Sunday, January 30, 2011

Of faeries and werewolves

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
published August 2010 by Harlequin Teen
304 pages (paperback), YA
YA Reading Challenge

This is the second book in the Iron Fey series, so if you haven't read The Iron King, you may want to skip this review. Meghan Chase has just saved her brother from the Iron Kingdom with the help of Winter Prince Ash and best friend Robin Goodfellow, aka Puck. In exchange for Ash's help, Summer Princess Meghan has offered to go to the Winter Court with Ash. Meghan is practically a prisoner and certainly despised by the Winter Fey, and her interactions with Ash are hot and cold. One minute he's kissing her and about to confess his love and the other he's ridiculing her and speaking to her as if she were scum. Romantic complications aside, the Iron Fey are gaining power even though Meghan had slain their King, which could mean the destruction of both the Summer and Winter Courts. Do they join forces to defeat the unnatural Iron Fey or fight each other, oblivious to the danger about to befall them?

This book started a little slowly for me. I appreciated the recap at the beginning because it had been awhile since I read The Iron King. But once I was about halfway through, I could not put it down. I love this world. I love Meghan's strange powers that I'm still trying to figure out. I even don't mind the little love triangle between Meghan, Ash, and Puck. And Grimalkin! Oh, I was so happy to see him again - that cat had quite a few witty remarks. There's action, suspense, romance, heartache, and comedy - what more could you want?

Four purple crayons from me! I can't resist a fanciful faerie story. :)

P.S. The Iron Queen is out this month!

Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber
published December 2010 by HarperCollins
292 pages (hardcover), YA

Celeste and her two best friends are dating three star athletes - the perfect high school sixsome. They spend their time at games, parties, and the mall, just like any other suburban Eastsider. Celeste has never liked the way the Eastside and Westside students ignored each other, Eastsiders the more privileged, wealthy and snobbish types while the Westsiders were more working-class, down-to-earth and humble. The groups didn't mix. But then Brandon moves to the Westside, and Celeste can't take her eyes off of him. She knows she can't like him, but she does anyway. Especially since he saves her life by warding off a pack of wolves on her snowy, misguided walk home one afternoon. Oh, and by the way, legend has it that werewolves exist in this town.

Like Celeste, I try to find the good in any situation, person, or book, in this case. I really battled with this one. Why was the writing so bland? Why was the story so unoriginal? Why did I even finish reading it? And I finally decided that I was not the target audience. This book would be just fine for middle or younger high school students, particularly struggling readers who still want to read the same kinds of books as their peers. The writing reminded me a lot of what I see in early readers for K-1 students - short, choppy sentences; stilted dialogue; and brief chapters to propel you. But then, what of the plot? The character development? They were both a bore and entirely too predictable. And maybe that's fine for a younger, less experienced in this genre audience, but not at all what I was expecting. 

So, that makes it a two purple crayon book for me.

P.S. The only thing that kept me reading this book was its resemblance to Kirk's movie in Gilmore Girls. The dialogue is eerily similar in style! 


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian
published September 2010 by Scholastic
336 pages (hardcover), YA
YA Reading Challenge

I don't usually use blurbs, but this one said all I wanted to say. From the dust jacket:
Life is about choices, and Natalie Sterling prides herself on making the right ones. She's avoided the jerky guys populating her prep school, always topped honor roll, and is poised to be the first female student council president in years.

If only other girls were as sensible and strong. Like the pack of freshmen yearning to be football players' playthings. Or her best friend, whose crappy judgment nearly ruined her life.

But being sensible and strong isn't easy. Not when Natalie nearly gets expelled anyway. Not when her advice hurts more than it helps. Not when a boy she once dismissed becomes the boy she can't stop thinking about.

The line between good and bad has gone fuzzy, and crossing it could end in disaster... or become the best choice she'll ever make.
This book was good. I can't believe how many negative reviews I read for it, though. Most of them cried the same - Natalie's not a likable or a relatable character. Well, no, she's not very friendly or approachable. She's goal-oriented, with very little people skills and a know-it-all attitude. Reviewers said that made her unbelievable, that they'd never met anyone like her in real life. Really? I certainly have! Especially in a teenage girl who is trying so hard not to let boys and high school drama rule her life. Who wants desperately to be successful - to leave a legacy behind and make a name for herself in all that she does. Who acutely feels the pressure of being a female in a male-dominated society, to the point where she cannot see beyond herself. Yes, I've known (and know still) girls and women like that. Natalie is determined to be assertive in all that she does, and she sometimes fails to see how that hurts others. So, sure, she has flaws, and she is slow to realize them, and we don't really get to see her change her ways, but there are morsels of hope by the end of this book.

