...because it just so happens that my mom is a librarian. And it just so happens that once I got home, she brought home about eight YA books for me to read. And it just so happens that I started reading those instead of the ones on my list.
But! There's still hope for Low Red Moon and The Duff, because I will be visiting Barnes and Noble this weekend.
So, what DID I end up reading so far? Well, only two books. And those books are...
OTHER by Karen Kincy
This book was pretty awesome. I have to admit, I was excited to read it as soon as I read the back cover. If you haven't already seen this one reviewed, it takes place in a world where "Others" —that would be beings such as werewolves, vampires, animal spirits, dryads, mermaids, pookas (a type of shapeshifter which applies to our heroine), and so on— are known to exist, and some even live out in the open, though they suffer a great deal of prejudice, even from OTHER Others!
Before I get into any symbolism or even political stuff, here's what the story is about, in my own words: Gwen is half-pooka as a result of a fling her mother had with a Welshman (is that even the correct term?). She can shapeshift; in fact, she MUST shapeshift relatively often or she feels discomfort, her "pooka side" acting up. She doesn't reveal her Otherness to many people (not even her boyfriend, Zach). But she does have her best friend, Chloe, who is a dryad, a sort of tree spirit, to share secrets with, and she suspects that Tavian, an attractive Japanese guy she met via the BLOGOSPHERE, might have some Otherness to him as well.
Who knows of Gwen's Otherness isn't so important, however, until someone begins to murder local Others of Gwen's Washington state town, Klikas...Klika..oh man, it's such a cool name, too...(looks it up) Klikamuks! Doesn't that name just remind you of the sounds your rainboots make when you walk through a puddle? Anyway, suddenly Gwen has bigger problems than worrying about how to tell her boyfriend she's a shapeshifter, because she and all of her Other friends are in danger!
I really enjoyed this book. I know it's not exactly a unique premise, what with all the YA authors scrambling to find the latest paranormal gimmick for their novels (myself included), but it was a fun read, and man was it quick! Even if you aren't sure you'd like this one, try it anyway because it won't take a lot of your time and it's a great ride. The characters were pretty well-developed, the dialogue was snappy yet believable. There was action, romance, mystery, paranormal-ness, danger, and politics. Yes, politics. Maybe Karen Kincy didn't purposely do this (I find that unlikely, or maybe it was just unavoidable), but the problems the Others ran into were so similar to those faced of any minority group. There was also mention of Alaskans hunting werewolves by helicopter (Palin, anyone?) and an Other-hatred based group called the White Knights (perhaps a bit like the KKK?). Not to mention the term "other" in general. As in, the way we tend to place people who are different from us in the "other" category? "Other" or maybe "exotic"? (Anybody see that post on the Story Siren?) My point is, not only was there a decent, fast-paced story that I found quite hard to put down, but there were some great messages involved. Kindness, tolerance. Okay, so you don't HAVE to read it that way, but it's in there to find if you want to. Plus it could make for a cool paper! (for those fellow college students out there)
You can find out some more about this one here: http://www.karenkincy.com/
And I'm sure there are some much more detailed and thoughtful reviews out there in the blogosphere, too. I should probably add that I didn't always take the book as seriously as could have, probably because I have a friend who used to call her boyfriend a "pooka" or "pook."
I also read The Mermaid's Mirror by L.K. Madigan.
I think that this one was first and foremost, beautifully written. The style was lovely, and the way Lena, the main character's relationship with her family was developed was excellent, very strong. I read this one quickly, too, and didn't want to put it down. The ocean imagery, the eventual mermaid village, even the descriptions of surfing lessons were kind of magical.
But it was sad, and I'm not quite sure about the conclusion that was reached at the end. Okay, wait...
***SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SCROLL PAST THIS PARAGRAPH TO AVOID SPOILERS***
Lena's father, once a surfer and ocean-lover, can never again enter the sea. If he does, he will be ripped to pieces by sharks at the command of his former mermaid lover's own mother. So really, the purpose of this story seems to be so that Lena can discover her mermaid heritage and have her father's sea death penalty lifted upon her return to land. But in order to have this lifted, Lena must sacrifice seeing her mermaid mother, Melusina, and the merman boy she grows to love, Nix. She has to promise never to see them again or return to the mermaid village. At the end (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) Lena returns to land and reunites with her friends, her younger brother, stepmother and father. Finally, she and her father can surf together. I guess that, for Lena, it takes seeing her possible mermaid life and heritage to really appreciate, fully enjoy, and help her land family and life. But what about her mother?! She's just going to forget and absorb happy mermaid thoughts so that her memories don't depress her?! That really bugged me, a lot. Since I just spoiled the ending, I'm going to kind of leave the rest of the book for you to read.
****OKAY NO MORE SPOILERS NOW. ****
I suppose it was sort of what had to be done, but it didn't all work for me. Still, it's a very pretty story, and I think anyone who loves mermaids, the ocean, or stories of finding one's self might find enjoyment in this book. (Check out the blog Escape in a Book- pretty sure she has a deeper review of this one as well as some second opinions!)
Oh, here it is: http://escapeinabook.blogspot.com/2010/11/book-review-mermaids-mirror-by-lk.html
I guess I'd better visit some other blogs and then go to bed before Black Friday comes!
Happy shopping, all!