Mini Book Reviews: Summer Fiction

August 23, 2012

noreturn  heaven  verity

Parents are too easily frightened by the world their children live in. We have to protect them from harm, keep them safe as long as we can, no matter how we feel about them. It’s our duty.

The Girls of No Return by Erin Saldin: Set in Idaho at the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area, The Girls of No Return is narrated by Lida who has been sent to the Alice Marshall School because she has a Thing. I have mixed feelings about this book. Mainly because most of the other girls at the camp are far more interesting than Lida. In fact, I spent most of the book wondering why on earth Lida was telling the story. I will say, though, that Saldin does pretty deftly show why Lida’s story is important when the climax and resolution occur. And I thought it was cheating that Lida’s Thing isn’t revealed until really late in the narrative.

On the plus side, the story was beautifully written and easy to read. Loved the setting. LOVED. The wilderness just sounds beautiful and awe inspiring. I wish Saldin had used the majesty of the setting even more. Especially because Lida talks about feeling so good out in the wilderness. And! I want to know how that translates into her life after Alice Marshall, especially since the framing device is her writing about the events after the fact.

Source: Library

It’s like being in love, discovering your best friend.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: Ah, there is so much I want to say about this book, most of which is spoilery. I will say that it took me a long time to read/finish (maybe because I was in end of the semester hell), and I almost put it aside. But when I got to that line about best friends, I had to finish. I just had to.

I’m glad I stuck with the book. The plotting is ace, and I found myself flipping back and forth from the end to the beginning to pick up clues I had missed about some of the twisty elements. I love that this book looks at non-traditional roles of women in the war effort (on both sides) and how it plays with expectations. Mostly, I love it because it’s about best friends and their fierce love for one another.

Also, it just cannot be said enough that war sucks so hard.

Source: Borrowed from a member of book club

“I’m going to tell you a secret. Our lives are shaped by the future, not by the past. Once you decide how you want your life to be, all you need to do is live into that future.”

Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall by Wendy Mass: This book was a lot darker than I thought it would be (the cover and title are cutesy), but I enjoyed it so much. Told in verse, the story recounts Tessa’s life through different items she got from the mall (where both of her parents work). Hanging in the balance between life and death, Tessa has a lot to learn about herself and how she wound up in a coma from a dodgeball accident.  That makes it sound heavy, but it’s really not. Everything is handled with a light touch and, while I understood Tessa’s disconnect, she wasn’t hopeless as a character or narrator.

I love Tessa. She’s so flawed and honest. The way she feels about her family and the way they treat her are brought out in really interesting ways. The book also has one of the best opening lines ever, endorsed by Judy Blume. So there’s that.

Source: Library

If I couldn’t name it, would I even know what it is? Would I even feel it at all?

Matched by Ally Condie: I am on a dystopian fiction hiatus, but this was a book club choice. I enjoyed it for what it was. I mean, making it a romance with a bonafide love triangle was the certainly the way to go to keep my interest. So I appreciated it for that alone. I also appreciated that this book is more like The Giver in its setting (we’re keeping you from pain!) than some of the darker dystopian fiction that’s out now (kill all the children!). That said, I won’t be seeking out the other books in the trilogy.

Oh, and I’m Team Xander. Obviously. Although I have nothing against Ky.

Source: Library

matched  dictionary  princesses

“It was a mistake,” you said. But the cruel thing was, it felt like the mistake was mine, for trusting you.

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan: Gah, this is a book experiment done right. The book chronicles a relationship in the form of dictionary entries, in alphabetical order. I love this book so hard. I love that it’s non-linear. I love that it’s heartbreaking and painful and joyous. I love it. Love, love, love it. Such a great read.

Source: Library

The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes: I read this book a while ago, so I’m iffy on the details, but I know it deals with the aftermath of a bad accident which left one friend exiled to France, one disabled, and one physically unscathed. I had a hard time with this book, though there are things I like about it. Mainly, the girls’ focus on being elected Homecoming Queen and campaigning for it and how much the mother cared and that they were preparing for it their WHOLE LIVES just never connects with me–mostly because that’s so opposite of the experience I had in high school. Any book/movie/TV show with that sort of popularity contest at its core makes me roll my eyes, unless it’s played for ridiculousness. I do appreciate that the main character is over it all, but all the role playing and campaigning and angst about it with the perfect hair and perfect boyfriend stuff just…whatever.

But, on the plus side, this is a book about the impact of an inspiring English teacher and I can’t help but love that kind of plot/character. Not that I’m biased or anything. And! It’s about female friendship! So another mixed feelings book.

Source: Netgalley

nowandzen  alanna  laura

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce: My first Tamora Pierce! Ever! I was underwhelmed by the book, and I’m not sure if I would’ve loved it as a kid. (Probably.) Everything just moved kind of fast, and I didn’t really care about Alanna that much. In that sense, the book felt more like a plot outline, especially because the characterization was so flat. The premise is so cool, though.

Off the Shelf: 6/30

Source: My shelf

Now and Zen by Linda Gerber: Story of a Japanese-American girl who goes to Japan and finds herself. Liked the look at Japan. Everything else was pretty forgettable.

Off the Shelf: 5/30; POC Reading Challenge: 5/25

Source: My shelf

I mean, if my mother were introducing us she would say, “My daughter Jill, the actress. My son Douglas, the musician. My son Dennis; would you like to hear him do the Anacin commercial?”

But when she got around to me, what could she say? “And this is Laura. She’s twelve.”

And This Is Laura by Ellen Conford: Ellen Conford is so great! She takes this idea of a girl who feels invisible in her family, gives her a special gift (she’s psychic! maybe!) and then still manages to make it all so realistic and like it’s happening right next door. So, clearly, I need more Ellen Conford in my life.

Off the Shelf: 4/30

Source: My shelf

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  1. Vasilly

    I love the quote from Code Name Verity! You’re right about The Lover’s Dictionary being a book experiment done right.

  2. A Modern Girl

    I really enjoyed the Song of the Lioness series when I was a kid. Alanna: The First Adventure was ok, but I *loved* the sequel, In the Hand of the Goddess.

  3. Cialina

    The Lover’s Dictionary is one of my favorite books ever. I feel like you get something different out of it every time you pick it up.


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