Monday, February 11, 2013

14: Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
new: 31st Jan.

I heard fantastic things about this book. I knew it had an unreliable narrator, that it made people cry, and that there are NO SPOILERS ON THE INTERNET (according to Tessa Gratton), but that was basically it. So I gave it a chance.

 I didn't cry. It was terribly heart-wrenching, but I didn't cry.

It's a very well-written, well-paced book. The atrocity of the war (WWII) is kept at arms length, so I could stomach the violence. And the narrator is DEFINITELY unreliable.

...which is probably why I didn't cry. I said on twitter that I must have a heart made of ice since I didn't cry, and twitter agreed with me. SO MANY PEOPLE CRIED. But I didn't. Give me an unreliable narrator and I'll write you a treatise on truth, as I said to Kate Johnston. Because if there's an unreliable narrator, I will refuse to believe that certain things happened.

Take Ophelia's death in "Hamlet" as an example. I FIRMLY hold by my argument that Ophelia was murdered, because Gertrude being there and seeing her drown without helping is miiiighty suspicious. How can we trust that Gertrude's version of events is true, since it happened offstage? (I also just like throwing my Lit class into a furor, as I did when I suggested that Horatio didn't exist and was instead just a figment of Hamlet' imagination. I'm laughing just remembering it. My Lit teacher gave me this look that was half, "you're a genius, no one's ever thought of that" and half "no one's ever thought of that because it's a CRAZYPANTS idea!")

I got sidetracked. Where was I?

Oh, right. I can rant about the nature of truth and perception vs. reality vs. what we're told for LITERALLY HOURS. And Code Name Verity started me thinking about it again, so there might be a post up soon about truth and unreliable narrators. Dunno. We'll see.

In any case, it's a wonderful book, full of clever one-liners, heart-stopping and heart-wrenching moments, and memorable characters.

Recommended for: Anyone who can stomach the violence and understand the context.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

13: Austenland

Austenland by Shannon Hale
new: 29th Jan.

I've become enthralled by The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a multimedia online experience show/thing (click the link, they explain it better) which is based off of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. With episodes only twice a week featuring Lizzie and Darcy adorbs, I needed more.

So, as I am wont to do, I turned to Julia, my friendly neighborhood librarian!

She recommended a whole pile for me, and Austenland was on top because it took longer to find than the others.

I liked it a lot, mainly because it wasn't rewriting the story of Elizabeth and Darcy, but rather establishing that their story existed and impacted the life of the main character, Jane. It was short, sweet, and clever. Exactly what I needed.

Recommended for: people who like adult books, (nothing objectionable!) people who like P&P, people who like books about flirting and kissing but not bodice-rippers.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

12: The Archived

The Archived by Victoria Schwab
new: 27th Jan.

Victoria is obviously a versatile writer, because The Archived is very very different in tone than The Near Witch, her first published novel. They both involve magic and family, but their target audience is different.

Once again, the bond between siblings is a main focus, and it still surprises me that Victoria is an only child. She writes about siblings so well!

Like NW, TA was a very visual story, and I think it would make for an excellent movie. (Or even book trailer. Has anyone made a trailer for this book somehow involving the Narrows? Because I want to see it.)

My only problem was a tiny one. Da. Da is what I call my father. It's a traditional Irish name, but in the book, Da is Mac's GRANDfather, which caused me some confusion when it mentioned Da and Dad in the same sentence.

Other than that, it was solid and I very much look forward to the rest of the series and to everything else Victoria's writing!

Recommended for: mature middle schoolers and up, (there's kissing but nothing else on that front) due to creepy imagery and difficult themes.

Friday, February 08, 2013

11: Shatterproof

Shatterproof, book 4 in Cahills vs. Vespers (book 15?ish in 39 Clues), by Roland Smith
new: 26th Jan.

I think that it may be almost time to retire my interest in the 39 Clues. I love it and all, but it's taking more and more effort to remember who everyone is, and I am just ready for Amy and Dan and everyone else to have a normal, boring life. After all they've seen, they deserve it.

