Sunday, August 27, 2017

TGBC: Round Five: Justina Chen

Going to tackle both of Justina's books in one post.

Title: North of Beautiful
Author: Justina Chen
Status: Reread

How did I acquire it?
I bought it after reading Return to Me because I liked the author a lot.

How long has it been since I read it?
This was my first reread, so ... four-ish years? Something like that.

Thoughts?
This book falls near the top of my list of underappreciated YA books. It deserves a lot more love than I typically see it getting. There are so many wonderful, powerful things happening in this story. I love the characters, even the ones that you hate in the world of the story; I love the growth we see everyone go through; I love that the world Chen creates in this novel is messy and complicated and shaded with gray. The characters and situations feel real, and I was so invested from the beginning, even knowing how the story would end.

Status after reading?
This one stays on the shelf.

Title: Return to Me
Author: Justina Chen
Status: Reread

How did I acquire it?
This was a Teen Lit Rocks monthly book club a few years ago, so I was sent a copy for that.

How long has it been since I read it?
About four and a half years, I think.

Thoughts?
I gave this book a really positive review when we read it for Teen Lit Rocks. I remember really enjoying it. And I enjoyed it on the reread -- until the end. Or, at least, until what should have been the end. Because the book had about eight different endings. I thought I had reached the last chapter again and again, and that was the biggest issue I was left with on the reread. She took the story too far. She showed us too much. The last seven chapters, and especially the epilogue, were unnecessary. I don't need to have every detail filled in and every loose end tied up. And I don't need a seven-year-jump epilogue to assure me that everything worked out exactly as our main character dreamed it would -- with one notable exception to keep it real, I guess?

Status after reading?
I'm glad that this book introduced me to Justina Chen, I'm glad that I reread it, but I don't need to keep it on the shelf any longer.

Numbers:
Books in the project: 475
Books tackled so far: 88
Books still to read: 81
Books given away: 45

Sunday, August 6, 2017

TGBC: Round Four: Roar

Title: Roar
Author: Cora Carmack
Status: New read

How did I acquire it?
This was one of my latest Teen Lit Rocks ARCs.

How long have I owned it without reading it?
A couple months.

Thoughts?
I like this one. The world of Caelira is beset by storms -- wild, furious, and nearly sentient. The rulers of Caelira's kingdoms are supposed to be able to tame the storms and so protect their people. But Aurora, heir to the kingdom of Pavan, is no Stormling. She has not a touch of magic about her, a secret she and her mother will do anything to protect, including arranging a marriage to a cruel and vicious Stormling prince. And then Aurora learns about people like her, born without magic, but able to tame the storms nonetheless.

It's a captivating story. I love the world. I love the way that magic works, that it exists as part of these storms, and I love the way that we are opened to understanding the world bit by little bit, and only as Rora learns and understands. That element reconciles me a little to the shifting perspectives, which are often jarring, though I still believe the story would be stronger if we kept to Rora and this mysterious, villainous Stormlord.

This is Cormack's first YA novel. Her other books are all adult romance, and it shows here. This is definitely a steamier novel than most YA goes for, but I did appreciate that it's always tasteful, never graphic, and I truly appreciated the amount of respect and consent-seeking we are always shown in the romance. I was a little worried at the start that I was going to absolutely hate the obvious love interest because he's your classic strong-man protector type. But I really appreciate how Carmack worked to subvert that trope. He may have started out that way, but he grew the more he connected with Roar, and I have high hopes for that continuing in the sequels.

Status after reading?
I'm keeping this one.

Numbers?
Books in the Project: 472
Books tackled so far: 86
Books still left to read: 82

Books giving away: 44

TGBC: Round Four: Sarah and Rebekah

Title: Sarah; Rebekah (books 1 and 2 of the Women of Genesis trilogy)
Author: Orson Scott Card

How did I acquire them? Rebekah I've had for ages, since high school. Sarah I got through Paperback Swap a few months ago.

How long has it been since I read them?
I last read both of these books in high school, so about 12 years?

Thoughts?
I loved these books in high school. I remember being really impressed with the depth of Biblical history explored, and I remember thinking that they were quite feminist in their narrative approach. And having read them again, I don't disagree with those old opinions, exactly. I'm just more aware of how much of a racist ass their author is. Which severely limited my enjoyment.

I only reread Sarah. There was a lot that I liked about it, though I did find Sarah to be a little cloying and a little too perfect, for all her supposed flaws. The religion aspect also struck me as a bit more heavy-handed this time around. But what really soured me was the treatment of Hagar and Ishmael. Look, you can read what you want into Bible stories, and you can craft and expand these characters however you choose. But now that I'm much more aware of Isaac as a kind of starting point for the Judeo-Christian people and Ishmael as the same for the Arabs, and also being much more aware that Orson Scott Card is a racist tool . . . the characterization of Hagar and Ishmael as wholly selfish, vindictive, cruel, and out for the destruction of Sarah and Isaach does not sit well.

I did not reread Rebekah.

Status after reading?
I'm not going to keep these.

Numbers:
Books in the Project: 472
Books tackled so far: 86
Books still left to read: 82 (My library may have weeded the Teen section. I may have taken home eight books)
Books giving away: 44