Young Adult archive at Stray Talk
an archive of my forays into fact and fiction

Archive: Young Adult


7th July, 2008
Speed reviews: part I
— Love @ 08:43 Comments (1)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, Book Blowout, C, Classics, D, English, GLBT interest, Historical, History, Lifestyle, Mystery, Religion, Romance, Science Fiction, Sex, sexuality & gender, Speed reviews, Swedish, To Be Read, Young Adult

Since I’m sick* and way behind on reviews, I’ve realised the only way to catch up is to make them speed reviews and post a whole batch at once.

The Age of Napoleon; Alistair Horne, eng, 235 British
Interesting, but a little choppily written, and also the author assumes you know certain things and never explains them, while others he explains over and over again.
C

Cold Comfort Farm; Stella Gibbons, eng, 253 British
Funny, though I accidentally didn’t read the preface, so I wasn’t 100 % how much of it was intentional (all of it, as it turns out, and as I suspected). Flora Poste is kind of annoying, but all right all the same.
For the TBR reading challenge and as part of the BBC Big Read.
B

Rebecca; Daphne du Maurier, eng, 410 British
A re-read, not as good as I remembered it, but still lovely. Maxim is both wonderful and creepy.
C

Med uppenbar känsla för stil; Stephan Mendel-Enk, swe, 128 Swedish
Interestingly written about men and what’s considered masculine. References Morrissey at some points, mostly in connection with a man who went berserk and killed people. Lovely… not!
C

Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East; Brian Whitaker, swe, 230 British
Interesting, scary and occasionally a little bit hopeful.
C

Ingen behöver veta; Christina Wahldén, swe, 139 Swedish
About male rape and how it does exist, but people find it hard to believe. Kind of a non-ending, but then I suppose that’s sadly the case in most instances of actual male rape also.
C

Ingen grekisk gud, precis; Katarian Kieri, swe, 217 Swedish
Kind of brilliant tale of a young girl who falls for a teacher. Kind of brilliant mostly because the main character is into Morrissey, but for other reasons also. I was a bit worried where it was going to end, but it’s kind of perfect, really.
B

Sandman: The Kindly Ones; Neil Gaiman et al., eng, 335 British
I wouldn’t say Sandman is Gaiman at his best, but I do like the stories and so also in this volume. Not my favourite, though.
For the TBR reading challenge.
C

Doctor Who: The Nightmare of Black Island; Mike Tucker, eng, 255 British
Scary monsters and kiddies with nightmares. I liked it, but not as much as other DW books.
C

Doctor Who: The Art of Destruction; Stephen Cole, eng, 256 British
Farming in Africa, golden statues and creepy aliens. Good, but not great. Doctor’s always nice, though.
C

Doctor Who: The Price of Paradise; Colin Brake, eng, 255 British
References Franz Ferdinand and other pop culture a time or two. Not the best of the DW books I’ve read—I don’t much care for Colin Brake’s style of writing it, though I can’t put my finger on the exact reason.
C

Tro, hopp och burnout; Johan Unenge, swe, 228 Swedish
YA story about a guy who’s really into cars and death metal, who ends up going on a confirmation camp. It’s a decent story, and I was happy to see it didn’t end up quite where I expected it would, but the writing style is very, very choppy and not at all my cup of tea.
For the A-Z reading challenge.
C

Vadå feminist; Lisa Gålmark, swe, 188 Swedish
Basic guide to feminism. I wasn’t too keen on the writing and didn’t like the book all that much. Mostly it made me a little annoyed with the author, though it did contain sections worth thinking about. It bothers me that there is no question mark in the title.
For the A-Z reading challenge.
D

Homofamiljer; Sara Stenholm & Cecilia Strömberg, swe, 312 Swedish
About rainbow families and different ways to get one. Interesting, especially the personal stories, but not fab.
C

*Just a cold, but a bad one. I hate colds. And I’ve run out of Kleenex, which means my nose is very, very sore from regular paper towels. Woe.


4th July, 2008
Hundår; Markus Zusak
— Love @ 06:14 Comments (0)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, Book Blowout, D, Fiction, Swedish, Young Adult

The Underdog; Markus Zusak Hundår
by Markus Zusak
Original title: The Underdog
Australian

For the A-Z reading challenge.

Swedish
128 pages
Richters
ISBN: 91-7130-027-9

First line: Det var medan vi tittade på teve som vi bestämde oss för att råna tandläkaren.

Back cover blurb:
Cameron Wolfe är en ensamvarg och underdog som slår i underläge. Alltid i underläge!
I Hundår berättar han om några månader i sitt liv. Inte för att det hände något särskilt. Bara hans försök att hitta sin väg genom livet. Och några boxningsmatcher på bakgården.

Thoughts: I don’t know if it was because of the translation, my mood at the time, or because Zusak is just not my cup of tea, but I didn’t like this book. I’ve been hearing a lot of good stuff about him, so I think I’ll probably try The Book Thief anyway, though not by buying it. If I’ll read it, I’ll borrow it from the library.

A D grade. It just wasn’t interesting to me.


1st June, 2008
En liten chock; Johanna Lindbäck
— Love @ 11:45 Comments (0)
Filed under: C, Swedish, Young Adult

En liten chock; Johanna Lindbäck En liten chock
by Johanna Lindbäck
Swedish

Swedish
272 pages
Tiden
ISBN: 978-91-85243-98-3

First line: Han ansträngde sig inte direkt för att komma i tid, det kan man inte säga.

Back cover blurb:
Gustav hoppades på tre saker när han började gymnasiet:

  1. En flickvän, eller en tillfällig tjej att ha sex med, åtminstone en gång.
  2. En massa nya kompisar med samma intressen som han, det vill säga inte sport.
  3. En ny personlighet.

Nu är det bara ett par månader kvar till studenten och Gustav har nästan gett upp hoppet. Men så bildar han och Elin i klassen en pakt. De ska göra något oväntat—något som gör dem mindre missnöjda med varandra och sina förutsägbara liv. Något som gör att de slipper dö av tristess och leda.
Det drar ihop sig till en liten chock…

Thoughts: This was a decent little YA read. Most of the reason I liked it as much as I did (not more than a C rating, though) is because it’s set in Umeå, which is where I studied at university, so I know the city. It’s always neat to have places you are familiar with appear in fiction.


20th May, 2008
Daddy-Long-Legs; Jean Webster
— Love @ 11:33 Comments (1)
Filed under: B, Classics, Decades '08, English, Young Adult

No cover image available Daddy-Long-Legs
by Jean Webster
American

For the Decades ’08 reading challenge (first published 1912).

English
160 pages
J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd/E.P. Dutton & Co. Inc.
ISBN: n/a

First line: The first Wednesday in every month was a Perfectly Awful Day—a day to be awaited with dread, endured with courage and forgotten with haste.

Back cover blurb: n/a

Thoughts: I’ve read Daddy-Long-Legs before, but always in Swedish, so this was a bit like reading it for the first time. I’ve always liked it in Swedish, and I like it even more in the original.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it’s the story of Judy, a girl who’s grown up in an orphanage. Her real name is Jerusha, because the head of the orphanage had a habit of picking first names from head stones (and last names from the phone directory, which is why Judy is an Abbott). When Judy’s eighteen, one of the trustees of the orphanage decides to sponsor her education at college. His only demand on her is that she write him one letter a month, to tell him how she’s doing at school.

In essence, then, it’s a novel in letters. A format that is not always easy to pull off, but that Webster truly excelled at (she wrote other novels in the same style—the sequel to this one, called Dear Enemy, being one of them).

