Dec. 14th, 2009 12:46 pm
blue_ant: (mickey [not a tin dog])
[personal profile] blue_ant
92. Little Brother Cory Doctorow
I own this book, but had put off reading it for reasons I can't remember now. Eventually I picked it up and I just couldn't stop. Doctorow weaves a brilliant story that takes place in a world that's somewhat like our own, while at the same time, being completely different. I want him to write more YA, because I enjoyed his style.

93. Tithe by Holly Black
Though this wasn't the first Holly Black book I read, it was the first of her YA novels (I'd previous read one of her graphic novels). The story was slightly intriguing, the characters interesting and the writing decent. Sometimes it reminded me of Marr's Wicked Lovely series, but it kept me reading enough that I picked up the next two books in the series.

94. Valiant by Holly Black
Black's writing improved dramatically between Tithe and this book. I liked the character of Val much better than Kaye. The story most takes place in the tunnels of New York and I thought Black did a very good job with her descriptions. After finishing this book, I grabbed Ironside almost immediately.

95. Ironside by Holly Black
This is by far and away the best of the series. Not only is Black's writing good, but we get to know Kaye and her best friend Corny much better than in the first book. What I also liked was that Black incorporated characters from Valiant into this book. Again I was reminded of Marr's series, but I don't think that's a bad thing.

96. Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan
A beautiful, moving story set before, during and after the attacks on September 11, 2009. Levithan brings the the story of three strangers and how their lives are changed by the attacks. Though short, Love Is the Higher Law is packed full of emotion -- from teenage angst to the weight of the world so many people (New Yorkers and non) felt. Though we read this 8 years later, the Levithan's writing reminds us that life is fragile, but always precious.

97. Torchwood: Lost Souls by Joseph Lidster
First off, let me say this was really, really bad. Second, I completely and utterly loved it because it was bad. I started listening to this while folding laundry and I couldn't stop laughing. The acting was bad, the plot was bad, the sound effects were bad. Well, okay, Gareth David-Lloyd was by far and away the best actor of the cast (which included the cast of the TV show). I know that Lidster tried to use the story to sort out the events at the end of season two, but he failed. I couldn't take it seriously. But, in the end, I didn't mind at all because it was really, really fun. Just also, you know, terrible.

97 / 100 books. 97% read!


Aug. 15th, 2009 06:42 pm
fiveforsilver: (Witchblade [Sarah/computer])
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
Final books of July (yeah, I'm a bit behind) :

107. *Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci (403) YA/SF-Fan-Fic

Short stories about geeks and nerds of various stripes. Some of them are more-or-less realistic, some of them aren't realistic at all, most of them are hysterically funny. Authors include MT Anderson, John Green, David Levithan, Garth Nix, Cythia Leitch Smith, and Scott Westerfeld.

108. *Fathom by Cherie Priest (384) A/Fan

For an unknown purpose, a sort of earth elemental convinces a man to build a tower in a specific place. In pursuit of a way to awaken her father (Levithan), a kind of water goddes takes a drowning girl and changes her into something new. The girl's cousin is turned into a statue and set in a garden near the shore for reasons which we don't find out until much later.

The book follows a number of different threads and it's not obvious until far into the story how they relate and who is good or bad.

Actually, it's never entirely clear, but if I were a human living in that world, I know who I would want to win.

It's rare to find a book where not having answers is as fascinating as having them would be. But in this book, in which very little has concrete explanations and most of the characters aren't human (even if they once were), the story is more important than the explanations, and I loved it.

109. *Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich (320) A/Mys

Hey, more standard Stephanie Plum. Lots of crazy grandma in this one, a little more Morelli than Ranger as I recall, and some amusing computer geeks to add to the weird.

110. *Doctor Who: The Pirate Loop by Simon Guerrier, read by Freema Agyeman (2:20) A/SF

This one was odd (well, they're all odd, aren't they?) but fun.

110 / 150 books. 73% done!

61 / 75 *new books. 81% done!

3 / 10 ^non-fiction. 30% done!

31248 / 45000 pages. 69% done!
Audiobooks: 26h30m


Mar. 30th, 2009 12:26 am
fiveforsilver: (Books [open book])
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
31. *Unwind by Neal Shusterman (352) YA/SF

I found this book on Tamora Pierce's suggestion list at the end of '08. I read it in the bookstore.

