January & February 2017, Part 1

Okay, so… You may be wondering where I’ve been and why this blog sat unused for a year. Since there’s neither an easy nor a legitimate one, I’ll spare us the word count. What I will say is this:

I’m back!

Time, once again, to blow off the dust and crack those knuckles. This is year three of participating in the PopSugar Reading Challenge. Suffice it to say, I’ve successfully completed last year’s challenge too. (I’ll fill in those posts later.)

So far, I’d say I’m pretty ahead of the game.  Three under my belt in January, and so far another five in February. (I know, it’s oddly disproportionate…)

Let me throw these up there and get back to blogging!

JANUARY

1
A Bestseller from 2016: The Nix, by Nathan Hill

This cover intrigued me, and after reading Eliot Schrefer’s positive review, I decided I could justify picking it up. Really quite funny, and oddly appropriate timing due to today’s political climate…

2
A book with a cat on the cover: Culdesac, by Robert Repino

In preparation for the sequel to Mort(e), which was surprise news, I found this novella to hold me over! While you don’t have to have read Mort(e), it does help flesh out another quite memorable character, Culdesac. This had less to do with the ants, and more to do with the happenings in a small town during the war. D’Arc, the conclusion of the series, is out in May.

3
A book that is a story within a story: Afterworlds, by Scott Westerfeld

One that’s been on my TBR list for a while — Also a fun motivator for participating in NaNoWriMo (which is, again, very tempting). Diverse, LGBT love story, mixed with supernatural romance. This book almost was a choice for last year but I used a different one instead. Still glad to have picked this one up.

FEBRUARY, Part 1

4
A book about a difficult topic: My Heart and Other Black Holes, by Jasmine Warga

This one had been recommended by Cara Bertrand when it first came out, and though I would comfortably set this with many other “typical” YA realistic fiction books, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it! Flawed and damaged characters are always so interesting to read, and Warga did a nice job of describing what it feels like to be dispassionate with the angst of teen years. One of my cousins is really interested in reading this one, so I’m sending it along to her! (Any chance I have to spread the love of reading, I’ll take it!)

5
A book with multiple authors: Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List, by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

I like to read at least one of David’s books each year, and I knew when I saw this prompt, that I would use one of David’s many collaborations as the one to read. Naomi & Ely has also been turned into a movie (which you can now watch on Netflix). While I often have a difficult time relating to mostly-well-off NYC teens, the feelings of friendship and love still resonate through the work.

6
A book from a nonhuman perspective: The Diabolic, by S.J. Kincaid

When I saw my old book club choose this title, I thought: but you only choose paperback books… As this is a new release, it must be REALLY good if everyone voted to read it! I was not disappointed! I certainly hope there’s another book after this one! Another book where timely political messages come through. I thought a great deal about The Capitol from The Hunger Games, and a touch of Red Rising. Admittedly, I cheated a bit by using this book for this prompt. The main character, while genetically created to resemble humans, is not quite human, but rather human in appearance (and some temperaments). Certainly recommended!

7
A book you loved as a child: My Dinosaur Adventure: a personalized storybook, by Karen M. Hefty & Valarie Webb

This is one you won’t find anywhere else, it was a “Create-a-Book” given to me on my 6th birthday. I was amazed when I read the book and saw that it was about me! My name, and those in my family, were written in as characters. The story is about me waking up to find a unicorn named Ariel at my bedroom window. I’m whisked away to the Land of Dinosaurs to find my birthday cake. Since dinosaurs have such small brains, they forgot where they put it! With the help of many new dinosaur friends, the cake was found and a grand party was had! (I also had a dinosaur cake for my birthday that year.)

