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summer reading 2013



In Review

By Elizabeth Wroten

Review: The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi

On 12, Sep 2013 | In Review | By Elizabeth Wroten

Drowned Cities

From GoodReads: In a dark future America where violence, terror, and grief touch everyone, young refugees Mahlia and Mouse have managed to leave behind the war-torn lands of the Drowned Cities by escaping into the jungle outskirts. But when they discover a wounded half-man–a bioengineered war beast named Tool–who is being hunted by a vengeful band of soldiers, their fragile existence quickly collapses. One is taken prisoner by merciless soldier boys, and the other is faced with an impossible decision: Risk everything to save a friend, or flee to a place where freedom might finally be possible.

I liked this one as much as Ship Breaker. It was a bit of the same and a bit different in terms of the story arc. The characters were all deeply flawed but likable. There was plenty of action but also heart. I love love love Tool. He’s a “good guy” but not a good guy and I love the ambiguity of it all. It makes it very real.

Okay, that’s done. Can we talk about the paperback cover for Ship Breaker and the cover for The Drowned Cities. Oh my god they suck. I’m not the type of person who is embarrassed to be seen with a book because it’s cover it terrible and I wouldn’t be embarrassed by this one. But let me tell you, if I hadn’t loved Ship Breaker I would not have picked this one up.

The eyes are just weird. The font is pretty ho-hum. The scratchy effect layered over the picture kinda works, but the hardback cover for Ship Breaker was perfect. It looked like the title was carved into one of the ships on the beach. It worked with the story and it didn’t tell you how to picture anything. Now I can’t get those eyes out of my head while I read these books. Also, I didn’t know what city was the Drowned City. Not for quite some time and it was pretty cool to try and pin it down. But if I hadn’t read the ebook version (or had looked more closely at that crappy cover, something I avoided doing) I wouldn’t have had that pleasure.

So please ignore the cover and read this book. It’s so worth the time.

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In Review

By Elizabeth Wroten

Review: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

On 12, Jun 2013 | In Review | By Elizabeth Wroten

American Born ChineseFrom GoodReads:

A tour-de-force by rising indy comics star Gene Yang, American Born Chinese tells the story of three apparently unrelated characters: Jin Wang, who moves to a new neighborhood with his family only to discover that he’s the only Chinese-American student at his new school; the powerful Monkey King, subject of one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables; and Chin-Kee, a personification of the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, who is ruining his cousin Danny’s life with his yearly visits. Their lives and stories come together with an unexpected twist in this action-packed modern fable. American Born Chinese is an amazing ride, all the way up to the astonishing climax.

First Impressions: All right, this one has been sitting on my TBR pile for years now and based on what the person who recommended it said and the blurb here, I was expecting a bit more of a plot twist/reveal at the end. I wouldn’t say I was disappointed to predict the ending to some extent, but my expectations set me up to be really wowed and I wasn’t especially.

That Being Said: Sometimes I think graphic novels can be a bit light on story and character development and you can breeze through them. American Born Chinese was neither, and although it was a quick read, it was still thought provoking.

On the surface the novel deals with the struggles of Jin Wang, Danny, and the Monkey King. All of them are in denial about who they are. They all also share the burden of straddling two cultures and feeling the need or desire to choose one over the other. But I think it goes beyond the conflict of Chinese and American, monkey and god. It’s a story about finding who you are and embracing that person, something that is a universal struggle for, well, everyone. You don’t need to be grappling with feeling like an outsider because of your culture or race or citizenship to appreciate the characters. To me, the power of the story was in its message that it’s okay to be different and uncomfortable with that and that it’s okay to come to terms with your differences, be they cultural or otherwise.

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In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten


On 08, Jun 2013 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

So the 48-Hour Book Challenge weekend is here and I am ready to kick off my summer reading. It’s even over a 100 degrees in honor of summer making me want to just lie on the couch inert. My goal for the challenge is not to spend as much of the 48 hours reading as that would be frustratingly impossible, but to get through a couple books. Sometimes all I need is a bit of a deadline to get through stuff. 🙂 First up is finishing the current book I’m reading, Akata Witch. I would then like to follow that up with Drowned Cities. And if there’s time I’ll move on to It’s Kind of a Funny Story. Wish me luck, we’ll see how it goes. I still have a toddler to care for, grocery shopping to do, and a tub that won’t scrub itself. Maybe next year I can really get into the challenge by having my mom babysit all weekend!

Akata WitchDrowned Cities It's Kind of a Funny Story

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In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

Summer Reading

On 31, May 2013 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

Okay, I’m like most (all?) librarians in that I have approximately a million books on my TBR pile give or take a few hundred thousand. With summer is nearly upon us I’ve decided to use my blog to hold myself accountable for tackling one of my (many) TBR lists.

I’ve pared my YA To Read list down to a reasonable and manageable length and I’m hoping to work my way through the titles over June, July and August. You can see the list here:
my 2013-summer-reading shelf:
Elizabeth's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (2013-summer-reading shelf)
You may or may not (probably not) have noticed I tend to post reviews on Wednesdays, but this summer I’m going to shift my blogging to focus primarily on my reviews.* It’s only a temporary thing to force me into really reading this summer and play catch up (you’ll notice a few older titles on my list).

To kick off my summer reading I’m going to participate in the 48 Hour Book Challenge. At least to the degree that I am able with a 21 month old toddler. 🙂 It’s not about winning or tracking my reading so much as it’s an excuse to really get going. And I do love to binge read. I have to admit, I will probably start earlier than the 48HBC actually starts, but I can also use the date as a timeline for checking books out of the library, which is where I get 99% of the YA I read.

*I just wanted to make a little note about my reviews. I know they aren’t long and may not really constitute reviews. My purpose, for the time being, in reading YA is to both broaden my base of literature that I can draw on for readers advisory and to be steeped in the YA lit culture. I like sharing my feelings about the books I’ve read, but don’t feel like I have enough of a foundation to start recommending lots of read alike titles or major thoughts about themes. I hope to one day, but just don’t feel like I can now. I do love to turn to several other blogs in my blogroll for that kind of analysis, such as Stacked Books and Forever Young Adult.

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