Friday, May 22, 2015

Book in Progress: Beautiful Creatures (Book Review)

I don't remember starting this book before but I got all the way to track 10 on the audiobook before it became new. I wonder if I got bored with it or if I had to return it to the library before I finished it.

This is one of those books that really irritates me. I really like the story. What's not to like? A boy who is hopelessly devoted to a girl who is magical but insecure. This is YA crack.

Irritating things:
The writing is inconsistent. Maybe that's because there is more than one author? I don't know. But there are sometimes when four sentences are used to repeat the same sentiment. Where I'm like, OK! I GET IT!

Ethan's favorite line is: What are you talking about? As in, a bunch of stuff was just (over) explained and I still don't know what's going on. Seriously, Ethan, keep up! Lena's favorite line is: What? As in, I don't know what you mean when you ask me what's going on even though I just did something that any normal person would think is weird. Maybe these things are more annoying in the audiobook because of the reader's tone of voice. Ethan sounds like a thick- headed rube and Lina is a shady witch... I mean, caster.
I also wonder if I stopped reading it before when the movie came out. That can totally kill a book for me. Look at this movie poster. I almost threw up. Twilight has nothing to do with it... the movie posters just also make me want to vomit.

Update: I could also do without the heroin- junky music tracks. I probably would have loved it when I was 14. So, no hate.

Disclaimer: all pics borrowed from the internet, found via google search.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Case for Multiple Book Clubs

Hello. My name is Kenya and I hoard book clubs. [Hello, Kenya!] 
“Hoard” is obviously the wrong word, which suggests that I am trying to keep all the book clubs to myself, even when they are no longer useful to me, like so many candy wrappers, like I can’t get to my kitchen door without stepping over the book clubs in the way. That would be ridiculous... not about books, but about book groups!

The way I see it is: Books are my main hobby. Sporty people (I believe they are called athletes) and fisherman enjoy hanging out with others who share their interests. There are sports channels and fishing tackle stores and people in camo looking at dead fish, etc. Well, I also like to spend time with people who enjoy my favorite past time. I’m assuming things here, obviously; I don’t know any fisherman and very few athletes.  

Plus, when I moved to Rochester, I did so without knowing many people here. Hubbo works from home and is completely imbedded in the geekdom of the comic book industry and my kiddos are getting older (aka: less needy). I needed a way to meet and play with new friends of my own. Enter, book clubs! 
My plan was to try a few and really settle into one. But I realized that book clubs are kind of like people, or a church. Or a favorite Target store. They each have a personality and a culture. No single one can provide every single thing you need. So, right now I have four.  

My Friends (Sometimes we only barely remember what we are there for): My primary book group meets every 6 weeks or so. It was my idea to start it, but I didn’t really have anyone to invite (being pretty friendless) so it’s me, my friend, Meredith, and now 4 other people of varying degrees of separation from my friend. This is the club that typifies my idea of a friend’s book club: we all know each other fairly well, an average of two people actually read the book, we talk about it for no longer than 15 minutes, there’s at least three bottles of wine, and, more recently, it could be considered the Crimes against Humanity game club. Let me digress to warn you against introducing this game to a group of people that already has any other purpose. Anyway, we pick mostly light- reading fiction. Our most recent book, Landline by Rainbow Rowell was a favorite. I think only one person didn’t finish it! It’s considered YA by some, but is an excellent book about looking back on your life and figuring out how you may be missing out on the wonder of you relationship. We generally get a little loud and make fun of each other at least half the time.

My Library (Great at reading/ structure but not a lot of silliness): My “Library” book group is a discussion group organized by the local mortuary. Ha! No, seriously, it’s organized through the library. There are many libraries in my county and I basically attended the two that were conveniently timed and kept going back to the one I liked best (it was a smaller group). The average age of the participants is probably about 55 and I’ve never seen another person of color at a meeting. Everyone is super nice but a little mystified by the plight of any non- suburban characters. I like this book club largely, but not only, because of the structure. We are there to talk about the book. It’s also somewhat informal; we digress and get tangential but the majority of the time is spent on the book or making connections to other books. A recent favorite from this group was The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon. This book sparked some discussion about the history of mental institutions and families.  If you're in Monroe County and want to find a library book discussion group: click here. Barnes and Noble and some other books stores also have them. Check websites!

My Brains (The intellectuals):  My third group is for local Young Professionals. I qualify, by their definition, for about 2.5 more years, but I’m not planning to tell them that I’m getting close to being shoved out on the block of ice into the wilderness. This group is organized by a local group called Writers and Books. All of the participants are writers, avid readers, educators, or some combination. They teach words, breathe words, and use words like “trope” when we’re discussing books. Of course, by the end of each discussion, we’ve started googling the authors and making judgments about how closely their work resembles their real lives. And their hair. We always judge their hair. This group is intellectual and juvenile, all at the same time. The participants are idealistic and energetic. Members get together outside of book club for other local events. It’s also the only group where men regularly attend. Last month we read Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff by Christopher Moore, a favorite book of one of the group members. Great discussion. And everyone brings food inspired by the book!  

