15 Day Book Blogger Challenge (4)

Day 4: What's the last book you flung across the room?

Probably In Honor by Jessi Kirbi. It just didn't click with me, and I really wasn't enjoying it by the end. I finished it solely because I was already halfway through when I realized that I wasn't enjoying it... It wasn't a very pleasurable experience, unfortunately. 


15 Day Book Blogger Challenge (3)

Day 3: Who are your blogging BFFS?

I'm sorry to say that I don't have any! I'm not very good at networking, and I have too many troubles with being consistent on this blog. Maybe a blogging buddy would help with that, but who knows?


15 Day Book Blogger Challenge (2)

Day 2: What's Your Bedtime Reading Ritual?

Step 1: Climb into bed. 
Step 2: Tell myself that I'm going to read before bed. 
Step 3: End up getting too sleepy/ comfy to read. 
Step 4: Fall asleep with my lights on. 
Step 5: Wake up the next morning having not read. 
Step 6: Repeat.


15 Day Book Blogger Challenge (Day 1)

Good Books and Good Wine is hosting a book blogger challenge over at her blog to help get things moving with her posts, and I figure that it will do the same for mine! Challenges like this combine two of my favorite things: talking about books and talking about me reading books, so let's get started!

Day 1: Make 15 book related confessions

1) I'm really distressed that I've found so few fantasy/ sci-fi YA books with non-straight/ gender non-conforming main characters (recommend some in the comments!)

2) I've been trying to read more non-fiction about Christianity in the United States (Check out my review of The Unlikely Disciple!) because I find it so fascinating.

3) I wish that more authors valued the friendship between men and women as they did the potential for romance. Not everything has to end in a kiss.

4) I've been seriously considering getting an Artemis Fowl tattoo for over a year now (a small acorn, on the back of my neck.)

5) I'm a Darwinist (Leviathan series, by Scott Westerfeld)

6) I read The Hobbit because I loved the line "You'll have a tale or two to tell when you come back," from the movie trailer. It isn't in the book.

7) I've never read a Harry Potter book. I started the first one a few weeks ago when babysitting and hope to finish it this summer.

8) My favorite book in first grade was Christmas in Camelot by Mary Pope Osborne. I still have my copy.

9) I think that there's a serious problem with the glorification of abusive relationships in young adult fiction today.

10) I've only read one Sherlock Holmes story, the first, and don't really like him in general

11) The last book that I purchased was the second volume of Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples. It's one of only a very, very small handful of books that I'll purchase this year

12) My library card was registered on July 7, 1999. I was five and a half years old.

13) I have over 31 items out of various libraries now, all books (and one magazine) piled in a crate next to my bed.

14) My greatest book "success" is the Skulduggery Pleasant series. Someone mentioned it on the Figment boards and I added it to my Goodreads list. A month or so later I looked up some YA books to listen to while I worked and it was one of four random ones that popped up. I downloaded it and two days later it was one of the best books I've read/ listened to. I spent the next four months reading all six that were out at the time, buying them from Europe because they never caught on in the United States.

15) I had to read Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad last semester and wrote a paper about how I believe that the jungle itself is sentient and should be regarded as a character.

And... that's all I've got! Hopefully you guys learned some new things about me with this list and you'll keep learning more about me as this challenge goes on!


Review: The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose

Title: The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester At America's Holiest University
Author: Kevin Roose
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: March 26, 2009
Page #: 324
ISBN: 044617842X

Goodreads + Author's Website

Goodreads Summary
As a sophomore at Brown University, Kevin Roose didn't have much contact with the Religious Right. Raised in a secular home by staunchly liberal parents, he fit right in with Brown's sweatshop-protesting, fair-trade coffee-drinking, God-ambivalent student body. So when he had a chance encounter with a group of students from Liberty University, a conservative Baptist university in Lynchburg, Virginia, he found himself staring across a massive culture gap. But rather than brush the Liberty students off, Roose decided to do something much bolder: he became one of them.
Liberty University is the late Rev. Jerry Falwell's proudest accomplishment - a 10,000-student conservative Christian training ground. At Liberty, students (who call themselves "Champions for Christ") take classes like Introduction to Youth Ministry and Evangelism 101. They hear from guest speakers like Mike Huckabee and Karl Rove, they pray before every class, and they follow a 46-page code of conduct called "The Liberty Way" that prohibits drinking, smoking, R-rated movies, contact with the opposite sex, and witchcraft. Armed with an open mind and a reporter's notebook, Roose dives into life at Bible Boot Camp with the goal of connecting with his evangelical peers by experiencing their world first-hand.
Roose's semester at Liberty takes him to church, class, and choir practice at Rev. Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church. He visits a support group for recovering masturbation addicts, goes to an evangelical hip-hop concert, and participates in a spring break mission trip to Daytona Beach, where he learns how to convert bar-hopping co-eds to Christianity. Roose struggles with his own faith throughout, and in a twist that could only have been engineered by a higher power, he conducts what would turn out to be the last in-depth interview of Rev. Falwell's life. Hilarious and heartwarming, respectful and thought-provoking, Kevin Roose's embedded report from the front lines of the culture war will inspire and entertain believers and non-believers alike.