One reviewer also said that when dealing with teens and sex, there's no need for subtlety. Others called the book preachy. I don't know that it was either. I suppose I'd lean towards the subtle side. It was complex, that's for sure, and Vivian didn't attempt to explain away all the iffy decisions Natalie and her small group of almost-friends made. There is much room for interpretation and discussion in this book, and that's why I liked it so. The characters were developed just enough that you could guess why they did and said the things they did but not too much that it was spelled out for you.

I wish I had this book in high school. I might have questioned more and thought of absolutes less. Even looking at the title, I cringe when I think about how many times I've probably said those words about myself. So damaging - to myself and other girls. Because isn't that how you say it? I'm not that kind of girl. Like you're better than that girl. You have higher standards, morals, ethics, whatever. And those kinds of girls are all the same, lumped in the same category, on the receiving end of your disdain. Too much measuring, too much hate - let's all just be ourselves and be happy with each other, okay?

Anyhow, back to the book. Another fantastic YA read - goodness, I'm on a roll! Go read it. Have thoughts of your own. Share them, please. :) Four purple crayons from this Natalie.


Monday, January 24, 2011

XVI Winner!

Congratulations to Charlotte of Charlotte's Library for winning a copy of XVI by Julia Karr! 

Your book will go out in the mail tomorrow. :)


Thursday, January 20, 2011

XVI by Julia Karr + Giveaway!

XVI by Julia Karr
published January 2011 by Penguin
272 pages (paperback), YA
Debut Author Challenge ; YA Reading Challenge

Nina is fifteen, going on sexteen. In 22nd century Chicago, for a girl, turning 16 means getting tattooed with XVI on her wrist, broadcasting to the world that this gal's ready for sex, anywhere anytime from anyone. They all want it anyway, right? Well, Nina doesn't. She's not completely brainwashed by the Media. She wants to be a Creative, go to art school, and have a life. But then her life spins out of control, with her family in danger and her views of the world shattered, and what begins as a simple dystopia quickly turns into a murder mystery.

I was initially attracted to this book because of the setting - I'd love to know what Chicago looks like in 2150 in someone else's imagination. I was disappointed that it didn't seem so different from today. I understand that's plausible, I suppose, but I wanted a little more fancy. The technology jargon is different, but the devices are familiar. And the society? Well, we only get glimpses into the government, but what is made very clear is that the Media runs the show.

Nina and her friends have designated themselves private investigators and protectors (of each other). It's not safe to talk unless in a Dead Zone (can you hear me now?), and they have much to puzzle through. What if the government is lying to them? What if Nina's father is still alive? What if embracing life as a sexteen isn't all that it's advertised to be? If I'm not making sense, good. There's not much explanation I could give without retelling the story. If you're intrigued, give it a whirl. It should be a quick read.

For me, I read this book at the wrong time. I forced it, and I shouldn't have. I may have liked it better had I not just read The Sky is Everywhere. But still three purple crayons for an interesting story.

Reviewed elsewhere:
Forever Young Adult ; Fiktshun

I bought this book with the intent of passing it on to one lucky winner. All you have to do is fill out the form! Contest ends Monday, January 24, 2011. Open to U.S. only.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
published March 2010 by Penguin
275 pages (hardcover), YA

Two peas in a pod, but now there's just one - Lennie's lost her older sister Bailey and is slowly spinning out of control. Bailey was the outgoing one, the vibrant spark, the actress, and the racehorse, and Lennie was happy to be at her side, inseparable, sharing stories and secrets. Who is Lennie supposed to be without Bailey? To say that this is a story about grief isn't enough. It's also about quirky families, falling in love at the most inconvenient time, and figuring out how to go on living when Bailey will not.

