The Wrap-Up List has basically the same premise as Shaun Hutchinson's 2010 novel, The Deathday Letter, which is that sometimes people get letters tellThe Wrap-Up List has basically the same premise as Shaun Hutchinson's 2010 novel, The Deathday Letter, which is that sometimes people get letters telling them they are going to die, and the main character is one of those people. Steven Arntson takes this in a completely different direction though, one that is lighter, younger, less serious, and less funny. *not that there's anything wrong with that.*
The Wrap-Up List is a cute story that is easy to recommend to younger YA readers. It dances on the surface of the idea of knowing when you will die and that it will be tomorrow, but there's no real depth explored here. Gabriela, the MC, doesn't believe that she will die. She knows she will get her "pardon," a convenient way out of death (not present in The Deathday Letter), and it's no surprise at the end when she does and the whole story ends happily, with a lot of kisses and a silly dance party....more
I really enjoyed this book, and could relate to it in a lot of ways. I grew up nonreligious and have during my life alternately envied and despised thI really enjoyed this book, and could relate to it in a lot of ways. I grew up nonreligious and have during my life alternately envied and despised the practice of organized religion. Today I believe a lot of what Chris describes in the ending chapters of his book, but like most nonreligious people I know wouldn't describe myself as atheist.
When I went to college I was culture-shocked by all the earnest Christians, and spend most of my freshman year feeling awkward, excluded, and then sometimes hostile towards this religious majority that I had almost no experience with growing up. Most of my neighborhood and school friends and their families would have described themselves as Christian but, except for some Mormons and Catholics, didn't actually practice and probably also didn't actually believe. Over time, and after the culture shock faded, I became more educated about, tolerant of, and sympathetic toward people's religious beliefs. What's more, I think my experience at my college as a minority in this respect shaped, in a huge way, the moral and political beliefs I hold today. Secular humanism there was not a positive term, though learning about it resonated with me and I wouldn't mind owning that term now. And while I will admit I'm not a Christian, I am undecided - or perhaps not brave enough to admit to it - on atheism.
One of the things I really liked about Chris's book is the dual coming out stories, one as a gay man, and one as an atheist. ...more
I listened to this book, and while I liked the narration, I think I would have liked the book more if I had read it. It was a little slow going for meI listened to this book, and while I liked the narration, I think I would have liked the book more if I had read it. It was a little slow going for me in the beginning, and then I had a hard time paying attention pretty much every time one of Elizabeth's letters was being read.
I had this solved a long time before Nora - in a way. It was clear to me before Chris died that (view spoiler)[Max and Adriene were sleeping together. Duh, the "suddenly I hate your boyfriend" fakeout is soo cliche, Adriene. I see right through it. (hide spoiler)] I really like though, how once the mysteries and secrets are solved or revealed they aren't completely rehashed by Nora in the text. She says she should've seen the signs, and certainly we can go back and find them, but she doesn't spell it all out again. I think that shows a lot of respect for the reader.
