Sunday, November 7, 2010

What I Read: Week 1

Yay! First week of NaNoReaMo is over, and I'm happy to say that I'm actually a little bit ahead of schedule. Woot. It has been quite the week of reading, and today I get to share the 3 books I picked from my 12. You know, if you haven't guessed by my tweets.

Just so you know, I will not be doing summaries. So if you want to know more about a book's plot, click the link for the Amazon page.

Here we go!

1. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
I'm still not sure what I should say about this book. Was it well-written? I think so. Compelling? Definitely a page turner. Collins is the master of the pager turner. Did it have an impact on me? Definitely.

But I have a hard time saying I liked the book. It seems wrong to say that I enjoyed reading about Katniss becoming even more of a pawn, losing everything she cared about, and descending into, well, insanity. I didn't enjoy this journey. It was hard to read. Painful to see her go through even more when she'd already suffered so much. A little frustrating to realize that she would never actually be happy, but just a little less broken.

That said, I think Collins accomplished what she set out to do. I don't think she ever intended this series to be a hero story or a love triangle or whatever, as much as the readers might have tried to see it this way (which actually says a lot about our media-fed minds in and of itself). The final installment made it very clear that this was a story about war and grayness and the ugly side of humanity. Can't say I love it because I'm totally a sparkles and happy endings kind of girl, but I do respect it. I respect it a lot.

2. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
I knew I would love this book, I just didn't know that love would manifest as a raging passion. It has everything I love in a story—clever, funny MC, a boarding school (reform school, actually), magic, and a page turning mystery. Oh yeah, and a cute boy.

I adore books that can be both tense and funny. It's an extremely hard thing to do, actually. Believe me, I've tried it. The line you walk is thinner than a tightrope, but it's worth it. I think we need more books with a little humor in them. I'm so over the angst.

I told Kiersten that if Paranormalcy and Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series had a baby, it would be Hex Hall. I completely stand by this. It's such a beautiful baby, and I can't wait for Demonglass! No, seriously, if anyone knows how I can get a hold of Demonglass, please tell me.

3. Scarlet Fever by Maureen Johnson
I so enjoyed Suite Scarlett, which I actually read last year for NaNoReaMo! If it's possible, I think I like the sequel more. I gobbled it up, losing myself once again in Scarlett's New York.

One of my favorite parts of this series is Maureen's portrayal of New York. I must admit the usual high society scandal stuff never gets me excited. It never seemed real to me. I could never picture that this was all New York was about. This series is different. I've never felt this IN New York while reading, and I've never had such an appreciation for the city (total mountain girl here). New York feels real to me in this series, with all it's funny quirks and interesting people.

Also, I couldn't stop laughing. Every page seemed to have some funny commentary or witty dialogue or hilarious turn of events. And Murry the dog? He might possibly be my favorite new character.

The only complaint I have is the total cliff hanger ending. Oh, I'm in agony of how cliffhangered I am! I could have kept reading all night. But I was forced to stop, stranded in suspense for who knows how long. *Sigh* I guess that's not so bad. It just means the book was freaking awesome and I want more right now. This is the trouble with series. You'd think I'd learn my lesson and wait until they were all out to start reading.

There you have it! Week 1 down, and I've already picked the first book of Week 2. Yes, it's the FINAL BOOK in a series. I am determined to have some resolution to at least one story this week! As for the other two I'm reading, it'll be a surprise even for me.

If you've been reading along with me, let me know so I can check out your lists! I'm always on the look out for more wonderful books. Who isn't?


  1. I felt the EXACT same way about Mockingjay. In fact, you came up with the perfect word to describe it: respect. I didn't like it, but I respected it more then most books or series. She ended it her way. It wasn't the ending I would've chosen or wanted, but it was an ending that fit the story and fit what Collins set out to do.

    I'm not sure it's a book I will go back and re-read multiple times (like the first two) but I will continue to recommend the series to everyone.

    And I'm glad you loved Hex Hall. It's on my TBR pile, but I haven't gotten a chance to get to it yet.

  2. I found Mockingjay heavy going, a good book but a hard read and not one I will re-read soon (because it is hard hiting).

    Hex Hall is absolutely fab!

    Great reading choices :)

  3. I know exactly what you mean about Mockingjay. I also loved Hex Hall! Sophie and Archer are awesome.

  4. I'm glad I read Mockingjay but I wouldn't read it again.

    Whereas Never Let Me Go by Kasuo Ishiguro is sad and creepy but I know I'll reread it one day.