I’m giving this a B grade, in part because the writing is such that I got pulled in, and in part because there is an underlying romance that is lovely, but not too in-your-face and definitely not the only thing in the story. I like that sort of thing.

If you haven’t already read it, do it now! (Or at least soon. If you’re not averse to reading things on the screen, you can find this, and its sequel, at Project Gutenberg.)


17th May, 2008
Från en annan planet; Tamara Bach
— Love @ 18:13 Comments (1)
Filed under: B, Fiction, GLBT interest, Swedish, Young Adult

Från en annan planet; Tamara Bach Från en annan planet
by Tamara Bach
Original title: Marsmädchen
German

Swedish
168 pages
Berghs
ISBN: 91-502-1541-8

First line: Mitt namn är Miriam.

Back cover blurb:
“Laura och jag bredvid varandra på väg mot klassrummet. Steg, andas in, steg, andas ut. Lagom takt. Ska jag säga nåt? Hålla tyst? Andas. Där framme är dörren och jag kan inte göra nåt utom att gå, andas gå. Och jag vågar inte se på henne.”

Om Miriam 15 år, som bor i en småstad där det aldrig händer något. Men när Laura börjar i hennes klass förändras allt. Miriam har äntligen hittat en vän, och vänskapen övergår till kärlek.

Very short synopsis in English: Miriam is fifteen and lives in a small town. Laura is new in her class and they become friends, and maybe more.

Thoughts: This is the first lesbian-related YA novel I’ve read and properly liked. Still can’t remember one with a decently upbeat ending, though. Everyone always moves away. Or dies.

Either way, read it if you find it. I think it’s called Girl from Mars in English.

A B rating.


13th May, 2008
Drakvinter; Elvira Birgitta Holm
— Love @ 18:06 Comments (1)
Filed under: D, Fiction, GLBT interest, Swedish, Young Adult

Drakvinter; Elvira Birgitta Holm Drakvinter
by Elvira Birgitta Holm
Title translated to English: Dragon Winter
Swedish

Swedish
186 pages
Bonnier Carlsen
ISBN: 91-638-3847-8

First line: Hjälp!

Back cover blurb:
Plötsligt slog Madeleine armarna om Bim, drog in henne i famnen så att hennes ansikte pressades mot Madeleines hals, hon kunde känna Madeleines bröst mot sina nyckelben, doften av mandel från Madeleines hud.
Bim ville slita sig loss, hon ville stå kvar, nej, hon visste inte vad hon ville. De stod där orörliga.

Akta dig för vargarna, hade Madeleine sagt. Men Bim hade inte kunnat göra någonting för att skydda henne.

Very short synopsis in English: Bim is thirteen and kind of lonely. Madeleine, who used to be her enemy, suddenly takes a special interest and things change. Especially after that fateful New Year’s Eve.

Thoughts: This was kind of boring, to be honest, so it doesn’t get more than a D grade.


13th May, 2008
Ser mitt huvud tjockt ut i den här?; Randa Abdel-Fattah
— Love @ 18:00 Comments (0)
Filed under: C, Fiction, Swedish, Young Adult

Ser mitt huvud tjockt ut i den här?; Randa Abdel-Fattah Ser mitt huvud tjockt ut i den här?
by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Original title: Does My Head Look Big in This?
Australian

Swedish
350 pages
Bonnier Carlsen
ISBN: 978-91-638-5367-8

First line: Det slog mig under ett intensivpass på löpbandet därhemma medan jag tittade på en Vänner-repris för nittonde gången eller så.

Back cover blurb:
High school är tufft nog utan slöja…

Vad ska mina klasskompisar säga när jag kommer till skolan med slöja för första gången? Gissa om de kommer att freaka ut. Det skulle vara lättare att gå in i klassrummet naken. Har jag blivit en religiös fanatiker? Att bli den första tjejen med slöja kommer att stämpla mig som tidernas största loser.

Och vad ska Adam säga?

Amals beslut att bärja [sic] slöja kräver mycket mod. Klarar hon av att stå emot alla fördomar, behålla sina kompisar och få skolans snyggaste kille att tycka att hon är läcker?

Thoughts: I’ve seen this talked about all over the place, so when I randomly saw it at the library, I took it home with me. And it’s a good story. It’s not your typical YA novel in some ways, but in other ways it is completely.

A C grade is reasonable, and I’d say more about it, except I’ve fallen behind on my so-called reviews and when you have fourteen to do to catch up, well, you don’t have the energy to say much about each one (at least I don’t!).


12th May, 2008
Bögslungan; Per Alexandersson
— Love @ 17:44 Comments (2)
Filed under: C, Fiction, GLBT interest, Swedish, Young Adult

Bögslungan; Per Alexandersson Bögslungan
by Per Alexandersson
Swedish

Swedish
136 p
LL-förlaget
ISBN: 978-91-7053-187-3

First line: Max ligger helt utmattad i sin säng, med huvudet djupt i kudden.

Back cover blurb:
Det är veckan innan nian slutar. Nu händer allt. Bråk ställs på sin spets och kompisar blir fiender. Det gäller att inte bära väskan på fel sätt, ha på sig fel kläder eller säga något klumpigt. Minsta felsteg och du går från cool till mobbad. När Max äntligen får en tjej blir han lycklig, men är han verkligen kär i henne?

Max blir livrädd när han börjar tänka för mycket på Niklas. Är han bög?!

Very short synopsis in English: It’s one week until the end of ninth grade and it’s never been as important to fit in as it is now. Max fights with his best friend, gets a girlfriend and starts to have strange feelings for Niklas, the bullied kid in school.

Thoughts: This was the winner in a contest held by LL-förlaget, a publisher specialising in books that are easy to read, for those who perhaps aren’t that good at reading (yet). The reason I read it was because it came up when I did a search on ‘homosexuality’ in the library database. It was so new, apparently, that they hadn’t even had time to put in in the ‘Just in’ case.

It’s a pretty cute story, but nothing terribly special, so the rating is a C one.


17th March, 2008
Linas kvällsbok 2; Emma Hamberg
— Love @ 20:51 Comments (2)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, C, Chick lit, Romance, Swedish, Young Adult

Linas kvällsbok 1 & 2; Emma Hamberg Linas kvällsbok 2
by Emma Hamberg
Title translated to English: Lina’s Nocturnal 2
Swedish

For the A-Z reading challenge.

Swedish
303 pages
Bonnier Pocket
ISBN: 978-91-0-011399-5 (in the same volume as Linas kvällsbok 1)

First line: Jag har inte skrivit en rad sedan den femte juni.

Back cover blurb:
I Linas kvällsbok 2 lär Lina 16 år oss om det här med att välja. Tryggt eller vilt? Cello eller hasch? Kärlek eller passion? Pojkvän eller älskare? Singel eller bigamist? Hur mycket kärlek kan ett hjärta innehålla innan det sprängs? Och hur mycket får den man är förälskad i dricka och skolka egentligen? Och hur mycket måste ens pojkvän veta om saken…

Very short synopsis in English: Lina writes a journal, except she calls it a nocturnal since she almost always writes in it late at night. This year, she moves away from her parents and her childhood home, to start secondary school at an agricultural boarding school. In her class is also Kevin, gorgeous “bad boy” and an almost irresistible temptation. But at home is Ivar, her boyfriend…

Thoughts: I’ve read this once before, last fall (a couple of months before I started this blog). It’s not a terribly good book, but it’s a pretty easy read, so when I was in a slump and just wanted a feelgood novel, this was the one I chose. As usual, this is a pretty angst-ridden story, but then all my feelgood novels are.