8
A book that’s a character’s name: The Death and Life and Zebulon Finch

Just look at that cover! It begs to be read, and that’s precisely why I wanted it. This happens to be a signed copy, thanks to my fellow librarian friend’s last trip to Book Expo. Zebulon Finch was exactly as I thought it would be: an historic tour of America, with a bit of creepiness. While by no means a full tour, this volume covers about 50-60 years. A young gangster is gunned down, and mysteriously comes back to life… not as a flesh-eating zombie, but as an animated corpse. Yet another instance I’m pleased to move on to the sequel.

Off to a good start, and nothing I would speak all that negatively about. I’ve been very pleased in my selections thus far. I’m hoping to finish another two or three before this month is out. While I’d tell you to stay tuned here, if you want to really keep up with my book reading, follow me on Instagram: @gcpinder.

Ta-ta for now!

New Year, new list

Last year’s Reading Challenge was completed well before the end of the year. 2016’s Reading Challenge is a much shorter list (only 41) so I anticipate some free-wielding posts scattered about towards the end of the year. Let’s see how I fare this go-round!

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Edit:
This post, and many of the following posts, had been drafted and never published. Due to some significant life changes, I’ve held off from publishing these entries. This 6-month hiatus wasn’t exactly planned, and though I may have put my writing on hold, my reading has never stopped. I feel as though I’m finally at a point where I can pick up where I left off, and I hope, dear Reader, that you’re still out there… and that you bear with me while I roll the following entries out.

xx

August 2015

While I read many other books this month, sadly (is it really sad?) they did not help me knock off items for my Challenge. I’m talking at least four books for various book clubs, along with another two or three just for fun. BUT — Since this is the Year of the Book, I’m going to stay on target and stick to the script! Despite going on a little vacation this month, I didn’t actually read all that much, so these are the ones I scratched off the list:

killing Lincoln bill o'reilly
A book your mother loves: Killing Lincoln, by Bill O’Reilly

to kill a mockingbird harper lee go set a watchman
A banned book: To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

and we stay jenny hubbard emily dickinson poetry
A book you own but haven’t read: And We Stay, by Jenny Hubbard
The Good:
I sorta pulled a fast one this month… Recently, I read Jenny Hubbard’s debut novel, Paper Covers Rock (OMG go read it now), and I was so entranced that I tweeted her about it. I also creeped on her site and saw that she is planning on coming up to the area for a Poetry Festival in October…  So, I’ve said in the past that I try really hard not to buy books until I read the ones I already own… I mean, that’s the whole reason I started this blog. Then I told myself that buying a book is okay IF I’m getting an author’s signature. You see where this is going yet? Yes — I dashed out and bought both of Jenny’s books in anticipation for her arrival. As if that weren’t enough, I thought: Hey, while she’s up here, why not host an event for her at the library??  I think one of my favorite parts of my job is to unabashedly spaz out over authors and the amazing works they create. So here’s to you, Jenny!  Can’t wait to meet!

And We Stay is set in a fictional girls boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts (note the local interest). We follow Emily Beam, a teen recovering from a traumatic event that occurred at her old school. With the help of some new friends and the poetry of Emily Dickinson, she begins to find peace. As with her first novel, Hubbard blends poetry and prose into a beautiful and haunting narrative.

The Bad:
Ugh. I’ll try to keep this short. I was really excited to ask my mother for the name of a book she loved for this challenge. 180 degrees later… Killing Lincoln was staring at me. “But it’s a really good story!” she said. Well… I think Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter had more truth to it. (Kidding. Sort of.) I got a lot of flack for reading this book… and I’ll remain impartial to political engagements. SO, let’s just say I read it, and I did more research than O’Reilly did in “writing” this book. But thanks, Mom! — It’s a book I wouldn’t have otherwise read, and that’s gotta count for something!

