Recent Reads and Recs: February 2013 Edition

Brief thoughts on books you may or may not want to explore on your own.


Care to chat with me more about these books or others? Leave a comment or find me on Twitter – @ProfeJMarie.


American Gods cover American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

Gaiman is a big name that comes across my social media path frequently with lots of support of his great storytelling. When I asked what I should start with, this one was part of the list. The main character, Shadow, is just finishing a prison sentence for assault when a man approaches him and offers him a job as a bodyguard and errand runner. The mystery man’s occupation also remains a mystery, but at the same time, Shadow has just lost his wife and the job that was waiting for him also disappeared, so he feels like he has nothing to lose and accepts the position.

What follows is the discovery that he is working for Odin, who is a part of the “old” gods. The old gods are facing an upcoming battle with the new gods – the “American” gods of technology, entertainment, and so forth. I wanted to like this book more than I did, but while I found the concept interesting, the plot moved slowly and not always clearly. There were a lot of unnecessary interlude chapters and too many questions were explicitly answered in the last chapter versus simply wrapped up – a subtle difference, I know, but I could feel the difference – which kind of makes me feel like the “huh?” moments I had through the book were justified.

Needless to say, his reputation is high, so I will try one of his young adult novels in the future.

Shine, Shine, Shine, by Lydia Netzer Shine Shine Shine cover

The book jacket of this novel touts it as being a unique love story and it is, but I see it more as a love story between the main character Sunny and herself. Her husband, currently on a space expedition, and her young son have autism, and this sets up the foil for Sunny’s conflict, which is not in how to live with two personalities that can prove challenging, but in how she herself feels she fits into the world. She herself is bald, she is expecting her second child any day, her husband’s mission is facing life-threatening challenges, and her mother is on life support and not expected to live much longer.

There were some odd side stories and back stories involved that I think detracted from the main plotline and theme, but the primary plot and writing hold it together and I really liked it.

Boy Meets Girl cover Girl Meets Boy, by Meg Cabot

Because I had planned on reading Boy Meets Boy (reviewed below), it only felt right to also put this on reserve since it came up in the same page with my title search. I have never read any of Cabot’s books, and now I am wondering why not. I expected this one to be a Young Adult novel (I think I knew Cabot wrote the Princess Diaries series), so I was surprised that it wasn’t. It is a snappily written chick lit romance novel. Turns out this is the second in a series (loose series – some shared characters, not a serialization) and the entire novel is written in the form of email messages, IMs, voicemails, memos, and legal proceedings transcripts. Cabot totally makes it work. I loved the style and the voice of this novel.



Dare Me, by Megan Abbott Dare Me cover

If you have a stereotypical, negative vision of high school cheerleaders, this book is for you. Addy is a high school junior who develops a preternaturally close relationship with the new cheer coach. Not like a romantic one, but a sort of worshipful one. Coach French has problems of her own, which means she doesn’t seem to understand the boundaries between coach and student. However, before you start to feel compassion for this supposed impressionable Addy, you then see how she acts towards her peers, worsened when she is joined by her best friend, Beth. The two young women are messed up, and the resulting story is one that blends “old school” psychological warfare from the likes of Lois Duncan with Mean Girls.

Boy Meets Boy cover Boy Meets Boy, by David Levithan

This story is just exactly what it sounds like. A lovely, classic love story filled with standard teenaged angst and romance. Once you realize that the setting is somewhat utopic, you can fully appreciate the gentle and sweet love story that fills the pages.

Wake, by Lisa McMann Wake cover

My sister gave this book to me and recommended it and since she doesn’t read much young adult, I knew this had to be good. Janie is a high school senior who can enter other people’s dreams – usually without her having any control over the matter. This is the first of McMann’s Dream Catcher trilogy and lays a nice foundation for how Janie comes to terms with this ability of hers. It also brings her Cabel, her boyfriend (who I really love), who introduces her to undercover police work. I also read the second one, Fade, and enjoyed it equally well.

The books are written very simply and I like how a Goodreads reviewer put it: they read like very well written fan fiction. In other words, the plotlines are not very intricate, the writing is very fundamental, and the style is almost elementary – and yet McMann weaves a great concept with emotion and solid details that surround the concept to keep you hooked. Very fast, entertaining reads.

And that is my month.

Currently I am reading Gone, the final book in the Dream Catcher trilogy by Lisa McMann.

More importantly: what are YOU reading? What should I be reading next? Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Leave a comment or send me a shout out on Twitter – let’s chat!

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5 Responses to Recent Reads and Recs: February 2013 Edition

  1. I read that Meg Cabot book a long time ago and had forgotten about it, but as soon as you mentioned that it was written entirely in emails/IMs, I remembered how much I liked it. Perhaps I should give chiklit another try. I’m going to put Dare Me on my to-read list. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do much reading. I just finished “The Revolution Was Televised,” which I really enjoyed (though it took me a month to finish. Yesterday I started “Master of Disguise”- the book that inspired Argo. I look forward to hearing the true espionage stories, but Mendez’s writing (and ego) grate on me.


    • ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) says:

      I read a lot about how many women authors don’t like the term, “chick lit”, but whatever. “Fluffy romance” – does that sound any better? Anyway – I’m certainly on board with trying more of Cabot’s books.

      You often give recs for nonfiction books – and I DO add them to my list, but until my life consists of only reading and writing, I probably won’t get to them very soon. I love the escapism of fiction too much. 😀 (Although, they way you are writing about Mendez, I might have to just skip that book altogether.)

      BTW… you were a cheerleader back in the day, no? Hmm….


  2. mlaforge says:

    It’s always nice on an I’m Reading List to see books I read and liked (American gods–I’ve read everything by NG) books already on my pile near the top (Shine shine and Boy meets Boy) so now I’m adding Wake as well. It’s a very good candidate for my teen too. I just read YA Shine by Lauren Myracle whom I had not read and loved) and am reading the Daughter of Ash and Bone. Also reading The Rook (tagline reads “her majesty’ s supernatural secret service”) and I LOVE it. Best book of the year so far was Mr. Pebumbra’ s 24 Hour Bookstore which was a mystery and a story about books and friendship across all ages. Highly recommended. I loved reading this post. Inspiring and heartening both. Thanks. Michele (Threesquares)


    • ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) says:

      So what am I missing with American Gods? Also… which of the YA stories of his should I try out since I want to go that route with him, next?

      Mr. Penumbra’s is already on my to-read list… maybe I’ll be sure to put in on reserve at the library to bump it up. Thanks!


  3. Pingback: Recent Reads and Recs: March 2013 Edition | It'll All Work Out

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