Unsurprisingly, it remains cold, dark, and snowy here in Buffalo, at least for a little while. But I'm gonna try to get back on the blog-wagon this month anyway, and hope that the spring weather won't be too far behind. For starters, I'll be blogging about the wrap-up of my compliment challenge in a few days. I can, however, announce the winners of my giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Congrats to the winners! You should have received emails from Donors Choose with your gift codes; if you don't see them, email me at ReadingOnTheFTrain@gmail.com to let me know!
And, I had another good reading week--reading has been the one thing I've reliably had the energy for in this dark, will-to-live sapping month.
What I Read This Week:
The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I realize that when I give five stars to a book, it's usually done one of a few different things to me: maybe it kept me on the edge of my seat, made me gasp or cry or laugh out loud. Sometimes, though, and I think these might be my secret favorites, it's just made me feel full in a way that's hard to explain. It's not teary, necessarily, although it often makes me want to cry a little. I'm talking about books that let you feel your feelings without slapping you in the face with them. For me, this wasn't a loud or flashy or arresting read; it took its time and unfolded slowly. But before I knew it, I was at the end with that feeling in my chest that I can't quite put my finger on other than to say that most of the art I love (paintings, poetry, dance, TV, books...) makes me feel that way.
Initially, this book had me worried. See, SO MANY PEOPLE have talked about totally loving this book, and for the first 40-50 pages, I wasn't feeling it. I mean, it was fine, I liked it fine, but I was already starting to think, "My god, how am I going to blog about this if all it is is fine?"
And weirdly, I can't point to a spot and say, "Yeah, there's where it grabbed me." It was more like tea steeping--the flavor, so to speak, gets stronger and stronger over time until you have the perfect cup of tea (and then you better take the leaves out right quick before it gets bitter, but that part of the metaphor doesn't apply here, so let's say it's a nice herbal tea where you don't have to worry about that as much.)
My favorite characters were Meg and Alexa--I'd read their book, for sure. Either of their books. I loved Alexa's hope and the reality underneath Meg's impulsive boppiness. For me, they provided an entry point into a setup I'm not usually crazy about (the lovelorn boy, the deliberately withdrawn girl, their inevitable broken love story). But by the end, even Colby and Bev's sad, confusing relationship had drawn me in. It walked the line between frustrating and implausible really well, and I wound up rooting for just about everyone.
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Holy smokes! Talk about unputdownable! I picked this one up on my Kindle, probably on sale, who knows how long ago. With my TBR list being what it is, the reason I started The False Prince was that I found myself covering SSR at school and didn't want to get into anything that would take me too long to read. Well, ok. I tore through this like a maniac, so mission accomplished--except that the second book in the trilogy JUST came out (as in, the day I finished this) so now that is DEFINITELY the next book I will be starting. (With any luck, it will be just as good and I'll finish that one by tomorrow.)
Ok, I should probably talk about the actual book, right? So basically, imagine a mash-up of the animated movie Anastasia and Game of Thrones. (If you haven't just dropped everything to go buy this book, you and I clearly have very different tastes in media.) There's a guy going around collecting boys from orphanages so that he can groom one of them into a passable version of the long-lost, assumed-dead younger prince of Carthya after the king, queen, and crown prince are murdered. If the prince is not produced, the power struggles that will ensue will inevitably plunge the country into a war it is ill-equipped to wage.
The chosen boys must learn their role, or face their almost certain deaths-by-knowing-too-much. (Oh yeah--add a tiny dash of My Fair Lady to the mix. I'll wait while you go ahead and order the book. Ok. Welcome back.)
I have to say, everything about this book worked for me. If you are a seasoned reader, you will probably guess some stuff about the plot. I did. I didn't care. I was still on the edge of my seat wondering how the reveal would come. It was that good. This was the most fun reading experience I've had in a long time. Like, other books may have made me feel more feelings or struck closer to home or whatever, but this book just made me so happy to be reading it. It's also a fantastic book to have in my arsenal for my students (and especially guys, because Sage's voice is so great and he's so ornery and awesome) who maybe aren't huge readers but like a good story. It's a middle grade book that will grab readers of all ages, it's got the highlights of epic fantasy stories without ever ever EVER feeling long or slow or overly-detailed, and it's just an all-around blast.
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