Monday, December 5, 2011

Gift Guide for Readers: Part One

I did a reading roundup at the beginning of this year, and since I’ve been reading up a storm again, I thought I’d do another. But since it’s December, I’m calling it a gift guide this time around:) Some of these books are relatively new releases, some relatively old, but I’ve read all of them for the first time over the last couple of months, so they’re new to me. Hopefully, this will give you a few new gift ideas for the readers in your life. (Oh, and I’ve read too many books to put them all in one post, so I’ll give you part two tomorrow.)

1. THE IRON KING by Julie Kagawa I thought this one started out pretty slowly, but by about two-thirds of the way through, I was hooked. (In other words, if this book had been half as long, it would have been twice as good:) ) However, faeries seem to be really popular right now, and since Ms. Kagawa’s debut is several years old, she’s definitely on top of that trend. I’ve compared every other faerie book I’ve read lately to this one.

2. THE PENDERWICKS by Jeanne Birdsall I won this one on Liesl’s blog a couple of months ago, and it’s a wonderful addition to my collection. THE PENDERWICKS has the timeless feel of a classic, but the writing and characters are fresh and vivid. If I weren’t such a lazy blogger, I’m sure I would have officially recommended this one.

3. SUPERNATURALLY by Kiersten White If you liked PARANORMALCY, you’ll probably like this one. Some of the mundane teenage drama got a little stale for me, but when the paranormal creatures made a reappearance, things got exciting again. Interestingly, I preferred the first half of PARANORMALCY and the second half of this one. (I guess I just like it when Evie’s working for the IPCA…)

4. OPEN by Andre Agassi I did write a recommendation for Andre Agassi’s memoir, so I’ll just refer you to that. In short, I found this to be a fascinating read even if I didn’t always buy that Mr. Agassi was telling us the whole truth. Great gift idea for the nonfiction reader and/or sports fan in your life.

5. KETURAH AND LORD DEATH by Martine Leavitt Here’s another book for which I already wrote a recommendation. I loved this one. I normally don’t buy into deeply allegorical stories, but I thought this one was spot-on.

6. FLIPPED by Wendelin Van Draanen FLIPPED was another of the titles that Liesl gave away on her blog several months ago, and since I’d already heard good things about it, I decided to give it a read. It’s an adorable he-said, she-said romance that targets the lower end of the YA readership. It reminded me of Jerry Spinelli’s STARGIRL (which I absolutely love), so if you’re looking for a cute, realistic gift for the twelve- to fourteen-year-old girl in your life, look no further.

7. LIFE AS WE KNEW IT by Susan Beth Pfeffer An engrossing, albeit haunting, read that explored the immediate aftermath of a major natural disaster. The story unfolds through the main character’s journal entries, and while I kind of outgrew this storytelling style in junior high, I thought it fit the story. I flew through this book and thought it did an excellent job of not straying into melodrama.

8. THE DEAD AND THE GONE by Susan Beth Pfeffer This was a companion novel to LIFE AS WE KNEW IT that looked at the impact of that same natural disaster in an urban setting. For some reason, this one didn’t grab me quite as much. I suspect it had something to do with the new cast of characters, but I'm not sure.

9. THE WORLD WE LIVE IN by Susan Beth Pfeffer This was the final installment of Ms. Pfeffer’s disaster trilogy. (I couldn’t not finish it at this point.) The characters from LIFE AS WE KNEW IT meet up with the characters from THE DEAD AND THE GONE, and they trudge along the harsh road of survival together. Whereas LIFE AS WE KNEW IT did an excellent job of not straying into melodrama, that was kind of all this one was. (For instance, when one of the characters notices that the sky looks a little green toward the end of the book, I thought, “Oh, no. We’re not really going to throw a tornado in here, are we?” But yes, we did.) At least this one had a romance in it:)

10. THE IRON DAUGHTER by Julie Kagawa Whereas THE IRON KING took a while to come up with a fresh storyline, the storyline in THE IRON DAUGHTER seemed unique and different right off the bat. I love it when sequels are better than the originals.

Well, that’s it from me for now. I’ll post part two tomorrow. In the meantime, have you read any of these books, and if so, what did you think? (Or if you've read a great book lately, we'd love to hear about that, too!)


E.R. King said...

I need a Kindle so I can get all of these!!! The Iron King was so good. I thought it had a slow start, too, but then I zoomed through to the end. Great gift ideas!

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

I love that I can rely on you for an honest review, Krista! Thanks for these recommendations. :)

Krista V. said...

E.R., I've debated whether or not to get a Kindle, too, but since I get most of my books from the library, I haven't taken the plunge yet.

You're welcome, Amy! I try to say what I think in the kindest way possible.

LisaAnn said...

So many great ideas... I'm especially excited about The Iron King! Thanks for sharing!

Krista V. said...

You're welcome, LisaAnn!

rosalyn said...

I love the Penderwicks. You know it's a series, right? There are two other books, both adorable. (The latest was released this summer). I'm not sure I liked the second as well as the first and third, but all are well worth reading. I wish there were more of those books: books about ordinary kids doing ordinary things but in such an extraordinary way.

Krista V. said...

Rosalyn, yes, I've heard THE PENDERWICKS has some sequels; I just haven't gotten around to requesting them from the library yet:) And I loved how you summed them up, how they're about ordinary kids doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way. So true.