Conner is not great at school and a bit of a troublemaker and his parents finally decide to have him unwound. That is, taken apart piece by piece in a sort of super-advanced version of organ donation that uses the entire body. Conner, not being fond of the idea himself, runs away. He accidentally ends up on the run with two other Unwinds - and that is just the beginning of the story.

Unwind is an amazing book, well-written with a very creepy premise. The society and the things that have become acceptable in it - not just unwinding but other things that are explained along the way - are so disturbing and yet, in a way, you can imagine today's society heading in a similar direction.

32. *Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan (192) YA/Fic

The title pretty much says it all, really - it's a classic boy meets boy, boy loses boy, boy goes to elaborate means to try and win boy back. Adorable, really.

Also, I would love to live in that town which can't possible exist yet in this day and age, the town where the high school quarterback is also a drag queen and (almost) nobody cares about anything that might cause prejudice anywhere else.

Boy Meets Boy is a sugar-shock sweet book, and a quick read. Really; it took me about two hours, tops. It's well-written, but without too much substance.

32 / 150 books. 21% done!

18 / 75 *new books. 24% done!

0 / 10 ^non-fiction. 0% done!

9100 / 45000 pages. 20% done!


Jan. 1st, 2009 11:41 am
blue_ant: (carli [reading])
[personal profile] blue_ant
168. A Really Nice Prom Mess by Brian Sloan
I really, really liked this book. I wasn't sure what to expect, except that I really liked one of Sloan's other books (Tale of Two Summers) and was curious to read more. A Really Nice Prom Mess was a lot more fun that I expected it to be. Cameron secretly dating the star football player, Shane, but obviously they can't do anything in public, so Cameron lets Shane talk him into going to prom with a girl named Virginia. Which seems kind of lame, and it is, but only because it's supposed to be. What happens on the way to prom and then later at prom is pretty hilarious. While Sloan's book is not really realistic (Russian drug dealers, a gay bar with strippers, and so on), it doesn't matter. What makes Sloan's book so good is that it's fun. It's fast paced (ala Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist or Boy Meets Boy) and the action never really stops -- which means all you can do is hang on and have fun.

169. Marly's Ghost by David Levithan
Reworkings of classics into YA books are pretty popular and usually well done. Levithan's retelling of A Christmas Carol as a Valentine's Day story is no exception. It's well written and the plot is decent enough, but the story didn't really catch me. I think part of the reason is that I've never been a big fan of the original work. I did enjoy it, but of all of Levithan's books, I think this is the one I like least. If you like the original and don't mind adaptations, give the book a go. Otherwise, give it a pass.

170. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I read this book because a friend of mine and fellow librarian recommended it to me. She said she figured that I'd like it -- and she was completely right. Collins' book is one of those distopian novels that grabs you and doesn't let go. What's good about this book is everything, from the plot to the characters to the fact that she leaves you wanting (needing?) more. And from what I can tell, she's working on more books, which is good because I want to know what happens. The Hunger Games is a story of a world unlike our own, but used to be ours. In this world, people barely survive and children must fight to the death in 'hunger games.' Our story follows Katniss, a young woman who offers to go to the games instead of her younger sister. It is a story about love and about sacrifice, and reminds me, in some ways, of Westerfeld's Uglies series, only with a harder edge. Westerfeld was going from something completely different than Collins, and I think if you like Westerfeld's books, you'll definitely like this book. Collins is hard hitting and she doesn't give you respite, which works quite well within the context of the book. It's a strong book, with good characters and I eagerly await the next one in the series.

171. Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik
This sequel to Novik's His Majesty's Dragon is a strong second book in her ongoing series. We're once again invited to join the world of Laurence and Temeraire. In this book, the Chinese want their dragon (Temeraire) back and will do just about anything to get him back. Eventually, Temeraire and Laurence must travel to China themselves (a story in and of itself!) to sort things out. Unlike the first book, Throne of Jade plays up the differences between humans and dragons a lot more and Novik takes great pains to introduce the idea that dragons and humans should be on equal terms. It's a good book, fun to read and, as with the first book, amusing in certain places.

171 / 170 new reads. 101% read!


