Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

Shortly after I started working in libraries, the young adult publishing started to blow up.  I was 16 and the library that I worked at had two small shelves of hardcovers and one small shelf of paperbacks.  When Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging came out, it caused a bit of an uproar.  It seemed like everyone was reading it and finding it hilarious.  So, I checked it out and I started it and… I couldn’t stand it.  Little goth me found Georgia so annoying and stupid.  What were all of these people laughing about?

Adult me is happy to say that this was a FAB listening experience!

I don’t know why I decided to give it another try but I am so glad that I did.  This is a perfect slice of nostalgia for me.  It’s like my high school years meets Bridget Jones.  I was laughing ridiculously in my car.  I even drove the long way around a couple of times to listen a little more.  It was short, fast, and funny.  It was kind of perfect for me.

Georgia is a 14 year old in England.  She’s stumbling through her adolescence, surrounded by friends who help to add to the comedy and drama.  They are just figuring out boys and kissing and who they are.  Georgia talks about her life, from her 3 year old sister to her huge cat, from her friends and the general chaos they cause to the boy down the street who is snogging all of the time, from the obnoxious neighbors to her hopeless father.  Georgia IS shallow and vain and hopeless in a way that can’t help but be funny.  It’s easy to see the disaster coming, like when she decides to pluck her eyebrows.  But there’s more to it than that.  There’s this mix of naive with knowing that feels very specific to that age and that time period.

I loved it.

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The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

When I chose the books for battle of the Books this year, I used a complicated system that was meant to ween down our collection.  I chose the book that we had the fewest copies of, a book that had never been used before, and a book that I wanted to read.  This was the book that I wanted to read.  Being a teen librarian means that I have pretty much spent 2.5 years being hounded about the fact that I haven’t read any Riordan yet.

The first 100 pages of this one were iffy.  It felt long and contrived and the characters said the kinds of things that you never hear kids that age say.  Still, I was mostly enjoying it once I got past those things.  I rolled my eyes whenever Piper’s chapters brought up the secret she was keeping, because it felt like Riordan was just trying to drag out the reveal for suspense and it got a little annoying.  I rolled my eyes every time that a character brought up that Percy was missing, which felt like it happened on every page for a while.  Still, I really liked Leo and Piper was growing on my quickly too.

The story here is that Jason wakes up on a bus with amnesia.  His best friend, Leo, and his girlfriend, Piper, are there but Jason doesn’t know them.  Soon, a storm blows up and some crazy wind spirits try to take Jason and his friends but they manage to fight and end up sent to Camp Half-Blood.  There they learn that they are demigods and then they are claimed by their parents.  Except there’s a little catch here.  Jason keeps referring to the gods by their Roman names… You know… Jason?  Rome?  Hint, hint.

Basically, everything was pretty damn obvious in this book but it was a good read.  It was a fun romp.  I will most likely not read any more of the series but I suppose I can see the charm of Riordan.  He writes well enough to be engaging.

Some Brief Reviews

This week I’ve finished three books: an ebook, an audio, and a nonfiction title.  I have things to say about all of the books but not enough for a solid review of any.  This could be because I have also been reading 100+ pages per day to get through my battle books but that’s fine.  It’s all fine.  I don’t dream in Greed myth at all.

First, I finish The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights by James Knowles.  I read this book mostly at night and it was a slow read but also rewarding.  I found that it was a great bedtime book.  This early material on King Arthur and, as such, the language is a bit dry.  However, it was a great intro to the legends.  I debated whether or not I would go on to read other renditions in the future and I think that I probably will.  I’d like to see some narrative storytelling but I’m glad that I slogged through this one.  I chose this version because it was free but it might not work for everyone.  Great for lulling me to sleep, though!

Next I finished listening to The Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney.  This is the first book in the Last Apprentice series.  I listened to the first five years ago and recall it being one of my first positive listening experiences.  I’m not wrong.  HOWEVER, when I listened to the first five, they were shelved in the junior section at my old library of employment.  At my current library they are young adult.  THESE BOOKS ARE DEFINITELY NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART.  Seriously.  I remember thinking they were scary and exciting, that I was on the edge of my seat while I listened.  I remember sitting in my driveway, gripping my steering wheel while I listened just a little longer.  But, man, are these ghastly!  Blood cakes, you guys.  Coffin worms.  And those aren’t the most disturbing things.  It was intense.  I am going to have to watch who I give these to in the future.

Finally, I wrapped up my reading of Dot Journaling by Rachel Wilkerson Miller.  I had been toying with the idea of bullet journaling for a while and this book has gotten me started.  It was a quick read with lots of great ideas and I loved.  I loved it enough to start up my own bullet journal in my next empty journal and then I went and bought felt pens and actual dot grid journals, even though I have pens and journals coming out of my ears.  The layouts are really pretty and well explained and I really enjoyed this.

Ok!  That’s the run down!  I have to go read more about Greek myths now.  NO, YOU DREAM IN MYTHS!

I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

Another series that I have been meaning to get around to for years. This was actually my second attempt. I like to listen to my series on audio and the reader has an uptick which drives me nuts. The story was good enough though that once I got into it I didn’t really even notice anymore.

Cammie is a Gallagher Girl. She attends the elite Gallagher Academy which the residents of the local town (and everyone else) thinks is just a school for stuck up rich girls. But it isn’t. It’s a school for spies. Cammie is a legacy, her mother not only was a student there but is currently the head mistress. I found it refreshing that Cammie genuinely loves her mother and never seems embarrassed by her. In fact, she seems universally loved. That’s the thing about being a Gallagher Girl. The students are actually like a sisterhood and a family and a large part of that is that their lives will depend on one another some day.

