Reading Diaries: Much Ado About YA, and Some Top Five Bad Books

Of Comics and Men coverWhen last we spoke I was reading Crazy Town. I’m ashamed to say that between work and school, I just didn’t get through it. I recently picked up an interesting book on a research trip to a bookstore (book cover research, aw yeah!). Of Comics and Men: A Cultural History of American Comic Books by Jean-Paul Gabilliet looks at aesthetics, production, and creators. Looks to be an interesting interdisciplinary approach to comics.

What have you been reading?

Christine: I’ve actually read (and used) of Comics and Men–it’s decent!

Wendy: Currently reading The Barrow by Mark Smylie. Dark fantasy (grim dark, if you’re familiar with the term) filled with lots of sex and violence, takes place in the same world as his Eisner award nominated comic, Artesia.

Laura: I’m currently reading Lirael, the sequel to Sabriel, by Garth Nix. I’m so surprised these books aren’t more popular. YA fantasy with compelling female protagonists and a very unique magic system.

Wendy: Abhorsen! I didn’t enjoy the second and third as much as the first, but still a worthy trilogy all together.

Ardo: I’ve read Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson which is a contemporary young adult book coming out the first week of May. A great, light summer read. Yesterday, I finished Far From You by Tess Sharpe, which was a fantastic young adult book that came out yesterday. I just started Noggin by John Corey Whaley. Also young adult.

Adrienne: Currently reading Partials by Dan Wells. A YA novel loaned to me by a coworker, thought I would give it a try. I’m about 14 chapters in and I’m not sure how I feel about it. The premise is interesting, but, so far in, I’m not attached to anyone and that can’t be a good sign. The writing style is similar to other popular YA novels like the divergent or hunger games series, not sure if that’s a yay or nay for some. I’ll probably finish it because I hate leaving books unfinished. I’ve been told the sequel is better. We’ll see if I get that far.

Ardo: I tried reading that one but had to put it down.

Adrienne: That doesn’t give me much hope

Megan: What were your issues with it Ardo? Similar to Adrienne?

Ardo: I was reading a lot of books like it at the time like Divergent, Shatter Me, and Blood Red Road. It didn’t grip me. Gave it 50 pages. I can’t even remember what I read.

Adrienne: I am determined to finish it. Wish me luck!

Catie: So much young adult and fantasy! I am woefully behind on my reading in those genres, so these are all going on my recommended list.

I just finished Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss, which is a nonfiction book examining how the processed food industry works and how it has impacted American eating habits. Most fascinating book I’ve read in a long time, interesting and appalling all at the same time. It doesn’t cast big food companies as villains, but as competitive corporations obsessed with the bottom line. I definitely look at supermarkets with a more discerning eye.

Salt, Sugar, Fat coverMegan: Catie, I’ve been meaning to read that for ages! Another non-fiction book I’m looking forward to is Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness. Anyone read this or also planning to?

Catie: Sugar, Salt, Fat is seriously one of the most well-researched investigative journalism writing I have read in a long time. The NY Times published an excerpt of it online around time of its publication you might be able to check out and get a sample of how it reads. I was immediately hooked.

I’ve heard great things about Redefining Realness! I don’t usually go much for memoirs, but I am thinking of picking it up.

Megan: So now I have to ask, how many of you are big YA readers? Do you read just YA genre, or do you also read more general YA?

Ardo: I’d say that a chunk of the books I read are young adult but it’s a wide range of YA. I’m a big fiction reader will try anything that sounds appealing honestly. I guess I only read YA on recommendation. It’s not necessarily something I look at for myself, although I’m not opposed at all. I’ll give anything a try.

Wendy: I like YA when the characters aren’t annoying. As in, they act their age, but with a maturity that gives them credit and that an adult can respect. Books that do this well include The Hunger Games, The Raven Cycle, Unwind…. Books that just give me annoying, selfish teens hell bent on being annoying and selfish? The Forest of Hands and Teeth. In other words, I don’t want to sit through a book thinking “ye gods I wasn’t really like this, was I???” (Because I totally wasn’t!)

Ardo: I agree. I’m not a fan of when the main and only motivation or aspect to your life is the “love interest” that you instantly fall in love with. I’m cool with romance as a subplot or if it’s dynamic and if the two characters are complicated and fully realized outside of it. That’s my YA pet peeve.