You have no idea how much restraint I'm displaying right now. I want to jump and shout "Best book ever!" all over the blogosphere and make everyone love this book as much as I did. But I am subdued because it was such an emotional book to read. Ecstatic and exquisite highs of first love and gut-wrenching, heartbreaking lows of loss and abandonment all at once. The writing was beautiful - I can turn to any page and find a quote-worthy passage. Here, I'll show you:
I start to think about all the things I haven't said since Bailey died, all the words stowed deep in my heart, in our orange bedroom, all the words in the whole world that aren't said after someone dies because they are too sad, too enraged, too devastated, too guilty, to come out--all of them begin to course inside me like a lunatic river. I suck in all the air I can, until there's probably no air left in Clover for anyone else, and then I blast it all out my clarinet in one mad bleating typhoon of a note. (p. 84)
Beautiful. But what really pulled me in was the first paragraph. This was when I decided that this book and I would have a long-lasting relationship...
Gram is worried about me. It's not just because my sister Bailey died four weeks ago, or because my mother hasn't contacted me in sixteen years, or even because suddenly all I think about is sex. She is worried about me because one of her houseplants has spots. (p. 1)
Did you giggle? If not, you may not love this book as much as I did. I'm just saying. Because it's not that the story is all that original. People die in books all the time. But the characters are unique, and their interactions are something special.

Joe Fontaine, who we meet in the second chapter, may be my second favorite character to Lennie. He has just moved back to Clover and is a "musical genius" (among other yummy things) who just so happens to be a little smitten with Lennie. Lennie! The same Lennie who eats her lunch up in a tree so she won't have to face the sea of sympathetic faces in the lunchroom, the Lennie who plays her clarinet half-heartedly even though it's obvious she can be a musical genius too, and the Lennie who walks around in a daze, every so often suddenly realizing the gravity of her life without Bailey. Who could like her? Their interactions keep this story from becoming a depressing sobfest. This over-the-top, let's-fall-madly-in-love-in-a-matter-of-days plot line might feel contrived, trying too hard to achieve a false balance, but when I think about times in my life when I've felt that deep, unending grief, I find that love was also magnified. We do try to reach some balance in our lives, as inappropriate as it might seem, and I'm happy for that authenticity in Nelson's writing.

I could go on and on about this book, but I'll save it for a second reading. Yep, you heard right, I'm buying this one, folks.Which makes this a five purple crayon book, one that will find a home on my sparse shelves along with other all-time favorites of mine. Goodness, how I loved it.

Reviewed elsewhere:
Holes in My Brain ; The Page Flipper ; Presenting Lenore ; Fantastic Book Review ; Tattooed Books ; etc.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

MLK Day Read-alouds

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a big deal around here.We have a special section in the library devoted to books about him (because goodness knows there are a zillion books published about Dr. King), and teachers have been checking them out all week. Just in the nick of time, one of my book orders came in today with four new books that I couldn't wait to read and share. :)

Coretta Scott / poetry by Ntozake Shange, paintings by Kadir Nelson
published January 2009 by HarperCollins

I absolutely love the paintings in this book! I love how they take up an entire two-page spread and are vibrant and, in some cases, larger than life. You can see this by the cover alone. The poetry puzzled me. There is no punctuation, which frustrated me and had me stumbling over my words as I read it aloud to myself. The words per page are sparse and let the artwork tell the story too, which highlights Coretta's childhood, marriage, and key events in her life. I learned that she went to school to sing, and the last page has her and Martin singing together cheek by cheek, my favorite painting in the book. So pleased with this book and plan to share it with students when we study the Coretta Scott King Award.

My Uncle Martin's Big Heart by Angela Farris Watkins, illustrated by Eric Velasquez
published October 2010 by Abrams

Yes, this book is written by one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s nieces. And that's what I love about it - its conversational tone and portrait of a man who we all know as someone who did Great and Important things for society but who she just knew as a loving uncle. Love the illustrations in this one too - similar style to Coretta, but what I like most is that many of them are ordinary. There's one of Uncle M.L. asleep on the couch (fully dressed and with shoes!), one hanging out in the backyard with all the kids, and another smiling as he sends a telegram. It's nice to see another side of him, one that isn't so solemn and serious (though of course there's some of that too). This would be a good choice to share with the little ones.