I waffled between three and four stars, but because I sat out in my car for like, ten minutes after pulling in the driveway last night, four it is.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
OMG. The romance in this book! So... subtle, marvelous, beautiful. I couldn't put it down. Maybe less of a thinker than Girl of Fire and Thorns, but wOMG. The romance in this book! So... subtle, marvelous, beautiful. I couldn't put it down. Maybe less of a thinker than Girl of Fire and Thorns, but who cares? Gah, Hector, I love you! Can't wait for the next book....more
This book is kind of a tearjerker, and it's getting a lot of great reviews. It's also being called YA, when it is not (pet peeve!). The main characterThis book is kind of a tearjerker, and it's getting a lot of great reviews. It's also being called YA, when it is not (pet peeve!). The main character is 10, and he tells the story in his voice, which actually reads, I thought, a lot younger than 10 - and he comes off as incredibly naive for someone whose life has been what it has. I thought the dad's anti-Muslim thing was really overblown; it was like a caricature of people like that, so you can't even really learn anything from it. There are several really well done and poignant parts, though, that do a lot to make up for that. ...more
This book took me almost a week to get through, which is a long time for me. It started off very slow, but got easier to read after the first narratorThis book took me almost a week to get through, which is a long time for me. It started off very slow, but got easier to read after the first narrator, Yael, gets to Masada. The whole thing was well-written, the characters are sympathetic - to an extent - and it was, uh, interesting. But here's the thing: all I think about was how stupid it all was. I don't usually feel this way about religion; I'm skeptical, but not, like, cynical, but all I could think was how stupid their religion was. All of the women are so frustrating; every dumb mistake they make or bad decision is "how it was written," like they have no control over their minds or bodies. There is no concept of individuality. And usually I like magic and the style of magical-realism, but usually authors don't use it to get their characters out of every tight fix. I mean, as long as it was written that magic would work in that instance. And finally, I don't know anything about the Sicarii and very little about Jewish mythology, so I don't know how accurate a representation this novel is of those things and who to blame for my disgust, but here goes. It killed me how the Jews at Masada, instead of making allies or attempting to build an army or resistance against the Romans, or even just not killing a bunch of people, killed all of the other Jews - men, women, and children - for their goats and oil and stuff. I couldn't suspend disbelief long enough to understand their views on slavery, how they thought of both themselves and other as slaves. And I can't, for the life of me, understand how this story - one of (spoiler?) mass murder/suicide - can be an inspiring story for an ethnic people or religious group, as by the end of the book, it is clearly meant to be....more
Okay. A lot of the reviews for this book have "issues" with it that make them not want to say how much they actually liked this book. And I have issueOkay. A lot of the reviews for this book have "issues" with it that make them not want to say how much they actually liked this book. And I have issues with their issues. Spoilers ahead. Elisa is kind of a sad-sack of a girl when the novel begins. Despite being blessed with a treasure troll belly button, her life kind of sucks. She's sixteen, she hates her body, she has no friends, she feels uncomfortable where ever she goes, she knows people are constantly talking about her behind her back (they are, and not just about her weight, as she finds out later), she thinks her sister hates her, her dad doesn't notice her, and she's about to be sacrificed as a child-bride to some strange king. The only thing she really likes to do is study, and she is particularly interested in military strategy. She knows she's supposed to become some kind of hero, but how the hell is she going to do that? The "issues" other readers have had with the novel sound like this: Elisa is too fat, Elisa gets too thin, Elisa is too perfect, Elisa is a complete whiny idiot and I hate her, etc. Personally, as I reader, I have no problem with beautiful main characters. I have no problem with love triangles or super powers or any of that stuff either. I mean, it is kind of annoying when a non-awesome girl has dudes clamoring all over her, but most of the time the author does a good enough job of convincing me how totally awesome the girl is that it makes perfect sense that everyone wants to be around her and soak up the awesomeness. But I hear ALL THE TIME how readers want a non-perfect girl with non-perfect-girl problems. People are all, "if I read one more book about a pretty girl who thinks she's not pretty..." etc. BUT then you give them a main character who isn't pretty - not just to herself, a la D.U.F.F., but to other people who are not exactly shy about letting her know - they aren't happy with that either. I've read that people aren't sure where her over-eating impulse came from. Who's ever sure? We aren't here to psycho-analyze the MC; these are the kind of ridiculous questions that never get asked of characters with other kinds of problems. No one's like, "well, I'm just not totally convinced there was a deep enough reason for the MC to be as clumsy as she is." Also, I think I paraphrased at the beginning of the review reasons enough that Elisa might over-eat: hello, she's lonely! She's all alone. I've read that people are "concerned" about the take-away that Elisa becomes a super-woman as soon as she loses weight. What a sloppy reading of this novel. Elisa has, from page one, always been fluent in war strategy. She is smart and she is trying to be brave. She is still in the castle when she learns the truth about the book of prophecies and discovers why she has been always set apart and decides to be more assertive about her rank and responsibilities. This is BEFORE she loses some weight walking across the desert for a month. But after she does, it's natural for her to feel more confident as she becomes physically stronger and it's natural for her to be happier with the way she looks. At the same time, I think she's seeing all these people who are scarred by battle - burn victims and amputees - and feels less of a need to be so self-conscious about the way she looks. Further, I think a really important part of this issue is addressed when she returns to the king's palace and is introduced as the leader of the Malficio. Her husband, the king, doesn't recognize her because of how changed she looks, but he is drawn to her. Elisa suddenly feels a sense of sexual power she had never felt before - and she rejects it. All the strength and power he now sees in her, he should have seen before.
