Thursday, January 26, 2017

TGBC: Teen Lit Rocks title

Title: Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella
Author: Megan Morrison
Status: New read

How did I acquire it?
One of the gift books from my boss.

How long have I owned it without reading it? 
About a month.

I have fallen in love with Megan Morrison. Not only am I convinced that she is a better version of myself (she got her start writing Harry Potter fanfiction, she's currently teaching drama to middle schoolers, she went to school for theatre, and she writes about fairy tales -- we are the same person), but she has created a fairy tale world I never want to leave.

I'm not going to give this fairy tale adaptation the Fairy Tale Project treatment like I did with Grounded, mostly because this is not a traditional retelling of Cinderella, and actually barely follows the story we all know. Cinderella loses a slipper and flees from the prince within the first 19 pages, and the ball is over and done with before we even hit the halfway point. And I don't care. See, this Cinderella has much bigger things to worry about than winning the prince's heart at some ball. She has to find a way to fix unfair labor standards that threaten the working class of her kingdom. She has to stand up for those who can't and be a voice for those who are being silenced. And if she thinks about the prince at all, it's because she hopes she can show him the things that are wrong and convince him to do something about it. This Cinderella is a revolutionary -- and I love it.

I love every character in this story. I love the good guys -- Ella, who is fiery and passionate and reckless and stubbornly uncharming. Prince Dash, who wants to be a better person and fights against his privilege. Serge, who is losing his magic because nothing about being a fairy godfather is real anymore, and Jasper, who rekindles the flame of hope inside Serge (and other things, I'm hoping, as the series progresses (I SHIP IT, IF THAT WASN'T CLEAR)). I love the middle guys -- Sharlyn, Ella's stepmother, who's not wicked, she's just business-savvy and pragmatic in a way that crimps Ella's idealism. Clover and Linden, the "wicked" stepsiblings, who are a bit vain and abrasive, but never truly evil. Lavaliere, who's the snotty brat on the surface but with a heart of . . . like, tarnished silver underneath. I even love the bad guys -- Lady Lavier, Bejeweled the corrupt head fairy godmother, King Clement. Everyone is just so wonderful, I love them all.

But most of all, I love how REAL this world that Morrison has created feels. It never falls into "fairy tale world" vagueness, and I can't stress enough how refreshing that is. This book starts out as Cinderella and then becomes a fairy tale version of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, and there's something bold about that, make no mistake. This book has gumption, and it says something, and I want so many more books from this world. I am thrilled that the internet tells me I will eventually have six. I only wish that number was higher.

Status after reading: 
This one stays, until it comes out in paperback, which I will then buy so that my copies match. Or, let's be real, I'll probably buy Grounded in hardback because I'm not going to wait to buy the rest of these until they're in paperback, so...

In the project: 418
Tackled so far: 10
Still unread: 91
Giving away: 4

Saturday, January 21, 2017

TGBC Outlier!: Grounded by Megan Morrison

This is an upcoming book group title, so I am jumping ahead in the bookshelf a bit. And since it's a fairy tale that I covered in my fairy tale adaptation project, I'm gonna throw a little bit of that analysis in here, too!

Title: Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel
Author: Megan Morrison
Status: New read

How did I acquire it?
Bought this one at a Scholastic Book Fair.

How long have I owned it without reading it?
A good two years or so?

I really like the fairy tale world that Morrison has created, and I love that there will be multiple books in this series. The fairy tale adaptation genre has a new author, folks, and I am very excited!

The land of Tyme is split up into 12 fairy tale lands (took me WAY too long to figure out that was a throwback to Andrew Lang's fairy tale collections. BAD fairy tale expert. BAD.)

This book is Rapunzel's story, and it opens in a really disorienting way. Which works, because Rapunzel is a quintessential innocent, so the witch has been erasing her memories her whole life, and we as the reader are experiencing the story and the world with her. Our understanding grows and expands as hers does. It's handled really well, and the way that innocence underlines the whole story is beautifully done. I really enjoyed this world.

Let's bring back my fairy tale adaptation criteria!

Type of adaptation? Retelling, combined with Jack and the Beanstalk (popular choice), as well as a whole host of other fairy tale possibilities. But really Jack and the Beanstalk.

What am I looking for in an adaptation?

Explanation for the parents’ behavior? Yes. Dad was a coward and Mom didn't know. Rapunzel was then swept off before anyone else from her family could follow or find her.

Exploration of Rapunzel’s childhood with Mother Gothel? Definitely. It's creepy and unsettling, but it is there and richly developed.

