Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Binge Reading Wrap-up

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my plans for embarking on an epic binge reading quest during the four weeks between my spring and summer classes (find my tips for binge reading here). Now that those four weeks are over, I thought I would share a wrap-up of the books I read, along with commentary on a few of the titles. I should warn you first that even though I am technically an adult, I like to read books written for teens, so you will see a lot of young adult fiction on my list. Without further ado, here are the 19.5 books I devoured during my binge reading quest:

Books 1-4
Finishing School series, by Gail Carriger

COMMENTARY: I knew I wanted to start with something that would be an escape from reality and discovered the first in the series (Etiquette & Espionage) while browsing the library’s e-book collection. The premise sounded cute (a young girl attends finishing school where she learns not only to be a lady of quality but also an assassin and spy), and it was a chance to try a new genre (steampunk). Overall a “cute” series, though the first book does not contain nearly as much espionage and excitement as the other three. (The 8 + 9 Book Club read the first book in the series back in May. You can read their review here.)

Book 5
Somebody to Love, by Kristan Higgins (genre: Contemporary romance)

Books 6 and 7
TheFill-in Boyfriend and On the Fence by Kasie West (genre: Young Adult, Contemporary romance)

COMMENTARY: I loved Kasie West’s Pivot Point (its sequel not as much) which is a young adult sci-fi. I was happy to discover her young adult romances are just as engrossing and the characters just as likeable. Super quick reads, I will definitely read more by the author.

Book 8
The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen (genre: Historical romance)

COMMENTARY: I love a good Pride and Prejudice spinoff / re-telling / alternate POV, but this one was underwhelming. I was initially intrigued by a re-telling in which the real reason behind Darcy and Elizabeth’s eventual romance is due to the schemes of Darcy’s sister, Georgianna, and their cousin, Anne de Bourgh, but I was left disappointed. I disliked the inconsistency of the pacing (some parts sped quickly through a few paragraphs, while others took chapters), and there are some added scenes involving both main characters of the original about which I had a difficult time believing took place. But of all the books I read during my binge reading quest, this was my least favorite.

Books 9-11
The Naturals series, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
(genre: Young Adult, Mystery/Suspense)

COMMENTARY: Recommended to me by a teen librarian; all I have to say is, if you even remotely like suspense, you need to read this series. Seriously, go get it now.

Editor's note: There's a fourth book in this series coming out later this summer...

Book 12
The Heir, by Kiera Cass
(genre: Young Adult, Dystopian romance [more romance than dystopian])

Book 13
??? by ??? (genre: Young Adult, Contemporary)
COMMENTARY: So unremarkable I can’t even recall the title or author!

Book 14
Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality, by Elizabeth Eulberg
(genre: Young Adult, Contemporary)

Book 15
Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell (genre: Young Adult, Fantasy)

Book 16
The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin (genre: Children’s mystery)

COMMENTARY: Recommended to me by a library clerk and by a librarian, I am surprised I had never heard of it, considering it is a Newbery winner. A clever mystery by which even teens and adults will be captivated. My only disappointment is that the introduction by the editor contains spoilers. Why, oh why, would anyone, but especially the editor, put spoilers in the introduction?!

Book 17
When Lightning Strikes, by Meg Cabot (genre: Young Adult, Contemporary fiction)

Book 18
Ransom My Heart, by Princes Mia (and Meg Cabot)
(genre: romance)

COMMENTARY: Princess Mia wrote a book! (Princess Mia is the lead character in Cabot’s super popular Princess Diaries series) Fans of The Princess Diaries will appreciate this book the most, but a warning: There are adult themes that might be too mature for younger fans.

Books 19 and 19.5
Proposal and Remembrance by Meg Cabot
(genre: Contemporary fiction)

COMMENTARY:  While walking past the new books, I saw Remembrance on the shelf and had to double back to get it. Words cannot describe how excited I was to see that Meg Cabot wrote a follow-up to her young adult series The Mediator, 10 years after the last book was published! While the rest of the series falls into the young adult category, these additions are for those who were young adults when the series was published and are now adults. When I told another staff member about it, she was so excited that we both started jumping up and down while at the circulation desk. Luckily the lady who had just walked up to the desk understood our geek-out over a book and we (in our gushing) convinced her to check out the first book in the series. The Proposal is a novella (thus it only counts as half a book in my binge reading tally) that sets up the novel-length Remembrance. I am a huge fan of the series, and I couldn’t be more pleased with these unanticipated additions.

I started off strong on my quest, reading about a book a day. But halfway through week three, I lost steam and took two days off from reading to go outside and get some fresh air. That restorative break gave me a second wind to complete my binge. Now I’m back to reading textbooks and academic articles about the theories and principles of information science (fascinating material, though not nearly as fun). At least I have the weeks between the end of my summer classes and the beginning of my fall classes to look forward to!

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