Books read in June 2014

I’m not going to count how many books I read this month.  It was a lot.  It had to do with the fact I front- loaded the picture books for July Librarian Book Group, while reading the picture books for the June meeting in June.  Oh, and also getting completely obsessed with E. Lockheart/Emily Jenkins.  Also, there were a lot of middle readers on the Librarian Book Group list and I found them underwhelming, so I kept putting them down and picking up other things.  Anyway, highlights in each category:

Pictures:
Elizabeth Queen of the Seas
Sparky!
Here Comes the Easter Cat

Middle Readers
I didn’t love any of them.  I didn’t really at all like two of them.

YA
Ruby Oliver Quartet that begins with The Boyfriend List
The Disreputable History of Frankie Laudeau-Banks

Grownup
Mister Posterior and the Genius Child
(yes folks, I just recommended nine books and six of them were by the same author.  Who also wrote a recommended book last month (We Were Liars).  She’s a damn fine writer.

Pictures
Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas
Cox/Floca
Read for Librarian Book Group
I love when books tell me a quirky detail about something I never would have known existed.  This is the tale of a very special member of the Christ Church, New Zealand community.  Incredibly darling illustrations and a great story.  Highly recommended.

Sparky!
Jenny Offill
Read for Librarian Book Group
Hilarious picture book about a girl who picks an unusual pet.  People without access to children should just request this from the library so they can experience five minutes of funny.  Or purchase it, if you would like funny to live in your house.

The Noisy Paint Box
Barb Rosenstock
Read for Librarian Book Group
Picture book of Kandinsky’s life which also discusses his Synesthesia.  Nice story of following your own path.

Josephine
Powell/Robinson
Read for Librarian Book Group
Picture book of Josephine Baker’s life.  I found the text informative and the illustrations sub par.  I would also have liked to see a picture of Josephine Baker in the book itself.

Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey
Bruns/Harasimowicz
Read for Librarian Book Group
Young reader nonfiction about butterfly wrangling.  Interesting.

Gravity
Jason Chin
Read for Librarian Book Group
Picture book explaining the concept of gravity.  Very bright and vibrant.

Here Comes the Easter Cat
Underwood/Ruedn
Read for Librarian Book Group
Adults with no children in your life!  Grab this and read it, just for the five minutes of funny.  Great illustrations and fun for any person familiar with cats.

The Cosmobiography of Sun-Ra
Raschela
Read for Librarian Book Group
Pleasantly weird.

Number One Sam
Pizzoli
Read for Librarian Book Group
I was underwhelmed by this, but I think it would be great for early readers and I’m all for the message.

Letter Lunch
Gutieriez
Read for Librarian Book Group
This concept was so bizarre to me that I put this away to read again later, thinking I had missed something.  But no.  Children go searching for letters, in the landscape, in the store, so they can…Eat them?  I still don’t really get it, but the illustrations were very pretty.

Middle-Reader
Caminar
Skila Brown
Read for Librarian Book Group
Story of a boy in 1980s Guatemala caught in the crossfire of politics.  Told entirely through poetry.  I wasn’t overly enamored of the poetry, but the story eventually grabbed me.

The Riverman
Aaron Starmer
Read for Librarian Book Group
This had a great opening chapter and then went downhill from there.  I had problems with the plot, with the alternate world, with the characters. Probably good for middle school readers who like semi-creepy science fiction.  There’s a boy main character.

Stay Where You Are and Then Leave
John Boyne
Read for Librarian Book Group
WWI fiction!  I’m a fan!  Solid kid-navigating-adult-situations kind of book with interesting (although completely normal) characters.  Good for middle school and up.

Note.  This title is awesome and I would rather it had been used on a contemporary YA novel.  Just sayin’

The Night Gardener
Jonathan Auxier
Read for Librarian Book Group
I really despised this book because the characters spoke in a completely modern way.  Just because Auxier throws in a “dinna” now and then doesn’t make them sound back in the day of the Irish potato famine.  It also was a slog.  However, I’m not sure young readers would be so picky.  So give it to anyone who likes a strong sister/brother narrative, creepy happenings and mysterious figures.

Also, I hope the publishing world works through this foil book cover thing rather quickly.  Much like Tease I had to be careful how I positioned this while reading because it reflected light back into my eyes in an uncomfortable way.

YA
And We Stay
Jenny Hubbard
Emily, having suffered tragedy at her high school, is now attending a boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts, home of that other Emily, the dead poet.  Our Emily finds her way through the realities of her existence by writing poems and learning about dead poet Emily.  Having lived in Amherst, I didn’t get a huge sense of place from this novel and I sometimes found the Emily/Emily name thing to be confusing, although this was a satisfying read. Points for including my favorite Dickinson poem, which begins, “This quiet dust..”.  Also, I feel as though the title could have been not so forgettable.

The Boyfriend List
E. Lockheart
Footnotes!  So genius!  Perfect for mapping the mind of a smart and funny teenage girl as well a sneaky way to explain to the reading audience who AC/DC and their ilk is, without stopping the narrative.  I adored this book from the hilarious main character, her loving and somewhat self-absorbed parents, plus the very real female friendships.  The back-and-forth jumping around in time chronology was sometimes hard to follow and I got confused about who the various boys were, but I think that made the experience that much more authentic.  This is YA gold!