Jan. 1st, 2009 11:39 am
blue_ant: (reading [books and more books])
[personal profile] blue_ant
164. Let It Snow: Three Holiday Stories by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
I've kept saying I'm not a fan of regular YA fiction, but I think it's clear that that's not true and this book completely helped reinforce that fact. Each of these stories was loosely interconnected, with it all coming together in the last one. What results are three great stories on their own, and a rather clever book when put together. The stories are about three people who are caught out by a huge snowstorm and how their lives intertwine (with each other and other people who only pass through the stories). I liked all three of them, but every time I read John Green's stories, I like him more. I didn't have a favorite, but I did like them all.

165. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Gaiman, as always, delivers. This novel is an expansion on a short story he'd already written. I liked how Gaiman created a history for Bod, making him more than just a boy in a short story who lived in a graveyard. While the book is a quick read, the story is strong, the plot is quite intriguing and overall, it's a really good book. If you like Gaiman, you'll definitely like this book.

166. How They Met, and other stories by David Levithan
I usually don't like short stories, but I've discovered that I'll read pretty much anything by David Levithan. His writing is strong and this book of short stories was no exception. He creates worlds withing a few short pages, that take you far away from your own. The stories alone, are quite good -- ranging from happy to melancholic, but their impact comes clear when they're put together in this book. Levithan's stories are not just about love, they are about everything else as well. They are, in many ways, very real and very realistic, while at the same time, drawing us in with the ideal that is found in so many novels. What results is a very wonderful journey through 'how they met' where 'they' is everyone.

167. The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan
I've never read a book of poetry quite like this. Each poem of Levithan's tells a story, but they are sometimes loosely connected (which you don't notice until the end -- and it's very effective). The poems are usually several pages, written in different styles, but on the whole, they are mostly quite powerful. I didn't like all the poems and obviously there were those I liked more than others. But that's the way it is with all collections. Overall, if you like Levithan's writing and don't mind poetry, this is a good book to read.

167 / 170 new reads. 98% read!


Dec. 12th, 2008 03:58 pm
blue_ant: (carli [reading])
[personal profile] blue_ant
161. 21 Proms edited by David Levithan
A series of 21 short stories about prom. Makes sense, right? I enjoyed almost all of the stories and together, they made up a nice collection of both good and bad prom stories. The collection fit nicely together and the stories flowed quite well from one to the other. I won't go into detail about all of them, but here are the ones I liked best: 'You are a prom queen, dance dance dance' by Elizabeth Craft, 'In Vodka Veritas' by Holly Black, 'Three fates' by Aimee Friedman, 'Shutter' by Will Leitch, Prom for fat girls by Rachel Cohn, 'Lost Sometimes' by David Levithan, and 'The Great American Morp' by John Green.

162. His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
I'm not big into fantasy, but my sister promised me that I'd like this book, and she was right. It's not quite historical fiction and it's not totally fantasy, instead it's a nice combination of the two. In this world, the English are battling the French -- but not just with armies and navys, they also have dragons. The English don't have nearly enough dragons as compared to the French, and this puts them at an obvious disadvantage. We follow the story with a navy man, Laurence, whose ship captures a French one, freeing them up their prize possession -- a dragon egg. Laurence is forced to figure out what to do with the dragon once it hatches and who will become it's captain. I enjoyed the story, and about halfway through the book, checked out the next two in the series. Novik does a very good job of mixing humor with the serious topics of war. The dragons themselves are fantastic characters in their own right. I am so happy my sister suggested I read this. It's got just enough mix to not be too much of a fantasy nor too much of a historical fiction. And as with Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan, it does a fantasy/historical fiction mix quite well.

163. Are We There Yet? by David Levithan
Levithan does it again. Are We There Yet? is a brilliant and beautiful story about two brothers who don't really get a long. In a lot of ways, this reminded me of the relationship between my sister and I (though we get along much, much better than Danny and Elijah). The story, told in alternating points of view (Elijah in one chapter, Danny in the next), explores the relationship between the two brothers as seen through the eyes of both boys as well as an mildly omniscient narrator. The boys are tricked into going to Italy (together) by their parents. Levithan writes of their relationship beautifully, having each boy dissect why they believe the relationship doesn't work. Their paths intertwine as they rave from Venice to Florence and eventually Rome. Along the way, they meet and fall for Julia, a Canadian visiting Italy. But what makes this book so good is the qy Levithan describes things -- the art, architecture, the way the boys see the city, the way the boys feel. While I wasn't a big fan of Wide Awake, I think that Are We There Yet? proves that Levithan is a truly fantastic author.

163 / 170 new reads. 96% read!