The Ugly:
With all the chatter and controversy (?) surrounding Harper Lee’s “new” book, Go Set A Watchman, and knowing that I have never read it, I thought why not try reading To Kill A Mockingbird for the umpteenth time. I never had read it for school, which I sort of kind shocking, and though I tried reading it before, I never got past chapter four. I listened to this one and once I got past hearing Sissy Spacek’s voice as Scout (I previously listened to Spacek narrate Carrie by Stephen King… Now THAT was good!)  I finally accepted that I just had to get through it. Honestly, I didn’t care for it. I understand it’s important place in literary history and why it’s taught in school etc., etc., but since I wasn’t reading this through an academic lens, I found little joy. The issue of race will always be an ugly subject in this world. This poor book has been beaten to the ground… I appreciate the idea behind the book and the overall message it delivers rather than the act of reading/listening to it.

 

For those keeping track, that leaves under 10 books left for the Reading Challenge for the year! That said, many of the remaining titles are books that do not have audiobook versions, so I will probably take my time to trudge through them. I’d say I’m pretty on-track to finish them all this year!

Til next time!

No Awful Books – EVER!

A few months ago, I found a new website through Twitter called Blogging for Books. Immediately, I registered. The premise is simple: Choose a book, read the book, review the book. As someone who is desperately trying not to purchase any more books, I’m thankful for this little loophole of a website. That said, in my new job, I’m finding it increasingly more difficult to actually READ rather than LISTEN to books. Hopefully this doesn’t disqualify me from my review, but I happened to find the audiobook version and got through the book that way, since I was having a difficult time paging through it. So here we go: my review of Mother, Mother.

 mother, mother koren zailckas

Touted as “Mommie Dearest” and “Psycho,” I had hopes this book would be thrilling and emotionally charged, perhaps cultish. Unfortunately, by the time I finished, I was still waiting for a crazy murder scene. I will say that there was a lot of emotional manipulation, but the twist was a smidge predictable… but that’s just my own impression! There are lots of people that wouldn’t pick up on it! I still enjoyed this book and would recommend it — in fact, I have recommended it.

We’ve got a mother and father, both of whom are very concerned with her public appearance. The father is a closet recovering alcoholic. Their eldest daughter has run off and has pretty much been disowned. The middle daughter has been blamed for harming their younger autistic + epileptic brother. So as the story chugs along, we eventually discover that (kind of spoiler🙂 the eldest daughter had gotten pregnant out of wedlock. Middle daughter is in hanging out in a mental institution getting post cards/letters from eldest daughter. Little brother is being coddled and soothed by mom. (Oooh… maybe that’s where the Psycho-Norman-Bates reference comes from.) Every chapter alternated viewpoints between middle daughter and little brother. I’d say most of the story progression happened with the daughter’s chapters, while the son’s chapters provided vignettes illustrating the mother’s behavior… which is in many ways repeated in the daughter’s chapters. I’m not saying those chapters weren’t necessary, but the son didn’t really provide us with anything we couldn’t gather from the other viewpoint. Furthermore, he didn’t experience any character progression like the father and daughter did. But that’s being really picky… and I feel criticizing a character that has a disorder like that… He just felt a little one-note.

Sparing you any more spoilers, secrets are revealed, and most characters meet their appropriate ending. Reading through this again, I really don’t mean to be so critical. I did enjoy the book. I blame the blurbs and marketing for this book — I was expecting something more scary. So my expectations were a bit skewed… that’s all.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

“You’re Hired”

Can I talk about this yet? I think so? Yes!

To those in the blogosphere that may not follow me on Facebook or Twitter and may have missed my ecstatic postings of jubilation, I was chosen out of many-many-many candidates as the new Young Adult Services Coordinator at The Jones Library. It was quite a process, but I got the job. I’m simply over the moon with excitement, and at the end of my 2nd week, I feel great. Everywhere I go in the library, I meet people who say “Oh, YOU’RE the new YA person!” and they congratulate and my face flushes while I thank them and wave off the compliment… but it is so invigorating to feel so accepted and appreciated in this new place. It’s so refreshing to walk in to that building, and I couldn’t be more honored to be selected for such an important position.