The biggest reason I went back and read it again, however, is that it reminds me so much of my time at secondary school. You see, I too went to an agricultural boarding school, so I recognise so many of the things that happen in this story. It’s a little insane, really. Mostly because I didn’t really like it all that much there! Though I think in part I made myself think it worse than it really was while I was there.

In fact, just today (31 March, which is the day I’m writing this. Back-dating all the way, baby!) I got a phone call from my friend L., who is the only person from secondary school that I still keep in touch with, and there’s a reunion this May for all old students, and since it’s five years since we graduated, it’s supposed to be extra-special for us. Or something. Either way, I’ve decided that I’m going. Why not, right? L. kind of wanted me to come and it could be fun to catch up with others, even if I was the weird kid in the corner for all three years. Apparently a ton of the others have kids already. This is quite Scary, if you’re me. (This one bloke, T., who really reminds me of Kevin in Linas kvällsbok 2, apparently has a four-year-old daughter. And doesn’t know where he lives. He always was a little creepy and scary, though.)

But back to the book: it’s decent enough, but not brilliant, so a C rating it is.


5th March, 2008
Nu heter jag Nirak; Peter Pohl
— Love @ 21:21 Comments (1)
Filed under: C, Fiction, Swedish, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Nu heter jag Nirak; Peter Pohl Nu heter jag Nirak
by Peter Pohl
Title translated to English: Now My Name is Nirak
Swedish

For the Young Adult reading challenge.

Swedish
240 pages
Alfabeta
ISBN: 978-91-501-0787-6

First line: Jag, ett damm, irrande i bländljusa stråk, vilse så som allting annat då, innan tiden föddes, innan rummet slöts inom sina gränser.

Back cover blurb:
Vuxenvärlden störtar sig över Karin, snart fjorton. Hon som inte ens hunnit släppa sin låtsassyster Nirak. Och vad hjälper Niraks röst när förälskelsen slår till, förblindar tonåringen Karin som handlöst kastar sig in i en kärlekshistoria där många borde veta bättre och se vad som händer. Men de vuxna väljer att inte se och själv vet hon bara vad hon känner och vill. Och Nirak kan inget göra.

Very short synopsis in English: Karin is about to turn fourteen, and still has an imaginary friend, when her mother brings home her new boyfriend. Karin falls, fast and hard, for her mother’s boyfriend, who responds in kind. The world around them stops mattering to Karin and no one seems to see what’s going on. No one, that is, except Nirak, the imaginary friend.

Thoughts: I didn’t particularly like this book. Partly because the writing style wasn’t exactly up my street, partly because I was squicked, time and time again, by the sex scenes (and some others. Seriously, I don’t really want to read about a man doing sit-ups clad only in a thong. No, no, no and yet more no!). It’s a rather unappealing topic to start with and I was definitely uncomfortable reading about it as it was described here. Maybe if the writing style had been different, I would have liked the book better (I would still have been uncomfortable. I don’t think I could not be, given the subject matter). As it is, I’m giving the book a C rating. Partly for the reasons outlined above, partly because there was no character in the book that didn’t want me stab myself in the eye out of sheer annoyance.


4th March, 2008
Sanna historier om andra världskriget; Paul Dowswell
— Love @ 13:08 Comments (1)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, C, History, Non-fiction, Swedish, Young Adult

Sanna historier om andra världskriget; Paul Dowswell Sanna historier om andra världskriget
by Paul Dowswell
Original title: True Stories of the Second World War
British

For the A-Z challenge.

Swedish
160 pages
Historiska Media
ISBN: 91-85057-78-9

First line: Trots att det nu gått mer än sextio år sedan andra världskriget rasade kommer det hela tiden nya filmer, tv-dokumentärer och böcker om kriget som vittnar om ett fortsatt starkt intresse för kriget.

Back cover blurb:
Sanna historier om andra världskriget berättar om några av de mest hjältemodiga, mest katastrofala och några av de mest avgörande händelserna under andra världskriget. Paul Dowswell förmedlar en stark känsla av det lidande människor drabbades av, men också av det med som många soldater och civila visade. Berättelserna skildrar olika sidor av kriget; de spektakulära sjöslagen mellan jättelika krigsfartyg, de stora drabbningarna mellan arméer med hundratusentals man, dueller mellan fientliga prickskyttar och ensamma individers kamp när de ställs inför en nästan säker död.

Thoughts: What a waste of human life is war. Especially the sort of modern warfare that was first seen in the first and second world wars. With a machine gun (or a hundred…), where’s the need for man-to-man combat? With the atom bomb? It’s really, really terrifying. Not that man-to-man combat with swords, bayonets and rifles, as of old, isn’t horrifying in its own right (I can’t decide if I think it more or less brutal than the impersonality of modern war).

While an interesting subject, Dowswell’s writing leaves something to be desired, so the rating ends up nothing more than a C.


2nd March, 2008
Dragon’s Bait; Vivian Vande Velde
— Love @ 19:36 Comments (3)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, C, English, Fantasy, Here Be Dragons, Young Adult

Dragon's Bait; Vivian Vande Velde Dragon’s Bait
by Vivian Vande Velde
American

For the Here Be Dragons and A-Z challenges.

English
196 pages
Magic Carpet Books
ISBN: 0-15-216663-7

First line: The day Alys was accused of being a witch started out like any other.

Back cover blurb:
It is going to eat her… All because the villagers in her town think she is a witch and have staked her out on a hillside as a sacrifice.
It’s late, it’s cold, and it’s raining, and Alys can think of only one thing—revenge. But first she’s got to escape, and even if she does, how can one girl possibly take on an entire town alone?
Then the dragon arrives—a dragon that could quite possibly be the perfect ally…

Thoughts: This book was by no means brilliant, but it was good enough to pass an hour or two with. My favourite thing about it is that Alys finds out that maybe revenge isn’t really the best solution to things. A grade of a C seems reasonable enough.1

1. Can you tell I’m really tired? I mean, I know I don’t usually write a lot, and never anything profound, but this quite possibly takes the cake even for me.


2nd March, 2008
När kommer du tillbaka?; Marika Kolterjahn
— Love @ 19:21 Comments (1)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, C, Fiction, Swedish, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

När kommer du tillbaka?; Marika Kolterjahn När kommer du tillbaka?
by Marika Kolterjahn
Title translated to English: When Are You Coming Back?
Swedish

For the Young Adult and A-Z reading challenges.

Swedish
202 pages
Tiden förlag
ISBN: 91-88879-77-1

First line: Innan jag hunnit längta eller ens tänka på det är tiden inne att flytta hemifrån.

Back cover blurb:
“Vi sätter oss på några stenar och ser ut över en åker. Vi sitter där bredvid varandra och är tysta en stund. Hon har gett mig mycket att tänka på. Jag tänker: Vad rädd hon har blivit, för ensamhet, för människor, för livet utanför hemmet. Nu litar hon på mig. Nu tar hon tag i mig. Tänk om jag inte kan leva upp till hennes förväntningar? Tänk om jag sviker henne?”

När Johanna börjar gymnasiet i stan blir hon vän med Magda, en tyst och tillbakadragen tjej som har det tufft med sig själv. Johanna vill hjälpa henne, men vill Magda ha hennes hjälp? Eller tycker hon bara att Johanna är skitjobbig?

Very short synopsis in English: Johanna moves from her childhood home to start high school. In her class is Magda, a quiet and introverted girl who quite obviously is not doing too great. Johanna tries to help her and pull her out of her shell, but are her efforts at all appreciated or does Magda think she’s just a pain in the arse?

