Hey, remember when I used to do this blogging thing? Yeah *cough* Me neither. I had a bit of a... rough year and I got overwhelmed by basically everything and I'm still trying to ease back into doing all the things I used to do and miss. So. Hi. Here I am and hopefully I'm going to be sticking around for a good while! So, um... patience with me while I get used to, you know, doing this again, please?
Anyways, if you're new/you forgot in the year since I've last done this (which is kind of totally reasonable - what on earth are 370 of you people still doing around???), Things I've Read Recently is a post series I do of mini-reviews, basically, when I'm too lazy/have too many books/not enough thoughts to do real reviews. I actually have a fair sized stack here so I'm probably going to divide this up into three or four posts of three or four books each.
Alright, now, we should probably organize this by which books need to go back to the library first, so...
Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier
Published: August 2011 by Puffin according to my copy and Amulet Books according to Goodreads
Genre: MG Fantasy
Page Count: 381
Part of a series? Standalone.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indie Bound
Summary (from goodreads because it's a bit shorter than the back cover blurb): Now, for those of you who know anything about blind children, you are aware that they make the very best thieves. As you can well imagine, blind children have incredible senses of smell, and they can tell what lies behind a locked door—be it fine cloth, gold, or peanut brittle—at fifty paces. Moreover, their fingers are so small and nimble that they can slip right through keyholes, and their ears so keen that they can hear the faint clicks and clacks of every moving part inside even the most complicated lock. Of course, the age of great thievery has long since passed; today there are few child-thieves left, blind or otherwise.
At one time, however, the world was simply thick with them. This is the story of the greatest thief who ever lived. His name, as you’ve probably guessed, is Peter Nimble.
Thoughts: First things first, holy HECK this book is pretty. Like, clickity clicky the amazon link and check out the preview there because the first 5 pages or so are gorgeous. For the rest of the book, there's just a picture at the beginning of each chapter (I think the US versions of the Harry Potter books did something similiar, but all mine are UK versions because Canada), but the first few pages are really pretty.
This actually took me a fair few days to read, but I was reading in half hour spurts with the kid I baby-sit (I enforced summer reading because I'm a terrible baby-sitter :P) and I think I actually left for like three days in the middle of it and went to my aunt's and stuff, so a lot of that was just being tired from travelling and, you know, hanging around with my family and stuff, not to be reflected on the book. I actually think this would be really good for kids who are slightly more advanced readers, though, because it is almost 400 pages, and it isn't a quick read, you know? I'd say probably ten would be a decent starting age on average, or kids who like Cornelia Funke, Diane Duane's Young Wizards' books, possibly Lemony Snicket fans, any who are really into the thicker, fantasy books. I definitely enjoyed it myself. Good four out of five.
The House on the Gulf by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Published: February 2006 by Simon and Schuster for Young Readers according to goodreads and Alladdin Paperbacks according to the back of my copy
Genre: Contemporary MG
Page count: 201
Part of a series? Nope.
Amazon / Book Depository / IndieBound
Summary (from goodreads): When Britt's older brother, Bran, lands a summer job house-sitting for the Marquises, an elderly couple, it seems like a great opportunity. Britt and Bran have moved to Florida so their mother can finish college, and the house-sitting income will allow their mom to quit her job and take classes full-time. Having never lived in a real house before, Britt is thrilled. There's only one problem: Britt starts to suspect her family isn't supposed to be there.
She's been noticing that Bran is acting weird and defensive - he hides the Marquises' mail, won't let anyone touch the thermostat, and discourages Britt from meeting any of the neighbors. Determined to get to the bottom of things, Britt starts investigating and makes a startling discovery - the Marquises aren't who Bran has led her and their mom to believe. So whose house are they staying in, and why has Bran brought them there?
Thoughts: I am reasonably sure that I've actually read this one before. The library copy is older. (This actually isn't the cover of the copy I read, but this one is prettier so let's run with it this time, cool? Also I already uploaded it and I don't want to change it now.)We've actually had it since about May 2006 (we used to stamp books) and it seemed familar the whole time I was reading it. I had an idea about the ending but it was driving me up the wall that I swore I knew how it was going to end but I just wasn't sure.
This was another "I'm enforcing summer reading" book, for the record. I made the kid read for half an hour every day that I was there and read for half an hour myself (setting a good example, you know). She complained, but I think she'll appreciate it. One day. In the far off future. One day.
If I didn't read this as a kid, I should have, because I think I personally would have enjoyed it a lot. I was always a mystery fan, though. Somewhere between three and a half and four for this one, probably leaning closer to four.
Crush. Candy. Corpse. by Sylvia McNicoll
Published: February 2012 by James Lorimer & Company
Genre: Contemporary YA
Page Count: 219
Part of a series: Nope, apparently I haven't been reading many of those lately.
