February 1, 2013

Young Adult Reading List Update...I Finished! (My Summer Reading List. In October. I know...)

So, about three months ago I actually finished reading my (now 16 year old) niece's Top Ten Favorite Books (so far)...I know, it's pretty sad that I'm just now posting about it. But really, does it matter much when I share the book reviews, as long as I share them? Well, that's what I'm telling myself.

So, just to refresh your memory, here's Katie's Top Ten List, as I shared it last year:

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

If you want to read what I thought of the first batch of the books I read, you can read my last post on it here: http://mamamanagement.blogspot.ca/2012/08/summer-reading-updateam-i-running-out.html Now, on to the last group I read...

Divergent by Veronica Roth
In Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

I loved this book. I would definitely say that it was one of my favorites off of Katie's list. And if you're looking for one YA dystopian future novel to check out, try this one. I thought the plot was interesting and creative and the writing was great. I enjoyed this one enough to say that I plan to read book two, Insurgent, sometime this year...and I'm pretty excited to do so!

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every thirty days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. No one has been able to solve the mystery of the maze...yet.

The Maze Runner is another crazy, inventive, dystopian future novel. (Can anyone name a genre that my niece likes? Anyone?) Overall, I enjoyed the book and found the plot creative and interesting. But I had a little issue with the pacing...it was a bit of a slow-starter for me, and I found a portion of the middle dragged a bit. Now, I know that this is book one in the literary world's favorite thing right now-- A trilogy-- and therefore the ending is designed to set up the beginning of the next book, but I really didn't love how this one ended. It didn't leave me with a particularly strong desire to read book two. Still, a fun read nevertheless.

Matched by Allie Condie
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

I know, I know, more dystopian YA. But think of how much you'll have to talk about with all those young adult readers out there!! This is also another first-in-a-trilogy. And another like-but-not-love for me. A fun enough read but didn't leave me clamoring for more...there may just be too many other wonderful books out there to bother with book two...but who knows. Maybe I'll just ask Katie to tell me what happens!

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
So here's a big, fat departure from the rest of the books on the list! And, I must say, I was pretty surprised to find it on Katie's list. Publisher's Weekly said, "Supporters will hail this New Age self-help book on the law of attraction as a groundbreaking and life-changing work, finding validation in its thesis that one's positive thoughts are powerful magnets that attract wealth, health, happiness... and did we mention wealth? Detractors will be appalled by this as well as when the book argues that fleeting negative thoughts are powerful enough to create terminal illness, poverty and even widespread disasters." 

My thoughts? Well, I do tend to believe that when you focus on the negative the negative is what you get, and when you focus on the positive good things often abound (because you're looking for them!). But I had never really thought of it in the terms that The Secret lays out. And I definitely take issue with the idea that it's somehow your fault if you get a disease--that you have drawn that into your life with your own thoughts. So I take from this book what I do from other similar books...take the nugget that's of use to me and throw away the rest.

So, there you have it. Ten (really twenty) books recommended by my wonderful niece. What I liked the most about this challenge? Two things: Working from a list of recommended books from another book lover (plus, I liked the insight into and connection with my niece). And, having a set, finite list of books to read from. Sometimes I find myself almost overwhelmed by all of the books out there that I really want to read--WHAT DO I READ NEXT??? It was nice...kind of like school...having a pre-determined list to work from. So I think I'm going to create another list to work from. I'll let you know.

In other books news...

I did finish Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter in time for my book club meeting a couple of weeks ago. The group's reviews were mixed, at best. Most weren't big fans. I, personally, liked it...though I didn't love it (you won't find me gushing about it the way I do Shadow of the Wind or The Book Thief). But what I liked about it was the way it took very different people with very different lives in different times and different countries and showed the moments when they realized the difference between living for the dream of a life they hoped to live and truly living the real life in front of them right now. I thought these snapshots of human existence and the "we are more the same than we are different"-ness of it were lovely.

Then, in the spirit of New Year's reorganization, I just finished Getting Things Done by David Allen. And, as a result, am in the midst of a massive paper/planner/calendar/office reorganization. More on that later... And I am almost done with This Is Why You're Fat by Jackie Warner (or Bravo! reality TV fame). Also part of a New Year recommitment...this one to health and well-being. More on that later too!

And finally, I just started The Puzzle King by Betsy Carter...and I mean just started...I'm on page 29. So far...I like it. My favorite line so far? "And then yesterday, the last day of September, the sun came out and the air smelled young and fresh. It was as if July had momentarily skipped around the corner, and now it was back." Sigh. Love.

So that's the word in book news here. As always, let me know if you're reading anything wonderful...I'm always looking for new, fabulous books to add to my reading list. And feel free to friend me on goodreads.com or check out the Books Worth Reading list on this blog for more books I've enjoyed.

Until next time, I bid you good reading!

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