The Boy Book
E. Lockheart
I read books 2-4 of the Ruby Oliver Quartet in a very short amount of time.  Thus, it all blends together, making three separate reviews impossible.  Instead, I will highlight what I love about this series in total

  • Ruby Oliver is a very fun character.  She’s full of life, and has an iron will that keeps her going through all of her many troubles, some which she brings on herself, some which are dumped in her lap.
  • Footnotes!  They are the perfect way to capture Ruby’s digressive mind.  E-reader alert!  You might get endnotes, not footnotes.  If you read the actual books you will have the joy of actual footnotes right there on the page. The endnotes are annoying to flip back and forth to.
  • Friendship.  Over the course of the four books, Ruby Oliver’s friends wax and wane in a very realistic way.
  • Parents.  Her parents are hilarious, both overly interested in their only daughter and completely self-involved.
  • Funny sayings.  You too will not be able to think about “Reginald,” “Pod-robots” and many other Ruby-isms without smirking.
  • Movie recommendations.  Ruby Oliver loves movies and many of her footnotes are lists of movies that fit a particular category.

The Treasure Map of Boys
E. Lockheart
I read books 2-4 of the Ruby Oliver Quartet in a very short amount of time.  Thus, it all blends together, making three separate reviews impossible.  Instead, I will highlight what I love about this series in total

  • Ruby Oliver is a very fun character.  She’s full of life, and has an iron will that keeps her going through all of her many troubles, some which she brings on herself, some which are dumped in her lap.
  • Footnotes!  They are the perfect way to capture Ruby’s digressive mind.  E-reader alert!  You might get endnotes, not footnotes.  If you read the actual books you will have the joy of actual footnotes right there on the page. The endnotes are annoying to flip back and forth to.
  • Friendship.  Over the course of the four books, Ruby Oliver’s friends wax and wane in a very realistic way.
  • Parents.  Her parents are hilarious, both overly interested in their only daughter and completely self-involved.
  • Funny sayings.  You too will not be able to think about “Reginald,” “Pod-robots” and many other Ruby-isms without smirking.
  • Movie recommendations.  Ruby Oliver loves movies and many of her footnotes are lists of movies that fit a particular category.

Real Live Boyfriends
E. Lockheart
I read books 2-4 of the Ruby Oliver Quartet in a very short amount of time.  Thus, it all blends together, making three separate reviews impossible.  Instead, I will highlight what I love about this series in total

  • Ruby Oliver is a very fun character.  She’s full of life, and has an iron will that keeps her going through all of her many troubles, some which she brings on herself, some which are dumped in her lap.
  • Footnotes!  They are the perfect way to capture Ruby’s digressive mind.  E-reader alert!  You might get endnotes, not footnotes.  If you read the actual books you will have the joy of actual footnotes right there on the page. The endnotes are annoying to flip back and forth to.
  • Friendship.  Over the course of the four books, Ruby Oliver’s friends wax and wane in a very realistic way.
  • Parents.  Her parents are hilarious, both overly interested in their only daughter and completely self-involved.
  • Funny sayings.  You too will not be able to think about “Reginald,” “Pod-robots” and many other Ruby-isms without smirking.
  • Movie recommendations.  Ruby Oliver loves movies and many of her footnotes are lists of movies that fit a particular category.

My Life Next Door
Huntley Fitzpatrick
Fairly normal teen romance with daughter of uptight trust fund state representative falling for second son of very large family next door.  A goodly amount of interesting wrinkles made this a fun read, though I never doubted what the ending would be.  I also couldn’t help nothing that the author is the mother of a large family and couldn’t help but wonder how many of the snide comments made to the mother of the large family in the book were comments she has experienced herself.

Addendum.  In posting this review I noticed a sequel is in the works and found myself much more excited than this review might indicate. And I think this book is sneaky that way.  It seems to be pretty standard, but in the end it’s compelling.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Laudeau-Banks
E. Lockheart
I’ve put off writing this review because this book hit every one of my “perfect” buttons and the main reason I loved it, I can’t even tell you because it will spoil the plot.  But here are the things I can tell you about.  I love Frankie:  Smart.  Beautiful by way of awkward, so she’s aware of the difference.  Really spot-on writing, both from the adolescent perspective and layered adult commentary, which doesn’t overwhelm the plot.  Various hijinks.  A lot of main character processing and observing.  Fun with words.  Made me want a sequel, while simultaneously hoping that Lockheart never writes a sequel because this book is so perfect as a stand-alone.  When I told the librarians I was obsessed with E. Lockheart’s Ruby Oliver they all squealed that I must read this book.  And they were right.

Grownup
Macbeth
Wm. Shakespeare
Bad dude.  Badder lady.  Looking forward to seeing the stage play.

Mister Posterior and the Genius Child
Emily Jenkins
Who’s on an E. Lockheart/Emily Jenkins kick?  Me!  That’s who!  Told from the perspective of Vanessa, a third grade girl at a private school called Cambridge Harmony, it was so chock full of solid detail and observations it immediately transported me from my summer vacation, right back into the school year that had just ended.  I felt like I was back at work again.  Yet I persisted.  This book was funny, in a “safe for public transportation” way meaning you will smirk, but the guffaws will be kept to a minimum.  I also loved the adults’ reactions to Vanessa’s actions and comments as they tell you much more about what the adults are wrapped up in.  This was a really solid novel.

One thought on “Books read in June 2014”

  1. I have the BF list in my possession, but have a book in front of it in the queue. I know that I will need to be able to devour it, so I am chilling a bit before I fall in to the hole! Plus, I seems to have reader's block and a vast need to nap each day! Oh Summer Sara

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