Weekly Recap 1/30/11

Books read this week:

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta – Have I mentioned how I am in love with MM’s writing? :) Review here (Aussie Challenge, Melina Marchetta Challenge, Realistic Fiction)

The Half-life of Planets by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin – I am kind of torn on this book.  On one hand, I really liked Hank.  His Asberger’s made him an interesting and honest character.  On the other hand, I didn’t like Liana much at all.  Her motivations didn’t make sense to me and I really didn’t understand her dad’s hypochondria or the resolution of that story line.  I really felt like Liana’s story was missing something that would have made me relate to her or have empathy for her, but I didn’t. (Romance)

Origins (The Vampire Diaries: Stefan’s Diaries, Bk 1) by L.J Smith, Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec – This was fun.  It was the story that is laid out on the show, so there weren’t any surprises.  I wish I knew who actually wrote the book.  It is actually listed as “based on the books by L.J. Smith and the show by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec.”  The writing was definitely better than the original Vampire Diaries book I read last fall. (First in Series)

In My Mailbox 1/30/11

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi over at The Story Siren. Click here to learn more about it.

Books Received:

  • The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller (PBS FIFO)
  • XVI by Julia Karr (PBS Game)
  • Hero Type by Barry Lyga (PBS FIFO)
  • Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins (PBS FIFO)
  • Being Jamie Baker by Kelly Oram (PBS Game)
  • Bloodlust (Vampire Diaries: Stefan’s Diaries, Bk 2) (PBS FIFO)
  • Spy Glass by Maria V. Snyder (PBS FIFO)

Books Mailed:

  • Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (PBS FIFO)
  • The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan (PBS FIFO)
  • The Half-life of Planets by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin (PBS FIFO)
  • Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder (PBS FIFO)
  • Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder (PBS FIFO)
  • Across the Universe by Beth Revis (PBS Game)

TBR Stats:

  • TBR 1/1/2011: 232
  • Current TBR: 232
  • Books Read: 17
  • Books Received from PBS FIFO: 12
  • Books Received from PBS Games: 8
  • Books Purchased: 3
  • Books Mailed: 18
  • Books Purged: 7

(Clearly I am going to be terrible at reducing the TBR.  One month in and at exactly where I was!  At least the number isn’t going up yet.)

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Description from Goodreads:

Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastians, a boys’ school that’s pretends it’s coed by giving the girls their own bathroom.  Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an an impossibly dorky accordion player.  The boys are no better, from Thomas who specializes in musical burping to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can’t seem to stop thinking about.

Then there’s Francesca’s mother, who always thinks she knows what’s best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, along, and without an inkling who she really is.  Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.

Oh my goodness! I can’t even begin to describe how much I loved this book!  Seriously – I wish these characters were real so I could move to Australia and be friends with them.  The characters were just amazing and their story sucked me in.

I loved Francesca.  She was so realistic as a teenager trying to figure out who she is and where she fits.  I loved that she was pushed out of her comfort zone, forced to make friends with the girls and boys at St. Sebastian, and starts to discover that she likes it out in reality.  She was just a wonderful character that I laughed with, I cried with, and just wanted to be friends with.

I liked Francesca’s family, especially her relationship with her brother.  It was sweet.  For all her dad’s faults, he was trying to figure out how to help his wife and raise two kids.  His grocery shopping accomplishments made me laugh.  I liked Francesca’s childhood relationship with her mother and how being like her mother caused Francesca to learn about herself and grow throughout the book.  And of course, the extended family was great.  I have a big family, so I could see some of the people I’m related to in Francesca’s family.

The girls of St. Sebastian were loads of fun.  I liked that Siobhan, Tara, and Justine did stay in the stereotypes that they originally were in Francesca’s mind – the slut, the activist, and the nerd.  They were really well rounded, pretty normal teenagers.  I liked how much they believed in Francesca even when she didn’t realize it or understand it.

And finally the boys – Will, Thomas, and Jimmy.  Will I loved and hated.  He frustrated me, but I came to love him.  Jimmy was awesome!  I loved how he was completely comfortable in the Spinelli house and brought both Francesca and her mother out of their shells a little bit.  His banter with Francesca was hilarious.  And Thomas Mackee – yum!  I loved his bad boy attitude that didn’t stand the test of time.  I couldn’t help but laugh as he because friends with Francesca and her friends despite his best efforts.