Don’t get me wrong, after four years of employment at my previous retail job, I was taken care of, and I really do respect my old coworkers…I would not trade that time or experience for anything. I hope people out there realize how important customer service really is, and understand that it’s NOT difficult to be nice and smile, even when you’re having a bad day. Lashing out and being a DB doesn’t gain any respect or make you friends. So please… everyone… be nice to everyone else! (At least pleasant!) Okay – end of lecture!

Next step: graduation! With only four courses left, my MLS degree is nearly complete. Soon I can officially call myself a Librarian – with a capital L.

The Young World

A review by Alyssa Lacross

 

the young world chris weitz

My loving boyfriend (who is not a book lover at all and tends to read exclusively postings on “The Truth About Cars” website) won an ARC of The Young World from our awesome (not-so-local) bookstore The Odyssey while attending a YA Author Panel.

 

I was a mix of excited and skeptical, the concept sounds great, but another Hollywood-type trying to be an author? (If you are less than familiar with the Hollywood crew, he was the director of New Moon.)

 

I’m telling you now, this is one of those books you either love or hate…and based on the very teenaged plot and constant references to Google, 2012 top charts songs, Facebook, and partying like it’s the end of the world all meant dreams of my boyfriend picking up this book were zero.

 

The book is set in post-apocalyptic New York City, where a strange sickness has killed all children and adults, leaving behind only teenagers. The two main characters Jefferson and Donna are part of one of many heavily armed tribes in New York. When Jefferson becomes their tribe’s leader he, Donna, and a misfit gang set out, traveling through lands of other tribes where they are constantly in danger to to try and save humanity and cure the sickness. The book has a lot of action, a little bit of romance, and some things that are just down right strange, all in a way that plays out like a movie script, which is great because the film rights were picked up by Warner Brothers already! I have to say my love of all things YA and my nearly embarrassing appreciation for pop culture means I’m definitely curious.

 

I don’t think its really a “timeless” book because of the many pop culture references, but in the present it will definitely make some hype once teen readers find it on the shelves of their local libraries and bookstores. Keeping in mind the cliffhanger ending and the adorable potential love story between Jefferson and Donna, they’ll soon be clambering for the sequels too as it is set to be a trilogy.

 

The book is to be released on July 29th, so check it out!

 


 

alyssa brian

A little about me ☺

My name is Alyssa Lacross. I’m from Connecticut. I wear many hats, including a children’s and teen librarian hat, at a few libraries in CT and MA while obtaining my Master’s in Library Science with a concentration in School Libraries from Simmons College. I love to read (but only children’s and YA books), binge watch Netflix, listen to the radio (but only in the car) and run (but badly). That’s the boyfriend in the picture with me, since this post came from him winning the book!

Strike from the Record

Today marks a big day for my Sickness. With the recent acquisition of all of these books from BEA, and little room on my new shelves, I decided it was time to say goodbye to some old friends. Taking books to the library to be donated felt like abandoning a beloved cat on the stoop of an animal shelter.

Okay, so that’s a bit over-dramatic… especially since the books I donated mostly had uncracked spines – meaning I listened to them through audiobook instead – but all the same, I can remember where I got each of those books. Some came from school classes, others from Christmas and birthday gifts, some from bargain racks…

Let’s take a moment to remember those donated today, and hereby strike the following entries from the record of my master list.

 

Taking on the Big Boys – Ellen Bravo
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
The People of Sparks – Jeanne DuPrau
The Prophet of Yonwood – Jeanne DuPrau
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter – Seth Grahame-Smith
The Girl on the Fridge – Etgar Keret
Comfort Food – Kate Jacobs
The Friday Night Knitting Club – Kate Jacobs
Knit Two – Kate Jacobs
Knit the Season – Kate Jacobs
The Cobra Event – Richard Preston

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

P.S.
Right, you thought there were going to be a lot more than that, huh? One step at a time here, people! Sheesh!