Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Reading Roundup

I’ve read quite a few books since Christmas. My loved ones were under strict orders to get me MATCHED and ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, and they didn’t disappoint. Then I made the mistake of requesting all the books I hadn’t wanted to request before Christmas right after Christmas, and they all came at once. So here’s a reading roundup of all the stuff I’ve read in the rough order I read it, with a few thoughts on each.

1. ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins I thought this book was more than worthy of all the buzz it’s gotten. The only reason I didn’t officially recommend it is because the characters engage in some activities that I would never want, say, my kids to do, and I didn’t want somebody picking up the book on my recommendation and then coming back and saying, “But these kids drank beer! And they kissed a lot!” So the kids drink. And they kiss a lot. But other than that, ANNA was a great read.

2. BEHEMOTH by Scott Westerfeld I think I meant to recommend this book and just never got around to it. Like LEVIATHAN, the first book in the series (which I did recommend about this time last year), BEHEMOTH took some time to get going, but the world and characters were as lush and well-developed as I remembered.

3. THREE RIVERS RISING by Jame Richards I wrote a recommendation for this book last month, right after I finished it. In sum, I thought Ms. Richards nailed the flood itself, but I didn’t see the reason for the verse in this novel-in-verse.

4. TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson This is the latest in the acclaimed Wheel of Time series, a set of sprawling epic fantasies that manage to pay homage to J.R.R. Tolkien without completely plagiarizing him. Robert Jordan passed away before he finished it, so his wife commissioned Brandon Sanderson to do just that. I enjoyed TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT, but probably not quite as much as THE GATHERING STORM, the previous book in the series and the first written by Sanderson. Only one more book to go!

5. THE CLOCKWORK THREE by Matthew Kirby I picked up this book after reading Myrna’s recommendation and after remembering that the agent who sold it, Stephen Fraser, was one of the agents I interviewed last year. Although I kept waiting for the plot to develop into something bigger than it did, I enjoyed the world Mr. Kirby created and his cast of characters.

6. THE CANDIDATES by Inara Scott This is another one of those boarding-school-for-kids-with-superpowers kinds of books. I found it perfectly adequate. If you enjoy that sort of thing, you’ll probably like this one.

7. PLAIN KATE by Erin Bow Plain Kate is the daughter of a woodcarver, and her unearthly skill in that craft leads several of the townspeople to believe she is, in fact, a witch. The world, which reminded me of nineteenth-century Eastern Europe, was both vivid and a little sickening. PLAIN KATE was beautiful in its prose, but haunting and slightly disturbing in some of its subject matter (which, again, is the only reason I didn’t recommend it).

8. DEAD BEAUTIFUL by Yvonne Woon And here we have another boarding-school-for-kids-with-weird-things-going-on book. I thought both the boarding school and the romance in this story were more fully fleshed out, but in spite of that (or maybe because of it), DEAD BEAUTIFUL felt too derivative for me, too Harry Potter meets Twilight (right down to some of the descriptions of the male lead).

9. THE REPLACEMENT by Brenna Yovanoff If someone ever makes this book into a movie, it better be Tim Burton. Ms. Yovanoff’s imagery and description were just so Burtonesque, but not in a bad way. That said, this was the only book of the ten I didn’t finish. Although the writing was quite good, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

10. MATCHED by Ally Condie Oh, the long-awaited MATCHED. I saved this one for last because I was so excited for it, and in some ways, it didn’t disappoint--but in other ways, it did. Honey Bear actually read this one first, and he didn’t like it much at all. I liked it more than he did, but I could sympathize with his major gripe: There’s not a lot of plot in this book. If you’re expecting things to happen, you should probably just read the SparkNotes and hunker down to wait for CROSSED.

Well, there you have it. Ten books in a little more than six weeks. I’m exhausted, but in a good way:)

What have you been reading lately?


Pam Harris said...

OMG, I heart Anna and the French Kiss--I wouldn't mind recommending that from the rooftops. :) I got Matched for Christmas and I'm trying to squeeze in time to read it. The Replacement will be the next book I buy. :)

Jenilyn Collings said...

I'm reading Elantris by Brandon Sanderson at the moment. I doubt I'll ever get to reading Towers of Midnight since there is a whole lot of pages I'd have to read before it. I did love Behemoth though and I'll have to add some of these others to my To-Read list. Thanks for the recommendations!

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

Let's see. Read Matched and felt a lot the way you do. (My husband agrees with yours.) Started re-reading all the Anne of Green Gables books, just because I can and I loved them as a little girl. The writing style is very different from current techniques.

