9/30/13

Top Ten Book Turn Offs


It's Tuesday and time for another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the wonderful people over at The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is book turn offs!

1. Love triangles. 

I am SO, so sick of them.

2. Teacher / student relationships.  

ICK!  This is mainly due to the fact that my hubby is a teacher.

3. Confusing world building.  

If I can't wrap my head around it, then I'm DNF-ing.  Although there are some exceptions -- Under the Never Sky confused me, but I was convinced by some blogger buddies to give it a second go and I loved it!

4. Boring covers.  

I'll admit, I'm a judge a book by it's cover kind of gal.  Unless I'm convinced by rave reviews, a book with an unappealing cover will usually get a pass from me.

5. Stinky books.  

I like a used bookstore, but a dusty, musty, stuck-in-a-wet-basement-for-eons-book is NOT coming home with me.

6. Series that go on and on and on and on...

Two that immediately jump to mind are the House of Night series and Pretty Little Liars.  Unless there's an end in sight, I'm out.

7. Female characters with no backbone.

C'mon, aren't we supposed to be empowering young women?  Characters that are whiny, wimpy and don't take control of their own destinies might just cause me to throw the book across the room.

8. Violently angry male characters.

On the flip side, really angry male characters also irk me.  Holder in Hopeless immediately jump to mind.  Although I did like him in the end, his irrational flip outs turned me off.

9. Confusing fantasy.

I recently took a tentative step back towards reading fantasy, but I used to shy away from this genre because of characters with names like Thrystenfanifaliukn who were part-goblin, part-lion, part-unicorn, part-dragon ... you get the picture.  Whaaaaaaat?

10. Starting off with a bang and then ... meh.

I can't even count how many books start off SO strong, only to fizzle ... and then hit the DNF list.

I honestly didn't think I had that many pet peeves when it comes to reading!  What are the things that make you go "Grrrrrr!" while reading and toss the book aside?  Leave me a link to your Top Ten Tuesday, and I'll stop by.
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Bloglovin'

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

So it turns out that I not only have to set up my Bloglovin' to follow other bloggers, but also claim my blog on Bloglovin -- yikes, so complicated!  I'm sorry that I'm so late to the party with this ... but you can click on the link above to follow me, and I've added a button to the sidebar as well.
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Marko Monday [6]

It's been a while since I did one of these posts!  I've decided to make this a monthly feature, and will post on the last Monday of each month.  Weekly posting was too stressful, and I'm on a mission to make blogging more about fun and less about stress!

Today's picture book fits perfectly with the weather that we had this past weekend.  We actually had a rainfall warning, as we were expected to have 50 mm of rain on Saturday ... a perfect soggy Saturday!  This story is super cute and tells a story of rain that fell so hard that it washed the blue right out of the sky and it had to be painted back on again.  A charming, fun little story.

And, of course, here's an updated picture of Marko -- seven and a half months now!  This picture was taken a few weeks ago when he went in the swing for the first time.  When I sent this picture out to his grandparents by e-mail, my subject line was "This is what pure joy looks like."  Because it is.  It really, really is.

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9/24/13

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares - Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

I remember seeing bloggish love for this book ALL OVER THE PLACE, but my library only had an e-copy.  Then, I got an e-reader, and realized that I now had access to all these great books!  So I downloaded it and dove in, even though I had previously thought that this would make a good Christmas read.  The things that I learned were:

1. This really would have been a better Christmas read.  It's a curl up on a snowy day with a mug of hot chocolate kind of book.

2. It definitely deserved all of the hype.  Even though I won't say that I LOVED this book (there were some things about the characters that just annoyed me, like Dash's pompous way of speaking), it was definitely cute and unique.

3. Like Will Grayson, Will Grayson, it reminded me that co-written books can work.  Normally, I'm not a fan of the co-written book because I like read ONE author's style, not a blend of two writers.  But I'm pretty sure that Rachel Cohn wrote Lily's chapters and David Levithan wrote Dash's chapters, and the narration switches back and forth between the two.

4. Dash and Lily's story begins in a bookstore, which struck a chord with me.  My husband and I met and fell in love in a bookstore (read our full how we met story here!) so I LOVED that aspect of the story.

