What are you reading? January 2014

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What are you reading? January 2014

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gen. 2, 2014, 11:37am

New year, new books to read! What are your reading plans for this month?

I finished rereading The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner last night. It's one of my favorite series, so I like to break out the books to reread every now and again.
I'm probably the last person on the planet who hasn't read the Percy Jackson series, but I aim to rectify that this year. Hopefully they are as good as everyone makes them out to be.

gen. 2, 2014, 4:31pm

Eleanor & Park

gen. 2, 2014, 6:29pm

I'm reading Defy by Sara B. Larson. Enjoyable, if not exactly original. It's hard to put down.

gen. 3, 2014, 12:49pm

I finished Fangirl yesterday and absolutely loved it. Maybe things wrapped up a bit too quickly at the end, but that's the only fault I could find with it. I will be looking for Eleanor and Park soon.

gen. 3, 2014, 3:12pm

BookLizard: I considered requesting an e-galley of Defy, but after reading some of the reviews on Goodreads, I decided against it. I hope you like it, though.

Sakerfalcon: I adored Fangirl -- it reminded me so much of my freshman year in college (that first semester was a killer; I was an awkward little thing). Sometimes I wanted to slap some sense into Cath, though, as I couldn't imagine just choosing not to finish a major project on which I had already been given a second chance (though I might procrastinate right up to the very last minute). I really liked Eleanor and Park, but maybe not quite as much as Fangirl.

I finished up Only the Good Spy Young, the third book in Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series, which is ridiculously fun. I was so happy that someone decided to return the last three books in the series yesterday, so I could devour them all at once.

gen. 3, 2014, 6:11pm

5> I'll be curious as to your final reaction on the Gallagher Girls. I've read each installment as it came out on Kindle and found them quite funny (and fun) too but I continue to have some occasional discomfort with the idea of a Junior ROTC for CIA-recruited spies. And on this point, Ally Carter is sometimes a little too approving of the government for my own personal comfort, at least in the later books.

gen. 3, 2014, 10:00pm

I'm in the middle of Fearless by Cornelia Funke. It's been so long since I read the previous book that I don't remember much about it, but so far it hasn't been much of a problem; the story is pretty easy to get back into.

gen. 4, 2014, 4:38pm

5> I loved Defy. I didn't read all of the reviews over on Goodreads, but some of those reviewers were pretty rabid. I don't get it. The description for the book says it's "packed with action, intrigue, and heart-racing romance," so why would you get upset that there's a lot of romance in the book? It tells you that there's a love triangle - that should be a big freaking hint that there will be teen angst. If you don't like love triangles, don't read the book. I liked the book because I thought the love interests were handled realistically and not tied up neatly in a bow at the end. The book doesn't end on a cliffhanger, but leaves room for a sequel. And people on Goodreads were trashing the main character for being weak and crying? SRSLY? I don't want to spoil it like they did, but she had a very good reason to cry, which she did in private. She put on a brave face and did her duty, but broke down and cried when she was alone. To me, that makes her more realistic and human and sympathetic - not weak. And they complained about "the rape-houses." Well, duh. You're not supposed to like them. That's the point. It's like people who complain about The Hunger Games because it's about kids killing other kids.

Is Defy entirely original? No, of course not, but what is? It's similar to Alanna by Tamora Pierce because it has a girl who disguises herself as a boy to join the king's army. It's very similar to Graceling - evil king, etc. But it's not a ripoff of either one of those stories. It's not as good as either one of those, but if you liked them, you might like this.

Editat: gen. 4, 2014, 5:33pm

Just finished Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross. I had a few minor complaints (wraps up a bit too neatly at the end and the poor girl from the provinces fits into aristocratic high society too easily). But overall, it was an enjoyable read.

I'm working my way through the YALSA Morris Award short list. I've already finished In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters. I liked the idea of that book more than the execution. Now on to Charm & Strange by Stephanie Keuhn.

gen. 5, 2014, 9:28am

BookLizard: I'm glad you loved Defy. I guess I should clarify and say after reading both the description of the book and some reviews on Goodreads, I decided not to request it.