Jamie: I just finished Jonathan Maberry’s latest Joe Ledger book, which has a guest appearance by DragonCon!

Amanda: I just read Death Be Not Proud and it is permanently in my top five dumbest books of all time for life.

Megan: Ouch.

Claire: Much love to fellow Garth Nix fans!

I have been reading some really wonderful crime-solving fiction; a couple of Fred Vargas (a lady!) titles—they are so elegant, I was honestly surprised to discover they were written this century. It’s harder to find centred modern crime writing, amongst all the available current titles, as opposed to older books lasting only if they’re very good—and another Maj Sjöwall/Per Wahlöö (this time I’m starting at the beginning, having found out that their ten-book series is intended not only to be read chronologically, but to be regarded as one long book). It’s been dreamy.

Tomb of Hercules coverBut as of yesterday I’m reading McDermott’s The Tomb of Hercules, which stars the most reprehensible “hero” I’ve ever come across. I have read a LOT of these airport artefact thrillers, but I’m serious. “Eddie Chase,” ex-SAS bodyguard turned boyfriend, is … he starts the book snitting and moaning that his girlfriend is too rich, remembering how right he was to yell at her for buying a five hundred dollar haircut with her own money, angry at her for networking at a professional function, and humiliating her purposefully in front of the silent benefactors of the organisation for which they both work. Basically, her job has more authority than his, and he’s wetting himself about it. The next morning he pass-ag shames her for drinking during a party on a billion dollar yacht and moves their “training session” into domestic violence territory because he’s in a bit of a mood. She wakes up to see him weight-lifting—bicep curls, OF COURSE—and singing along to Freebird. Good grief. I’m three-quarters of the way in, and the only positive character trait he has is “can, godlike, save people during war and war-like situations.” That’s supposed to make up for his entire personality. Indiana Bonehead.

Ardo: That sounds like a gem, Claire. Do you still have the will to finish it?

Claire: My sweetie read the end in a fit of pique and told me that the final “quip” from Mr. Chase to the mysterious, pierced bad guy from the prologue (who has yet to appear in the narrative again) is

“Pierce Off”

so yes, because omg.

Ardo: Ha!

Claire: The author’s written a book a year in the same series since, sometimes TWO a year. IT SHOWS

Kathleen: Ahahaha. Oh dear. That sounds wonderful, really.

I’ve been rereading a bunch of Tamora Pierce (I’ve been struggling with getting through books lately, so it’s exciting to finally be reading again at all). It’s very odd how different perspective can be on things like this when you haven’t read them in 5-7 years (more? When were these published? How old am I?).

Odd Thomas coverKayleigh: I read Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz for my Sci-Fi & Fantasy Book Club. This is the first in a series about a young man who can see the dead, and unfortunately the book is woefully generic. The “I See Dead People” protagonist, the gruff police chief who helps him, the “quirky” townspeople, Elvis sightings … Odd Thomas feels like a pilot for a SyFy Channel Original Series I don’t want to watch. (Good book club discussion, though.)

Mai: I decided on a whim to join’s Harry Potter reread, but to change things up from the last umpty times I reread the series, I’m doing the French translations. When I was a kid I spurned them because I discovered that some of the names were changed, but this time around I kept an open mind and I’m impressed at the fidelity of the translation and how closely it hews to Rowling’s own style.

I recently finished the Tom Stoppard play Arcadia for my book club. Unlike some plays, it’s intensely readable (even as a script), and you get the advantage of savoring the meatier segments at your own pace, but I’m still desperate to see a live performance.


So that’s what we’re reading. What are you reading?

Megan Purdy

Megan Purdy

Publisher of all this. Megan was born in Toronto. She's still there. Philosopher, space vampire, heart of a killer.

One thought on “Reading Diaries: Much Ado About YA, and Some Top Five Bad Books

  1. I have finished the book since this post was drafted, and please understand that the stupid thing featured the female protag saving the day at least once literally by calling someone a bitch, the cool ye olde deathtrappes part (WHICH ARE THE REASON THESE BOOKS ARE FUN) are almost all described as having been tripped by previous treasure hunters, so they all just stroll past them, and then the still-active ones are ruined by being compared, *in the text*, to the Crystal Maze. How dare you malign the Crystal Maze like that.

    Every single one of the three megalomaniacal villains say “I’m no Bond villain, so I won’t explain”, and then later they explain exactly like a Bond villain.

    For fuckSAKE.

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