Required Reading: August

And what do you know — another month has come and gone, and we’re now in August!

Now July. What a reading month it is. I think this is the month I’ve read the most books this year — a whopping 16. Plus this is also the first month in this entire year that I actually finished all of my Required Reading books way ahead of time. :) And that is 5 books to boot. Awesomeness. Now for the recap (reviews are linked to the titles!):

  • The God Box by Alex Sanchez – my first LGBT book, and it was pretty good. I liked how the Christian aspect was tackled, although I had some issues with the flatness of some of the characters.
  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart – Oh, I loved this book. Frankie is so smart and witty that I want to be her. Or be friends with her. Definitely one of the good uns. :)
  • Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers – What an intense novel this one is. I liked it, but it’s definitely not for light reading.
  • What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones – Now this one was also nice. I am really starting to like novels in verse, because they’re so quick to read and I feel like such a fast reader after I finish one in a few hours. Of course, who am I really fooling? Still, I will definitely pick up the sequel for this book.
  • Dark Blue by Melody Carlson – Ah, the only disappointment among these books I read. I wanted to like it, but it’s hard to like a book when the main character is so annoying.

I think July just goes to show how much of a contemporary reader I am. I practically breezed through these books, and I was surprised when I realized that I’m almost done and I had a full week ahead of me to read anything else. I will make a post about this in the future, but I think I can conclude that contemporary YA has always been my first love. :)

And now we head for August.

Required Reading: August

August is a very exciting month for me because I’ll be going on a major trip. For the benefit of those who don’t know me in person, or those who don’t follow my Twitter or my personal blog, I will be off to Europe for two weeks at the end of August. I’m joining the World Youth Day 2011 celebration in Madrid, Spain for a week, followed by some mission trips with my Catholic community for another week. It’s the first time I’ll be in Europe, so I figure that the best things to read for this month are those set in Europe as well. :) Like the following:

  1. Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto
  2. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
  3. No and Me by Delphine de Vigan

I’m only putting three books in the list this time because I’m quite sure there won’t be much reading time when I’m actually in Europe, except maybe for the flight and train rides. I’m also pretty sure I won’t be able to blog as much in the next weeks, and I’m not sure if I can bring my laptop (or even samsung netbooks) on my trip. Anyway, all three books has an element of Europe in them somewhere — let’s see if it will help me recognize those places in the books. :)

Oh, and I’m bending my rules here a bit — No and Me is also for the TwentyEleven challenge. :P Problem?

Happy August everyone! If you’re joining the challenge, leave a comment so I can include you in the round up! :)

 

Dark Blue: Color Me Lonely

Dark Blue: Color Me Lonely by Melody CarlsonDark Blue by Melody Carlson
True Colors # 1
Publisher: Th1nk / NavPress
Number of pages:  196
My copy: paperback, bought from Bestsellers

Kara Hendricks and Jordan Ferguson have been best friends since kindergarten. That is until Jordan started hanging out with a new “cool” crowd and decided Kara was a popularity liability.

Devastated, Kara feels betrayed and abandoned by everyone—even God. Yet for all the hurt and insecurity, these dark blue days contain a life-changing secret. Kara has the chance to discover something about herself that she never knew before.

* * *

I’ve been curious about Melody Carlson’s True Colors series back when I first saw them during the Manila International Book Fair. However, because of my series completion compulsion back then, I never got it. For one thing, there are about 12 books in the series, and another, I couldn’t find the first book. Whenever I do find the first book, I feel like maybe I should get the next one too, so I skip on buying it. Until I finally got a copy during one of the sales I went to last year.

The True Colors series is a set of Christian-themed books for teens that tackle issues that teens deal with everyday: family, friendships, drugs, sexuality, body image and more. The stories are ideally written for the Christian market, but it is also supposed to be readable by non-Christians as well. The first book, Dark Blue, talks about friendships, and how Kara Hendricks felt after her best friend Jordan Ferguson joined the cheerleading team and became a part of the popular crowd. Kara starts seeing changes with Jordan and she feels betrayed. Alone and lonely, she finds friends in some of her art class, and ultimately finds her faith amidst this challenge.

So I went into Dark Blue expecting to like it, despite the fact that I am far from my teenage years. Kara and I shared similar experiences about a friend moving on, so I thought I would be able to sympathize with her. The book starts out strong, with Kara introducing Jordan and their friendship, and letting readers understand how they met, what their personalities are and how the cheerleading thing came to be. I really, honestly tried to enjoy it…but I couldn’t.

For one thing, Kara was annoying. I know she was left behind and she was angry and sad but she really grated my nerves with all her weepy-ness and whiny-ness. I wanted to shake her and tell her, “Girl, you have to try something and not just wallow in self pity. Jordan isn’t the only one who can make you happy!” I never even really got the vibe that Jordan left her behind immediately. Jordan tried to keep Kara as a friend but Kara pushed her away. If Jordan was written with more of a mean girl vibe from the start, then I would have found the succeeding events convincing, especially the end. However, it was always Kara who is avoiding her gaze, or Kara trying to disappear, or Kara crying because Jordan left her without even thinking once.

