I’ve been a bad bad blogger. No posts in almost two months? I barely believe that myself. Time flies! Time flies even faster when you’ve been reading. And I’ve been reading as much as usual–21 books in June, and the same number in May. I’ll never review all those books on this blog, and I’ve never intended to. I review some of those titles for work, for my teens, and most of the time I don’t want to post twice about the same book, even if my audiences are entirely different.
My biggest question today is: what to review first? An impossible question! Here’s some short reviews of some of my favorites, and least favorites, from the past couple of months.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
Read because: 2010 Alex Award winner, possible teen book club selection
Bottom line: I loved this one. This book is not just heartwarming, it’s illuminating. What is it like to live in Malawi(a country I actually had to look up on the Internet because I had no idea where in Africa it was)? What was it like to live through a famine? Just how hard or easy is it to make that windmill on the cover? And my librarian-self loved the bits about Kamkwamba using the textbooks from his teeny tiny library to learn enough to create big things. I am totally making my high school book club read this one.
Ash by Malinda Lo
Read because: It’s a lesbian Cinderella retelling. Who could resist?
Bottom line: It could have been better. It is a slow, quiet story that might have benefited from being read on a rainy day like today rather than the busy atmosphere of the juror holding pen at jury duty in Newark, NJ. Or maybe I’m not a fairytale retelling kind of girl. It’s nice to have a non-hetero option for Cinderella but I would mostly recommend it to lovers of fairytale retellings. Also–not a lot of romance and I swear, some of the reviews made me think there was. Not that I’m into romance. What I’m trying to say is this is not the book for me. But maybe it’s the book for you?
Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines
Read because: Gladiators! Fights to the death! Can it challenge The Hunger Games?
Bottom line: Absolutely! This is the same world as The Hunger Games–it’s a dystopia all its own and it stands on its own. The subtitle of this book is “a novel containing intense prolonged sequences of disaster and peril.” True. Our main character Lyn is the daughter of 7 gladiators, men who participate in the reigning culture of the day. She’s the biological daughter of the first one and all but the last have died in battle. Lyn loves her current father, Tommy, and her mother is unhappy because after marrying 7 gladiators, she will not be allowed to wed again. This is just a slice of the complicated, consumerist gladiator culture they live in. There is less about the fighting in the arena in this novel and more about the brutality of the culture and the expectations of the public for gladiators. Lyn is just a teenager but she’s expected to be more. I loved Lyn and I loved this book.
Infinity (Chronicles of Nick, Book 1) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Read because: I received an ARC from the publisher and I was SO excited.
Bottom line: I can’t give this one away! Sherrilyn Kenyon is a bestselling author of paranormal/supernatural DarkHunter filled adult books. They’re bestsellers, which means maybe the writing isn’t the best but people love them. And she put out a teen book that includes werewolves, zombies, etc.–all the hot character types. How bad could it be? Answer: pretty bad. Sure, the fact that the zombies arise from a video game makes it kinda cool. But everything is overexplained–especially the title. There is WAY too much exposition. Teens may be young, but they aren’t stupid. Add to that a confusing number of intricately connected supernatural characters plus humor meant for middle-aged women (i.e. comparing the chaos of one of the numerous fight scenes to women fighting over wedding dresses at a sample sale) and you get a book that is not worth it. I did read to the end, looking for redeeming qualities. I found none, except for the publisher: it’s currently at number 6 on the New York Times Bestseller list (for children’s chapter books).
I leave you with 4 books. For next week: an update on how my summer reading is going.