Books read in February

Whoa, hey, I swear I did not forget about this blog…or maybe I did. I just always feel like I need to have something to say when I post here versus my usual ramblings about life, the universe, and everything over on my livejournal. I’ll try to get this blog back into the posting mix at some point.

But anyway, here are the books I read in February 2017:

In which I discover I like novels written in verse and then become a raving Neal Shusterman fangirl again:

Skip School, Fly to Space: A Pearls Before Swine CollectionSkip School, Fly to Space: A Pearls Before Swine Collection by Stephan Pastis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One too many Crocodile comics in this one for me as they tend to be my least favorite of the strips. Not sure why but this one didn’t have as many stand-out strips as the other two.

The 13 ClocksThe 13 Clocks by James Thurber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My uncle that worked in a bookstore gave me a copy of this quirky title back in 1990. I remembered loving it though I couldn’t tell you a thing about it. So when I found it in my parent’s garage, I decided to read it again to see if the magic was still there.

James Thurber’s humor is not for the uninitiated. He loves wordplay, rhyming and non-sequitur silliness. My Mom had copies of his short stories so I was familiar with his quirky sense of humor before starting this book, which reads like a blend of Dr. Seuss and Peter Beagle if they were both slightly tipsy.

It’s a children’s book but also not…you have to be old enough to get the nods and winks to how fairy tales work.

It’s an odd book, but I love it.

Princess Leia: Royal Rebel (Backstories)Princess Leia: Royal Rebel by Calliope Glass
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Written as though it was a real biography, this book doesn’t really have any new information about Leia, which was kind of disappointing. The book is a short 125 pages which I guess all that is canon now according to Disney. Though this could be used as a good teaching tool for what a biography should look like since it includes a chronology, timeline and even an index!

Catching a StoryfishCatching a Storyfish by Janice N. Harrington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know why I always shy away from books written in verse. I don’t consider myself a fan of poetry so I suppose the idea of reading a story in that format doesn’t appeal to me. Yet the few times I have taken a chance, I have been very impressed. This is one of those times.

The short lines of verse are more powerful than any prose paragraph, capturing Katharen’s emotions in a way that a normal sentence might not.

This is a beautiful story about a girl who moves from Alabama to a town further north, where she hides her talent for telling stories after the other kids mock her accent. She finds solace with her grandfather, hanging out with him and talking about fishing – well, she thinks he is talking about fishing, but he is giving her little life lessons.

Great story for middle grade readers (4th grade and up) and this actually might be a good pick for someone reading out loud to a classroom of students.

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)Scythe by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book, it’s my favorite kind of science fiction – taking something to an extreme and playing out the consequences. In this case, we have The Cloud becoming the all knowing Thunderhead and science conquering death.

What I really liked about this book was that there were so many plot lines that could have been dragged out but instead were wrapped up by the end, leaving us with new options for book 2. There were plenty of loose ends but nothing so frustrating as to make you feel like you are being strung along as a reader. So if you are sick of series, fear not, you can read ‘Scythe’ and enjoy it.

I’m surprised this is a series because I think this first book wraps things up relatively well – but I said the same thing about ‘Unwind’ and that turned into an amazing series. So I will definitely pick up the second book when it comes out.

This Is Our StoryThis Is Our Story by Ashley Elston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great mystery thriller, definitely would be great for fans of shows like Riverdale or Veronica Mars.

I was a little annoyed by how often the author had characters roll their eyes or put their hands on someone else to “frame their face” – these were overused and I’m not sure why the editor didn’t flag them.

You’ll also need to suspend your disbelief for how much a high school student would be allowed to do in a criminal case, no matter how small the town.

But whatever, if you can overlook those things, the story was tight enough that I could not stop reading and I had to know what would happen next.

Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights CaseLoving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricia Hruby Powell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I didn’t realize this was a novel in verse when I ordered it, but as I had just finished another fantastic book in verse, I decided to read it. I am so glad I did. The book and the illustrations weave a beautiful story about two people in love, just trying to live their lives while a racist world spins around them. The story is told alternating voices between Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter Loving. The focus is on their relationship and personal suffering more than the actual Civil Rights case.