I despise love triangles with every fiber of my being, so I try to avoid books that I know up-front have them. For one, they seem so unrealistic (or maybe I am just unaware of all the girls out there who are dealing with more than one boy chasing after them at the same time), and the girl's choice is either obvious from the beginning or she picks the bad boy who treats her poorly rather than the nice guy (generally because the bad boy is hot and gives her all the feels).

It's sad, because I know she's a well-respected author in the YA fantasy field, but I have never really cared for anything Tamora Pierce has written, and I wasn't a huge fan of Graceling.

gen. 5, 2014, 1:30pm

10> Sounds like you made the right choice. I thought the love triangle was more realistic than in other books, but it is a big part of the story, so if you don't like them, you should avoid the book. It just seems to me that a lot of the reviewers over on Goodreads hated the book for what it wasn't instead of reviewing it for what it was. It's a fantasy adventure with romance and intrigue. It's not pure fantasy, so don't hate it for the romance or the minimalist world-building.

The reviews kind of reminded me of how much I disliked The Forest of Hands and Teeth while I was reading it. It was one of the worst vampire books I had ever read. Well, I thought it was a vampire book because it was recommended based on a bunch of vampire books I had read and enjoyed, but it was actually a zombie book. Duh. Once I figured that out, the rest of the book made sense and I liked the sequels even better. LOL. But I didn't trash the book because it wasn't what I wanted it to be.

gen. 9, 2014, 11:19am

A bit in the Gallagher Girls vein (and blurbed by Ally Carter...), I'm currently tearing through The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes about an FBI training program for teenagers with innate abilities in necessary skills in law enforcement to solve cold cases.

The main character Cassie is a born profiler and gets mixed up in an ongoing serial killer investigation. Her class/program-mates are fun, too and one of them puts me in mind of Jasper Dent from Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers.

There is, however, a love triangle - though while I don't usually like these (AT ALL), I'm doing ok with this one because it seems like Cassie is actually thinking about how her actions impact the boys rather than just alternately revelling in and angsting over their interest/attention. Thankfully, we're mostly focused on CATCHING THE KILLER rather than who to make out with next...

gen. 9, 2014, 2:36pm

gen. 9, 2014, 3:27pm

@Carmellunacy: I adored The Naturals and totally agree about one of the characters reminding me of Jasper Dent. I picked up the book, actually, because the premise reminded me a bit of Game, the sequel to I Hunt Killers. Funny you should mention the love triangle -- I actually didn't mind it, since it seemed to take a backburner to the main plot.

Here lately I've been making my way through the Percy Jackson series (I swear, I'm probably the last person on the planet to read them). I thought The Lightning Thief was all right, but I loved the rest of the books in the Olympians series and the first book in the Heroes of Olympus series, The Lost Hero. I'm currently reading The Son of Neptune.

gen. 12, 2014, 8:49am

I'm reading The Keeping Place by Isobelle Carmody. My copy lists it as being Fantasy, but I know in other places it's listed as YA. I'm enjoying it, although it's so huge it doesn't fit in my bag so I'm confined to reading it at home.

gen. 14, 2014, 5:34am

It gets worse on the transportability front - The Stone Key is enormous! But they are all excellent. I can't wait for the last book in the series... I got hooked on the Chronicles in 1998 and it's been an exercise in patience waiting for the conclusion.

gen. 14, 2014, 6:06pm

We've actually had difficulty tracking the titles down - local bookshop is completely oblivious and totally unhelpful - "Who? She's not on the current bestsellers, is she? Is it a new book? No, I don't think we can get that for you." Then tried using Amazon but unfortunately depending where in the world you are on what the books are called (or how they're split - some were split into 2, I think) I've only discovered LT in the last few days, so I'm hoping to have it figured out before I get to the end of this and in time to make sure that I get the right next one - Amazon uk currently lists Wavesong as the fifth book or Dreamtrails which is I think a combined Wavesong and The Stone Key but it also lists The Sending as Book 5 as well - not overly helpful! (I'm wondering if The Sending is the same book by a different name as it's currently unavailable).

