Friday, October 31, 2014

Review Me Twice: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley

You know how when you're a kid, you can watch the same handful of movies over and over and over and over until you can recite the whole thing by heart? Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is the adult version of that for me. I love that movie. I've loved it since the second I sat down in the theater to watch it for the first time. I've loved it every single one of the at least a hundred times I've watched it since then. I just love it.

So I finally got around to reading all the books. And I love them too. Which should be no surprise if you're familiar with the fact that the movie is one of the most faithful adaptations ever made. There are so many scenes pulled straight from the book and put straight up on the screen; it's really a testament to Edgar Wright's ability to direct.

Scott is not - in my opinion - a lovable character. He's a little worse in the books than he is in the movie (unless you hate Michael Cera, but I don't). But I feel like it's an important part of the story. Scott doesn't have his life together so he has to sort it out (while working his way through fighting Ramona's evil exes).

These are really clever books. They appeal to my tragically Canadian sensibilities. (In-joke!) There are a lot of little jokes throughout that you might miss the first time through.

On top of all that? My copy is signed. Which makes it extra awesome.

So, Scott Pilgram, fun graphic novel.  And while I did see the movie first (and probably enjoyed it more), this was a graphic novel I sought out on my own, and liked enough that when Alex recommended it, I decided to reread it.

I feel like I'm not quite nerdy enough for it, that I'm probably missing a ton of references in the books because I wasn't a huge gamer, but it's still cool how geeky it IS and that I don't have to read ten years of back story just to get a general idea of what might be going on (I'm looking at you every superhero comic ever.)

I also really like the drawings in it.  They're fun and fancy free and I like the characters.  They depict real people very well (other than that whole super power video game thing.)

So, basically, I like the Scott Pilgram graphic Novels.  If I'm not careful, I might start actually liking graphic novels at this rate.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hey Comeau, Do You Know a Girl with Hair Like This?

That's me, on the left. This is actually a picture from an afterparty from New York Comic Con, but I'm wearing the same thing tomorrow for Halloween. I'm Ramona Flowers, from this week's review book, Scott Pilgrim! (There's a jacket that goes with it... it was just really warm there.)

If you don't get the reference in the title, watch this scene where Scott is looking for information on this girl (Ramona) and asks his socially connected friend Comeau. I think it's hilarious.

And our friend Beth is in the middle, she's Roxie Richter (one of Ramona's evil exes). The girl on the right is Beth's sister... she is not in costume, but she is adorable.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Favorite Book Costume

Remember how I said that we loved Halloween around here?  Well, we do, so we're serving up some of our favorite costumes based on book characters.

I was actually going to BE Harriet the Spy this year, but inevitably decided I was too poor to buy stuff and decided to be Lucille Ball (I already had the dress.)  However, I think I'm going to be Harriet next year because, well, who doesn't love her and she's an easy enough costume.

I don't know who the girl in the picture is, but she does a good job.  She's modeled more after movie Harriet (who is more recognizable and probably the one I would choose to imitate), but book Harriet actually just runs around in a red hoodie and jeans.  And, of course, there is always the tell-tale notebook that says "private."

I know, I've seen it all over the place too, but I love the idea of this pointillist comic book makeup. So it's not a specific character, but a specific costume technique. And sure, I've seen badly done examples, but this one is a good one, and I've seen others that were just as amazing, if not better.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It's a bit Scary

We love Halloween... and costumes.. and really everything that allows us to dress up and be ridiculous around here.

One of the awesome parts of working at my job is that I get to do things like dress up and be fun and silly.  We do special story times for kids (plus story time every Wednesday at 11:00 am in the kids department.  Stop in and come see us!)  This past Saturday, I dressed up and got to read the book for story time!

That is me, in my costume, at my job!  
In case you ever wondered what the second floor of my Barnes & Noble looked like.

We had a pretty good turn out of kids (ten or so, which is about nine or so more than we usually get for story time.)  They color pictures and all that jazz and, if nothing else, seemed to enjoy my costume.  Not to mention I got to baffle them a little when I told them that I was dressing up as Lucille Ball (and got a chuckle from the parents when I said that none of them would know who she was.)  Here are some more pictures of me reading to kids!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Author Bio: Bryan Lee O'Malley

I'll just come right out and say it... I totally met Bryan Lee O'Malley at New York Comic Con. It was awesome and he complimented Beth's boots and he signed our Scott Pilgrim books and took a photo with us and it was absolutely worth standing in a 90-minute line.

