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The advantage of having a degree in Eng. Lit. and a reputation for reading more in a week than the rest of the office does in a year is that you can sit in the staff kitchen at lunchtime and read teen fiction and nobody dares to mock you. Actually I think everybody should read these. They are absolutely wonderful and make me feel a whole lot better about the world; they are funny and touching and have just enough of everybody's family in to be recognisable; they have so many layers and so many voices. I have been inhaling them this week and going on epic missions to find the ones I haven't read yet. Gorgeous.
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A charmingly naive (or, if I were in a bad mood, 'painfully earnest') little story set in a future where the USA's first gay Jewish president has just been elected. If all books are really about their own times, however, this one is about the Bush years, the gap between the Florida recount and Obama. The plot is centred around a very similar recount, and a teenager's involvement in same.

I appreciated the idealism, but it seemed very polarised. Thinking from a political system where (for example) all three main parties have come out loudly in favour of same-sex marriage, the 'us and them' mentality feels very contrived. Politics: always more complicated.
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
Now, this takes me back. This is another one in the Favourites roundabout (and if it looks like I'm only reading things from BookCrossing, that's because they're the only ones I've got the brain to write up at the moment).

I first read this at school - sixth form, it must have been, from the shape of the library in my mind's eye - and enjoyed it then. It was interesting to revisit it, and to find that on the whole it's very much as I remember it.

This is set in one of those dystopian societies that look very neat and tidy on the surface, and then turn out to be a little too neat and tidy when you dig a little. The titular Giver holds all the world's memories - because the world has decided it's easier without remembering things like love and war, but somebody has to have them - and is passing them on to Jonas, the new Receiver. As before, I found this concept intriguing, and was hooked on the gradual deconstruction of the society. As before, I found myself getting rather bored with the end of the story. It was quite late at night, I will admit, but it did feel as if it finished two chapters too late - though this time I picked up on the ambiguous nature of the ending.

Interesting to revisit a book I'd enjoyed before, and to see how my relationship to it has changed over the past ten years (very little, as it happens).

http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/10359233
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
'N' in the Alphabet roundabout. A teen book, and none the worse for it. The plot hangs on the real-life murder of Grace Brown, and incorporates the victim's letters into the text - though in such a sensitive manner that it's only just occurred to me how terribly that might have turned out.

The narrator is a waitress at the Glenmore Hotel, where the tragedy is centred, working to support her father and sisters, and to raise enough money to take up a place at college in New York. I think I have been rather spoiled for stories in which the heroine's vocation is to write (I will wibble more about this on the Other Blog) because here was someone for whom this was more of a challenge than usual, and I was just rolling my eyes. A pity. Also, I saw straight through the love interest, but this may have been the intention.

Nothing particularly special, but a good enough read, with a pleasing resolution.

http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/10491432
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
The life and loves of Carrie Bradshaw before the 'Sex and the City' years. I should admit now, since it will probably soon become obvious, that I was only briefly acquainted with 'Sex and the City', since there were only a couple of years during which two vital conditions were fulfilled: a) my having a telly; and b) the show being on it. Consequently, I only occasionally remembered that I was reading the prequel to 'Sex and the City'; most of the time it just felt like a common or garden high school novel. The fact that in my head Sarah Jessica Parker sprung into being fully formed at the age of about 35 isn't really helping, either.

None of which is intended to say that I didn't enjoy this. I did. It was a very readable piece of teen fiction - often amusing, sometimes profound, and only occasionally didactic. In fact, it worked beautifully as a standalone novel, with one glorious nod to the future. (I'll be honest: I saw it coming - or something like it coming, anyway - but that doesn't make it any less glorious, damn it!)

http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/9730739
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
There is nobody quite like Diana Wynne Jones for evoking an utterly convincing real life setting, creating a horribly plausible fantasy element, and combining the two in a way that makes you wander around the house casting shifty looks at the lightbulbs for the next few days. I enjoyed this book very much, finding the tribulations of the everyday family afflicted by the attentions of a family of wizards most amusing. I didn't see the twist coming at all; possibly I am not observant. I used to read a lot of DWJ; must seek out some more.

http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/4339578/
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
It's a long time since I read The Giver, but I seem to remember enough of the plot to connect this sequel into the general scheme of things. In any case, this would work quite happily as a standalone, and, indeed, I didn't feel greatly hard-done-by having missed the second book of the trilogy. (Not that I wouldn't read that... um, you know what I mean!)

Anyhow, this is a quick read, a utopia-dystopia, wandering rather further beyond the realms of realism than The Giver and consequently rather less frightening (though if you were to ask me again in a dark forest I might revise that statement...). All the same, a suspenseful and poignant book, well worth a read.

http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/9957262
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
Retellings of Andersen's fairy stories for the teen market. Readable enough, though I was never really that sort of teen (I used to read Jacqueline Wilson, and that was as trendy as I got) and it's a book that I'm not breaking my heart over parting with.

I had forgotten how depressing Andersen can get - or, rather, I always applauded his miserably ever after endings, but it's somehow different when it's human kids and not mermaids or tin soldiers or whatever. I think, though, having read the Snow Queen-inspired story in this, I probably could now go back and read the original. I have been too scared to for years. (Not entirely true - I was scared for some years, and then I forgot about its existence for the rest of them.)

Quite fun, wouldn't go out of my way to re-read.

http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/9948291

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