If you’ve been keeping up with my blog then you may remember my goal to read 35 books in 2011. I’ve made some great progress—nine books in three months! Here’s what I’ve been reading, and let me just say, it’s quite the mix. Maybe I will inspire you to pick up one of these titles.
Something Borrowed: After my curiosity was spurred by the Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin movie trailer, I purchased the it’s-much-better-than-the-film novel. I really enjoyed the focus on an imperfect friendship. Rachel has been in love with Dex since college but doesn’t reveal her feelings until the worst possible time—when her best friend Darcy is engaged to him. Her confession spurs an affair she never thought possible. Although I was bothered by the cheating, I liked Rachel’s character and I appreciated that this hot-button issue was dealt with realistically. 4 STARS.
Beauty: I’m a sucker for retellings of popular fairytales, although sometimes I think I set my sights too high. If you’re looking for a short and sweet retelling of Beauty and the Beast, you might enjoy this young adult version. I, however, expected much more from it. Silly me. 2 STARS
ttyl: I found out about ttyl while perusing a list of banned books. (It is ninth on the American Library Association’s list of challenged books in 2000 to 2009!) This one piqued my interest because it is written entirely in IM. What is so controversial about that? The format quickens the pace of this book so I was able to read it in two days, and I can’t understand what is so controversial about it. Maybe it was too honest? Or maybe parents were offended by the cussing? It’s about three best friends starting their sophomore year of high school going through real issues that teenagers face on a day-to-day basis. If anything, I feel like this book should be a mandatory high school read. Don’t be embarrassed by its youthful appearance. 5 STARS
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: I have read a couple of Lisa See’s books before and I always enjoy the way she describes the lives of young women in a culture so far removed from my own. This title was no different. The central theme was friendship, which is a theme in a lot of books I’ve been picking up lately. Snow Flower and Lily have been friends since their parents matched them as “old sames” at the age of seven. This book details their lives in 19th Century China, a time when women were far from valued. It was touching and poetic. I just always struggle reading about foot binding and poorly treated women. 4 STARS
Sweet Valley Confidential: You can stop your laughing right there. Nearly every girl my age read at least one Sweet Valley High book in their youth. We adored Elizabeth’s down-to-earth personality and we loved to hate her trouble-making twin Jessica. And we all wanted to date Todd Wilkins. (He was so dreamy!) So when I heard that author Francine Pascal was bringing these characters back to life I literally squealed with joy. (I’m also excited for the Diablo Cody-penned movie!) Unfortunately, this where-are-they-now tale didn’t live up to the series’ nostalgia. Too put it delicately, there is no real storyline and the writing was a mess. Just re-read your copies of Sweet Valley High. (Don’t act like you don’t have them stored away somewhere safe.) 2 STARS
Water for Elephants: I really don’t have much to say about this book. Simply put, it was great. Just don’t ruin it by watching the movie first. (Been there, done that.) Here’s a short synopsis for you. Ninety-something Jacob relives the story of how he came to work for Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth during the Great Depression. 4 STARS
Stardust: It’s unusual to say this, but the movie was better than the book. The movie took the plot—a young man finds a falling star in a magical world where falling stars are beautiful young women and journeys home where he encounters witches, pirates and other mystical creatures—and turned it into a self-aware comedy, much like The Princess Bride. The book, however, was too serious and too convoluted. But I will give author Neil Gaiman credit. He created this world and it is a magical place I would like to visit again. 2 1/2 STARS
ttfn: This is a follow-up to ttyl. Although it wasn’t as gripping as the first book, it was really good and covered more issues teenagers face as the three central characters move on to their junior year. 4 STARS
The Art of Racing in the Rain: This story is told through the eyes of Enzo, a dog who relives the story of his life as he spends his last day on earth. (He believes in the Mongolian philosophy that dogs who are ready will be reincarnated as a human in their next life.) For a dog lover like me, this book hit very close to home. The only places I didn’t connect with in the story were in the racing metaphors. Enzo’s owner is a race car driver so Enzo compares his life to the art of racing … a lot. (I’m not a fan of race car driving. Sorry.) 4 1/2 STARS (Box of tissues required.)
What are you currently reading? What should I read next? Leave me a comment and let me know!