Archive for Other

The Sweetest Dark

sweetestdark By Shana Abe [LibraryThing - Goodreads]

In 1915, penniless orphan Eleanore “Lora “ Jones is sent from war-torn London to the uber-posh boarding school of Iverson in peaceful Wessex. But Lora is different from the other girls, and not just because they’re daughters of the peerage and she’s a charity student. She hears music from the sky and the stones, and dreams of turning to smoke. And at Iverson, her true nature will be realized – along with a connection to two boys, one fair, one dark, and both as far from human as she is.

[Small-to-medium spoilers ahead; proceed at your own risk!]

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Hunger Games Series Open Thread

The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins


Tuesday is the release of the Mockingjay, the incredibly super highly anticipated conclusion of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. (But I don’t have to tell you that: let’s face it, if you like YA enough to read this blog, you already know that.) So here, have an open thread for discussing whatever you care to about the series. Who will live and who will die? Will Katniss have to go through a third round of games? Does Katniss end up with Gale or Peeta (and do you care who she ends up with)?

The only thing we ask is that, while spoilers for The Hunger Games and Catching Fire are fair game, no one spoils Mockingjay for 48 hours after its release (so all day Tuesday and Wednesday) so people will have a chance to read it for themselves. (I know I’m taking Tuesday off work to do so…)

Okay? Have at it!

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The Unusual Mind of Vincent Shadow

vincentshadow By Tim Kehoe [LibraryThing]

All Vincent wants to do is invent toys, but it’s hard to do that with his family moving, his stepmother and stepsisters picking on him, and his inventions falling flat. When the chance to enter a toy inventing contest arises, though, Vincent knows that this may be just what he needs to make his dreams come true.

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Bookathon: Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock

Book Thirteen
Starting Time: 7:40 pm
Ending Time: 8:30 pm

Title: Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock
Author: Carolyn Keene
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 180
Summary: Nancy investigates a lost will that will benefit various virtuous spinsters and orphans, and eats several slices of cake.
Thoughts: Oh, Nancy. With only 50 minutes left I went for an easy reread, and Nancy’s super-polite badassery was as charmingly ridiculous as always.

Three and a half cupcakes

Final book/page count/hours tally coming soon, plus payment info for sponsors.

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Bookathon: Exposure

Book Twelve
Starting Time: 4:30 pm
Ending Time: 7:25 pm

Title: Exposure
Author: Mal Peet
Genre: Athletics sociopolitical crime drama? Also, Shakespeare fanfic again.
Pages: 430
Summary: When Otello, a black soccer player in a racially-divided unnamed South American country, and pop star Desmerelda meet, it’s love at first sight, but the machinations of Otello’s two-faced agent Diego may destroy them both.
Thoughts: Really interesting world, really interesting exploration of racial dynamics. I liked Paul Faustino, the sports journalist who apparently is the connecting thread in several of Peet’s books, and his subplot with a handful of doomed street kids. But the transition from Othello wasn’t quite as smooth. Diego’s complete lack of motivation for his evil is less acceptable in a modern book than Iago’s is, and, well, spoilers: show

Two and a half cupcakes

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Bookathon: Ducky, Diary 1

Book Eleven
Starting Time: 3:30 pm
Ending Time: 4:17 pm

Title: California Diaries: Ducky, Diary 1
Author: Ann M. Martin
Genre: Teen drama llama
Pages: 180
Summary: One of Ducky’s best friends is turning into a bully, while the other is crawling into his own depressed shell.
Thoughts: After four books of Ducky ex machina, I was interested to see this guy’s internal landscape. And yes, I can see why he’s such a popular character – his neurosis and his concern for others is very likeable. (Also he’s probably gay, and that’s always a big hit in fandom.) One question, though: Why does Ann M. Martin (or her flock of ghostwriters) apparently think that boys don’t learn lowercase letters in school? Logan, Jeff, Ducky, and I’m pretty sure Jackie and…maybe David Michael?…all write in all caps.

