read, but don’t think I wrote about, Ink Exchange.  And now I’ve just started Fragile Eternity, Mellisa Marr’s third urban faerie book.  I also enjoyed Fire, the follow up to Graceling.  Though I didn’t want to get married and have babies with it as much.  And I just finished Tap and Gown, the last book in the Secret Society Girl Series.  But BEA’s this week, and even though everyone is broke and trotting out backlist titles to promote, I’m still looking forward to it.  Going to the Editor’s Buzz panels is always a mixed bag, but I’ve found a lot of wonderful books that way that I otherwise would have completely missed.  I won’t complain about free books.  And hopefully it will get me fully back into the swing of readerly things.

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That new library smell

We opened to the public today and the neighborhood’s enthusiasm for it was really cool.  After so many weeks getting ready it was strange to finally let people in (it was strange enough once I wasn’t the only library person working there) and have them examine us and take out our books.  It remains to be seen if my photo will end up in any of the papers tomorrow, but I did my small part to make it seem like a fun, cool place to hang out.

I’ve sort of been reading lately, I only have one YA book that needs reviewing and I’ve read a few adult, non-fiction books as well.  It will be interesting to see how working with and supervising teen librarians will be different than working directly with teens myself, even though I’ll be covering their desk fairly often and even doing a video game program here and there.

*Edited to add:

Updates and speed reviews

Because of my hectic new schedule where I’m thinking about work and emailing about work as much from home as from work (I got my very own, not even open yet, branch and I just started on Monday), I am falling behind in my reviews but also reading.  Who has the energy?  Not me.

Wondrous Strange – Lesley Livingston

I liked this Shakespearean, urban fairy tale.  If there’s a sequel I don’t know if I’d care enough to bother, but I did really enjoy it.  A few weeks ago, and my memory is horrible.

Avalon High – Meg Cabot

How did I not know about this sooner?  Arthur and his court reincarnated as American teenagers is the exact high concept I’m looking for.  But it still had all the fun high school romance and angst stuff.  Also, I could really relate to Ellie because all she ever wanted to do was float in her pool.

The Wordy Shipmates – Sarah Vowell

This doesn’t really have much YA interest, but I did read it and feel accomplished.  Vowell can make nearly everything interesting just because of her infectious enthusiasm, and she almost succeedes here as well.  But it’s still the Puritans arguing over the finer points of a religion I am only slightly interested in.  I think I got as much from hearing her talk about this book in interviews as I did from reading it.

Violet in Private – Melissa Walker

I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the previous two in the series, but it was still pretty fun.  I’m just sick of being teased with the resolution of the same “man vs. himself” plots that have been happening since the first one.

Evermore – Alyson Noel

I didn’t like this book.  People who think Edward Cullen is the dreamiest might like this book.  ‘Nuff said.

Review: Running Man

The Running Man – Stephen King

I had seen this recommended as a good readalike for the Hunger Games, that it deals with a lot of the same themes and ideas. Which is absolutely true.  I also liked that it would appeal to guys.  I found it a little hard to get into, and maybe it was a little ironic that I spent a few afternoons reading it while sipping a glass of wine in a fancy hotel lounge, but ultimately I enjoyed it.  Ben Richards is compelling, and his fight-the-man attitude would definitely resonate with teens.  And televised blood sport is not all that hard to believe. 

The one huge caveat with this book is that the introduction reveals the denouement.  You might as well read the last page as read the introduction.  Thanks for nothing editors!

(I’m both sick and crazy busy with work stuff that I can’t talk about yet, but am dying to share with the world, and so I’m trying to get any kind of backlog of anything done because if I don’t do it now I’ll never do it. )

Review: Wicked Lovely

Wicked Lovely – Melissa Marr

I’d been wanting to read this for awhile, but there were never any copies on the shelf. Now that it’s on the Summer Reading Club list, there were some new copies floating around. I took one with me on my Memphis trip.
And it was such a refreshing change from Need. On the surface there were similarities: faeries, a human girl who gets mixed up in it all and is destined to play a big part in their games, a not entirely evil faerie king who’s looking for a queen. But Aislinn, a teenager living in a disintegrating Steel Belt city so that she can try to avoid the faeries only she can see, is so much cooler and more resourceful than Zara. And the romance is the most fun I’ve read about since Graceling (which I just noticed is discounted to only $6.75 at Amazon, I’m buying a copy).

I think I’m most impressed by how well Marr straddles the difficulty of making a modern teenager’s strength in the face of ancient power both relatable and realistic. I genuinely like Aislinn and how she accepts the things she can’t change but forces everyone else to accept her on her own terms 90% of the time.

There’s a related novel already out, and a sequel coming before too long. And I’m there. I’m totally buying into this storyline. Which is a little unusual for me with books about faeries. I like them in theory more than I do in actuality, and I’ve rarely read beyond the first in a series. Maybe it’s just because I think Seth is dreamy, too.

Review: Need

Need – Carrie Jones

Instead of a plot summary, I will cheat and just say: Twilight. This book is Twilight with pixies and werewolves instead of vampires and werewolves. Its “appeal characteristics” are nearly identical to those of Twilight and it really is a perfect readalike for anyone who loved that series. Which is not to say it was any good (though the material its clearly seeking to emulate isn’t that great itself). It was often fun and exciting, but at the same time, the pace of revelation and acceptance is really bizarre.

This is the first in what was accidentally a series of farie books I read. It was very unsatisfying (though luckily the next couple weren’t). I don’t think it’s worth saying more, bothering to talk about how I didn’t really like the main character, because I don’t think this book is intended to stand on its own. To repeat: pass it along to kids who liked Twilight. It doesn’t have vampires, but it has strong and “dangerous” men who really want to take care of you. It also has a teenage girl plucked from obscurity who struggles to find a place for herself in a scary and mythical world, who thinks that martyring herself is probably the best way to accomplish that. So yeah.

Review: Elsewhere

Elsewhere – Gabrielle Zevin

Oh man, am I behind on reviews. I am going to attempt to churn some out today, so forgive me if I fail to give each book its due. I’ve been stuck on Elsewhere for awhile, because I did like it and was moved by it, but it took me awhile to get there. It’s hard to care about a dead character who’s having trouble acclimating to the afterlife. She’s bored and depressed and feels cheated and doesn’t do much. But she’s generally likable, so that helps pull the reader along during the rough parts. There are loads of interesting characters, who react to being dead in novel-seeming ways; the story really picks up once Liz starts letting them in. There is a really powerful emotional arc, and the end is very satisfying.

I have genuine affection for this book, and was able on Saturday to get a teenage girl to check out Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac (which I read and really liked a few years ago) because she had also liked this book. So..faint praise, but a genuinely touching book about making your place in the “world.”