Thoughts: I read Marika Kolterjahn’s first book a couple of years back and thought it was decent. Not much more, but then there’s not much lesbian young adult fiction out there at all, so it doesn’t do to be too choosy. For that reason I decided I wanted to read this other book of her’s. As it turned out, this is just young adult fiction, not lesbian young adult fiction, and so I felt that it does do to be, if not too choosy, then at least choosier. Quite honestly, Marika Kolterjahn isn’t the best of writers, in my opinion. She’s not outright bad, though, she’s just boring. Her wife is much better.

One good thing did come out of reading this book — I have now read eleven of my twelve picks for the YA challenge. Only one more to go, in other words. This one gets a C. It doesn’t deserve much more than that. Not much less either, for that matter.


24th February, 2008
Postcards from No Man’s Land; Aidan Chambers
— Love @ 20:34 Comments (4)
Filed under: A, English, Fiction, GLBT interest, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Postcards from No Man's Land; Aidan Chambers Postcards from No Man’s Land
by Aidan Chambers
British

For the Young Adult reading challenge.

English
312 pages
Speak
ISBN: 0-14-240145-5

First line: Not knowing his way around, he set off back the way he had come.

Back cover blurb:
Jacob’s plan is to go to Amsterdam to honour his grandfather who died during World War II. He hopes to go, set flowers on his grandfather’s tombstone, and explore the city. But nothing goes as planned. Jacob isn’t prepared for love — or to face questions about his sexuality. Most of all he isn’t prepared to hear what Geertrui, the woman who nursed his grandfather during the war, has to say about their relationship. Geertrui has always been known as Jacob’s grandfather’s kind and generous nurse. But it seems that in the midst of terrible danger, Geertrui and Jacob’s grandfather’s time together blossomed into something more than a girl caring for a wounded soldier. And like Jacob, Geertrui was not prepared. Geertrui and Jacob lived worlds apart, but their voices blend together to tell one story — a story that transcends time and place and war.

Thoughts: This year I’ve revisited a lot of books I’ve read previously, but only in Swedish. This is another one of those. Aidan Chambers, I think, has to be one of my favourite authors of fiction for young adults. He deals with some of my favourite topics (if you hadn’t clued into the fact that I like gay-themed stories, then I might as well just come out and say it now. I like gay-themed stories! Young adult ones more than others), but in a quiet sort of way that I absolutely adore. Sometimes I wish he’d be more obvious and outspoken, but if I really think about it, I think I like it best the way it is now. It’s all there if you look for it (and you don’t have to look all that hard), but it’s not glaringly in-your-face either, which I have to say is nice. I like a bit of subtlety now and again.

Like I said, I hadn’t read this book in English before and doing it brought a new dimension or two that I hadn’t noticed before. In the Swedish translation, it wasn’t always so obvious that all the Dutch characters, when speaking English, were not using their mother tongue and that they had a Dutch accent (this was also the case with A Countess Below Stairs. I’d never known, before, that Anna’s accent was so noticeable, simply because it was lost in translation).

It was also a couple of years since I last read Postcards, which, again, brought a fresh perspective. The first time I read it, I wasn’t sold on the gay theme yet (that is not to say that I minded it, though). The second time, I had started to read more gay lit in general, so that part of the story appealed to me more than before, and this time, I have new experiences and views that I hadn’t on the previous occasions, and that made me appreciate the story even more.

“[…] Love is not finite. It is not that we each have a limited supply of it that we can only give to one person at a time. Or that we have one kind of love that can only be given to one person in the whole of our lives. It’s a ridiculous thing to think so. I love Ton. I sleep with him when we both want it. Or when one of us needs it, even if the other doesn’t want it then. I love Simone—“
“Simone?” Jacob said.
“She was here the other morning when you left. She called out to you. She lives two streets away. Ton and Simone know each other. They were friends before I met them. We’ve talked about it. Ton never sleeps with women. That’s the way he is. Simone only sleeps with me. That’s the way she is. I sleep with them both. That’s the way I am. They both want to sleep with me. That’s how we are. That’s how we want it. If we didn’t, or if any one of us didn’t, then, okay, that’s it. All the stuff about gender. Male, female, queer, bi, feminist, new man, whatever — it’s meaningless. As out of date as marriage forever. I’m tired of hearing about it. We’re beyond that now.”

I was in a relationship at one time that went really bad, because the other party needed more than I could give, and while at the time I was terribly upset and depressed about it, in hindsight, I think that’s acceptable. That is, I think such a situation is acceptable if everyone involved is totally honest about what’s going on and the thing is talked about. In my situation, it wasn’t really, so there were hard feelings, a lot of anger on my side, and hurt feelings also.

Now I’m in a new situation, where the person I’ve fallen for is on another continent entirely and with another person at the same time as they are with me. I’ve never had an issue with this, because all along, between me and them, there’s been complete honesty and I’ve never been lied to. And this other person, my person, if you will, is okay with the fact that I might at some point want to find someone a little closer to me geographically. I might not find such a person, and if I did, they might not be okay with the situation I’m in, in which case I’m going to have to make decisions based on that. But that’s just how I feel. Everyone’s different, and different things are right for different people.

“[…] I’m not sure I’m — I dunno — strong enough. Brave enough. Not like you and Daan.”
Ton gave a little huffing laugh. “Bravery it isn’t! It’s just how we believe life should be. Not for everyone. But for us. And people who think like us. We’re learning how to live it while we live it. What else is worth doing?”

I’m pretty sure that told you more than you ever wanted to know about me, but can I help it that the book touched me so? ;D

I don’t like all of it, though. The character of Hille annoys me, and Geertrui’s parts of the story, while essential, did not move me quite as much as the present-day story of Jacob, Ton and Daan. In the end, though, the great parts of it completely outweigh the not so good and thus I’m still quite enamoured of the book. Much like Jacob fell in love with Amsterdam.

[…] the day (smiling to himself) he fell in love with the city. For I have, he thought, haven’t I? It’s just like falling for a person. Not wanting to be parted from it, wanting to know everything about it, liking it as it is, the bad as well as the good, the not so pretty as well as the beautiful, its noises and smells and colors and shapes and oddities. Liking its difference from everywhere else. And its history as well as its present. And its mystery, for there was so much he did not understand. And the people who had begun to show him how to see it, Daan and Ton.

Oh dear, I think this might be my longest thoughts on a book so far. I’d better start wrapping up by giving a rating. This is a tricky one. I’m not sure it reaches quite the heights of an A, but on the other hand a B doesn’t feel quite like enough. What shall it be, what shall it be? The deciding factor, I think, will have to be that I have, after all, read it not only once, or twice, but actually three times now, so obviously I like it a lot. An A then. And you should read it too. Just sayin’.


3rd February, 2008
Eclipse; Stephenie Meyer
— Love @ 13:11 Comments (6)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, English, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Eclipse; Stephenie Meyer Eclipse
by Stephenie Meyer
American

For the A-Z reading challenge.

English
628 pages
Atom Books
ISBN: 978-1-904233-90-9

First line: All our attempts at subterfuge had been in vain.

Back cover blurb:
As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob — knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

Thoughts: It turns out that I’d somehow misunderstood that spoiler I read, because what I feared would happen, didn’t. At least not the way I thought it would, nor was it as bad as I thought it would be. In other words, I still like Jacob Black. Like him a lot, in fact. Even if I got really quite angry with him at one point, because dude! he needs to learn to listen to what people say!

I still don’t care much about either Bella or Edward. Bella, I’ve realised, reminds me a little of someone I used to know very well, with the exception that she (Bella, that is) can make decisions and stick with them, even if it’s hard.

