The End of YA?

I think Harry Potter and Twilight popularized the YA genre, one which is coveted by many. Readers adamantly defend YA’s depth, maturity, and optimism, themes which many YA proponents claim are not reflected in general fiction. Due to this, many readers opt to read a YA novel over fiction. I was once such a reader, but I have found myself changing.

It started when I came home from college on Fall Break. The prospect of being reunited with my bookshelf was too much to handle. On top of that, I had five whole days with no responsibilities which equated to five interrupted days of reading. Upon getting home, I sat in front of my bookcase for twenty-five minutes attempting to find a book which suited my interests. To my surprise, I picked a regular fiction novel. And then, another fiction novel. And again, another fiction novel. Surprised, I assumed that by Thanksgiving break I would be back in some YA. I wasn’t it. This pattern has seemed to repeat itself with each novel I pick up.

Is this the end of YA for me? I don’t know. What I do know, is that I picked up The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong just recently, a YA novel featuring paranormal elements, and I found the book to be loathsome. To be honest, I am curious. Is this the end of YA for me? Or are my book tastes diversifying? Or am I maturing? To be honest, I don’t know.

Book Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

A Winner of the Alex Award, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction, named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything—instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave. –Goodreads summary

Publication Date: October 2, 2012.

Favorite Quote from the Book:

“After that, the book will fade, the way all books fade in your mind. But I hope you will remember this:
A man walking fast down a dark lonely street. Quick steps and hard breathing, all wonder and need. A bell above a door and the tinkle it makes. A clerk and a ladder and warm golden light, and then: the right book exactly, at exactly the right time.”

My Thoughts:

As someone who identifies herself as a bibliophile, this book resonates deeply with me.  Mainly, the book reveals a deep dedication, admiration, and respect for books.  Many characters throughout the novel have some affiliation with books which plays an integral role in their past, present, and future.  This is largely seen in the protagonist, Clay Jannon.  Searching for a job, Jannon finds himself becoming a clerk at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (by the way, why does a 24-hour bookstore not exist?).  Quickly, he finds himself succumbing to the power of books as he examines a strange group of frequent customers.  Unexpectedly, Jannon finds himself intermingling with a mystery involving books, secret groups, and potential immortality.  Wait, books can do that?  Yes, Jannon discovers they can!

Besides the look for books, I appreciated the way this story unraveled.  While I went into this book with no expectations, I had some preconceived notions with how this plot would ensue (basically, just accounts of owning a bookstore).  Essentially, this plot twists and turns in ways that one could never imagine.  Indeed, this is a sign that Sloan, the author, is aware of his audience and knows how to keep them anticipatory for the subsequent actions.  As the plot developed, the mysteries and characters developed; you just had to keep reading in order to get to the root of this chaos.  Admittedly, I got frustrated; I wanted to know what happened and did not possess the patience at times.  However, I am glad that Sloan wrote this book in this manner as it gave the novel interest.

Additionally, this book presents very interesting themes, themes which many books have not attempted to discuss.  For example, the theme of technology and its advancement is strongly emphasized in the book.  Sloan presents different arguments of how technology advances and hinders the human race.  This theme and others are thought-provoking and require the audience to engage in their own analyses.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, to say the least.  Everything about this book is enjoyable.  Even though I was excited for the book to end so I could figure out the “grand mystery,” I was sad to flip to the last page.  I had genuinely grown attached to the characters and plot that I wanted it to continue!  Sadly, it is over.  However, I am hopeful that Sloan may possibly write more in the future (or maybe he has published other books) because he is truly a talented author!

My Rating:

★★★★★ 5/5 stars!

Recommendation:

I’d recommend this for my fellow bibliophiles!

Book Recommendations?

Hello, everyone!  I am in the process of compiling a list of various book recommendations according to genres.  However, I have one section dedicated to my follower’s recommendations, so I need your help.  If you have any recommendations, whether it is an adult thriller, new adult romance, or young adult dystopian, all are accepted!  Of course, you will get credit (I’ll link your blog within the rec, as you deserve it!)  Please send as many as you desire!  I greatly appreciate all of your help!

Happy reading!

Katie 🙂

Worst Read Wednesday: A Confederacy of Dunces

Well, I apologize for not posting this yesterday; my internet was not working!  Anyway, welcome to Worst Read Wednesday in which I talk about a book that I really did not like or did not fall for its insane hype.  Worst Read Wednesdays are a part of my Daily Post; to learn more about it, click here.

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A Confederacy of Dunces is an American comic masterpiece. John Kennedy Toole’s hero is one Ignatius J. Reilly, “huge, obese, fractious, fastidious, a latter-day Gargantua, a Don Quixote of the French Quarter. His story bursts with wholly original characters, denizens of New Orleans’ lower depths, incredibly true-to-life dialogue, and the zaniest series of high and low comic adventures” (Henry Kisor, Chicago Sun-Times)-Goodreads summary

Last semester, I took a class, American Literature since 1945, and this was one of the books that we had to read.  While I was slightly perturbed by the cover and summary, my professor assured me that this book was exceptional and quite comedic.  However, I found this book to be a complete bore.

Primarily, I found the main character, Ignatius J. Reilly, to be one of the worst in literary history.  First, he is an oversized brat.  He was 30 years-old but still lived and fully depended on his mother’s care; Ignatius could do nothing for himself, which led him to nag and whine about how despicable every other character was in the novel.  Second, he did not develop, even in the slightest, as a character in the novel.  The book began with Ignatius as a brat and ended with him as a brat.  He had no motivation to change or become a better person.  Rather, his obsessions with being superior over others drove the other characters and me absolutely insane.