Amazon / Book Depository / IndieBound
Summary (from goodreads): Paradise Manor is depressing - the smells are bad and the residents are old. Sunny would much rather be doing her volunteer hours at Salon Teo, but her teacher won't let her. Who says volunteering at a hair salon doesn't benefit the community?
But working with the Alzheimer's patients has a surprising effect on Sunny. Along with Cole, the grandson of one of the residents, she begins to see that the residents don't have much more choice about their lives than she does: what they eat, how they are treated by staff, even what they watch on television. So Sunny does what she can to make the residents happy - even if she has to sometimes break the rules to do it.
But when tragedy strikes at Paradise, Sunny's left to make the decision about whether or not to honor a promise that Cole made to his grandmother about her life and her death.
Thoughts: I kinda didn't like this one that much. It was a quick read at only two hundred pages, I'll give it that, but I just... didn't really enjoy it greatly. Sunny was whiny and annoying and was accused of manslaughter and still couldn't seem to take anything seriously. Not to mention her relationships made my eyes twitch and I half-wanted to smack her upside the back of the head through most of the book. It wasn't really that exciting, either. Dragged a lot. Not a fan of this one. Pretty much a two out of five for me. Maybe a three, tops. But probably a two, two and a half.
January 2015 edit: This is a Canadian book.
Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles
Published: 2009 by Candlewick Press
Genre: Contemporary YA
Page Count: 230
Part of a series? Nopers.
Amazon (and the Kindle version is only 6.38 right now, just fyi) / Book Depository / IndieBound
Summary (from the back of the book because I like it better than the goodreads one): Ellie has hooked up with more than a few boys. Each time, she is certain there will be more to the encounter than just sex. While she is with them, she feels loved. For a while, anyway. So when Josh, an eager virgin with a troubled home life, leads her from a party to the backseat of his van, Ellie follows. But their "one-time thing" is far from perfect: Ellie gets pregnant. Josh reacts with shame and heartbreak, while their close friends, Caleb and Corinne, deal with their own complex swirl of emotions. No matter what Ellie chooses, the lives of all four teenagers will never be the same.
Thoughts: First - how come all teenage girls in YA books who have sex and aren't in a relationship are only doing it because they're broken and yet the boys they sleep with are only in it for the sex? Where are the teenage girls who have responsible, safe, consenting sex just because they want to? *rants a little more just to get it off her chest*
On to the actual book. For only having 230 pages, it has 41 chapters, and four POVs. There's a fair amount of headhopping that could be kind of confusing at times, but for the most part, it worked alright. I actually liked Corinne and Caleb's POVs better than Ellie and Josh's. I thought it was interesting to see the situation from an outside perspective and, erm, Ellie had moments where she was just a tad... thick-headed - although I supppose it was realistic, but it occasionally went a bit far and she got a little annoying. Not terribly, but there were moments where I just wanted to shake her.
Although there were a lot more moments where I wanted to hug her. And a fair few where I wanted to smack her doctor... Oh, erm, spoilers, okay? So if you don't want to know which way Ellie decides to handle the pregnancy, you are going to want to skip to the next paragraph or so and I'll talk for a bit to give you some skipping room. Hi, how was your day? Good, good to hear. Wait, ducks? Weird. I'm running out of words stop reading to avoid it now okay? So, Ellie eventually goes into labour and goes to the hospital. There's a moment where they examine her, internally, and she tells them to stop, but they keep going anyways and she's in pain and panicking and they just sort of ignore it when she tells them not to touch her. Yeah, there's this little thing doctors need called consent. They could have taken two minutes to a.) GET CONSENT BEFORE TOUCHING HER and b.) calm down the scared teenager giving birth. I seriously just... did not like that scene. (Also apparently the baby was breech and it wasn't discovered until she was in labour, which I've always heard that they start noticing that when you're coming up to term, because the baby's head should drop as a normal thing that occurs at the end of pregnancy, right? Like, you can feel that from outside the abdomen, even, can't you?) At the end of the book (MORE SPOILERS HEYO) there's a scene where it's pretty explicit that Ellie isn't okay emotionally, is possibly suffering some form of post-partum depression that apparently no one's noticed. I really just question her medical care.
So I had an issue with that one scene, especially, but otherwise, I do think it was a good book. Kind of sad and an emotional read, though. Definitely not a light read. The ending was left unfinished in a way that was actually pretty realistic for me and worked well. Things were wrapped up enough where it was done, but none of the characters, especially Josh and Ellie, knew what was going to happen in their lives, and that was realistic for their particular situation. I'm not a huge fan of the "sex is evil and destroys your life!!!!1!" narrative, but the writing sold me pretty well on this one. Three and a half out of five.
Alrighty. I did a thing! Read the thing, people. Have you read any of these? What were your thoughts?
Peace and cookies,