If you're looking for something cute and fluffy, or a good winter read, then I'd definitely recommend picking this one up.
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9/23/13

On Censorship

As I posted earlier, I'm planning to write some more discussion-type posts in the future.  I had previously posted about having the blogging blahs, and I think the stress of trying to read and review in order to have content for the blog was really getting to me.  I keep reading all of these GREAT discussion posts (like Cass' Thursday Thoughts and all of the great discussion posts that Jaime @ The Perpetual Page-Turner posts) and I HAVE all these bookish thoughts, just never the guts to post them.  So here goes.

Last week, there was an explosion of discussion on Twitter about Goodreads new review policy.  I'm rarely ever on Twitter for any length of time (usually just popping on to read a few recent tweets here and there), but my little boy was done for a LONG nap yesterday and I was (kind of) attempting to do some homework a.k.a. getting distracted on the Internet.

As part of one of the courses that I'm currently taking, we were actually discussing censorship last week.  I'm studying to be a library technician, so the discussion centered around whether the library should censor what's accessible on the in-library computers, or if it should be left to the patrons' discretion to surf the web appropriately.  If censoring does take place, what kinds of things should be censored, and why -- etc.  The discussion that ensued was quite lively and interesting.  So I was immediately intrigued when all of these tweets started popping up about Goodreads and censorship.

I've read through the Goodreads news announcement about their new policy on reviews (if you've missed seeing that, it's here), as well as the comments that ensued (at least for the first couple of hours after the post went live, apparently Goodreads has subsequently responded to a lot of comments).  I giggled over a couple of bloggers' response (The Bawdy Book Blog's post is quite explicit in language, but funny nonetheless, and The Bookpushers' break-up letter style post is tongue-in-cheek cute).  I decided to export my Goodreads' book collection and open up a BookLikes account just to see what I thought, and it's taking 140 hours to import my entire library. While BookLikes has some features that I like (1/2 stars!!!!) and feels a little bit more like Facebook (i.e. you can repost funny stuff to your "blog" page, but your books show up on a "timeline"), the site is also really, really sluggish (this might be due in part to the mass exodus from Goodreads and their servers are possibly just a little overwhelmed).  I'm going to try out BookLikes for a while, see what I think, but still staying on Goodreads for the time being (especially because I can update from my phone!)

But the purpose of this post wasn't to talk about which book site is best, it's to talk about censorship.  While I'm still on the fence about leaving Goodreads altogether (because we go waaaaay back, I've been reviewing on their for WAY longer than I've been blogging), I still feel the need to share my thoughts on their latest policy.  I've heard rumblings about these "author trolls" who feel the need to comment and bully on any 1 star reviews, but I've kind of stayed away from a lot of the drama, mainly because I just don't want to dwell on the negativity in the bookish world.  There's a lot of positivity in this community as well, and I prefer to focus on that.  And I feel that this is why I can kind of see both sides of the argument.

On the one side, Goodreads new policy does seem like censorship, but I can also understand their intentions.  I'm sure that what they meant to do was to take down reviews that are only belittling the author, or only commenting on an author's negative behaviour, without focusing on the books at all.  One commenter pointed out that a review that simply says something like "Author X should die" should absolutely be removed, and I completely agree.  And I think that's what Goodreads was TRYING to accomplish, but I just don't think that they did a very good job of it, which is probably why the community is so outraged right now.

Personally, I have a review up that does comment on negative author behaviour, but this hasn't been flagged by Goodreads, or removed, just yet.  When I was reading Emily Giffin's Where We Belong, I couldn't really get into the story (and I felt like the quality of her books had been sliding downhill anyways, after Love the One You're With).  Then I heard about the scandal that had broken out, and decided to DNF the book, but explained in my review that this had mainly to do with the plot, which I wasn't enjoying, but also to do with the drama.  In my opinion, my review is fair -- I explained why the book wasn't working for me.  But under Goodreads' policy, this review should (technically) be flagged for removal, since I discuss things that are not related to the book itself.  So far it's still up, but perhaps that's because it's the only one of my reviews that comments on author behaviour, and I'm sure that there are quite a few reviewers that have more content than I do.

I know that Goodreads is also deleting shelves that pertain to bad author behaviour, and I'm still on the fence about how I feel on that one.  On the one hand, we should be free to label our shelves as well feel (and I've seen some pretty colourful shelf labels on Goodreads thus far), but at the same time, I don't really see the purpose to creating shelves purely for books that I am opposed to reading.  If I really don't want to read a book, I don't take the time to add it to a shelf.  I just don't read it.  If I've given up on a book, I have a shelf for those books, as well as those that I've just set aside, but plan to come back to.  If I do give up on a book, I usually give a short explanation as to what wasn't working for me, but that's about it.  I have enough trouble keeping up on the books that I do want to read, without dedicating extra time to creating lists of books that I don't ever plan to read.  But that's just me -- I feel that some readers feel that it's important to have some shelves that stand out a statement to those books that they won't touch (and perhaps want to warn other readers about) because of the fact that the authors have behaved badly.

