Thursday, April 28, 2011

Another Kind of Cowboy by Susan Juby

Another Kind of CowboyAnother Kind of Cowboy 
Susan Juby

For both Alex and Cleo, dressage represents a chance for escape.  When Alex changes into his riding pants and dances his horse out into the ring, he can leave behind the macho cowboy image-and his father's expectations that go with it.  Meanwhile, for Cleo, dressage seems to be an opportunity to start over at a new school-and maybe to find love again.  But Alex and Cleo both have secrets and it will be a rough ride that will either end in true friendship or deep hatred.  

Another Kind of Cowboy is an enjoyable story set an interesting world: the world of competitive riding.  The story is told by Alex and Cleo in alternating chapters and follows their bumpy journeys to self-acceptance and adulthood.  

The novel is full of quirky and generally likable characters and the two protagonists act as interesting contrasts to each other in terms of personality and situation.  However, some of the characters, although fun, remain a little flat; Alex's martial arts loving twin sisters are a good example.  They're funny but sometimes feel a little too much like a sitcom gag.  Additionally I found the protagonists to be a little uneven.  While I immediately loved Alex, I found it much more difficult to feel sympathetic for the spoiled Cleo.  

However, it's always refreshing to find a novel with LGBTQ characters that works the discovery or exploration of that identity into a larger story; certainly the story is about Alex coming to terms with his sexuality but it is not only about his sexuality.  Also, I really liked being immersed in the exciting but, to me, foreign world of competitive riding; this aspect might open the book's appeal to teen riders who would likely enjoy seeing their passion reflected in a story.  

2.5/5 STARS   

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

13 Little Blue Envelopes13 Little Blue Envelopes
Maureen Johnson

Only a few months after her mysterious but beloved Aunt Peg dies, Ginny suddenly receives a package. Inside the package are thirteen letters from her aunt containing explicit instructions to send Ginny out on the European adventure of a lifetime-a final gift from Peg.  

This book has been on my 'to-read' list for months now and at last I grabbed a chance to pick it up! It turns out that my timing was actually pretty ideal since the long awaited sequel, The Last Little Blue Envelope comes out TODAY!  And after finishing this book, I'm definitely eager to read more about Ginny and her adventures.

13 Little Blue Envelopes is, like all of Maureen Johnson's books, witty, fun, romantic, and heartfelt.  Ginny is a solid lead in a cast of quirky and appealing characters.  The hook (those mysterious little blue envelopes)creates a non-stop adventure that manages to be both an epic love song to European travel and a gentle coming-of-age story for the quiet but spunky Ginny.  As Ginny travels from city to city and country to country, she slowly learns more about the woman her aunt became while discovering the young woman she wants to become.  

Following Ginny across the Continent, I immediately longed to return to my own year abroad in Europe; this novel will not only appeal to fans of Johnson's other works but also to teenage travelers or want-to-be travelers.  Overall, a great read! The novel could pair well with nonfiction about travel and different countries or a other novels featuring globe-trotting girls such as Stephanie Perkins' Anna and the French KissJohnson's Girl at Sea, or Ann Brashares' Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.  

4.5/5 STARS 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

In My Mailbox AKA Wayward Blogger Returns At Last!

Whew! It has been a crazy couple of months in the life of this library school student!  As my disappearance from the blogosphere might show, real life got very busy for the last several months and this blog had go on the back burner for a while. But I'm back! So, in celebration, here is my first IMM post of 2011! IMM is a fantastic meme in which bloggers list the books that they received over the last week via mail/bookstore/library.  It's hosted by the lovely Story Siren over at her awesome blog and you can go here to get more info about joining in!   

Since the term is winding up this week, I returned to naughty habit of leaving the library with piles of books. So this week's IMM is quite big! 

The Fold by An Na
Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd ed. by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci
Ship Breaker by Paulo Bacigalupi
Pink by Lili Wilkinson
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows

This week I also grabbed and read and already returned two other great books:

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow

Reviews will be coming soon-along with some reviews from my backlog of reading from the last few months!