First books of summer

3 07 2015

June has been a good month in terms of pages read. I’ve also been reading quite diversely and I managed to get in some Middle Grade too. Also, I haven’t read anything atrociously bad in June, so that’s a definite plus.

The good:Five, Six, Seven, Nate!

Press play (by Eric Devine): An honest and raw story with a good voice, but the book was too long for me. (***)

How it went down (by Kekla Magoon): an all too pertinent book in this day and age, giving us a myriad of voices after the shooting of a black teen when all hell breaks loose. It was good to show us all these different voices, although some of them were interchangeable, and I would have slimmed it down some. (*** ½)

Five, six, seven, Nate! (by Tim Federle): It’s Nate. It has Libby (not enough!). It’s Tim Federle. That’s enough to bring a smile to my face. So much fun again, although it doesn’t surpass Better Nate than Ever. (*** ½)

Since you’ve been gone (by Morgan Matson): I have a thing for Morgan Matson’s books (especially at the start of summer. I always want ice cream after a Morgan Matson book, and I don’t even like ice cream, go figure!). Like her other books, this one too is very entertaining, although also a tad too long (a recurring thing in this month’s reading). (*** ½)

Anything could happen (by Will Walton): I may… have had higher expectations for this debut novel. Still liked it, though. All in all a really decent debut novel about personal growth. (***)

booksiesMore happy than not (by Adam Silvera): Not a perfect book, but a really solid debut. Despite the ‘happy’ in the title, it’s not a ‘happy’ book, of course. I usually like those sorts of books a lot, and I did ‘like’ this one too. I felt, though, that besides the character of Aaron, the other characters were ‘lacking’ a lot. At the same time I realize that that is because of the very specific point of view in this book…a bit of a Catch 22 sort of thing. Probably a 3.5 star book for me: it has an interesting spin on the self-discovery story, which is something that’s been done in films a few times (sort of, at least: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is mentioned in the blurb, but there’s also Memento). (*** ½)

The very good:

One thing stolen (by Beth Kephart): Just like Challenger Deep this book is actually a real struggle to get through. Not because the book is a bad one, far from it (but I can see why this book might not be everyone’s type of book). But because of the emotional depth which is – in this case – so reflected in the narrative voice. Nadia’s illness is woven into every aspect of this book. It’s hard to read. It’s different. But really honest and powerful too. (****)

Kinda like brothers (by Coe Booth): I don’t read a lot of Middle Grade, but this book shows I should read more of it. It’s so honest and unpretentious. Not simple, though. Also, this book worked like a magnet for some of the kids in my classes, and they’re not MG, so the appeal is very wide here. (****)

The return of Zita the Spacegirl (by Ben Hatke): That’s it. Kid and I are through the series. We’ve both loved this ride so much. I think we’re going to start over tonight J (****)

The so-so:

To all the boys I’ve loved before (by Jenny Han): If you think of Lara Jean as 13 rather than 16 then this book makes a lot of sense. It’s light and fluffy and somewhat overindulgent but I can definitely see an audience for this. (***)

Paper Airplanes (by Dawn O’Porter): 4-star beginning but so rushed in the second half. Too much in too few pages: bad families, bad friendships, good friendships, anorexia, school problems…. There’s too much going on so not everything is well developed. Ended very messy too. Adding all of it up and it’s closer to 2.5-3 stars for me. (** ½)

The brain-bending* awesome: Perfectly Good Whiteboy

Carrie Mesrobian is my New Fake Girlfriend.

Perfectly good white boy: This book especially is pretty fucking awesome. It’s easily the most addictive book I’ve read in years. It’s like a drug: you know it’s bad for you, but you can’t stop, you have to stop, you don’t want to stop. You won’t stop. I knew only a few pages in, it would be a winner and boy was I right. There’s no other writer who does sad characters better than Carrie Mesrobian. (*****)

Cut both ways: It was about half way through that I realized that this is probably the saddest fucking book I’ve read in a long long time. Carrie Mesrobian gets into the head of a character and owns that character. She makes you get into the head of that character and feel what that character feels, and Will? Well, he’s a sad sad trainwreck of a boy. So sad.
I like how the author’s note at the end says that we need to work for a world where it’s easier for kids like him. (****)

Can you please write more books, Carrie Mesrobian? Thanks.

* Brain-bending is my new favorite adjective.

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