Although I started this post feeling like I had a lot of the answers, what I'm left with is just a string of questions.  How do you feel about Goodreads' new policy to delete reviews if the content is about author behaviour, rather than the books themselves?  Is it enough to merit closing down your Goodreads account and moving to another site?  How to you feel about "bad author" posts or shelves to begin with?  It's interesting that this is all unfolding during Banned Books Week -- it's a good time to talk about censorship in all forms.
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9/20/13

A Look Back at Summer...

I've seen other blogger's monthly round-up posts, and always thought that it seems like a fun idea, but the thought of committing to one per month is a little much, so I thought I'd go by seasons! I've always enjoyed the Top Ten Tuesday posts for seasonal TBRs, so this round-up post will go along with my plans for the coming season ... a look back and a look forward!

Summer was great for me in terms of how much that I read (I'm ahead on my Goodreads challenge -- woo hoo!) but also a little challenging in terms of blogging.  Here's a quick re-cap of the highs and lows, as well as the list of books that I read.

I completed Books With Cass' Summer of Standalones challenge!  I had planned to read these 10 books, and in the end only read half of them.  A few of these titles have made it onto my fall TBR list, mainly because they were just books that are better suited to rainy day fall reading.

I reflected on my series-ous problem with finishing all the series that I've started, and committed to finishing all those pending series, as well as postponing any further series reading until all of the books have been released.  And, at my first check-in, I've finished two series!  I'm looking forward to the next two that I plan to read: Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices and Anna Godbersen's Bright Young Things.  Plus, I've got three final books in some well-loved series on my fall TBR list (Requiem, Sever and Allegiant).  That'll be five series knocked off the list this fall, if I can stick to my goals!

I also struggled with some blogging blahs.  I received a few comments on this post from readers who said that they fully supported the idea of not reviewing every book that I read, so I'm going to try that in the future.  I've also started reviewing each series when I finish, rather than forcing myself to write one review per book.  That's already eased some of the stress.  I'm also being more selective with my review requests, and have whittled down the review pile a little, including writing up some reviews for books that are released a month or two down the road.  And finally, I started prepping review posts in advance of finishing the book (i.e. setting up the post, adding the cover image, my blurb about review copies if necessary, etc).  I've found that it's easier to find the time to jump on the computer and write up a draft of a review when the template is already prepared and while the book is fresh in my mind.  Hopefully these steps will help make blogging more enjoyable for me again!

And finally, I read a LOT of books this summer!  Here's the full list, with links to my reviews:
Thanks for stopping by!  As always, your comments warm my heart <3>
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9/18/13

WWW - September 18

Happy Wednesday Everyone!  It's been close to a year since I last did one of these posts.  A while back, I posted about having the blogging blahs, and I think that having a fun, easy and regular post will help to ease my stress about feeling like I need to post more regularly.  And this way I can just check in with what I'm reading, what I've just finished and what's coming up on my TBR pile!  I'm also planning some discussion-type posts in the near future -- so stay tuned!


W...W...W...Wednesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.  To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions...

What are you currently reading?
I have three books on the go.  On my e-reader, I'm just over halfway through Wally Lamb's We Are Water, which I am LOVING.  I just picked up Jojo Moyes' Me Before You because Cass @ Books With Cass LOVED it.  I've been drowning in schoolwork all weekend and didn't have as much reading time as I'd hoped for, but I've liked what I've read so far!  And finally, I'm listening to Jeannette Walls' The Silver Star in audio format.  Since Marko's creeping around on the floor (he looks like an army dude crawling through the bushes), I thought I'd give audio a try again ... I can listen and spend time with him -- it's a win/win, right?

What did you recently finish reading?
I read Dash & Lily's Book of Dares -- didn't love it as much as I had hoped I would (gosh darnit, why does this keep happening to me???)  Review to come!