But okay fine, I can forgive that because it really kind of sucks when your best friend has new friends that you can’t fit in with. I can’t say much on the Christian aspect but I might have to agree with what this one review said: Kara’s change was so sudden that it felt a bit unreal. Like she was holding on to Jesus so much that it came off as using it to slap Jordan in the face — as in “Hey, who needs you as a friend now that I have Jesus!” I truly believe that Jesus is enough and He is the best friend we could all ever have, but I also think we are built for community and relationships while we’re here on earth, and taking that away just felt wrong.

I wish I could say more for the writing, but there was more tell than show, and I was terribly bored with the things Kara did everyday. I mean, it’s normal everyday teenage stuff, but why narrate it? It may be to stress her depression, but it didn’t make for a very interesting book, at least for me. I was kind of relieved it was short, so at least I don’t have to plod on reading it. If it was more than 250 pages, I would’ve marked this as DNF.

I really wanted to like Dark Blue, but it kind of fell in the same traps that I thought Miss Match by Erynn Mangum did: annoying characters, too-“mountain-top” spiritual themes, and awkward writing. Maybe if I read this when I was younger, I would have liked it more, but now, I just didn’t like it.

Rating:

2011 Challenge Status:
Required Reading – July

Other reviews:
Goodreads
Teenreads
A Peek at My Bookshelf


In My Mailbox (5)

Oh hi. This isn’t a review, for a change, because I realized I posted so many reviews this week. Eep! Not that it’s bad, but I’m just not used to it.

This week’s In My Mailbox is supposed to be last week’s post, but our wireless was acting up. I found out last night that our four-year-old wireless router died, so I had to get a new one today. I can’t tell you how relieved I am that we have stable connection again! (Yes, that’s the Internet addict in me speaking)

Anyway, let’s just pretend the things I’ll post this week wasn’t for last week. ;) In My Mailbox is a weekly book meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren, where bloggers post about what books received that week, be it via  mailbox, library or store.

I went book-crazy last week because it was sale, and it was payday. Last Saturday, Grace, Jana and I went bookstore hopping to take advantage of the book sales. We started at Fully Booked Greenbelt, Powerbooks Greenbelt, then at Powerbooks Shang, National Bookstore Shang, Fully Booked Gateway and finally, National Bookstore Cubao a.k.a. The Mother Ship. :) We went home tired but very, very happy with our purchases. :)

Yay!

Yay!

From top to bottom:

  1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson
    I figure I’d need a break from YA every now and then, and I’ve heard good reviews of this one. Let’s see if I’d think the same thing.
  2. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
    Finally! I have been looking for the paperback version of this since I saw good reviews of the series, and Chachic loved it so much. I can’t wait to start reading this. :)
  3. Dark Blue by Melody Carlson
    I’ve been looking at this book since I saw them in OMF (or was it the book fair?), but I never had the motivation to get it. Finally grabbed a copy from National after seeing it was less than P200.
  4. King Dork by Frank Portman
    Impulse buy! I saw some good reviews of the book from my friends in Goodreads, but there were also some bad reviews. I didn’t finish The Catcher in the Rye, so I am kind of wary of this impulse buy. Here’s to thinking positively. :P
  5. You Wish by Mandy Hubbard
    I WoW-ed this book a couple of months back, and thanks to Grace for pointing this out to me! :) Don’t you just love that pink cover?
  6. Spilling Ink by Ellen Potter, Anne Mazer and Matt Phelan
    Saw this, and I just had to have to have it. Writing books are always in my list, even if sometimes I don’t finish them. ^^
  7. Happyface by Stephen Emond
    When I saw this curious book with a smiley face in Fully Booked, I was surprised to see that it was filled with drawings inside. Happyface is a journal of a boy nicknamed Happyface, about how he always seems happy but really he’s not. I’m reading this now and I am loving it. :)
  8. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    The Book Smugglers have a good review for this, but I wasn’t about to pick it up until I saw the hardcover version in National for less than P350. I just had to get it, even if I’m not fond of hardbound books. The paperback costs P399! This is a bargain, as far as I’m concerned.

Not in picture: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Picked it up as a favor for Ariel, who can’t seem to find a copy of this book. There were piles of this in Powerbooks Greenbelt and Shang.

This is probably the biggest weekend stash I have ever had, and my wallet wasn’t really complaining. Probably because it was payday? I am not so sure. But I’m okay with this stash — I mean it’s probably not as expensive as say, getting Outer banks short sales (which isn’t that expensive, either, I’m pretty sure).

But it’s not over! :) Guess what else arrived last week!

It's in a pink case, definitely.

Tadaaaa!

Paper-like screen

Eeeee ♥

Yes, I have a Kindle! I gave in and ordered, and my mom brought it home last week. Funny thing, though, was I ordered this one two days before Amazon announced they were releasing new Kindles. T_T But so far, I’m pretty satisfied with this one! I don’t really need the Wifi (although it would be more convenient), and 3G signal works pretty well when I’m at work. Reading on it is awesome, though. The screen really doesn’t strain the eye.

I’ll post a review of the Kindle soon, after I’ve read a couple more books on them. But I can say now that it’s a very good investment.

Oh, and her name is Astrid. :)

Now that’s a long In My Mailbox post! How about you, what’s in your mailbox? :)