Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hello Lovelies!!!!

Oh my goodness, it's been ages since I've posted. I'm so sorry. Let me catch you up on my excuses as to why it's been so long.

First of all, I did manage to move all the way across the country. Almost as far as I could get from good old Missoula, MT -- Boston, MA. So that was an adventure. And then school started right away, and I'm not going to lie, it's been a little rough. I've been out of school for two years, so it's been an adjustment getting back into the swing of classes and no work and bizarre free time which isn't really free because I should be doing homework or writing papers. Sigh.

But! I have a little bit of time right now where all the homework that's due today and tomorrow is done, and I don't have what I need to finish for Monday, so I can catch up on my blog. Woohoo!!

The good news is I've been reading a lot. Like A LOT. I have an hour commute (that's one way), so I basically have two hours of reading time whenever I go to school, and I also have to read a whole bunch for two of my classes, so lots of books read. The bad news is I haven't been writing reviews, so this is going to be a weirdly long post about all the books I've read recently, so if you're not interested, obviously just move right along. Also, my reviews will probably be really short because I have to so many.

So here we go!!

Half Bad by Sally Green  was a really interesting take on magic and racism. But I definitely didn't love it, which was disappointing. I really expected to like it a lot. The book starts with a captured magician in a cage--it couldn't possibly be anything but great. Except it wasn't. I loved the fact that Nathan was a person of color. I loved that it addressed a lot of the problems with multi-racial relationships and kids (not problems as in they're a bad thing, but problems that people who engage in them encounter with hateful other people). But it got a little heavy handed with the white/black magic distinction. And Nathan alternated between being totally understandable and completely alienating. It starts in 2nd person which was also really confusing to read for a little while, but right when I adjusted to that viewpoint, it switched to third person limited. I think I'm interested in reading the sequel when it comes out, but it definitely isn't high priority.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling remains my favorite of the series even 15 years later. I got to reread this book for one of my classes, and I just can't contain my love for it. Of course, that didn't mean that my subsequent paper turned out great (I mean, really, have you ever tried to explain why you love a book that changed your life??), but I really enjoyed rereading this book. Once again, I'm at a loss for words when it comes to how awesome the Harry Potter series really is. If you haven't read it, you need to.

Prequel/Sequel Challenge Points 86 + 2 = 88 points. 

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall is a delightful middle grade read. It's a National Book Award Winner, and I really think it deserves the accolades. It's a little bit timeless--technology is a minimum, but adventure is at an all-time high. The book follows four sisters during their summer vacation at a rental home on the property of mean old Mrs. Tifton whose son, Jeffrey, is excited to join the Penderwicks in their fun. It definitely made me reminisce about my own summers as a kid, when I was able to run around and enjoy life. It's a fun read for middle grade readers and up.

The Goats by Brock Cole is one of those books which made for good class discussion, but I hated it. It's about a boy and a girl who are deserted on an island completely nude by their fellow summer campers. The boy and girl are forced to decide how they're going to react to the situation and how to avoid going back to the camp that betrayed them. I didn't enjoy it all. The main characters' names are rarely used which irritated me. I'm pretty sure it's intended to allow readers to make themselves the main characters, but it just made me annoyed. The situations are all somewhat believable, but it was written in 1990, so a lot of it is simply outdated. I just did not enjoy it in the least.

The thing I find most interesting about Andrew Smith's Grasshopper Jungle is that when you google image search the title, this is one of the results:

That picture basically sums up how I felt about the book too. Obviously I'm not alone in this. On the one hand, I really liked the plot. It's about a boy, Austin, who has a girlfriend, Shann, and a best friend, Robby. He loves both his girlfriend and his best friend. He's trying to come to terms with his sexuality and who he wants to have sex with. It's also about the end of the world--which has come about from a militarized virus which turns people who come into contact with it into--giant praying mantises. Seriously. I actually found all of that plot really compelling. On the other hand, the writing style just really threw me through a loop. It's a bit like if Holden Caulfield's stream of consciousness met up with Joseph Heller's Catch-22 inanity. It's really repetitive, but Smith also uses a lot of short, choppy sentences. It just didn't do it for me. Over all, I think I'd say I liked it, but it's definitely a book I would recommend with caution.

What Jamie Saw by Carolyn Coman was a bit of a disappointment. On the one hand, I read this when I was 8 or 9 and really liked it, but when I read it this time, I just wanted to be like c'mon Jamie. Like I feel bad for him because I think he's suffering from some sort of PTSD, but I also want to be like you aren't young enough to be pulling the shit you pull. Maybe it appeals more to younger readers, but I just didn't feel it this time around

Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson was amazing. It's a novel in verse, or maybe a cohesive collection of poems, but it tells the story of 11 year old Lonnie Collins Motion (LoCoMotion). He has lost his parents and is living with a foster parent. His little sister is living with a different foster parent. The reader gets to experience different facets of Lonnie's life thought the poetry he's writing for his class. It's beautiful and wonderful and so meaningful. I'm amazed at how much meaning Woodson could fit in a 112 page book. I definitely want to recommend this to everyone. And I also want to go read all the rest of her books. So expect to see more of her titles on my shelves.

The Circuit by Francisco Jimenez was an enlightening look at the life of a family of Mexican immigrants to the United States. I have always been an advocate for immigrant rights -- it's ridiculous that countries have put up all these borders and said you aren't allowed here. Anyway, sorry, tangent. Really what The Circuit made me consider was the lack of efficient schooling for people who speak English as a second language. It's amazing that these underserved people can pick up any English at all, let alone enough to function. I would totally recommend this book for someone looking to explore life from someone else's shoes. 

Like No Other by Una LaMarche was an almost perfect contemporary romance. It follows the story of two teens from basically opposite sides of life, even though they live within blocks of each other in New York City. Devorah is a Hasidic Jewish girl. She follows the rules laid down by her religion without questioning them. Jaxon is a Black book-smart nerd with a ton of sisters and almost no game. They end up trapped together in an elevator during a storm based power outage at the hospital. Their connection might be forbidden, but they're willing to risk the consequences. This book was so good!! It had all the things I love in my romances: a bit of insta-love, those quotes that make your stomach flutter with excitement, and utter stupidity when it comes to everyone around you. I know that some of those are qualities that others hate, but I really enjoy them. Honestly the only thing that I didn't particularly get behind was the end of the book. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a contemporary romance based read. It's delightful.

Favorite Quotes: I forget sometimes how I might look to other people. I could be reading The Great Gatsby on the 3 train, or walking down the street listening to a podcast on my phone, or coming out of my orthodontist's office with Invisalign braces feeling like the biggest nerd on the planet, but some people don't notice anything but an almost-six-foot-tall black man.

Where else will I find someone to listen without judgement? This might be the only chance I ever get to be completely honest without worrying about being proper. 

And okay, wow, if you're still here, you really care about what I think. And that just fills my heart with joy. So let me know what you've been reading lately, lovelies! Drop me a comment on your latest best read or suggest something to me off of what I've written here!! 

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