Powell conducted interviews and did lots of research to make the story as real as possible. I was really impressed and highly recommend this title. Sadly, it is still relevant in 2017. As we struggle for equality for all, it is good to read a story like that, about the people behind the headlines and what they might think or feel. The Lovings did not set out to be the poster couple for interracial marriage, they just wanted to be able to live their lives, unafraid.

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Books read in December

Short list because HOLIDAYS! Just too much going on, distracted me from making time to read.

At least there were some good ones!

Descender, Volume Two: Machine MoonDescender, Volume Two: Machine Moon by Jeff Lemire
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars – This volume wasn’t quite as engaging as the first, maybe because the story is starting to tread some familiar water to anyone who who is a fan of the sci-fi genre. Still, beautiful artwork and the characters are engaging enough that I want to know more about what happens next. This ends on a crazy cliffhanger !!!

As I DescendedAs I Descended by Robin Talley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Robin Talley does a really great job of reworking ‘MacBeth’ in our modern world. She didn’t just copy+paste the story, she reinterpreted it to work with modern young adults and the hierarchy that exists in high school. That doesn’t mean she had to hold back on the horrific aspects of the Scottish play.

MacBeth is my favorite of Shakespeare’s tragedies, maybe my favorite play of his overall. I would be curious how someone unfamiliar with the play, who wasn’t reading it because it was a retelling, would feel about this book. I know I enjoyed it a lot because I was looking for the parallel stories and really enjoying the new twists that Talley added.

If you’re a fan of MacBeth, definitely pick this one up!

MooncopMooncop by Tom Gauld
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not sure what to say about this short but not simple graphic novel. Gauld’s sparse use of text means you can finish a first read through in a matter of minutes, but the story and the ideas behind it will stick with you.

Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas, #1)Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads says this is a series, but it does NOT end on a giant cliffhanger, thank goodness! I started to slow down in my reading when I saw the “Brooklyn Brujas #1” in the record. I’m so tired of series.

Alejandra comes from a family of brujas, powerful witches that live in our world. But she isn’t sure she wants to embrace that side of her. But her Deathday celebration is approaching, a ritual that will bind her powers to her for ever. Alex must decide if she wants to stay a bruja, like her mother and aunt and sisters – or just be a normal girl.

This book is a great blend of magic and Mexican folklore. I think it would be a great read for teens who read Harry Potter when they were younger and want more magical people living in our world stories. Lots of adventure, a bit of romance, and real characters from Mexican folklore. The author even included notes in the back of the book to let the reader know which magical creatures are part of established myth.

If there are more adventures of the Brooklyn Brujas, I will definitely pick them up! But I am glad that Alex’s story was wrapped up at the end of this book.

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what I read in September

what I read in September

This was a pretty great month with lots of really good books, some that I had been meaning to read for awhile and others that I stumbled upon (the dangers of helping with the new materials delivery is that I see all the shiny new graphic novels that I’ve never heard of before but sound awesome. Also the same danger of working with people who read a wide variety of books themselves and then you want to read what they say is good).

Citizen: An American LyricCitizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve never really read a book of freeform poetry before. Luckily, Rankine eased me into it by starting with more of a prose style and then slowly moving into more of a poetry rhythm. A short little book with lots of powerful moments. These feelings and images will stick with me for awhile.

Batman: Earth One, Vol. 1Batman: Earth One, Vol. 1 by Geoff Johns

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn’t expecting much from yet another Batman comic but WOW! I loved the reimagining of Gotham and the Wayne family, and, of course, Alfred. This was not at all what I was expecting and really hard to put down – which I didn’t! Read it all in one sitting.

Wonder Woman: Earth One, Vol. 1Wonder Woman: Earth One, Vol. 1 by Grant Morrison

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars.

I didn’t feel this one was quite as good as Batman. I don’t know why it is so hard to write a good Wonder Woman story. Maybe it is because that she, like Thor, is just born awesome. She doesn’t have the whole “death of her family” like Superman and Batman, nothing to really overcome so her origin story isn’t quite as engaging. They tried to give her some mother issues but she came off more as a spoiled brat than a struggling hero.

