Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 2013 Wrap-Up

Here's a summary of my book-related activity for July. Basically I read a lot of review copies. I'm finally catching up!

Books I read (linked to the reviews)

Hello Hot Lunch, Hello Cool Lunch by Lisa Leconte (review copy)
Love Rehab: A Novel in Twelve Steps by Jo Piazza (NetGalley)
Red Moon by Benjamin Percy (NetGalley)
The First Rule of Swimming by Courtney Angela Brkic (NetGalley)
Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa by Benjamin Constable (NetGalley) (in progress)

Books I bought

The Book of Medieval Puzzles
by Tim Dedopulos
Angel Omnibus 2 (IDW)

Books I've been approved for on NetGalley

The Bookstore
by Deborah Meyler
Map Worlds by
Will C. Van Den Hoonaard

Books I got for contributing to Kickstarter campaigns

Clear and Present Thinking
by Brendan Myers and others

Progress on challenges

I completed the following letters for the A-Z Book Challenge: none

I read 0 books for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge.

I read 0 books for the Anne Rice Challenge. You can still sign up!

I read 0 books for the Debut Author Challenge.

I completed the following squares for the Book Bingo Challenge: read 2 books that are released in 2013

I read 0 books for the Nerdy Non-Fiction Challenge.

I read 0 books for the Dystopia Challenge.

I read 3 books written by women.

I read 0 books for the Seriously Series Challenge.

Progress on my TBR pile: I added 4 books to my to read list and removed 6, so my pile decreased by 2 this month! Whoopee!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

Title: Go Ask Alice
Author: Anonymous [Beatrice Sparks]
Publication Date: 1971
Length: 185 pages

Go Ask Alice is written in the form of a diary of a high school girl named Alice, as she starts using drugs and gets sucked into that world. It's a very disturbing story, detailing her many attempts to stop, and the ways in which she's pulled back in, as well as the horrible things that happen to her when she's on drugs.

A lot of the time I was just so mad at Alice's "friends". If only they'd supported her when she was trying to quit, things would have gone so much better for her, I'm sure. But mostly I was just really sad for Alice. She makes poor decisions, but seems to be a good person, and several of the bad things that happen to her are a result of things that are done to her without her knowledge, including her first exposure to drugs.

A bit of a spoiler here (but not much of one, since you know it can't end well for Alice, as this book was basically written as a "don't do drugs, kids!" cautionary tale), but the ending really ruined it for me. After going through so much, and finally making real progress and looking like everything's going to work out after all, Alice's death is just tacked on to the end of the story. I feel like this was really just a cop out, because apparently it wouldn't be enough of a cautionary tale if things ended happily. I feel like that downplays the horrible events of Alice's life during her drug addiction. A lot of teenagers would still be convinced not to try drugs just from that; it just wasn't necessary to kill Alice off in a "well she did drugs so obviously that leads to INEVITABLE DEATH" kind of way.

But ignoring that tiny epilogue, this book is a powerful and sad story that I do recommend.

4 stars.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Hello Hot Lunch, Hello Cool Lunch by Lisa Leconte

Title: Hello Hot Lunch, Hello Cool Lunch
Author: Lisa Leconte
Publication Date: April 16, 2013
Length: 136 pages

This is a flip book, with one half being Hello Hot Lunch, and the other half being Hello Cool Lunch. It's a cookbook full of cute lunches to make lunch more exciting for kids.

This wasn't really what I was expecting, in that it's not so much a cookbook as it is a food art book. The recipes aren't so much "this is how you make this food" as they are "this is how you make a bunny out of cheese and put it on top of some food". There are a couple sections with actual recipes, like some easy to make soups, and a list of possible sandwich toppings, which I find to be the most helpful part of this book.

The meals in this book are adorable; I'll give the author that. But throughout the book I was thinking a few things: 1) I might do this once in a while. One time I used a cookie cutter to make heart-shaped pieces of watermelon for my partner and he loved it. But there's no way I'd do this on a regular basis. 2) I really worry that a kid whose consistently given food with bunnies and fishies on it will become one of those horrendously picky eaters, like an amplified version of the kid who'll only eat a grilled cheese sandwich if it's cut diagonally.

