Friday, February 17, 2017

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

February - Books with Mr. or Mrs. in the title

To fulfill this month's book club theme, I literally did the broadest search in my local library's database, simply typing in the word "Mr." in the title search. My plan was to find a few books, read their synopsis, and then yes, pick 1 by its cover. Then do the same with "Mrs." However, I found 2 with "Mr." that have interested me and I think I will stay with those.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore turned out to be a random good pick. Imagine a secret society for bibliophiles, because that is what the book's narrator, Clay Jannon, unintentionally falls into while bored at his new job as book store clerk for the eccentric Mr. Penumbra. When Clay decides to while away the hours by using computer code to plot costumers' book histories, he discovers the puzzle filled world of the Unbroken Spine. Not only is his life changed, but he turns the secret society upside down with the events that follow.

Here is another book done in first person. Is this the new big thing? I have to say, the point of view was neither here nor there for me this time. While I was mostly okay with Clay's voice, there were a few other times I thought things being said were mere thoughts but were answered by the other characters. Ok, so dialogue then. No quotation marks? Mildly annoying. Usually, though, Clay's thoughts were humorous and entertaining.

Overall, the story was interesting. I liked the idea of this secret society just for people who tend to look too deeply into books. And the secret to immortality, yeah, that was something to make me smile. Oh, and the very wide range of people involved! The way things turned a little sideways. These things made the book more enjoyable.

I'm glad I stumbled upon this one. It was unique and fun! Has anyone else picked up this little gem? If so, I would love to know what you thought as well.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Every Last Word

January - Books with a white cover


This is the story of Sam. Sam has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, focusing on the obsessive part. She is sixteen and she was diagnosed years ago, and she is in therapy and trying to cope with it. But no one outside of Sam's family knows. And she likes it like that because she wants the world to think she is completely normal. Only, she is lonely because of this thinking. Until she meets Caroline and her world starts to change. Sam discovers poetry and makes friends and focuses on herself. She starts to be happy. It's a wonderful story!

And it is so darn familiar to me that sometimes I had to take a step back. Sure, the details are a little different because while I do have OCD (or Pure-O as I have discovered is more accurate), I was dealing more with depression and anxiety in high school. And whereas Sam had a group of plastic friends she felt she could never explain things to, I had my family who I was desperate not to disappoint. Sam meets the Poets, friends that understood, had their own faults, but had poetry. I had a few friends that had their own illness and were willing to just let me be. Sam finds AJ. I am now married to my own AJ. It sounds so awesome, finding your way through, figuring out who you are and how to be happy in it. But it's not that easy. At one point, Sam's friend tells her she is changing, and maybe not for the better. I received those same lines from my father. It was hard to explain that I wasn't who everyone had though I was up to that point, especially since my family really liked that girl and I was becoming my own person. It took my a long time to find my own Poets, but I got there and have slowly to become happier in my own life.

So imagine how amazing it was to pick up this book and discover my story within its pages! So maybe I was far more drawn to the story than you would be. But I honestly believe that Stone does such an amazing job of giving us Sam in all her crazy glory and making us fall in love with her. She does an incredible job of capturing the good, the bad, the crazy of Sam's day to day life, from the obsession with her odometer in her car to the panic attacks that nearly cripple her. Stone did a lot of research for this story, and it really shows in how accurately she portrays so much of it. It was wonderful getting to read this one. Even through the sad parts and the bits that gave me second hand embarrassment and the pages that made my heart smile. It was a fantastic book from beginning to end. Please, pick it up, read it, love it with me!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Symptoms of Being Human

January - Books with white covers


When I saw the theme for this month I had to make my way to the library for both books because incidentally I have no books with white covers! I am so glad that I did! Because I found two that I think will be incredible. And the first one really was!

Riley is gender fluid, meaning that instead of waking up with the anatomy of a female and feeling like a girl, Riley has to take a moment to gauge where their gender dial is at the moment. Of course, this doesn't help much because Riley is not out as gender fluid and therefore cannot dress to their preference for the day. So this is the story of Riley switching schools, going through therapy, being the child of a conservative congressman, all while trying to navigate the very confusing path of gender fluidity. And this story is wonderful!

At the end of the book Jeff Garvin writes a note including statistics for trans and gender nonbinary people: how many are sexually harassed, how many commit suicide, how many have no access to helpful resources. This note is necessary because his character, Riley, has it relatively good, with help and support from numerous sources. Most in Riley's situation do not. And yet, even with having it good, Riley in no way has it easy.

Garvin does an incredible job of trying to nail down the symptoms and effects of a term that is just as fluid in how it effects individuals as it is for the day to day of those with it. There are many times when Riley described a panic attack that had me feeling in the moment of one of my own attacks, Garvin captures it so perfectly. This is an incredible debut for a man that has no personal experience with the things he describes in his book. It makes me excited to see what he tackles next!

So, this is when I say what point of view this books is written in and dissect how it effected my reading of the book. First person! I know, I know, for someone who hates first person so much I seem to find a lot of novels written in it! But this one, this one could not have been written in any other way! Because Riley is fluid, the reader cannot see Riley in any other way than how Riley sees Riley. Notice how earlier in my post I have to use they/them so that I do not assign a gender to Riley? Garvin avoids the pronoun issue by allowing Riley to tell the story. That coupled with the fact that only Riley can accurately portray everything they go through forces this book to be best done in first person. And it was wonderful that way! Maybe it helped that I could relate to Riley's punk attitude and made me love them from the first lines of the book!