What do you think you'll read next?
I have a few library books piling up: Julie Kagawa's The Eternity Cure (I had a Netgalley copy that expired, so I borrowed it from the library.  Wasn't loving it, but I'll give it a second shot); Libba Bray's The Diviners (book club read) and Anna Godbersen's Beautiful Days for my series challenge.  Plus, the Infernal Devices is calling my name from my bookshelf!!!!
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9/16/13

Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR List


It's Tuesday and time for another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the wonderful people over at The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is the top ten books on my fall TBR list.  Over the summer, I participated in Books With Cass' Summer of Standalones and read some GREAT contemporary titles.  But now that the weather's becoming a little chillier, I think it's definitely time to dive into some edgier titles ... bring back the paranormal, the creepy and the dystopian!

1. The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
2. Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara
I had these two on my summer TBR list of standalones, but just wasn't feeling the dystopian vibe during the summer nor the wintery cover of Lovely, Dark and Deep.  Now it's time!



3. Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn
4. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
Another Little Piece seems like a great creepy fall read, and I always love a good mystery on a cold, rainy day.  Just ordered both of these from the Book Depository.



5. Requiem by Lauren Oliver
6. Sever by Lauren DeStefano
Two series that I can knock off my series-ous intervention project!  I can't believe I've left both of these books unread for SO LONG.



7. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
I'd be surprised if I see any fall TBR lists WITHOUT this one included -- super excited to see how the series wraps up!

8. We Are Water by Wally Lamb
9. Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield
10. The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom
These three are all ARCs from Edelweiss & Netgalley -- I'm SO incredibly excited for all three!




Are any of these books on your fall TBR list?  Any recommendations of what I should read first?  I can't wait to curl up on the couch with a warm blanket and a giant mug of tea on a gray, rainy day.  Fall is, by far, my favourite reading season.
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The Crown of Embers - Rae Carson

I read The Girl of Fire & Thorns with Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books earlier this year, which completely renewed my interest in fantasy.  As I mentioned in my review of the first book, I used to read a lot of fantasy as a child, and then stopped when I got older.  This series was perfect to pique my interest for the fantastical once again as it's fantasy, but not too far removed from the real world.

I can't say too much about The Crown of Embers without spoiling the book, so this will be the shortest review of all time.  But let me just say this: HOLY MOLY THIS BOOK WAS GOOD.  2013 may just be the year that I read a lot of fan-freaking-tastic sequels.  Seriously!  I fell in love with the characters even more and absolutely cannot WAIT for The Bitter Kingdom to come in at the library.  If you haven't started this series yet, I highly recommend it -- even if you're not that into fantasy!
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9/11/13

Blogger Spotlight Tour: Jessica @ Ramblings on Readings


I'm excited to be part of the first annual blogger spotlight tour, hosted by Justine @ The Closet Library and Jazmen @ This Girl Reads A Lot.  As part of this tour, I interviewed Jessica of Ramblings on Readings (@jpeterson1027 on Twitter).  Welcome Jessica!

Tell me a little about yourself.


I’m a Texas girl going to college in SC, working towards a Musical Theatre degree. I’m dying to work at Disney World as a performer. I also am working on getting my first novel ready to send to publishers to see if it piques anyone’s interest. I’ve loved reading ever since my mom read “The Hobbit” out loud to me when I was five. I discovered I loved writing in fifth grade when I wrote my first story. 

When and why did you start blogging?


I have actually only been blogging for five months ( I said only, but when I counted the months I was surprised at how long it’s been already!). I’ve always loved reading and discussing reviews, and knew I loved to write, so I thought I’d start writing reviews. It’s also a great way to build your platform for if you want to have an audience for any of your own work, although I also just love being able to discuss books I’ve read with other bloggers. 

What is your favourite genre of books?  If you can choose just one, what's your favourite book of all time?


I would have to say YA Fantasy/Paranormal. Funny enough, however, my favorite book, “The Hobbit” doesn’t fit into that category. 

What book(s) are you currently reading?


I’m currently reading “Perverse” by Larry Rodness and “Witchstruck” by Victoria Lamb. 

Describe your perfect reading environment (i.e. location, snacks, drink of choice, weather outside).


In my room, on my bed, eating sour patch watermelon and drinking diet coke. Pull the window open, let the cats hop up into my lap. Perfect afternoon. 

Name one book that made you cry.  What was it about this book that stirred up your emotions?


“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. Not that this really needs an explanation, but Green just creates such likeable characters and then makes horrible things happen to them. It’s a heartbreaking, gut wrenching, breath-stealing kind of story. 

