I’m actually finding the book quota I set for myself at the beginning of the year not too difficult to meet so far. What I’ve discovered is that I’m inclined to get the quota books “out of the way” early in the month so I can go back to reading any old thing. Maybe I kind of rush through these books. That’s probably not the best way to read. Anyway, here are some mini reviews:
One book written for adults and one pre-20th Century historical:
Possibly I’m cheating a bit with the “books for adults” category by choosing kind of cheesy things. It’s hard for me to find adult books that appeal to me enough for me to make the commitment so many of them entail. So many are so long and ponderous and the premises so dire that I jut can’t face it. So this month, to satisfy both the adult and historical categories I read this rather charming Harlequin romance. I liked the feisty heroine, Meg, her heartbreak and her pragmatism. She has a very clear goal, to find her sisters, and will (almost) anything to achieve it. The dark antihero, Brandon, is also enchantingly damaged and his transformation in Meg’s eyes from disfigured ogre to dashing gentleman is one of the driving forces in this book. People mock romance books in general and Harlequin in particular for being cheap and shoddily written, but readers soon learn that this is not the case – not any more. Louise Allen is a skilled writer who embues this book with just enough historical style and content to create the setting, without getting overly detailed and forced. A fun, fast and quite sexy read.
One Middle Grade:
11 BIRTHDAYS by Wendy Mass
I read this as part of my “Thematic reading” project – this one on the Groundhog Dayish premise of a repeating time loop. I’ll write more about that in another post. Good book though. My daughter, 8, also read and enjoyed this. I was worried that she might not quite understand the premise of repeating a day over and over but she did fine.
One non fiction:
REAL JUSTICE: FOURTEEN AND SENTENCED TO DEATH by Bill Swan
Lorimer, who published my book WICKET SEASON also publishes this series about real cases of people falsely accused and convicted of murder. This one is particularly harrowing because it is clear from the outset that the boy accused, Steve Truscott, could not have committed the crime. One of the most disturbing this aspects of this case is that two of Steve’s classmates made up stories making him look guilty, seemingly for no other reason than to get attention. Lorimer tells me this series has been hugely popular and I’m not surprised. Short, but packed with detail, this emotional book was impossible to put down. In a publishing world desperately short of meaningful non fiction for kids and teens (Justin Beiber biographies don’t count), the Real Justice series is a welcome addition.
One collection of poems:
POETRY SPEAKS:WHO I AM by Elise Paschen and Dominique Raccah
This collection although including excellent poems, felt a bit random to me. Although the theme is supposed to be “identity” I didn’t really buy into that. I’m not sure, for example, how the Edgar Allan Poe poem “Annabel Lee” speaks to identity. So in a way I was a little disappointed about this collection. I think it’s supposed to appeal to teens, and perhaps it would, but few of the poems felt like they were speaking in a teen voice, and this this is something that is missing in the publishing world. Apart from YA verse novels, which are numerous, I have very rarely seen poetry aimed at or about teens. There is a lot poetry published for younger children, so this feels like a major gap. Not quite filled by POETRY SPEAKS: WHO I AM though.
One “genre” :
ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury
I first encountered ORIGIN when the author posted a query on Agent Query Connect. We members then watched, delighted, as she announced she had an agent, then a sale! About a year later I met Jessica at ALA in Anaheim. I hunted for an ARC of ORIGIN then but missed out. Finally I spotted it on the shelves at my local library. “Yoink” I said (I actually maid that noise). This book also forms part of my thematic reading project – this time about genetic alterations, so I’ll do a proper review soon. In the meantime I really kind of love this cover!.
One graphic novel:
WAR BROTHERS by Sharon E MacKay and Daniel LaFrance
A harrowing and beautifully wrought reinterpretation of MacKay’s prose novel of the same name. After the KONY 2012 fuss last year, talking about African child soldiers has kind of been declared passé or worse, “colonial interference”. I’m pretty sure the boys and girls recruited into these armies might have a different opinion. This is a dark, terrifying and heartbreaking book. But an important one. I got a eARC from Netgalley. WAR BROTHERS was published February 7th.
One verse novel:
UNLOCKED by Ryan Van Cleave
I’ve been meaning to read this one for a while. A lean and suspenseful verse novel, UNLOCKED would be a great addition to any verse novel collection because of its male narrator and boy appealing premise. A very real look at a very real issue – bullying, social isolation, depression, guns and school violence. It’s a timely and accessible story that would be useful for teachers too. Also, another great cover – very graphic, evocative and simple.
Whew! Another month, another pile of books. In addition to these six, I think I read another twelve books this month (mostly YA, of course). I think I always read a lot in the first few months of the year – I did last year – so I’ll probably slow down. I hope I can keep up my quota though. Doubling up will definitely help. A blogger recently asked for opinions on the idea of a verse novel/graphic novel hybrid. That I would love to see! Maybe a genre!