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I can step back and tell you who he is.

He's from Canada. He's 35 (at the time of this writing). He's also a musician (who goes by Kupek). He was in the Film Studies program at University of Ontario.

His first graphic novel was Lost at Sea, which I'm sad to say I haven't read yet. It came out in 2003. Between 2004 and 2010, the six volumes of Scott Pilgrim were published (the movie came out in August 2010). This summer, he released Seconds.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Review me Twice - Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout

I have to give Armentrout her due on the aliens thing.  You don't see a whole lot of alien books these days.  It's all about the vampires and zombies or vampire zombies and the few books not about those two things are about pirates.  So I do like that she says, "hey, remember when we liked aliens?"

And I like that it throws back to Superman.  They have awesome powers and come from a far away exploded planet and they're just trying to make it work here on Earth.  Awesome concept, awesome ideas, and to be honest, the execution wasn't even that terrible.  There was a huge focus on friendship.  Dee and Katy are good friends and a lot of the story focuses on them.  Katy has NON alien friends that have their own personalities separate from aliens (who... just all happen to be perfect, which is a little irksome, but ok.)  So score one for people having descriptions and personalities.

However, it is a little... Twilight-esque.  Super hot aliens, specifically a super hot alien GUY telling human girl who, for some reason, he can't seem to stay away from, that she has to stay away from him and his family because they're no good for her.  Sound a little familiar?

There are some twists though.  For one, even though Katy likes Daemon (lead sexy alien male) she has a backbone and is not falling all over him ever second.  Armentrout WRITES pretty decently.  I won't say well, but enough that I don't hate it.  And the book ended in a little bit of suspense.  Enough that I might, one day, pick up the second book.

I love that sometimes Cassy and I share a brain. This book is Twilight with aliens. For those of you who actually read/watched Twilight, remember how Edward is a complete jerk to begin with? (Presumably in the name of protecting the weak squishy human female from his big scary life.) That's the entire beginning of Obsidian. But Cassy's right... Katy holds her own (though she's kind of a jerk in return) so it's a little better. I just feel like the first couple chapters are a thesaurus exercise, finding as many ways to call him a jerk without swearing.

I made the mistake of leaving town without bringing the book with me, so I couldn't finish it, so I can't speak to a large part of the book, but after you muddle through the beginning, the pace picks up a little and it's much easier to read. I probably won't pick up the next book unless Cassy tells me we're reviewing it, but I have a solid idea of the kind of library patron I might want to recommend the series to.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Meeting Meg Medina

Sure, I completely forgot to write a post for today. But the neat thing about that is that I managed to go and do something related to this blog today!

I'm out of town for a library conference, and it just so happens that Virginian author Meg Medina (you may remember us reading Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass about a month ago) was here! I went to her panel: her, Kat Spears who wrote Sway, and Kristen Paige Medonia who wrote Fingerprints of You, talking about "reluctant readers" and how to use their novels to help those readers. Afterward, they were signing their books. So obviously I got a copy of Yaqui signed!

Meg Medina is awesome. The first panel I went to was presented by representatives of the Richmond Public Library, and they were talking about holding author events. They talked about Meg Medina helping them with a couple of their events and how great she was... they weren't kidding. She's funny, she loves libraries, she loves young people, she loves readers, and she's super nice. I hope to convince her to make the trip down to Virginia Beach to visit my library at some point, because I think she does good things for all age groups, even though she writes for young adults.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Favorite Book With Aliens

I actually talked about this series pretty recently (and, looking at the post I talked about it in, I get the feeling this post might end up exactly the same way), but I'm still going to put it out there.  I really love this series.  And there are SO MANY ALIENS.  She dates an alien in the first book.  She gets adopted by an alien  race.  She heals aliens, she lives with them, she fights with them.  You almost forget that she is human, there are so many aliens in this series.

And they're all described so well.  Viehl's strength is probably in creating fascinating alien races that are individual, with individual looks and strengths, and weaknesses, and languages.  Part of what I love about this series is not necessarily the characters, but the world building that he does.  I don't read a lot of sci-fi, so for me to recommend a sci-fi series twice in one year probably means you should go read it.

I loved the My Teacher Is an Alien books when I was in middle school. And it wasn't just because they are fun, silly, books... I thought it was just the coolest thing in the world that my 6th grade math teacher's math teacher wrote them. (I also thought my 6th grade math teacher was really cool. Shout out to Mr. Tyminski!)