Also, the art was just so typical…all the girls have their mouths hanging half open and they were supposed to be shocked when Diana came home wearing makeup but…um, she didn’t look that much different from when she left.

I love that in a world that is devoid of men and no influence from men, everyone likes to imagine women would still wear skimpy clothing and bustiers. Be real – it would be a land of sweatpants and t-shirts, maybe jean shorts when it is cold.

Dark Night: A True Batman StoryDark Night: A True Batman Story by Paul Dini

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really loved this book and the idea of using your superhero figures to help you cope with life. Dini really took a chance, bearing his soul like this, but he did it right and this is a great book, a great story, inspiring and affirming but not in a cliche kind of way? He’s not perfect but that is what made it such a great read – I could identify with his insecurities even if I wasn’t exactly like him.

Nobody Likes a GoblinNobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cute story, great illustrations, perfect for the older picture book reader who likes a silly fantasy tale. Pair this with The Princess and the Pony for a quirky family read-together.

Lumberjanes, Vol. 4: Out of TimeLumberjanes, Vol. 4: Out of Time by Noelle Stevenson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This series just keeps getting better! What could have just been a goofy, one-note story about a group of goofy girl scouts has turned into an epic, layered tale of hardcore lady-types. Keep it coming Team Lumberjanes!

Jackaby (Jackaby, #1)Jackaby by William Ritter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really enjoyed this book! I would suggest it for fans that lik “Monstrumologist” or “The X Files” – anything with a supernatural twist. I love that all the monsters are not “bad” and that it pulls from a variety of myths and stories to create the creature world.

I definitely plan on picking up the second book soon!

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super FamousMs. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous by G. Willow Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This might be my favorite Ms. Marvel arc yet! It is a lesson that all of us need to be reminded of from time to time – teens and adults. Just loved it.

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Books read in February

I could go on and on about these Star Wars books for kids that are just SO well done. I might go on about them later in their own post but for now, they will just be mixed in with all these reviews. I did well this month!

Saga, Volume 5Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh Saga, you are so messed up, I just can’t even. But as you have been so wrong/right since the first issue, it is almost comforting in twisted way. As usual, I couldn’t put down this volume until I finished it and then I was sad it was over again. Lots of twists and turns I did not see coming!

I can’t wait for this series to be over so I can sit and read it all the way through as I am sure I miss so much when it comes to the story/foreshadowing etc but only picking these up every few months.

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Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens)Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure by Cecil Castellucci
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun middle-grade read that fills in the story between ESB and RotJ for Princess Leia. The “tie-in” to Force Awakens is pretty slim (the prologue/epilogue, only a few pages, make the connection). I thought Castelluccci and Fry captured the voice of characters we already know and did a good job adventuring around the galaxy far far away.

Definitely recommended for Star Wars fans. I hope there are more Princess Leia adventures some day! I would love to see some stories that take place prior to A New Hope (though I know the ‘Rebels’ TV series is using a lot of that time period and Leia makes at least one cameo)

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The Bazaar of Bad DreamsThe Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

FINALLY finished this today. I had it as an audiobook and my commute is fairly short now, plus with the week of snow I didn’t get to listen. I’m happy I listened to it rather than continued to read, I think the voices really brought some of the stories to life. The collection gathered stories that had been previously published elsewhere. They weren’t perfect, but it was a great variety and showed King’s range and that he’s still got it.

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Descender, Vol. 1: Tin StarsDescender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars by Jeff Lemire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this up because of Jeff Lemire, but it was Dustin Nguyen’s artwork that really made this book perfect. In a story about a strange attack by gigantic robots, Nguyen’s gorgeous style (reminiscent of watercolor paintings) keeps the story grounded. I loved this first book and cannot wait to see where the story goes! I already adore Tim-21 and I want to see him save the galaxy!

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Ms. Marvel, Vol. 4: Last DaysMs. Marvel, Vol. 4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This may be my favorite volume since the first one, lots of forward momentum with the story and the characters, especially Kamala. I can’t wait to see what happens in Volume 5! Honestly, the weakest thing was the “bonus” comic which was a team up with Spider-Man. It was cute but after the awesome that was the rest of the book, it felt a little out of place.