Martin Luther King Jr. by Joeming Dunn, illustrated by Chris Allen
published July 2008 by Magic Wagon

This book is part of a graphic novel biography series, but do not be fooled, it's not a graphic novel. Not in the sense of the word as I know it, at least. While the illustrations are drawn as comics, the story is narrated completely rather than being driven by dialogue. And it's not really a story either, as it's written very much like an informational book about Dr. King, with chapters for his education, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the March on Washington, etc. That being said, I think this will appeal to students who wouldn't normally pick up a biography or any informational text, the students who read comics exclusively (and I have plenty of those), and who will read anything as long as it's shelved in the 741.5s. So now I have a dilemma - where do I shelve it?

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney
published February 2010 by Little, Brown

Oh, how I love this book! I am just consistently amazed by the Pinkney family - they have talent oozing out of their ears, they really do. I think I may have cried when I first read this book. It's so powerful in such a quiet way. Sprinkling Dr. King's words throughout, we are told the story of the Greensboro Four, the first four black students to sit down at a whites only Woolworth's counter and ask to be served donuts and coffee. It tells the story of King's nonviolent, peaceful approach to affecting change, using the metaphor of baking bread. Brian's watercolor and India ink illustrations are a perfect match for this story, but I couldn't tell you why. Perhaps because of the contrast between the delicate watercolors and the harsh black lines - the rightness of blending the two to create something beautiful though not clearly defined. I also love the added material at the end - a Civil Rights timeline, a note from Andrea about her research, and a bibliography of books and websites (selected by ALSC!) to consult "for further enjoyment." Gush gush gush. I love it. Definitely use it with 4th/5th grade students - and be surprised by the great discussions you will have.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Read this week (8)

Though I try not to make a big fuss over the new year, I do like joining reading challenges and read the most for them during these first few months of the year. And so I bring back my abandoned Read this week feature. I only use it when I have a particularly heavy reading week, and I want to jot a few notes down about each book before they all start blending together. This was definitely the case this week, as I started intensely on the YA Reading Challenge.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
published August 2010 by Scholastic
YA Reading Challenge

What's to say that hasn't already been said? I'm so glad I re-read the first two. And someday I know I will want to re-read the trilogy. Yep, it's that good. Admittedly, this third book was my least favorite. But isn't that usually the case with series' ends? The trilogy itself reminds me of the Back to the Future trilogy - first two were fantastic, very similar to each other, and hard to pick a favorite. But the third was a little random - much different setting, different problems, but you can't help but like it because of familiar characters. Mockingjay's storyline was a bit too political for my taste (I don't generally read war novels, much too sensitive for that), and all the killing was hard to read, but the character depth achieved was well worth it. A satisfying end to the trilogy.

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
published August 2010 by HarperTeen
YA Reading Challenge

Will I ever tire of YA paranormal fantasies? Not anytime soon, I suppose. Evie is a sixteen year-old girl working for the government, the International Paranormal Containment Agency, that is. She's gifted with the ability to see through glamours and into monsters, to see them for what they really are, and so she is a rare commodity that this agency has put to good use. Evie's daily life consists of apprehending and putting ankle bracelets on anything from vampires to hags, chatting with her best friend (a mermaid), and watching her favorite teen drama, Easton Heights. She doesn't live a normal teenage life - she doesn't go to high school or have human friends her age or even drive. But she has adventure and plenty of drama and perhaps a little love interest in a newly discovered paranormal who breaks into the agency. Reminded me of the Alexia Tarabotti books because of the action, adventure, and variety of paranormals. Fun, quick, and light.

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
published November 2010 by Little, Brown
YA Reading Challenge

This, for me, was The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks + Speak (both favorites of mine): major girl power surrounded by the very serious issue of date rape. What impressed and startled me most about this book was how calmly Alex reacted to her situation. The book begins with Alex naked in a boy's bed, obviously hungover with next to no memory of the evening before. As the story progresses, she slowly remembers more about that night, with emotional triggers from friends, songs, and smells. Her confidantes are the ones to suggest she has been date raped, and she has to mull over that idea and ultimately decide if it's true. The setting (boarding school) is crucial to this book, as Alex also needs to figure out what action she should take next. Should she call the police? Tell her parents? The school's administration? But there is a fourth option. The Mockingbirds. A secret justice agency created by the students for the students. The more I think about this book, the more I like it. It saddens me that the students are dismissive of the adults in their lives, that they feel like their problems wouldn't be taken seriously by their teachers or parents. But it makes me proud that they are capable and willing to sort them out themselves. Definitely glad I read this one.