Anyway, what person with kids has time to cut little bunnies to put on their lunches? I guess this book is aimed at a very specific subset of stay-at-home parents, who are very lucky in how much time they have on their hands.

1 star.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Ghosts Beneath Our Feet by Betty Ren Wright

Title: Ghosts Beneath Our Feet
Author: Betty Ren Wright
Publication Date: 1984
Length: 137 pages

After the death of her step-father, Katie is moving to a small town for the summer with her mom and step-brother, and she's excited for the change. But the town isn't all she'd hoped for; it's practically deserted, and some of the other kids don't seem very nice. The superstitious Cornish residents of the town  tell tales of the ghosts of the miners that died in the mine 30 years ago, and are now trying to escape.

Like a lot of Betty Ren Wright's books, this one has sort of an interesting twist, in that what's a ghost and what's not, and what the intentions of said ghosts are, is not necessarily what you'd expect along the way.

In addition to the mystery of the "knackers" (the ghosts of the miners) and the ghost of a girl that Katie keeps seeing, there's the story of Katie's family. Her step-brother, Jay, is going through a hard time after the death of his father, and acting out as a result. I enjoyed the changing dynamics between Katie and Jay as the story progressed.

4 stars.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Title: Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publication Date: September 2010
Length: 390 pages

Warning: This is a review of the third and final book in this series, and will contain spoilers from the first two books.

Katniss, her family, and Gale are alive and in District 13. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol.  A revolution is taking place across Panem, and Katniss is expected to stand up and be the Mockingjay, the figurehead of the rebellion. I say figurehead and not leader, because really, the powerful people organising this rebellion just want Katniss to be their pawn, to inspire the people.

I don't quite understand the widespread love for this book. I loved the first two, and this one just didn't do a whole lot for me. I mean, there was some good action, and the story of the developing revolution is definitely interesting, but there were just too many things that bothered me.

First of all, let's talk about the romance. The reason I've never called myself Team Peeta or Team Gayle is because I could not possibly care less about either of those relationships. Both guys are good characters and important to the story throughout the series, but I just never got excited about the romance at all. As for how the books ends in that area, I just kind of shrugged.

Other quibbles: Her voice-activated bow. What's the deal? Her fancy arrows certainly came in handy, but what was special about that bow? Did she ever even use the voice activation? What purpose would that even serve? Also: I did not cry while reading this book. I cried in both of the other two. For whatever reason, the sad scenes in this book just didn't have the oomph that, for example, Rue's death had.

Then there was stuff near the end that I didn't even understand. Spoilers starting now...

When they have that vote for whether or not they'll host a Hunger Games with Capitol children, and Katniss votes yes. WTF is that? When did Katniss become a horrible person? I understand wanting to kill Snow, but innocent children? That is so messed up, no matter what she's been through.

I don't know, maybe I just read this book at the wrong time, and wasn't in the mood for it or something. Everyone else who loves the earlier books seems to love this one, too. I'll definitely give the series another go some time and see if my opinion of its ending changes.

3 stars.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The 7th Canadian Book Challenge

Happy Canada Day!! Which means it's time to start the next Canadian Book Challenge! I epically failed at this challenge last year, reading only 5 Canadian books between last Canada Day and today. I'm pretty embarrassed about that. But if at first you don't succeed, try, try again! And I really do want to read more Canadian authors.

I'll track my progress below. Let me know if you're joining in the fun, eh?
  1. This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
  2. Haunted (Women of the Otherworld #5) by Kelley Armstrong
  3. The Troop by Nick Cutter
  4. Canadian Organizational Behaviour by Steven L. McShane and Sandra L. Steen
  5. Canadian Government in Transition by Robert J. Jackson and Doreen Jackson
  6. Namesake by Sue MacLeod
  7. Summer of My Amazing Luck by Miriam Toews
  8. The Confabulist by Steven Galloway