I know, we passed the second quarter mark over a month ago. But it was summer, which is a time for breaking rules, so we’re going with it.
The important thing here is the books!
- The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain
Very fluffy sort of YA fantasy fiction. This makes use of Greek mythology to weave together a love story around a boy from the underworld and a girl who has mythical powers and doesn’t know it. Sound pretty formulaic? It is. But the writing isn’t terrible, which means if you’re a fan of the genre, you’d probably enjoy this one. Not much more to be said about it. I read the whole thing and didn’t feel regretful, so that’s something. I also didn’t bother to read the sequels, so that’s something else.
- We are Called to Rise by Laura McBride
This is not my usual sort of book, and after the first two short chapters, I almost put it down, but something wouldn’t quite let me. I’m so glad. It was lovely. Just really, really, warm and compassionate and lovely. In the beginning it seems like a book about random people with depressing lives (my LEAST favorite kind of book), and it is. And yet. It’s not depressing. It deals with each one from his or her own perspective and drops you down into their lives in a very deft way. It is real and honest and yet hopeful, a combination you just don’t find much. A view of life that is optimistic with out being naive is exactly my cup of tea, though I know others might disagree.
- Tiny, Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
I just had to check out what all the fuss was about. And I enjoyed it. I didn’t love it or agree with all of it, but I definitely enjoyed it. Her voice is just wonderful.
- I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (Also The Power of Six and The Rise of Nine)
Remember the movie from a few years ago? I think maybe I watched it on DVD or something. That kind of vagueness? That’s a pretty good description. Basically, this is a really fun sci-fi premise for a YA audience. It’s not very well executed. As you can see, I read three whole books of it, which shows you where I stand on the importance of interesting ideas/plots. Also how much I really was in the mood for this genre. The writing is fairly iffy, but the worst part is that the characters are weak. That’s what eventually made me give up on the series. They start off flat, but you can kind of ignore that for a while…until they take being a teenager and therefore doing stupid things to a level that become unbearable. Eventually this completely undermines the plot and the whole premise, so…blech.
- Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
Modern YA and it involves cancer, but I swear it’s not a ripoff of The Fault in Our Stars. It’s actually pretty wonderful. Great voice, great geeky boy stuff, and great family dynamics. Tear-jerker in places, but that’s not it’s essence, really. I enjoyed this one enough to read the sequel and look up other books by the author. He’s got some talent.
- After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick
The sequel to Dangerous Pie but stands alone because it has a different main character. Quick and enjoyable read.
- Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill
I should have hated this book. I wanted to. It’s Lit Fic. It’s about a woman dealing with her husband’s affair. Ugh and ugh. But the style is so original. And it’s got such great lines thrown in here and there. It has these little moments where you suddenly think, “Yes. I recognize that right there.” And it doesn’t do exactly what you expect. And it falls just short of being too full of itself. And it’s short. And in the end, completely unexpectedly, I found that I liked it, that I was thinking about it later, that I felt like it was worth my time. So there you go.
- A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken
Another “not what I typically read” but in this case it’s because it’s higher and better than my usual plebian taste. This book is truly wonderful. Full of deep thoughts and reflections on love and God and death and eternity. It has altered the way I think. This is not fiction, but it IS a story, a true story of a true love and of what happened when that true love came into contact with a Truer love. If you haven’t read it, you should. And take your time with it. It’s short, but not a quick read. It’s meant to be sipped, not gulped, but you won’t be wasting your time on it, I promise.
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
What I read in between sips of A Severe Mercy. It couldn’t be more different. This book is hard to explain. It’s basically Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for the digital age, and if you are fan of pop culture from the ’80s or if you grew up playing Nintendo, you’d find a lot of enjoyment in it. I’ll be honest, it’s not very well-written. It’s got a lot of clunky parts and a couple of unnecessary rants about how God isn’t real and people suck and how we need to accept everyone. These subjects are sometimes interesting in books, but they are so poorly done here that they stand out like a sore thumb. Setting all that aside, though, the contest itself (which is the main portion of the book) is so intricately plotted and excellently detailed that it’s entertaining to read. In other words, this is the book version of an ’80s video game: low quality graphics on a solid game concept that is just plain fun.
I’m looking over this list, and it looks small and bizarrely eclectic. To be honest, I went through a serious reading slump there for a month or two. Let’s just say that lots of early episodes of Downton Abbey were watched (and also the first two seasons of Falling Skies because even when I’m watching TV I like to mix up my genres).
But! There are a couple of great books on this list, so the time wasn’t totally wasted. (Plus, let’s face it, those are really good shows.)
Also, my To Read pile is plump and enticing right now, so I should have some more nice additions in another couple of months. I’m reading Cinder at the moment, on the recommendation of my nephew. Next up: Go Set a Watchman and then The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, followed by about eight more. And frankly, the longer the list is, the better. I have a horrible fear of running out of good things to read.
So. What are you reading? What should I add to my list?