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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

3 Month Reading Wrap Up - Jan/Feb/Mar

My 2014 Goodreads goal is to read 40 books, 10 more than my goal for 2013. So far I'm on track but keeping up isn't as easy as I thought it would be when the weather is so lovely and I want to spend my afternoons frolicking in the grass rather than reading. I'm counting on the winter months to keep me on track. 

This is a reading wrap up for January, February and March. There are a couple that I'm going to write full length reviews on in the next week or so but until then, here's what I've read so far..

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - 5/5
Such a well written novel and a really lovely story as well. The author did a fantastic job of giving each character their own identity and letting them just touch on mixing with each other. I feel like I bonded really well with Park and his age appropriate naivety. Eleanor is a completely different character from a traumatic home who's barely holding it together. A brilliant young adult novel I'd recommend to anyone.

Paper Towns by John Green - 3.5/5
In typical John Green fashion, this book was one that I just couldn't put down. It tells the story of Quentin who's catapulted into the world of Margo, a childhood friend he'd grown apart from through high school. She rocks up at his house dressed in all black in the middle of the night and takes him on a wild night of revenge. The next day Margo is missing and Quentin is convinced that she has left clues for him to find her. The book follows Quentin's search for Margo and the friends he brings with him along the way. The story was great, don't get me wrong, but it was a little anti-climatic for me.

Wallbanger by Alice Clayton - 3/5
I'll be honest, I chose this book because the lead female and I are both Interior Designers so I figured we're kindred spirits. There were so many things I didn't like about this book but the over all story was pretty great. I liked both of the main characters but I hated the way they interacted with each other, the words they said didn't fit in with their personalities and the attempt at dry-wit left something to be desired but underneath the misplaced over-confidence and the occasional annoying creative lack (she was wearing a pink night dress when they met so his uber-creative nickname for her throughout the book was 'pink nighty girl', argh!) the author played out the relationships really well. I liked the pace they moved at and the way the characters fell together. More books from this series are coming out this year and I'll probably read them.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - 4/5
I read Catching Fire after seeing the movie because, like most book-to-movie transitions there were a few things that didn't make sense to me and the book certainly helped to clarify a few key points in the story. Catching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games series and I'll avoid writing spoilers for the first book and just say that I liked it and you should give the series a go if you haven't already.

Dear Girls Above Me by Charlie McDowell - 3/5
Audible recommended this book to me based on my previous listening and I downloaded it blindly with no clue what it was about. Apparently it's based off a successful twitter feed where the author tweets conversations between his upstairs neighbours, two ditzy girls who have the best of intentions but lack the ability to pull it off. The book was okay but some of the conversations just seem too stupid to have actually happened. Maybe I just have too much faith in people but it would be my best guess that most of the conversations are fiction. Either way, it was light and entertaining to listen too.

Breathe by Abbi Glines - 1/5

See that lovely, soft, romantic cover to the left, that was what it looked like when I was browsing through Audible searching for my next listen. When it downloaded, however, the cover had changed to this delightful image:

Should have been my first clue to delete the book and cut my losses. The second clue should have been when I was in Target and picked up the book (still with the original cover) thinking 'wonder why the cover changed' and read the words 'Erotica' on the back. The third and final clue should have been in the first chapter when it's revealed that the lead female is only seventeen. Ick. I'm fine with mild sex scenes in books but the scenes between a 17 year old girl and a 20 something guy just didn't sit right with me. I don't need to know about it. It's a slow story line where a poor house cleaner falls in love with the 'Justin Bieber' of this fiction world and they call each other 'baby' and have sex all the time. That's basically it. The structure of the novel is written to target a much younger audience (12-15) but the content is obviously not appropriate for that age range. All in all I don't recommend.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - 3/5
It took me so long to get into this novel and I think it's because I went in with expectations that no one could have actually met. I've loved the previous two Rainbow Rowell novels I've read and many of my friends had gushed over Fangirl so I started reading and expected to be gripped in immediately. In reality, it's never taken me so long to read a book because I just kept waiting for something to shake me and it never happened. The story was good and in true Rainbow Rowell style, the writing is fantastically structured. I'm probably going to read this book again later in the year because I think it was unfair to me to open the book with the unrealistic expectations I had.

Enders Game by Orson Scott Card - 5/5
I watched the movie one Saturday night and read the novel the next day. This was one of my favourite books in primary school after it was given to me by a teacher. It's has a brilliant core story line of elite, fiercely intelligent children who are trained to secure the world against an alien race. When Ender Wiggin is drafted into the training program his skills make him a leader in school and the battle room. It's a brilliant novel for teenagers, especially for alternatively gifted teens who struggle to fit in. Having said that, it's a great read for all ages and is a fantastic, easy to follow introduction into dystopian reading.

Unwind by Neil Schusterman - 4/5
This book had been on my to-read list for 2013 but I just never got around to it. I'd started reading it a couple of times and then put it back because the opening scenes didn't grab me. Eventually though I settled into it and gave it a good chance to grab me which, low and behold, it did. The book takes place after the second civil war far in the future where parents are given the choice to 'Unwind' their children between the ages of 13 and 18. The children are taken to harvest camps and all of their organs, skin, limbs, etc are taken for donation. The governing bodies in the book insist that it is not death because all parts of the child live on in a different body. The main characters were sent to be unwound and are now on the run. 
The book is told in third person which makes it easy to follow considering I lost count of how many perspectives the story was told in. The only thing I didn't like about the book were the occasional references to present day (such as mentioning a Lakers game). It pulls me out of the dystopian world and back into the real world. But you already know that I'm picky about this one little fault in dystopian stories.

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