Third quarter reading roundup

I’ve been having fun this year looking at my reading patterns by the quarter. It’s interesting to see where I did a lot of reading — and what kinds of reading I did — and it’s interesting to see where things started to slump.

You could call quarter three the slump quarter. In quarter one, I read over 50 books and in quarter  two, I read over 50, too. This quarter? I read 22. To be fair, I read 5 or 6 manuscripts, too, but that still clocks me in under 30. I’m planning on picking up the pace in this final stretch of the year. I’d love to read another 50 or so to at least top 200 books this year.

Here’s what these last three months looked like. Links go to reviews, if posted, and I’ve starred those titles that stood out to me just a little more than others. Some titles may be reviewed more fully in the future:

* 1.  Through to You by Emily Hainsworth (YA): A debut about parallel worlds, choices, the past and the future, with one great male voice in Cam. Review forthcoming.

2. The Right & The Real by Joelle Anthony: A cult story! Reviewed here.

3. The Waiting Sky by Lara Zeilin (YA): I really dug into this story about family, with the great metaphor of natural disaster woven into it. Reviewed here.

4. Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo (Adult): A kind friend lent me this Aussie adult title aimed for 20-something readers. While I liked this tale of grief and growth, it didn’t quite hit the same notes that CK Kelly Martin’s comparable Come See About Me did.

5. Ten by Gretchen McNeil (YA): A revisioning of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. It was okay — nothing to write home about — and I felt there were a lot of missteps in terms of the author holding the reader’s hand through the fear too much.

6. Speechless by Hannah Harrington (YA): I didn’t care for this as much as Harrington’s first book, though I enjoyed it well enough. Reviewed here.

7. Lullabies for Little Heathens by Heather O’Neill (Adult): This was a dark and literary story about a little girl who never gets to be one. I quite liked the styling — it’s somewhat told in vignettes — though it is also quite sad.

8. Broxo by Zach Giallongo (YA graphic novel): I don’t think this knew what it wanted to be. It was sort of an adventure tale but also a zombie story but also told through flashbacks and legends. I didn’t get it.

9. Spark by Amy Kathleen Ryan (YA): When I got to this point, I knew my reading slump was on. I liked this story still, but it’s one I’ll need to revisit when the third book comes out. I am still invested in the characters and their journey. That’s a good sign for a second book in a trilogy.

10. What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton (YA): A contemporary title about a date rape. It was fine, but it didn’t knock it out of the park for me. Some of the main character’s actions didn’t seem as authentic as I’d hoped.

11. My Book of Life By Angel by Martine Leavitt (YA): A verse novel about a girl who gets trapped into child prostitution. Dark and gritty, but the verse didn’t work for me against such a weighty topic.

12. Skinny by Donna Cooner (YA): I found myself frustrated by this Cinderella story of a teen getting gastric bypass surgery. Reviewed here.

* 13. My Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught (YA): Hallelujah, a fat girl who doesn’t hate herself or her body. Also tackles gastric bypass but at a different angle than Cooner’s book. Reviewed here.

* 14. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (YA): This 2013 title might be one of my favorite reads of this year AND next year already. So sweet but so much longing, angst, and pain to get there. You will be hearing more about this one next year.

15. If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch (YA): Another 2013 title, and this one is a debut. The storyline is fresh and unlike anything I’ve read before — two girls who were kidnapped by their mother and forced to grow up in the literal back woods are rescued and reintroduced to a more traditional world. There’ll be a longer review in the next year, but where the story was strong, there were some holes and some writing/voice things I didn’t quite buy.

16. The Turning by Francine Prose (YA): A twist on the classic The Turn of the Screw but I felt it was much less successful than Adele Griffin’s Tighter from last year. There’s a review coming of this one soon.

17. Forget Me Not by Carolee Dean (YA): Another verse novel, and this one is more successful than most. It’s a dual voice, too, which is impressive, and it makes you question whether one of the narrators is or is not alive. I may review this one soon because it was unique. I’d label is contemporary but others may not!

18. A Certain October by Angela Johnson (YA): Johnson’s stories are so sad for me, and this one was no different. The problem is I never find myself attached to the characters nor the story and, well, this one was no different. I can see many others enjoying this very literary tale of loss and grief.

19. Life After God by Douglas Coupland (Adult): I’ve read and reread this one a number of times and decided it was time again. I liked it less than I did before but it’s still good. Also, very sad. I guess this quarter was about sad books on some level.

20. Try Not to Breathe by Jennifer R Hubbard (YA): Did I mention the sad stories bit? This one is a quiet story about the implications of suicide.

21. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Adult): I was taken by the story because I loved how terrible the characters were. Did I love the story though? Not like most readers. But it was good, and I think Flynn is an exceptional writer.

22. If I Lie by Corrine Jackson (YA): A little over-the-top on the drama/tension, as in there’s too much going on, but I genuinely enjoyed Jackson’s writing. It’s about a girl who keeps a secret and the implications therein (spoiler alert — they’re not good for her). I may review this one soon.

23. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (Adult): I think Rowell writes my kind of romances. I love her style, her slight wit, but her all together grounded and authentic stories.      

I didn’t ditch any novels this month, and I read a few more adult titles than usual (at least given the number of books I did read). I also knocked out a few debuts for not only 2012, but also for 2013. I think part of my slow down was tackling a number of other things blogging wise — I feel like I wrote a novel or two worth of blog posts this quarter!

I’m writing this post before heading to New York for Kid Lit Con, where I’m packing a couple of books to finish. I’ll likely have more than 23 books for this quarter, but I’ll add them to my end-of-fourth-quarter round up. Maybe this won’t look as sad as it does then! And yes, there will be a Kid Lit Con update coming soon. Promise!

Anyone playing along — what’s been your favorite 2012 read to this point? Anything I need to get my hands on in the final stretch of the year?

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  1. says

    Kelly, You and Nova did such a wonderful job talking about blog series at KidLitCon yesterday! I really felt inspired by the talk, and for the first time I thought, hmm, I should think about doing one.

    I don't read a lot of YA (I'm more of an MG girl), but I did read Code Name Verity this summer, and I thought it was a beautifully crafted novel. I know that the book has received a lot of buzz, and in this case, aptly so. It's a historical/spy-thriller/coming-of-age book, with two story lines woven together. I don't know if historical is your thing, but that was my favorite YA this year so far.

    • says

      I loved CNV as well, although I wouldn't call it coming-of-age, since the two main characters are already adults and behave with maturity from the get-go. I'd say instead that their understanding of the world changes, and their feelings about their own roles in the world, as they're confronted with the horror of war.

      Blythe Woolston's Catch & Release is still one of my favorites this year.

    • says

      Thank you so much for coming to our session and I am THRILLED you found it inspiring.

      I am among the minority of folks who was not enchanted by CNV, actually. I've been called heartless before and maybe this is why. I get why others love it though.

  2. says

    Sigh. So jealous of everyone reading Eleanor & Park! I loved Attachments (it was great as an audiobook!). I've added some titles to my TBR list from this roundup, so thank you!

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