I think this is my favourite of the series so far, even if some things made me exclaim “Ew! Ew! Ew!” whilst reading, and the divide between girlish and boyish interests/talents/&c still bothers me a lot.

A B rating is in order and I have to say I’m looking forward to the next book in this series, which is published sometime this summer, unless I am much mistaken.


31st January, 2008
New Moon; Stephenie Meyer
— Love @ 20:03 Comments (6)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, English, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

New Moon; Stephenie Meyer New Moon
by Stephenie Meyer
American

For the A-Z reading challenge.

English
595 pages
Atom Books
ISBN: 978-1-904233-88-6

First line: I felt like I was trapped in one of those terrifying nightmares, the one where you have to run, run till your lungs burst, but you can’t make your body move fast enough.

Back cover blurb:
For Bella Swan, there is one thing more important than life itself: Edward Cullen. But being in love with a vampire is even more dangerous than Bella could ever have imagined. Edward has already rescued Bella from the clutches of one evil vampire, but now, as their daring relationship threatens all that is near and dear to them, they realize their troubles may be just beginning…

Thoughts: I quite like Jacob Black. I know it’s not quite the done thing, especially if you ask the Edward Cullen camp, but I can’t help it! I did accidentally read a spoiler at some point, so I’m not sure that I will keep liking Jacob, but I kind of hope I do, because as of yet, he’s the only character I’m not unmoved by. (Actually, that’s not entirely true. I’m moved by Bella, in that she annoys me greatly from time to time.)

Still not crazy about Edward. I don’t dislike him either, though. I guess I just don’t see the massive appeal.

On the whole, I’m still kind of hooked on these books, and that’s despite not being crazy about characters, plot or, technically, the writing. It’s a bit like it is with the Tony Hill books by Val McDermid (except I am excessively fond of Tony). I don’t think they’re very well-written, but they are always full of excitement and I keep reading, because you get hooked so quickly and there’s no way I could put one down unfinished. (That only applies to her Tony books, though. I’ve read a couple of others of hers, and without the appeal of Tony, there’s no appeal at all.) Anyway, what I was trying to say, before I got side-tracked, is that Meyer’s writing makes me want to know what happens next, and so I’ve already started on Eclipse.

New Moon gets a B rating. It was going to get a C, but then I remembered that Twilight got a B, and I don’t like this book less than the first in the series, so a B it has to be.


30th January, 2008
Messenger; Lois Lowry
— Love @ 19:28 Comments (3)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, D, English, Fantasy, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Messenger; Lois Lowry Messenger
by Lois Lowry
American

For the Young Adult and A-Z reading challenges.

English
186 pages
Delacorte Press
ISBN: 0-385-73253-8

First line: Matty was impatient to have the supper preparations over and done with.

Back cover blurb:
For the past six years, Matty has lived in Village and flourished under the guidance of Seer, a blind man known for his special sight. Once, Village was a place that welcomed newcomers and offered hope and homes to people fleeing poverty and cruelty. But something sinister has seeped into Village, and the people have voted to close it to outsiders. All along, Matty has been invaluable as a messenger between Village and other communities. He hopes someday to earn the name of Messenger. Now he must make one last journey through the increasingly treacherous forest to spread the message of Village’s closing and convince Kira, Seer’s daughter, to return with him. Matty’s only weapon against his dangerous surroundings is a secret power he unexpectedly discovers within himself. He wants to heal the people who have nourished his body and spirit and is willing to offer the greatest gift and pay the ultimate price.

Thoughts: As expected, this book tied together the characters of both The Giver and Gathering Blue. However, it didn’t really resolve the issue I had with one particular event in Gathering Blue, nor did it really appeal to me as much as the previous two books in the series did.

It also confused me a great deal. Apparently, the events of both previous books take place at much the same point in time, yet in one there is advanced technology, and in the other everything is exceedingly basic and primitive. These places don’t seem to be all that distant from each other, geographically, so I must admit I don’t quite see how the difference could be so marked, especially since the high tech one has the means to travel far and wide in not much time at all.

No, in the end I didn’t like the end to the series at all. I’m giving it a D rating, and that’s mostly just because I’m feeling generous today. I think I’ll try to pretend that there was nothing after Gathering Blue and that even if there was, I certainly didn’t read it.


29th January, 2008
Gathering Blue; Lois Lowry
— Love @ 23:56 Comments (2)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, English, Fiction, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

No cover image Gathering Blue
by Lois Lowry
American

For the Young Adult and A-Z reading challenges.

English
218 pages
Bloomsbury
ISBN: 0-7474-5592-3

First line: “Mother?”

Back cover blurb:
In the tough, unforgiving society that Kira lives in, she is forced daily to prove her value in the village. Up until now she has had her mother to protect her. With her mother gone, Kira will need to use every ounce of cunning, wit and bravery to ensure her continued acceptance — and even survival.

So when Kira is summoned to judgment by the Council of the Guardians to resolve a village conflict, Kira knows she is fighting for her life. Perhaps only her special, almost magical talent will save her now…

Thoughts: I had expected Gathering Blue to continue where The Giver left off, as it’s being touted as part two of a trilogy, but that turned out to be quite wrong. It’s more of a companion book, I s’pose, in that it is a different take at what the future might be like. In The Giver, everything is made out to be perfect and the people have the help of pretty advanced technology, from what it seems. In Gathering Blue, nearly everything seems savage and brutal. It’s far into the future, though it’s not a high-tech future at all, but rather what might happen if disaster upon disaster strikes and all technology is lost. Still, despite the glaring differences, in certain things the two societies are very, very much alike.

I was a little apprehensive starting on the book, because I’d had it in the bookshelf for so long, waiting for The Giver so I could read that first, and now that I finally had, there was some sort of mental block hindering my progress. Only for a little bit, though, it has to be admitted. I sat down with the book, turned the first page, started reading and was hooked. In short: I loved it!

One of the main events of the year for the people in the book is the Gathering, during which the Singer sings the history of the world, all the way from the beginning of time, until the present day. We don’t hear many of the words to the song, but one little segment we are told. It consists of nonsense words that make little sense, but I had a feeling there would be a hidden meaning, so I unscrambled the words and there it was!

I’m rating this a B book. For a bit I considered a C, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt it deserves the B. Any book that leaves me with the sort of uncomfortable feeling in the stomach that I’m experiencing right now, is a book that’s moved me in no little way. While the way it’s moved me might be good or bad, I feel that in this case it is a good way.

Now, Lowry says in an author’s note that she feels the ending is a happy and optimistic one. And while I agree to a certain extent that it is, I can’t agree wholeheartedly. There was a particular revelation towards the end, that I personally feel is responsible for the tummy upset, and that was left unresolved. I’m guessing (hoping, at least!) that that will be worked out in Messenger, though.

I really, really don’t like it when I can’t find a cover image that corresponds to the one on my copy of a book. I usually google the ISBN and sometimes I don’t get any hits at all, which is sad. Sometimes I do get hits, but all the cover images I find look different from the one of my copy. That is even sadder. Saddest of all is, of course, that I care as much as I do!


29th January, 2008
The Giver; Lois Lowry
— Love @ 19:58 Comments (3)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, Decades '08, English, Fiction, First in a Series, Young Adult

The Giver; Lois Lowry The Giver
by Lois Lowry
American

For the First in a Series, Decades ’08 (first published in 1993) and A-Z reading challenges.

English
179 pages
Dell Laurel-Leaf
ISBN: 0-440-23768-8

First line: It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened.