Have you ever been in a reading slump?  What was the book that cured the slump?


I actually was just kind of in one; because I just started blogging recently, I’m not very choosy about my review requests that I accept, and I’ve gotten quite a few self-published books that I just didn’t love or weren’t very high quality (this is a generalization and not at all true across the board; I just had an unlucky streak for a few weeks). And because I was on a schedule, it wasn’t as fun to just read. Even when I picked up books I’d been wanting to read for forever, I didn’t feel like reading them. So I slowed down, picked up “Scarlet” by Marissa Meyer and LOVED it (I adored “Cinder” as well). I reworked my blog schedule to be more enjoyable, started being more selective about requests, and now I’m flying through books and enjoying them like I used to!

Which upcoming release are you most looking forward to reading?


Well, I literally JUST read two books that I was dying for: “Origin” by Jennifer L. Armentrout and “Crown of Midnight” by Sarah J. Maas. But I would say either “The Fiery Heart” by Richelle Mead or “Sentinel” by Jennifer L. Armentrout. 

How do you decide which book to read next?


I try to read one request, then a book of my choice, then a NetGalley, and then repeat. But I would say I’m very drawn to covers. If the cover is pretty, it’s likely I will give the book a chance. 

Name one book that hasn't had a lot of bookish buzz.  Why should this book be on everyone's TBR list?


“Taking Back Forever” by Karen Amanda Hooper. It’s the second book in The Kindrily Series, and it takes the series to a whole new level! Hooper creates a really interesting world centered around the idea of reincarnation and soul mates, and the romance isn’t too shabby either :) 

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Jessica!  And please check out Jessica's blog, Ramblings on Readings, where Jessica reads and reviews a wide variety of books!  I love the quote in her header too: When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes (Erasmus).  Don't we all?
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9/10/13

The Book of Lost Things - Cynthia Voigt


I don't read a lot of middle grade fiction, and can probably count on one hand the number of titles that I've read and reviewed on this blog; however, when I saw an e-mail from Netgalley about this title, I just KNEW that I had to read it.  I absolutely adored Cynthia Voigt's Homecoming series when I was younger and I remember reading Dicey's adventures several times over.

Max's theatrical parents receive a mysterious invitation to India and then disappear on the date of their departure.  Max is left behind with his grandma and must not only fend for himself, but also has to contend with solving the mystery of what happened to his parents and dodging some mysterious people with long ears that seem to know that his parents have left.  Desperate to earn some money so that he can afford to stay on his own, Max becomes Mister Max, a finder of lost things (hence the title).  This is the first book in a trilogy that is sure to be a delight to a whole new generation of Voigt fans.

Despite the fact that I don't read much middle grade, I did enjoy Max's adventures.  The style of the book has an older feel to it, almost like it was written a hundred years ago, which likely helps to make it accessible to older readers.  Max is a likeable character, as are the rest of the colourful people that come in and out of the storyline.  My only criticism of the story is that Max often puts on one of his parents' theatrical costumes as part of his investigations and then people believe that he is the person or the age that he's pretending to be.  And he's TWELVE.  It seems a bit unlikely that a twelve year old can be continually seen as a gentleman, just because of a costume.  Or maybe that's just me.  Regardless of this minor point of contention, the story is well-told and flows well.  I'm eager to see what the next installment of Max's adventures will bring!

Note: I received an e-galley of this book from Netgalley.  The fact that I received this book for review did not influence my review of this book in any way.
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9/8/13

The Truth About You and Me - Amanda Grace

I'll be perfectly honest and say that my initial interest in this book was the cover.  It looked like it was going to be a really tender, romantic story, and I love the handwriting font that was used in the title.

I don't even think I read the blurb for the book before I hit request.  And, as soon as my request was approved, I started reading, even though the publication date was months away.

The story is told as a letter, written by Madelyn to Bennett.  Madelyn is a high school student who is part of a running start program that allows her to take college classes instead of her high school curriculum.  Biology, taught by Bennett, is her favourite class -- but not for the subject material.  She's fallen head over heels for her teacher, and her letter to him is written after everything falls apart, as a means of explaining how things unravelled.

I'm a little biased when it comes to reviewing this type of story, since I'm the wife of a high school teacher.  As I explained in my review of Colleen Hoover's Slammed, teacher-student stories just don't do it for me.  At least, in Slammed, Layken and Will are fairly close in age; however, Madelyn and Bennett are much further apart in age.  Madelyn does a good job of explaining the laws that are for and against their relationship; however, I just can't get past the ick factor.

