Welcome to the September updates! There are only three months left of the challenge after this. Do you think we can make it? Please also read to the bottom to enter this month’s giveaway. We’re giving away a pretty awesome swag bag filled with two books, buttons, and more cool literary surprises! The books included in this month’s giveaway are The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato and Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones.
A book written by someone under 30 — The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton — I am reading this to my students in class right now, so I just finished reading it on my own and I loved it. It was fairly stiff at the beginning, but once Hinton got into the story, the writing picked up, too. I feel like now I really get what all the hype is for this book, and I definitely want to watch the film version. If you’re not aware, The Outsiders is the story of a teenage gang war between Greasers and Socs. It’s based on events that actually happened at Hinton’s high school.
A book based entirely on its cover — Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan — This was one of the options my students had for summer reading, and it looked really good. It was! This novel is the story of a wealthy Mexican adolescent, who loses her father and her home. With her mother and some good friends, Esperanza makes a break for California where she has to work hard for the first time in her life. At the end of the book, the author’s note tells readers the story is based on the life of Ryan’s own grandmother. There’s also a historical piece that I found shocking: the U.S. deported thousands of Mexican American citizens during the 1930’s, and it is not in any social studies book I was ever taught out of.
A Memoir — You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day — I didn’t love this as much as I thought I would. A few chapters were awesome and really inspiring or moving, but most of Day’s story is just cute. However, this book really motivated me in ways I never could have expected.
A book that takes place in your hometown — Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer — This is kind of set in my hometown. If New Jersey counts as a hometown. Which I say it does, because I’m from there and so is Jam, the protagonist of Belzhar. This is totally valid because Wolitzer mentions Rt. 18, and I used to live pretty near there. Jersey-ites are defined by our highways! Belzhar is the story of a girl named Jam who is sent to a school for delicate and highly intelligent teenagers. Jam is invited to a class called Special Topics in English, and it changes her life forever. I really enjoyed this book. I listened to it, and got so caught up in the story, I would sit on my bed and listen to it for hours.
A book with antonyms in the title — Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith — I wrote a short review of this already (you can read that here). In short, if you’ve enjoyed other books by Smith, you will enjoy her newest work. Smith does teen romance very well, and Hello, Goodbye… is a fun, quick read.
A book written by an author with your same initials — Revel by Maurissa Guibord — I loved the blend of mythology and mystery in this book–newly orphaned Delia goes to Maine in search of the mysterious Trespass Island where her mother grew up. This is the kind of category where you aren’t picking something because you’ve picked it out yourself (unless you happen to share initials with an author you’re already excited about). I went to the YA section at my local library, and scanned the shelves until I found authors with my initials. But I am so glad I did!
Also read: Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta (read my full review here), Hunter by Mercedes Lackey (short review here), Palimpsest: A History of the Written Word by Matthew Battles
A book that became a movie — Divergent by Veronica Roth — The Divergent series is the latest big thing in the dystopian genre. Last year, a film version of the first book was released. I have to admit, I haven’t seen it yet. The story goes that a post-apocalyptic society divides itself into factions based on what traits each group thinks caused the apocalypse. But labeling and separating a population by beliefs can be dangerous to people who don’t conform to only one way of thinking.
A book with a number in the title — Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biantcotti — It took me a while to realize this book even has a number in its title. When you think of a number, your first thought probably isn’t zero, and when you think of a superhero, you are unlikely to think of the Zeroes. The Zeroes are a misfit band of teens with dubious powers: the forgettable Anonymous, the supernaturally-enhanced fast-talker Scam, the electronically destructive Crash, and the blind girl Flicker who can see through others’ eyes, held loosely together by their “Glorious Leader” Bellwether. But when Scam gets involved in a bank robbery tied to the Russian mob and a new Zero is discovered, the team must get their act together and learn to save the day. You can read our full review with the chance to win a signed copy this week.
A book set in a different country — Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix — This new novel by the author famous for his Abhorsen series is not set in a made-up high fantasy world like his previous works, but rather is set in fantasy version of Regency-era England. A young Lady named Truthful Newington has had a precious gem stolen from her on her birthday and must go to London in the guise of a man to track down the thief. You can read my full review shortly before the book comes out in October.
A trilogy — Allegiant by Veronica Roth — This is the third book in the Divergent series, the first of which I counted for another category this month. This trilogy follows the pattern that I’ve seen in many trilogies: The first book is amazing, setting up the world and building character relationships you care about; the second book is agonizing as the characters antagonize each other and make bad decisions that turn out to be essential to their character growth though still hard to read about; the third book is epic and ties everything together, but ends on a dark and devastating note you wouldn’t have guessed from the first book. Overall, I really enjoyed the first book, but couldn’t get into the second two, perhaps because I’m more invested in character interactions than plot.
A trilogy — Graceling Realm, by Kristin Cashore — I spoke in last month’s update about how much I totally loved Graceling. Well after I finished the first book, I was still aching for more. So I decided to finish all three books! Seriously, I couldn’t put these down! Even when I had to be up at 5:30am, I was up reading until about 2am. Each book follows the story of a different, incredibly strong female character, each trying to overcome the power of an evil man figure in their lives. If you’re a Tamora Pierce fan, or just a fan of fantasy books in general, these should be on your list!
A classic romance — An Offer from a Gentleman by Julia Quinn — Okay, I put this here because it is a romance novel, and it follows the parameters of a classic romance novel, thus: classic romance. It’s a well-written romance novel based in the regency era–it has its cheesy moments, but you really can’t help but fall in love with the characters.
A book from your childhood — First Test by Tamora Pierce — I’ve decided that I would like to read all of the Tortall books by Tamora Pierce, since, when I was younger, I fell in LOVE with Wild Magic. Thus, a book from childhood. MAN I love Tamora Pierce. Her Protector of the Small series follows the story of Kel, the second girl (first known) to raise in the ranks of Page to Knight. There are 4 books in this series, and I’m currently in book 3. I can’t wait to finish!
A Classic Romance — I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith — Written in 1948, t’s comparable to Wuthering Heights and perhaps Pride and Prejudice.
A Funny book – Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore — This book is the long awaited sequel to Dirty Job. You can expect lots of crass humor, mostly gratuitous sex jokes, but there are some touching and serious scenes that give the story depth.
A book more than a hundred years old and a book set during Christmas time — A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens — A Christmas Carol is a classic and a rarity for Dickens, being his shortest novel. The main character Scrooge reflects the hearts of Londoners, as Dickens knew them to be in the 1800’s, but his lesson is timeless.
A book based entirely on its cover — The Last First Snow by Max Gladstone — The forth in the Craft Sequence series, The Last First Snow is a well written novel, but it took me some time to get into it and stay committed. There was a lot of doom and gloom and very little humor, unless you count the “in bad taste” jokes the King in Red makes. I did not realize this was even a prequel, because it’s been awhile since I read Two Serpents Rise, but I really don’t think it would have made that much of a difference. The characters were well written and the world building continues to have a strong command as part of the story as well. Strong characters and world building continue to makes this a very good science fiction/fantasy.
Click below to enter this month’s giveaway!