Sunday, January 28, 2007

Fiction Binge

Since I did manage to read 13 - no wait, 15! - new books since court - I thought I'd list them for myself and share some of my insights (aka completely inexpert opinions) with you. (Note - I read a lot of Young Adult Fiction since I have five readers between the ages of 8 and 16. I think it's as (if not more) important to read what the kids are reading as it is to listen to what they are listening to and to watch what they are watching.) After reading fewer than three books from November to January 18 - here's what I managed to consume in the past 10 days:

YA Titles -
  1. Polly by Amy Bryant - was ok. It was interesting in that it was about a girl and her defining relationships with boys as set against the dc punk scene of the 80's. (Actually, I thought that part was a lot of fun and it had me thinking about music I liked then and helped spark some of the conversation that Chaos and I had but other than that it was dark and her relationships were...icky.) Not really my thing.
  2. The Insiders by J. Minter - totally not at all my thing. Supposedly a teen fiction book - it's about a group of boys and their friendships/relationships as set in the wealthy New York scene. Bleck. The boys sounded like jaded and pompous 20 somethings and their interactions were superficial and strange. It was the worst of all worlds - boring lists of the boys' outfits and descriptions of risky, pointless behaviors with no authentic plot or growth happening.
  3. The Clique by Lisi Harrison - the first in a series that is HUGE with the middle school girls. If you can get past the shopping and fashion crap - then the story of what friendships are made of is pretty well done. Young girl moves from Florida and gets forced onto a clique of girls at a private school who wear $600 outfits, strive to earn gossip points with each other, and think being popular is the meaning of life. I think it ends up being a book of mixed messages but the friendship dynamics are intricate enough to be interesting and somewhat possible to relate to. I would hate it if my daughter used ANY of the girls in this book as role models - but it gives us some good fodder for conversations.
  4. Best Friends for Never by Lisi Harrison - second in the above series. Was hoping for a change but sadly, it's more of the same.
  5. The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart - FINALLY a good book. Well told story of a Ruby Oliver's sophomore debacles - with great footnotes, more than plausible characters and situations, just enough angst and even better - a therapist who sneakily imparts some great lessons. I immediately put this one on the Ninja Princessa's desk (even though it's a bit old for her.)
  6. The Boyfriend Book by E. Lockhart - The second Ruby Oliver Book - and while I liked the first one better, I certainly liked this one enough to hope there's going to be a third.
  7. Girl, 15, Charming But Insane by Sue Limb - chronicle of British teen girl's zaniness. More believable than (but not quite as laugh out loud funny as) Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicholson - I liked it.
  8. All-American Girl by Meg Cabot - same author as the Princess Diaries - this book is totally unbelievable in terms of an ordinary girl saving the President's life, falling for the First Son, and being appointed teen ambassador to the UN - but it is fun in it's far-fetchedness.
  9. Kung Fu Princess by Pamela Walker - is much less about shopping/fashion/cliques (thank heavens) and more about a young girl coming into her birthright. Unfortunately for her that birthright is being a princess of two bloodlines destined to face five ancient enemies imprisoned in cursed gold coins. Cassidy Chen is great and exactly on my 12 year old Ninja Princessa's level.
  10. Wuthering High by Cara Lockwood - was a bit worried to buy a book under the MTV imprint. (Um, Music Television has their own book division??) But! Spoiled and conflicted Miranda won me over. She gets sent to a spooky boarding school for delinquents on an island off the coast of Maine. The literature they read starts to play out eerily in real life and Miranda begins to suspect that Bard Academy is not at all what she expected. Spooky without being truly disturbing - fun without being superficial - this book was surprising.
  11. The Scarlett Letterman by Cara Lockwood - second in the Bard Academy novels and I liked it better than the first because Miranda's character becomes more complicated and interesting. I'll read any more of these that come out.
  12. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan - Fantastic book!! Odd, off beat - cross between a Polyanna Utopian high school and the world as it is - this is a sweet and real story about a gay boy who falls for the new boy in school. The gentle romance - the challenge of navigating high school friendships - the way misunderstandings rupture our plans and sometimes our hearts - all of it is quiet, musing, accessible in Paul's story. I absolutely want all of my kids (and my friends) to read this book.
  13. Forever in Blue - the Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood - I loved it. It's the perfect conclusion for the Traveling Pants books. If you haven't read the first - you should. If you liked the first three and are waiting for this one to come out in paperback - then I don't know what to say other than I think it was worth every penny of the hardback price.
The only non YA books I've read in the past 10 days
  1. Nylon Angel by Marianne de Pierres - Aussie author I'd never heard of - but I think her Parish Plessis is a fantastic cyber punk heroine. De Pierres is a great new voice in the world of speculative fiction. She uses words and labels in intriguing ways and she creates social conflicts that span race, economic strata, and customs. Gritty and slick at the same time - these books helped me out of my wallow.
  2. Code Noir by Marianne de Pierres - second Parish Plessis novel (paperback as of this past summer). Not a stand alone and ends clearly as if there's a third on the way - but I enjoyed it every bit as much as the first.
So there you have it. This is what I was doing while I was not posting. Well, that and watching ESPN. Did you see Serena Williams spank Maria Sharapova? And if you saw that, did you also see the weird commercial with the writer who had a whole trashcan overflowing with crumpled first drafts who then drinks some energy drink? If you saw that, could you please explain to me how those wadded up papers turning into gremlins who attack the writer so that he has to climb walls and chop them with scissors would make someone want to buy that energy drink?!! I didn't understand that commercial AT ALL. Really it was almost as bad as the commercial for running shoes that features two almost dead pieces of road kill talking to each other. Why would talking a half dead rabbit and a smushed bird saying those shoes were cool make you want to buy them? I begin to realize how NOT the target audience I am.

And finally - need I say that I am excited and also despondent that it is nearly Super Bowl weekend? I LOVE the Super Bowl anyway and this year there is a team I really love in it - GO COLTS!!! But damn - only one more game until August?! Sad. Sad. Sad.


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