When I talked about my current read a few days ago, A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray, I mentioned that readers need to be able to suspend disbelief in order to follow the dimension-bending plot. I also said, “The pseudoscience tries to make the story believable, but it’s more like how you just need to give in to it like the Sandra Bullock film The Lake House – if you think about it too much, it all falls apart.” I made it sound like I was too good for this book.
But who am I kidding? I did not give the author enough credit. Because guess what? I sort of love time traveling books! This isn’t quite a time-travel book – it’s alternate universes, but it’s sort of the same thing: our characters get dropped off in a totally new situation and they have to figure out how to fit in and how to get back home. I’ve loved this idea since junior high, when I read Both Sides of Time and the rest of the Time Travelers Quartet by one of my all-time favorite authors, Caroline B. Cooney. In the series, teenager Annie Lockwood gets sent back in time to the 1890s and falls in love with a young man and winds up at the center of a murder mystery. And just a few years ago, I was caught up in another great time-traveling love story: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Claire Randall, a nurse from 1945, walks through an ancient stone circle in Scotland and finds herself in the year 1743.
In A Thousand Pieces of You, Marguerite travels through different dimensions in hopes of avenging her father’s murder. One dimension is super high-tech. In another, Marguerite is Russian royalty! In yet another, she lives in an underwater station because climate change has left much of the world’s population covered by water. The book is far-fetched, and there may be some naysayers out there who will not enjoy the dimension travel of A Thousand Pieces of You. There are a few unanswered questions about how it all works. But I don’t care! The characters and the story made up for those little inadequacies. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book in the series, Ten Thousand Skies Above You. The titles are a bit grandiose, but will you just look at those covers? Come on, how could I not give them a shot?
One of my most recent reads was The Haters by Jesse Andrews. Andrews is also the author of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. While I hadn’t read his previous novel, I had watched the movie on HBO and thought The Haters might be something I’d like. I had just finished reading some serious books, and I was looking for something fun to read. The Haters book blurb sounded like just the book I needed. Basically, three teens bust out of a lame jazz camp and go on an epic road trip in order to find some gigs for the new band they’ve decided to form. They don’t have a band name yet. They don’t even take along their cell phones. Just two guys and girl, trying to make music that doesn’t suck.
This book was better than I expected, and it kind of caught me by surprise. It was written in such a smart format and was laugh-out-loud funny (seriously- my laughing woke up my husband more than once as I was reading this in bed at night!). This is what I want John Green’s books to be! Instead of pretentious, philosophical teens and pages and pages of book without a plot, Jesse Andrews’ teenagers were smart, but in a goofy, true-to-their-age way. There was a plot and ridiculous twists and turns and real conversations and real consequences. There was still a manic-pixie dream girl who didn’t really show any growth, but I would still recommend this book. While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I held out on rating it five stars because some of the content was a bit too mature for YA Lit, in my opinion. There was recreational drug use, sex while on drugs, and plenty of profanity and crude humor. That being said, I still look forward to reading more books by this smart author.
Somehow, just weeks later, I stumbled across this cool blog post about how the book’s cover was designed. I liked seeing the progression of ideas, and reading about the reasoning behind the artistic choices. The artists played with microphones, drum sets, cassette tapes, famous singers, bright colors, and bold, graphic fonts. However, I was a bit surprised with the end result. When I was reading The Haters on my Kindle, the cover was orange and had little icons of people that were clearly the band. I liked this cover and the humor in it. It matched the simple green cover that I had seen for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl nicely. But in the design post, they went in a different direction and chose a cover with headphones and dials that looked like a frowny face. To me, I didn’t see the correlation between these two covers. If I had seen the yellow cover, I’m not sure that I would have given the book a chance. Hmm, I guess that’s why books re-brand themselves with so many different covers! Readers tend to judge their book covers more than we’d like to admit.
How about you? Which cover design for The Haters do you like better?
My love for books is almost matched by my love of shoes! Here are two designs I came up with for The Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. The blue wedge is a more literal interpretation of the book’s cover, while the boot is something I imagine Feyre might have needed as she went off on awesome adventures. I hope to share more about Maas in future posts. I’ve read five of her books so far, and I don’t think I’ll be stopping yet.
If you’re interested in checking out more of my shoe art, type “shoes” in the search bar at the top right of this page, or follow “shoes” in the Tag Cloud at the bottom right of this page.
I finished up the third and final book in Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series last night. Han’s books are pure sugar – sweet and a bit addicting. I read through them quickly and eagerly. Like most of Han’s fans, I was glad to see the TATBILB story continued past the first book. The first book was originally a stand alone book, and then, surprise! There was a sequel for us to enjoy. Then, surprise! Another book in the series!
Always and Forever, Lara Jean picks up with our main character, high school senior Lara Jean Covey, adorably in love with Peter Kavinsky. They went through some drama in book two, but now they are back and better than ever. Lara Jean works on baking the perfect chocolate chip cookie, Kitty is Kitty (though she wasn’t featured as much in this book as I had wanted), Peter has an athletic scholarship to nearby UVA, Margot has a new boyfriend, and her dad is happily dating the next door neighbor. The conflict ensues as Lara Jean and Peter contemplate their futures. College is just around the corner – will they stay together? Should they stay together?
The entire book reminded me of that last week of high school, when you’re feeling both excited for the next chapter of your life, but also nostalgic. Everything feels like the last time you’ll do something, so you know you’re supposed to cherish it. The book felt like a long, drawn out goodbye. It seemed like Han was saying goodbye to these characters, too. While the ending was certainly left open to possibilities (how could it not when our main characters are 18 years old and about to head off to college?), I like that we can imagine the possibilities for ourselves.
In a post from two years ago, I wrote that TATBILB was, “like a young adult romantic comedy. Han’s writing style is approachable and believable. You’ll smile as you read this book.” But it’s not so much about it being believable or relatable, but rather that it’s a bit fantastical. It’s more that we as readers (some of us, at least) love the idea of being the nerdy girl who is dating the most popular and handsome guy in school. He’s the guy everyone loves – his friends, his teammates, the teachers – and yet he is head over heels for you – the girl no one really saw or paid attention to before. And she didn’t even have to pretend to be cool or sexy or give up any of her nerdy obsessions. He actually likes her for her.
I think that’s why I’ll continue to be a Jenny Han fan. TATBILB might be wrapped up with Always and Forever, Lara Jean, but I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing what Han will write next.
Any Jenny Han fans out there? What book of hers has been your favorite so far?