Still it's worth it when we do get to read them!

gen. 15, 2014, 12:01am

17> Have you tried Book Depository? Free shipping worldwide.


gen. 15, 2014, 9:36am

#17 When I encounter confusion about series or publication order, I nearly always consult Wikipedia. Amazon and other retailer websites are hemmed in by what information the publishers choose to share (I know this, I work at a publisher). Sometimes the publisher numbers the series in the metadata, but sometimes not, so you may or may not be able to figure out that information on Amazon. Also, Wikipedia often clarifies the differences between UK and US publications.

The entry for Isobelle Carmody may help:


gen. 15, 2014, 10:43am

I've just finished Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. I tore through it - its very drama-intensive - but it doesn't shy away from moral dilemmas like so many "bitchy rich kid lit" novels. I did stumble a bit on the Surprise! Psychic Powers element (WHAT?!), but would be happy to pick up the next (soon!).

gen. 15, 2014, 12:57pm

18> Thanks for the Book Depository suggestion I'll see if they can help with getting the titles I need

19> Thanks for the Wikipedia link- I shall unpick the conundrum before long and get onto tracking down the rest of the titles.

gen. 18, 2014, 10:40pm

Just finished Sarah Dessen The Moon and More now I'm reading Kerstin Gier Ruby Red

gen. 19, 2014, 5:50am

>22 AceHansen: AceHansen - I've got both of those on my TBR pile. Worth bumping up?

I've just started The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli - a historical novel set in Renaissance Florence under the Medici following the life of a young country noble girl who is destined to become the model for Leonardo's Mona Lisa.

I'm enjoying it so far!

gen. 19, 2014, 1:45pm

I've just finished Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I'd give it four stars, or maybe three and a half - it's a quick read and a somewhat aghasty coming of age story. The best comparison I can think of is The Fault in Our Stars.

gen. 20, 2014, 2:42pm

@Carmellunacy - I can't comment on the Dessen title, but if you are wanting a super fun read, Ruby Red will be right up your alley. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole trilogy.

I'm currently making my way through The Ranger's Apprentice series. I finished the first one, The Ruins of Gorlan, which I quite liked, and I've enjoyed the second book (whatever it's called), though maybe not quite as much as the first one. My issue with Middle Grade books is that most of the conflict is external, which means the books generally seem to be plot-centric, as opposed to character-centric. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's not a type of book that I tend to gravitate towards. I'd say if you are a reader who enjoys sword and sorcery-type books with a setting similar to medieval England, these will be right up your alley.
Oh, and this is just a nit-pick, but as a former horse-rider, it bothers me to no end that Flanagan seems to think that the terms horse and pony are inter-changeable, and at one point he called a character's horse a mare, but later referred to it as a he. Sometimes it's the little things . . .

gen. 23, 2014, 9:11am

Started this morning City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster, which is intriguing so far.

Ruby Red has been on my list a while--guess I should pick it up!

gen. 25, 2014, 10:52am

Now in the midst of Falling Kingdoms, which I'm finding only ok. The writing isn't great, only fine.

gen. 25, 2014, 5:44pm

I recently gave up on Falling Kingdoms a bit less than half way through. I wasn't at all interested in any of the characters and the constantly shifting perspective wasn't handled well. It broke up the sense of the narrative for me.

Other books I've read this month: Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn - good, Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian - better, a solid 4 stars, and Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos - just ok.

gen. 26, 2014, 8:40am

#28 I made it through but mostly skimmed the last third of the book. I was thoroughly underwhelmed. The writing wasn't great and the characters all felt one-dimensional and uninteresting. While I admire certain aspects of the idea and the execution (there's something to be said for authors who go in the George RR Martin vein and refuse to hold any character sacred), the author just wasn't skilled enough to carry it off well.

gen. 27, 2014, 5:24am

I've just finished Firespell by Chloe Neill, and while I liked the whole Gothic boarding school angle, it seemed like it was pure set-up and not all that much happened...

