Previously, on She Made Me Do It...
Catie recced Noelle:
Noelle read: The Hollow Kingdom and Night Beach
Noelle's verdict: Basically my TBR list can be seen from space so I really enjoy it when someone decides for me what I will be reading next. Left to my own devices I'd make a spreadsheet within a list within a plan and never get around to actually, you know, choosing something other than the newest e-book available at my library. What I'm saying is, I had a grand ol' time with Catie's picks. Two were books I'd never have come across on my own and the other was one I had been dying to read but neglecting on my shelf for far too long. She Made Me Do It to the rescue!
I really enjoyed both The Hollow Kingdom (review link!) and Night Beach and I still have No and Me to go (not only did November open up wide and eat up all my reading time but yes, I'm that girl: I started re-reading my recommendations to Catie as she went through them) BUT I will definitely be reading it sooner rather than later. My average rating was 4 stars so I'd call this one quite the success, ladies. Thanks for having us and feel free to recommend me a book any time.
Noelle recced Catie:
Catie read: Sorta Like a Rock Star, Heart of Steel, the first book in Cynthia Voigt's The Kingdom Trilogy (Jackaroo), and the beginning of On Fortune's Wheel.
Catie's verdict: Look at me this month - I'm quite the over-achiever. Noelle pretty much gave me three books that all completely suited my mood so that worked out perfectly. November/December are very busy times for me and I have to admit that for the past few weeks I've barely been able to read at all. However, when I do pick something up, I want comfort reads and that is exactly what I got here.
Sorta Like a Rock Star was light and quirky with an ending that almost but not quite made me roll my eyes. Heart of Steel was one of the very rare romance novels that didn't make me groan in disgust. And Jackaroo was completely the sort of thing that I love to read when I'm stressed: cross-dressing girl hero adventures with a little romance. I actually can't wait to continue that series, because I keep hearing that the second one is even better. Great picks Noelle!
Flannery recced Maggie:
Maggie read: All three!
Maggie's verdict: I don't think there's anyone who enjoys a challenge with absolutely zero real world rewards/ramifications as much as I do. Case in point: What have I been doing since kicking ass in Flannery's challenge? Battling my mother, my cousin, and various Koreans in Ani Pang, a Korean smartphone game that's similar to Bejeweled.
What -- how did this get in there?
Basically, I had a blast reading Flann's books. My Most Excellent Year? I just bought the hardcover. After totally falling for Augie, TC, TC's father, and Alé, I needed to add it to my permanent collection -- and not the giant, head-eating umbrella paperback edition. I want these characters to be real as much as Hucky wants Mary Poppins to be real. This book was practically perfect in every way. Onto MacGregor Grooms and my first Nora Roberts. If grandfather kennels existed, like in JD's imagination on Scrubs, I'd totally adopt Daniel MacGregor. He's a sassy old man with hot, educated grandsons. What's not to love? I thoroughly enjoyed the glimpse I got into his family and I'm definitely going to read more, starting with the MacGregor Brides. White Cat? MEH CAT. Urban fantasy is always hit or miss with me. Jesse Eisenberg as the narrator was a definite miss. Still, I enjoyed imagining Armie Hammer reading to me instead. :)
Seriously, it was so much fun reading these recommendations. If you ever need something to read, who you gonna call? READVENTURERS! Thanks for having us.
Maggie recced Flannery:
Flannery read: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Flannery's verdict: I had big, big plans to read all three of Maggie's picks but as usual, I failed miserably. I did manage to read Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and it was exactly what I wanted to read at that particular moment. (4-4.5/5) In my review, I spoke a bit about growing up in Pittsburgh and how much I enjoyed this book as a result. It quickly transported me back to my high school years and all the places I miss. Maggie's other two picks are still in the top half of my to-be-read pile and I really hope to get to them in the next few months. I did start reading Rescue Me and I was totally into it, but I had to switch gears to try to read as many Cybils nominees in my category as possible before the shortlist is due at the end of the month.
I had a blast in this edition of SMMDI and I hope we can do another challenge with these lovely ladies in the future. Maggie knows me pretty well now and I truly look forward to going down to southern California to visit my sister because it means that I will hopefully get to chill with Maggie as well. Of course I trust many of my favorite readers and reviewers to recommend books to me but I think Maggie and I are definitely kindred spirits. She knows what I'm looking for in books (and movies and TV!) Thanks for the recommendations, Maggie! I'll finish the other two eventually.
