Wow - we are reading so much lately that I'm not even sure where to begin. I will keep our list to the last two weeks, and for the sake of time I am going to have to break this down into two posts.
LibriVox). The girls were not excited at first because the reader is rather slow, but eventually the story grabbed them and now they are hooked. The best (funniest?) part is that I keep overhearing them talk about how glad they are when different things happen.
My husband has been listening to several audiobooks, but offhand I do not know the titles nor his opinion of them. I will have to include them in Part Two. :) I can also add that he is still reading book four of Harry Potter. I believe when he finishes we will need to have a celebratory glass of champagne. This could quite possibly happen sometime in the fall ... possibly 2013. It is not because he reads slowly, but rather because he has no time in which to read.
As for me, I have read several books from the YA re-made fairy tale genre. First, Sweetly by Jackson Pearce - a book I genuinely enjoyed. No, I don't believe it to be great literature, but, yes, it was fun and different. Pearce takes the story of Hansel and Gretel and turns it into a modern-day story about brother and sister Ansel and Gretchen, but with some major changes and a serious twist. I can absolutely see high school kids digging this book. It's fast moving, fun, scary (but not too scary), and there's a little romance, too.
Beastly by Alex Flinn. In this tale based on Beauty and the Beast, an obnoxious high school boy is cursed by a witch in order to learn that it's what's inside that counts. Personally, I did not love this book. It was, for lack of a better word, "okay." Maybe it's just me, but I had a hard time with the story as the characters were too unbelievable. I know, I know, this should be somewhat expected in a fairy tale remake. But I don't mean the magic and premise of the story (I've read many magic-based books and have had no problem with the characters). I can't put my finger on it exactly, but if I had to sum it up in a few words, I would say the characters are a bit too flat. And I think the language is somewhat unbelievable. However, the book is easy to read (i.e., good plot and interesting story line), and I'm sure kids would enjoy the modern-day take. I would put this at ages 14 and up.
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier. Interesting book. I have not read any of Marillier's other novels, but I believe I will. While I understand why this book is categorized as YA (main characters are all teens), I believe that the language would make this a difficult read for your average teen in that it is a "slow-to-warm" book and moves rather slowly at times. Set in Transylvania, this story takes The Twelve Dancing Princesses and some of The Frog Prince (and potentially a few other stories!) and changes things up in big ways. I started out not liking the book, but by the end I was hustling along to see how things would end. What I really enjoyed is how different this book was from most other YA books I've read. However, apparently (according to other Marillier fans), it is not so different from other Marillier books. But I, being new to the author, did not know that and I enjoyed the story despite some of the slow and heavy plot. I would recommend this for adults that enjoy fantasy/fairy tale and older teens (16 and up) who like to read and don't need a "quick book."
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (author of Bel Canto). I know that people love this story, but I am not one of them. I was bored from page one and stayed bored through the end. Enough said.
House Rules by Jodi Picoult. Picoult is an author I enjoy from time to time, but her since her books all tend to follow a similar pattern (formulaic) I can't read them often or I want to scream. Once a year or so? I can enjoy them. A bit. I feel somewhat lukewarm about House Rules. It was interesting and I think Picoult did a good job of portraying different aspects of autism and Asperger's. However, it felt forced at times compared to some of her other novels. It did keep me interested 'til the end and I actually learned several things about forensics about which I had no idea (probably because I don't watch CSI or any of the other crime shows). I walked away from this book thinking, "I am so lucky." I recommend it if for no reason other than appreciating what you have.
Phew! This is getting long. I will end with the three books I'm currently reading: Push by Sapphire (turned into the movie Precious), Mudbound by Hilary Jordan, and The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaajte. All three books are good so far, and all could not be more different. The first two I picked up on my own, and The Cat's Table is for a book discussion - not a book I would have ever started reading if not for the group, however it is beginning to grow on me. Ondaajte has an interesting way with words and absolutely stunning imagery. You can actually see the story as you read.