Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Top 10 Books I've Read In 2017 So Far

This has been a strange reading year for me so far.  I think it's fair to say that even books I liked, I didn't really like.  So many of them were hard, and heartbreaking, and frustrating.  I honestly don't think I've ever read so much back-to-back realistic, contemporary fiction as I have this year.  It has made me kind of moody :)  My escape activity hasn't felt like an escape, yet I'm drawn to these stories and the lives of these characters.  But I'm totally going to try to read more fantasy/science fiction  the second half of the year.

What have been your 2017 favorites so far?

The Last Time We Say Goodbye
1) The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
"And I loved this book.  It was thoughtful, sincere, and genuine in its depiction of loss and regret."

 Goodbye Days
2 & 3) The Serpent King and Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
"This one surprise me.  It was dark, and ugly, and gritty, but at the same time there was a beauty to it."

The Hate U Give

4) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

"Thomas gets it right with a diverse cast of characters that you come to care about and a story that is difficult to read while remaining genuine."

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1)
5) The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
"There are a lot of plot elements happening at once, and yet [Ahdieh] manages to weave them together seamlessly."

 I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent, #1)
6 & 7) Bang and the I Hunt Killers Trilogy by Barry Lyga
"Lyga's characters are complicated, multi-faceted, and genuine, pulling you into the story and their lives."

8) Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
"Crouch explores concepts of destiny, fate, and regret.  If he had it to do over gain, would Jason choose the life with his family over the life where he discovered a scientific breakthrough, a breakthrough that could change the course of history?"

9) Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

City of Saints & Thieves
10) City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson
"Anderson impressed me.  She wrote a sophisticated thriller led by teenagers in a country plagued by instability and violence.  And within all of that she has created characters that you come to care and worry about."

Monday, June 26, 2017

Library GrabBag: #GPLtalk Episodes 16 & 18

We've been having a lot of fun discussing very unique books on the #GPLtalk podcast.  Overall, the consensus has been relatively positive on the selections, but one or two of us might have developed strong feelings about a few of the titles.  If you're looking for something "different" to read, check out our conversations on Hag Seed by Margaret Atwood and The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick.

Our July selection is The Valiant by Leslie Livingston.  Any suggestions on wha we should read this fall?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer of Dessen Pt. 2

Keeping the Moon
Speak, copyright 1999, 228 pages

Colie expects the worst when she's sent to spend the summer with her eccentric aunt Mira while her mother, queen of the television infomercial, tours Europe. Always an outcast -- first for being fat and then for being "easy" -- Colie has no friends at home and doesn't expect to find any in Colby, North Carolina.

But then she lands a job at the Last Chance Cafe and meets fellow waitresses Morgan and Isabel, best friends with a loving yet volatile relationship. Wacky yet wise, Morgan and Isabel help Colie see herself in a new way and realize the potential that has been there all along. 

~Goodreads Description

Colby, NC!  Now this is exactly what I was looking to read this summer - set in a beach-side community with a fun eating establishment and quirky characters.  That's the Sarah Dessen I love!  While not as fully developed as her later titles (there are definitely elements I felt were left unresolved or could have been expounded on), Keeping the Moon has the sincere, heartwarming look at self, perspective, and the past that Dessen does so well.

Speak, copyright 2000, 250 pages

Love can be a very dangerous thing.

After her sister left, Caitlin felt lost.

Then she met Rogerson.

When she's with him, nothing seems real.

But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?

~Goodreads Description

One of the more dark and frustrating of Dessen's library of titles.  Caitlin quickly becomes the center of her mother's world when her sister Cass abandons future plans and runs off to New York City to live with a boy she met on the beach the summer before her freshmen year at Yale.  Overwhelmed with the pressure, and looking to find a life that is the opposite of what Cass would have done, Caitlin falls for the mysterious loner boy, Rogerson, and quickly dissolves in a world of drug use and abuse.

The descriptions of justification for abuse are ones I've heard before, and I find them both heartbreaking and terrifying.  Her parents were rather obtuse which was extremely frustrating, and I'll admit I yelled at the book a time or two.  Dessen does an excellent job of portraying paranoia and fear as Caitlin becomes so fully dependent on Rogerson that she doesn't know how to save herself.  This was a much harder read the other titles we've read so far, but it could offer an excellent opportunity to discuss abusive relationships with teens.

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