And now, some new challenges...
Flannery's Recommendations for Maja
What it's about: Twins switching places. Alanna, a young girl in the world of Tortall, goes to learn the skills for knighthood while her twin, Thom, goes to a convent to learn magic.
Why I think she'll like it: I know Maja is on the prowl for some good fantasy after recently enjoying Seraphina by Rachel Hartman and a few other fantasy books. She has yet to try out Tamora Pierce, who I definitely consider one of the repeat hit-makers in the YA fantasy realm. I've loved most everything I've read by her and Alanna is one of her highest rated and the most popular. Though there are several series I believe Maja could try to see if she enjoys Pierce's writing, I think this is a good litmus test.
What it's about: I think Tatiana would describe this book as being about wangst, that is if Tatiana ever used words like wangst. Otherwise, it is about Holly, a twenty-something gal who is unsure about several facets of her life at once.
Why I think she'll like it: Honestly, I really want Maja to love this book. Though contemporary is definitely not Maja's favorite genre, I definitely know that she loves a well-written Aussie contemporary book (e.g. Raw Blue, A Straight Line to My Heart) and the fact that she has this one sitting unread on her shelf makes me simultaneously excited at the awesomeness she might experience and nervous that she won't love it as much as Catie and I did. However, Maja is a kindred spirit and I think this book is a good recommendation for someone like her who thinks about life and existence and also for someone who likes funny dialogue. Half of my Goodreads friends didn't like this at all and the other half loved it. I'd like to see where Maja falls on the spectrum.
What it's about: A young woman recalls her childhood spent at an isolated boarding school. Through her discussions about friendship, love, and realities, we find out that Kathy's life isn't quite ordinary.
Why I think she'll like it: Maja likes darker, well-written books. She also likes evocative writing and she isn't afraid of the creep factor. This book is intriguing and contemplative, but it also has a science fiction element to it that adds an extra layer of mystery to the whole situation. (but not so much sci-fi that it would alienate her). Though I listened to this one, I hope Maja reads it in book form. I know it is also one of Catie's favorites and Maja often agrees with both of us, so I'm doubly hopeful she'll like this one.
Maja's Recommendations for Flannery
What it’s about: Two girls that have never met and have nothing in common have been dreaming about each other for as long as they can remember. Each time one of them goes to sleep, she becomes the other one and sees the world through her eyes, all the while conscious of her own identity. But when they try to look for each other in the real world, it’s as if neither of them exists.
Why I think she’ll like it: Lucid has such an interesting premise! A lot of people compared this book to Inception, but I don’t like thinking of it like that. The first part is just a contemporary story about two girls and their everyday problems, but underneath it is the question of their existence. Are they both real? Or if not, which one is a product or the other’s imagination? I had no idea, and I think Flannery would really enjoy that.
What it's about: Verity Price comes from a long line of cryptozoologists, people dedicated to keeping the peace between humans and monsters. Verity has just moved to Manhattan, away from her numerous family, to pursue a career in ballroom dancing. One night, she (literally) runs into an enemy agent and they end up joining forces to solve a string of supernatural murders.
Why I think she’ll like it: Did I mention the talking mice? No? Well, there you go. Discount Armageddon is non-stop action and adventure, very funny, and the world is extremely colorful. Although she doesn’t read urban fantasy often, I have a feeling Flannery would really enjoy it.
What it’s about: Carmen is a Grammy Award winning violinist and she has just been admitted to Julliard with a full scholarship. She and Jeremy King are the most likely finalists in the Guarneri contest. They are both just one step away from that huge, life-altering victory. Falling in love under the circumstances really shouldn’t be an option... but it is.
Why I think she’ll like it: Well, for one, she really liked Gayle Forman’s books! Virtuosity is perfect for fans of If I Stay and Where She Went. This is one of those books I really enjoyed despite my reluctance to read contemporary, and I think… in fact, I’m pretty sure Flann would, too. What’s more, Martinez managed to surprise me twice, and that doesn’t happen often.