I don't remember a lot of the details of the books, but I remember loving them. Another teacher, or maybe the principal or something, she's an alien too. I think the teacher's house was the spaceship? And there was a little fuzzy squishy creature that I always pictured as something like a Tribble. I seem to remember a scene similar to that one in Lord of the Rings where Merry and Pippin are separated (except with middle school students, and space, instead of hobbits and Middle Earth).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Aliens in Literature

These days, it's all about the zombies and the vamps.  We a culture obsessed with disease and how it's going to, inevitably, bring us down.  And while that obsession makes sense, because it seems like the most realistic way that we're all going to die as a race, it means that some other ideas get neglected in literature.

Mainly the extraterrestrials.

Aliens, though, have been permeating our literature for years, probably without us even realizing that they've been doing it (which makes it all the creepier because then, potentially, couldn't they also be inching into our society without us ever realizing it?)

One of Alex's favorite books is about nothing but alien's.  The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has a multitude of aliens in it.  In fact, our main character, Arthur Dent, has been best friends with an alien for years and not even known it.  Planet earth gets destroyed because they're making an interplanetary highway, and Earth is in the way, but none of us know about aliens, so we can't go anywhere to fight it.

A Wrinkle in Time is a book that most of us have read as kids, and it centers around three kids, who are brought to another planet by three aliens, to fight off an alien and save their father.  It's really about Meg's personal journey, but the entire book centers around alien worlds and beings and protecting the earth.

Probably one of the most influential books of all time involved aliens.  War of the Worlds was a book about an alien invasion.  In 1938, it was broadcast on air.  Due to the nature of the radio show, vocal
performances and no commercial interruptions, many tuned in after the program had already started.  It caused wide spread panic because the populace thought that we were actually being invaded by aliens.  There was rioting and police inquiries and people out on the streets in fear because of the show.  It wasn't until morning that the truth of the matter came out.

Aliens have been a huge part of our culture, and while they may not be as prevalent as some other trends right now, they have certainly made their impact on history.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Author Bio - Jennifer Armentrout

So there were a few surprises this week when I was looking up stuff about our author, Jennifer Armentrout.  One, she has actually signed on with a number of publishers and still actually self-publishes, despite being a well known author.  Her best known book is probably the one were reading this week, which is the Lux series, the first one being Obsidian.

The other surprising thing is that she lives in Martinsburg, WV, which is really close to me.  I used to go see movies there because they had the better movie theatre.  I just always think it's interesting when authors are so close to home.

She started writing short stories during algebra class while in school, which she says is the reason she is so bad at math.  She is married, and enjoys reading and bad zombie movies.  She has a website, which you can visit here and seems to be kept well up to date, including the fact that the Lux series is being turned into a movie.

She, of course, also has a Twitter and Facebook that you can check out.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Review Me Twice - Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan

So, for a graphic novel, it wasn't bad.  I like the concept (only one guy left on the fact of the planet.  How would the world change?  How would we repopulate the Earth?) and there were enough questions left unanswered in this first volume that I want to read the next one if for no other reason than to have some questions answered.

And in terms of pictures vs. my sanity in having to "read" them, it wasn't even that bad.  Sandman by Neil Gaiman is a rough GN, not because it's bad, but because there is just SO MUCH going on it it, that you have to read it about twelve times to really get a feel for what's going on.  Y: The Last Man isn't like that.  The pictures are... I don't want to say simple, but they aren't so intense that I need to pay as much attention to them to figure out what's going on, which is nice.

So, overall, a graphic novel that I would continue, which coming from me, the great graphic novel hater, not a bad endorsement.

I love this series. I read the whole thing (10 volumes) before going to New York Comic Con in hopes that I would get to meet Brian K Vaughan. (Unfortunately for me, he's just too popular, and that didn't happen.)

The characters? Unique and real. The pacing? Perfect. The plot? As far as I know, unlike anything else out there (at least unlike anything else I've read). And, without giving you spoilers, the ending? My kind of satisfying.

This is one of those stories I want to say I'd love to see turned into a movie, but I can see Hollywood making the wrong choices and changing the great bits and thinking the worse bits are what we like about it. So maybe not.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Favorite Male Protagonist

So, since the book this week is all about the fact that there's only ONE guy left on the entirety of the Earth, I figured what better favorite for the week than our favorite male protagonist.

It was really a tie for me between Cal, from Scott Westerfeld's Peeps, and Quentin Jacobsen, from Papertowns.  But, since I talk incessantly about Peeps around here, and I really don't feel like I give Papertowns enough love even though it's one of my favorites, I chose the latter.