gen. 27, 2014, 6:29am

Finished Unhinged by A. G. Howard last night. I think I'm the only one really put off by Morpheus in this one. After setting up a huge web of deception and manipulation that almost gets Alyssa killed and leaves Jeb seriously messed up, when she confronts him about it, Morpheus tells Alyssa it's her own fault. And she accepts that! Throughout the story, Morpheus has no patience for Alyssa to feel or want anything other than what he wants her to do or feel - very manipulative and controlling. (Granted Alyssa is being a real wimp . . . ) Call me over sensitive, but I find it scary that so many people think Morpheus is so wonderful. That's abusive behavior. Good intentions don't excuse it. - Rant over.

gen. 27, 2014, 10:55am

>30 Caramellunacy:: I'd have to agree with you about Firespell. The second book is, if anything, even worse on that front. I really liked the friendship between Lily and Scout though.

I've just started The coldest girl in Coldtown and it is great so far, though if I were Tana I'd've left Aidan to his fate!

gen. 27, 2014, 5:57pm

30, 32> Seconded. The plots of all of them have kind of misted together in my mind. They were fun at the time though.

Editat: gen. 27, 2014, 7:30pm

@caramelluncy I enjoyed them, but not bump worthy. I just picked up two of Donna Jo Napoli's. I cried with her at a writing conference a couple years ago. What a lovely writer and human being.

gen. 28, 2014, 9:16am

Having found Shadowplay (the sequel to Pantomime) at the library, I've had to slip that into my reading schedule too. It picks up right where the first book ends, so I'm glad I didn't have too much of a break between books.

gen. 28, 2014, 1:38pm

I loved Eleanor & Park! Unfortunately I could not put it in my classroom because I do not want to get fired. I have lent it to students who I know are mature enough though. The joys of public school teaching.

gen. 28, 2014, 3:01pm

MsHooker: Sometimes I'm really glad that I'm in charge of ordering adult non-fiction, so I don't run into people challenging material, at least not so far. I don't envy you that. What grade do you teach? It's a shame that such a good book and now a Printz honor book, I believe, can't find a place in a classroom library (though I could understand if you were teaching middle school).

I just finished rereading Scarlet in anticipation of the release of Cress next week. I've pre-ordered my own copy, but I've been informed that our library copy is sitting on a cart in Tech Services. I'm really tempted to sneak it out and read it during my dinner breaks.

gen. 28, 2014, 4:56pm

#37 I think you SHOULD sneak it. We'll never tell. *zipping lips*

gen. 29, 2014, 10:15am

I did enjoy Firespell & the friendship between Scout and Lily - I thought the Gilmore Girls and Alias references in the story were a pretty good high-concept mashup to describe the series (aside from the paranormal bit...).

They remind me a bit of the Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampires series though considerably more buttoned up and less vampiric...

gen. 29, 2014, 12:30pm

SaraHope: I was really naughty and I took it home with me and finished it last night. Oh my goodness, it was so good and so many crazy things happened. Ridiculously good fun.

gen. 29, 2014, 4:24pm

#40 Oooh I'm so excited to read it, can't wait! Glad you liked it, and I applaud your naughtiness!

gen. 30, 2014, 5:28am

Shadowplay was excellent; at first I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it as much because it doesn't have the circus setting. But we meet a new group of characters whose stories are even more interesting, and the theatre/magic show background was great. It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I hope the next book comes out soon!

Now back to Coldest girl ...

gen. 30, 2014, 5:29am

So I'm still making my slow way through The Keeping Place and enjoying it, despite my slowness - although this is probably made worse by all the other reading on the side (of physically lighter books - even if the content isn't!), but today I'm starting the audio book of Splintered by A.G. Howard I haven't seen the actual books or any further audio books available locally or heard of anyone else reading them, so I'm curious at the moment - seems like an interesting premise at the moment.

gen. 30, 2014, 7:56am

I teach middle school., 7th and 8th. There are some kids who need this book and I know it is safe to give to them. That is why I keep in in my private collection. Just don't need one of my kids with protective parents grabbing it.

gen. 30, 2014, 2:33pm

This year is the year of the horse, so I am reading the Black Stallion series, one book a month, to combine my Year of the Book reading challenge with my 12 books in 12 months challenge. (Described below.) I had to get crafty with this one and only read books about the Black so that I could get 12 books in the series, which is longer than 12 if you count all of Farley's books.

