February books

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: I didn’t love it as much as the friend who recommended it to me did, but I did like it quite a lot. It did take me quite a while to get into, and I only stuck with it because (a) it felt like a payoff book and (b) my friend promised it would pay off. I wasn’t disappointed. Everything came together really well. Um, a brief summary is that the book is about this girl Taylor who is at a boarding school and has to confront her past. I seriously can’t say more without giving away the entire plot, so. Check it out. A quote:

I remember love. It’s what I have to keep on reminding myself. It’s funny how you can forget everything except people loving you. Maybe that’s why humans find it so hard getting over love affairs. It’s not the pain they’re getting over, it’s the love.

A Likely Story Book 1: Likely Story by David van Etten: THIS BOOK. It’s about a girl who WRITES A SOAP OPERA. It is super fun and cute and fluffy and. SHE WRITES A SOAP OPERA. I just…I cannot even capslock that enough. ALSO. Her mom is a soap star and the whole thing is about SOAPS and the main character is living her own soap opera what with being a cheater and having mom drama and all, and I just…SHE WRITES A SOAP OPERA. I was having serious reader’s block when I read this and it totally helped break my slump.

Confessions of a Serial Kisser by Wendelin van Draanen: This was…not that good. Oh, it was totally readable, but I wasn’t that enamored of the character at all. I am glad that it was a fluffy post-divorce thing where she’s obsessed with kissing and doesn’t go around sleeping with boys to dull the ache left in her heart or whatever, but still. Great last line, though.

Oh, also, I was attempting to read Dreams from My Father by [President] Barack Obama, but it got boring and I have too much other stuff to read. I got about halfway through and read enough to know he’s a really good writer even if he did switch to his mother’s POV during one scene (in his memoir. UM). But it just wasn’t keeping my interest.

January books

The Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes: Very fast read about a young girl who gets separated from her brother while in foster care. I found the book lacking in detail where I wanted it, even as Grimes paints a clear, complete picture of everything that happens. Just a little too sparse for my tastes. Delightful read, though.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman: Hey, so, I read this for my reading group (book club for grad students, basically), and you may have heard that it won the Newbery. WELL. Clearly, we are psychic. Anyway, while I was reading the book, I didn’t think I would like it, but when I finished…I realized I did. Here’s my favorite quote from the book:

You’re alive […]. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you’re dead, it’s gone. Over. You’ve made what you’ve made, dreamed your dream, written your name. […] [T]hat potential is finished.

Secret Spaces of Childhood by Elizabeth Goodenough: I had to read this for class, and some of the selections were an absolute chore to get through.

March books

Alice on Her Way by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: This book is part of a super popular series that I have never, ever read (and, honestly, only heard of because of research for my class). That said, I liked it quite a bit. The series does tackle lots of issues. In this book alone there was: sex (Alice goes to a church group, her friend gives a hand and blow job), an abusive relationship, interracial dating, a mention of molestation, etc. And even though the book stood well alone (we decided as a class that it did), you can tell that there were larger conversations about most of these issues ongoing in the series. I kind of want to read them all now, but there are a LOT of books. Maybe I’ll just start with the high school years. That might be a fun summer project.

The Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson: For a book that has such a clever premise (Disney characters come alive after dark; they’re trying to take over the world–Maleficent is the villain in this one), I am sorely disappointed in how cliched it is. The one black kid is a tall, athletic, and angry male? The main girl is so mysterious with a secret and the main (average white) boy can’t quite figure her out? The nerdy (white) boy has red hair and knows everything? The other two girls that are part of the team are completely useless, so much so that they disappear from the action at the end? There’s a character named JEZEBEL who totally manipulates the black kid with her sexiness? I mean, SERIOUSLY? That is totally lame. I read the whole book because I wanted to figure out just where it was going, but I am so, so turned off by the lazy and lame characterization that I don’t even know if I can comfortably give it three stars for being an interesting enough read. The more I think about it, the more I kind of hate it. It’s like Hero in that way.

Princess Diaries 10: Forever Princess by Meg Cabot: I really, really enjoyed this book and thought it was a fitting end to the series. The characters were in fine form, and I loved all of the plot threads and how they came together. Also, I love Tina Hakim Baba and Michael Moscovitz forever and ever and ever. Plus also, Mia was really enjoyable in this book, which is great, because she’s one of my favorite Cabot heroines. So that made me happy. Also again, I learn so much science and psychology reading these books that it’s kind of ridiculous.

You Know Where to Find Me by Rachel Cohn: Oh, this book. I loathed it kind of a lot. First of all, it’s a fat girl narrative, and I hate, hate, hate fat girl narratives. (A fat girl narrative, btw, is a story all about how the main character is fat and she hates herself for being fat and fat, fat, fat, fat, FAT.) By the time I realized I was never going to get that turnaround from it being a fat girl narrative to something more (like in The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things), it was too late, and I was kind of invested in the end of the story. The fat girl narrative is especially troubling because the main character’s cousin is SEVERELY depressed and also skinny. So I really needed her to get over the fat girl thing and be about something else, but she never was! And I just wanted to punch her and the author in the face because it made me so angry.

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex: Hey, so this was super cute and fun, and the main character of the adventure was a BROWN GIRL. Yay, that made me happy! It is kind of absurd and strange because it’s about what happens when aliens take over the Earth and then other aliens come to fight those aliens, but it had great, great commentary on race relations and Manifest Destiny and privilege and also family. Good times.

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott: This book will haunt me for the REST OF MY LIFE. It is so freaking disturbing, omg. I seriously couldn’t put it down, and I doubt I will ever, ever forget it. Ever.