Despite the fact that the subject matter gives me the creeps, the story is well-told.  I liked the letter format, since it really felt like the story is told from Madelyn's heart.  She's pouring her feelings out onto the page and it feels very intimate, rather than a traditional first-person narrative.  The writing style itself is very fluid and poetic at times, and there were a few lines that really made me stop and say, "Wow, that's very beautifully written."  Even though Madelyn is only sixteen, she sees the world in an adult way.

I don't think this book was really for me, but I think it will still appeal to many readers.  The storytelling style is unique, and it is very well-written.  I'm intrigued enough to try another novel by the same author, just as long as it doesn't have a teacher-student relationship at the centre of the story!

Note: I received an e-galley of this book from Netgalley.  The fact that I received this book for review did not influence my review of this book in any way.
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9/5/13

Iron Queen & Iron Knight - Julie Kagawa

Now that I've finished the Iron Fey series, I'm really at a loss for words to actual review the entire thing.  There were moments that I liked, and moments that I wished I'd stopped reading after the first book.  About halfway through Iron Queen, I was back to enjoying the series again, and I liked the way the book ended.  Then Iron Knight started out with a refreshing change, since it's narrated by Ash.  But then the plot was so SLOW for a while that I actually contemplated DNF-ing the book.  I was SO CLOSE to finishing the series that I continued on.

For some unknown reason, I requested Iron Traitor on Netgalley and, after I was approved, realized that it's not just the next book in the series, it's a whole different series.  *sigh*  So now I have to read Lost Prince first, before Iron Traitor.

Honestly, if you haven't started reading this one yet, it's a miss for me. They're short books, but I'm still coming to terms with how much time and energy I've invested into the series -- especially when I didn't enjoy it all that much!
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9/3/13

Little Fish - Ramsey Beyer

I've read a few graphic novels over the past few years, ever since I took a course in Young Adult services a few years ago.  I've reviewed Craig Thompson's Habibi and Good-bye Chunky Rice on this blog, but Blankets is by FAR my favourite.  It's an excellent coming of age story.

Although I'm hesitant to ever compare anything to Blankets, Little Fish did remind me of that book a little.  It's the coming-of-age memoir of sorts (the main character's name is Ramsey too), where an 18 year old girl moves from a small rural town to Baltimore in pursuit of an art degree.  The story is told through drawings, of course, since it's a graphic novel, but also in part through lists, which are actual journal excerpts from the author's livejournal account.

I liked Ramsey's character.  She seemed a bit like me at her age: shy, unsure of herself and full of insecurities.  She definitely grew and changed throughout the book, but I didn't feel like there was a big span to her journey.  Of course, the book only covers her first year of school, and her journeys to and from home for breaks during this year, but it seemed like the author was trying to say that her first year of college was much more life-changing than it seemed like it was.  Personally, I know that my first year of university was pretty eye-opening, but I'm pretty sure I was still the same shy, naive girl at the end of my first year -- it was barely by then end of my fifth year that I could really say I'd come out of my shell and grown as a person.  Then again, I lived at home while I was in university, and perhaps the whole moving away from home, sharing an apartment with strangers makes one grow up faster?

The lists were a cute touch, interspersed throughout the book.  And here's what started to irk me after a while.  While I enjoyed the lists at first, it seemed like there were just too many of them, and they didn't move the story along as well as the graphic novel portions.  It seemed like the majority of the story was in Ramsey's head, with not a lot of dialogue.  Ramsey's friends seemed like a really diverse bunch, but there would be lots of scenes where they're all just sitting around and it says "chat talk chat talk" above their heads, so we don't really get to know the secondary characters as well as we could.   I felt like I could have used more story and less lists, although I also did appreciate that the whole graphic novel was constructed like a zine -- that aspect was really cool.

On the whole, it was a well-done book, but I felt that it could have been more than it was.  It's a cute coming of age story, and makes an easy one-sitting read.  If you're looking for a graphic novel with a little more depth and substance, I'd definitely recommend Craig Thompson's works -- I do wonder sometimes if I've tainted my experience with future graphic novels because I loved his books SO MUCH.  Perhaps nothing else will quite compare?

Note: I received an e-galley of this book from Netgalley.  The fact that I received this book for review did not influence my opinion of this book in any way.
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