Dec. 2nd, 2008 09:57 am
blue_ant: (sid [reading])
[personal profile] blue_ant
153. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
This is the graphic novel version of Neil Gaiman's book of the same title. I read it because it was the only copy of the book I could get easily and it was worth it. It's a quick read, only partly because it's a short graphic novel. The real reason is because it's quite a page turner. The pictures, in addition to the language, draw you into the story and, unlike so many graphic novels, really do seem to come alive on the page. Even thinking about it now, it's like I was watching the book happen, not reading it.

The story is strong, and is about a little girl who moves with her parents into a new home. It reminded me, in the best way, of Spirited Away. Coraline finds a door that is supposed to open into a brick wall, but instead leads her to another world. She must battle an evil woman trying to be her mother, in order to free her family and friends. Gaiman's writing, as usual, is terrific and the drawings are wonderful. I cannot wait to see the movie and read the actual novella, of course.

154. Wide Awake David Levithan
First off, I'm a big fan of David Levithan. I've read several of his books and liked them all. I liked Wide Awake too -- the premise was good, our main character, Duncan, was strong and liked his relationships with his friends and boyfriend. But I think Levithan spent too much time on the message in his book and not enough on the story.

The book is filled with scattered italicized sections of text that represent excerpts from speeches given by the president-elect of the novel -- a gay Jewish man named Abe Stein. I think, instead of enhancing the novel, there are too many and they draw the reader away from what I felt was the real story -- the idea that these teens who cannot vote were out on the front lines, as it were, trying to get people to support Stein.

Levithan's other characters are interesting, but in some ways I think this book lacks the excitement his others have. Over on Amazon, School Library Journal's review said that Duncan's boyfriend, Jimmy is 'too flat to care about,' but I partly disagree. The real problem is that Duncan and Jimmy don't have a good relationship. I think Levithan missed a chance to create a strong, independent character in Duncan. He wrapped everything up too neatly, and that, I think, is the biggest flaw of the book.

I enjoyed reading it -- I stayed up too late finishing it. But it lacked the same energy and desire that I've found in his other books. But, at the same time, I enjoyed reading it. It's a timely YA novel good for kids who aren't quite sure about politics and how to stand up for what you believe in.

155. Striking Back: The 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and Israel's Deadly Response by Aaron J. Klein
I picked this book up because I'd come across a similar title and was reading reviews and all of them pointed to this book as the one book on the Munich Olympic massacre that people should read. I'd watched the movie Munich and a few short documentaries on the massacre, but my knowledge of the events was limited to popular culture. But after reading Aaron Klein's book, I feel as though I've discovered the truth.

Striking Back was published in 2006, so Klein is able to look at the events from a post 9/11 point of view, which I found to be extremely important. He was given unprecedented access to materials that remained hidden from public view until he asked.

What makes this book so good is not just limited to Klein's access to documents and people. It's the way he gives us an inside look at everything. We're not just talking about the athletes -- their families, the Israel Olympic Committee, the Israeli government, Mossad, the German government, as well as the terrorists themselves. But even then, Klein takes us on another journal.

It would be all too easy to write a biased book, focused on just the events of Munich, glossing over blame and Israel's response through rose colored glasses. Klein does not fall into the trap. Not only does he leave no one untouched, he explains the failings of both countries and then goes on to talk about Israel's response. While Munich takes a fictional view of realistic events, Striking Back fills in all the holes. Klein writes of the assassinations -- of the guilty, the supposed guilty and the accidental assassination of innocents.

Klein's writing is strong, he doesn't cushion the truth nor shy away from it when it's less than flattering. I found it to be a chilly story, even moreso because in some ways this feels like the beginning of something we've become used to -- non-state sponsored terrorism ending in a war that no one can win ad that is still going on.

155 / 170 new reads. 91% read!


Nov. 24th, 2008 11:03 am
blue_ant: (daniel [rock star])
[personal profile] blue_ant
145. Something Wicked by Alan M. Gratz
Just like Gratz's previous novel, Something Wicked is loosely based on one of Shakespeare's plays. As the title implies, that play is MacBeth. Gratz has a few cliches, but when you're adapting Shakespeare, it's impossible not to. The story is not as odd as Something Rotten, though that could be because I'm not as familiar with MacBeth as I am with Hamlet. Regardless, the book is a fun read. It's the story of Horatio Wilkes, the star of Gratz's previous novel, who is on a trip to Mount Birnam for the annual Highland Festival. As per usual, he stumbles into a murder scene and uses his highly astute observational and detective skills to find out who the real killer is. Gratz kept the readers on their toes and the second murder, though necessary for the plot, totally shocked me. I think that this book was actually better than Something Rotten and I am quite excited about what Shakespearean play Gratz will adapt next.

146. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
It's hard to explain exactly how much I liked this book -- and why. It's a combination of a strong story and plot (Paul meets Noah, Paul thinks he could fall in love with Noah, Paul screws everything up -- it sounds lame, but it's the exact opposite) plus interesting characters with a dose of truly fantastic writing. Boy Meets Boy is, among many things, fun. But it's also slightly heart breaking, more than a little hilarious and serious in all the right places. I really enjoyed reading it and it affirmed what I already knew, that Levithan is quickly becoming a favorite author of mine. The story is from Paul's point of view and is told in much the same tense and style as the two other Levithan novels I've read (Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List). I like this style -- if I was a YA author, this is how I wish I could write.

Paul is a strong character, he has flaws and like so many of us, he just doesn't realize they're flaws. There are some extraordinary scenes (conversations with an exboyfriend of Paul's and one of his best friends) that help bring both the reader and Paul into some sort of perspective. There's also all the teen drama that YA readers are used to, but Levithan spices it up a bit -- in all the good ways. He also doesn't completely resolve one of the plot twists, and I applaud him for this. It's not every author who can leave something undone and yet still have a fully complete book that leaves the reader satisfied.

I loved Boy Meets Boy and plan to read as many of Levithan's book as possible.

147. Generation Dead by Daniel Waters
I was surprised by how good this novel was, especially based on the cover. Waters' book is an insightful look into, as cliche as this is, the teenage psyche. But instead of focusing on the 'traditional' topics of race or homosexuality, he goes down a totally different path -- zombies. The undead, differently biotic, or living impaired. While that idea seems a little, well, far fetched, Waters' novel is nothing of the sort. While there's primarily one main character, Phoebe (a smart goth girl), we're also let into the world of two other characters -- Phoebe's all but best friend, Adam (popular kid and somewhat start football player) and Pete (definitely star footballer player, popular and happens to hate 'the dead kids'). I found this style of writing a little confusing at first, but got over easily once I realized how necessarily it was to the way the book's written.

Generation Dead deals with more social issues than many books could ever dream of touching. Obviously, the difference is that it's about zombies instead of something more grounded in reality. But instead of turning the story into some sort of sci-fi farce, Waters grounds his characters and story in plot that's closer to our world than anything else. There's talk of forcing the zombie kids to go to war, there's hatred (protesters at a football game, fruit being throw, even murder -- or being killed a second time), love and everything in between.

The story revolves around Phoebe and her interest in Tommy Williams, a new kid in town who also happens to be dead. Eventually, this leads predictably to trouble, but that's the only thing predictable about the book. How the characters behave, the revelations about how some of the zombie kids died, and then at the end, there's a surprising twist that I definitely didn't see coming. The one disappointing thing about the book is that, as other reviewers have pointed out, there are too many loose ends. Luckily, Waters has written a sequel (Kiss of Life) that's set to come out in May of 2009. Which, really, is far too far in the future, but I can wait.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It played on a lot of emotions and left me feeling a bit sad at the end. I am eager to find out where Waters is going with the storyline as well as what happens to the characters. Even if you don't like zombie stories, I recommend this book. It's much more than just a traditional zombie tale. More humor than horror, and that's only part of what makes it so good.

148. Beastly by Alex Flinn
The signs were obvious that this book was a reworking of the traditional Beauty and the Beast story and of course I managed to miss them all. Not that the title or the rose on the cover were subtle, but somehow I just didn't get it until halfway through the book. Which actually wasn't a bad thing. I enjoyed the book and found the premise (our hero, Kyle, has the traditional curse of being a beast put on him because, well, he's kind of a jerk) well done. The plot, of course, was strong, but it would be hard to screw this story up.

What I found fascinating was how Alex Flinn was able to make the beast a sympathetic character so early on in the story. Even though we knew -- could see it from Kyle's point of view -- that he was not a nice boy, you can't help feel sorry for him. But the transformation that Kyle undergoes is so through and well written, that you have no problems believing in this world that Flinn has created. She also does something that I really find smart, between section of the book are letting chat logs from IM conversations that Kyle is having with people similar to himself -- these are people from story tellers, a frog looking for a prince, a bear who is really a man, and a mermaid who wants to give up her voice to get feet. These tie-ins, while obvious, are quite clever and amusing.
Overall, this was a fun book and I'd like to read more of Flinn's work.