Back cover blurb:
Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community.
When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now it’s time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

Thoughts: I’ve read this before, of course, but this is the first time I’ve read it in the original English. It’s one of my favourite YA reads, and from what I can remember of the translation compared to the original, the translator did a good job (though that’s neither here nor there, as it isn’t the translation I’m writing these thoughts on).

What I like about it best is, I think, how everything sort of sneaks up on you. You start out thinking this world is pretty much like ours, except a lot more perfect, but little by little you realise that there are actually huge differences, and some pretty scary ones at that.

Whenever I’ve read this before, I’ve always interpreted the ending as a happy one, but this time around I was a bit more inclined to go for the slightly less optimistic interpretation. True, I think Jonas is probably better off there, than back in the community (I always expected the community to be spelt with a capital C. It just seems like the sort of place that would be, but apparently it isn’t), but it’s still not complete and utter bliss, and I’ll admit I shed a couple of tears. I do like the ending, though, especially how open-ended it is. It’s not Lowry’s fault that I’ve become a complete pessimist of late.

The rating ends up a B, because tempted as I am to dole out an A, I don’t quite think the book reaches those heights.

A couple of side notes:

1. I also read Cliffs Notes on Lowry’s The Giver, because I accidentally ordered that instead of the proper book. I searched the online book store for Lois Lowry and when I got the search results, I added the cheapest copy of The Giver to my shopping cart. Since I knew the book already, I didn’t bother reading the summary, but in retrospect, I find that I should have. Still, one would think they’d specify the title of the Cliffs Notes a little more than to say The Giver, with the author name Lois Lowry. Either way, I kept it, as returning it would probably have been more of a hassle than just keeping it, and it’s not like it cost a fortune.

2. There was a second side note, but I’m demmeda if I can remember it at present! How very annoying, I hate it when that happens.

a. I watched the 1934 version of The Scarlet Pimpernel the other evening. Can you tell? ;D


27th January, 2008
Det fattas en tärning; Johanna Thydell
— Love @ 17:59 Comments (3)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, Fiction, Swedish, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Det fattas en tärning; Johanna Thydell Det fattas en tärning
by Johanna Thydell
Swedish

For the Young Adult and A-Z reading challenges.

Swedish
211 pages
Månpocket
ISBN: 978-91-7001-571-7

First line: Svarta naglar på tangenterna, skärmen vit och tom.

Back cover blurb:
“Om ni hör någon ropa så är det jag. Jag är Puck. Jag är sexton år. Och jag är livrädd.”

Det här är boken om Puck, en ung tjej som gör allt för att inte förlora kontrollen, inte låta någon komma för nära, inte visa vem hon egentligen är. Men det är också historien om en pappa som försvann och en mamma som stannade kvar. Om hur det är att vara rädd — rädd för arga röster, rädd för att folk ska försvinna.

Thoughts: The language in this book was pretty simple, but not at all in a bad way, which made it easy to read and thus I finished it in about an hour and a half.

I like the main character, Puck (real name Petra, but nicknamed Puck by her father). She’s insecure and scared, and she messes up from time to time, but she’s not weak. There’s a guy she likes, but he’s a bit of an asshole and doesn’t exactly treat her well, and instead of sitting quietly by, letting him, she calls him on it and tells him to get lost. This I loved!

I’m giving Det fattas en tärning a B rating. All the characters were likable (yes, even the asshole, actually) and the language, while simple, was lovely (some authors know how to use simple language remarkably well. Per Nilsson springs immediately to mind as another example).


27th January, 2008
Som jag vill vara; Katarina von Bredow
— Love @ 15:17 Comments (0)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, C, Fiction, Swedish, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Som jag vill vara; Katarina von Bredow Som jag vill vara
by Katarina von Bredow
Swedish

For the Young Adult and A-Z reading challenges.

Swedish
282 pages
Rabén & Sjögren
ISBN: 978-91-29-66699-1

First line:
Det blev inte precis som hon tänkt sig.

Back cover blurb:
Arvid kommer till festen för hennes skull. Det påstår i alla fall Jessicas bästis Louise, och hon brukar veta. Med fjärilar i magen och dunkande hjärta beger sig Jessica dit, och visst, han är där! De dansar och pratar och det ena leder till det andra. Efteråt är Jessica rädd att han bara var ute efter att få henne i säng, men så är det inte. Arvid är verkligen den hon hoppats, och allt är så bra det bara kan vara. Ända tills mensen inte kommer som den ska…

Thoughts: I’ve read all of Katarina von Bredow’s previous books (well, except the two written for kids, rather than teens) and one of them is a favourite that I re-read whenever I need a good comfort book. Her later books have not been at all as good, but I still make sure to get my hands on anything new she’s had published. Som jag vill vara is her latest.

It tells the tale of Jessica, a girl of fifteen, who goes to a party where another guest is the guy she’s had a crush on for months. As it turns out, he quite likes her too, and one thing leads to another and they end up in bed together. She worries for a while that that’s going to be it for them, that he doesn’t want anything more. He does, of course, and everything is fine and dandy until her period is late. Everyone tries to get her to have an abortion, but she’s at first reluctant, later determined not to have one, and that’s what the rest of the book is about.

Everything is either black or white for the characters involved, it seems, and a lot of them come across as being rather preachy, which put me off the book a little. Jessica, the main character, feels very strongly about her point of view, but does bring up a good point at one time, which is something none of the other characters really do.

The ending is a pretty happy one, and maybe I am a cynic (actually, I am!), but I don’t feel that the happy ending is going to last. A year or two down the road, and everything is likely to be in shambles. I’m not hoping that it’s going to be like that, but it seems likelier than the other possibility.

Not one of von Bredow’s better books, then, which shows in the C rating. That it even ended up with a rating that high is because it was a quick read and I did get pulled into the story, even if I wanted to strangle most of the characters most of the time.


22nd January, 2008
Duktig pojke; Inger Edelfeldt
— Love @ 15:20 Comments (1)
Filed under: A, A-Z Reading Challenge, Decades '08, GLBT interest, Swedish, Young Adult

Duktig pojke; Inger Edelfeldt Duktig pojke
by Inger Edelfeldt
Swedish

For the Decades ’08 (first published 1977) and A-Z reading challenges.

Swedish
208 pages
Rabén & Sjögren
ISBN: 91-29-64869-6

First line:
Han var ett väldigt snällt barn, annars var det väl ingenting som skilde honom från andra barn; jag menar, ingenting som märktes.

Back cover blurb:
“Är det här nåt slags modenyck, Jim?” grälade min far. “Nåt sånt här Davy Boogie-trams? Det trodde jag verkligen du var för intelligent för att gå på!”
Ja, sådär har det alltid varit. Jag hade alltid varit en “duktig pojke”. Alla utom jag själv visste precis vem jag var och hur jag borde utforma mitt liv. Min framtid skulle bli en tvångströja av krav och normer, som jag inte vågade frigöra mig ifrån. Min mörka hemlighet — min kärlek — skulle alltid förbli just en mörk hemlighet.
Det trodde jag, tills jag mötte Mats…

Thoughts: I’ll start off this review with the rating, for a change, since I’m giving the book an A and there’s no doubt in my mind that it deserves it. I mean, it’s my sixth re-read of it — obviously I like it a lot!

I really wish I could share it with all of you, but as far as I’m aware it’s only been translated into German (maybe Spanish), and that was a while ago, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s out of print now.

Basically, it’s a coming-of-age story about Jim, who grows up feeling different from the people around him. To cover up his isolation and make it bearable, he throws himself into his schoolwork and excels at it — he’s en duktig pojke (a good boy). Then, the summer he turns fifteen, he figures out the secret he’s kept locked away inside — he’s gay. From then on, he throws himself into his schoolwork even more, desperate to not let the secret out. And then, in the last week of high school, he meets Mats and things start to change.