Part of the reason that I love Quentin is that he's the kind of kid who really walks to his own drum.  His friends are all band nerds and, while he hangs out with them, doesn't actually play an instrument.  He has a superhuman crush on Margo Roth, a girl who has run with the popular crowd for most of his high school career.  He's also just a likable characters.  He's funny and he's quirky and he's loyal and he's friendly, and sarcastic and I love it.

I also like that... his story doesn't turn out like you might think it would.  And I'm ok with that.  I'm ok with the decisions that he makes and the journey he goes on.  Inevitably, I just think he's a really well crafted, male protagonist.

I already knew that I typically preferred peripheral characters over main characters, but I didn't realize to what degree until I tried to pick a favorite male protagonist. Even with the influx of strong female leads in YA recently, most of the world's books have male protagonists... this was a really huge question. But every male character I like that I could think of is not a protagonist, and every male protagonist I could think of, I didn't like.

But I really like Tyrion Lannister. I love his character. And yes, I'm basing a lot of that feeling on Peter Dinklage's extraordinary capabilities as an actor and the characters he's surrounded by (specifically Bronn and Podrick). But I've read enough of Tyrion to know that I love the book version of him too.

He's the odd one out in his family, and really, in King's Landing. And everywhere he goes, actually. If he hadn't been born a Lannister, he'd have died shortly after birth. He has access to riches and the good life and he enjoys it, because he learned early on that he couldn't be his brother or his sister and shine in his father's eyes. (He also doesn't hold that against his brother, who is nice to him... he's a great brother to Jaime. Cersei is terrible to him, so he's terrible back, but I never said he was a saint. If he were, he'd be terribly boring.) But he also believes that intelligence and learning are very important, and he reads everything he can get his hands on. He actually did do a good job as Hand of the King, despite whatever Tywin thinks. Plus? He's hilarious.

Neal Shusterman Signing

Today, Neal Shusterman came to Barnes & Noble (yes, the one where I work) to sign books!  He also read from his new book, Undivided, the fourth, and final book, in the Unwind Dystology.  He was such a great sport about the whole things.  He signed books, took pictures, and stayed for like, two hours, talking to all the fans (and a certain blogger who might have been fangirling out.)

That would be Shusterman, reading from his new book, 
in the bookstore that I work at.

Of course, we reviewed his book way back in January of 2013 (that's almost two years ago for those of you keeping track), but it's popped up many a time since then because we loved it so much, most noteably later on that year when we told you about our favorite books of the year.

And, because it was a book signing, I OF COURSE got one signed for you bloggers.  We're not giving it away just yet, but keep and eye out, because we're definitely going to be giving away a signed copy of Unwind.

My Selfie with Shusterman.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Author Bio - Brian K. Vaughan

This week, we're reading Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan.  Vaughan has written several graphic novels, including Saga, which Alex touched on a few weeks ago, and Runaways, which is actually one of the few graphic novel series I love.

Vaughan also writes for television.  He was a screenwriter for the show Lost from seasons three through season five.  He was also a show runner and executive producer for the show Under the Dome, based on the book by Stephen King.

So basically, the guy has dabbled in a whole lot of stuff.  He even wrote for some of the big names like Batman, Captain America and Buffy the Vampire Slayer during his career.  He started with Marvel comics, before moving over to DC Comics.  Eventually, around 2002, he decided he wanted to have his own characters and started doing Y: The Last Man along with some other projects.

As far as I can tell, this is his website, where he sells directly to the fans, but he doesn't really seem to keep up with any sort of social media.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Review Me Twice: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The goldfinch by donna tart.png

Nope. Just... nope. Couldn't care less about this book. I don't say that to be mean; it's just not my cup of tea. And I don't even like tea. That might not be relevant.

Let me offer you some of the words and phrases from a summary of this book that are inconsistent with my interest in books: "Enigmatic message." "Terrorist plot." "Crime syndicate." "[He] wonders if his experiences were unavoidable due to fate." None of that falls in line with what I want to read about, so it's a personal thing. Lots of other people like this kind of thing... that's why this book got the Pulitzer.

It's a long book, too. So unless you're really into it, it will seem like it goes on forever.

This book was terrible.  I mean, as the person who suggested we read this book, I feel like I should personally apologize to Alex for forcing her to read it (and, let's be frank, I did.)  I'm not even sure if she read the whole thing.  If she didn't, I wouldn't blame her, because as the person who did it WAS TERRIBLE.

