We’re now well into May and it was brought to my attention this morning that I haven’t posted in a while. The best way to get back into things is to share the books I read in April. I think this list might be longer than usual.
This is the second book in Jeff Stone’s Five Ancestors series. This one follows Malao, master of Monkey kung fu, as he is trying to find himself and help his brothers, and keep the one rogue brother who burned his home and killed the grandmaster, from keeping the Dragon scrolls he stole from the temple.
Skeleton Creek and Ghost in the Machine by Patrick Carman are a different take on the thriller genre of storytelling. Ryan, the narrator, is laid up because of an accident. He and his friend do research in order to figure out what is going on in the town. Sarah, Ryan’s best friend, takes video of different places/people in the town and secretly sends it to Ryan. The forward movement of the novel, and the fact that the videos that Sarah sends Ryan need to be viewed by the reader may get the reluctant reader interested enough in the story to read both novels. (Or it might be the same cliffhanger at the end of Skeleton Creek that made me go buy Ghost in the Machine the next weekend…)
Jeff Smith’s graphic novels, Bone Volume 1: Out from Boneville and Bone Volume 2: The Great Cow Race, I read because they’re so popular in our school library (Out from Boneville has been checked out 37 times and The Great Cow Race has been checked out 47 times, which doesn’t count the times that they’ve been lent to friends or read simultaneously by more than one reader. Completely unrelated, The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things has been checked out 34 times, but I haven’t read it yet.) The Bone books are rather amusing, but, as I learned since I had the second and not the first initially, they don’t stand alone. They’re also quick reads, which may account for my impatience in regards to discovering the motivation of the antagonist in this series (I don’t own Volume 3 yet).
I think this is my second copy of Street Pharm by Allison van Diepen, the first having not been returned when I taught 9th grade. This one I read because three of my students read it at the beginning of the semester and said that I should. I have to admit that my expectations weren’t that high; the last book I started that had anything to do with drugs was Smack by Melvin Burgess and I couldn’t get into it. The language, and the African-American protagonist, drew me in. Street Pharm is a story of redemption, but not done in a way that’s near as heavy-handed as novels like Go Ask Alice.
In the NCTE/IRA podcast Text Messages in the episode “Connecting with the Classics,” Jennifer Buehler talks about books that adolescents can read to make connections between the classics they’re required to read, and the YA literature that they’re more likely to read. Perfect Chemistry is another modern look at the Romeo & Juliet story along the lines of West Side Story but without all the singing and with significantly more angst. Perfect Chemistry is the first novel in a trilogy, but it’s not one of those trilogies that I feel like I need to continue. Kind of like how The Prophet of Yonwood doesn’t follow the characters from City of Ember and The People of Sparks, the second novel in the series, Rules of Attraction, follows one of the main character’s brothers, not the characters I came to root for in Perfect Chemistry. More than likely, though, I’ll get over my bias sooner or later.
I love Neal Shusterman, but I hate (and avoid most of the time) buying books in hardcover. So when Everwild was added to our school library, I was excited. Everwild is the second book in the Skinjacker Series, after Everlost and to be followed by Everfound. In this installment, Nick, the Chocolate Ogre, is being taken over by his chocolate, he and Mary are now going head-to-head, and Allie is still trying to find her way home. and for those who are the McGill fans, he makes a return. Not bad, but I’m really looking forward to the release of Bruiser at the end of June. (And yes, I preordered this one in hardcover.)
This read isn’t in the YA lit category, but I read it because my friend read it. I don’t have a lot to say about this one, but I like Jodi Piccoult. My reaction to The Pact was very different from my reaction to My Sister’s Keeper. With the latter, there was a lot of crying. When I read The Pact, the reaction was primarily visceral, and I ended up being pretty angry. Anger does not a bad read make, however.
The other non-YA lit book I read this month was Her Sister’s Keeper. This one was given to me to read by my niece. It reminded me of the books I read in high school–closer to the John Grisham category. It was tough to get into at first because I’m so used to YA and because the stigma behind Harlequin novels. No skin in this one folks. For the record, there’s only one review of this book on Goodreads (no, it’s not mine) and it doesn’t give a lot of insight into the novel, just like my comments here.
This is the second novel I’ve read by S.E. Hinton, and I have to say I like it better than The Outsiders. A few of the characters from Hinton’s first novel make cameos, which will help some readers make connections between the two novels. What I really liked about That Was Then, This Is Now is that the ending is real. It’s not–all loose ends are sewn up nicely–it’s the reality of some friendships and growing up.
Kissing Kate was Lauren Myracle’s debut novel, and because of the subject matter, I’m impressed. This is my LGBT read for the month–a coming of age story about a girl whose best friend gets drunk and kisses her, and then the drama that spills out from there–from ignoring that the event happened, to confrontation, to growing apart.
Last but definitely not least… My obsession with John Green continues…
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. This is like Big Bang Theory in novel format. When I read my first two John Green novels Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns, I asked myself, “Does John Green write anything where the boy gets the girl?” With An Abundance of Katherines, I got my answer to that question. For the sake of spoilers, I won’t tell you what that answer is. What I can say is that the footnotes really make this novel. And I was one of those readers who went to the end of the book first, only to be told in a note from John Green (written into the text) that I should go back and read the novel from front to back like normal.