Book Review: One Lonely Degree

Things don’t always change with a bang. Sometimes they change so gradually that you can’t clearly pinpoint the last moment they were truly the same.

I was super excited to read One Lonely Degree by C. K. Kelly Martin because I really enjoyed her first novel.  Another slice of contemporary realism from Martin, this book follows Finn as she struggles with changes in her family while she battles depression brought on by a traumatic experience at at a party.

What I Liked

– The characters are top notch. They’re all well-developed with clear personalities and their own little conflicts within the text.

– Friendship of the female AND male variety. Also, a slight love triangle, which. If I were still working on my dissertation, I might use this book.

What I Didn’t Like

– Oh my word, this book is BORING. Like, super boring. It starts to pick up in the last four or so chapters and then it’s OVER. Just when it gets interesting. I was so disappointed. I mean, seriously. It is well-written, the characters are well-developed, but it lacks serious oomph. I would put it down and forget about it. And then when I finished it, I seriously thought, “…that’s IT?” The worst part is I kept reading, hoping for that special something that makes realistic fiction so great for me, that identification, seeing some glimmer of interestingness or thinking that’s different, and it was just boring.

In conclusion: Tragically boring. I mean, really.

Support Your Local Library: 12/30; YA Reading Challenge: 7/20

Mini Reviews: A Mish Mash

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore: I really liked this book. The premise is…different: a showgirl is plucked from obscurity to sing with a wealthy magician’s automaton. See, doesn’t that just sound different and interesting? There are some shades of gothic here (nods to Jane Eyre, even), and the main character is fun. My only complaint, really, is the romance, but if I just accept the fairytale aspect of the novel, it’s easier to swallow. The only thing I don’t like is that it has a sequel, and I have to wait to read it. Blast and tarnation.

Support Your Local Library: 6/30; YA Reading Challenge: 6/20: POC Reading Challenge: 5/15

Smile by Raina Telgemeier: This was another fun one. It’s a graphic novel memoir about Raina’s orthodontic adventures after she trips and breaks her two front teeth. Oh, and, of course, her adventures through middle and high school. The illustrations are great, and I love, love the coloring. The dialogue is authentic and, wow, middle school. I mean, it’s painful enough without having extra orthodontia issues, and Telgemeier really gets into the shifting relationships and societal expectations of those in between years. Bonus! The author also did the graphic adaptations of the Baby-Sitters Club, and you can view some of her webcomics on her site.

Support Your Local Library: 7/30; Graphic Novel Challenge: 1/10

Wonder Woman: Who Is Wonder Woman? by Allan Heinberg:  Wonder Woman has an identity crisis after killing a dude, basically. (Don’t worry; he’s a bad guy.) So there are three different Wonder Womans flying around, but the main one (Diana) assumes a secret identity and joins a task force to find herself. Literally. It’s interesting enough. My favorite bit is probably when Circe confronts Diana about being so concerned with mankind that she neglects the very real issues of violence and poverty women face in their day-to-day lives. Easy read, nice graphics. My daughter did complain about the extra-sexiness of the drawings, so.

Support Your Local Library: 8/30; Graphic Novel Challenge: 2/10

The Dream Book: Symbols for Self-Understanding by Betty Bethards: The most useful part of this book for me was the dream dictionary in the back, but that’s only because I already read Jeremy Taylor’s book, and a lot of the same information is covered. Bethards’ book is less dense and faster to read, but it also tends to be kind of foofy in places. (I’m not making light or fun, but she talks about her spirit guide and uses that kind of language, and I find it foofy, for lack of a better word.) So it was a nice, complementary read to Taylor’s book.

Support Your Local Library: 9/30

Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin Van Draanen, narrated by Tara Sands:  Sammy Keyes is awesome, her grandmother is awesome, and her best friend is awesome. She is predictable and unpredictable all at the same time. My daughter and I listened to this one on audiobook, and the narrator is great. Believable as a twelve-year-old, great variation in voices. We missed some stuff because a few of the CDs were scratched (this is what happens sometimes with library audiobooks on CD), but we were able to follow along easily and enjoyed the humor and the conclusion. Also, the characters are great. Did I mention that?

Support Your Local Library: 10/30; Audiobook Challenge: 1/6

Nice Dreads: Hair Care Basics and Inspiration for Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Locking Their Hair by Lonnice Brittenum Bonner: I already have locs and so does my daughter, but I picked this up just to see if there was any information in here that I didn’t already know from message boards, etc. There wasn’t really, but Bonner has a conversational style that made this book a breeze to read. I would totally recommend it for someone considering locs who has questions about maintenance.

Support Your Local Library: 11/30; POC Challenge: 6/15

Book Review: A Star for the Latecomer

Were there other kids out there whose parents wanted them to be big football heroes, or presidents of the class? The pressure to succeed must be felt by a lot of kids I know. To live up to our parents’ expectations for us, to make them proud of us, to love us. What price do we pay for their love?

A Star for the Latecomer by Bonnie Zindel and Paul Zindel was another library book sale find. I was really intrigued by the tagline (“Her mother wanted her to be famous. Brooke wanted to be in love.”) and the cover. A dancing book! I thought with excitement. A dancing book with a girl who is torn between a boy and dancing and her mother’s dreams and her own!

Yeah, not quite. This is actually a book about a girl (Brooke) whose mother is dying of cancer. Which…not so fun as the story I had made up based on the cover. That said, it is an interesting story of how a girl deals with her mother’s impending death as well as how it conflicts with what she wants for herself. I mean, her mom does want her to be famous, and she does just kind of want to chase after Brandon (for that is the boy’s name).

The book is well-written, but not quite what I wanted to read. Most of Brooke’s turmoil is internal. I don’t feel like she ever really confronts what her mother wants versus what she wants. It’s all about her being sad and trying to audition for stuff so her mom will be happy. Which…okay.  But  that’s seriously the WHOLE book. I would have much rather read about her navigating the tricky emotional landscape of her dead mother’s dream for her and what happens if she doesn’t pursue it. I just think that would have been a more interesting story. As it is, it’s just, you know, all right. Sad to be sure, but just all right.

YA of the ’80s and ’90s: 1; Off the Shelf: 3/5; YA Reading Challenge: 5/20