Sunday, December 20, 2015

Books Read, September - October 2015

Note - This was originally posted on another blog of mine, and has been moved here (March 8, 2017)

Recently I've been on a reading binge, courtesy of an accidental Amazon Prime membership. To make a long story short, in an effort to make the most of my Amazon Prime membership, I started reading fiction again, starting with the Kindle First program. Then, I figured out how to access two local library ebook catalogues.

Kissing Mr. Right by Michelle Major - The book that started it all. Well, it was free (isn't that damning with faint praise?). But I found the antagonist's internal monologues annoying and repetitive. The characters are also more caricatures than complex, believable people. Rating: 2 Stars

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion - For a narrator suffering from a major flaw (he's a zombie!), he's remarkably eloquent. Well-written with some interesting thoughts on life, love, and growing yourself as a person (zombie?). Rating: 3 Stars

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy - Teenager Alice is diagnosed with leukemia and everyone, including her best friend who has loved her since childhood, Harvey, and Alice herself expects her to die. Then she goes into remission. The book alternates between Alice and Harvey's point of view, and between Then (when Alice has cancer) and Now (when Alice is in remission). Alice is not a likable character, but she is real. And Harvey is a touching portrait of nostalgia and loyalty, someone you really root for. Rating: 3 Stars

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern - Born with cerebral palsy, Amy hires student aides, including Matthew who struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder, to help get through her senior year of high school. An honest and complex portrayal of young adults, including disabled teens. The only quibble I have with the book is that Stanford doesn't give merit scholarships. Rating: 4 Stars

The One & Only by Emily Giffin - I'm glad I stumbled across this book at the library because Emily Giffin writes lovely character-driven stories. Rating: 4 Stars

Life And Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagan - A Kindle First that is a winner, a story about a woman whose husband comes out of the closet the day she is diagnosed with cancer. It's probably a bit Elizabeth Gilbert (haven't read her books), but enjoyable nonetheless. Rating: 4 Stars

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo - Australian author writes about charming and clever teen girl with a crush on fellow supermarket cashier, a charismatic (but annoying to the me, the reader) college boy. Great discussions about literature and feminism, though. Ratings: 2-3 Stars

I decided I don't likes book series, because even if the first book is poorly written, I feel compelled to read the remaining books just to find out what happened. Then, I'm left feeling like one does after a fast food meal: overly full, leaden, and still unsatisfied. Also, just because a book is a "best-seller" doesn't mean it's any good. Denise Grover Swank's books are cheesy, unrealistic, and over-the-top. It's like the last time I ate a Snickers bar, after I have become used to eating quality chocolate. It was too sweet and I was annoyed I had spent my calorie budget on that instead of on some quality European chocolate. Also: beware of Amazon's suggested recommendations, because they're quite often off the mark. Ratings: 1-2 Stars


Now Jenny Han's The Summer I Turned Pretty series was somewhat more compelling except...the character of Belly did not make sense. I'd still be willing to read some of her other works, though, while I'd avoid the former's other works. Ratings: 2-3 Stars

Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid. I liked this book. I wish I could have been this witty and quick with my repartee as a high school student (is the dialogue even realistic?), but it was fun and honest. Best friends have made a list of things they never will do in high school to avoid becoming cliches, but at the start of senior year, realize that this list may have kept them from fully experiencing high school. Rating: 4 Stars

Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci - A quick read. Realistic high school student dealing with the awkwardness of adolescence and figuring herself out. The plot is fairly predictable, but you root for her. It wasn't a book that I wanted to savor when I finished though. Rating: 3 Stars

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - Ah, I've finally got to the much-hyped Rainbow Rowell book and this woman deserves all the praise she gets! We get away from Beautiful People and instead have real, relatable characters. Finding one's self and path while abused and/or alienated, with the help of young love and a lot of '80's rock. Rating: 4 Stars

The Beginning of Everything by Robin Schneider - I liked this one, told from the perspective of a male protagonist. Yes, the catalyst of change in his life is a manic pixie dream girl, but I liked the literary references. It made me feel like I ought to read those books that usually appear on high school English book lists, but which, for whatever reason, did not appear on my high school English book list. Rating: 3 Stars

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko - A charming book aimed at middle schoolers, set in the 1930s. Rating: 4 Stars

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