Really, at the end of the day, while I did enjoy the ending of the book, the pay off wasn't enough for the 700 pages of torture I was put through to get there.  I mean, just on and on and on, with this book.  If I'm going to sit through that much book, there better be a freakin' huge awesome ending.  And there wasn't.  There was a 'Meh, that was nice' ending.

So basically, don't bother with this book unless you really like long winded books.

And, just so you know, Goldfinch is the #1 unfinished bestseller.  Which means a ton of people buy it, and then around 80% of them never finish it.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Books for the Birds

The Goldfinch is a really long book, you guys. And it's also still really popular, a year after publication (Pulitzer Prize winners tend to be in pretty high demand). So it took me a long time to get it on hold from the library. Which means I've had a heck of a week of reading, and I needed an easy post topic. So I'm listing some books with birds in the titles.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This is one of those times where the bird in the title is a metaphor. Atticus Finch (hey, another bird!) tells his kids that hurting the innocent, misunderstood people would be a sin, like killing a mockingbird.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
You obviously know this one. Sure, the titular bird is fictional, but it's also metaphorical. The book is about the symbolic mockingjay, Katniss: a product of the Capitol interfering with the natural way of things.

Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard & Florence Atwater
This is the first book I remember checking out of the library as a kid. There's a little fun fact about me. These birds are literal, unlike the previous two titles. I think this book appealed to me because I loved 101 Dalmatians, and this is like that, but with penguins.

The Pigeon books by Mo Willems
Mo Willems is the man. He does amazing work in the form of children's books, including his books about the pigeon. You shouldn't let the titular pigeon drive a bus, eat a hot dog, stay up late, or a number of other things. Just trust me.

"The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe
I'm a Virginian; I can't not include Poe here. And I love "The Raven"! This bird is both literal and metaphorical. There's a raven literally sitting in the room talking to the narrator - even though he only says "nevermore" - and he's also symbolic of all sorts of dark and sinister things. Check your Cliff's Notes, I'm sure it's in there.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Favorite Pulitzer Prize Winning Book

As you know from yesterday, this week's review book won the Pulitzer Prize this year. So we are picking our favorite books that have won Pulitzer Prizes!

A Confederacy of Dunces won the Pulitzer in 1981, which means the author - John Kennedy Toole - won it posthumously, since he died in 1969.

You know how most readers have that one book that they recommend to everybody? Mine, for example, is The Martian Chronicles. My father-in-law will tell you to read A Confederacy of Dunces. I'm pretty sure it came up the first time I had dinner at their house nearly 12 years ago. It took me several years, but I did finally take his suggestion and read it.

Honestly, I don't remember much of the plot or characters or, you know, the book. I do remember that I enjoyed it. It's funny. The title comes from a Jonathan Swift quote: "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."

We already know that books aren't the only thing to read, and as such, they're not the only thing that can win Pulitzer Prizes.  Proof is probably one of my favorite plays ever.  If ever a book/play were deserving of a Pulitzer, Proof would be it.

The play really addresses if mental illness is hereditary or not, if it incites genius or prevents it.  I like how it really gives to the idea that genius is on the brink of crazy and vise versa.  It's got a A Beautiful Mind kind of feel to it in that way.

I definitely suggest the play over the movie, because the movie butchers one of my most favorite scenes.  Her dad thinks he's gotten his genius back, only to discover, when his daughter reads his work back to him, that he's written a bunch of gibberish.

It's amazing and moving and powerful and I just love the play to pieces.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Pulitzer

This week, we're reading The Goldfinch, which won the Pulitzer.  So, I'm just going to tell you a little bit about the award.

The Pulitzer isn't just awarded for literature.  There is also one awarded for newspaper, online journalism and musical composition.  There are sub-categories within these categories (for instance, poetry, biography and fiction all fall under the literature umbrella).  Inevitably, there are twenty categories, and twenty winners, all of whom win a certificate and $10,000.

The award was started by Joseph Pulitzer (an Hungarian born American), who famously published the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the New York World newspapers.  Upon his death, he allocated $250,000 to Columbia University to start a journalism scholarship program and the Pulitzer award, which has continued ever since.

Tennessee Williams, Robert Frost and William Faulkner are just a few of the names that have received this award.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Review Me Twice: On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier

What an odd book. I didn't really know what to expect from it, to be honest with you. I knew it was for kids (it's a picture book) and I knew I had seen in reviews that it talked about science topics like the solar system and wild animals.

