Reading Week: February 29

23346662How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran 

My sister-in-law sent me this book for Christmas and it was awesome.  I love Caitlin Moran’s telling-it-like-is, pro-woman, pro-working class voice in all of her writing, so I was super pleased to read this book.

It is a semi-autobiographical story of Johanna Morigan, a young teen when we first meet her, living in council housing with her 4 siblings and her parents who are real characters.

Moran does a great job of portraying what it is like being a teenage girl and the urges and pressures, as well as the acceptance of ‘rules’ that most adult ladies throw right in the bin.  Johanna finds her voice, her calling, herself.  She deals with her family, the government, her neighbors, rockstars, rock journalists, learns about not drinking Mad Dog, and fighting for time on the family desktop computer with her younger brother.

I wasn’t really sure how the book was going to handle the sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll side of Johanna’s growing up.  I mean, in the first scene she’s 14 and masterbating, which in itself isn’t a problem, but in the context of a book about a girl who becomes a rock journalist, made me feel a little uneasy.  I wasn’t quite sure where this was going and 14-year-olds who are sexually interactive (as in with another person rather than sexually active when by themselves), are still kind of children and illegal.  However with Johanna’s sex life, Moran puts Johanna firmly in the driver’s seat, making mistakes and misreading situations, but in a safe and believable way that will have plenty of women readers going, ‘ohh, I have been there!’  (She also shows that not everyone and everything is rapeyrapey all the time, which is sadly a refreshing perspective in literature where sexually active women are on the clock before they seem to get punished for their liberation.)

I’m curious how non-Brits will find the book.  It seems very heavy on the British terminology, references to British politics and social-security benefits, and the I loved the 90’s references and style.  I was SO pleased to hear that Moran has ideas to make it a trilogy because I want to keep going on with Johanna, but no word on if or when those books might happen.

I think everyone should read this book, especially if you will someday have a teenage girl growing up in your house.  Laci Green points out that pre-teen and teenage girls are much maligned and dismissed, and I love that Moran is taking back teenage girlhood and saying it’s not only fine, it’s great.

15842439Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

First thoughts: Not loving this one.  It reads like male gaze + manic pixie dream girl.

Update: DNF. College creative writing classes were full of sad intellectual boys having existential crises. This just makes him a zombie, which is very much a sad intellectual boy having an existential crisis metaphor. Not for me. I prefer the movie.  Don’t tell the Bookish Police.

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer25689074

This is a new release of short stories and novellas that complement Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles.  Several of the stories had previously been available in digital form, and I only read the new ones in this collection, as I had read the older ones a couple of times.  I read, “The Keeper,” “After Sunshine Passes By,” “The Princess and the Guard,” “The Mechanic,” and “Something Old, Something New.”

My favorite was probably “The Keeper” which was about Scarlet’s grandmother   Scarlet is one of my favorites in this series, so perhaps it was the glimpse further into her life, maybe it was her grandma’s sassy take-no-prisoners attitude, but it was the one I enjoyed the most.  I think Trina from Between Chapters put it really well that most of these stories don’t really further anything in the larger story of the Lunar Chronicles.  “The Princess and the Guard” does let us see how Winter and Jacin and Levana got to their respective points as we meet them in the series, which I quite enjoyed, but I guess I am just not a big fan of being on Luna.  “After Sunshine Passes By” was fine, but unexciting, as was “The Mechanic.”  “Something Old, Something New” was sweet with the wedding, which I think was well-handled as far as the issues that they would face with that sort of wedding, but it was just fine for me overall.

Perhaps it’s my lukewarm feelings about Winter (which I want to re-read and see how it reads without all my expectation on it), or the fact that I only read the new stories, but I just wasn’t sucked into these stories.  I will probably get a physical copy of this book eventually (unlike Fairest, which is fine on my Kindle), but I’m in no rush.

22456980Persona by Genevieve Valentine 

This book was my surprise favorite of the week!  I got it from Book Outlet because I was SO in love with Valentine’s The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, but I knew pretty much nothing about it.  Some words about diplomat, paparazzi, ecoterrorism, and assassination were thrown around and I wasn’t really sure what to think.  None of those are my buzzwords which really draw me to a book and make me pick it up, so I was feeling a little hesitant about it.  HOWEVER, Valentine’s writing is superb.

She quickly grounds the reader in this future world, setting the scene with the politics and the Faces of each country, the diplomat who is considered the face of the country and who operates similar to a celebrity, as far as the constant cameras and the primary focus of their lives being their image.  Suyana is the diplomat from The United Amazonian Rainforest Confederation (UARC) and survives an assassination attempt, while walking into a hotel.  She is pulled out of the way by Daniel, a freelance photographer hoping to get a shot that will get him in with an official photography crew.  Most of the book is them running and trying to figure out who is behind the assassination attempt, to figure out where is safe, to figure out if they can even trust each other.  Valentine keeps the pace moving, and we constantly find out there there is more to everyone than their surface persona allows view of.  Valentine also specifically has POC main characters, which is always notable, and in this case feels very naturally done.  I am now SUPER excited for the next book, Icon, which comes out in June.

Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen21851568

I read The Stolen Songbird soon after it was published in 2014, and had mixed feelings about it.  I LOVED some parts of it.  Fantasy with trolls is pretty sparse (the only other I can only think of is The Hollow Kingdom, but I was super annoyed at the twist in TSS), and the ideas and themes were a lot of fun!  I also liked having a French-set fantasy rather than the English standard.  However, I was torn about the execution.

I think that some of my problem is simply the writing style is not for me.  Some people love it, but I find that it is too slow and plodding, and overly descriptive.  I would have adored The Stolen Songbird if it had been tightened up, some of the scenes cut or reworked so we could access the information without a long, slightly repetitive scenes of conversation.

As I started The Hidden Huntress, all of these points came back to me, the uneven writing style that is simply too long, the scenes that I just found kind of boring.  I do love some of the ideas that Jensen is exploring in this series, but when I saw on Goodreads that even the super fans of the first book were hit-and-miss for this one, I decided to DNF and put my time into a different book.  I’m certainly still curious how everything turns out, so if you read The Hidden Huntress or The Warrior Witch, let me know how everything turns out!

28574935The Crown and the Arrow by Renee Ahdieh

This free novella was released on March 1, but was somehow available online through like Entertainment Weekly or someone before the release date.  So, I ended up reading it early.  And it was fine.  It was interesting to get in Khalid’s head, but I’m not sure it really added much to the story  It certainly got me excited about getting back into the world of The Wrath and the Dawn, which I suppose is its job.  So good job, The Crown and the Arrow!  I’m officially re-super excited about The Rose and the Dagger.

Currently Reading:

This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson

The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home by Cathrynne M. Valente


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