Tuesday, February 28, 2017

10 Books I Recommend the Most

Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most

Teen/Adult:  "I don't know what I want to read next."

Emily:  "What was that?  You want some recommendations? Why, yes, I do believe I could help you find something to read."

Emily's Inner Dialogue:  Be cool. Deep Breath.  Don't freak them out.  This is very important.  Yes, someone ACTUALLY asked you what to read next, and that is your favorite question, but that doesn't mean you an go crazy.  Just a couple, Emily.  A couple.  And, no, a couple does not mean ALL the books.

My name is Emily, and I am a librarian.  And while that sounds like it should mean that I'm talking books all day with excited, avid readers, that would be one of the great library myths - very similar to the one that I actually sit around all day reading.  (I highly suggest you visit your local library to discover all of the opportunities available to your community...and maybe ask your librarian for a reading recommendations to make them smile!)  That's why it's super important to be ready with suggestions whenever someone asks (while attempting to not freak them out with a list that will keep them busy for over a year.)  While my recommendations rely on a person's reading tastes and expectations, I still have some go-tos that I recommend a lot.  And if you also are a fan of Book Plots & Polka Dots, you'll a few other titles that I've suggested a time or two (or fifty) :) 

1) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

2) Out of the Easy by Rita Sepetys

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)
3) The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)
4) Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

5) The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

Croak (Croak, #1)
6) Croak by Gina Damico

7) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

8) Cinder by Marissa Meyer

9) Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

10) Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Great American Whatever

The Great American WhateverAuthor: Tim Federle
Info: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, copyright 2016, 288 pages

Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry used to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister Annabeth. Of course, that was all before—before Quinn stopped going to school, before his mom started sleeping on the sofa…and before Annabeth was killed in a car accident.

Enter Geoff, Quinn’s best friend who insists it’s time that Quinn came out—at least from hibernation. One haircut later, Geoff drags Quinn to his first college party, where instead of nursing his pain, he meets a guy—a hot one—and falls hard. What follows is an upside-down week in which Quinn begins imagining his future as a screenplay that might actually have a happily-ever-after ending—if, that is, he can finally step back into the starring role of his own life story.

~Goodreads Description

Back to being pessimistic.

Super quick blurb - Quinn has a sister.  Sister dies.  Quinn is grieving.  Quinn is gay.  Quinn is looking for his identity.  Quinn moves on.  Was that glib?  That sounded glib.  Okay, it was a little glib.

What is it with siblings dying?  Is that the only obstacle authors think that teens face?  The loss of a brother or sister?  Or perhaps I've just read way too many of this particular kind of book lately.  I don't know, but this one left me underwhelmed.

The thing is, I didn't particularly like Quinn.  He had potential.  Lots of potential.  But things that it felt like Federle wanted us to focus on - Quinn as an aspiring screenwriter, Quinn as a caring sibling, Quinn as a friend - got glossed over or forgotten.  If they were meant to define who Quinn was both before the loss of his sister and after, shouldn't they have played more of a prominent role?

Even Quinn's sexual identity and coming out was given the time or understanding that it could have or should have.  He just came off as selfish and ungrateful, and the glimpse of Quinn you get at the end doesn't really work with that image.  Despite Annabeth being dead, getting to know her would have allowed the reader to get to know Quinn better, to sympathize and empathize with what he was going through.  He wasn't a bad guy.  But a character driven book should allow you to get to know the characters, and I don't feel like that really happened...and what I did learn about him didn't leave me wanting more.

So this wasn't my favorite of the year so far.  It also wasn't the worst.  It was.  Maybe I need to sit with it a little longer.  Toss it around in my head for awhile.  Hmmm.  I don't know.  What did you think?


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

10 Books I Loved More / Less Than I Thought I Would

10 Books I Loved More / Less Than I Thought I Would

There are times when I immediately fall in love with a book (I'm looking at you My Lady Jane, Illuminae, and all things Sarah Dessen).  It's as if the books were written just for me.  I grab hold tight and don't let go.

There are also times when I have to sit with a book for awhile.  Let the words, characters, and feelings percolate until I realize that I did, in fact, actually enjoy the book.  I couldn't tell at first, but spending time alone with my thoughts convinces me.

On the flip side, I can usually tell right away if dislike a book.  It usually festers while I'm reading, bubbles underneath the surface, until the ick explodes and the ranting begins.  It's nothing against the authors.  Usually the writing itself is admirable and interesting.  It's just that sometimes I really don't like the characters...or the setting...or the plot.  And sometimes it's just unfair because I have favorite authors who I feel do it better.

All that to say, here are some books that surprised a bit - for the good and the bad.

Didn't expect to like these, but it turns out I did... 

I'll Give You the Sun
1) I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

The Serpent King
2) The Serpent King by Jeff Zantner

Not a Drop to Drink (Not a Drop to Drink, #1)
3) Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Dumplin' (Dumplin', #1)
4) Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Vengeance Road
5) Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

As for these...not so much

The Thousandth Floor (The Thousandth Floor, #1)
6) The Thousandth Floor by Katherine McGee

P.S. I Like You
7) P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies
8) Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar

Wink Poppy Midnight
9) Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

Kill the Boy Band
10) Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky
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