8.Books.8 (+1 extra - rounding out 2010)

Clay Coleman's Revenge! (Book 5 in the Escape from Lost Island series) - Grade: B. Do I think these books are excellently written? No. Would I recommend these books to other people? Probably not. But they were part of my childhood and I enjoyed revisiting them. Are they engaging? Yes. So *shrug*

Clay Coleman's Escape! (Book 6 in the Escape from Lost Island series) - Grade: B. I think I'm all out of juice on these six books. They're a decent read, but I can think of much better things to spend your time on. 'Nuff said.

James Redfield's The Celestine Prophecy - Grade: A. This book definitely gets my vote for your reading list. This book is a fascinating exploration of human consciousness and spirituality outside the definitions of institutionalized religion (I am in no way saying that institutionalized religion is a bad thing). A great read, very interesting principles contained within, with real-life applications.

Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay (third book in The Hunger Games series) - Grade: A-. I read this book in 5 hours, one sitting. Just plowed right through it. The anticipation was killing me! The only pause was for 5 minutes to listen to a white-trash fight outside my apartment. Let's be honest. That kind of Reality "TV" beats a book hands down! :P When I was done... I felt... kind of punched in the stomach. But I was talking about it with Meggers and really... to be true to her world, Collins couldn't have ended the trilogy any other way than she did. And we are both glad she was true. But... the violence. The violence was the bad taste in my mouth. These are hocked as kid books... but they are so bloody and so painful. Now if you look at books like The Giver, they are crafted so that the full weight of them doesn't settle on you until you are much, much older. But with Hunger Games you don't really get the same sense of complexity. It's just heavy from the get-go. So I loved the read, the pacing was phenomenal, the characters so intriguing... but the violence... the message, was just so, so hard. An important message, and very close to home with our current world, but I'm not sure about for kids. I'm also nervous about them making a movie out of these books. Like alot. Violence involving children can't be rated anything other than R can it? And how is that a "kid" movie?! What child can play in these movies (Rue, for example) and NOT be psychologically damaged? I dunno. These are just things Meggers and I think (and talk) about.

T.A. Barron's The Ancient One - Grade: B-. Someone recommended this as an awesome fantasy novel - a different kind of fantasy than your run-of-the-mill swords, dragons, and elves fantasy. Not going to lie. I enjoyed the storyline; however, the story struggled to capture (and then keep me) my interest. Parts of the story dragged, parts of the story were intense and quasi-unbelievable (hard to do in "fantasy"...) But overall, not a bad read.

Jeanne DuPrau's People of Sparks - Grade: C. Eh. City of Ember was WAY better. Kind of reflects my feelings on Giver and Gathering Blue. The story erred very solidly on the moral side, which was antithetical to Ember if you ask me. I'll prolly pick up the third one just to see, but not such a fan of the sequel.

Ian McEwan's Solar - Grade: D. Don't get me wrong. I'm all for beautiful prose. Many praise Ian McEwan for being very into language, and choosing his words so super carefully so that every sentence is rife with its fullest meaning. Personally, I think Lev Grossman does 10x better (I'll get there, patience!) I picked this one up because I'd read Atonement and didn't hate it. This book, though, was pretty much boring. It seriously turned into a chore to get through it. Not my experience with McEwan's previous novel. There were parts where it would get really interesting and people were dying, or the main character thought he froze off his mickey, but... no. No. No. Couldn't have been happier when this book was done.

James Dashner's The Scorch Trials (sequel to The Maze Runner) - Grade: A-. As previously stated, I really think Dashner is in his prime right now. He tightened up the prose a bit, and didn't stretch the plot too much, and I loved reading this book. Two issues I had: 1. It has been soooo long since I read Maze Runner; I felt kind of lost at the beginning trying to remember back to book 1 and how it ended and everything went down. Dashner attempts to catch the reader up, but I think it could have been a little more solid. 2. I HAVE TO WAIT A YEAR FOR THE THIRD BOOK!?!? Aghhhhh, torture! I want to know what happens next! Also, again with the violence here. I'm not sure these books (like The Hunger Games) can justifiably be part of my bookshelf. Can they? I'm torn on this. I also see some themes in these books, but I intend that to be a post in itself. (You'll just have to get used to me being here again, and keep reading!)

Will Weaver's Defect - Grade: B+. An interesting exploration of what it's like to be different, especially as a teenager. The main character in this story is a medical anomaly - he has wings. The book revolves around his trying to keep them a secret, his shame, and yet sense of love for them at the same time, and how he attempts to reconcile that with his overall identity and public image. An engaging read, though many of the characters were flat; I wanted more development, so I could engage more fully with everyone around the main character in order to better understand the world of the main character, and thus, understand him more deeply.

Lev Grossman's The Magicians - Grade: A+. WOW. Just wow. This book is AMAZING. One of the best books I've read in a long, long time. George R. R. Martin asserted: "The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to a glass of weak tea." That's a pretty ballsy claim. Like whoa. Now I'm not the *biggest* Harry Potter fan I know (don't judge!), but so many people love that series - this is a big claim. I don't think Mr. Martin was off in the slightest. Every piece of this book resonates with magic. The prose is flawless, the characters are lovable, yet starkly human and imperfect, and the plot is gritty, raw, and brilliant. The book is poignant, gripping, moral, deeply adult, fantastical, and so real all wrapped up in one shining wafer of delectable yumminess. I even went back a few times if I thought I was reading too fast, because the book was just that great. The main character is obsessed with this author, Christopher Plover, who supposedly was a co-founder of the modern English fantasy tradition alongside the likes of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. He wrote five novels about a fantastical place, Fillory, and the more I got into the book, the more I felt like I needed to read these 5 books. I went searching for them. The library didn't have them, nor did Amazon. Strange. I started searching rare book stores, only to be confronted with the fact that this Christopher Plover is a made-up person! Talk about thorough world-building! I mean they even went to the lengths of creating this guy his own blog: http://www.christopherplover.com/ That's over-the-top! The created author thing reminded me of fake author Christopher Brooks in Brockmeier's Truth About Celia. So innovative, so thorough. Grossman's world is REAL. And yet it's fiction. But the fiction is REAL. And we are caught in an existence loop that astounds, astonishes, and fascinates me to no end. Definitely going to check out Grossman's others books. And this book has a spot on the top shelf of my bookcase, where only the most cherished novels find roost. Hats off to Lev Grossman for being stunningly wonderful.

James Klise's Love Drugged - Grade: B-. Your run-of-the-mill romance book for teens, except this one is about a boy who is gay and his taking of an experimental drug to get rid of his feelings. Interesting read, I think the plot could have been tighter, and more exciting, and there could have been alot more struggle within the main character's head about his feelings. But I'm glad books like this are getting out there; hopefully kids are reading them and finding the answers they are craving.

Orson Scott Card's Shadow of the Hegemon (sequel to Ender's Shadow) - Grade: A-. This one's been a long time coming. I started reading this book on my way home for Christmas in 2009. I got halfway and it's sat on my shelf. But I take it whenever I travel, I just usually don't pick it up. But I found myself at the airport on my way home from Christmas and my current read Cloud Atlas was nowhere to be found. So rather than start my backup novel, I decided then was as a good a time as any to finish. Card has a most poignant, uncanny way of taping into the dynamics of humanism and human interaction and bringing them frighteningly to life - frightening in the sense of who close to home they resonate, and how real they seem. The plot falls into second for me when relationships are splayed across the page for my perusal and scrutiny - which is exactly what Card does. I'm interested to see how this trilogy will round out.

Best of 2010 coming soon! As well as many more book reviews. We all know I can't stop reading! It's like eating, I just have to.


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