Back from the Dead? Friday, Mar 27 2009 

I’ve been sort of sleepwalking through life lately. I’m trying to find a job and let me just say it’s not fun.
I haven’t even had that much time to read lately, which makes me terribly sad, especially considering the three boxes of unread ARCS under my desk right now. I suck.
On the plus (?) side, I’m still commuting about thirty hours a week, which means I’ve been listening to a lot of audio books. I actually just finished (And I know this one’s old) The Mysterious Benedict Society , and I hacve to say, I loved it. Sure, it took a definite suspension of disbelief (a difficult word to spell) for a number of plot points, but I enjoyed the style, which reminded me of many of my favorite books from elementary school.
As far as actual, honest-to-god reading is concerned, I recently finished Nicky Singer’s Gem X. It was an interesting take on the teen version of a dystopian novel. Though Singer hits a lot of the tropes you see in other novels of this sort (a complete divide between the haves and have nots, a main character who suddenly realizes his perfect life may be lacking in the human emotion department, etc.) she definitely hits a few new notions. I especially liked the suggestion that the Gem X generation, the supposedly perfect human model, is breaking down from within, and the use of wrinkles, or “cracks” to suggest this idea is great.
Would I recommend either of these books? Yes, on The Mysterious Benedict Society, if you like that sort of tongue-in-cheek tone, a mix between Charles Dickens and Roald Dahl.
As for Gem X, I’m not sure. If you’re into Dystopian novels, go for it, it won’t hurt to read it. If this isn’t your favorie genre, but you’re looking to branch out into it, start with Skinned by Robin Wasserman or The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Anyway, if I don’t find a job soon, then I’ll have a lot of time on my hands, since school’s almost over.  And I’ll have no money to buy food or any of that handy stuff, so I’ll have to read a lot, if only to take my mind of the hunger. In which case, I’ll probably be posting plenty of reviews over the summer.  Not to mention the occasionally whine fest about how hard it is to get a full time job right now!

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A dream is a wish your heart makes… Friday, Nov 14 2008 

Let me begin this post by saying that I read Lisa McMann’s Wake at the same time as I read Teen Idol by Meg Cabot, The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson, Remember Me by Sophia Kinsella, and a biography of Emily Post by Laura Claridge.  That last one didn’t really affect my ability to fully process Wake, but the others all caused a bit of confusion.

I generally find myself reading four or five books at once, and I’m usually good at keeping them straight.  This situation was really no different, but I think the fact that I reading so many lighthearted books kept me from delving fully into the darker aspects of Wake.

I recently flipped through it a second time in order to refresh my memory and write this post.  In doing so, I found myself pulled into several of the plot elements a bit deeper than I had been before.

The basic story is a pretty unique idea.  Janie, a girl from the wrong side of town finds herself sucked into the dreams of anyone sleeping in her near vicinty.  Unable to dream on her own, she finds herself powerless when pulled from her waking life into people’s innermost subconscience.  That is, until a series of events have her searching frantically for control.  Control of the dreams and, perhaps more crucially, control of her own life.  With the help of Cabel, a boy she’s known most of her life, who has more dark secrets than even she, and some cryptic words from an elderly woman in the nursing home where she works, Janie finds her curiousity about herself growing as she starts to take control of her environment, sleeping and waking.

Blurb finished, let me lay out a few things:

  • Yes, there is sex, swearing and a profusion of illicit substances.  No, this book is not “bad” because of that.  But if you’re sensitive to such things, go into Wake with the knowledge that your innocence may be slightly tampered with.
  • I wasn’t a fan of the ending.  I don’t want to ruin the book for readers, so I won’t say WHY I wasn’t a fan of the ending.  Suffice it to say that most of my problems could be reseolved by the second and third installments of the book.  I feel Janie’s story is unfinished.  But that’s good, because it left me really wanting to read Fade, the sequel, due out February 10, 2009.

On to the real commentary…

nytwakeThis was a subtly dark book.  The characters were real enough that the reader could connect to them, despite the slightly supernatural element, but not so real that they were either boring or too complicated.  McMann wrote this book very skillfully.  It is not the least bit overwritten.  The dream sequences (a very difficult thing to write well) came out nicely, capturing the oddness of dreams, but not turning into a pure stream-of-consiousness muddle. 

Janie is a great character.  I love the combination of her determination to get out of her life and her realistic understanding of her options.  She knows she has to work hard to rise above her circumstances, but she’s not a  one-dimensional goody-two-shoes who never has any fun. 

I really like the cast of supporting characters as well, Carrie and Melinda especially.  I love the fact that everyone, no matter how seemingly one-dimensional on the surface, has a secret.  Janie’s ability to know the others’ secrets, without exploiting them provides a great level of subtext that is sometimes lacking from paranormal books.

Cabel, on the other hand, I still need to decide about.  I think I like him.  I liked him at first, but his character kind of confuses me right now.  I need to wait to make a decision about my overall feelings towards him.  Yet another reason to look forward to Fade.

As I mentioned earlier in the week, Lisa McMann is holding a competition for reviews of Wake, so if you haven’t read it, and your interest is at all piqued, I definitely say a) pick up the book and get started, because it’s a great read! and b) write a review to submit to the contest!  There are some great prizes being offered!

The joys of deadlines Tuesday, Nov 11 2008 

So it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted anything up here.  I’ve been drowning in a freelancing project I took on a year ago.  Yes, that’s right, a whole year, and I wait until the last month to get to work on it.  To be fair, it’s not entirely my fault, since I didn’t get the finalized template until October, but still….

In my haze, I’ve missed out on some cool (and not so cool) stuff.  Not so cool includes all the hoopla surrounding the Twilight movie coming out (oyvay…)  Cool, on the other hand, includes the release of some awesome new YA books, like the newest Blue Bloods novel, Revelations

Other cool stuff that I found out about just in time?  Lisa McMann, author of Wake is holding a contest for her readers.  Go here for the details. 

I’m sad that I haven’t already written a review of the book on here, because, despite the fact that I’m a shameless SWAG-chaser, I don’t want to seem like a shameless SWAG-chaser.  But seriously, those are some great prizes, for both me and my library, and I want in on them!

I have until November 25th to get my review up, but it’s been a while since I read the book, so I’ll have to go back and look it over again before writing anything. In the meantime, if you have something on Wake that you’ve written on Librarything or Facebook or where ever, submit it!

I have to say, despite the fact that I love my job, and helping connect people with books, and all that, one of the coolest things about working in the library world is access to all the great opportunities like this!  Who needs a Swarovski crystal encrusted Blackberry when you can get autographed copies of Wake, and Paper Towns?