Explain the unexplained elements. How did Rapunzel’s hair grow long enough to hoist a full grown woman up a presumably tall tower? Magic. The witch has the power to grant anything Rapunzel wishes for, and she manipulated Rapunzel into wishing for super long hair. How was Rapunzel able to stand having her head used as a ladder? She had a special wheel that took the pressure off her skull. Why did her tears heal the prince’s eyes? Wasn't really part of this story.

Wrap up the loose ends. What happened to Rapunzel’s parents? They died, but Rapunzel's grandmother is still alive. What happened to Mother Gothel? MY FAVORITE PART OF THIS ADAPTATION, but I won't spoil it. Go read it. Did the prince live in the wilderness with Rapunzel, or did he return to his kingdom to rule? The prince here is basically Jack, and this part of the story was reworked. What about the kids, folks? No kids, no pregnancy.

Really really well done. And since I need to tackle a Teen Lit Rocks book next, and the sequel is sitting right there among my Teen Lit Rocks books, I'm gonna go spend some more time in this world!

Status after reading: This one's a keeper. ... Why do I feel like I'm going to be much more inclined to keep the fairy tale retellings? Oh, right. Because I'm me.

In the project: 417
Tackled so far: 9
Still unread: 92
Giving away: 4

TGBC: Round 1: Renee Ahdieh

Titles: The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Status: Rereads

Where did I acquire them?
Book 1 I got for Christmas from my brother-in-law; book 2 I got from my boss's stash of 2016 publications. I have wanted both for my collection since I owned them. These were always going to be kept; I just rewarded myself with a reread because I love them so much.

How long since I've read them?
I reread Book 1 when Book 2 came out, and read Book 2 immediately upon publication, so . . . nine months? About?

I adore literally everything about these books - the story, the characters, the world, the covers. I love it all. These are a retelling of the Shahrzad story, with a beautiful, beautiful conceit. The Caliph is not a murder-hungry, cold-blooded killer, and Shahrzad is not a pure-hearted maiden trying to help him return to the light. He's under a curse he won't tell anyone about, and she's there to kill him. READ THESE BOOKS.

Status After Reading:
Keeping. I am keeping these books until the end of time. That was never an issue.


So, I felt like I was losing control of my numbers, so I did what I should have done at the outset -- I made a color-coded spreadsheet. Official numbers (please ignore where they don't line up with the past numbers section)

Books included in the GBC project: 417
Books tackled so far: 9
Books still unread: 92
Books I'm giving away: 4 (I decided not to reread Mitch Album's The Five People You Meet in Heaven, so it goes in the giveaway pile)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

TGBC: Round 1: The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things

As I move through Round 1, I am skipping the collected work of Douglas Adams, not because I don't love Hitchhiker's Guide, but because the collection belongs to my husband, so onto the next book on the shelf:

Title: The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things
Author: Ann Aguirre
Status: Reread

Where did I acquire it?
This was a book club freebie from Teen Lit Rocks a couple years ago.

How long since I read it?
Two years.

I loved this book the first time I read it, and I love it still. It's a YA title that deals with heavy topics without being completely depressing and angsty. It's hopeful, and I love the message that we do get to choose who we become, that anyone can change at any point, no matter their past. The cast is marvelous; there's no one I don't love, everyone is three dimensional and well drawn. I recommend this one all the time.

Status after rereading?
I do love this book, and I am glad I hung onto it and that I read it again. It's definitely a book I will rec to a lot of people. But, I think I'm gonna put it on the giveaway pile. I've read it twice, but I don't know that it will become a go-to reread for me. Still, definitely pick this one up. It's amazing.

I feel like none of these are accurate anymore. I'm so bad at math.
Books included in the GBC project: 422
Books tackled so far: 6
Books still unread: 98
Books I'm giving away: 3

Monday, January 9, 2017

TGBC: Round 1: EF Abbott's titles

The first two books of Round 1!

Titles: Nettie and Nellie Crook: Orphan Train Sisters and Sybil Ludington: Revolutionary War Rider
Author: EF Abbot
Status: New Reads

Where did I acquire them? 
My boss sits on an ALA committee at the moment, so she has boxes upon boxes of 2016 children's books she basically unloaded onto us. These are two books from that batch

How long have I owned them without reading?
Only about a month.

These are two of, I think four titles in a series called Based on a True Story. They're short historical fiction books for kids in grades 3-5. What I really like is that the series is focusing on little-discussed moments from history. The Orphan Trains were fascinating, and I applaud anyone who gives my girl Sybil Ludington a shout. I think these are really good beginner historical fiction books for the target audience. They make the history interesting.

Status after reading?
I enjoyed these, and I'll definitely recommend them to my patrons, but I won't be keeping them on my shelf.

