Book 42: Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman’s Daughter #2) – Megan Shepherd

Shepherd, Megan - Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter #2)It is very rare that a second novel, let alone a middle novel in a trilogy, can surpass the first. In this case, not only has Shepherd done it, she’s surpassed an incredibly well written debut novel with an even more creative, intense and harrowing follow-up. It is NOT a place holder as many middle books are in trilogies and I was incredibly impressed.

Whereas H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau inspired The Madman’s Daughter, took her inspiration for this novel from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and I CANNOT wait for the third novel, thankfully it give me time to read the book it’s based on, but I won’t tell you in case you want to read it as it’s revealed in the final pages of this novel.

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Book 33: Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbitt

Babbitt, Natalie - Tuck EverlastingI first read Tuck Everlasting back in high school before the 2002 film came out as I didn’t want the story ruined by a movie (I was just as stubborn back then). Other than a general sense of wonderment and enjoyment I didn’t remember much about the book outside of the basic storyline. I was very glad this was the chosen book this month as it was super short, read it in one day on my T commute, and watched the 2002 film just before book group.

It’s hard to say what part of the story was the best part as there was something so incredibly simple and yet fantastical/magical in both the story and Babbitt’s writing. I definitely didn’t realize when I first read it that the book was almost 30 years old! Originally published in 1975, it clearly stands the test of time and I thoroughly enjoyed this reread. Babbitt did an amazing job of simplifying and writing about a concept as complex and all-encompassing as immortality

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Book 20: Playing by the Book – S. Chris Shirley

Shirley, S. Chris - Playing by the BookI wasn’t sure what to expect with this novel, but with a southern religious protagonist I knew I needed to read it to see how the author handled this and I am glad I did. I was a little hesitant at first as the last two book I read from this publisher, 50 Shades of Gay and The Hunger Gays weren’t amazing, but this one was excellent. I received a copy of this book from Riverdale Avenue Books and this is my honest opinion and I received nothing in return.

Playing by the Book is the story of Jake Powell and his journey from Preacher’s Kid (PK) in small-town Alabama to an elite summer journalism program at Columbia University in New York City. This is the first time he’s away from home and needless to say it is the experience of a lifetime. Not only is this a coming out story, it is a true coming of age story. Many young adult novels over emphasis one or the other, but this novel intricately tied the two together.

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Book 11: Openly Straight – Bill Konigsberg

Konigsberg, Bill - Openly StraightI saw this book first on Sarah’s blog Sarah Reads Too Much and as soon as I saw the author and read her review I knew I wanted to read it. My first introduction to Bill Konigsberg was through his debut novel Out of the Pocket. It’s hard to believe I read it three years ago AND it was my very first book on my old Sony e-reader.The best part is as I did a quick re-read of that post Konigsberg answered quite a few of my critiques and he’s clearly matured as a fiction writer over the past few years!

As I read the book I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between this and Andrew Smith’s Winger which was a great novel I read last year. However, they are distinctly different and as much as I enjoyed Winger I would probably put this one ahead, not for the writing, but for the story and the subject matter.

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Book 79: Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) – Suzanne Collins

Collins, Suzanne - MockingjayAs with my most re-reads of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire I’m realizing (once again) how much things change between re-reads based on where you are in your life, what you’re doing in life and any other number of uncontrollable factors. Looking back on my original review in September 2010, I see that my thoughts haven’t changed too much, but my understanding and appreciation of Collins’ storytelling/building has increased.

I’ll go ahead and get my major gripe of Catching Fire and Mockingjay out-of-the-way: these were not two books, they were one book that was split into two. They had to have been! And I can’t imagine the movie studio splitting the third book into two films unless they are going to add in a lot of additional information that is missing from the series. I mean sure, the books have contained beginnings, middles and ends, but the two books cannot stand alone because their plots are in essence the same plot. In comparison you have the encapsulated first novel. As with the last two reviews don’t read past here if you don’t want anything revealed! (AKA SPOILERS!)

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