First quarter reading roundup

Today’s the last day of the first quarter of 2012, and I always like to check in on my reading at the end of a quarter. I’ve been using GoodReads to record what I’m reading for a few years now, but I’ve been hand writing every book I’ve read since I started high school. I like to think of what and when I read as somehow related to my own growth and development. So far this year, I’ve read over 50 books, which includes a number of manuscripts/to-be-published titles I can’t quite talk about yet.

Here’s a look at the books I’ve read, with a quick comment on each (or links to reviews as applicable). Some of these I haven’t posted the reviews of yet but will closer to pub date. I’ve gone ahead and starred those reads that were particularly stand out to me.

battle royale

* 1. Battle Royale by Koushan Takami (adult): I’ve seen the movie countless times, and I finally read the book. Got through it in one day because I loved it. I refuse to live in a world where Takami’s book is hailed as the “better” version of The Hunger Games because they cover two different things entirely. This is brutal and heartbreaking, and I enjoyed every second of it.

2. Unraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook (ya): A fun thriller/ghost story, but the premise overall was kind of thin. Kimberly reviewed this in depth.

3. The Girls of No Return by Erin Saldin (ya debut): A darkish mean girls tale set in the wilderness. I liked it, and even though it won’t end up being a favorite, I am still thinking about this months later which tells me quite a bit. Longer review here.

* 4.  Catch & Release by Blythe Woolston (ya): Woolston not only nails this story, but she develops such great, unique characters. I liked her first novel a lot, but this one made me a full believer in Woolston. Full review here.

5. May B by Caroline Starr Rose (mg debut): I enjoyed this historical novel-in-verse set on the Kansas prairie. Definitely nice appeal on this one, and I loved the setting. Full review here

wanderlove, kirsten hubbard6. Blood Bound by Rachel Vincent (adult): Not my usual fair, but I enjoyed it because of that. It’s the start of an urban fantasy series about secrets and loyalty, trust and betrayal. Dark, gritty, and bloody.

7. Life is But a Dream by Brian James (ya): The schizophrenia storyline brought me in, but ultimately, this one left me kind of disappointed. It felt a little bit preachy, even if that wasn’t the intent. Longer review here.

8. Wanderlove by Kirstin Hubbard (ya): Complicated characters in a fresh setting reeled me in and kept me hooked. Full review here.

* 9. Crazy by Amy Reed (ya): One of the best portrayals of bipolar disorder I’ve ever read.

10. Me & Early & The Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews (ya debut): I’m not usually a fan of cancer stories, but the humor in this one made this stand out. Longer review here.

11. Beginner’s Guide to Living by Lia Hills (ya): Recommended to me by so many people! I enjoyed this lyrical story about grief and living through it. There’s a nice romance in this one. Reminded me a lot of CK Kelly Martin’s I Know It’s Over in terms of voice.

12. Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley (ya): Secret identities are at play in this “one last night” story. I liked it when I read it, but I’m struggling to remember much about it now, months later, other than the writing and relationships in the story were the strengths.

this is not a test, courtney summers, summers,

13. Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic (ya debut): Problematic story about having your last words before you die. Longer review here.

* 14. This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers (ya): This zombie novel is much less about the zombie apocalypse and much more about what it means to live when you really have nothing to live for. Months later, I’m still thinking about this one. Summers’s best yet.

15. Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman (ya): A book about sex and nothing else. No characters, no real story.

16. The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour (ya): Road trip novel about life after high school. I wasn’t completely enthralled, but it wasn’t entirely disappointing. Review here.

17. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth (ya debut): A lesbian coming-of-age story. Good but not mind-blowing for me. Longer review.

18. The Knife and the Butterfly by Ashley Hope Perez (ya): Not up my alley, but fills a much-needed niche in the ya world. Longer review.

drowning instinct, ilsa j bick* 19. Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield (ya debut): Despite being a realistic mystery, this one reminded me a LOT of Imaginary Girls and I mean that in a great way. Beautifully written with a compelling storyline and characters.

20. Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John (ya): Another road trip book, but this one features a great brother relationship.

21. MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche (adult nf): An okay memoir about what friendship means when you’re an adult. Longer view here.    

* 22. Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J Bick (ya): Jenna’s got one of the best and most memorable voices I’ve read in ya. This book is challenging in the best way. Full review here.

23. Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams (ya): Underdeveloped storyline and weak characters led to a disappointing read. The verse didn’t work.

24. The Pigman by Paul Zindel (ya): Rereading this one still left me loving it.

25. The Year of the Beasts by Cecil Castellucci (ya): I like Castellucci’s writing style, but this graphic novel hybrid didn’t work for me. The story wasn’t strong enough.

springsweet, saundra mitchell26. Darling Meat Angel by Kate Robinson (adult poetry): Kate’s one of my friends from college, and I adored her first book of poetry. It’s raw and gritty.

27. Purity by Jackson Pearce (ya): Interesting premise but weakly executed with a wealth of mixed messages about sex, religion, and, maybe most problematic, female-male dynamics.

28. The Springsweet by Saundra Mitchell (ya): Second book in the series worked well. Lush language, great setting, and an aching character.