Books included in the GBC project: 422 (One book acquired from Paperback Swap, one from the library 10 cent cart because I can't help myself)
Books tackled so far: 4
Books still unread: 98

Teen Lit Rocks Review Book 1

I contribute to a Teen Lit Blog when I'm on top of my life, called Teen Lit Rocks. I currently have 28 books and ARCs to read and review for the blog, so I am interspersing them with the Bookshelf books. And I have finished my first title of the year!

Title: When We Collided
Author: Emery Lord
Status: New Read

Where did I acquire it?
My boss loaned me this one. Apparently the author is going to be in the area at some point this year, or Skyping with us, so my boss asked us to read her novel and let her know what we thought.

How long have I owned it without reading it?
I don't own this one, but I have had it on loan for about three months.

I will link to my full review when it goes up on TLR, but I did like a lot about this book. It's a YA romance that talks about mental illness very realistically, and it's view of YA romance is realistic, too -- this is a teenage couple who need each other for the summer they spend together, but they are never painted as a forever kind of love. I wouldn't keep this book on my shelf if I owned it, but I really appreciated it, and I'd love to hear the author speak about her experiences.

Status after reading?
Going back to my boss

Books in the project: 420
Books tackled so far: 2
Books still unread: 100

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Round 1

So, I've been trying to figure out the best way to organize this challenge, as it's pretty complicated because Hi, I'm Cassie, have we met?

But I have come up with a system I think will work.

My bookshelves are all divided into square sections. I am going to lump each section together into "Rounds" so that I can really go over each book I own, and so that it's easier for me to keep track of how much I've done and have left to do. This will, of course, be interspersed with the non-bookshelf reading I'm doing, but I think this is the best way to keep track overall.

So. Round One.

Titles and Their Statuses:

Nellie and Nettie Crook: Orphan Train Sisters by EF Abbott: Need to Read

Sybil Ludington: Revolutionary War Rider by EF Abbott: Need to Read

The Complete Hitchhiker's Guide series by Douglas Adams (should that count as six books??? Crap...): Chase's (so, do not have to read for this project)

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre: Need to Reread

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh: Keeping

The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh: Keeping

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom: Need to Reread

Guitar Notes by Mary Amato: Need to Read

A Little Taste of Poison by RJ Anderson: Need to Read

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler: Need to Reread

In case you're curious, this project will last roughly 33 rounds. :)

I am almost finished with my first Teen Lit Rocks book of the year, and after that, I will be starting on the actual bookshelf, only four books into the new year! 

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Acquisitions mean updated numbers!

New books!

I had B&N giftcards to spend, so I need to update my numbers. I did pretty well -- bought five books, only spent $9 above my gift cards, and only added three unread books to my collection. We now sit at:

Total books in the project: 420
Books tackled so far: 1
Books still unread: 101

Sunday, January 1, 2017

TGBC: Book 1 - Nightmares!

Never let it be said that my days off go to waste! January 1st has a little more than an hour left, and I have already finished two novels! Granted, they were both started last year, but I finished them both today.

The first novel of the year, The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands is not a Great Bookshelf Caper book. It is a work book, and it was wonderful and you should read it, but I'm not going to be talking about it here.

The first Bookshelf Caper novel of the year is Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller. I am using a caveat already! This book would come first on really no one's bookshelf if they organize by any system I can imagine, but this is one of my Middle School Book Group's novels this month, so I'm allowed to have jumped to the S's.

Let's do this.

Title: Nightmares! 
Author: Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
Status: New read

Where did I acquire it?
This was a Book Fair buy back when I worked as an elementary school library assistant. I'm a fan of Jason Segel, so when I heard he'd written a book, I bought it and then never read it.

How long have I owned it without reading it?
Roughly two years

I gave this one three stars on Goodreads, which is Cassie-rating-speak for I liked it, but I'm probably not going to read it again. I think this book tackles a really important set of issues for 10-13-year-olds, and when looked at for that age group, the book is well done. But I am not its target audience, and as an adult reading, I found the story a bit predictable and a bit heavy-handed. I would recommend this to a lot of my students, because there's a lot of value in it for them, but it's not a book that crosses over to adult readers as well as it could.

Status after reading?
I'm holding onto this one through my discussion on the 24th, but then this will land on the Giveaway pile.

Books included in the GBC project: 415 (updated from yesterday's post upon return of a book I loaned my brother)
Books tackled so far: 1
Books still unread: 98 (see above comment)

So that's one freebie and one from the shelf, which means my next book probably ought to be a TeenLitRocks review. See you when that's done!