My Diversity (#WeNeedDiverseBooks and book clubs): I’m the least connected to the fourth group, called Ebony Voices. I attended a book discussion event for The Snow Child as part of the “If All of Rochester Reads the Same Book” project in 2014. A woman made several remarks about fantasy novels during the discussion that rubbed me the wrong way and I was ready to snub her so she could feel my righteous indignation. But after the discussion was over, she approached me (“I’ve never seen you here before.”) and invited me to her own “friend” book group. The group has been together, in iterations, for about 25 years. The participants are all professional women and read only books by authors of color. I’ve only been to a few meetings because the schedule isn’t ideal but the discussions we have in this group are unlike any I can have elsewhere, rich in history, shared experience, and spiritualism.  Who Asked You by Terry McMillan was a well- received book and reminded us all that there’s more than one side to every story.  

Of course, you’re wondering how I keep up with the assigned reading. It would be easier if they weren’t almost always scheduled the same week of the month. Truly, sometimes I read everything and sometimes I don’t. Last week, I hadn’t read the book for the Library group but went to enjoy being with the group and hearing about the book, anyway. 

So, tell me, what do you get out of your book discussion groups? Maybe I can come sometime?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mission: Rochester Teen Book Festival 2015 (Book Challenge Recap)

Tomorrow is the Rochester Teen Book Festival (@tbflive). If you are in the area and love YA, you have GOT to come over to Nazareth and check it out. I'm one of the author handlers for James Howe. Look for me in one of the florescent orange Tshirts! I'll rock it, obviously.

In anticipation of the festival, I challenged myself to Mission: TBFLive in which I was to read at least one book by each participating author. Luckily, there were a few that I had already read. But I still had about 25 authors to get to know. I accepted my challenge with a "Ha!!" and a "Bring it On" and then myself said "Ha HAAA! It's already been brought-en" and then it just got ugly.

Back on the sane side of things, I'm a procrastinator... so, basically, I've read 15 of these in the last two weeks. I just got Heather Terrell's The Fallen Angel, yesterday. And Chris Pallace's book hasn't gotten to me from book loan, yet. So, pending my own brain functioning tonight, I will be short ONE FRICKING BOOK!!  Ridiculous.  

This is the current wallpaper on my computer at work. Tiled, of course. (I think it's capable of inspiring a seizure.) I've been breathing TBF for two weeks and I'm excited to have the whole thing POP, tomorrow! Not like a pimple. That's gross. Like a fire cracker! Duh.

Post TBF, I plan on catching up with my Reading groups. They probably miss me. I might take a nap first.

Here's how the Mission all went down.

M. T. Anderson     
Thirsty, Feed
My thoughts on Feed are on my most recent post.
Jennifer Lynn Barnes     
Raised by Wolves
I definitely want to finish this series.
Charles Benoit     
Fall from Grace
This was so fun. I’m so glad I read this.
Heather Brewer     
Vladimir Chronicles 1- 4
Needing to read more than just the first one really killed my completion time for the challenge!
Jessica Brody     
Series to finish
Michael Buckley     
Sisters Grimm*
I have the two NERDS books at home. Plan to read.
Matt de la Peña     
The Living
This is a series to finish
Ally Condie     
When I head back into the dystopian genre, I’ll look Condi up, again.
Cinda Williams Chima     
The Heirs*
Sarah Dessen
Just Listen, Truth about Forever*
Kevin Emerson     
I went back and forth about this book. I would give the second one a shot.
Gayle Forman     
If I Stay
I had planned to miss all things Forman until some of the hype died down… but this book was good. Though, I think I would have liked a different ending.
April Henry     
The night she disappeared
Ellen Hopkins     
WAY better than I thought. The ending caught me by surprise.
Julie Kagawa     
The Iron Series*
A. S. King     
Reality Boy; Ask the Passengers
One of my new faves, for sure
Jo Knowles     
Jumping Off Swings (#1)
Emmy Laybourne     
Monument 14
Katie McGarry     
Crash into You
This turned out to be the third in a series. Oops. I might have been fine alone, though. It was light reading (for a 474 pages). Good girl, bad boys, messed up family lives. What’s not to love?
Sarah J. Maas     
Throne of Glass
A series to finish
Jonathan Maberry     
Rot and Ruin*
A series to finish
G. Neri     
This is the saddest GN in history. I’ll be reading more Neri in the near future.
Jennifer Niven     
All the Bright Places
This book is getting a lot of attention. At least it is on my feeds. It was definitely a golden spot of the challenge but I’m glad I was ahead of some of the buzz.
Chris Pallace
Get Mooned – on its way to my library
Jason Reynolds     
The Boy in the Black Suit
I plan to also read: When I was the Greatest
Kevin Serwacki
Doorknob& the Parade of Bugs
This was a cute little picture book I had to drive two towns over to read at the library. I’m thinking of adding the bunny to my tattoo.
Neal Shusterman     
Bruiser, Unwind*
Already a Fave. Bruiser is one of my top fave books. Still need to finish the Unwind series, though.
Heather Terrell     
Fallen Angel
Just picked it up yesterday. It’s on my agenda to finish today.
Terry Trueman
Stuck in Neutral
I’m mad at this book.
James Howe     
Bunnicula 1-3
This audiobook had me cracking up. I plan to read The Misfits #1 to see what I think.
*read before the challenge