Saturday Personal Readathon

Today, I’d like to escape this world with a few good books. It’s been a while since I’ve just sat down on a Saturday afternoon and read, so that’s what I’m going to do.

Michael and I might go see Spiderman later today, but between now and the time I go to bed, I will be sitting on my couch and reading. I already spent most of the morning reading With My Body by Nikki Gemmell. I’m also reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed and The Chameleon Couch by Yusef Komunyakaa. Also on the list to read today: Hicksville by Dylan Horrocks, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson and more poetry

With My Body by Nikki Gemmell – When Harper Perennial pitched this book to me, I wasn’t really looking for a well-written alternative to 50 Shades of Grey, but the enthusiasm of the person from Harper who sent the email really convinced me. It’s written in the second person, which is usually something I despise, but I am actually loving it. I’m about 200 pages in.

After finishing – I ended up writing so much about this title, I decided to save it for another post. I liked it, but it wasn’t perfect. Now! On to Hicksville.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

I admit, when I first heard that Gayle Forman was writing a sequel to her lovely If I Stay, I was not on board. If I Stay is, in many ways, an unbelievably good book. The description of the novel evokes more Lifetime movie than intelligent, character-driven story, but If I Stay is exactly that. Mia, her boyfriend and her family felt so real to me and the story of their tragic car accident was not simply a conceit to manipulate the reader, but rather a storytelling device that allows the readers to explore the deepest grief possible with Mia.

But could Gayle Forman really pull that off twice? I should have had more faith in her, because Where She Went is just as good as If I Stay, and sometimes, it’s better. At this point, if you have not read If I Stay, I suggest you stop now. There will be unavoidable spoilers for If I Stay in this review. Where She Went picks up three years after Mia’s accident. Instead of being narrated by Mia, Where She Went is narrated by her boyfriend Adam, a brilliant move. Adam has become a famous rock musician and Mia a famous cellist, but they are no longer together. While Adam originally poured all of his grief and emotion into writing a best-selling record, now he’s being forced to face the reality of what happened between him and Mia.

Where She Went takes place over one night and there are plenty of coincidences. There are many plot points, from the fame that Mia and Adam have found to their coincidental run-in, that are unbelievable, but I’m not really sure that’s the point. The point is not that Forman is telling a believable story plot-wise, but rather an emotionally realistic story. There is not an easy happy ending in either If I Stay or Where She Went, life is not that simple. Mia and Adam both deal and speak of grief in a way that feels so real and palpable. I am consistently amazed by what Forman can do as a writer and storyteller. When you are reading it, Forman makes you feel it and that is the mark of a talented writer.

So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve read everything else

There are plenty of reviews of this around the web, so please check out the book blog search engine to see more!

Review – Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

“I can’t remember what it’s like to eat without planning for it, charting the calories and the fat content and measuring my hips and thighs to see if I deserve it and usually deciding no, I don’t deserve it, so I bite my tongue until it bleeds and I wire my jaw shut with lies and excuses while a blind tapeworm wraps itself around my windpipe, snuffing and poking for a wet opening to my brain.” (209)

Continue reading

YA Reviews – Hate List, The Compound, Genesis

I have three very different reviews for today: Hate List by Jennifer Brown, The Compound by SA Bodeen and Genesis by Bernard Beckett

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

This book is told from Valerie’s perspective, the girlfriend of Nick who opened fire on the crowded high school cafeteria.  Valerie, shocked by what her boyfriend was doing, ran to stop him when he shot her in the leg and then shot himself.  Valerie is either vilified or declared a hero by her classmates and community, but she is neither.  She was terrified, and she didn’t set out to be a hero, but she never thought about killing the people on her Hate List.  She might have said she wished they were dead, but she didn’t mean it, no more than anyone means it when they say that kind of thing.  But Nick meant it.  I felt so bad for Valerie and I applaud Brown for not making Nick into a purely evil villain.  He did a horrible, evil thing, but he was kind to Valerie and he was a good boyfriend.  The bulk of this book is told in flashbacks, with Valerie remembering the morning of the shooting and trying to survive at school the next fall.

I admit, I almost put this book down when I saw the Nickelback song quote at the beginning, and I thought that it dipped into the cheesy at some points, but for the most part I thought this was a really great YA novel that deals with an unbelievably difficult topic.   We don’t often hear the people like Valerie’s story, the people that loved the murderers, before they were evil, before they crossed that line.  Try to not cry when you read this book, just try.

So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve exhausted your TBR pile

Also reviewed by: Steph  Su Reads, Early Word, A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy, Presenting Lenore, GalleySmith, Life in the Thumb, My Friend Amy, Linus’s Blanket

Anax is preparing her final exam to enter the Academy, all about Jasper Forde.  The  entire book is this exam and we discover more and more with each question that the examiners ask her about her world, one that is very different from our own.  Plus, this book has an ending that will absolutely knock your socks off.  Overall, I thought it was successful, but I thought that there were some parts that just didn’t make enough sense in an effort to keep the secret.  When I first finished this book I was prepared to give it a slightly better review, but I’ve thought about it some more and I’m just not completely convinced.  I had really high hopes for this one, and though I still enjoyed reading it and was really surprised by the ending, it didn’t quite live up to them.  This might be one that I revisit in the future, though, to see if I like it better on a second reading.

So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve exhausted your TBR pile

Also reviewed by:  Steph Su Reads, A Chair, A Fireplace, A Tea Cozy, I was a Teenage Book Geek, Presenting Lenore.

Okay, I really thought this book was too ridiculous and totally unbelievable, but I had a ridiculously good time reading it, so they balance each other out.  Eli has been living in the compound with his family for the past 8 years after a nuclear fallout, but eventually things start to get a weirder and weirder as he realizes that his father is lying to him about something.  Dun dun duuuuuunnn!  Other than the complete implausibility, there was a lot to like here.  Eli is a very believable character, who’s just a little bit mean and really emotionally torn up about the loss of his twin brother in the war.

So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve exhausted your TBR pile

Also reviewed by: I Was a Teenage Book Geek, Becky’s Book Review

Did you read and review any of these books?  Let me know in the comments and I’ll link to your review!