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
published December 2009 by Egmont
YA Reading Challenge
Shifter Challenge

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about this book. I didn't know much about the story before I picked it up, so I was surprised that the main character was a preacher's daughter attending a Christian school. I'm usually very aware of faith-related books before I start reading them because it requires me to open my mind a little more and not be so judgmental. But I rebounded quickly and was able to suspend prejudices, if you will, enough to get into the story. Grace is a good girl. The only bad part of her life seems to be Daniel, her childhood friend who disappeared years ago but now is mysteriously back in town to finish high school. Grace is inexplicably drawn to Daniel, but whenever she's with him, strange and dangerous things happen. Secrets abound. Promises are made and broken. And Grace questions her world incessantly. The questioning was tiresome for me. The writing too literal. I wanted more magic and mystique. And the story? Not entirely original and not my cup of tea. But I know many people loved this book and are jumping all over the recently published sequel, The Lost Saint, so to each his or her own.

Phew, that was my reading week. I love it when I binge on books. :) Have you read any of these? What'd you think?


Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 YA Reading Challenge

In 2010, I read 44 YA novels. Not for any challenge. Not for work. Just because. And I don't know if I'm happy with that number. I'm sure I wanted to read hundreds (seriously) more.

So, I'm very happy that Jamie is hosting the 2011 YA Reading Challenge because it will give me a reason to read even more YA. Yay. :)

The rules:
1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.  Create a post about the challenge and link your challenge post up in the linky below.

--Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post.

2. There are four levels:

--The Mini YA Reading Challenge – Read 12 Young Adult novels.

--The "Fun Size" YA Reading Challenge – Read 20 Young Adult novels.

--The Jumbo Size YA Reading Challenge – Read 40 Young Adult novels.

--The Mega size YA Reading Challenge – Read 50+ Young Adult novels.

3. Audio, eBooks, paper, re-reads all count.

4. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

5. The Challenge starts on January 1, 2011 and goes until December 31, 2011.
It's mega-size for me!  I'll list my books as I read them here...
  1. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (review
  2. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (review)
  3. The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney (review)
  4. The Dark Divine by Bree Despain (review)
  5. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
  6. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (review)
  7. XVI by Julia Karr (review)
  8. Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
  9. Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian (review)
  10. The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa (review)
  11. Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber (review
  12. Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles 
  13. Matched by Ally Condie
  14. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
  15. Across the Universe by Beth Revis (review)
  16. Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves (review
  17. Awakened by Kristin and P.C. Cast
  18. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
  19. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
  20. The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa
  21. Delirium by Lauren Oliver (review)
  22. Moonlight by Rachel Hawthorne
  23. Huntress by Malinda Lo
  24. Full Moon by Rachel Hawthorne
  25. The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez (review)
  26. Tell Us We're Home by Marina Budhos (review)
  27. Anathema by Megg Jensen
  28. Oubliette by Megg Jensen
  29. Shine by Lauren Myracle
  30. Stolen by Lucy Christopher (review)
  31. Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
  32. Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
  33. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
  34. Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles
  35. Lush by Natasha Friend (review)
  36. What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones (review)
  37. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
  38. How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
  39. Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter
  40. Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
  41. Cloaked by Alex Flinn (review)
  42. What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
  43. Divergent by Veronica Roth (review)
  44. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

2011 POC Reading Challenge

Last year, I couldn't help but notice the whitewashing of covers, as cases popped up all over the blogosphere. And it bothered me, as it should. But I have to be honest and tell you that I didn't read any of the books affected, and I'm sorry for it. So, this year I'd like to officially join the POC Reading Challenge, "to highlight and celebrate authors and characters of color."

The levels of participation are:
Level 1: Read 1-3 POC books
Level 2. Read 4-6 POC books
Level 3. Read 7-9 POC books
Level 4. Read 10-15 POC books
Level 5. Read 16-25 POC books

I haven't yet chosen a level for myself. It seems too easy to go for Level 1, but if I can review and write honestly about that many books, then I'll be happy. And really, I'm joining more for the discussion and community than anything else.