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Star Wars: Princess LeiaStar Wars: Princess Leia by Mark Waid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this comic, far more than I expected. Mark Waid does a wonderful job keeping the action and adventure of the films in this comic, along with creating a good side mission for Princess Leia. I liked that it didn’t depend too much on inside jokes and winks to the rest of the Star Wars universe, which I find can sometimes derail this kinds of collections.

A pleasant surprise! I hope we get more stories of Leia’s solo missions (NOT Solo missions…that’s the realm of fanfic!)

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A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy (Star Wars: Episode IV)A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While not as strong as Angleberger’s RotJ novelization (and that may have more to do with the source material than anything else) Bracken’s take on ANH was a really fun read. This would also be a great book for kids to read and then discuss the different ways to tell a story, especially when it comes to film versus writing.

Bracken’s approach was to break down the story of Star Wars to each of the main trio’s point of view. The first part is all told from Princess Leia’s side, with her getting the quest to take the Death Star plans to General Kenobi and being captured by the Empire. Bracken pulls from not just the film, but the previous novelzations and the radio drama to imagine scenes of what happened to Leia before Luke and Han arrived.

The second part is from Han’s point of view, picking up where we meet him in the movie, in the cantina on Tatooine. The third is Luke’s story, starting right after the escape from the Death Star.

Well written and unique, definitely a must-read for Star Wars fans.

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Lafayette in the Somewhat United StatesLafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m really glad I listened to this book rather than reading it. Even though it is only 268 pages, it isn’t a quick read, with so many names and dates being thrown at you. It has been a long time since I revisited American history and even longer since I thought about the Revolutionary War. This book taught me more than I ever knew about MY OWN COUNTRY’S HISTORY! It was a little depressing to realize how little I knew.

But I loved the audiobook because Sarah Vowell reads it, with her own unique voice, and has a cast of famous actors that lend their voices and help you keep some of the “characters” straight. (Nick Offerman as George Washington is now my official voice for Washington.)

So if you feel like being reminded of how much history you have forgotten (or maybe you were never taught) this is a great listen for your commute (especially if you are like me and live on the east coast and regularly drive past some of the Revolutionary war battle fields)

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So You Want to Be a Jedi? (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)So You Want to Be a Jedi? by Adam Gidwitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I cannot say enough about these Star Wars books written by some of my favorite children’s authors. Adam Gidwitz’s take on ‘Empire Strikes Back’ not only puts YOU in the role of Luke Skywalker, telling his story from first person, it also provides lessons on how to be a Jedi, teaching the reader ways to calm their mind, meditate, think before acting, and focus.

If you know a kid/were a kid who loves Star Wars, this series is a great way to explore the many ways a story can be told.

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Books read in December

As I doubt I will finish reading anything tonight, I think it’s safe to post this. 🙂

Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1)Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really cool spin on the YA dystopian fantasy genre. It has a few of the cliches (though thank goodness what could have been a love triangle was a red herring!) It ends on an epic cliffhanger too, so be warned!

I listened to the audiobook and Julian Elfer did a fantastic job with all of the voices and accents. Impressive.

Hope the rest of the series can live up to this one.

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Black Widow, Vol. 1: The Finely Woven ThreadBlack Widow, Vol. 1: The Finely Woven Thread by Nathan Edmondson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great collection of ‘Black Widow’ stories. I only really know Natasha from the movies and her cameos in other Avengers comics so it was great to read her adventures on her own.

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The Rest of Us Just Live HereThe Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There is so much to say about this wonderful book. When I read the premise, I was expecting something very goofy. The basic story is that these are the people, the teens, who are going about their lives while our Heroes run around fighting the monsters. So, instead of reading Buffy’s story, we’re reading about the rest of the students at Sunnydale High, the ones who wander the halls in the background of shots while the Scooby Gang discusses the Big Bad they are fighting.

Ness could have just written a screwball comedy, but instead he takes patience and care in crafting a story about real teens who are dealing with real issues, like fears about going off to college, crushes on friends, alcoholism, anorexia and anxiety that leads to OCD behavior.

