Once upon a time at Goodreads...

...I got sucked into this madness and found myself unable to get away. Not that I'd want to, actually...

Well, it goes kind of like this: There's a reading challenge, where you have to read books for certain categories. (Example: Read a book with a picture of a flower on the cover, or a book narrated by multiple people, or a book published in the 1800s.) When I first heard about this I spent far too much time thinking about which books I'd read to complete which tasks, and now it's started, so I'm spending far too much time reading the actual books for these tasks.

So anyway, that was my (sort of) long winded introduction into the books I've been reading recently. Namely, the first two books I read for the challenge: The Secret Year, by Jennifer Hubbard; and Hush, Hush, by Becca Fitzpatrick.

Where to begin? First off, I was very surprised to discover that The Secret Year was so short. Less than two hundred pages! But I have to say, it was well worth the read. The premise is based in reality (a nice reprieve from all the sparkly vampire/werewolf/fairy stuff that's going around like the flu), and it's not that groundbreaking or fantastic, but the writing! The writing! I'm a firm believer that you can still write a fabulous book even if the plot isn't crazily awesome, as long as you write well. And right here I'm going to lay it out and say: Jennifer Hubbard writes really well. I was sucked into the story and found myself there for a comfortable journey. Colt's voice was sympathetic, consistent, and just lovely. While I wouldn't necessarily call this book a must-read, I'd definitely recommend it.

On to Hush, Hush. This one was a little bit trickier. Honestly, there were times I was about to give up on this book completely. Those times encompassed the first three fourths of the book. Literally. The whole high school scene was so completely unrealistic to me. I will not go into much detail, as I want to leave the mystery for those who want to discover it on their own, but still - the totally bizarre sexual education class where they talked about who their ideal mates were; Patch pursuing Nora relentlessly with those gag-me pickup lines and contrived scenes; Elliot doing pretty much the same thing, except in a progressively creepier fashion as the book goes on... The list goes on, but perhaps my least favorite part was the fact that Nora had no spine whatsoever. A savvier girl would have told Patch and Elliot to bugger off (and not have ruminated on how hot Patch is anyway, in a creepy stalker/abusive boyfriend kind of way, a la Twilight). A savvier girl would have confronted some characters who were clearly not who they said they were.

On the other hand... Starting at page 281, the book did a complete 180 degree turn. Nora gets some answers, some things start falling into place. She's not spineless girl, and Patch ceases to be creepy and stalkerish. (In fact, his past actions even start to make a little bit of sense.) So for me, the last 110 pages of the book completely saved it. I finished the book really liking it, actually. It was hard for me to go back to the first 3/4 and think again about why I disliked it - but the final verdict was that I needed to, because I really did dislike the first part.

The bottom line: It's clear that Becca Fitzpatrick is a good writer. Even while I was hating the characters at the beginning, I could tell that. Now I want her next book to be at the same level as the end of this first. So I guess I did end up liking this book...

In other news, I have a busy week coming up. And I haven't had any interesting dreams lately. They've all been of the mundane, forget-you're-dreaming sort. Bleh. Give me flying broomsticks and hot vampires any night.

And I'm still very into the Alice in Wonderland music. Ernest is too.

(Also, when did I miss the beginning of the month? Seriously? I demand a recount. We are so still in February. Maybe the 10th.)