Once upon a time, I earned a Master's Degree in Literature and was a Professor of Literature and Composition. I had a wonderful time writing my Master's Thesis about Children's and Young Adult Literature, and I considered earning a Ph.D. so that I could continue to pursue the written word, including British, American, Latin American and other Global Literatures, Children's and Young Adult Literature, all types of genres and occasionally even poetry. But life takes you in unexpected directions, and so now I am working for a non-profit agency (you can read about that on my other blog, A Little Bit of Wonder). Although my job keeps me too busy to post as many book reviews as I would like, Recommended Reading is a place where I can continue to share my literary discoveries and knowledge as time allows.

Please note that I post reviews for books that I recommend reading, just like the blog title says. This means that I typically won't post a review for a book that I completely dislike. This isn't because I shy away from making negative comments, but rather because I don't want to waste your time or mine (I won't even bother to finish a book if it's not any good). For more on this, see the explanation of my Rating System.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

In My Mailbox: Mid-February

In My Mailbox is a type of book blog entry that was started by The Story Siren and has now spread to over two hundred blogs. By participating, bloggers are able to showcase books that they have purchased/received (not necessarily in the mail literally), before they actually read and review them.

The way I see it, it is a forum for book bloggers to geek out about getting their hands on beautiful, new books. If other bloggers are anything like me, they get pretty excited about getting their hands on new books. Every week, I wait for my Amazon delivery like a kid on Christmas Eve.

Here’s what the USPS Santa delivered to my mailbox this week:

Stolen by Lucy Christopher. This one comes recommended by Cazzy @ The Cazzy Files (read her review here). It is Australian, so I am adding it to my Six Aussie Y.A. Books in Six Weeks (go here for more information on the Reading Challenge) – yes, I am going to actually attempt seven Aussie novels in six weeks. I had to grab a copy and include it once I read the opening Cazzy’s review: “Just thinking about the book, my heart starts pounding.” The novel is about a sixteen year old girl named Gemma who is drugged and kidnapped from the airport in Bangkok, and finds herself deep in the Australian Outback when she awakens. She is being held captive by a man who has apparently been stalking her for years and who attempts to convince her that she loves him in return. According to Cazzy, the story isn’t so cut and dried – both Gemma and the reader start to sympathize with the kidnapper, and “part of Gemma’s trauma lies in not knowing what to believe and who to trust. Her disorientation is not just physical, but psychological.” This sounds like the kind of complex novel that I (and probably many of you) will really enjoy.

Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan. This is also a recommendation from a fellow book blogger – Khy @ The Frenetic Reader (read her review here), who is a huge fan of David Levithan. This book centers on three teens in the days following 9/11. Khy writes that “I really have no comments on the plot, because really, there isn't much of one. This isn't a plot sort of book; it's an event book. Things happen, and they're all connected, but it's mostly just about seeing what happens after, what people are feeling.” Between that interesting description of the novel and Khy’s enthusiastic endorsement of all of Levithan’s books, I’m really excited to read Love is the Higher Law. My own review will probably show up on my blog within the next few weeks.

A Ring of Endless Light by Madeline L’Engle. To be honest, the first thing that drew me to this novel was the title, followed by the fact that it is a Newbery Honor book. A Ring of Endless Light” just sounds like it should be a beautiful deeply thoughtful novel, and the summary supports my impression. The story is about sixteen year old Vicky Austin, who cannot seem to evade death; she is spending the summer with her grandfather who is dying of leukemia, then her ex-boyfriend shows up soon after his mother is killed in a car accident and he has tried to commit suicide. While Vicky tries to come to terms with all this loss and pain, three different boys vie for her attention. Apparently there is also a sub-plot involving dolphins and ESP, but I’m hoping that will take a backseat to the relationships in the novel. I haven’t really enjoyed the “science” in L’Engle’s science fiction, and I was hesitant to pick up another one of her books – but all of the reviews for A Ring of Endless Light that I have found are really positive, so I’m giving L’Engle one last shot.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. This book is one of several Y.A. dystopian novels that I’ve been eying for a while, but when I joined Lenore’s Dystopian February Challenge, I finally had an excuse to buy it. Rosoff’s novel is about a fifteen year old New Yorker named Daisy who goes to stay with her cousins in the countryside outside of London for the summer. Then England is invaded and occupied, Daisy is separated from her cousin Edmond and taken with her younger cousin Piper to work alongside other girls. In what sounds like a work-camp environment, Daisy quickly evolves from a self-centered teen to Piper’s protector; I have always been interested in WWII fiction and memoirs that discuss the experience of living in Nazi work camps and concentration camps, so I am intrigued by the description of a similar horror occurring in present-day England. This should be a good one to put on my shelf next to Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker, which I recently reviewed.

I’ve ordered some other books for the Dystopian Challenge as well, but they have yet to arrive – they’ll probably show up in my IMM for next week. Until then, happy reading to everyone!


  1. Great reads! I've heard wonderful things about Stolen. And How I Live Now sounds very interesting too.
    My IMM

  2. looks like a great batch of books! I have heard only awesome things about "how I live now" and I have loved the levithan i have read before.

    I haven't read any Auster yet so we'll see how invisible goes! it does sound interesting.

  3. Love is the Higher Law looks very interesting. I'll be stopping back to see what you think of it.

    Thanks for stopping by! :)

  4. Hey, you got How I Live Now too! Even if I'm not a big fan of dystopian novels, I've been hearing so many good things about it so I decided to grab a copy.

    I hope you enjoy reading A Ring of Endless Light! I loved that one when I was younger, haven't had a chance to reread it though.

  5. I love your blog! I hope you like David Levithan's book. The only one I've read by him is Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

    It looks like quite a few people got How I Live Now this week! I hope its good :)

  6. +JMJ+

    That's an interesting sentiment about L'Engle's use of science! Personally, I find it rather enchanting in her Kairos books and majorly distracting in her Chronos books.


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