And Ness does it right, because the story is still a joy to read, even with all of these serious topics. I really missed all the characters by the time I closed the book. I was sad I wouldn’t see them again but very satisfied with the ending.

One of the best YA books I’ve read this year.

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I Really Like Slop! (Elephant & Piggie #24)I Really Like Slop! by Mo Willems
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another fantastic edition, letting kids know they should TRY things and it is okay not to like the same things as your friends, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try. Valuable lesson.

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The Story of Diva and FleaThe Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Adorable story about a small dog and a large cat that become friends. I love the bits of French tossed in, that bit of Paris flavor. This is the kind of book that you give a child who is just starting chapter books with the hopes that when they are older, they will want to go explore Paris with you!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Read in 2014

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is:

Top Ten Books I Read in 2014

(in the order that I found them while searching my GoodReads page)

Boxers (Boxers & Saints, #1)Boxers by Gene Luen Yang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I know absolutely nothing about the Boxer Rebellion so Yang’s “Boxers & Saints” is really the introduction to this part of history for me. I haven’t read “Saints” yet though, so I’m not quite sure how fair it is to review this book alone. But I loved “Boxers”. Beautifully drawn and easy to understand. I will post more once I have read “Saints”.

Reality BoyReality Boy by A.S. King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is a reason A.S. King gets my “favorite author” tag. She has yet to disappoint me when it comes to realistic fiction about young adults facing difficult situations. Notice I didn’t say difficult young adults or troubled teens. These are stories of good kids who have dealing with life as best as they can.

“Reality Boy” is about a young man who, as a child, was featured on a reality tv show and became infamous for defecating around his parents house. Now he is in high school, and as you read the story you find out about what happened in that house his entire life and how he is dealing with it now.

It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s a tragic story. Gerald has been damaged by his family and it’s sad to read about how it all happened. This may not be my favorite of King’s books, but it is still a solid story. Adults and teens should read her books and sit down to discuss.

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales, #4)Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood by Nathan Hale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

World War I was hard to understand even when people were living through it. You sort of gloss over it in history classes because there is no clear-cut “bad guy” like in World War II. World War I was a mess, not only when it came to who was allied with who, but also because of all the new technology that was emerging so we had lots of different ways to kill each other.

Nathan Hale has managed to condense it all down to 124 pages and it works! I came into this book only knowing WWI from watching Young Indiana Jones Chronicles as a kid and basic high school history lessons. Even though it feels like he is being goofy, assigning different animals to each country really helped keep the players clear.

This is a fantastic introduction to The Great War, for kids, teens, or adults. I know I learned so much.

The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein StoryThe Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story by Vivek Tiwary
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a MUST read. Not just for Beatles fans, Brian Epstein’s story is still relevant today and even if you are not a huge fan of the Fab Four, you will enjoy this beautiful graphic novel biography.

I’m not sure what else to say about this book. It gave me so many feels, a roller coaster of emotions and by the final page, I was starting to get a little choked up. Even though I knew how it all ended, it was just so heart-breaking.

This is the 2014 Eisner Award Winner for best non-fiction graphic novels and it definitely deserved the award.

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you can LISTEN TO THIS BOOK. Having Wil Wheaton read this out loud may be the best thing that could have happened to this story. It is definitely written by a geek for a geek. If you grew up during the 80s or have a passion for classic video games, 80s movies, and geek culture, you will love this book. Otherwise, you might just be mildly amused by it.

The story itself is the usual hero story, the poor, uncool kid who manages to rise up against the evil empire. There’s a reason we see that story all the time though – it works. It speaks to us. And it is SO satisfying when it all ends, even if you knew it had to end the way it did. The journey is so much fun.

The Storied Life of A.J. FikryThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very sweet book and a very quick read. It’s funny but I tend to not like these kinds of stories, but Zevin’s writing was very accessible and it was just the right length.

Perfect gift for the book-snob in your life with lots of references to literature and popular culture in the current book world.

SecondsSeconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know what it was about “Seconds” but I just loved it. I think I loved how you don’t exactly love the main character, she has some major flaws (which is apparently O’Malley’s speciality – crafting characters I am both frustrated by but identify with too?)

