*Lets out a long, loud sigh, which contains several months’ worth of stress, as well as various dates, facts, and figures that I will never be required to know again* Summer. It is finally here. And if you are anything like me that means one thing: you have no idea what to read. Seriously, the entire school year you are probably making it by on a book a week, if you're lucky, and those are probably presets: sequels that have just been published, or favorite authors who have finally released a new book. (Shadow Scale and Hellhole, I am looking at you.) But now it is summer, and you are not constrained by tedious projects or dry textbooks. You are free!
So, now what?
I'll tell you: Kid's books. That's right, kid's books. Don't forget about all of those J Fiction books out there, just because you have technically, probably, aged out. (And we all know that secretly, at least some of the time, we are all still six. Or five. The point is, you never actually grow out of the J Fiction section.) So, if you are in that awkward phase where you look to old to be looking in the kid's section by yourself, but not quite old enough to have your own kids to be looking for, here are some recommendations.
1. Don't forget about your old favorites. No, I'm not talking about Harry Potter, we all know you probably re-read that once every few years anyway. Well, most of you anyways. I'm talking about books that you read in single sittings, laughing, getting weirdly attached to characters, but for some reason you never picked them up again. For me, this brings to mind A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. Seriously, these were great books as a kid, but now reading them after a few years, they are almost funnier. They are extremely dark, but with a sort of humor that I imagine was directed towards teenagers. I liked them as a kid, but now…I have to say that I am even more impressed. I might not be able to speak for all kid's books, but I guarantee that if you go back and read some old favorites, you are going to have a great time, not only in remembering why you loved them in the first place, but also likely in discovering some tidbits that make more sense in your older, wiser* brain. Definitely give these (or any of your old favorites) 5/5.
*Wiser, mostly in the sense that I am using it in a cliché phrase. I'm not sure that any of us should actually ever be considered wise.
2. Now, for some recent finds on the J fiction shelves. If you like fairy tales, especially those that seem to combine stories from all sorts of backgrounds, you might want to try The Sisters Grimm. And I do apologize if you have already read these. Sometimes I am behind on the times. Back when moving to the "New World" was a thing, the Grimm Brothers packed up all (most) fairy tale creatures and moved them to the East Coast, a town called Ferryport (formerly Fairyport, haha, so clever), which allows no one to leave its borders. (Holy cow, I never realized how much this sounded like the show Once Upon a Time before.) Now, I will warn you that the first book is not the best written, but the story intrigued me enough to read the second. The writing does seem to improve, and the story seems to get more interesting. My favorite part: Puck. Such a sassy little fairy, who believes he rules the world, but he is really still a child who, eventually, somehow gets talked into coming and living with Granny Grimm. How do you think that is going to work out: the trickster king being, for lack of a better word, domesticated? I certainly wouldn't want to live with him. So, pretty much an easy read with some rewritten fairy tale characters, who keep butting into each other's universes (also each other's business, but that's sort of obvious). This may not be my number one recommendation, but it only takes a couple of hours. I'd give these ones 3.5/5, though do note that the low score is lower because of the first book.
3. New find: The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch. I'm not really sure about you, but I am willing to read this book just based off of its title, and the name of the author. I mean, how awesome is the name Pseudonymous for a pseudonym (or nom de plume, or penname, or alias, or whatever)?! Also, the back cover is written entirely in backwards words. Like, if weird word jumbles are not your favorite thing, you might actually need a mirror to read the cover of this book. So, apparently I am in fact, telling you to judge a book by its cover. Well, more specifically, all of the writing that appears on said cover. And if all of that isn't enough for you to want to read this awesome book, it has one of those narrators who aren't supposed to be telling the story. And (s)he keeps talking to you! I find those narrators the best. Fourth wall? What fourth wall! I feel like I should tell you more…but it's a secret, right? Nah, I'm not scared of any super-secret organization (well, maybe, we will get to that later). There is a missing magician, and a mysterious box called the Symphony of Smells. Mmm…synesthesia. One of my favorite literary thingy-mabobs. It just makes all the descriptions so much better. I mean, how can you taste the cold? How can you hear the color blue? Seriously, the next time you write, try to use some synesthesia. The style of this book probably fits right in there with anything written by Lemony Snicket. Less morbid, but still that same wit and great narrator. Definitely a 5/5.
4. Now…secret organizations. Imagine that there was a school that took the best and brightest of today's children. Geniuses who might be sabotaging Prime Minister's speeches, or who might be world class diamond thieves. Or maybe someone who was simply dared to hack into the government…and did it. These are the kind of people that go to H.I.V.E. The Higher Institute for Villainous Education. (I told you there was a secret organization I might be scared of. Wouldn't you be? All the little twelve year old geniuses in the world being trained to be super-villains?) Also, there is some pretty cool AI (artificial intelligence) going on here--and you know, every time an AI comes around, there are always weird existential questions (feel free to ignore those or not, depending on your mood). And…I actually don't think I need to say more. It is a secret school for SUPER VILLIAN CHILDREN! So, 5/5 for Mark Walden.
Okay, guys, that's all I've got for now! It should keep you busy for at least a couple of weeks (or days, or hours, depending on how fast you read…). Enjoy! There will be another post later this month so check back in!