Sunday, June 3, 2012

May 2012 Books

Not a lot of books for this past month. Lots of Young Adult fiction though. Oh well. Here goes...

FICTION
  • The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
  • The Treasure Map of Boys: Noel, Finn, Jackson, Hutch -- and me, Ruby Oliver by E. Lockart
  • The Boy Book: A Study of Habits and Behaviors Plus Techniques for Taming Them by E. Lockhart
  • Real Live Boyfriends: Yes, Boyfriends plural. If my life weren't complicated I wouldn't be Ruby Oliver by E. Lockhart
    • This is a cute teen series that I enjoyed. The heroine, Ruby Oliver, is a neurotic mess, just like many girls of high school age.
    • Her boyfriend breaks up with her to start going out with her best friend. Ruby kisses the ex-boyfriend at some party, everyone sees and her reputation is severely damaged. What with panic attacks and the desertion of her closest friends Ruby starts therapy. This pretty much jump starts the series which covers Ruby's life from sophomore to senior year.
    • Based on a few of my own high school experiences I could relate a bit to Ruby.
    • I like the covers of the first two books better with their whimsical pictures that relate to the plot. The young lady on the other two covers is pretty but I like the whimsical object better!
    • All four books: B+
  • Extras by Scott Westerfeld
    • This is the fourth and last book in the Uglies series. I didn't love the series because of its reliance on a heroine who saves her world but all of her decisions are based on the boys in her life. 
    • This book is somewhat of a reset, going forward several years after the world is saved by Tally. Now the heroine is Aya and place in society is based on one's reputation. The top 1,000 people are the ones with the most going on in their news feeds. Kind of like our world today, where people like Kim Kardashian would be in the top 1,000. Everyone's goal is to create news to move themselves up in a fickle society where rankings update by the second and technology is king. If you have a low reputation rank you are considered an "extra" just like in a movie's crowd scene.
    • Aya starts hanging out with some other girls at the bottom of the reputation list and they discover another world domination plot that starts the adventure. Tally herself comes back to help.
    • I liked this one better than the first three because it was not driven by decisions based on the heroine's boy issues. And it had so many more parallels to our current "anyone can be famous" world than Tally's "everyone gets plastic surgery and brain modification to keep everyone shallow and stupid" world.
    • B+
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
    • I was in the mood for some comfort reading so I picked up the Harry Potter books off the shelf. I hadn't read the earlier ones for years so it was nice to read with an eye towards every action and comment of Dumbledore and Snape to see them through the lens of knowing how it all ends. 
    • Rowling did a fabulous job on this series. I'm currently on the last book (the last two are part of June reading) and I just remember how satisfied I felt when I got to the end of it when I first read it in 2007.
    • One thing I find interesting is how the first few books compare to the later volumes. The first book is written toward an eleven-year-old, Harry's age at the start. We enter wide-eyed with Harry into the wizarding world with all the enthusiasm of our inner eleven-year-old selves. By the time one reaches the final book you are reading a book written for an adult, again keeping pace with Harry's age. Just an amazing achievement.
      • Series where the character grows along with the writing style seem to be the ones most beloved by readers: Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, Betsy-Tacy, even Little Women, as a few examples.  
    • A+ all around
NON-FICTION
  • Neverland: J.M. Barrie, the du Mauriers and the Dark Side of Peter Pan by Piers Dudgeon
    • There is a movie called "Finding Neverland" with Kate Winslet and Johnny Depp that covers some of this story but I haven't seen it, so I don't know how far it goes.
    • The book posits that Barrie (who does not come off as a nice person at all in this book) used hypnosis on Sylvia Llewelyn-Davies, her children and their cousin Daphne du Maurier in order to somehow control them. The book is not specifically clear on this point.
      • To a modern eye one automatically might assume sexual abuse of the boys by Barrie but that does not seem to be the case, at least according to one of the boys who firmly denied it.
    • The du Mauriers were an interesting family. Patriarch George was an artist and the author of Trilby, where the title character is hypnotised by Svengali. (So George is the source of the hypnosis training.) His daughter Sylvia, mother of the Llewelyn-Davies boys, died in her early 40s, as did her husband. Her brother Gerald was a famous stage actor in his day and the father of Daphne.
    • The Llewelyn-Davies boys were the inspiration for the Peter Pan stories. I read Peter Pan many years ago and loathed it. I can't remember why though and I don't want to try again to find out!
    • Much of the book is fascinating but there are several rather dry portions.
    • B
  • Learning to Live Out Loud: A Memoir by Piper Laurie
    • Pretty good memoir. Ms. Laurie has had an interesting life and she drops names left and right so it's a good juicy tale. It jumps around in time a bit but it is never dull.
    • A
Statistics:
  • 12 books read
  • 2 non-fiction
    • 2 biographies
  • 10 fiction
    • 10 young adult

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