I decided to read the Alice books because a have a few of the later ones in my collection at work and I have always heard that these books were challenged quite a bit in their heyday and wanted to see what they were all about. I really loved Alice. She is incredibly genuine and hilarious. I would have loved reading these books when I was in middle school. I'm kind of sad I missed out. One of the most common things I see in reviews of this series are that Naylor is so out of touch with today's generation that it makes it hard to connect with Alice. This is fairly true. The series started in 1985 and she's still writing books for this series I believe the final book will be released this year. I really hope they re-package this series for a later generation because they really are fabulous.
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
Another really cute book for middle schoolers. This is a graphic novel about Callie who is in her middle school's theater tech crew for the production of Moon Over Mississippi. It follows her through the drama of the production as well as plenty of boy drama and other general middle school drama. Callie can be kind of annoying at times but aren't all middle school girls? I love Raina's graphic novels. They are skillfully drawn with girls in mind and her characters are always funny and relatable. I also really love how questioning sexuality is presented in this book. It isn't a big deal or made into a problem it's just there which is awesome.
It's almost impossible to talk about this book because it gives away the ending of Anna Dressed in Blood so I'll talk about Anna Dressed in Blood haha. These books are about a teenage ghost hunter named Cas who is a lot like Sam and Dean from Supernatural. He inherited his job from his dead father and has a knife called the athame that he uses to send bad ghosts on to wherever it is they go. He tracks the ghost Anna down in order to do his job and ends up making friends with a geeky witch and the popular girl at the high school. The tag line for this book "Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story..." is definitely attention grabbing but I found it to be a little misleading. While Cas is definitely smitten with Anna it definitely isn't a paranormal romance. The story is more horror and Anna is a kick ass ghost who kills anyone who walks into the victorian house she haunts. She rips a guy's spine out at one point in the book. The second books finishes off what the first book starts and goes into the history of the athame a lot more. They are really great reads. I read the first book and listened to the second one and I really hated the voice of the narrator and would have got the book instead but I needed something to listen to in the car. It was really bad though so I don't recommend that.
The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle
This book completely surprised me! I found it while checking in the new books at work and I always look over the descriptions to keep myself up on what's in the collection. Here's what the book description says, "Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world. But the real world comes to her in this dystopian tale with a philosophical bent. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound. Something murderous is out there. Amish elders make a rule: No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man, she can’t leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s barn—at what cost to her community?"
I laughed heartily at the description. An Amish vampire book? How is that supposed to work? But it was actually pretty perfect. It is well written and truly suspenseful and terrifying. These are not sparkly vampires* -- they are 30 days of night vampires ripping humans to pieces. I loved it and think it is definitely worth a read because it is a breath of fresh air in this world of vampire romances.
Katie's development throughout the book was great. She is a strong, confident female character. She questions why she believes (or should believe) what she does and doesn't blindly follow the Amish way of life.
I don't know a lot about the Amish nor have I read any of the popular Amish fiction but I felt the book had a really great mix of the two genres. When I wasn't immersed in the bloody vampire stuff, I was just reading about Katie's Amish way if life; her chores, their beliefs, her thoughts on the outside world. It made me want to do some more research about the Amish.
*Note I think this is the second time I've dissed the sparkly vampires. I'm sorry friends. It's not that I have anything against Twilight. I've read all the books and own the movies, but seriously paranormal romance is sooo over in my book. I'm thouroughly enjoying monsters for what they should be -- scary monsters.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And other concerns) by Mindy Kaling
Another book I listened to. There are many people who thought Mindy's voice was annoying and not well suited for an audiobook, but I loved it! I love Mindy Kaling so it didn't bother me at all. This is definitely just a cute funny collection of biographical stories. I love listening to this kind of book when it's read by the author and Mindy didn't disappoint. The stories range from her childhood to how she became a writer for The Office. It's not the funniest thing I've listened to, nor was it life changing but it was a fun read and again I love Mindy Kaling so yeah, I enjoyed it.
Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield
This book is about Anna battling her inner-demon, Tyranny through an eating disorder. I picked this up because I was weeding my collection and this book came up on my list. I saw that it was a fairly short graphic novel and I read it in a good thirty minutes to see if I wanted to keep it. It was definitely geared towards younger girls but was very truthful about negative body image and having an eating disorder. When Anna thinks she has her act together Tyranny comes back and pushes her back down. I decided to keep it on the shelf a little while longer because we have other books on eating disorders but not a lot geared towards a younger crowd nor one that is in the graphic novel format and sometimes to need to see the deterioration of someone to understand what they are really feeling when it comes to body image.
Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different by Karen Blumenthal
I decided to start the reading challenge done through the YALSA HUB blog. I'm reading the five books for the non-fiction award shortlist and the five books for the Morris award short list. This was my first book to read for the non-fiction list.
This is a really great biography written for teen readers. It was a quick read and I learned a lot about Steve Jobs that I never knew. It was cool to read about the behind the scenes things that brought some of my favorite technological devices to life.
Another audiobook I listened to. The world-building in these books is AMAZING! If you like to be thrown into a completely new world by reading a book these are for you. Incarceron is a prison and the books go back and forth between what is happening with characters in the prison and what is happening with characters outside of the prison. The main characters are Claudia, the warden of the prison's daughter and Finn, a prisoner in Incarceron. Incarceron itself is a very important character as the prison is all-knowing and ever-changing to the detriment of the prisoners. It's really hard to put these books into words. I spent a lot of time working through the story in my head trying to figure out what was going on because it was soo crazy (in an awesome wonderful sort of way). Did that make the book appealing at all? I hope so haha.
After the Snow by Sophie D. Crockett
This book was sooo difficult for me to read. It was the first book I read for the morris award reading challenge (This award goes to a debut young adult author). I spent the first part of the book hating it. I complained like crazy about it. However, after all of my grumbling throughout the whole book, the end was pretty good.
The book is set in a future ice age where the world is heavily controlled by government. Willo and his family has managed to live off the grid his whole life, his father calling them "beacons of hope." The story starts with Willo's entire family disappearing and he has to figure out what to do. It's very much about survival in the cold at the beginning of the book. A lot of it inside Willo's head, which I really found unenjoyable. I found this part of the book really boring and slow moving and Willow has a really unique backwoods hick dialect that was really hard for me to get used to. The second part finally started getting better introducing the reader to more of the dystopian society and the pace of the book picked up, I was fully invested in the story by the third part and it had a pretty solid ending. It's not a bad book, just not one I really enjoyed. The story is really unique which I liked I just can't say that the end of the book made up for the slow beginning for me. If the pacing were consisten throughout the book I think it would be a much stronger story.
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