I highly recommend this to anyone.  It was just amazing.  I can’t wait for The Piper’s Son to come out in March for more Thomas Mackee!

Read as part of the Aussie YA Challenge and my Melina Marchetta challenge.

Weekly Recap 1/23/11

Books Read:

Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, Bk 1) by Eoin Colfer – This was fun.  It was definitely aimed towards a younger audience, but it was enjoyable.  I think I will read the next book in the series before deciding if I want to finish the series or not. (Young Readers Choice Award)

Across the Universe by Beth RevisReview here (Debut Author Challenge, Dystopia)

Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise RennisonReview here (British Books Challenge, Printz Award)

Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier – This was okay.  Some of the stories were great and others kind of missed the mark.  I don’t really like short stories to begin with.  I feel like they’re over before the story really begins and I like to get to know characters more than short stories allow.  I’m not really that into zombies or unicorns, but I think I probably landed on Team Unicorn after reading this. (Anthology)

Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, Bk 1) by Louise Rennison

Description from Goodreads:

There are six things very wrong with my life:

1. I have one of those under-the-skin spots that will never come to a head but lurk in a red way for the next two years.

2. It is on my nose

3. I have a three-year-old sister who may have peed somewhere in my room.

4. In fourteen days the summer hols will be over and then it will be back to Stalag 14 and Oberfuhrer Frau Simpson and her bunch of sadistic teachers.

5. I am very ugly and need to go into an ugly home.

6. I went to a party dressed as a stuffed olive.

In this wildly funny journal of a year in the life of Georgia Nicolson, British author Louise Rennison has perfectly captured the soaring joys and bottomless angst of being a teenager. In the spirit of
Bridget Jones’s Diary, this fresh, irreverent, and simply hilarious book will leave you laughing out loud. As Georgia would say, it’s “Fabbity fab fab!”

This book was so stinking funny!  I really liked Georgia.  She was hilarious and I loved her sarcastic take on everything.  I was grateful for the British/American glossary in the back of the book.  It totally helped me understand the humor in some of the things she said.  I am really glad that the “Britishness” of the book wasn’t toned down in the American edition.  That made it a lot more fun.

Georgia’s adventures were not earth shattering (parties, crushes, school, parents, little sister, insane cat), but the way she tells them really makes the story.  Well, the insane cat was kind of outside the norm.  I loved his poodle stalking.

I definitely will continue with the series to see what she gets up to next.  Just the titles are intriguing enough to make me want to keep reading!

Read as part of the British Books Challenge

In My Mailbox 1/23/11

Books Received:

  • Across the Universe by Beth Revis (Amazon)
  • Entangled by Cat Clarke (Book Depository)
  • Other by Karen Kincy (PBS FIFO)

Books Mailed:

  • A Spy In the House (The Agency, Bk 1) by Y.S. Lee (PBS Game)
  • Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore (PBS Game)
  • Will by Maria Boyd (PBS FIFO)
  • Losing It by Keith Gray (PBS FIFO)
  • Unbelievable (Pretty Little Liars, Bk 4) by Sara Shepherd (PBS FIFO)
  • Flawless (Pretty Little Liars, Bk 2) by Sara Shepherd (PBS FIFO)

Current TBR Stats:

  • TBR 1/1/2011: 232
  • Current TBR: 231
  • Books Read: 14
  • Books Received from PBS FIFO: 7
  • Books Received from PBS Games: 6
  • Books Purchased: 3
  • Books Mailed: 12
  • Books Purged: 5

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Goodreads Description:

A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

This book was so good!  I am a science fiction and dystopian junkie, so I was probably predisposed to liking it, but I thought it really lived up to the hype!

The world on the Godspeed was pretty amazing.  The technology was futuristic, but believably so.  The environment was really cool and very well thought out.  The science of the book was great.  The freezing scene right at the beginning was insane and totally made me cringe, but really helped draw me into the book quickly.

I really liked Amy and Elder.  I thought their reactions to the world around them made sense for what they had grown up with.  I liked how Amy struggled to come to terms with living on the ship and that she didn’t conform to the ship’s (well, Eldest’s) expectations for her.  I liked that Elder questioned what was going on around him and didn’t take things at face value even though he’d been brainwashed since birth.

Then there’s Eldest… whoa crazy dictator.  But at the same time, he was really interesting, especially as the reasons for his actions came to light.  Did I agree with the things he did or think they were right?  Of course not.  But it made it more believable because he thought he was doing the right thing.

