August 19, 2012

Summer Reading Update...Am I Running Out Of Summer??

I'm pretty sure that I'm running out of summer.

I have, what, two weeks left before Labor Day? And I am only halfway through my summer goal of reading my niece's top ten book list. But, since I am at the halfway point, I thought I'd give you all a quick update.

First, as a refresher, here is Katie's top ten book list, which I shared a while back:
1. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
2. The Host by Stephanie Meyer
3. The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins
3.5 The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
4. Divergent by Veronica Roth
5. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (awesome!!!)
6. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
7. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
8. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
9. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
10. Matched and Crossed both by Allie Condie

I had already read The Hunger Games series, The Harry Potter series and The Book Thief prior to beginning my summer quest-- all of which I would highly recommend, by the way, if you haven't already read them. And, so far, I have completed The Goose Girl, The Host, Shatter Me and Princess Academy. I just picked up Divergent from the library, after a loooong wait list, and plan to start that one tonight. (Though I also picked up three other non-fiction books that are off the list, so we'll see how I balance all that! Anyway...)And yet, somehow, that still leaves me with 5 books to read before Labor Day.

First of all, I need to chat with my niece about the concept of top TEN lists, since hers actually includes about 20 books. Then I think I may need to relax my deadline a bit. Like, maybe my goal should be to finish the list by my niece's 16th birthday in October. (I can't believe she's going to be 16. This just blows my mind! But that's for another post about how time flies by...)

Yeah, I think October sounds a bit more reasonable.

Okay, enough of that...on to the books!

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
The Goose Girl is a fantasy novel by Shannon Hale based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale of the same name. And the book won the 2003 Josette Frank Award for youth fiction. It is the story of princess Ani who can communicate with animals but has a difficult time finding her place in the royal family and measuring up to her mother, the queen. When she is shipped off to a neighboring kingdom as a bride, her scheming entourage mounts a bloody mutiny to replace her with a jealous lady-in-waiting in the new land. Barely escaping with her life, Ani disguises herself as a goose girl in the new land while she figures out what to do next to reclaim her rightful, royal place.

I really enjoyed this book. After 30-some years of reading, I wouldn't put it in my own top ten, but I liked the book very much. The story was unique, well-paced and enjoyable enough to keep me coming back till the end. It's a fast read that I would recommend to anyone looking for a fun, light read...and certainly for a young adult.

The Host by Stephanie Meyer
I also liked The Host. You'll likely recognize the author's name...she is the "one and the same" author of the Twilight series. This book is also sci-fi, but no vampires and different enough from her other books that you don't know you're reading the same author. It is also a unique book with an impressively creative story. And, again, it kept me interested enough to breeze through all 600+ pages. Another fun, light read I would recommend, especially if you've enjoyed other sci-fi young adult, like Twilight. And there's no real teen angst in this one, making it more palatable to an adult audience. So here's what it's about...

The Host is an imaginative thriller in which a species of altruistic alien "parasites" has peacefully assumed control of the minds and bodies of most humans. But, feisty Melanie Stryder won't surrender her mind to the alien soul called Wanderer who has taken over her body. Overwhelmed by Melanie's memories of fellow resistor, and love, Jared, Wanderer yields to her body's longing and sets off into the desert to find him. And so the story goes...

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
So, I didn't really love this one. Another futuristic storyline that was interesting enough that I was certain to finish the book, but the primary writing style for the first one-half-to-two-thirds of the book drove me absolutely nuts!

I am not a skimmer when I read...I tend to be a relatively slow reader who reads every word and often savors a great sentence again and again. Not with this book. I found myself skimming some paragraphs just to get through the nonsense and find the dialogue that pushed the storyline forward. It wasn't until I was more than half-way through the book that I realized why the writing style drove me batty, but might not drive a teenage girl batty...because it's written in the overly dramatic tone of a teenage girl's brain (I should know, I used to have one.). What's interesting is that the writing style calms down about two-thirds the way through the book, making it much easier to read. And the story is creative and interesting. And it was certainly a fast read (in part, because of the skimming). But I think I might save this one for your favorite sci-fi loving teenage girl. Here's the gist of the story...

Juliette Ferrars is 17 and cannot remember ever being lovingly touched; indeed, after 264 days in solitary confinement, she can barely remember human contact. Then a boy is shoved into her cell, and her world changes. Just as she begins to trust Adam, guards burst in and march them off to the commandant. Juliette discovers Adam is really a soldier of the Reestablishment, a totalitarian regime that wants to use Juliette because her touch can kill. Juliette wants to get far away from anyone she can hurt or who can hurt her—though she can’t help hoping that, somehow, Adam might not fall in either of those categories. Sci-fi. Teen angst. Romance. Adult reader, beware.

Princess Academy
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Princess Academy tells the story of Miri, who lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king's priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year's time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. The king's ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess.

I found this story delightful. I think Shannon Hale is a great young adult writer, and I would happily give her books to any teenage girl.  And, I will likely read another book of hers in the future...especially if Katie recommends it! (FYI: The sequel to Princess Academy is being released later this week.)

That's it for now. Look for another reading update next month. In the meantime, you can "friend" me on to see what I've read and what I'm reading and how I've rated those books. And you can check out my book reco list on the tab above or my pinterest board, "Books, Books, Books" for more reading recommendations.

Until next time, I bid you good reading.

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