I'll post books here as I read them...
  1. The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa (review)
  2. Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
  3. Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves (review)
  4. The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa
  5. Huntress by Malinda Lo
  6. The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez (review)
  7. Tell Us We're Home by Marina Budhos (review)
  8. Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan
  9. Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles
Update: Not included here are the tons (tons!) of picture books I read for work. We have an extremely diverse population of students, and I'm always reading them books from different cultures. 


2011 Shifter Challenge

I've given too much vampire love since Twilight came out (6 years ago, really!?), and I think it's time for me to take my paranormal reading elsewhere. I've already ventured into wolf territory on several occasions, but honestly, besides Shiver and Linger, I haven't read too many shifter books that have stayed with me. Thus, I am joining the Shifter Challenge so graciously hosted by Parajunkee's View!

  1. Post about this challenge on your blog stating that you are participating. That post is the link that you will include in the Mr. Linky below. The link should be the post link not just your blog link.
  2. Grab the button and display it in the post (use grab code underneath the button) or on your sidebar so others can join in the fun.
  3. Challenge goes from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011
  4. The challenge is to read 20 books that have a SHIFTER as a main character, either protag or antagonist
  5. There will be a post that goes up for January 1 where you add each book as you read them and discuss books read in the comments
Yep, you read that right. Twenty shifter books! I'll tell you right now that I have little hope of achieving that goal. So, do I pick a number? Or see how it goes? I think I'll start at 5 and take it from there. I'm secretly hoping for 10. :)

I'll list my books here as I read them...
  1. The Dark Divine by Bree Despain (review)
  2. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
  3. Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber (review
  4. Moonlight by Rachel Hawthorne
  5. Full Moon by Rachel Hawthorne
  6. Seduced by the Wolf by Terry Spear
  7. Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
  8. Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer


2011 Graphic Novels Challenge

Another year of the Graphic Novels Challenge, and I'm excited. Although it's not my preferred format or one that I can judge with any sort of authority, I do appreciate the blend of art with words. My students can't get enough of them, so this is for them too.

Last year, I set an unbelievable goal for myself and, of course, did not manage to attain it. This year, I'll stick to the rules, which are as follows:
  1. The challenge starts January 1, 2011 and ends December 31, 2011. You can start anytime you want to especially if you want to start early.
  2. The level of participation: Beginner (3 comics or graphic novels), Intermediate (3-10 books), or Expert (10+)
  3. Overlaps with other challenges is definitely okay
  4. Re-reads count
  5. Feel free to post your list at any time
I'll be going for the Expert level, and maybe I'll even write that many reviews. I'll list the books here as I read them:
  1. Adventures in Cartooning by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost (review at my school library blog)
  2. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Joeming Dunn, illus. by Chris Allen
  3. Copper by Kazu Kibuishi
  4. Bake Sale by Sara Varon
  5. Scary Godmother by Jill Thompson (review at my school library blog)
  6. Lost and Found by Shaun Tan
  7. Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke 
That's all for 2011, folks! No, I didn't meet my goal. I really thought I read more than 7 graphic novels this year... 


    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    December Reading Recap

    Books Read in December

    Young Adult
    Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

    How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
    Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
    Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan 

    Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess by George O'Connor


    I know I read more picture books than that, but I wasn't very good at keeping track of them this month. Oh well. I am pleased at my selection of YA, even though I wish there was more on that list. And if you're wondering about that lonely nonfiction book (because you know I generally steer clear of anything true), I've been a little obsessed with the fashion on Gossip Girl (hello, guilty pleasure!), so I looked up the show's stylist (Eric Daman) and found that he had written a book! The book itself is mostly common sense advice, but I still enjoyed looking at all the outfits he put together. What an artist. 

    And did you see? I read two of the three Hunger Games books this month! (I finished Mockingjay today!) I am so happy that I re-read those books, and you know what? Just as good as the first time. Still five purple crayon books, which is even surprising to me. I am a tough critic, especially when it comes to re-reads, but these were well worth reading again. And I feel like they made me enjoy and understand Mockingjay much more than I would have otherwise. All those surprises people alluded to in their reviews of this final book, I just didn't see. It flowed, and it made sense, and I'm happy for it. But I shouldn't be talking about it here. :) 

    So, my mind is a bit scattered, and I'm having trouble with the words. I'm off to watch some more Mad Men...

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