Best of the Best Update

So far for the YALSA Best of the Best Reading Challenge I’ve read:

  • The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater
  • What Happened to Goodbye, by Sarah Dessen
  • Anya’s Ghost, by Vera Brosgol
  • Bake Sale, by Sara Varon
  • Hera: The Goddess and her Glory, by George O’Connor

And for some quick thoughts on each book:

Loosely based on Celtic mythology, The Scorpio Races is set on the island of Thisby, where each year deadly water horses emerge from the sea and are captured and raced by islanders.  Sean Kendrick is a four-time champion of the races, although he does not own his beloved water horse Corr.  Puck Connolly impulsively decides to enter the races as the first woman rider in an attempt to keep her older brother from leaving for the mainland, and through a loophole in the rules is going to ride her beloved normal horse Dove.  Puck rides for her family, and Sean rides for his freedom.  They form an unlikely friendship, which slowly becomes something more, even as they know that only one of them can win the race.  I enjoyed The Scorpio Races more than I thought I would.  It was a little slow going at the beginning but I got very drawn into the descriptions of the island, the water horses, and the race.  I’m not a horse person myself, so some of the details about taking care of the horses went a little over my head, but theme of love and loyalty between people and their animals is relatable by any animal lover.  The writing was great and the romantic element was just right – a nice counterpoint to the slower descriptive sections, and the action scenes.

What Happened to Goodbye is a bit different than my usual genres of reading.  I’m not very drawn to contemporary realistic fiction like Sarah Dessen’s books.  In this one, McLean’s parents have gone through a nasty divorce that resulted in McLean choosing to live with her father, despite his needing to relocated every six months or so for work.  She takes the opportunity to reinvent herself in every town they get too, whether she decides to be a preppy girl, a cheerleader, a theater geek, or something else.  When they arrive in the fourth town in two years, McLean accidentally ends up being McLean again, and she has to figure out what that means.  What Happened to Goodbye was well-written, and I enjoyed it well enough while reading it, but it’s just not my favorite genre.  I’d definitely recommend it to people looking for realistic fiction with some romance though.

Anya’s Ghost is a graphic novel about a high schooler who struggles with her Russian background and dorky status at her private school.  Anya falls down an old well in a park and finds the ghost of a girl who fell down the well and died years earlier.  When Anya is rescued, the ghost, Emily, follows her.  At first Emily seems like a great friend, helping Anya cheat on tests and get the attention of the boy she likes.  Slowly though, Emily’s true intentions are revealed, and they are pretty evil.  As Anya tries to get rid of Emily and protect her family, she starts to recognize how valuable the people in her life are.  Anya’s Ghost was just the right amount of creepy and scary, along with a realistic portrayal of high school for a girl who feels she doesn’t fit it.  It was a really enjoyable read, and the art was great as well.

I love Sara Varon’s Robot Dreams, a wordless graphic novel for kids, so I was excited to read Bake Sale.  In it, Cupcake runs a bakery and is in a band with his friend Eggplant.  Eggplant is going to Turkey to visit his aunt and Cupcake wants to go with him to meet his baking idol Turkish Delight.  As Cupcake saves up money for the trip, Eggplant runs into some problems, and Cupcake has to decide whether he should go to Turkey on his own or give his savings to his friend.  This was a cute story, and Sara Varon’s artwork is colorful and fun.  Overall I was not as impressed by the story as I was with Robot Dreams.  Despite the theme of caring for your friends, there wasn’t that much depth to the story or the emotions.  Not a bad read, but I’d recommend Robot Dreams over Bake Sale.

Hera: The Goddess and her Glory is the third book in George O’Connor’s Olympians graphic novel series.  I am a big fan of the first two, Zeus and Athena.  The series tells the stories of a god or goddess and includes some extra information in the back about how O’Connor decided what elements of the myth to emphasize in his telling, along with some facts about the major characters in the book.  Hera felt a little more scattered to me, just because it told the story of Hera and the story of Heracles.  The art was just as wonderful as in the first two books.  The series is a great way to read the stories of the Greek gods.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. allisonmackey
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 21:40:32

    Way to stick to your goals, Tori! I was just wondering how this was going….and boom! There’s a post about it! Awesome.


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