Four cupcakes

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Bookathon: The Ear, the Eye and the Arm

Starting time: 12:05
Ending time: 3:58 PM

Title: The Ear, the Eye and the Arm
Author: Nancy Farmer
Genre: Near-future sf/f
Pages: 301

Summary: Three wealthy children decide to sneak out of their safe home in Zimbabwe, and are promptly kidnapped. While they try to escape and find their way home, their mother hires the only detectives she can find: the Ear, the Eye and the Arm, whose exposure to nuclear waste has turned them into mutants — mutants with powers that may make them the only ones who can find the kids.

Thoughts: I picked this one up because I was looking for that rare unicorn of a book, a science fiction novel that’s not about white people. I definitely got that; the fact that this takes place in Africa is not window dressing. The book deals a lot with the struggle between traditional tribal beliefs and modern problems. I don’t know enough — let’s face it, anything — about Zimbabwean culture to judge if it handles it well and respectfully, but nothing really set off my BS radar. The characters were kind of flat, but the set pieces were fun, and I liked the redemption of the first villain the kids faced.

Four cupcakes.

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Bookathon: Amalia, Diary 1

Book Nine
Starting Time: 12:38 pm
Ending Time: 1:21 pm

Title: California Diaries: Amalia, Diary 1
Author: Ann M. Martin
Genre: Teen drama llama
Pages: 180
Summary: Amalia starts volunteering with her sister at a women’s shelter, while dealing with an abusive boyfriend of her own.
Thoughts: I like Amalia, and THANK GOD that for once someone in a BSC-universe series actually deals with a dangerous situation in an appropriate fashion. Amalia breaks up with James pretty much the moment he almost hits her, and doesn’t confuse “fighting her own battles” with “confronting him alone like a moron.” This is paralleled really well with the shelter story, which a) shows how hard it is for battered women to accept that they need to leave their abusive husbands/boyfriends, b) points out the importance of restraining orders, calling the police, and in general being prepared and safe, and c) makes the heartbreaking point that the law often doesn’t do enough to protect women. All very well done, and actually brought a couple of tears to my eyes. (Which was why the total bullshit ending made me throw the book across the room. YOU NEED TO TELL THE POLICE OR AT LEAST THE PRINCIPAL THAT YOUR EX-BOYFRIEND IS A SOCIOPATHIC STALKER.)

Four and a half cupcakes

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Bookathon: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing

Book Eight
Starting Time: 1:15 am
Sleeping Time: 3:10 am – 10:45 am
Ending Time: 12:08 pm

Title: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: Volume 1: The Pox Party
Author: M. T. Anderson
Genre: Historical fiction
Pages: 351
Summary: Octavian has been raised as a bizarre science experiment his entire life, but as the Revolutionary War explodes around him, he begins to question his place in the world – not as a specimen, but as a human being.
Thoughts: This is a brilliantly-written, deeply-disturbing book. Like, I went to bed in the middle of it and had to think really hard about ponies and sunshine in order to keep myself from having nightmares. It absolutely captures the style of late 18th-century American writings and delves deep into the horrible, hypocritical debates about slavery that cropped up during a war supposedly fought for liberty and equality. There’s not much plot and a whole lot more agonized philosophy, which isn’t really to my taste, but it is a very good book.

Four cupcakes

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Bookathon: Maggie, Diary 1

Book Seven
Starting Time: 12:30 am
Ending Time: 1:07 am

Title: California Diaries: Maggie, Diary 1
Author: Ann M. Martin
Genre: Teen drama llama
Pages: 180
Summary: Maggie is torn between auditioning to sing in a garage band, and being the perfect little daughter her movie producer father wants her to be.
Thoughts: Not bad. I tend to relate to school perfectionist stories. The poetry was dreadful, but that’s to be expected.

Three and a half cupcakes

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