    The other books you read look great, except I hate cliffhangers at the end of books. I think they should be banned! A physical book should be enough in its own right.

  5. I haven't read any of those :-(

    Mockingjay scares me a bit because of the things I've heard about it, namely what seems to be the futility of all Katniss' struggles. People in books aren't supposed to struggle like that for nothing, cries my inner rainbow-covered-sparkle-lover. It shouldn't feel like things would have been better if she'd just let her sister die in the games in book one. (inserts petulant pouty rainbow)

    I have a mental block on anything with "Hex" in the title.. and one for anything with "Demon" in the title... so, my brain sort of doesn't see Hex Hall when it's on shelves. (When I was a kid, there was a villain that had "Hex" in his name and I think it warped me or something :-P )

    However, going off the 'love child' of Paranormalcy and Gallagher Girls, that's some high praise.

    I've just recently read Ally Carter's "Heist Society" and loved it (enough to blog about it). So, if Gallagher girls is in the same league, I'll be reading those shortly.

  6. Josin, I had heard things about Mockingjay before I read it as well, but I'm glad I did just so I could really understand and talk about it. It certainly isn't pleasant, but from one rainbow-covered-sparkle-lover to another, if I can make it through so can you;)

    I also highly recommend the Gallagher Girls! I adore that series. I will tell you know, each book gets better. For reals. So if you aren't super sold on #1, I will hereby promise that #2 is TWICE as good and it just keeps going from there.

  7. I'm currently reading MOCKINGJAY, but I honestly haven't be flying as quickly through it as I did for THE HUNGER GAMES or CATCHING FIRE. I think I might be having the same issues with it that you had; I'm okay with an intense/dark ending (I like my endings like I like my chocolate), but it's a different type of book than THG/CF. Collins is blowing me away though. She really inspires me to amp up my writing game!

    Glad you're enjoying NaNoReaMo! I'm doing NaNoRevMo.

  8. I'm not sure I even respected Mockingjay. The more I think about it, the more it seems like The Hunger Games was originally intended to be a stand-alone novel (and that the publisher turned it into a trilogy to increase profit).

    If I want to be depressed, I'll watch the news. I'm looking for at least a bit of hope in the novels I read.

  9. On Mockingjay, I think Collins lets us down. That that vote thing happens, since it's written in first person, it should have been absolutely clear to us what Katniss was thinking. It was not. I took it one way (as did many others I know who read it) and it took a lot of discussion with others who read it differently to help me see it differently. I was incredibly agitated and upset as a result. I have not been able to bring myself to read it the second time. One person said Collins took us very far down into the rabbit hole and didn't completely bring us back out. It felt like she was wallowing in the death and trauma and didn't spend quite enough time on the healing that did finally take place. I heard Collins had already begun work writing the screenplay for the "Hunger Games" film when she was finishing up MJ, and I think her focus had shifted, which is unfortunate. The book could have been much, much more.

  10. Nicely said, Donna. It's a wonderful thing when someone you "know" from a distance lives up to your image of her.

  11. I started reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I'm only like 50 pages in and I totally love it. That rarely happens to me, so I thought I'd mention it.

  12. I've heard wonderful things about Maureen Johnson and I live in New York City, so I have to put this series on my list. But maybe I'll take your cue and read it when the entire series comes out! I certainly have a love/hate relationship with the cliffhanger.

  13. Hey, that's fantastic!
    I wish I could read as fast as you.
    Will you be doing another reading month anytime after November?
    I really, REALLY, wanted to join you this time but I had already planned to start NaNoWriMo with a friend.

    How awesome it must feel to have accomplished so much reading!

  14. I think you hit the nail on the head with Mockingjay. It's exactly how I felt when I read it. As a whole, I'll probably tell people the series is one of my favoites..but Mockingjay as a single book, not so much. But I totally get her message, and the writing was wonderful of course.

  15. Geez, now I am going to have to go read those books! The books I read most recently were THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX by Mary Pearson, and BRUISER by Neal Schusterman. Both Excellent! If you haven't read them, you must read them!

  16. Oh, I sympathise on the cliffhangering. My host family gave me the first 4 harry Potters, and I read them in a week, and then had to wait a year for book 5.

    Not fun.

    I loved Mockingjay, for just those reasons. I feel like it should be a socialogy textbook!

  17. I forgot about your November reading craze! I'm so excited to see all your reviews and figure out what I'm going to read out of your recommendations. On with Nanoremo!

  18. You inspired me to participate in NaNoReaMo, too! Here is the rundown of my first week's pick of books:

    I am having a blast reading during all my free time. :)