If you can figure out what this is about you get a pony
Further proof that I am beyond ridiculous with this Redfin stuff

My nightstand

Give a girl a Kindle and she reads nine thousand percent more books. Theories?

In no particular order...

The London Eye Mystery. I bought this one because it was "recommended for me" by Amazon and was in the "cheap enough to buy" Kindle zone and, luckily enough, I loved it. It's your typical middle grades kids-saving-the-world-as-they-know-it book, except the narrator has Asperger's and the characters were SO well written and it was about so much more than the initial mystery. I like middle grades almost more than I like YA, though I hardly read it anymore since my dad is retired and no longer recommending them to me, which: LAME. I'm not sure what this says about ME, a 31-year-old grown up who prefers books about 11-year-olds, but whatever. Oh, and I thought this blog post about knowing the difference, as writers, between middle grades and YA was super awesome. 

How I Live Now. I read this one for the same reasons I read The London Eye Mystery and YAY AMAZON. I loved this one too. Definitely in the YA camp where (if you read the blog post) you know that the character is saving a much narrower, tightly-defined world. The main character, who I adored, lives sometime in the future where some crazy next-generation war is going on, but the war is mainly a setting and the plot is a thin wire hanger for character development and I really really liked this character. 

The Loser Letters. EH. I really wanted to love this, as the reviews were rave and I thought the premise - a newly 'converted' atheist writes a series of letters to established atheists (like Dawkins and Hitchens) recommending they drop/pursue certain strategies in their own recruitment efforts - was interesting. But it totally fell flat. For me. Other people really liked this, but I just didn't get it. For one thing, you're reading letter after letter about how the Christians do one thing or another better than the atheists, and the whole time you're all THEN WHY ARE YOU AN ATHEIST? You find out, eventually, and that's where I finally got interested, but that's the very end. I seem to recall that this book actually started out in essay form and was eventually collected into a book? I think? And maybe that's why I take issue with it, because as a narrative it bombed. FOR ME. Also, I am totally the choir for this book and I have no idea what an Actual Atheist would think (although I don't have my hopes up about that either.) Sorry team!

Mockingjay. This one has been good and kicked around in the blogosphere so I'll be quick. I wasn't a huge fan of the Hunger Games series, I just wanted to know what happened. Aaaand, hmm. It was a realistic and believable ending, I didn't mind the Message, I didn't mind how dark and gloomy it was, but when you spend three books setting your main character up to make A Choice, do not cop out on the choice. Boo to that. (Also, can I just say: what is up with the competing love interests discussing their chances with each other? I'm looking at YOU Edward/Gale and Jacob/Peeta!)

I read another big handful of Italian murder mysteries. I decided that Uniform Justice is my favorite Donna Leon/Commissario Brunetti mystery. 

The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass. I just finished the last book today, and then seriously contemplated the liquor cabinet at two in the afternoon. I have to say that I really loved the first book. After wanting to put Bella and Katniss in permanent Time Outs and bemoaning the Strong Yet LIKABLE Female Character, I loved - LOVED - Lyra. (Also, she is eleven. Coincidence?) It was also the first book I've read in a long time where I wanted to underline sentences because they were so pretty. It was exciting and fast and fascinating and full of interesting people. So were the second and third books, but the second and third books were exponentially darker and drearier. I had to force myself through certain sections of the third book, not because they were dull or slow, but because they were SO HOPELESS. Also, in case you didn't know, the Bad Guy is the Church (specifically Catholic, though most of that doesn't become apparent until the second book) and I was a little nervous about what I'd be expected to swallow. However! I found it incredibly easy to separate Philip Pullman's view of religion with my view of religion because his is so unbelievably... FALSE. (It's my blog! I get to make the rules!) I mean, some of the stuff he put out there was just ridiculous, although he was a little bit Dan Brownish about it and using real names and on more than one occasion I had to google something to see what the real story was. Anyway, I worried I would find all of that irritating, but mostly I found it curious and/or without any basis or reference to MY views. I could say a million more things about this one facet of three truly creative stories, but this is supposed to be one paragraph so...

Oh, I almost forgot I Am The Messenger. I was dying to read another book by the guy who wrote The Book Thief (which I've seen criticized here and there, and my dad couldn't even get through the beginning, but I don't care, I LOVED IT) and EH. Talk about messagey. Again, I loved the characters, you can always get me with some good characters, but the only word I have for the ending is "arrogant". Shrug. 

What do I read next?



I prefer young adult books to proper adult books any day and I'm 23. I was worried that I'd have to grow out of it and start reading grown up books but if you're still reading them I feel ok about continuing to snub grown up books- thanks! Have you read John Marsden? (E.g. So much to tell you, Tomorrow when the war began series etc) I liked them a lot.


I don't read a lot of YA books, but I read and loved Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I haven't been able to get through Fire (same setting, different characters) because it doesn't have the same magic (the dynamics between the main characters made that book), but I heard through the book group that she's writing a sequel to Graceling and I'm excited about that.

Hunger Games just came in for me at the library. I feel like I'm the last one on that bandwagon.

I loved the story of The Book Thief, but I thought the structure was distracting. Every time I started getting really into the story, Death had to pipe up with his bold print, etc. It got in the way for me.

Amy J

Graceling is great, and I also like Fire (You can read them in any order, but there is one character in common, so I recommended Graceling first).
I like the four book series on Pellinor by Alison Croggon. The Truth series by Dawn Cook. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. Anything by Tamora Pierce. All of the above are young adult fantasy. I could probably go on for days, but I do not know if you like the fantasy genre in the young adult area. Happy reading!


Also Slam by Nick Hornby ... very good (I love Nick Hornby though)


I really liked the Hunger Games Trilogy. Like really really. But then I haven't read a lot of YA in recent years, or even many novels. (I'm picky and also reading feels like laziness to me, I don't know why.)
Thank you for doing a post like this! I've got London Eye Mystery in my amazon cart now because there's NO copies available at our library. (what's with that?!) ... I'm going to read it first and then pass it on to my teenagers. :)


There is an introduction by AA Milne in some copies of the Wind in the Willows. It has a letter from Roosevelt, while he was President of the United States, about how much he liked the book. See, smart and powerful people read books for children. ;)

Jenny Ryan

Trey and I just listened to the first Sally Lockheart mystery by Phillip Pullman (The Ruby in the Smoke), and really liked it. We're listening to the second one right now.


recently read The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell which i found quite compelling. i'm not usually into anything remotely science fiction - my husband had to DRAG me into the theater to see Avatar - this book was actually kinda/sorta along the same lines as Avatar, but I raced through The Sparrow in 3 nights because of the superb character development.


After I read Amy J's comment about the common character, I picked up Fire again (I had previously only read about 10 pages). You realize the common character about page 14, and I was hooked. And then there is Fire and Brigan and ... I stayed up all last night and read the whole book. And it was so worth it. :)

The only question I have, to you Maggie who has read so many YA books (and to Amy J who has read both Cashore books) is, is there often so much out-of-wedlock sex/teenage sex and babies in YA, or is it just the books that I happen to pick up? It doesn't particularly offend me, just a noticeable quirk. When I was reading YA (okay, I was 10), there was a lot of dating and necking, but no sex.


I've never read The Golden Compass and the others specifically because the author stated his purpose in writing them was to kill God in the eyes of children. I've heard people talk about how good they are, and I've been curious, but I just can't bring myself to contribute, financially or through circulation numbers, to that goal. So I really appreciated your quick review!

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