Mats is… well, Mats! But that means all sorts of wonderful things and I am seriously in love with this character. I’d managed to forget this time exactly how much, so when he appeared on the page again I was just as swept away as the first time around. He’s snarky, and sweet, and he hand paints the frames of his spectacles — what’s not to like? ;)

Another important character is Jim’s mother. Each chapter in the book starts with a paragraph or two written from her point of view and previously they have always made me feel sorry for her. I’m not sure exactly what’s changed, but this time around her self-pity just made me want to strangle her.

In the end, though, it’s still a great book and I still have to finish it in one sitting. There’s just no way that I can sit down, read a couple of chapters, then put the book down and go on my merry business doing something else. If I start it, I have to finish it then and there, with the consequence that I only got about five and a half hours of sleep last night. It was so worth it, though.


16th January, 2008
Twilight; Stephenie Meyer
— Love @ 16:14 Comments (28)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, English, Fantasy, First in a Series, Romance, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Twilight; Stephenie Meyer Twilight
by Stephenie Meyer
American

For the Young Adult, First in a Series and A-Z reading challenges.

English
434 pages
Atom Books
ISBN: 978-1-904233-65-7

First line: I’d never given much thought to how I would die—though I’d had reason enough in the last few months—but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.

Back cover blurb:
When Isabella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret.

What Bella does not realize is that the closer she gets to him, the more she is putting herself and those she around her at risk. And it might be too late to turn back…

Thoughts: I heard such different accounts of this book as puzzled me exceedingly*. Before I ordered it, I found only positive views in different book blogs. Of course, the second I pressed the confirm button on the book order, the more negative reviews started popping up.

After reading the book myself, I find myself in the camp in the middle. I wasn’t as completely blown away by Edward as others have been, but neither was I completely and utterly annoyed with Bella. Edward is okay, but he’s not one of those fictional characters I see myself falling in love with. As for Bella, I was a little peeved at her over a couple of things (mostly how she treats her father, because I refuse to believe he is as useless at cooking as she makes him out to be. He has, as he himself says, survived on his own for seventeen years, after all).

On the whole, I thought the book was good enough and I definitely want to read the sequels (already ordered them, in fact), but I find myself a bit of a sceptic when it comes to the great Bella/Edward romance. It’s a little too intense for my liking, to be honest. Either way, I do look forward to see where the story is going and this, the first installment, receives a well-deserved B grade.

*See what I did there?


15th January, 2008
Boy Meets Boy; David Levithan
— Love @ 21:00 Comments (3)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, C, English, GLBT interest, Humour, Romance, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Boy Meets Boy Boy Meets Boy
by David Levithan
American

For the Young Adult and A-Z reading challenges.

English
185 pages
Random House
ISBN: 0-375-83299-8

First line: 9 P.M. on a November Saturday.

Back cover blurb:
Love is never easy. Especially if you’re Paul. He’s a sophomore at a high school like no other—and these are his friends:
Infinite Darlene, the homecoming queen and star quarterback
Joni, Paul’s best friend who may not be his best friend anymore
Tony, his other best friend, who can’t leave the house unless his parents think he’s going on a date… with a girl
Kyle, the ex-boyfriend who won’t go away
Rip, the school bookie, who sets the odds…
And Noah, The Boy. The one who changes everything.

Thoughts: I don’t quite know what to say about this book. I liked it well enough—it was short, sweet and quite funny—but I feel a complaint coming on, and one that’s going to make you roll your eyes at me. Remember how I often gripe about the bleak and depressing nature of a lot of gay-related stories? Well, I’m just about to take issue with one being too upbeat and positive. There seems to be no way to win!

The thing is, though, that while the town that Paul lives in is quite fun to read about and rather cute, it’s too perfect. It would be great if there were a town like his, but I think we’re a long way from that, still. Sadly enough.

Let’s face it, though: we don’t always ask for complete realism from short YA novels. In other words, I’m giving it a C rating, because it’s what I think it deserves. A little more realism (with the same basic plot/romance) and it’d have been a B or a C, depending on the language and characters. No one really clicked with me, like other literary characters have in the past, but if I had to pick one that moved me more than the others, I would pick Tony. He seemed the most realistic to me.


13th January, 2008
The Princess Diaries V: Give Me Five; Meg Cabot
— Love @ 12:28 Comments (3)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, Chick lit, English, F, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

The Princess Diaries: Give Me Five; Meg Cabot The Princess Diaries V: Give Me Five
by Meg Cabot
American

For the Young Adult and A-Z reading challenges.

English
166 pages
e-book

First line: The week of May 5-10 is Senior Week.

Back cover blurb:
Mia is about to turn fifteen and can’t wait to dance the night away with Michael at the biggest, most romantic event of her life so far: the senior prom! But nothing’s going according to plan. Not only does Mia face a snoozefest summer of sceptre-wielding in Genovia. Even worse is the fact that Michael hasn’t even invited Mia to the prom at all. Hello, what is going on here? Just as Mia comes up with a perfect plan to change her man’s mind, disaster strikes. A disaster that only a genius like Grandmere can overcome…

Thoughts: I hated this book. The first book of the series was quite good, so I read the second one, which was quite nice as well, so I read the third, which was not quite as good, but still okay, so I read the fourth and about there I think I should have stopped, because the fifth in the series did nothing but annoy me and make me grit my teeth. Thankfully it’s such a short book that the agony of reading it was over quite quickly (as much as I wanted to give up and put it down, I couldn’t, because it was one of my set choices for the YA challenge).

There are at least four more books to the series, but trust me when I say that I will not be reading those.

As you might have guessed, the rating I’m giving this book is an F.


5th January, 2008
Flambards Divided; KM Peyton
— Love @ 15:34 Comments (2)
Filed under: D, Decades '08, English, Historical, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Flambards Divided; KM Peyton Flambards Divided
by KM Peyton
British

For the Young Adult and Decades ’08 (first published 1981) reading challenges.

English
283 pages
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 978-0-19-257055-6

First line: Christina had dreamed of Will again.

Back cover blurb:
When Christina marries Dick, she hopes that life at Flambards will settle down at last. But the village gossips find it scandalous that she, a rich landowner, should marry a peasant, and show their disapproval in no uncertain terms.

Even more unsettling is Mark’s return from the war in France. Badly injured and resentful of Dick, Mark is still the imposing character of old who stirs up confusing feelings in Christina. Just as before, Christina finds her loyalties divided between two very different men, and knows she has a terrible decision ahead of her…

Thoughts: This is by far my least favourite book in the series. It is the last one and the most grown-up, so you’d think I’d like it better, being older now than the first time I read it. But no. In fact I feel as though Peyton quite ruins my favourite character (even if his reactions are understandable, I still don’t want him to have them quite so violently. Things could have worked out, I am quite certain of it).

Another thing is that all the other books are seen completely from Christina’s perspective, but here we suddenly get passages written from someone else’s point of view. Normally I wouldn’t have minded that, but with three books behind you, it’s a little late to start changing things around without it seeming a little strange.

In the end, whilst the rest of the Flambards-books have received Cs, this one gets a D, for the reasons outlined above.


4th January, 2008
Flambards in Summer; KM Peyton
— Love @ 15:11 Comments (2)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, C, English, Historical, Young Adult

Flambards in Summer; KM Peyton Flambards in Summer
by KM Peyton
British

For the A-Z Reading Challenge.

English
188 pages
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 978-0-19-275054-9

First line: The RFC ditty with the sad tune, which Christina had sung several times with Will and his friends when he had been home on leave, would not leave her head.