But while on a covert mission at the town fair, Cammie meets a boy who will put her whole life style in jeopardy. Under the guise of making sure that nothing has been compromised, Cammie and her friends stake Josh out. Before long, Josh is more than just a boy but Cammie can’t tell him the whole truth and it gets harder and harder to keep her cover.

What a lighthearted, fun read! This one has action, romance, and friendship with a delightful garnish of cheese!

The Prom Queen by R.L. Stine

What do you get when you mix Mean Girls and Fear Street?  The Prom Queen!

Seriously, this was about the funnest Fear Street I’ve read so far.  It starts on an eventful day.  First, everyone is talking about the dead girl that was found in the Fear Street Woods.  Then, there’s an assembly to announce the Prom Queen candidates!  There are five.  Simone, who is rich and flashy and dating the cutest boy in school.  Elana, who is the most popular girl in school.  Dawn, a tennis player who always wins.  Rachel, who has to study a lot because she doesn’t have any money.  Finally, Lizzie, the every-girl of the group who’s nice, has a long distance relationship, and works on the sets for the school play.  After school, the prom queens all go out for pizza together and make jokes at each other’s expense and then the next day Simone is kidnapped!  They find only a pool of blood in her bedroom.

It seems there is a killer slowly picking off the prom queen candidates.  But who can it be and what is the motive?  Is it the weird guy, Lucas, who used to date Simone and makes terrible jokes to Lizzie all of the time?  Or could it be Justin, Simone’s other ex who ran around on her all of the time and is suddenly acting really weird around Lizzie?  One thing is for sure:  She better figure it out soon or she’ll be next!

Summer Promise by Robin Jones Gunn

When it got to be time for me to choose my next young adult, I kind of freaked out.  There were so many books that I had been wanting to read for such a long time that I couldn’t make a decision.  I ended up grabbing the first Christy Miller because I had been suggesting this series to kids who wanted inspirational fiction for a while but I had no grasp on anything about it.  The books seemed to check out a lot so I figured that they couldn’t be that bad and my curiosity got the best of me.

I was reading a chapter of a YA book before bed every night and this actually ended up being a great book for that.   It’s very fluffy but tries to touch on edgy subjects.  I am definitely not the intended audience here.  I’m a 33 year old woman and I am not a Christian.  Though, I actually ended up really enjoying this book.  As much as I was reading it tongue-in-cheek, it was fun and amusing and completely and utterly unrealistic.

Christy is spending the summer with her aunt and uncle in California.  Back home, her parents are having some financial problems and her aunt seems to think that Christy needs help blossoming.  Here we have our typical makeover scenario.  Her aunt buys her all kinds of new clothes and makeup and takes her to get her hair cut and highlighted.  Christy feels like a “real” California girl afterward and goes back to the beach where she promptly makes a fool of herself.  Christy is one of those characters who reminds me a lot of my tween self.  She doesn’t have a lot of confidence.  She’s always over reacting or making mistakes that feel like the end of the world to her.  She whines.  She realizes that she’s been ungrateful or mean and then feels bad.  Very human.  Not perfect.

Christy makes a couple of friends at the beach that day, Alissa and Todd.  Alissa abandons her when everyone is laughing at her but Todd is nice enough to help her out.  Christy LIKES Todd.  He’s so cute, giggle giggle.  Todd is a Christian though, with a capital “born again”.  When Christy goes to a party with Alissa and Todd and some of Todd’s friends, she is innocent to go looking for Coke to drink and instead everyone thinks she wants coke to snort which was actually the funniest thing I had read in a while.  After the party, one of Todd’s old friends gets into an accident and dies, sending Christy down a road of questioning.  The only person she feels able to talk to about all of her new questions is Todd.  She really wants him to like her, so she even pretends to like nuts on her ice cream because he does.

This whole book is supposed to be about Christy finding herself.  Her aunt is pushing her to become a social butterfly.  Her uncle keeps telling her to be true to herself.  Her parents tell her not to do anything she’ll regret.  It’s actually a pretty great message and a well handled theme until the end when Christy pretty much says, “I don’t need to be true to myself!  I’ve got Jesus now!”

There’s a pretty good chance that I’ll continue with this series some day.  It was pretty enjoyable, like a tame soap opera.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Yes, I know that this is another classic I’m late getting to.  Maybe it’s just the corners of the internet that I hang out in, but it seems like so many women have memories of reading the Anne books when they were girls, or of having them read to them.  When I was growing up, I had no interest in the Anne books.  I wanted to read Fear Street, not something that would be all girly and flowery and probably religious.  But this is why I am glad that I have saved so much of this stuff for later in life.  Would I have loved the Little House books when I was 10?  Hell no, but I found them super fascinating as a 32 year old.

And now I’m 33 and finally getting around to Anne of Green Gables.  I have so much more of a reading history now that it added to my enjoyment.  I DID enjoy it, you know.  I laughed and chuckled and gasped.  Anne was not nearly as naughty as I expected and her life wasn’t as dark as I was lead to believe.  (I recently read about Anne being a tragic character in the first book and while I feel that she would really like the label I also feel like it doesn’t quite fit.)

When Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, middle-aged siblings who never married and keep the family farm together, decide to get an orphan, they settle on a boy who will be able to help with the chores.  Due to a misunderstanding, when Matthew goes to fetch the orphan from the station he finds that he has been sent a girl.  Matthew has never been good at talking to girls or women but Anne merrily fills up the conversation all the way back to Avonlea.  By the time they get there, Matthew is taken by her and manages to quietly convince his sister to keep her.

Anne is always getting into scrapes.  Her head is in the clouds.  She is dramatic and a dreamer.  Also, I felt she was kind of a Pollyanna, which I think is absolutely fine. The book follows Anne’s life through a series of years as she grows up and learns lessons and becomes dear to those around her.

I did enjoy this book and I am ready to start the next.