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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A few quick summaries

Been doing a lot of reading lately folks - though obviously not enough blogging. Thought that I'd offer up a few quick summaries of noteworthy reads that I've tackled over the past couple months.

Raw Blue by Kristy Eager
I got this one from a good friend (find her review awesome here), and I'm so very lucky that I did. I had a hard time finding it anywhere online, and I'm far too stingy to do overseas mail order. If you can get your hands on a copy, do so. Raw Blue is the reader's equivalent of a chocolate lover's Triple Riple Fudge. It's the tale of a rape victim trying to piece back together her life, learning how to trust again and finding herself in one of the most beautiful settings I can imagine - Australia's blue coast.  The prose is the kind that makes you pause every now and then just to re-read. I loved the take that the author had on this topic. So many rape stories are about speaking up - which is great - but Raw Blue is more about how a young woman learns to trust after an event like that. It was beautiful and powerful and I just loved it to death. I plan to re-read this one over the summer, preferably on the beach somewhere. True, I don't have the ocean to look at when I do, but maybe a Minnesota lake will suffice? I don't give ratings anymore, but if I did this one would get 5 stars.

The Tomorrow Series: Tomorrow When the War Began, The Dead of Night, and The Killing Frost. These are the first three books in John Marsden's Tomorrow series; I have plans to read the next 4 when I can get my hands on them. Again, another Australian setting. Short description: 6 kids go out into the Australian bush for a weekend of camping and come back to find their country has been invaded and they're now in a war. I've come to find that the books in this series get better and better (albeit more violent) the further you get into them. The narrator strikes me as one of the toughest heroines in contemporary literature. Forget Katniss and Katsa, Ellie could blow them both up (and would find a way to do it). Yet, the reader never forgets that she's just a girl. All she really wants is to see her parents again and not to lose all her friends. I was literally shaking while reading the third book.  #4 is currently out of stock where ever I look (including at the publisher's website), but I vow to finish this series before the summer is over, even if I have to spend 50$ for an 8$ softcover.

Handcuffs by Bethany Griffin. This contemporary novel is not about a girl getting handcuffed for some kinky-time with her boyfriend and then trying to figure out how to get out of them before her parents find out. That's what I originally thought when I picked the book up - not my fault!! The back cover really makes you think that's the plot, but it is so so much more. This book is about a girl's first time, about coming out of her shell and refusing to fit into the stereotypes that everyone (including her sister) had cast her into. It was hard to put down, and I found myself reading late, late into the night. Have no doubt, there is plenty of sexiness to this one, but it's not a romance. It's very much contemporary. I also loved the way Griffin portrayed the parental/family dynamics. So very real. Bethany will has much to celebrate as she just got a new 3-book deal for her dystopian, The Masque of the Red Death (possibly to be re-titled). Make sure to watch for it, and check out her new website!!

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard. The book is about a very young protagonist who wants more than anything to be like wild-child Mandarin, but as the two become close friends, Grace finds out that Mandarin has some real problems and maybe being the most-talked about girl in school is not the best thing after all. I can imagine that many young girls can relate to the MC, Grace. As an older reader, I was a little in dislike with her. But I do get the appeal, and of course there's a lot of character growth at the end which you come to expect with a book like this. I really loved the prose, could almost feel those wild winds of Wyoming she describes. A fabulous debut for Kristin.

I think that I shall stop there and maybe do a short series of paranormal summaries next week. But, I just wanted to add that, YES! I did finish the YA Aussie challenge already. With the four above, and Melina Marchetta's Finnikin of the Rock, Jaclyn Moriarty's The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie, and The Spell Book of Listen Taylor also by J. Moriarty, I have now read 7 books by Australian authors this year. And it's only March! I still have plans to read a few more in the coming months. There's still plenty of time to join the Aussie YA book challenge if you're up to it. Linky is here.



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