149. Revelations by Melissa De La Cruz
My rating is low, not because I didn't like the book -- I did. But instead, it's low because this isn't the best book out there about vampires. But, in the end, that's not important. Melissa De La Cruz doesn't need to write the next Twilight (though, personally, I think that this series is much better than Meyer's) nor does she need the high quality found in Westerfeld's Peeps or McKinley's Sunshine. It's much more of a teen book in the same way as Gossip Girl and similar titles. And, to be honest, there's nothing wrong with it and it's really quite fun.

The writing is decent, not great, but not bad either. The plot tends to be a bit odd, weighing heavily on what happens in the previous titles. De La Cruz does something I really enjoy, though, and that's her avoidance of repeating what happened previously in the first books of the series. She reminds you in subtle ways as the story progresses. She also switches points of view a few times and in Revelations she includes little transcripts of interviews and the like to give the reader some more insight into certain plot points.

The end of the book has a twist, of course, that I didn't see coming. There are a few things that are pretty shocking, all of them directly impacting our true main character, Schuyler. As this is the third book in the series, De La Cruz sets up the mood for the next in the series. I eagerly look forward to finding out what happens. Not just in the context of the events happening at the end of the book, but also to Schuyler and her friends (and enemies).

149 / 150 new reads. 99% read!


Nov. 13th, 2008 06:26 pm
blue_ant: (carli [reading])
[personal profile] blue_ant
141. Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
I absolutely loved Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, so I think my expectations were pretty high for Cohn and Levithan's second novel. Possibly too high at first, because while I found the plot interesting (Naomi loves Ely, Ely loves Naomi, but Ely loves boys more -- in brief. The book is so much more than that, though), I just couldn't get into, well, Naomi. But I progressed, mostly because I love the authors' style -- alternating points of view. Where Nick & Norah only had two points of view, Naomi and Ely had, well, lots. You have the exboyfriends, the best friends, the friends and, of course, Ely and Naomi. One of the things that kept me reading is the writing style. Cohn and Levithan do a fantastic job of integrating their styles, you don't know who is writing which part, and it doesn't matter. The book flows, just like Nick and Norah and, when all is said and done, I loved it. My problem was that I expected it to be like Nick and Norah, and it's (thankfully) not. This story is much more about hurt and love and loss (and everything in between), which is what makes it so good. You're not supposed to sympathize with Naomi (except for when you feel sorry for her -- especially since I've known people like her) and you're supposed to adore Ely. And then everything gets flipped upside down, which is perfect, too. I think what makes this novel especially good is that you get everyone's point of view, but you don't get all points of view. There's no omniscient narrator, just because you know what someone is thinking, doesn't mean that you know what everyone's thinking about that one scene. Sure, there's a lot of overlap, but it's good. Really, really good. I hope that Cohn and Levithan write more books together, because I cannot wait to read them.

142. The Blue Lawn by William Taylor
Before I explain what I liked about this book, let me get what I didn't like (well, more like that I had to overcome) first. The writing style. The book starts out in very vague tones and you don't really know whose point of view or ... much of anything. Eventually this resolves itself into the story, but it's kind of hard going at first. The reason is because this is a book written in and about New Zealand, so it uses slang that I'm not used to, but it works. In fact, it works extremely well. It's the story of David Mason and Theo Meyer, two teenagers trying to sort out their lives. David is a star rugby player, but it's sure that's what he wants to do with his life. Theo's a newcomer to the city and lives with his grandmother. It's a story about love and sex and growing up -- and then so much more. Taylor doesn't so much delve into the sex part of things, but there are a couple of extremely well written and intimate scenes between David and Theo. The story is both sweet and heartbreaking -- as well as moving. There are a couple of scenes that are extremely breathtaking. And, once you finish, you're left with a bittersweet taste, but at the same time, there's this hope that people will be able to love.

