Library Liasons (1)

Library Liasons is a post that I want to start working on into making a meme ala Rainbow Thursday.  I realized that I read books that I buy and get from the library, but I don't often review them because I am inundated with books for review.  This isn't to say books that I buy or get from the library are less important - it just means that there is no review obligation, and that some of them don't really feel pressing enough to write a full review on before I return them or read another book for fun or for review.  Thus, Library Liasons is born.  I'm going to do mini-reviews on the books that I read from the library - local, school, or my personal library - and hopefully that will give them some attention without ruining my review book schedule.  :)  Note - the title of the book links to Goodreads, where you can read a summary of it and other (hopefully longer) reviews. 

Teeth: Vampire Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling 

This was a surprisingly rich anthology with various short stories about vampires.  The stories do have their downs - at least one was a struggle to finish, and another felt particularly confusing with no good reason for the confusion - but some of them are insanely good.  This collection features many authors that write fantasy that could crossover to YA - as well as some traditionally YA authors.  A lot of them are bigger in the adult markets, though, and that's what makes this anthology so unique.  Though at times the stories lose themselves because of an attempt at either being too literary or too commercial, many of them glow and have a particular level of writing quality about them which makes them unique.

From E to You by Chris d'Lacey and Linda Newberry

This book was on the Cute-But-Forgettable side of things.  The pluses included epistolary formatting via emails (I am a sucker for books that use that format) and a nice romance at the center of everything.  Humor was also an upside - it reminded me vaguely of the Georgia Nicholson books in some spots, but the humor was far more sporadic than in Rennison's beloved series (of which I am a huge fan).  The downsides included just a general lack of staying-power as a read, and the characters also tended to skew towards behavior and assumptions that felt out-of-character for their ages at times.  The technology aspect also felt horribly out-of-date, as the book was written in 2000/2001.  The smallest things that email can do are amazing to the characters, and it's hard to read that as a modern reader without some level of issue.  Also, the UK slang is rarely explained, and at times can be hard to comprehend.

Ella Mental and the Good Sense Guide by Amber Deckers

Count this along the same lines as From E to You.  I give it more points for tackling more plotlines and difficult situations, but unlike From E to You it doesn't expand upon them that much (probably because it's about the same length but attempts to deal with twice as many issue situations while still making it a cute book).  The pluses include a strong character voice and some funny moments.  The book also reads very fast, and I think there's something about it that makes a compelling read.  I read it very quickly, like From E to You, and will probably pick up the sequel from the library.  However, it tries to tackle too much without very complex characters, and the situations shoot in and out so fast that it's hard to understand if the author wanted to include them because they were "real" or because she actually had a goal somewhere with all of the plot lines.  Also, the main character's romance is random.  This book is also a UK-based one, but it's more accessible with slang-terms.

If We Kiss by Rachel Vail

This was my most surprising library read as-of late.  I expected something cute and frothy, and though this book is cute, it's far from being frothy.  The general premise is a bit silly and can seem like a turn-off, but Vail surprised me with how she emotionally got into the mind of a teenager.  Her writing style felt very all over the place, but at the same time it resonated with a true-to-life teen voice.  Something about Vail's story just captured all of the confusing emotions that come with a first-kiss and a first-crush, and there were moments that were really touching and worth reading.  I still think some of the narrative problems bugged me, but this book really has me wanting to read more of her work.

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

I had to read this for my English class.  I love some classic/literary fiction, but Steinbeck is an author I really tend to loathe.  I found this to be better than Of Mice and Men - which I did not even finish a few years back - but it still had its random moments.  Steinbeck writes with simple prose that's very statement-oriented and leaves little room for reader imagination.  This novel has a way with characters, though, and has me wondering if I'd enjoy Steinbeck's more character driven works.  However, I think his lack of emotional connection to the narrative leaves some things seeming less than impressive, like the random moments of symbolism that are supposed to also parallel life's varying ups and downs.

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Honestly, I was not sure about reading this book.  It was either going to be good or bad based on previous reviews and thoughts from others.  I picked up the book hoping to be at least taken in by the entertainment factor, but came to realize that it was a meh read for me.  While the other books were light and enjoyable, this one attempted to be heavy but came across as dull with little plot movement.  On top of that, I hated the messages that came across, and the world building screamed of issues that further complicated those messages in a not-so-good way.  Namely - the entertainment factor didn't work, and neither did the literary factor for me, but it wasn't badly written.

A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve

This one was one that was on my shelf for a while.  The general plot was slow-going, as it is meant to be adult literary fiction (or adult contemporary fiction, if there's really a distinction between the two).  Mainly, I enjoyed it, though, as it presented itself to be a fine character study with a lot of emotional weight to it.  The characters came alive and were interesting, although I think some of Shreve's stylistic factors fell short.  I would have liked more expansion on Shreve's ideas on love, loss, and fidelity, and one character's story is told chiefly through a story that she is writing for herself.  While the method is interesting, it almost results in a barrier between the character and the reader, as opposed to being the magnifying glass that I feel it was intended to be.  Still, Shreve has some style to her, and I do love character-focused piece.

 So, these are the books I've read in the past couple of weeks that are my Library Liasons.  What about you guys?  Have any of you ever read any of these?  Do you have any Library Liasons worth talking about?  Feel free to comment, and I'll be more than happy to discuss them (as I would like to start interacting more with blog readers).  Also - what do you think?  Is this a worthy idea for a regular post on the blog?  Let me know!

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Cialina at said...

Oooh I hope you keep this up. There are actually some books here that I've never even heard of before.

BookChic said...

Rachel Vail is one of my favorite authors ever. She's a great writer. If you get the chance, read Lucky/Gorgeous/Brilliant- it's a trilogy about three sisters and each book is from one of their perspectives and takes place roughly around the same time.