Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Sunshine: So. Much. Traveling. Edition

Hey gang.  I wish I could report that my quads are wicked sore because I've been hiking or jogging or moving in any way, but in fact, my quads are wicked sore because I spent six hours yesterday and six hours today sittin' in the car.  It was totally worth it, because we got to spend the hours in between with college friends, eating wings (yes, we drove six hours away from Buffalo to get wings) and playing Apples to Apples.

Now that I've made it through the third consecutive weekend of road trips, I have a couple reviews:

What I Read This Week (And Last Week!)

 Wentworth HallWentworth Hall by Abby Grahame
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well...there's no way around the silliness of this book. It is very much Gossip Girl in Downton Abbey's setting. And, much as I made it through one measly Gossip Girl book but stayed guiltily glued to every season of the TV show, I think I would have enjoyed Wentworth Hall more as a TV show or movie than I dd as a book. Because the story? Delightfully frothy and scandal-ridden. And yeah, I guessed every twist well in advance, but I think part of that is because of the need to carefully describe revealing details rather than simply giving glimpses of them as you can do onscreen. Also, the sets and costumes would be THE BEST, and I'd love to see how the satirical news column that mocks the events of the story while hinting at everyone's secrets (really, Ye Olde Gossip Girl, I wasn't kidding) could be adapted (I'm thinking Punch and Judy style puppets?) And I did root for a few characters, specifically Lila (the ignored younger sister--like a sweet, 16-year-old Lady Edith) and Nora (the gossipy, ambitious, but devoted lady's maid).

Anyway, this isn't Great Literature. But if you're looking for something quick and goofy to bring on vacation or read in the tub, this fills that niche just fine.

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy mackerel, this book did a number on me. I mean, on the one hand, it is funny. Kami, Rusty, and Kami's dad in particular made me smile, laugh, and occasionally interrupt whatever Mr. S was doing to read out passages that had made me audibly snort.

And then, on the other hand...Kami and Jared. I can't think of another relationship that I've felt this strongly about since the January I read both The Time Traveler's Wife and the His Dark Materials trilogy and spent the whole month crying hysterically. (And that years ago? So, I mean, this is Really Saying Something.) Like Clare and Henry and Lyra and Will, Kami and Jared have a deep but problematic connection. For their entire lives, they've been inside each other's heads. Each thought the other was imaginary...until they come face to face with each other at seventeen.

I don't want to say too much, because this story is so well-told that I don't want to spoil a second of it. I will say that in addition to fiercely loving and rooting for Kami and Jared, I adored the supporting cast (which contains my new favorite ship, btw.) I loved the quaint, creepy town--and I loved the fact that when the first big revelation came, it was very matter-of-fact and felt simultaneously shocking and obvious: yes, of course that's the truth. Why would anyone be surprised to learn that? (Never mind that I was frothing at the mouth, dying to find out what it was just the page before.)

And then the ending. Ok, how to do this without spoiling ANYTHING AT ALL. Um, it made me feel lots of feelings. LOTS of them. But I won't tell you what kind. Just read it, ok? Seriously. Read this book.

Uglies (Uglies, #1)Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a re-read, but I think I must have read it for the first time in grad school or during my first year of teaching, because I only vaguely recalled the plot twists and turns. I re-read it for the class I'm teaching, so I paid more attention to the science and ethics aspect. Like many dystopian stories, Uglies asks the basic question of how much we would give up to live in a world where everything seems perfect. In this case, I thought it was interesting to note that part of the "perfection" is sustainability, which at least gives the new society some weight. I won't say much about the central dilemma, but I will say that I had fun diving back into the tight plotting and expert world-building of Scott Westerfeld.

View all my reviews

Also Read: 

I'll post a review of this later in February; I read it for the Cybils.

Currently Reading:

Thanks, Katy/Jess/Tracey/Alison!


  1. Okay, that does it. I need to read Unspoken and it needs to be soon! I can't tell you have many times I've read the back cover at the bookstore only to pass it over for something else. Now I keep hearing all these great things about it, so I think you just pushed me over the edge. :)

    1. Yeah--word of mouth is doing great things for this book, I think! I remember around the time it came out it felt like my blogroll exploded with glowing reviews for it, and then again in the end-of-year roundups. I was relieved to find I enjoyed it as much as everyone else!

  2. I've picked up UNSPOKEN a number of times too, but haven't yet read it. It sounds really good, so I'm not sure why I haven't. I tried reading UGLIES before, but couldn't get into it. Maybe I'll have to give it another try. :)

    1. I forget if you've read other stuff by Scott Westerfeld--I definitely enjoyed the Leviathan series more, but the Uglies series is where I was first introduced to his uncanny knack for slang--I still kind of think in it sometimes.

      I look forward to the day when you finally do read Unspoken--I think you'll really like it (I hope!) It's so funny and the characters are so fabulously odd. I'm glad I was totally peer-pressured into it :)

  3. I'm curious to hear what you thought of Endangered and This Is Not a Test - I enjoyed them both! My t(w)eens that I work with love the Uglies series. I've only read the first book and felt that it dragged a bit, but I enjoyed it aside from that.

    1. I'm still in the middle of TINAT--mostly because of my busy schedule this week, because I'd love to just sit down and read it all at once. I'm really enjoying it! And do come back after Valentine's Day (when the Cybils list comes out!) for my reviews of the shortlisted YA Fiction!


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