Honestly, I didn’t know anything about this book except that it was the new Bryan Lee O’Malley and I loved going into it totally unaware and being surprised by the twists and turns.

SistersSisters by Raina Telgemeier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another strong story from Raina Telgemeier’s childhood that will still strike a chord with tween today because siblings, especially little sisters, will always have a very unique dynamic. And growing up will never be easy. Plus a family road trip and reunion? Always traumatizing, no matter when it happened. Smile is still my favorite but Sisters is really good too.

Saga, Volume 3Saga, Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great entry in this series. This volume has lots of action and ties up a few plot lines while setting up some new ones. Staples art is fantastic, as always, and Vaughan manages to work in plenty of humor no matter how dire the situation.

Definitely considering buying these when they are published in hardcover sets.

UnSouled (Unwind, #3)UnSouled by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The thing that makes me LOVE the “Unwind” series is how Shusterman takes what could have been a one-note songs and turns it into a symphony. Even though this takes place in a not-so-distant future, everyone who reads this book will be forced to think about a variety of issues we are facing right now, every day.

While the seed of Unwind is the “what if the abortion war ended with people being allowed to get rid of their teenagers” as the story has progressed the theme has gone on to question science, war, leaders, government, terrorism and so much more. It’s what makes this series so disturbing yet so fantastic.

Of course, being that this is book 3, there was a lot of things being set up for the grand finale that will be book 4. Right now, this book gets a tentative 4 stars out of 5 because Book 4 will decide if this was all worth my while.

against “against YA”

Well, here I am posting about how I have spent time examining my likes and dislikes when it comes to entertainment and now an article on Slate pops up and tells me that I should be ashamed for enjoying these kinds of stories.

This article has a LOT of issues. It sounds like that the author has only read two children’s novels in the 1990s (YA Lit wasn’t even a genre then), and A Fault in Our Stars and a few other Hot Titles…and this is the breadth of her YA reading list. Other than that, she seems to only read books that she has been told are “classics”. And then proceeds to tell us how we shouldn’t enjoy reading, and that she doesn’t want to tell us what to read but, we are morons for enjoying “books written for children.”

The label of Young Adult is a marketing tool, not a genre. It usually just means the characters are teenagers and the content is appropriate for that age group (i.e. deeper than Children’s literature but perhaps not as graphic as adult). It has nothing to do with quality. Or reading level. It’s just a shelf in the book store or library. And that shelf is open to everyone, of all ages.

Mark Shrayber of Jezebl has a nice rebuttal piece

And we all know the label of “adult literary fiction” has it’s own issues.

But anyway, that is not the point. Instead of judging other people and what they read, perhaps Graham needs to look inward and talk about why she doesn’t enjoy books labeled as “Young Adult”.

I can tell you why I do not enjoy “Adult Literary Fiction”. It’s the same reasons I talked about in my previous post – many of them offer little to no hope for the characters. On page 1 of the book, the character is miserable. On page 700, the story ends and the characters are usually still miserable. This isn’t always the case, of course. I love reading the comedies of Christopher Moore. Or Steve Martin’s novels. I even liked Herman Koch’s “The Dinner” which was pretty twisted. But for me, if the ending leaves me unsatisfied, I feel like I have wasted my time.

Now, for other people, perhaps reading these stories is cathartic. Maybe they have lives that mirror the lives of the characters. Or perhaps they enjoy reading about people with this kind of tragic existence because it makes them feel better about their own lives. I am not going to tell them what they can and cannot read (and believe me, I have the power. I’m a librarian and people ask me for book suggestions. I don’t scoff or tut at their choices. I rejoice in their love of stories.)

Graham says that life is too short and there are many GOOD books to read. But I say that life is too short and if you are reading something you should enjoy it on some level. Far be it from me to understand why YOU enjoy a book. You are your own unique person, raised in a unique location by unique people…your life experiences will change the way you internalize the stories you read. How could I ever know how you will react to a story?

TL;DR – Read what you want. Love what you read. Embrace whatever genre you are a fan of and just revel in the power of a good story.

And if you’re stuck for your next book, ask your Librarian. We promise to find you something YOU will enjoy.