Hi friends! I'm thrilled to be back with What I'm Reading Wednesday this week! Since it's been ages since my last WIRW post, I'm going to post short summaries and reviews of a ton of books instead of just ones that I've read this week. Hope you'll link up with a post on what you've been reading this chilly winter!
|Snow Day Blanket Reading :)|
Rating: 5/5 stars (teen realistic fiction/middle school appropriate)
I have to thank Carrie at Being-Ladylike for this first recommendation! I read this book start to finish in the span of a Sunday, most of it curled up in bed. This is just one of those quick-read books that you get hooked on and can't put down. Steven is a gifted drummer with an adorably annoying little brother whose world completely changes when little brother Jeffrey is diagnosed with leukemia. Yes, this is a cancer book so get the tissues ready. What I loved about it was the middle-school perspective we get on the sitaution. Narrator Steven is an eighth grader, and he talks and acts like it. I loved reading this coming of age story about an older brother dealing with the tough stuff in the only way he knows how, and learning so much about himself and his family along the way.
After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick
Rating: 4/5 stars (teen realistic fiction/middle school appropriate)
At the risk of *mildly* spoiling Drums, I'm reviewing the sequel...feel free to skip this part if you'd prefer! After Ever After takes place about 7 years after Drums's ending, and is narrated by post-cancer Jeffrey, Steven's little brother. What I loved about this book is that it shares a side of cancer that many of us have never even thought about: what happens AFTER cancer. When I was in college, one of my best friends was staring down death in a battle against cancer, and when she thankfully went into remission, we were told that a new part of the battle was beginning--dealing with what life is like when you are no longer fighting cancer, and the hardships it invovles. In the book, Jeffrey faces physical and mental side effects of having his body poisoned during cancer treatment as a child--I guess I should have thought of this, but I had no idea that that was a reality for some cancer survivors. The book is a totally different kind of cancer story, and I truly became attached to the characters. The only reason I rated it 4 stars instead of 5 is because I felt like Sonnenblick relied on many of the same plot elements in this book as in its predecessor. Would have liked some different twists and turns.
Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
Rating: 3.5/5 stars (adult fiction)
I read Prep by Sittenfeld back in college, and I absolutely LOVED it, so I was pumped to get my hands on Sisterland. The premise of this book was pretty interesting, and I was hooked right away--Sisterland jumps between past and present, telling the story of a set of twin girls with ESP. Cool, right? As they've grown up, narrator Kate has settled into her role as a sensible mother and all but squashed her "senses" out of her, while twin Violet has embraced them and made a career as a medium. Sisterland is not just a story about ESP, but it's also a story about siblings learning to find how they still fit together in their very different lives as adults. I have to say that I devoured this book and was all set to give it 4 stars until about 50-100 pages from the end when the plot took a direction that I really just didn't love. Bummer, right? Still worth a read.
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Rating: 4.5/5 stars (teen fantasy/mystery)
I was thoroughly disappointed by my first Libba Bray read, A Great and Terrible Beauty, but I am SO GLAD I set those feelings aside long enough to give her another chance. I LOVED The Diviners! This (incredibly long) book is set in the 1920s and chock full of 20s slang. Having been enamored with the 20s since I was a flapper for Halloween back in eighth grade, you can imagine how this peaked my interest from the first pages! The Diviners is a story from the perspective of about 5 or 6 different people living in New York City, all of whom have some mysterious supernatural gifts that make them "diviners." During the plot of the story, the characters use these gifts to, among other thigns, help track down a serial killer involved in some kind of cult ritual. Fascinating, right? And super, super creepy. Be careful reading this one at night!
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Rating: 4/5 stars (teen realsitic fiction, heavy material)
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is definitely not an uplifting book, but it is an improtant one. The novel starts with protagonist Leonard telling readers about his plan to, on his birthday, murder his former-best-friend-turned-bully before taking his own life. Light stuff, right? The whole book takes place in the span of one day, intermixed with both flashbacks and letters from the future to Leonard, telling him why he needs to hang on. This book would make a fabulous starting point for a conversation on bullying and kindness with high school-aged teens. Get your kleenex ready.
Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
Rating: 3/5 stars (adult humor)
Being a huge This American Life/NPR fan, I have loved David Sedaris's humorous monologues for years. I thoroughly enjoyed his book When You are Engulfed in Flames, so I was excited to read this collection of holiday-themed short stories over Christmas. Some of them were very funny, especially his story about his time working as en elf at Macy's, but others were a little slower, hence the 3/5 rating.
Allegient by Veronica Roth
Rating: 4/5 stars (teen dystopian scifi)
This book is the third and final installment in the Divergent trilogy, and I have to say I have some mixed feelings about it. I don't want to give any spoilers (I managed to wait until this week to read it without having it spoiled for me!), so I'll keep it pretty vague, but I must say this: I was completeyl wrapped up in the action of the book and appreciated the answers provided by Roth to some of the logistical questions about the factions and civilization that I've had since Divergent. However, the ending...I just didn't understand Roth's choices. I felt that the direction she decided to take was comlpletely unnecessary, and that the dramatic events added little (if anything) to the plot. Instead, they resulted in an unnecessary amount of lame falling action and a story that just, well, ended lamely. Kind of a bummer. I still rated it 4 stars because I thoroughly enjoyed it up until the end, and because the trilogy was just such an enjoyable one. Fans of Hunger Games should definitely check out Divergent, especially before the movie comes out!
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