Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Restart: Book Reviews

I miss blogging, but it's gone on the back burner with a whole bunch of other things. So give my blog a little restart and provide me some motivation to keep up, for now we're doing book reviews. It's my favorite thing to talk about (when I'm not actively crafting or indulging in other favorite pursuits), and I'm taking a YA literature class which requires the reading of 25 YA novels over the next four months. Another hopeful bonus is that the embarrassment of blog yet another romance novel or Gossip Girl book will keep me picking good thoughtful reads.

Ready? Okay I've read 6 books already this year:

Ministering Cross-Culturally by Marvin Mayers, based on theory by Sherwood Lingenfelter. I read this book as prep for a class I'm leading in Intercultural Communications. Fun times: stories about the Yapese and a personality test (personal values test in Mayer's lingo, but I'm a sucker for any personality test). Otherwise it's a book about being more sensitive to other cultures with a religious kick. Great for a Concordia communications class, not the lightest of reading.

Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson. I love Maureen's twitter feed and blog. She's silly and entertaining. And so are her books. Girl at Sea follows Clio Ford on a 2 week voyage into underwater archaeology off the coast of Italy with her free-spirited, but often absent father. Clio tells us not to be jealous, but we still are. Still when she ends up as the ships cook and the other teenager (buxom blonde, Elsa) only has to study for her OWLs orNEWTs or whatever British teenagers ACTUALLY study when they don't go to Hogwarts,* you feel righteously indignant for her. Sometimes I wished Clio used her words more than internalizing, but all in all she was a spunky character who grew a lot through the novel. Though I could never fully understand her tattoo...

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation Vol 1 The Pox Party
by M.T. Anderson. This book tops John Green's list of "books I wish I had written". While it's totally not my genre (historical fiction, meets boy book, meets African American slave story, meets steampunk?--okay not steampunk but trendy pseudoscience that reminds me of steampunk), it's an amazing story. Set right at the cusp of the American revolution, Octavian realizes that the life he has been living is pretty much a farce, an elaborate experience in race-based "science"--at first for good, then for evil when the money source change--and has to cope with a new reality. It's weird and angsty, but I have the second volume on hold for me at the library right now. :-)

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (aka YA novel 3). Seriously my favorite book so far of 2011. Before I Fall starts off as Mean Girls and twists into Groundhog Day and leaves you in the Time Traveler's Wife (not the plot so much as the crying the plot makes you do). Samantha dies in a car crash on the way home from a party, but then wakes up to relive her day again. You follow her as she tries to change events, screws up and figures out a better way each morning. And in the process she becomes a better person. I just hope the people who remember her will realize that too. I don't normally like books that make me bawl, but this one was so worth it.

This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save us All by Marilyn Johnson. This book has been on my To Read shelf for way too long. It's a summary of the weird wild and crazy in librarianship--all the youtube videos, blogs, and other librarian-related cyberspace that I love to post and pass along to others. You might not enjoy if you aren't interested in librarianship, but if you've ever wanted to catalog your own books, you'll love it.

Fairies and the Quest for Never Land
by Gail Carson Levine. Gail Carson Levine wrote one of my favorite YA books EVER, Ella Enchanted. (Read the book; don't see the movie.) And really nothing else I've read has ever matched up. However, this Peter Pan-inspired novel (for tweens) follows Gwendolyn, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Wendy Darling, as she discovers Never Land for the first time and benefits the normally very prickly fairies (including Tinkerbell). It's cute, it's lovely, the audiobook took 4 hours. Better than Disney princesses, but Gwen is no Ella.

So there you go. My first 6 books of 2011. I'm in the middle of Anna Karenina, but The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian will probably be finished first. (Or one of my realistic fiction novels for class.) Tolstoy's a marathon; YAs are 5ks.

*Seriously, Harry Potter has messed up my zeitgeist. Yesterday, I was reading Sturm und Drang and totally read Drumstrang.


Colleen said...

Great recommendations! I'm always looking for good YA books..

Anonymous said...

Hey, have you read Megan Whalen Turner's The Queen's Thief series? I'm just starting it and am enjoying it greatly.

brnh said...

@Colleen--there will be lots! Stay tuned! ;-)

@nun-- first :-P Papist! Second, I read the first book back in April, but it hadn't hit my radar enough to get the next book. However, I did like it. It just got overshadowed by things like Percy Jackson and Hunger Games.