Best of the Best Challenge: Week 5 Update

I finished three books this week, bringing my total to 15. I also checked off another category, the Alex Awards, with The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan. I was a bit distracted this week by other books I wanted to read and reviews I needed to write. My reserved copy of The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan arrived, and I couldn’t resist reading that right away. I’m also working my way through Melina Marchetta’s Froi of the Exiles. The only reason I managed as many titles as I did was because they were pretty quick reads.

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. While at times it had me laughing out loud, it was also a poignant look at pain and betrayal. The format, a dictionary of terms related to love defined by episodes in a specific relationship, was interesting. It disrupted the narrative flow of the story, but I still got a sense of the ups and downs of a relationship over time. I liked the way certain scenes repeated in different definitions, each time showing a different aspect of the experience. I got a real sense of the lingering and recurring strain that one partner’s cheating can have on the relationship. I also liked the way that Levithan shows the ups and downs of being a couple but that with commitment to stay together it can work. I wasn’t blown away, but it was an enjoyable read. Because of the format, it was also a quick read. I can certainly see why this book received an Alex award. It certainly has teen appeal.

Zahra’s Paradise by Amir and Khalil
This graphic novel is an amazing look inside a country and a culture that is normally hidden from the Western world. It is powerful and heartbreaking. While the characters in this book are fictional, the setting and events are based on the reality of life after the protests surrounding the 2009 elections in Iran. This is a well-written and drawn book about an important subject. When we don’t understand others, it becomes easy to depersonalize them. We generally don’t understand the people of Iran and often see no further than a regime with which our country is in conflict. My husband loved this book and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in Iran and the Middle East. I’d go further and say that this is a book most people should read in order to better understand the news and the world around us.

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
This was a fine book, but didn’t really blow me away. Maybe it’s that I’ve read too many novels written in free verse lately. Maybe it’s one too many books about a parent dying of cancer. But this book didn’t grab me.  It was good to see Lupita come through the tragedy and go forward to create a new life for herself. But this one didn’t have the same impact for me as A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

I am just over half way through the audio of Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. I should be able to finish that to include in next week’s report. I expect to finish Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibiton by Karen Blumenthal on Sunday. My primary reading goal for the coming week is to read The Returning by Christine Hinwood and The Influencing Machine by Brooke Gladstone. Finishing The Returning would also complete my mini-goal of reading something from each of the categories in the challenge. Maybe I will need a new mini-challenge then, perhaps completing certain categories.

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About booksnquilts

I'm the Children's Services Coordinator for the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library in Central Virginia.
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