Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Reading Roundup and More

My goodness, how can it already be mid-January!?

Here are the books I finished up December with:

Emily the Strange: Piece of MindEmily the Strange: Piece of Mind by Rob Reger and Jessica Gruner, illustrated by Rob Reger and Buzz Parker
This conclusion of the four Emily the Strange books doesn’t disappoint. Emily is as wonderful, crazy, creative, and unique as ever and the wrap up to the series leaves all the characters in the right place. The black and red illustrations also enhance the read.

NationNation by Terry Pratchett
This teen novel isn’t set in Pratchett’s famous Discworld, but rather an alterative Victorian world which is just as fun. When a royal girl gets shipwrecked on an island where Mau is only native survivor to a horrific wave, the pair—and later the other survivors—must figure out what home, family, and community mean. The interactions between Mau and Daphne are both funny and though provoking and you’re rooting for them the whole time.

Beauty QueensBeauty Queens by Libba Bray
Libba Bray’s Great and Terrible Beauty is one of my favorite books of all time, but her more recent writing has taken a different turn. Although I haven’t read her Printz-awarding-winning novel Going Bovine it’s clearly quirky (to say the least!). Beauty Queens is similarly off-beat. The premise is a beauty pageant meets Survivor—when a plane of contestants crashes in a seemingly deserted tropical island they must not only survive until rescued, but practice their pageant dances and keep up their beauty routines. Overall, I was disappointed by Beauty Queens. It’s so over the top that moments to explore relevant topics such as a girl’s place in society and how to balance numerous pressures could be tossed aside because nothing seemed serious. There were too many characters as well, and most didn’t go beyond a caricature. I applaud Bray for not shying away from portraying topics that are often taboo in YA literature—there is a transgendered contestant, a lesbian relationship, and multiple descriptions of various sexual activities. This could have been a very thought provoking novel if the absurdity of the situation and ridiculousness of the characters had been scaled back—however, most of this was overshadowed and lost.

Surrender (Haunting Emma)Surrender by Lee Nichols
This is the conclusion to the Haunting Emma series—a trilogy that has special significance for me. Emma, Bennett, and the rest successfully hunt the ghosts that have been causing trouble since long before the book started. My favorite part about this series is the voice—Nichols manages to write in a voice that sounds just as if your best friend was telling you her adventures. Yes, there are some dorky puns and awkward joke about sex, but this somehow makes it feel more authentic than annoying. I’ve always found these books to be some of the more compelling paranormal out there.

The WandererThe Wanderer by Sharon Creech
I enjoyed this novel quite a bit because there was more to this story than just a coming-of-age adventure. Not only is Sophie literally learning how to sail a boat across the ocean with her uncles and cousins, but there is an added depth to the story when readers discover, through cousin Cody’s journal entries, that there is some mystery as to Sophie’s past and how, despite being adopted, she claims to know the grandfather’s stories. Cody’s narrative was also charming in its humor and brevity making it more relatable than Sophie’s poetic outlook.

Picture book: Hugs from Pearl by Paul Schmid
Full Manuscripts: 5

So, for 2012 that leaves me at: 77 books and 66 full manuscripts. Not too bad!

My reading goals for 2011 were to read 10 historical fiction novels and finish up three 19th century classics. Well, the second goal didn’t happen at all—there’s so much good YA out there!—but I did decently well with the historical fiction, coming in at eight books. I’m absolutely going to continue working on that, especially because there are several novels (What I Saw and How I Lied, The Vespertine, and Between Shades of Gray) that I still want to read!

I’m not going to set any reading goals for 2012—it’s clear that I read. A lot. And due to my job I read a wide range of genres. I still need to reopen those classics…but those will have to be saved for extra long vacations!

Do you have any reading goals for 2012?

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