I loved everything about this book! I was so excited to see it on the shelf and get to take a look into the world of a character set that is slowly finding its way into books these days. I love nontraditional characters. And I love that the number of novels are growing that can help those with less traditional problems. The best way for a teenager to feel safe is to show them others that feel the same way. Riley is an example of of trying to give more teenagers this safe space through understanding. It touches my heart to see the genre expanding in such a way! So, if you have more books along these lines, please send them my way! I would love to read more on subjects that I cannot understand first hand but want to understand for others. And if you haven't picked this one up but are willing to branch out of the norm, please do. This one was incredible! Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Virals


I got so excited when I saw this book sitting on the shelf at the library. As a huge fan of the Bones series, I have been meaning to pick up one of Reichs' books for a while now, but have yet to come across the first in the Bones series at a time when I was able to read it. And here this one was right before the start of the final season of Bones! Serendipity! I even started reading it the day episode one of season 12 premiered.

But it was not what I was hoping for.

Mostly my issues stem around the fact that Reichs chose to write in first person. As my followers are well aware, I am not a big fan of first person, and the fact that Reichs nailed the teenage voice perfectly actually hindered my liking. While Tory is an incredibly smart and gifted young woman, she is not Temperance Brennan, a woman to whom I have always felt a connection. I did not feel as close to Tory. In fact, too often I found myself annoyed with her enough that I put the book down and purposefully found other things to do.

I really hate making it sound like I don't like Reichs, because that is not the case. I simply did not like this particular book. I didn't like the way she was forced to switch her voice to make up for the times when Tory was not present in the story, I felt it pulled me out of it. I was not fond of the way that she chose to alter the DNA of young teenagers because it is just the other side of science fiction that I was not expecting from Reichs.

In short I didn't like the book mainly for the fact that it was not Bones. So I am going to make sure that one of her Temperance Brennan books is next on my list to find so that I can give you a better review of Reichs' writing.

For this post, I will be updating it with how my friend enjoyed the book. She is a teacher of 7th/8th grade kids and will hopefully have better words for this series. Stay tuned for it! And if you have read this book and liked it, please speak up! Let me know what you thought so that I can be put in my place about her young adult series!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Truth About Alice


Jennifer Mathieu will be at the North Texas Tenn Book Festival in March! Since the festival is so early in the year I decided to start looking at the writers early on and was quick to discover this book I have been meaning to read for so long is on the list. Now I really want to find the book they are spotlighting and read that one because she is fantastic!

The Truth About Alice is about the power of rumor. From the very beginning the reader is told the truth of the situation: Alice is a slut and responsible for the star quarterback's death. This is what everyone in the small Texas town knows because someone told them. In this way the reader hears the details of the situation from the point of view of four different students at Healy High, people who knew Alice and saw parts of what happened. Only, they don't always tell the truth, and rumors spread like wildfire.

Mathieu captures perfectly the harmful impact of a rumor. Someone is a little upset, says something maybe they shouldn't, and suddenly a girl's life is ruined. This book reminded me strongly of Thirteen Reasons Why, so if you liked that one, I am sure you will enjoy this one. Now, things don't get as drastic, there is no suicide in this one, but looking at Alice as she is shunned and starts slipping away from herself, I could see things getting worse if one of the characters had not stepped up. Because this book is also a beautiful reminder of what the power of one person can do if they reach out. It is a great book!

I must point out that Mathieu is writing from the point of view of teenagers, something I have complained about in the past, but she does it wonderfully. Yes, three of the four main characters kind of tick me off, but as a person, not as a reader too annoyed by the voice of the narrators to read it. Mathieu does a great job of writing characters I loved to hate.

My only complaint was that with the way the stories are told it is a little hard to understand the timeline. When I first began I assumed that the events that sparked the rumors all occurred on one night. No. There were two distinct nights that led everyone to telling stories and many small events in between that spawned more. As the characters tell their sides of events all this becomes clear, but in the beginning it was rather confusing.

All in all the book was wonderful and I can't wait to pick up more of Mathieu's work and meet the woman to tell her how great her writing is! I hope you pick up the book as well!

A great way to start off the year of reading!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 Reading Plans


Well, I managed to leave last year's challenge in the dust! I read 83 books when my goal was only at 60. Of course, a lot of those were mangas which I will probably being staying away from for this new year since I have read the only interesting ones at the library branch I visit. I will however be finishing the Attack On Titan series as soon as I get a chance, so look for an update for those at some point.

I am going to be putting the bar at 60 once more for this year, and try to tackle more novels for the goal. I will also be going along with the themes set up by the book club my sister moderate once more, so look out for some weird patterns in my reading once more! I look forward to really expanding my base again as I try to meet each theme. As I did last year I will have the themes posted by the month in the right column of my page and my posts labeled. 2 books per theme!

Also on my plans is another of the Game of Thrones series, so be on the look out for that!

I believe that we are also changing up plans for the Texas Teen Book Festival, attending the North Texas one this year in Irving in March. If that is the plan, my update of new books from there will probably be used to fulfill some of the themes. We will just have to wait and see!

I hope everyone has a fun year full of books ahead of them!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories


Another manga! So, this one was a random grab on my way out of the library without any other mangas. It caught my eye, I enjoy the game, so I thought why not. The problem: I have been reading more adult manga lately and this is most definitely a kid's story. Despite being a rather thick book with a very twisted story line, it didn't entertain me as I had hoped. Bigger fans of the games would probably enjoy it more than I.

Sorry the review is short. So I am going to ask for anyone that had played all of the games or read all of the manga to please explain it to me! There were just too many things left unsaid and this story picks up after the first big story line as far as I can tell, which added to my confusion. It was fun, don't misunderstand me on that point. It just wasn't something I will be continuing.