There was one aspect at the end that I didn’t like too much, but after thinking about it for a while, I’m more okay with it now than I was when it was revealed.  But it’s a spoiler so that’s all I am going to say!

I can’t wait until the next book in the series!

Weekly Recap 1/16/11

I got a decent amount of reading done this week thanks to the snow and ice that gripped Atlanta for several days.  I did have to work from home 2 days and went in to the office for one, but it was still nice to have a change of pace.  Actually getting back to working 5 days a week is going to be hard.  I haven’t done that since two weeks before Christmas!

I made more progress on my challenges this week.  Everything is still fitting into categories for the YA Challenge.  That’s partly on purpose, but I have actually wanted to read the books that I have read.  I read one book by an Aussie author and one book by a British author this week, so those challenges are started now.  I had planned to read a Debut author this week, but the book was delayed because of the weather and I won’t get it until next week.

Books Read:

Trash by Andy MulliganReview here (British Books Challenge, New to Me Author)

Will by Maria BoydReview here (Aussie YA Challenge, Male Protagonist)

A Spy in the House (The Agency, Bk 1) by Y.S. Lee – This was a book that I was unsure about.  I like historical fiction, but don’t love it.  This ended up being a lot of fun!  I really liked Mary and James.  The other characters were interesting, too.  There were times when I felt the language was too modern day, but it didn’t bother me much.  It was hard to put down and I’ll definitely read the next book in the series! (Mystery)

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore – This wasn’t really my thing.  The concept seemed like it could be a lot of fun, but in the end, I found myself reading just to finish the book, not really enjoying it. (First Person)

In My Mailbox 1/16/11

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi over at The Story Siren. Click here to learn more about it.

Books Received:

  • Jump by Elisa Carbone (PBS Game)
  • Teenage Waistland by Lynn Beiderman and Lisa Pazer (PBS Friend)
  • You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin (PBS Friend)
  • The Year Nick McGowan Came to Stay by Rebecca Sparrow (B&N eBook)
  • Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (PBS Game)

Books Mailed:

  • Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by Ron Koertge (PBS FIFO)
  • Visions in Death by J.D. Robb (PBS FIFO)
  • Survivor in Death by J.D. Robb (PBS FIFO)

Will by Maria Boyd

Will by Maria Boyd

Description from Goodreads:

It all started when Will mooned the girls’ school bus. It wasn’t his finest moment. And it’s the last time William Armstrong will sully the St. Andrew’s community, says Principal Waddlehead-er, Waverton.
That’s when a teacher worried about Will’s home situation comes up with an idea. Why not let Will, a talented guitarist, give back to the school in a progressive manner? Why not have him play in . . . THE SCHOOL MUSICAL?
Now Will is stuck in the school production of The Boy Friend. He’s a laughingstock, and he has to give up his weekends for a show set at a girls’ finishing school.
There’s the trombone-playing seventh grader who proclaims himself Will’s best friend and refuses to leave his side. Then there’s the undeniably attractive leading lady. Although she might be in love with her costar, the new football hero (and dazzling singer!).
Sharp-witted, funny, and poignant all at once, this is the story of a boy going through a difficult time who, in a most unlikely way, discovers the person he truly wants to be.

I bought this book on a whim at Borders last summer with very little idea what it was about.  I like books with male protagonists (especially ones with kind of bad attitudes), I like guitars (see the one on the cover?), and I like high school musicals (the tag “Death by High School Musical” cracks me up).  This book was all of that, plus a lot more.

I really liked Will.  I liked that he was really layered.  It kept him interesting.  I like that he screwed up a lot, but really did try to make things right, only to screw up again.  I loved his sarcasm.  His reactions to things felt very real and very teenage boy, which I liked.

Honestly, I liked all of the characters.  I liked how no one was perfect.  I really liked Will relationships with Zach, Chris, and Mark.  I totally loved Zach, especially when he was compared to a puppy because I could just see him bouncing up and down begging for attention.

One thing that I found a bit frustrating about this book was that there were no quotation marks in it.  Instead, dialogue is denoted with bold text.  It was a little hard to get used to and when there were long passages of dialogue between two characters, it made it easier to get lost.  I had to go back to the top and count down the paragraphs to get back on track of who was talking.

Overall, I really liked this and am glad I started my Aussie Challenge with it!

Read as part of the Aussie YA Challenge