Monday, August 24, 2015

Currently Reading 8/24/15

check out Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readings for the roundups!


Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers: It's crystal clear in this, her first novel, that Courtney Summers has tons of talent, and right off the bat she has the unlikable-teen-girl-protagonist-you-still-somehow-root-for down pat, but the plot was just too reliant on tropes and completely expected. ***

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey: The basic plot is ridiculously predictable and reliant on coincidence, with ideas that have been explored much better a million times before, but the thing that destroyed this novel for me was the character of Evan Walker.  He has to be one of the most repulsive romantic leads I've ever encountered.  A creepy controlling, condescending know-it-all, his problematic treatment of Cassie was questioned, but never actually condemned (because of his gorgeous CHOCOLATE EYES!).  Not a fan. *1/2

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson:  Utterly delightful.  insightful about athletics and friendship in equal measure.  Tons of personality and heart.  ***** 

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King- It's certainly got some flaws (can be unbearably preachy and didactic, the author's voice tends to overpower Glory's at times, the ending is sudden and unexplained, and the romantic elements seemed like kind of a cop-out to me) but the positives most definitely outweight the negatives.  Glory is a fabulous character, and this is one of the most nuanced portrayals of friendship I've ever read.  The dystopian future was unlikely but served as scary commentary on societal mores.  Grief, life change, and family dynamics, (not to mention the often disparate ways in which different people view the exact same things) all handled expertly.  My favorite A.S. King novel. ****1/2

The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds - It's a very sweet story.  I thought the sentence-level writing could have been better, but I get why Reynolds is such a popular new author.  ***

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand: Yes, there are million and one YA books about suicide, but this one is well-worth reading both for the startlingly real examinations of guilt and grief, and the wonderful math-geek-girl protagonist.  ****1/2

One Whole and Perfect Day by Judith Clarke: A lovely little book.  Disarmingly sweet while saying some quite incisive things about family dynamics and racial relations.  One of the more realistic depictions of family drama that I've encountered in a teen book: typical, day-to-day problems, not major deaths and catastrophes (which seem to happen way more in YA novels than in real life).  Heavy on coincidence, but, since such a major theme of the story is our connectivity, it works here. I especially love how we get the viewpoints of so many peripheral characters of all ages which helps build sympathy even when some of them do some pretty rotten things. ****1/2

Read several picture books, these were my favorites:
Spots in a Box by Helen Ward
Wild about Us! by Karen Beaumont illustrated by Janet Stevens

Enormous Smallness: A Story of E.E. Cummings by Matthew Burgess, Illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo
Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea
How to Catch a Mouse by Philippa Leathers

Currently Reading:

Railsea by China Mieville
Anything Could Happen by Will Walton
Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan
How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
Tenderness by Robert Cormier

To read:
Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
Adventures with Waffles by Maria Parr

Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception by Maggie Stiefvater
17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma
The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley


  1. I have yet to read an A. S. King novel. I'm currently reading Roller Girl too and enjoying it tremendously. My 13 year old girl absolutely adored it. :)

    1. Glory O'Brien is my favorite King novel, although all that I've read (4 I think) are very very good.

  2. I LOVED Roller Girl. I wasn't a huge fan of Glory O'Brien. I was definitely a minority in that opinion, though! I liked 5th Wave a little better than you. ;-) I haven't read the second one yet, but plan to. Thanks for your honest reviews!

    1. Glory O'Brien seems one of those books that resonates strongly for some and leaves others cold!

  3. I enjoyed History of the Future, but was put off by some of the futuristic aspects. I agree that this depiction of friendship in all it's complications was stunning. I'm so glad you enjoyed Roller Girl. It's one of my favourite graphic novels so far this year. Now if you haven't been to a roller derby, you have to go. I discovered it is a lot of fun!

    1. We have a very active roller derby team in my town but I've never been! I'm going to try to go to their next bout!

  4. Interesting review of Glory O'Brien. I plan to read it in the next week or two, but I hadn't heard about it being didactic. I look forward to comparing notes! Have a great week!

    1. Didactic is probably the wrong word...I just felt like its condemning of misogyny - although totally great in spirit and super important - got a bit heavy-handed and redundant. But all my quibbles for this book are very small. I loved it!

  5. I am Princess X and Simon vs are great quick reads. Really enjoyed them.

    1. Good to know! I have Simon on audio, hoping to start it in the next day or two. Not loving the narrator for the audio I'm listening to now which makes it hard to finish!

  6. So glad you liked/loved Roller Girl and Glory O'Brien! I found your critique of Glory interesting--next time I reread, I may have a different lens to look through.

    Happy reading this week! :)

    1. Just read your review on Goodreads! Very insightful!


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