Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Some pretty awesome YA ladies to get to know

Man, guys. I have been on a reading frenzy. I'm reading faster than I can keep up with blogging. (It helps that I've been reading some short and/or quick reads lately.) I read the following three books, though, and realized they'd make a great compilation post because they all feature kick-ass young ladies ("kick-ass" in the sense that I'd want to hang out with them).

Flavia de Luce is back in A Red Herring Without Mustard, round 3 of the Alan Bradley mystery series. I've already given the run down of the first two Flavia de Luce mysteries, so I won't reiterate here why she's awesome. This installment involves a bludgeoned fortune teller, the mysterious death of a local swindler, and an infant who went missing years ago. Are these circumstances related in an act of revenge or is there a new mystery to solve?

I definitely enjoyed this one more than the second in the series, and it may even be my favorite. Flavia's precocious manner of investigation with Gladys, her trusty bicycle, is never lacking of excitement. One of my favorite lines in this book involves a match of wits between Flavia and Inspector Hewitt, who is constantly trying to keep Flavia's meddling out of his criminal investigations. She states:
"How I adored this man! Here we were, the two of us, engaged in a game of chess in which both of us knew that one of us was cheating. At the risk of repetition, how I adored this man!"
Outwitting authority and loving it; this is Flavia in a nutshell.

The narrator and namesake of The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer, Kate, sees herself as a tall, gangly teenager who's blind as a bat, and that's probably how you would see her at first glance, too. She's 6 feet tall and wears coke-bottle glasses, but she's smart and witty and has an extraordinary ear for linguistics. She also has a bit of a penchant for romance novels...a penchant for poking fun at them. Kate's been in love with Richard, her brother's best friend, since they were kids, so she decides to tell their story in the spirit of a Harlequin-esque romance novel.

Kate is pretty much a quirky girl's heroine. She doesn't have a ton of confidence, thanks particularly to her "friend" Ashley who is the glamorous, flirty, shallow type. But during one Christmas at home with Kate's brother, his wife, and friends from college (including Richard!) Kate learns that her quirks can be assets, too. This was a fun book. Really enjoyed!

Last but not least, Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace—a standalone YA novel by the author of Betsy-Tacy. Emily is younger than Betsy and her "Crowd," and there is some character overlap, though not a ton. However, everything feels familiar, and Emily provides a new perspective to life in Deep Valley, exhibiting a completely different personality than the characters we know from Betsy-Tacy. Emily's lives with her elderly grandfather and is more independent than part of a "Crowd." She's not interested in boys or popularity or parties or the latest fashions. She feels awkward at times while trying to find her place in the world.

Truth be told, I liked Emily much more than Betsy. She's more relatable to me, while I often found Betsy's frivolousness to be annoying. Emily has just graduated from high school and longs to go to college with her friends but is instead staying in Deep Valley with her grandfather. With nothing new on her horizon, Emily has to figure out what to do and how to keep on living without friends to lean on. She's in a rut, both literally and mentally. She's in the awkward phase between childhood and adulthood when she kinda wants to grow up but sorta wants to remain a carefree kid. As Emily resolves to "muster her wits" and seek out new opportunities, she discovers that she doesn't need college to keep learning. Definitely my favorite of Lovelace's (so far; I still have two Deep Valley books left!).


Marnie Kaplan said...

I just stumbled upon your blog from another book blog and I had to comment because I totally remember reading The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman when I was actually a young adult (I am almost 28) and loving it! Thanks for the blast from the past!

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