143. Hero-Type by Barry Lyga
I don't even remember why I picked this book up, except it looked intriguing, and boy was it. It's the story of Kevin. He's the town hero, he saved Leah's life, but he's also harboring a secret. That may sound a little like a cop out, but you don't know what the secret is until almost halfway through the novel. And, to be perfectly honest, I think it works just fine. What makes this book good, aside from the rather complex plot, is the fact that Lyga portrays Kevin exactly as he is -- a reluctant hero so caught up in his own shortcomings (those that his friends and family overlook) that he ends up mixed up in more than just the fame of being a hero. Kevin doesn't believe he's a hero and when we find out why, we can't help but feeling sorry for him. Lyga has Kevin redeem himself in one of the most unlikely ways, turning the book from an excellent coming of age story, into a novel that's both about coming of age but what it means to grow up and to fight for what you believe in. Maybe Kevin's a hero, maybe it's not. But, in the end, it doesn't matter.

144. Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande
I wasn't sure about this book -- I read the dust jacket summary, it sounded interesting, but maybe not quite what I wanted to read. And then, well, I read it. And I have to say that Robin Brande is brilliant. Brande's story follows the freshman year of Mean, a quiet unassuming girl who thrust herself into the center of attention (not on purpose) and got kicked out of her church for doing what she believes is right. Similarly to Barry Lyga's novel Hero-Type, we don't know exactly what Mean did until halfway through the novel. This is probably the one thing that kind of annoyed me, because I kept wanting to know what she did, but I understand why Brande wrote the story the way she did. In a lighthearted (in some ways) and touching novel, Brande explores exactly what it means to be Christian and confronted with things that you used to believe in, but aren't sure about anymore. She turns her novel into one of the most compelling fictional descriptions of the differences of church and state -- as well as Christianity and evolution. There's obviously much, much more to the story than this, but th idea that Brande can write a brilliant coming of age story and mix it up with these serious themes is a clear endorsement of her skills as a writer. Not only did she keep me throughly entertained, but she did it in a way that felt neither patronizing nor preachy. I highly, highly recommend this book.

144 / 150 new reads. 96% read!


Nov. 12th, 2008 06:53 pm
fiveforsilver: (iFrazz)
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
First books of November:

131. Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (212)

Old favorite. Picked it up when I wasn't feeling well.

132. *Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (192)

Nick sees his ex walking toward him and asks the girl standing next to him if she'll be his girlfriend for five minutes. Norah sees someone she hates walking towards her and decides to take him up on it. Unfortunately, it turns out to be the same person...

My sister recommended this book to me and I really enjoyed it. It alternates chapters between Nick's perspective and Norah's perspective - and they aren't just one after the other, they overlap a little, or sometimes a lot, so you get to see what each person is thinking about the same situation. Which is really interesting when, for example, they're having a conversation and one of them thinks it's going really well and the other is wondering what the heck is going on. The voices of both characters felt very genuine, very real.

133. ^*Bogus to Bubbly by Scott Westerfeld (224)

I'm classifying this as non-fiction even though it's about half non-fiction and half fictional non-fiction. In Bogus to Bubbly, Westerfeld talks about how he came up with the idea for his Uglies series and for various things in the books, including the slang, the names, and the technologies. He also includes "instruction manuals" for some technologies, like the hoverboards, and "history" passages, such as how future generations would view what happened in the books. It was an interesting, if quick, read.

134. Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (242)

Another old favorite, sequel to Dealing with Dragons.

135. The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld (304)

Sequel to Peeps, or at least, a related book that happens at a later time. It's about different characters and a different aspect of the vampire parasite. I like it, but Peeps is far superior.

136. *Star Wars: Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover (410)

This book was fast-moving and action-packed. It was dark and intense, with many deaths and frequently no clear right or wrong answers - even the questions were unclear, which is often true in moral dilemmas. The setup made sense, some of the characters had interesting stories and motivations, and the end worked and was satisfying, even if it wasn't exactly a happy ending.

It all seemed a bit heavy-handed, though. I can't really remember any happy or funny or even really very neutral scenes in the book - almost the whole thing is depressing, stressful, angry, horrifying, or some combination. Anything positive gets cut off pretty much before it starts. And it also seemed to happen rather fast, although granted there is a lot that happened prior to the beginning of the book - the setup I mentioned - that we only hear about.

137. Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (244)
138. Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (255)

Third and fourth books in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. The first two are definitely my favorites, but I like all four, and Morwen in particular (main character of Calling, along with her cats) is a wonderful character.

138 / 150 books. 92% done!

66 / 75 *new books. 88% done!

6 / 10 ^non-fiction. 60% done!

37287 / 40000 pages. 93% done!


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