July reading recap!

Despite all my life craziness this past month, I did manage to get some reading done. Check it out!

1. a+e 4ever – ilike merey

Asher is a teenage boy with an androgynous appearance, an awkward family situation, an an artistic sensibility. The only person at school who can accept his unclear gender and sexuality is Eulalie, a tough girl whose sexuality is also ambiguous. Their relationship provides an interesting look at what it means to be gay or straight, male or female.

This book was recommended to me by the director of my Children’s Lit program, knowing that I was very interested in gender theories. She told me it was one of the most interesting looks at transgender/queer issues and she wasn’t lying! I found that aspect of the book absolutely fascinating. I also found the artwork to be very fitting with the story’s themes–it was often very ambiguous and difficult to see exactly what was going on. That said, it took me awhile to get into the book because it was so difficult to read. The lettering was hard to understand, and the frames were not always traditional and easy to follow. An interesting novel for sure, but not super readable.

2. Page by Paige – Laura Lee Gulledge

After her family moves to New York, Paige finds herself feeling lost. Without her friends and her old home, who is she? Taking her grandmother’s advice, she picks up her sketch book and endeavors to figure that out.

I really liked this book. It was heartfelt and definitely touches on issues that everyone can relate to. It was a little cliche but in a way that I actually found comforting. A fast, engaging read.

3. Wonder – R.J. Palacio

Auggie Pullman was born with a severe facial deformity. Though he’s always been smart, his medical problems have prevented him from going to public school–until now. Auggie’s set to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and hopes to make it through relatively unscathed by the other kids despite his appearance. Told through the voices of Auggie, his sister, her boyfriend and some classmates, Wonder is a book about true bravery and kindness.

This book has been getting a lot of Newbery medal buzz in the librarian/kidlit blogosphere. I took it along to read on my flight home to Colorado and ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting. The buzz is totally earned. This book was AMAZING. 5 stars. I laughed, I got a little verklempt, I was fully absorbed… just plain wonderful. THIS BOOK SHOULD BE REQUIRED READING FOR EVERYONE!

4. Keeping the Moon – Sarah Dessen

I found this old paperback in my old room at my parent’s house. I couldn’t remember anything about it though I must’ve read it in high school. Colie’s mom, fitness guru Kiki Sparks, sends Colie to stay with her aunt in Colby, North Carolina for the summer. Formerly fat Colie has a lot of self-esteem issues, and a bully at school has gotten everyone to believe that she’s a slut despite her virgin status. In Colby, Colie makes some new friends, a sweet guy, and gains learns some lessons about confidence and self-respect.

I gave this book a solid 3 stars on Goodreads. I enjoyed it alright, but it didn’t really wow me. It was a nice summer read, but didn’t pack a huge emotional punch.

5. Divergent – Veronica Roth

I decided to read this book to see what all the fuss was about. Hyped as the next Hunger Games, this one has been flying off the shelves at the library.

In the future, Beatrice Prior lives in a world where people are sorted Harry Potter style into 5 factions. The selfless live in Abnegation (this is where Beatrice is from), the brave live in Dauntless, the honest in Candor, the uber-smart in Erudite, and the kind in Amity. At 16, every teen takes an aptitude test (futuristic new-fangled Sorting Hat!) to learn which faction they would fit best in. Beatrice learns that she has an aptitude for multiple factions, and therefore is Divergent. As the society begins to crumble, she learns how dangerous being Divergent can be.

I had mixed feelings about this one. My main issue was that I found the whole premise kind of stupid. I like my dystopias somewhat realistic–I want them to say something about the real world that we live in. The 5 faction system has no bearing on current societal issues. That said, I still found myself drawn into the plot, wanting to find out what happens.

This book is an excellent read for fans of Hunger Games. When Beatrice (who nicknames herself Tris) joins the Dauntless faction, there’s a lot of HG style fighting and killing each other in order to be initiated into the group. It’s also a fast-paced read. While I found HG’s 13 regional districts more plausible than the factions, the one thing I liked better in Divergent than in Hunger Games was the romance. The relationship between Tris and Four has a lot more tension and ups and downs and just seemed more real. I actually think Four is the most interesting character of all. I’m currently reading the sequel, Insurgent, and I’m glad that it’s providing a bit more background on him.

6. Uncommon Criminals – Ally Carter

Kat Bishop fancies herself a sort of Robin Hood figure–stealing from baddies in order to return things to their true owners. In this sequel to Heist Society, Kat and her criminal crew are asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald to give back to the family that discovered it in the first place. There’s just one problem: Kat gets totally played and is forced to steal the emerald twice. Oh, and did I mentioned that the emerald is cursed? And to top it all off, the romantic tension between Kat and Hale is making shiz totally awkward! Can this dysfunctional band get it together in order to steal the most coveted gem in the world?

This was a fun read, although I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first book. This one got a bit convoluted and I kept finding myself flipping back a few pages here and there to make sure I didn’t miss something. Despite that, I still found it to be a fast, fun story.

7. Scarlett Fever – Maureen Johnson

I’ve been wanting to read this sequel to Suite Scarlett since last summer and I finally got around to it. This picks up right where the last one left off. Scarlett is still reeling after her breakup with Eric and is now employed by Amy Amberson, former guest at her family’s hotel. Mrs. Amberson is an agent and Scarlett is her assistant. Scarlett’s trying to juggle her job and her classes, deal with her actor brother’s new TV role, and put up with her annoying (but perceptive) lab partner who happens to be the brother of Mrs. Amberson’s new star client, Chelsea. To make matters worse, her sister drops a bombshell halfway through the story that threatens to unravel her whole family…

I was a little disappointed with this book. I really loved Suite Scarlett, but this book lacked the same focus. There were a whole bunch of little conflicts, making the story arc less tight, and leaving a lot of loose ends. I was hoping everything would get tied up by the end but nothing really did. It’s clear that there’s going to be another book, because none of the problems in this book got solved. I’m eager to find out what happens, and I’m hoping that the next book is more satisfying.

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One Response to July reading recap!

  1. Jessica says:

    I can’t believe how much you read! I am so jealous!

    I’ve always loved Sarah Dessen. She’s a really great young adult lit writer!

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