Back cover blurb:
Widowed at twenty-one, Christina has returned to Flambards to find much has changed. The First World War is well underway, with Uncle Russell and her beloved Will both dead, while Mark is missing, presumed killed. Flambards itself is run-down, neglected and completely overgrown.

Christina vows to return the manor house to its former glory, and works hard to transform the home of her childhood. It is only when a familiar face appears at her door one day that she realizes that Flambards may even bring her love again…

Thoughts: This is the third of four books about Flambards and I finished it in one sitting. Like the previous books in the series, it’s a nice enough read and, while still considered YA, decidedly more adult than the other two.

While I don’t like it quite as much as Flambards (which I think is my favourite of the four), I still give it a C rating.


3rd January, 2008
The Edge of the Cloud; KM Peyton
— Love @ 23:43 Comments (0)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, C, English, Historical, Young Adult

The Edge of the Cloud; KM Peyton The Edge of the Cloud
by KM Peyton
British

For the A-Z Reading Challenge.

English
181 pages
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 978-0-19-275023-5

First line: ‘We’ve eloped,’ Christina said to Aunt Grace.

Back cover blurb:
Christina and Will have escaped Flambards for London with their heads full of dreams, only to find a whole new set of problems. Not only the basic ones of work and a place to live, but Will’s single-minded ambition to design and pilot flying machines, which terrify Christina every time he leaves the ground. Will is certain he can become a success, but what price is he willing to pay for the glory?

Thoughts: This is the sequel to Flambards and has less horses (and a lot more air-borne machinery). It reads as a logical continuation of Christina’s and Will’s story and earns itself another of those C ratings I seem so fond of dealing out of late.


3rd January, 2008
Flambards; KM Peyton
— Love @ 19:52 Comments (0)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, C, English, First in a Series, Historical, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Flambards; KM Peyton Flambards
by KM Peyton
British

For the First in a Series, Young Adult and A-Z reading challenges.

English
220 pages
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 978-0-19-271955-3

First line: The fox was running easily.

Back cover blurb:
Christina is sent to live with her uncle and his two sons in their country house, Flambards.

She finds her uncle fierce and domineering and her cousin Mark arrogant and selfish. But Flambards isn’t all bad, for Christina soon discovers a passion for horse-riding and forms a binding friendship with her cousin Will.

As time goes by Christina comes to realize the important part she has to play in this emotionally-charged and strange household.

Thoughts: Oh, it’s been absolute ages since I’ve read any horse-y books! I used to be quite crazy about them when I was younger, just as I was crazy about everything else related to horses.

It is a nice book, though. I quite like it still, even if perhaps not quite so much as previously. A C is in order—I spent a couple of hours curled up with it, time which I don’t begrudge it, and I have no objection to (re-)reading the rest of the series, but it’s not absolutely fantastic.


16th November, 2007
So Hard to Say; Alex Sanchez
— Love @ 23:35 Comments (1)
Filed under: C, English, Fiction, GLBT interest, Young Adult

So Hard to Say; Alex Sanchez So Hard to Say
by Alex Sanchez
MexicanAmerican

English
232 pages
Simon Pulse
ISBN: 1-4169-1189-8

First line: My name is (drum roll, please) María Xiomara Iris Juárez Hidalgo, but nobody calls me María.

Back cover blurb:
When Frederick shows up at school, Xio is thrilled. The new boy is shy, cute and definitely good boyfriend material. Before long, she pulls him into her lively circle of friends.

Frederick knows he should be flattered by Xio’s attention. After all, she’s popular, pretty, and a lot of fun. So why can’t he stop thinking about Victor, the captain of the soccer team, instead?

Thoughts: When I got this book, I thought the main characters were older than they ended up being. Xio and Frederick are both thirteen, which is a little younger than I normally like reading about. Because the story is aimed at a little bit younger audience than the books I usually go for, it was a quick read and I finished it in one sitting, even though I hadn’t intended to. Not because it was fantastic, but because there didn’t really seem to be a point to put it down and go to sleep, since there was so little left of it. Kind of regretted it the next morning, though, since I was quite tired after too little sleep. Alas, such is the life of a book lover…

This book gets a C rating. My younger self would probably have wanted to give it a higher grade, but younger self is no longer around, so doesn’t actually have a say in things at the moment.


14th November, 2007
Rainbow Boys; Alex Sanchez
— Love @ 19:45 Comments (0)
Filed under: C, English, Fiction, GLBT interest, Young Adult

Rainbow Boys; Alex Sanchez Rainbow Boys
by Alex Sanchez
MexicanAmerican

English
262 pages
Simon Pulse
ISBN: 0-689-85770-5

First line: Jason Carrillo walked around the block a third time, working up his courage to go into the brownstone.

Back cover blurb:
High school’s hard enough as it is without falling in love with your best friend–who’s crushing on the most popular guy in school. Or feeling like your parents would throw you out if they knew you were gay. Or being afraid of who you are…

Thoughts: I’ve been meaning to get my hands on this book for quite some time, especially after two of my friends read and enjoyed it at around the same time last summer. Personally, I liked it well enough. It’s your typical high school novel with a coming out theme, basically. No harm in that, of course, but it’s been done a lot of times before and for me to fall head over heels in love with it, the language would have had to be better. It’s not terrible, I just don’t think it’s earned more than a C rating from me, so that’s what it’s going to get.


10th November, 2007
Geography Club; Brent Hartinger
— Love @ 02:58 Comments (0)
Filed under: B, English, Fiction, GLBT interest, Young Adult

Geography Club; Brent Hartinger Geography Club
by Brent Hartinger
American

English
226 pages
Harper Tempest
ISBN: 0-06-001223-4

First line: I was deep behind enemy lines, in the very heart of the opposing camp.

Back cover blurb:
I knew that any wrong action, however slight, could reveal my true identity…

Russel is still going on dates with girls. Kevin would do anything to prevent his teammates on the baseball team from finding out. Min and Terese tell everyone they’re just really good friends. But after a while, the truth’s too hard to hide — at least from each other — so they form the “Geography Club.” Nobody else will come. Why would they want to? Their secret should be safe.

Thoughts: A short and sweet, though occasionally also depressing, tale of high school and how hard it can be if you are not perceived as ‘normal’, or you have to fake it to fit in. I liked it well enough, though the language sometimes felt a little too simple to me (not to mention the net speak that plagued the first chapter or two), so it receives a B.


6th November, 2007
Brothers; Ted van Lieshout
— Love @ 11:34 Comments (0)
Filed under: C, English, Fiction, GLBT interest, Young Adult

Brothers; Ted van Lieshout Brothers
by Ted van Lieshout
Original title: Gebr
Dutch

English
155 pages
Collins Flamingo
ISBN: 0-00-711231-9

First line: This isn’t the beginning.

Back cover blurb:
Can you still be a brother when your brother is dead? Luke often wonders. His brother Marius has died, leaving Luke alone with their parents. When their mother decides to burn Marius’s belongings in a ceremonial bonfire, Luke saves his brother’s diary and makes it his own by writing in it. And so begins a dialogue between the brothers, the dead and the living, from which truths emerge, truths of life and death and love.

Thoughts: The language in this book isn’t spectacular, but I don’t know how much of that is from the translation, and how much is from the original. Despite this, I found myself captured for the moment and I have to admit I shed more than a few tears. Then again, I always have been a total sap when it comes to certain things.

I’m going to have to go with a C here. It’s a decent book and I don’t begrudge it the hour or two I spent reading it, but it’s far from being a favourite and the story and characters didn’t really stay with me long after I finished it.