 I wish that Kevin Roose had been a little more fair to himself when he said that his work wasn't exactly an ethnography. Enter an unknown land by yourself with the intent of researching and writing about your experiences among people who live and believe differently than you, trying to stay non-judgmental all the while? Certainly sounds like an ethnography to me.

I had read The Year of Living Biblically, written by Roose's mentor A.J. Jacobs, a few years earlier and can definitely see similarities in their experiences and writing styles. It's refreshing, not too stiff or clinical but instead personable and relatable, to everyone. Though liberal college-age students will probably understand a bit better where Roose is coming from, it really is a book for everybody. Though he enters Liberty University having only attended Brown University, his work has the marks of the journalist he is. He goes in with an open mind, and it pays off.

There were a few elements of his writing style that I did question though, and a few times I was wondering why he was writing the way he was. Though he does touch on some of the anti-LGBT opinions held by his classmates, he moves through them very quickly for someone with friends and family that identify with the LGBT community. I understand that those kinds of situations were uncomfortable for him, and he does discuss them a little bit, but I would have liked to see some more reflection on Roose's part.

This was Roose's first and last foray into religious non-fiction*, which I think is unfortunate. Still, The Unlikely Disciple is an insightful book for the saint and sinner alike.

*He currently writes about economics and Wall Street happenings. His next book, Young Money, will be out 2014


Review: The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Title: The Summer Prince
Author: Alaya Dawn Johnson
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Page #: 289
ISBN: 0545417791

Goodreads + Author's Website

Goodreads Summary
A heart-stopping story of love, death, technology, and art set amid the tropics of a futuristic Brazil.
The lush city of Palmares Três shimmers with tech and tradition, with screaming gossip casters and practiced politicians. In the midst of this vibrant metropolis, June Costa creates art that’s sure to make her legendary. But her dreams of fame become something more when she meets Enki, the bold new Summer King. The whole city falls in love with him (including June’s best friend, Gil). But June sees more to Enki than amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist.
Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Três will never forget. They will add fuel to a growing rebellion against the government’s strict limits on new tech. And June will fall deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.
Pulsing with the beat of futuristic Brazil, burning with the passions of its characters, and overflowing with ideas, this fiery novel will leave you eager for more from Alaya Dawn Johnson.

One of the first things so apparent about The Summer Prince is that Johnson talks frankly about race, class, sexual orientation, sex, love, death, and more. This book covers everything and doesn't apologize for any of it. Nothing in this book feels like it was forced in, nor does any of it feels like Johnson put it in because she had to.

Another element of the book that I would congratulate Johnson on was how she wrote a sci-fi novel set in the future without making it sound campy or confusing. The descriptions of Palmares Tres feel natural, none of it forced. Because of this it feels like a location one could logically visit instead of just some fantasy land that we know is rooted in fiction.

The one thing that I am most thankful for in The Summer Prince has to be the unconventional love triangle that June has found herself in. There's no cattiness, no betrayal, and the emotions that flow between the three main characters feels as natural as can be. This is a book about loving, not fighting, and honors old ties more than it does new flames, something that I feel many modern young adult writers are reluctant to pursue for the sake of preserving the age-old love triangle cliche of, "There can only be one."

That's where my sympathies with June ceased, though. Many times I was left wondering why she did what she did, or why the story was taking her in the direction that it was going. Some of her choices didn't feel natural, but instead were spontaneous (in a not-good way) for the sake of pushing the novel forward. I had some troubles linking up with her on a personal level, particularly towards the end. Still, I honor Johnson's decision to make her the narrator and feel that seeing the events of The Summer Prince unfold through her eyes was the best choice for the story.

The Summer Prince is not only a wonderful story about love and death, but also a real step in the right direction for young adult fiction. Johnson writes frankly about sexuality, class, and questioning the status quo and her work deserves to be recognized and held as an example for what young adult fiction can be.

Four and a half stars!