Yeah yeah yeah, I know we’re already a week into October but here it is finally: September’s reading recap!
I’ve kept finding myself drawn to Emond’s novels because of their covers, (just check out the beauty of Wintertown) but I finally decided to pick this one up after a recommendation from one of my favorite teen patrons.
I’ve seen this book on lists of book recommendations intended for older kids who enjoyed Diary of a Wimpy Kid….and I just have to say it: WTF?! Just because this book is written in journal format and includes a lot of drawings does not make it a Wimpy Kid readalike. The content is much more serious, and there are some pretty mature themes and issues going on.
After a death in the family, Happyface’s dysfunctional parents finally get divorced. His alcoholic writer father moves out, and he and his mom move to a tiny, crappy apartment across town. Seeing this as an opportunity to shed his nerdy gamer image and have a fresh start, our main character gets the nickname “Happyface” and gains a reputation for being a happy jokester, changing himself to please his friends and the girl he likes, all the while hiding his inner pain until it comes slowly comes bubbling out. (I wish I could show you this…but if you lift the jacket flap, there’s an alternate cover with a sad face underneath. Sums this character up perfectly!)
This book was a bit hard for me to read because Happyface reminded me a lot of myself as a teenager, and I’m sure other readers feel the same way. And some people will be annoyed by how angsty he is. I thought Emond did an excellent job of portraying a realistic teenager though, and I liked that everything was not still not quite right at the end.
I got this book for Christmas last year and never got around to reading it. I’d been putting it of because Wonderstruck is the kind of ginormous tome that doesn’t lend itself to carrying around in your bag to read on your lunch break, and I really think Selznick’s work is the kind that should be read in one sitting. So one rainy Sunday afternoon, that’s just what I did.
I have a particular fondness for books that take up multiple stories and weave them together beautifully. Wonderstruck tells the stories of Ben and Rose, living 50 years apart–Ben in Minnesota in the 1970s, and Rose in New York in the 1920s. Their fates collide at the Museum of Natural History after Ben run’s away from home to search for his father.
I wasn’t sure if Wonderstruck would live up to The Invention of Hugo Cabret but it really does. Selznick is able to take his unique, cinematic blend of art and keep it fresh and exciting. The story is heartwarming without being cheesy. I highly recommend this book.
3-9. Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play, Volumes 8-14 – Yu Watase
I finally finished the story! Hooray!
I enjoyed Nova Ren Suma’s middle grade novel Dani Noir, but everytime I read the description of this one I felt a little conflicted. Books about maybe-dead-people are not really my thing. This book got a lot of awards buzz last year in the YA-Lit sphere, but ultimately got snubbed, and I heard a great deal of outrage from its devotees on book blogs. When I realized that this book was actually a work of magical realism, I finally decided to give it a shot.
Chloe and her older half-sister Ruby are inseparable. Best friends. Sister soul mates. Ruby is basically the town’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl Mascot. Everybody loves her, wants to be her, wants to be with her, and she just wants to be wild and free. When Chloe discovers a dead body in the lake at one of Ruby’s parties, her relationship with Ruby changes forever. Chloe is sent away for 2 years, and when Ruby finally brings her back, eerie secrets await.
Beautiful writing. Francesca Lia Block vibes. Intriguing mystery. Graveyards and ghost towns. Loved it.
11. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
This is my all time favorite book and I decided to re-read it for like the 5th time in preparation for the new movie. It was just as special this time as it was the first time and made me feel nostalgic for that time in high school when I was infinite. (P.S. Going to see the movie TODAY!)
12. Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses – Ron Koertge
This is a poetry book with modern takes on classic fairy tales. I was so drawn to this book my the awesome illustrations, but I ultimately disliked it. Some poems were better than others, but most left me scratching my head in confusion. I’m not incredibly well-versed in folk and fairy tales, and I kept wondering that if I were that maybe I would get this book more (as in, is the problem me, or is this book just bad?) and I’m just not sure. If anyone else has read this, I would love to know what you think about it!
Twin brothers Victor and Konrad Frankenstein, along with their cousin Elizabeth, discover a Dark Library filled with eerie volumes about alchemy and the occult hidden beneath their home. They learn that it belonged to one of their Frankenstein forefathers, but their father forbids them to enter it ever again. After Konrad contracts a mysterious illness however; Victor defies his father and finds a book that speaks of a miracle elixir that could cure his brother. After finding an alchemist to assist them, Victor, Elizabeth and their friend Henry embark on a secret quest to obtain the elixir’s ingredients so they can cure Konrad.
I loved the gothic atmosphere of this novel, and the fast-paced adventure quest gave me Harry Potter vibes. I also loved that Victor wasn’t your typical YA protagonist. He’s selfish and hot-headed and frankly, not super likable guy–which makes him really interesting. This was an awesome book and I can’t wait to read the recently released sequel, Such Wicked Intent.