* 29. Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser (ya): Complicated story about people who just aren’t nice. Loved how challenging it was. Full review here.

30. Black Boy, White School by Brian Walker (ya debut): Weak writing, interesting story, with definite appeal to more reluctant boy readers. Longer review.

31. The Complete Lockpick Pornography by Joey Comeau (adult): Comeau treads a fine line with humor, violence, and honesty. Two stories that explore identity and social norms.

32. One Lonely Degree by CK Kelly Martin (ya): Read this in one sitting. I have no reason to believe Martin will ever steer me wrong in her writing. I related a LOT to Finn and her insecurities and self-doubt.

something like normal, trish doller, doller, trish33. Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman (adult): Rory’s story wasn’t easy to read and I never found myself connecting to it because it was written in fragments, flashbacks, documents, and other elements.

34. Kiss the Morning Star by Elissa Janine Hoole (ya debut): Road trip story about two girls learning to love each other and themselves. Longer review.

35. Wanted by Heidi Ayarbe (ya): Bonnie and Clyde meets Robin Hood. A modern western novel that had some great parts and some not-so-great parts.

* 36. Something Like Normal by Trish Doller (ya debut):  When a marine returns and he’s not a hero but rather a fully flawed (and interesting) character. Loved this book and cried some ugly, ugly tears.

37. Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown (ya): Yet another road trip book, and this one looks at what it means to be brother and sister. Good, but not my favorite.

38. Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker (ya): A sweet and light romance story that has definite appeal for the Dessen crowd. It fit my mood perfectly when I read it.

39. Survive by Alex Morel (ya debut): A girl wants to die and finds the chance to, but then when her plan backfires and she’s a survivor, does she want to? Kind of like Hatchett but ultimately, not as good as it could have been.

yesterday, ck kelly martin, martin

* 40. Yesterday by CK Kelly Martin (ya): A scifi adventure story with time travel, a dystopian future, and maybe even a tiny bit of romance. This was a crazy read but I loved every second of it (and I’m particularly pleased my review is 2063 words long since that’s when the future happens).

41. Zoe Letting Go by Nora Price (ya debut): This one reminded me a lot of The Girls of No Return meets Wintergirls and will definitely appeal to both. A contemporary delving into dark issues, though it’s not perfect.

* 42. Nothing Special by Geoff Herbach (ya): The follow up to Stupid Fast made me so, so happy. Felton is so great, even if he himself never feels that way. Voice! Voice! Voice!

43. Happy Families by Tanita S. Davis (ya): A story of twins dealing with their father’s coming out as a transexual. Great concept, but I didn’t find the story or characters strong enough.

all these lives, sarah wylie

44. All These Lives by Sarah Wylie (ya debut): Another cancer book and another book about twins, but this one is not about the twin dealing with the disease, but the one who is not. This was a really unexpected surprise in a good way and the writing was great.

45. Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf (ya debut): Mystery about why the main character’s abusive boyfriend died in a car wreck and she didn’t. Disappointing mystery with an uninteresting lead character.

46. Are You My Mother by Alison Bechdel (adult gn): Much less about Bechdel’s mother and much more about herself. Art and life, with a lot of psychoanalysis going on. Not an easy read.

47. Various Positions by Martha Schabas (ya debut): What seemed like a story about competitive dance turned into a weird story about sex that was never believable and really uncomfortable. Longer review.

48. 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad (ya): Technically, I’m not finished with this as I write this post, but I think I’ll be done soon enough to call it a first quarter read. Scifi adventure with a tinge of horror.

I’ve had two books I didn’t finish, which were Welcome Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Corielle (ya debut) and Railsea (ya) by China Mieville.

I’ve read 14 debut novels, too, which is great progress toward my goal of reading 32. I don’t think I’ll have a problem at this rate. I’ve also been keeping my database of contemporary reads up-to-date as I finish each title.

Phew! It’s hard to visualize WHAT you’re reading looks like when you’re doing it, but now looking at this list, maybe I’ve done more reading than I thought I have.

Now I ask (if you made it this far): what have been your favorite reads so far this year? Doesn’t matter whether or not they’ve been published in 2012, as long as you’ve read it in the last three months.

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  1. says

    Oh man. I have read 11. ELEVEN. Goodreads tells me I am 18 books behind on my goal. Even if I included the manuscripts, it would still only be 15. I blame stress.

    • says

      18 behind? I stare at GoodReads telling me I am 5 behind and my heart gets a little jumpy. hah. If I could add the manuscripts, I'd be over my goal.

      You've been wildly busy with work, so it's not surprising.

  2. says

    I kind of have my eye on Blood Bound now, that one sounds good. I like gritty and betrayal and especially SECRETS.

    Also, the short summaries make me glad I haven't read some of these HAHA like Various Positions.

  3. Allison R says

    I just bought Various Positions for my school library but I'm worried that I shouldn't have bought it because you said the story turned into a weird story about sex. Is it really bad or what do you think?

    • says

      It's not the ballet book it looks like it'll be. It's more about a sex scandal. I thought it was pretty poorly done, but that doesn't mean it won't have appeal to readers. It just won't be a dance story like "Bunheads" or "Audition."

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