Books Read in January

My pledge to read about 70 books and no more is not going to work if I keep finding excellent young adult fiction. Young adult fiction these days is well written, interesting and tends to come in series. I can also read it even faster than “normal” books. Do you want to read more good books without putting in more effort than you do slogging through “grown up” books? Check out some of today’s excellent YA authors. Your local children/youth librarian will be happy to point you in a direction. Or you can try some of the books below.


The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Yep. Read it. Yep. Enjoyed it more as a play. Yep. That’s how it is going to be with this project.

Catherine Fisher
Read for Mock Printz Workshop.

This book contains a great concept: that the prison is alive. This was my second most enjoyed Mock Printz book, though my sentiments were not shared by very many of the workshop participants. Aside from the interesting premise, I also liked that the entire book kept the main characters apart, while still building tension. The ending I did not like as it was clearly a set up for a sequel. My rule is that if there is going to be a series/sequel, it should be a happy surprise, not clearly obvious by the last page of the book.

Ines of My Soul
Isabel Allende
I did not like this book very much and only finished it because it was a book group book. My problems were twofold: First, the conquistadors were incredibly awful people and the book was very violent in disturbing ways that made my want to stop reading. Secondly, I find Allende’s prose rather dense, so I couldn’t just skim though it.

I did enjoy the main character and the fate of a minor character. As I journeyed along the bloody road with Ines, I gradually grew desensitized to the violence. It was much like the movie Fargo. Once I got to the wood chipper scene in that movie I laughed.

In the book group discussion, parallels were drawn between Allende and the main character.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Jonathan Safer Foer
If Dave Eggers handn’t already stolen the description for his novel, I would say this book is a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. After finishing this–the second time through for me–I just sat for awhile, holding the book in my hands. For such a quick and funny read, this is a weighty tome. But while the subject matter gives me “heavy boots” my love for the character can’t help but buoy me.

4th Period English
Judith Arcana
I tripped across this chapbook of poetry while browsing through the library catalog and I picked it for its title. Who wouldn’t? This was a fabulous book of poems from the point of view of people in a multicultural English class. The voices were very different, and held forth on their opinions in a delightful fashion.

The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins
I’m always looking for superhero stories that happen to have girls as the main superhero and I’m happy to report that this book provided me with one. And not just a run-of-the-mill “Green Hornet” type superhero, Katness Everdeen is kind of a Batman of her world. But a Batman with less angst and more questioning And no money. I guess that would make her like a young Spiderman. But without the super powers. Whatever. She’s great. This book has 300 holds at the library even though it was published over two years ago and I can see why. It’s got a great distopian setting, a scrappy main character, several moral quandaries, two love interests and a writing style that kept me reading. It’s one of those books where you better set aside some time to read it because you may be neglecting your chores once you begin.

The Spell Book of Listen Taylor
Jaclyn Moriarty
For most of this book, I was confused as to what was going on. I followed the story well, but couldn’t see why the characters were doing what they were doing. After about 50 pages, I gave up trying to figure it out and just sat back and enjoyed what was going on. There are nice sketches of adults in relationships making bad choices and how it affects the children around them. Also, a compelling portrait of a girl isolated by her former friends. In that way, I found this more adult than Moriarty’s other Young Adult books. Everything is knit together at the end, but I was left with a perplexed feeling. It all seems to have turned out okay, but was it really okay?

Also, this book is funny, as in snort-on-public-transportation, or suddenly-let-out-a-shriek-of-laughter type of funny.

Catching Fire
Suzanne Collins
The second book in the Hunger Games series, I read this one faster than the first one. We rejoin our heroine to find that what saved her in the last book has multiplied her problems in this one. Excellent commentary on media packaging as well as exploration of impossible situations. One thing I like about Collins is that I am always surprised as to what happens. More than once in this book I thought, “Huh. I wasn’t expecting that.”

Started, but did not finish

Tales of the Madmen Underground
This came highly recommended from two people, but I couldn’t get past the mother of the main character hording cats. So back it went.

5 thoughts on “Books Read in January”

  1. Ohhhhh you found the Hunger Games. LOVE THEM! The 2nd one is my favorite and I must admit I actually was slightly disappointed in #3. They are all good though. I love Katniss and I think her name is so bad ass. LOVE IT!!! It surprises me greatly how much I find myself loving young adult fiction – does that make me immature or just young at heart? OR BOTH!!! I recently started reading this series of books called the Shadow Children and for some reason they remind me a little of The Hunger Games. The first one was not quite as drop everything as read but it was pretty goof and got me thinking. You might want to check that series out – just a little tip from me.

  2. wow sorry for all the typos my computer is really lagging tonight – I think my remote keyboard batteries are dying.

  3. Oh yes, I have loved the Shadow Children. I had my 6th graders in those books! Margaret Peterson Haddix is an amazing YA author. You know how I feel about kiddy lit. It is 98% of what I read – and I don't care what is says about me. My goodreads cloud of books always crack me up – it is YA YA YA! A needs to get back on her goodreads – she never posts! Another great reading month! You rock!!!

  4. I concur. YA fiction is SO good right now. Nearly every YA book I've read has been about a billion times better than most adult fiction I've read. I just finished Incantation by Alice Hoffman – hauntingly beautiful.

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