However, the book was good, as usual. I am just too far above the age range to find it interesting anymore, I guess.

THAT MAKES ME SO SAD, but it's a part of growing up.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

10: Shades of Earth

Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
new: 20th Jan.

It has now been two years since I first discovered Beth through Maggie Stiefvater, and I am so happysad that the final book in the Across the Universe trilogy is finally here.

I really want to try and be as spoiler free as possible, because GEEZ does this book change everything and it's so well-plotted and the reveals are perfectly timed and THAT CHAPTER AT THE END WHEN I HAD A HEART ATTACK OMG.

Maybe I should write the rest of this when I'm not going to be fangirling all over it.

Okay, I have calmed down.

Everything the characters did felt completely true to who they were. They acted like real people, with muddied emotions and motivations, and it was so GREAT. There was desperation and love and examples of the best and absolute worst of humanity. This series holds a special place in my heart. (I just typed "head" instead of heart. Typo? Freudian slip? You decide.)

It was lovely. So lovely. (Even though the body count was SO HIGH. SO HIGH.) (And one death I really had a problem with from a story standpoint, though I understood why it happened. I just don't agree that it HAD to.)

This book is DEFINITELY for high school and up. But it's good. :)

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

9: Divide and Conquer

Divide and Conquer, book 2 of The Infinity Ring, by Carrie Ryan
new: 16th Jan.

Note to self: it was a bad idea to read this book the night before a major test on the invasion of France.

It was good. I like this series. I don't like how dependent it is on the online game, but then my complaint about the 39 Clues was that the online stuff wasn't incorporated enough.

You just can't please me, I suppose.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

8: Dear Teen Me

Dear Teen Me, a collection of letters written by authors to their teenage selves
new: 12th Jan.

Some letters were better than others, but it's nice to know that authors were just as awkward in their youth as I am now.

(I liked it but didn't love it, and I've taken too long to write this review so I don't have much to say.)

Monday, February 04, 2013

7: Paper Valentine

Paper Valentine, by Brenna Yovanoff
new: 11th Jan.

I don't think it's possible to overestimate my love for Brenna Yovanoff and her writing. While this book was a bit of a departure from her previous two (I think it almost falls into magical realism instead of paranormal or fantasy) the writing style and gorgeous creepiness was just as good as ever.

I always recommend Brenna's books to everyone, but over time I've realized that although I have SUCH a low violence tolerance, I have a high Creepy tolerance. Brenna's books are too creepy for a lot of people, but it's SO PRETTY that it's worth the creepiness.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

4-6: the Frontier Magic Trilogy

The Frontier Magic Trilogy by Patricia C. Wrede
Thirteenth Child, reread: 9th Jan
Across the Great Barrier, new: 10th Jan.
The Far West, new: 11th Jan.

I describe this series to anyone who sees me with it and asks what's it about as "Alternate history United States, Wild Wild West with magic."

It straddles the line between what is middle grade and what is YA, but towards the end of the third book, it feels more adult in tone.

My one major problem with this series was that there wasn't NEARLY enough kissing. It was completely appropriate for 10 year-olds, all the way through. Of course, this fits in with the time period, but still, I wanted kissing.

What I also wanted was a map. I wanted to know EVERYTHING about everything that was this different version of history. I managed to find one on the author's website, and I was actually really surprised at how far North Mill City was supposed to be. (I did catch that the Mammoth River was the Mississippi, though, so SCORE!)

I hope that there are more stories set in this world, because it was so great and so relevant.

My favorite moment was when a little girl from an ex-slave settlement who practices Aphrikan (African) magic tells the main character that she can't do Aphrikan magic because she's Avrupan (European/white), and the main character responds with, "No, I'm Columbian, same as you." (They live in the United States of Columbia.)

Maybe that requires too much explanation to be relevant to the average reader of my blog? Oh, well, I thought it was great.

This book is highly recommended to people of all ages, since it's appropriate for all of them.