Recent Reads and Recs: May 2012 Edition

Reviews that aren’t really reviews, but glimpses into some books I’ve read that might cross your path… and if they don’t, maybe some of them should:

ADULT FICTION

Cover for Then Came YouThen Came You, by Jennifer Weiner

This book was disappointing. I was drawn in because I enjoyed the other book of hers I have read (Certain Girls), and the title had a wonderful pull. It has a really great concept with tracking the lives of four different women who are connected through a future child. There is an egg donor, a surrogate, the mother-to-be, and the mother-to-be’s step-daughter. However, I discovered that I was frequently annoyed with the motivations behind each woman’s decision for her role in the process. (Money, money, money, and well, I never fully understood the step-daughter’s role. She had a role, but I found her character unnecessary.) When I started the novel, I assumed that I would get to know them all better in that I would come to understand and empathize with them all and their lives and thought processes. However, I never fully did.  Since I did enjoy another novel of Weiner’s, I’ll still try others of hers.

A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah HarknessCover for "A Discovery of Witches"

This is primarily a witch-vampire love story, but fortunately it is also a little more than that. Diana is a witch who unwittingly draws attention to herself and others like her (witches, vampires, daemons) by calling forth a magically protected book that holds unconfirmed secrets about their longevity in the world of humans. However, the events that surround Diana and Matthew (the vampire) reveal several other layers of complicated events that give the story more depth. There’s a long middle part that spends too much time on relationship development, I got a little tired about hearing of secrets being kept (seems to be a recurring thing, too), and Diana comes across too naïve at times for me (for being such a smart, independent character), but the latter half of the novel starts to really pick up the multi-layered threads to show off its tapestry.

In the end, I found myself missing Diana and Matthew – which is as good of a sign as ever of a good book. I have already put my name on the holds list at the library for her next book, due out this summer.

Cover for The Art of FieldingThe Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach

This debut novel has been on bestseller lists for weeks and weeks and though I had plans to read it at some point, it got the stamp of approval by author Sarah Dessen (an author whom I respect not only for her writing, but for seeming to be someone I’d enjoy hanging out with), so I bumped it up in the list. This novel tracks the connected relationships of three college baseball players, the college president, and the president’s daughter. I have seen several reviews that say this book isn’t really about baseball, and I’d have to disagree, but I can definitely say it is about more than baseball.

Henry is a young, highly talented player who gets recruited to a mid-western college team by the team’s captain, Mike, who serves as Henry’s mentor. Henry is starting to be heavily scouted, but at one point, he makes his first error of the season (after an almost record-breaking number of games) by making a wild throw which injures his teammate and roommate. This breaks down Henry’s confidence while the remaining games of the season go sour for him as he second guesses each throw, making most of them ineffective. The issues that this brings up overall draw out the emotional ones that Henry must overcome as he deals with this situation. Mike, who has graduation facing him with uncertain prospects for what to do, has put all of his energy into molding Henry and fails to see his own strengths over Henry’s. There are other, related storylines with three other characters, but for me they were more supplemental to Henry’s and Mike’s growth.

I enjoyed the book and say, does anyone know how you DO get your throw back? I think I lost mine somewhere in college and it’s never come back….

 

YOUNG ADULT/CHILDREN’S FICTION

An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green Cover for An Abundance of Katherines

When the first John Green novel you read is his latest, The Fault in Our Stars, it is fair to wonder if others can live up to it. This one definitely did not, but I did enjoy it. Colin is a new high school graduate who has just gotten dumped by the 19th Katherine in his life. He is a prodigy (which we learn is different than a genius, though it is subtle) with the most unique characteristic being that he has only ever dated Katherines, and all have broken up with him rather than the other way around. His best friend, Hassan, convinces him to go on a road trip to shake off the gloom of break-up and the other vestiges of otherwise feeling like he won’t do anything with his life that truly matters.

To be honest, Hassan was the much more interesting character in my eyes – he had his own complexities, was equally intelligent, refreshingly forward and honest – with Colin, especially – and entertaining. I recommend this book for his character, alone.

Cover for Scarlett FeverScarlett Fever, by Maureen Johnson

Scarlett works for a talent agent who also has her brother as a client. Scarlett is trying to get over a guy she met over the summer, her brother gets a big break with a guest spot on a popular TV show, but it is a hated character, her sister elopes, and Scarlett is stuck with a friendship she is unsure she wants with another boy at school who is the brother of her agent’s other client. It took me a little bit to get into this novel, but I enjoyed it once I was able to relate to some of the situations in a setting that I am otherwise very unfamiliar with. Scarlett’s brother, for example, reminds me of one of my brothers with his fiercely loyal and protective nature of family. Family interactions in general, were fun and realistic to read about.

The very end, however, is quite abrupt and though I don’t need everything to be solved and tied up neatly at the end of a story, this ending was unsatisfyingly unresolved in one aspect. Deal breaker? Maybe not.

Dramarama, by E. LockhartCover for Dramarama

This novel also took me into a world that I am mostly unfamiliar with – the theater. You can tell the author has experience with it, though, as the characterization and energy behind it feels authentic and not overdone. Sadye and her best friend Demi live in a town that feels too small for their big personalities. They attend a summer theater program where they can let themselves go, but for each of them this ends up meaning different things. Their friendship is tested somewhat, but Sadye’s dreams and ideas of self are tested more as she deals with her realization that she might not have what it takes to compete. I enjoyed Sadye’s journey and perspective – she is just right imperfect.

And that is my month.

Currently I am reading Echolocation, by Myfanwy Collins.

More importantly: what are YOU reading? What should I be reading next?

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3 Responses to Recent Reads and Recs: May 2012 Edition

  1. Thanks for the heads up on the Jennifer Weiner novel- I was going to download that one. You know, I really enjoyed her older stuff, but I was also a lot younger when I read it. I wonder if I’d like it so much now.

    I still reading the Game of Thrones series. I’m on the 5th book- apparently he still has to write the final two & he takes YEARS to write a novel. This depresses me, as I’m really going to miss the characters. I need to know what happens to my Arya. You could help me feel better by reading the series too and allowing me to go on and on about my thoughts on the plots/characters. Just saying.

    Like

    • ProfeJMarie (Janet) says:

      I have officially added the first one to the reserve list at the library. I think there were 54 in line ahead of me… it might be awhile…

      Like

  2. Pingback: Recent Reads and Recs: September 2012 Edition | It'll All Work Out

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