I think this novel has all kind of interesting things to say about power, and whether power resides in an object - i.e. the Godstone or a princess - or in the bearer - an individual. I am really looking forward to the next in this series....more
Eh... I really like Five Flavors of Dumb. It was one of my favorites from last year. And I love road trip books, so I was pretty excited for this one.Eh... I really like Five Flavors of Dumb. It was one of my favorites from last year. And I love road trip books, so I was pretty excited for this one. It was okay. It reminded me of the Disenchantments, which also just came out and also was about a boy-girl long term friendship where the boy really liked the girl and then the girl really disappointed the guy by changing before they go on a road trip, but the girl won't explain why she changed for some reason until their road trip is over and it ends up not being a very big revelation at all and then they decide to just be friends. Also, both books were disappointing to me. For the first half of this book, I kept thinking, I hope whatever is "different" about this girl from what she used to be is more than her hair color and piercings. Spoiler alert: it isn't.
Despite all of this, it was a quick and engaging read. It was funny at several parts - especially when I wasn't cringing over the dumb stuff the MC, Luke, was saying at his speaking engagements. ...more
A Cliff Huxtable award to the dad in this novel, too! There was a lot going on in Sister Mischief, but there's a lot going on in day-to-day life, so IA Cliff Huxtable award to the dad in this novel, too! There was a lot going on in Sister Mischief, but there's a lot going on in day-to-day life, so I liked how inclusive it was, even about chem lab, and I loved all the serious conversations the girls have while also being silly. All the discussion of race, sexuality, music, culture, religion, and whether or not college is going to be the great world you're waiting for (don't wait!)... I've never read a book quite like this one. Kudos, Laura Goode....more
I had a hard time with the believablity of this book. The "not so distant" future set up felt bizarre and it wasn't clear how much chroming and otherI had a hard time with the believablity of this book. The "not so distant" future set up felt bizarre and it wasn't clear how much chroming and other laws were part of state governments versus the federal government. The author made it in a United States where the government had changed little enough that chroming was a constitutional issue but didn't give any sense how such a clearly unconstitional act would be ruled constitional. Because there was an economic depression? But the survellience and chroming etc. don't seem like a cheaper alternative. What's generally frightening about a dystopic novel is how you could see it happening, how something could sound like a good idea before you discover how much it impinges on your liberties. I couldn't see this here at all, not in the way it was set up. Also, the chroming and abortion issues became really separate around the middle, about where Simon says chroming is good, but not chroming of women. Wha? Other parts were explained too heavy-handledly. Hannah's growing recognition of gender inequality read like feminism 101, which would have been more believable if she were 15 rather than 25. We don't ever know Hannah as a sheltered and evangelical girl, we are just told over and over again that she was, so many of her insights sound strange, either too naive or too sudden. Finally, I hated Aidan. I hated the email or whatever he sent that she read at the library. At the time I thought, oh so this guy's a jerk and part of Hannah's journey will be realizing how he took advantage of her and her adolescent-like innocence, a kind of statutory rape, but - spoiler alert - she doesn't....more
I liked the first half of this book more... I got kind of annoyed with Haven the second half, she was so wishy-washy. Come on girl, decide whether youI liked the first half of this book more... I got kind of annoyed with Haven the second half, she was so wishy-washy. Come on girl, decide whether you trust him or not! And the dialogue towards the end was pretty... boring, I guess....more