I'm also reading one Newbery book a month to go with my Newbery Challenge. This month I read Jacob Have I Loved, which I wasn't really all that certain about, but enjoyed anyway.

gen. 30, 2014, 3:20pm

MsHooker: There are definitely some kids out there who can relate to Eleanor's situation and need a book like this one. Way to be a rebel!

Mirrani: I read the heck out of the Black Stallion books when I was a kid. They are lovely books and so well written compared to some of the other horse series that are out there (I'm looking at you, Saddle Club). You are in for a treat.

Last night I finished up These Broken Stars, which was really well done. Pretty much everyone and their brother has done the star-crossed lovers/survival tale, but these authors put a clever spin on things.

Right now I'm working on Laurie Halse Anderson's The Impossible Knife of Memory. I managed to get through three chapters of it while waiting in the drive through line at lunch today (a sure sign your fast food restaurant is not nearly fast enough).

gen. 30, 2014, 5:49pm

Cailiosa, I read the entire series often and have multiple copies of each book, some for reading and some (older covers) just to collect. I don't know what I love more than sitting down and reading Farley's work, though when he gets into aliens I become rather flustered. What's up with that? :p

I have all the movies and the two movie picture books as well, but I much prefer the original books to the movies, with the exception of the first movie, which Farley worked the most on. After that they altered a /lot/ in order to make the films, which I wasn't happy with at all. Interestingly enough, the Black Stallion Returns storybook ("based on the movie") uses the movie's images with the original book's text. Interesting that they chose to do it that way. I have no idea if it was Farley's choice or someone else's.

feb. 1, 2014, 8:44am

>45 mirrani:: That's a great idea, Mirrani! I too read the whole series as a teenager, except for the two that you can't get here in the UK. They are great books, apart from the last one which I agree gets too weird!

feb. 2, 2014, 3:21pm

Mirrani: I am pretty sure that my parents wanted to stab themselves in the eye given the number of times I checked out the first Black Stallion movie from the movie store. It was really well done.
Aliens? I must have missed that. Was that in one of the Black Stallion books or another series?

I finished The Impossible Knife of Memory -- what an emotional rollercoaster ride, but such a good book. I also finished Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick, since I heard it had won this year's Printz award. I'm not sure I would necessarily classify it as a YA book, but it had a lovely fairytale quality about it and I quite enjoyed reading it.

feb. 2, 2014, 4:17pm

Sakerfalcon, which two can't you get in the UK? I actually have most of the series in UK version as well as American. Have you read any of his son's books, continuing the series?

Cailiosa, There are some books where Flame and Shetan (the Black) are in the same story and the aliens come along in a lot of Flame's stuff, so I'm not certain if they're in any of the original series, or only in Flame's stuff, but they're how Flame gets off the island to go to his races, so... *shrug* I don't read Flame's stuff much 'cause it just gets too weird.

feb. 3, 2014, 10:42am

>49 Cailiosa:: The Black Stallion legend ends with SPOILER the apocalypse - the literal end of the world! It's a really weird and disturbing book from what I recall (which isn't much as I never reread that one).

>50 mirrani:: The black stallion's sulky colt and The black stallion's blood bay colt weren't published here; the only reason I can think of is that they are about trotting which isn't a sport here. But why the publishers thought we wouldn't want to read about it anyway beats me. I have seen them in the US but had grown beyond my need to own the whole series by then! I'm not sure the Island stallion spins-offs were very common here either, but I wasn't so interested in them. I haven't read any of his son's sequels; I think Walter wrote that weird ending to Black stallion legend to finish the series in a way that he could never ever be asked to bring it back!

feb. 3, 2014, 6:20pm

He wrote Legend in '83 and he and his son wrote Young Black in '89, so I guess technically Legend wasn't the last one he wrote, though it was the last of the series. After that Stephen has been putting out one or another here or there. I'd never thought to look for the trotter books specifically, but you're right, I can't find a UK publishing of them anywhere. Glad I know it. I won't be upset that I can't find them now. :)