Additionally, I found that the novel had no purpose.  I could not (and still cannot) appoint any specific rising actions, climax, or resolution in the book.  In general this book was kind of like picking up some insignificant person’s diary and reading 300+ pages of their monotonous life.

I know many people hail A Confederacy of Dunces as a classic and is favored by many, but it just was not for me.

*What are some of your least favorite books?*

Happy reading!

Katie

Currently Reading: Sweet and am 41% into it.

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Thirsty Thursday: Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Hello, lovely readers and Happy Thursday!  Today’s Thirsty Thursday post is about a book that I am super excited to read.  Thirsty Thursday is a part of my Daily Post; to learn more about it, click here!

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Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.-Goodreads summary

I saw RinceyReads on YouTube do a book review of Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, and I immediately knew that I had to read this book.

While the book deals with a serious issue of 15 year-old Bee trying to find her missing mother, Bernadette, the novel also seems to reflect a comedic and sarcastic tone and, at the same time, impart valuable messages to its readers.  That sounds all too good to be true.  However, I found that many people have also enjoyed this book.  A follower on my Tumblr book blog informed me that it was “worth all the hype.”  Additionally, people on Goodreads claim that this book is a fantastic, lighthearted, and humorous read that will surely leave a multitude of impressions on its reader.  Likewise, I also like how this book’s ratings aren’t too high as I always seem to be underwhelmed by extremely hyped books.

Overall, I anticipate reading this book!  If you have read this book, let me know what you thought of it!

*What book(s) are you looking forward to reading?  Comment below!*

Also, Happy Fourth of July to all my fellow Americans!  God bless the USA!

Book Review: The Asylum

Happy Tuesday!  It is time for another book review.  Tuesday Book Reviews are a part of my Daily Post; to learn more about it, click here.

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A brilliant new Gothic thriller from the acclaimed author of The Ghost Writer and The Seance

Confused and disoriented, Georgina Ferrars awakens in a small room in Tregannon House, a private asylum in a remote corner of England. She has no memory of the past few weeks. The doctor, Maynard Straker, tells her that she admitted herself under the name Lucy Ashton the day before, then suffered a seizure. When she insists he has mistaken her for someone else, Dr. Straker sends a telegram to her uncle, who replies that Georgina Ferrars is at home with him in London: “Your patient must be an imposter.”

Suddenly her voluntary confinement becomes involuntary. Who is the woman in her uncle’s house? And what has become of her two most precious possessions, a dragonfly pin left to her by her mother and a writing case containing her journal, the only record of those missing weeks? Georgina’s perilous quest to free herself takes us from a cliffside cottage on the Isle of Wight to the secret passages of Tregannon House and into a web of hidden family ties on which her survival depends.

Another delicious read from the author praised by Ruth Rendell as having “a gift for creating suspense, apparently effortlessly, as if it belongs in the nature of fiction.”-Goodreads summary

*Please note: This is an adult fiction novel with some scenes and language that may not be suitable for minors.  Reader discretion is advised!*

Judge the Book by its Cover:

  • This cover creeps me out.  I’m not quite sure who the picture is supposed to be.  Regardless, her eyes follow me!  Super spooky and makes readers anticipate what is beyond the cover.

Things that Made Me Happy:

  • This book is not told in chapters; rather it is divided into three parts.  Parts I and III, AKA Georgina’s Narrative, were full of suspense and some action.  These parts encouraged me to read and solve the mystery of who was this mysterious impostor.
  • I really liked the real Georgina, particularly the one in Parts I and III, She is incredibly smart and determined to prove her identity.

Things that Made Me Unhappy:

  • Part II was an epic struggle.  It took me days to get through part II.  This section was a combination of letters between two characters and passages from Georgina’s journal prior to her entrance in the asylum.  These letters and journal entries added new characters and too many possible solutions to the mystery.  After awhile, I became disengaged.  They had cried “He/she did it!” too many times for me to really care.  I felt like the author scoured every possible solution, some which I found utterly intriguing, but chose the most obvious, cliche, and boring answer.  It was a major disappointment.
  • Additionally, this book, particularly in Part II, had way too many soap opera moments.  The incest and romances were unnecessary.  As a reader, I felt like Harwood was trying too hard to impress his audience by adding even more shock value to the story.  Rather, he should have relied on an utterly shocking plot, rather than minor shocking details.
  • In part II, the journal entries seemed to overemphasize certain scenes, which clearly pointed to foreshadowing.  This made the ending pretty predictable.  Despite all of the theories he invented, Harwood’s constant foreshadowing allowed me to solve the mystery within 100 pages.  At the same time, these journal entries were vague in other details.  While the real Georgina is attempting to solve her mystery, she innovated these crazy ideas, which she got from reading her journal.  I’d reread these passages and never find where she got her answers.  Very aggravating.  These journal entries could use some work.
  • Lastly, ANYTIME something suspenseful was happening, the character fell and blacked out.  The first time was acceptable, but after five I was done.  Overall, I think this points to Harwood’s attempt to create too much suspense to compensate for the lackluster ending.

My Rating:

★★★ 3/5 stars!

Recommendations:

I’d recommend this book to those who enjoy adult fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, thrillers, and suspense novels.