Catie's Recommendations for Maja
What it's about: Hathin is a young girl who belongs to a small native tribe of Gullstruck Island. She is quiet and lives in the shadows, caring for her "supernaturally gifted" sister Arilou and keeping up a vast conspiracy that protects her tribe from the intruders who are slowly taking over the island piece by piece. When Hathin loses nearly everything, she's forced to flee and fight and come into her own - and possibly discover that Arilou is more than she appears to be.
Why I think she'll like it: As soon as Flannery told me that Maja was looking for some more great fantasy, I knew I'd be recommending this to her. I know that Maja loves beautiful/descriptive writing, deeper themes about war, and strong female heroines. Plus, I'll recommend Frances Hardinge to just about anyone if given half a chance.
What it's about: I don't think I'm spoiling this for anyone when I say that this book contains a cross-dressing girl (it's in the blurb on goodreads!). Eon, a young dragoneye candidate, is secretly Eona. Since girls are not allowed to commune with the elemental dragons and practice dragon magic, Eona hides her identity and trains as a boy. However, after the ceremony in which the new dragoneye masters are selected, Eona's whole life begins to change.
Why I think she'll like it: I honestly can't believe that she hasn't read this yet! I have to admit that after reading the second book in this series, I didn't end up loving it as much as some of my friends. But I have this feeling that if/when Maja reads this, she will be a fan. Call it what you will (creepy friend intuition), my book reviewer mojo is telling me that this is a Maja book.
What it's about: Two timelines weave together as expendable youngest son Hahp enters a frightening and brutal school of magic and naive Sadima follows a magician and his controlling friend to the city.
Why I think she'll like it: This book is impossible to put down, and it's sequel even more so. I think Maja will get just as caught up as I did in the slowly unfolding mystery and the very twisted magical training.
(P.S. I feel like Tatiana is actually here in spirit because I know she'd heartily endorse my last two recommendations.)
Maja's Recommendations for Catie
What it's about: A smart fifteen-year old girl becomes the apprentice of one Mr. Sherlock Holmes and in her, the now retired detective recognizes an equal.
Why I think she'll like it: Is that a trick question? Everyone likes Sherlock! And although I don’t normally read books about Sherlock that weren’t written by Arthur Conan Doyle, I think Laurie R. King is doing an amazing job both with him and with Mary Russell. (And Mycroft, I just adore Mycroft.) I know Catie’s been meaning to read this so I thought I’d give her the excuse to push aside an arc or two and read it sooner than she planned.
What it's about: It’s about a man whose mother just died and he has no idea how to cope. He is completely detached and ends up doing things that are completely unlike him.
Why I think she'll like it: Well, to be honest, I don’t know that she will, but I really want her to read it. (That’s not as horrible as it sounds.) When I first read it (admittedly, I was fourteen at the time), I absolutely hated it. It made me miserable, which was kind of the point, but I fought against it for the longest time. However, truly powerful books shape you even when you don’t want them to, and this is certainly one of the books that influenced me the most. With our Euro-centric educational system, it’s almost unimaginable to reach adulthood and not read it at least twice. (Which is why I have holes the size of Arkansas when it comes to African, South American or Asian lit.)
What it's about: It’s about two very different boys, one a missionary in Africa and the other an awkward high school senior with a missing brother. It’s also about a (nearly) extinct woodpecker.
Why I think she'll like it: I just finished this one myself and I’m finding it very hard to let go. It’s one of those modest, unassuming books that take you completely by surprise. Besides, there’s been a lot of talk lately about male voices in YA and I know that, unlike me, Catie’s been reading those articles and posts. This book has some really interesting, realistic young male characters and I think she’ll appreciate that.
I added Laurie R. King's book to my TBR over a year ago (I think) and promptly forgot all about it. However, I LOVE Sherlock Holmes and I love precocious little girls even more so I'm so happy to be reminded about it. (Also, I love that Maja thinks I'm all dedicated to my ARCs and would need an excuse to set them aside. If only she knew how much I've been slacking lately...). And the John Corey Whaley book has been on my radar for a while but most recently because Maja's been reading it! We don't always agree on everything, but I think our tastes in YA contemporary are very similar so when she likes a YA contemporary, I pretty much immediately add it to my TBR.
Overall, these are wonderful recommendations! Thanks Maja!