Friday, August 09, 2013

Non-review reading in July

 I made a pact with myself at the end of June that I wouldn't read any review books during the month of July.  It was a nice thought, one that I didn't fully put into practice. But since I'd written about it the Fluttering Butterflies Facebook page (link in the sidebar, I put quite a lot of extra content there, if you're interested!) I felt sort of obligated to try to make it work as much as I could... and while I did read a few review books, and also some e-books, which I didn't count... I did read more than I expected. I'm really pleased with how well I've done. I managed 10 of my own physical books read. 

These are just the non-review YA books I read in July. (apart from Dead Jealous by Sharon Jones because you've probably already read my review!)

I started with Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt, which is one of the books I challenged myself to read over the summer. I haven't had it on my shelves for long, but it just seemed really light and fun and perfect to read on a sunny day with a few hours to kill. 

I really liked it, I thought it was a really sweet little book. It could have had a bigger emotional impact on me and from the cover, I was expecting some old-fashioned photography of some sort? But overall, it turned out to be very much what I was expecting it to be.

On a bit of a high from reading Going Vintage, I picked up Shut Out by Kody Keplinger. I've had Shut Out on my shelves unread for a ridiculous period of time. But I knew that I wanted to read it, especially after LOVING Kody Keplinger's previous book The DUFF. 

And Shut Out was just as wonderful. I absolutely love the way in which Kody Keplinger writes about teen sexuality. What she's done in her books is started a conversation about double standards and pressures and concerns that go along with having sex that teenage girls have questions about or about topics that maybe teens don't feel comfortable expressing. And in a very safe and comfortable environment, Kody addresses these things brilliantly. There's everything from remaining a virgin to voicing what girls want or don't want to battling the prejudices that come with being a girl who openly admits to liking sex to using sex as a weapon or a tool of manipulation in this book.  I almost wanted this book to be longer so that we could get more great insights from the author on this topic. What a great book.

Did I tell you already that I met Lucy Christopher awhile back? She's absolutely lovely and I read and loved her new book being published in October by Chicken House, The Killing Woods.  So of course, I thought I might also read Stolen by Lucy Christopher while I was at it. I have to say, I've had Stolen on my shelves FOR YEARS. There just never seemed to be the right moment to read something that was an intense as I imagined Stolen to be. 

And it is a pretty emotional book, I was right to hold back a little bit and try to prepare myself from the intensity of the situation and relationship that occurs in Stolen. But certainly don't wait as long as I did to read this beautiful and haunting book.  I thought everything was so well done. The incredible Australian setting, these two wonderful and flawed main characters, the tension and build-up to what might just be the perfect ending ever. I am  in awe of Lucy Christopher after reading this book.  Why on earth did it take me so long to read it?!

Then I decided for my next choice to read something already familiar to me. Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar was a re-read during July and I really believe I needed the comfort of reading a story with lots of emotion but one in which I knew where the story was going.  I've only talked about it briefly so far, but my cousin died recently. She was two years younger than me and has three small children. It makes me very sad and angry and a little bit lost knowing that the possibility of her life and who she was is now over. I don't handle strong emotions very well so I think I picked this book up as a way of coping with my loss.

Because I love Carly's story very much. She's a bit broken by what life has given her and yet she's not giving up. She's still working her way through the days, getting by with surfing and working at her job as a cook in a local diner. I love how her relationships with her neighbour and a younger teenager as well as her romantic relationship with Ryan all help to bring Carly back into the world.  I love how much of the book is about Carly healing and moving forwards. 

And by absolute coincidence the next book I picked up is another AusYA read, this time Pink by Lili Wilkinson.  I don't even remember now how or when I first heard about this book.  And this is another book that I've had unread for several years. It was a great book, quite slim so I managed to read it easily in a day.

I think the thing that I loved the most about the book is the focus on labels and how very little they really mean. The main character is dealing with this idea of being 'gay' or 'straight' as well as that weird separation of 'popular' and 'nerdy.'  There are loads of books that handle identity in similar ways - every teenager deals with this stuff at some point - working out who you are and what you want out of life. But I really think Pink touches on these subjects in such a fun and interesting way. I kind of fell in love with the entire cast of characters in this book, especially the way in which Ava's sexuality is handled. I've never read a book quite like Pink.

I picked up The Distance Between Us by Kasie West on a total whim while out shopping in Bath. I really didn't know very much about it, but I had seen the cover of it once or twice and though I'd seen positive reviews of it, I hadn't read any.  It looked like quite a thin book, contemporary, with a great cover so I thought 'why not?' Why not, indeed. What a splendid impulse it was, buying this book. I ended up sitting on a bench in the middle of Bath's town centre with possibly thousands of tourists walking past me on a lovely sunny, summer day and I got completely lost in this story.  It is so very funny and I actually laughed out loud so many times while reading this book in public that this elderly lady approached me specifically to ask me what I was reading. While I doubt that she'll pick up this book to read anytime soon, we did have a nice chat about books. 

I think what made me love this book as much as I did was that it engaged all of my emotions.  I laughed and laughed at Caymen's sense of humour and her outlook on life, but I also cried reading about the situations that she finds herself in.  I thought her relationship with her mother and the gaping hole left behind by an absent father was wonderfully written. Her friendship with Skye and her boyfriend's band provided some excellent fun and light-heartedness. And then there was Xander who is absolutely lovely and such a great love interest. I've got to say, there's nothing sexier for me than a boy who really pays attention and can hear what's not being said and Xander really excels in these ways. Loved that this relationship isn't quite so straight-forward.  I will definitely be picking up anything else to read by Kasie West. I'm sold based on the strength of this one book. Now give me more! 

And that's what I've been reading... Have you made any reading goals lately? How do you balance reading review/non-review books?


  1. These all look great. I've had Raw Blue on my TBR list for aaaages. And I've never read any Kody Keplinger, but I've heard very good things about The Duff, and your review suggests I would like Shut Out too, I like to see YA books dealing with teen sexuality in an open, insightful way.

    1. I think Kody Keplinger writes about sex in a wonderful way. Both The Duff and Shut Out are great for that..

  2. I'm so, so glad you loved Stolen. It's such a difficult subject that only some serious skill allowed Christopher to get away with it!

    I really need to read Shut Out by the sounds of it; I really loved The DUFF so I'm sure I will.

    1. I *loved* Stolen, why did it take me so long to read it?!

      Shut Out was really good too!

  3. You picked some great books! I think ALL of these are on my to-read list. And I think its a great idea to allow yourself to read books that are actually yours! I'm dying to read TDBU and you should definitely pick up Pivot Point if you haven't already ;)

    1. Yes, it felt like such a relief to read my own books. Will definitely have to do more every month to do the same.

      Pivot Point is definitely on my wish list now, though may wait until the paperback is available.


HI! Thank you for leaving a comment, you've just become my new best friend :)