books books books

Just finished …

Quitter by Jon Acuff | I don’t review a lot of non-fiction on this blog, but this book was fantastic.  It’s about how to turn your day job into your dream job, and it was very wise … and funny.  Jon Acuff is the man behind the hilarious Stuff Christians Like blog!  If you’re in a funk at your day job, you should definitely pick up this book.  Acuff spoke at the university where I work this past fall and was wonderful, so when NoiseTrade gave a free audio download of Quitter, I jumped at the opportunity (even though I’m actually not in a funk at my day job … but I wish I’d read this book last summer!).

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness | I was excited to read another Patrick Ness book, since I liked A Monster Calls so much!  The Knife of Never Letting Go features protagonists a little younger than I usually like (Todd is about 13-14 … their years have 13 months, sooooo …), but I really loved it.  Todd lives on New World in a place called Prentisstown, where men can hear each others’ thoughts.  There are no women or girls; the plague that made men’s thoughts into noise killed off the females, Todd is told.  There’s a dark secret to Prentisstown, and as Todd approaches becoming a man, he finds himself on the run from a savage army.  Along with a girl, because, yup, they’re not actually all gone.  I’ve already started the second Chaos Walking book, The Ask and the Answerand I’m loving that one as well!

Across the Universe by Beth Revis | This book got rave reviews from teens, who chose it as a YALSA Teens Top Ten Book for 212.  It’s about a girl named Amy, who is cryogenically frozen with her family, who are all to be unfrozen when they reach Centuri-Earth, about 350 years later.  But Amy is unfrozen early and finds herself on spaceship run by lies.  It was interesting, for sure, and I’m intrigued to find out what happens in the rest of this trilogy, but I have to say that I wasn’t terribly impressed with the writing.  Also, it kinda features an annoying insta-love, leaving me wondering if Elder likes Amy for anything more than her amazing red hair.  Sigh.  Still, I think I’ll tarry on.  Just got the second book, A Million Suns, from the library.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker | A little different from my normal YA, this book is an adult novel about 12-year-old Julia, set in a time when the rotation of the earth began to slow.  It’s a very interesting take on the “disaster book”: instead of some calamitous event like a giant asteroid smacking into earth, what if the disaster is tiny and slow-going?  At first, the slowing of the earth only adds a couple extra minutes onto each day, but over the course of a year, daylight (and nighttime) stretch out much longer.  Great writing.  Fascinating concept.  A little slower than my usual, but that’s okay.  I still recommend it!

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris | I love David Sedaris so freakin’ much.  The only book of his I didn’t really love was his one book of fiction, but I adore all his memoir!  This book doesn’t fail to delight as readers are treated to Sedaris’s dry and incredible humor as well as stories about the hilarious Sedaris family.  I recommend!

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral | This book was fascinating because it wasn’t made of text but of photos and paraphernalia such as music programs, text messages, and postcards.  From that, I learned the love story of Glory and Frank.  I can’t wait for another friend of mine to “read” it so that we can compare stories and see if our interpretations were the same!

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi | Okay, so I read this one in 19 hours, and that included 11 of them sleeping, ha!  So, yeah, I tore through this one.  It’s about a girl named Juliette whose touch is lethal.  This has always made her a freak, an outcast, and the story starts with her locked up in an asylum.  When a corrupt new government decides to use her power as a weapon, Juliette is thrown into a new world where it’s hard to know whom to trust.  But there is Adam.  Yeah.  He’s awesome.  The book is not without its faults though.  It’s distracting to always have her use actual numbers instead of spelling them out (3 vs. three), and I don’t love how she repeats repeats repeats words quite often.  Everything is a metaphor (I didn’t know there could be too many, but yes, I guess there can!).  There’s a lot of sexual energy in the book, as you might imagine would be true for a 17-year-old girl who can’t be touched.  All said, it’s not a perfect book, but it did draw me in– and quickly!  I can’t wait to read the next book, Unravel Me.  The third book doesn’t come out till February 2014 though!

