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Saturday, December 17, 2016

What I've Been Reading (Mini Reviews)

Hello, hello! The fall semester is FINALLY over. I wasn't sure if I would make it out alive...BUT HERE I AM. I finally have time to blog and vlog and read what I want to read and IT. IS. MAGNIFICENT.

Since I have produced pretty much zero content over the course of my semester, I decided to update y'all on what I've read in the past few months (spoiler: not a whole lot). I should have actually read more than this for classes, but I did a lot of skimming and sparknoting, which I don't count.

Listen — Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.

Now he’s alive again.

Simple as that.

The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.

Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars.

Oh well, you only live twice.

I read this for my YA fiction writing class (which, by the way, was taught by a guy who basically never read YA) and found it to be just sort of okay. I liked the voice a lot, but I wasn't super in love with the protagonist. This book was more of a contemporary with background sci-fi elements, and I would have liked to see a heavier focus on the sci-fi.

My rating: 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

With a forward by Markus Zusak, interviews with Sherman Alexie and Ellen Forney, and four-color interior art throughout, this edition is perfect for fans and collectors alike.

This is another book I read for my YA fiction writing class and I was really excited to have the  chance to read this because I'd seen it around quite a bit. I think it's my favorite thing that we read in that class. I wasn't completely head-over-heels for it, but it was quick and engrossing. I loved the illustrations and, once again, the voice. I thought this book did a great job juggling humor and heartbreak. This was published in 2007 when political correctness wasn't as valued as it is today, so there are some language things throughout the book that are generally frowned upon now, but I was able to overlook it for the most part. This is the type of book I'd probably recommend to friends who don't read a ton just because it is quick and it did mostly keep my attention.

My rating: 

Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

From bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.

I actually read the first two volumes of this series--my first ever graphic novels! And I just adore them. It was my first time reading in this medium, so there were definitely times when I got lost or had a hard time following, so before I read volume 3 I will probably go back and re-read the first two. But this series has really sold me on graphic novels, and now I definitely want to seek out other series to enjoy. The artwork in this book is beautiful in a very gruesome way, so this is absolutely for more mature audiences. I'm not sure what else to say about this because I don't know much about graphic novels, but I just love this series now, and if you are uncertain about graphic novels, I recommend giving this one a shot!

 The Wild Palms (If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem) by William Faulkner

In this feverishly beautiful novel—originally titled If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem by Faulkner, and now published in the authoritative Library of America text—William Faulkner interweaves two narratives, each wholly absorbing in its own right, each subtly illuminating the other. In New Orleans in 1937, a man and a woman embark on a headlong flight into the wilderness of illicit passion, fleeing her husband and the temptations of respectability. In Mississippi ten years earlier, a convict sets forth across a flooded river, risking his own chance at freedom to rescue a pregnant woman. From these separate stories Faulkner composes a symphony of deliverance and damnation, survival and self-sacrifice, a novel in which elemental danger is juxtaposed with fatal injuries of the spirit. The Wild Palms is grandly inventive, heart-stopping in its prose, and suffused on every page with the physical presence of the country that Faulkner made his own.

I read this for my modern American literature class this semester, and I have very mixed feelings about it. So, this book is split into two different, unconnected narratives--The Wild Palms and The Old Man. The Wild Palms section is about a taboo-ish couple trying to survive and hold on to their passion, and The Old Man section is about a convict trying to survive a flood. I really enjoyed The Wild Palms section. I did not particularly love the couple (I thought that they were kinda foolish, but whatever) but I was interested in their story. The Old Man section was an absolute struggle to get through holy crap. But I am very proud of myself for getting through this novel without skimming or sparknoting. (Just so everyone knows, I fully intended to sparknote it, but it wasn't available.) Te writing is beautiful in its own way, but it's not something I majorly enjoyed reading. Calling it long-winded would be an understatement. Maybe in the future I will read more Faulkner, especially if I find a plot line that appeals to me.

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

This is the only novel I read strictly for funsies this semester, and I enjoyed it a lot! I know there were a lot of concerns surrounding this novel, and I think that Niven handles things very well. Since this is a mini review, I don't want to delve into this discussion here, but I am thinking about making a video regarding the issues people anticipated with this book. For now, just know that I don't think there was unhealthy representation. Anyway, I enjoyed the two main characters a lot and I enjoyed the romantic aspect of it (the romance was a prominent element, and yet I definitely don't think it was the focus). There's body positivity and geeky references, and I am SO INTO IT. I think what shows how much I enjoyed this book is that amid school and social life stuff, all I could think about was returning to this story and finishing it.

My rating: 

So that is what I read this fall semester. Not a ton, but I've definitely read less in a semester, so I'm not entirely disappointed.

My Goodreads goal for this year was 50 books, and I am currently at 36 books read. There is still a very slim chance I could make my goal if I pick up a ton of quick reads, but probably not. I'm okay with that, though. I've read more this year than I have in some of my previous years. 

Anyway, let me know in the comments some of your favorite books that you've read recently. Also, how are you doing on your Goodreads challenge? Let's chat! I've been gone so long, I've missed you people! 

Now I shall bid you goodbye and leave you with some of the BookTube videos I've recently posted!

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Thank you so much for taking the time to read what I have to say and give your opinion on it. It really means a lot to me. And of course, I will do my best to return the favor. However, as easily distracted and scatter-brained as I am, please don't be offended if I forget to comment on your blog.