Just finished the Skinned trilogy: Skinned, Crashed, and Wired by Robin Wasserman. Interesting, quick read. Not as well-written as the Adoration of Jenna Fox, but still pretty good. Some objectionable language, so not for everyone.

Carol Riggs said...

Good for you--look at all you've read! Thanks for the informative reviews. Have a great week.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Pam, it sounds like you and I are reading a lot of the same things:)

Jeni, I haven't tried any of Brandon Sanderson's other things. What of his stuff would you recommend?

Kayeleen, I hadn't heard of the Skinned triology. (Or maybe I had and I just forgot...) I might have to check them out.

Carol, you're welcome!

Michael G-G said...

Now I have even more reason to love your blog, Krista. I appreciate your honesty in your reviews, pointing out things you felt didn't work. I see so many reviews which gush--I can understand this; no one wants to offend a fellow writer, and our children's lit. world is like a small town: lots of peoople know one another. Kudos to you, then, for pointing out, always respectfully, the things which fail to delight you, be it plot, characterization or subject matter.

word ver. is loyers, which sounds like people you don't want to fall afoul of...

Liesl Shurtliff said...

My husband also read MATCHED and had similar feeling as your husband. I get it, I guess there just wasn't enough action, but I appreciated a quiet, more poetic dystopian.

Liesl Shurtliff said...

Oh, I didn't share what I'm reading!

THREE CUPS OF TEA by Greg Mortenson. Really beautiful and inspiring.

CHASING VERMEER by Blue Balliet. She's a Chicago author and the book is set in the neighborhood I used to live in. It's kind of like DaVinci Code for kids, a very fun middle-grade mystery.

Shari said...

There is just nothing quite like an incredible book, is there?

I just finished the last one in Nora Roberts' Bride Quartet series, and I was legitimately sad to see it end. The characters have become like friends over the course of all four novels. I'm going to miss them!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Michael, such a kind comment. Thank you.

Liesl, is THREE CUPS OF TEA the one about the fellow who decides his life's work is to build schools in developing nations? If so, I've heard of that one. I should definitely check it out. I've also heard of CHASING VERMEER, and since I was almost an art history minor in college, it caught my attention. Thanks for reminding me!

Shari, I always feel that way when I finish a much loved series. As cliche as it sounds, I had a hard time closing the back cover of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. I couldn't believe it was over.

Honey Bear said...

Liesl and Kayeleen, I can see that you both married wise men.


Honey Bear said...

I forgot to add that right now I'm reading whatever my professors tell me to read. One has us reading a suprisingly engaging textbook on organizational leadership. The other professor has us reading all kinds of articles about how groups of people have been oppressed in US public schools.

In addition to my homework, I'm reading several volumes of scripture.

Thanks to my schooling I don't have time to read many novels. I made an exception for Matched (because I just had to see what kind of book lands a million dollar advance) and Towers of Midnight (because I enjoy that series for the most part and really liked the last one). I must say that if that book gets a $1M advance somebody needs to pay my wife at least $2M for Bob. (kidding, sort of)

Kelly Bryson said...

Hey Krista- I read Skinned and it was pretty good. I'm blanking on if there was language in it...
Can I recommend Birthmarked? Excellent dystopian.
I haven't gotten Anna and the French Kiss or Matched yet, but they're on the list. Thanks for the reviews.

Myrna Foster said...

Maybe I could borrow Matched, instead of Paranormalcy? I haven't read that one yet, and I agree with Michael; I haven't read any reviews of Matched or Plain Kate that left room for any sort of imperfection ;)

I think you'd like The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp, by Rick Yancy, if you haven't read it.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Thank you, Honey Bear. Your faith in me is unMATCHED:)

Hmm, Kelly, haven't heard of BIRTHMARKED. Adding it to the list!

Myrna, you are absolutely welcome to borrow MATCHED! (I imagine the waiting list at the library is pretty long...) I'll be interested to hear what you think. You should definitely try PLAIN KATE, too, and I'll try THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ALFRED KROPP. Love the title.

JE said...

Wow--woman on a mission! Only one way to get through that reading list, right? ;-)

I've read seven books these past two weeks (I obviously have been writing, teehee)

The Hunger Games series, The Wake series, and Personal Demons. And I started The Marbury Lens, but couldn't finish it.


Krista Van Dolzer said...

Justine, good to hear from you! Wow, seven books in two weeks is a lot better than ten in six:) I've read The Hunger Games and Wake series (serieses? seri?), but I haven't read PERSONAL DEMONS or THE MARBURY LENS.