David Small and Sarah Stewart were keynote speakers at a Children’s and YA Writing Conference I recently attended, and so sparked an interest in me for picture books.  I was quite pleased and impressed with Extra Yarn (written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen), One Cool Friend (written by Toni Buzzeo and illustrated by David Small), and The Friend (written by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by David Small).  And it was a joy to re-read Imogen’s Antlers, written and illustrated by David Small, so many years after I’d originally read it.  I have a new appreciation for picture books and all the steps it takes to pull text and illustrations together into a beautiful, cohesive unit!

I also just finished reading through The Chronicles of Narnia.  Mmm, always Narnia.

Currently reading:

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

A Million Suns by Beth Revis

books books books

Just finished …

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell | “It’s 1986 and two star-crossed teens are smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.”  I loved this book, devoured it.  You will just adore the sweet characters of Eleanor and Park and their adorable little romance.  It started with such a slow burn that even holding hands was enough to about make them both pass out.  I loved Rowell’s writing so much and am definitely going to purchase her other books.  I thought the end of this story came a little too abruptly, but altogether, I really adored this YA book.  I think it might end up being a big name in the YA world.  You should probably read it.

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller | Travis is a Marine on leave, struggling with PTSD and learning how to sort through home life when his little brother has stolen his car and his girlfriend.  But there is this other girl in town– Harper– who makes Travis feel like things could be okay again, even after all he’s experienced in Afghanistan.  This book had so much potential— but it just fell flat.  The conflict was far too easily resolved (says the writer who always needs to add more conflict!), and even the climax was just too … anti-climactic.  I plowed through this book, and it had some great moments, but it fell short for me.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi | Aria lives in an enclosed biosphere; Perry lives on the outside like a “savage”; this is their story.  I got so sucked into this one, especially loving the characters and all the conflict (especially after just reading Something Like Normal).  This book has awesome tension!  However … I have read enough books to anticipate how the story arcs, and as it was nearing the end of the book, it wasn’t arcing.  I began to have a strong suspicion that this was a part of a series and that I wasn’t going to get my ending, and so I started resenting it.  (Ha!  I know that seems wrong: if I was enjoying it, shouldn’t I have wanted it to last longer?)  But no.  It started to feel too long, too drawn out.  I wanted a denoument and it just kept going.  And then the ending was like HUH?  I verbatim said, “What the BEEEEEP?” outloud after I finished it.  Then I looked it up, and yup, it’s the first book of a trilogy.  I was pissed.  (I don’t know what exactly is my beef with series; I love Potter and Narnia!)  So, this one is up to you.  They really are great characters.  And it’s a fascinating world– the “insiders” in the biosphere spend most of their lives in virtual realms, and it’s quite interesting to think about.  And the writing is pretty good– not exactly lyrical or anything.  But if you’re going to read it, you should commit to reading the others (which are not out yet), or the ending is going to be really unsatisfying.

Armageddon Summer by Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville | Jed’s father and Marina’s mother are Believers, members of a religious group that believes the world is ending on July 27th, 2000, and only the 144 Believers on Mount Weeupcut will be saved.  Jed and Marina aren’t quite sure what they think about the whole thing, but they’re up on the “the Cut” for the two weeks leading up to Armageddon, thinking that falling in love at the end of the world might not be the best timing.  I liked this book, but again, it didn’t blow my mind.  I do think it was intended for younger readers (maybe ages 11-14), and I do think it would be a fascinating read for them.  Not that I think anyone should ever “write down” to younger kids.  It just didn’t go as deep into Jed and Marina’s thoughts, fears, and sorrows as much as I’d have liked.  But it did bring up some great questions– I love books that make you think!

Up next …

Not sure yet.  I have SO MANY new books on my shelves, and I really think I want the next book I read to be just a regular-teenagers-in-this-universe book.  Maybe Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach.

reading braid