It has a really hippie-ish vibe to me. It's the only way I can think to describe it, really. Frasier uses the term "Mother Earth" a couple times (including on the dedication page). I love that it's all related to the concept of unity and responsibility for the earth, but I'm not sure I love the vehicle for that message.

When you look at a children's book and want to consider literary value, you aren't supposed to approach it with the attitude of "if I were a kid, would I enjoy it?" Because unless you read it as a kid, you don't know (and even if you did, you wouldn't remember it 100% honestly, because you're a different person now than when you were learning to read picture books). But... I don't think I would have liked this book as a kid. I would have liked the few pages at the end of the book that go into detail about the science mentioned in the book (I had a book about the Titanic that had a similar section, and I never read the story; just the historical notes at the back).

The book was very much, "look how small you are in this big world but no less important."  But in a really weird, roundabout, not really to the point at all kind of way.

The colors were really pretty, so if you were reading it to a younger kid they would probably really appreciate the pictures in it it.  But I think if you get much past the age of 5 for this book, it's not really going to be that appealing to its audience.

Over all, the book wasn't that impressive and not something I'd probably ever get for anyone's kids.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Favorite Blog Post This Year - Alex

Not to brag or anything, but we had a pretty amazing year on this blog. We picked some incredible books (and some really terrible ones, but more good ones than bad ones), we covered some really interesting topics, Cassy got involved with her local radio station AND managed to get a signed copy of If I Stay to use in a giveaway... plus we both got married. Like I said: amazing year.

So it was really hard to pick an absolute favorite post out of all that amazing stuff, but I finally had to go with:

Cassy wrote that one in the wake of NaNoWriMo 2013 (yes, it's almost that time again!) and I just thought it was such a neat tool to use. Sure, I knew what word clouds were before that, and I knew of other uses for them, but I hadn't thought to check my own writing for redundancy with one.

I picked out a few runners-up, though:
- Cassy's post on retelling stories (she's the resident expert on that, after all, since she did a great job doing so for NaNoWriMo).
- Our favorite superpower post, because it was a little different from our normal favorites posts (and because we both chose to illustrate our superpowers with cats).
- And, weirdly enough, a post I wrote almost exactly a year ago about plagiarism and citations. (What can I say? I really love my job.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Favorite Book We've Reviewed in the Past Year

Oh my goodness, what an amazing year we've had for book reviews! In the past twelve months, we've read some incredible books. And today, we're going to tell you which ones were our favorites (as hard of a choice as that is to make).

As you're well aware, we reviewed a couple of my favorite books ever this year, including The Martian Chronicles and Catching Fire. But I decided that those wouldn't be fair choices, so I limited myself to books I hadn't read until we chose them for the blog.

Before I remind you how much I love Ashes, here are my runners-up, in no particular order: Kindred, Hyperbole and a Half, The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming, and I Am Malala.

So, Ashes. I read the rest of the trilogy immediately because I had to know what happened. It defined "compelling." It is fast-paced and things happen constantly to lots of different people. Plus, it has just the right amount of gore to make me happy. (Fair warning: that's quite a bit, actually.) I loved it, I still love it, and I want everyone else to love it, too.

I loved this book.  I mean, I can not even describe how much I loved this book and how surprised I was that I loved this book as much as I did.  Especially because, while I did like Eleanor and Park (her other book that I read first), I didn't ADORE that book like I did Fangirl.  

I think that this is a wonderful coming of age story.  And I say that because, sometimes, coming of age books can really be hit you over the head obnoxious.  They can be too much and over the top and condescending and so didactic you can't even stand it.  But Fangirl wasn't.  And while the characters in our book had problems, they were problems that were SO out of the realm of possibility.  Alcoholic tenancies in college Freshman?  More common than you'd probably realize.  Parents up and leaving their families?  Pretty damn common.  

I like that the problems that Rowell gives in the story are all problems that work together, that go hand in hand, that make sense.  I LOVE the characters, how they're developed and how they are so incredibly fleshed out.  I have never seen an author have such a knack for character development in my life (seriously.  I've read ALL of her other stuff and I ALWAYS care about her characters.  I mean, always.  It's uncanny.)

If you pick nothing up this year, pick this one up.

However, there are a few other books that were close runner ups to this list, most notably Wonder, which just tugs at my heartstrings, and I Am Malala, which you can't help but love that girl and all she's done and stands for.