Sunday, February 9, 2014

January Reads

One of my goals for this year is to read a young adult book, a children's chapter book, and an adult book each month. I have found myself loving this goal, and it has been a long time since I've really allowed myself to give in to reading, to immerse myself in books.

My least favorite book in January was Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson. I think, in my mind I had built this book up to be more than what it is. I'm not really sure what to make of it. I suppose it is fairly interesting because it is a true story and it seems so impossible to me. Throughout the book Thompson and his "attorney" are chasing the American Dream, or at least, they claim they are. The story follows their drug induced trip to Las Vegas and basically the only constant is their desire to find the American Dream. The plot was difficult to follow, and I guess I shouldn't have been surprised as Thompson is under the influence of some drug basically the whole time. I can't tell if having experience with recreational drug use would allow me to connect to the story more or not. In either case, I decided it was not worth finding out. I don't even know what to say about this book. It's pretty amazing that this man was able to basically stay awake for 80 hours and on drugs and get away with so much. Yeah, it was the beginning of the 70s but still, it seems pretty far fetched and amazing it actually happened. I have yet to watch the movie, I assume it has a bit more structure because it is a film, but I guess I'll find out.

I read two children's chapter books during January: The Book of Three by Alexander Lloyd and Battle of the Ampere by Richard Paul Evans. The Book of Three is the first in the Black Cauldron series. I loved the animated movie as a child (fascinated with death and scary things) and at a friends strong recommendation I decided to give the series a whirl. It was okay. I've read worse children's chapter books and I have also read better. I haven't moved on to the second book, and I am not sure that I will. I dislike not finishing series so I may just to finish but I am not in a rush to move on. It seemed as though Lloyd could have added much more detail in the book, and I wished he had. Characters were introduced with little back story or much description on who/what they are. For example, when the bard (or I guess the fake bard) was introduced I didn't really get a feel for what a bard even is, or does. Something with music I assume? I realize that because there are more books in the series the plot will continue and maybe more will come to light, but I really wish there had been more substance to the story. It was a good adventure story, unlikely people becoming friends, and unlikely hero etc.

Battle of the Ampere is the third book in the Michael Vey series by Richard Paul Evans. The first book was great. It follows Michael Vey and his friends who have been exposed to some sort of energy at birth that has given him and his friends (save for a few) some special abilities. The Elgen corporation that created the machine that gave the kids the abilities is attempting to use their powers to eventually "rule the world". Some of the children with abilities have teamed up with the Elgen and Michael and his friends are fighting against them. In this third installment Michael and his friends attempt to bring down the leader of the Elgen. With all odds against them there seems to be no chance of their success but near the end it appears as if they might pull off this incredible feat. As far as children's series go, it's not bad. It's a decent adventure story, unlikely heroes (they are only, like 15 years old) and who doesn't love super powers? The main character also has Tourette syndrome and I always appreciate an underdog coming out on top. As far as other series go, I think I enjoy the Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix, but it is still pretty enjoyable.

The young adult book I chose for this month was The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han. It is also a series of three books, I've finished them all by now, but only read the first one for January. It is a pretty typical young adult book, definitely geared towards girls. The story follows 'Belly' (Isabelle) who visits a summer house on the beach each year with family friends. The other family has two boys close in age and she has always been in love with the older boy, Conrad. This summer she is in her teens and blossoms. Throughout the summer she is determined to grab the attention of Conrad. At moments she seems to have succeeded, but has also gotten the attention of the younger brother Jeremiah. It ends with somewhat of a cliffhanger, propelling you to read the second. This ya book was…okay. It wasn't a trashy ya novel but it wasn't anything amazing. I enjoyed it, and felt it was exactly what I needed right then. I would never pick it as a must read, but for a somewhat innocent romance novel it fit the bill perfectly.

That's my round up for January. Next month I will try to post my books sooner, with pictures, and with my review skills more honed. Honestly, I could write a five page essay on these books easily, but I struggle when it comes to reviews. Making it succinct, but with enough substance. I will also try to rate them for age groups. This is also something I am trying to become better at, knowing what age is appropriate for the material as well as reading level. Any suggestions for future reads? Goodreads is really helping me out. I am surprised at how much I enjoy looking up its recommendations for me.