Friday, April 30, 2010

Book Review: Read, Remember, Recommend for Teens by Rachelle Rogers Knight

For my review today I am going to give you a reenactment of my reactions to this book journal for teens as I went through it.

At first glance, I was excited. The design is attractive and inviting enough for a $15.99 price point. The spine/spiral binding makes it look a bit like a cookbook, but the inside pages are sturdy and it’s easy to flip through. I’d be willing to pay more for a hardcover and a three-ring binder format so I could add/take out pages

Now, of course, being a book blogger, my first stop was the Young Adult Literature Blog section I had been hearing so much about. I already suspected I wasn’t on the list (and no I am not), and although she definitely got some things right, I was frankly surprised by some of the odd inclusions and flagrant omissions. First off, I know the publishing process is a long one, but, come on – The Book Bopper hasn’t blogged since June of 2008, and the last time All Five Stars blogged regularly was January 2009!! Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast is a wonderful book blog that I adore, but its' focus is picture books, hardly ever posting anything young adult. And then…no Steph Su Reads? No Jen Robinson? No Bookshelves of Doom? No Bildungsroman? No Chasing Ray? No Angieville? Those are like the bread and butter of YA book blogs!

So my next act was to attempt to find out who the author was and what made her an “expert” on YA lit. I was starting to doubt her credentials, and I needed some reassurance. I looked everywhere, the introduction, the table of contents, the back…not one personal word about the author. Strange – and unsettling. (ETA: an enterprising reader might notice the ad on the last page of the journal that suggests visiting www.bibliobabe.com "for all the newest award winners and news." Even here, however, it doesn't state that this is the personal blog of the author. If you visit the bibilobabe website about page, you will see that Rachelle calls herself a passionate reader, a book lover and a bibliophile. Credentials enough? Debate among yourselves.)

Ok, then I grabbed a pen and started going through the Awards & Notables list, a section that takes up nearly 200 pages or about 2/3 of the book. It starts with the National Book Award and has checkboxes to mark if you own, recommend, have in your tbr, or want each of the books. I marked “want” for Judy Blundell’s 2008 award winner WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED. Then I went down the list and marked “own” and “recommend” for Louis Sachar’s 1998 award winner HOLES. I went through another 23 pages, dutifully checking off books before I got bored … and a bit frustrated. What should I do if I own the book but haven’t read it? Check “own” and “to read”? Ok, no problem. But what if I’ve read a book, but don’t own it and don’t recommend it? What should I do then? There is enough room in the margin for me to make my own category, “read, not owned”, so I did that.

Then I flipped through the To Read section and the Journal Pages. All seem pretty useful, but I need more! With all the blogs that I read, I could fill the To Read section within a week! And with all the books I read, the Journal Pages would fill up fast too. This is why I’d love the option of a three ring binder with extra pages.

The Recommendations section is one I probably wouldn’t use, since if I want to recommend a book, I just recommend it. I don’t need to write that info down in a journal. The Loaner Lists is something I do already, but I really like the format here. It’s way more organized than mine!

And then I am back at the Resources section. In addition to the lacking bloggers section, there are some author sites to check out (also missing many of my personal favorites) and some other helpful listings. There’s also a bit about literary terms (not written by the author) and then an extensive index.

Verdict – in its current state, this journal is not really that useful to me, or any voracious reader really, except perhaps for one who wants to read and keep track of many, many award winners. I’d love a more premium version with a 3 ring binder and the ability to buy extra pages separately. Of course I realize that most of the world’s population doesn’t read as much as I do, so for the teen who reads 2-3 books a month, this compact journal might be ideal.

Coming up later today, I have an interview with the author and a chance to win a copy of the journal for yourself.

18 comments:

Life After Jane said...

Thanks for your review. I can't find a copy of the journal locally and I really didn't want to order it with out flipping through it first. Now I know. I'll stick with Goodreads for lists.

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I have the adult version and I have the same complaint about the pages, and mine had the odd really out-of-date book blog or two as well.

Beth Kephart said...

oh dear. so many of my favorite bloggers, including you, not there?

that's just not right.

Ladybug said...

I loved reading your review of this journal, Lenore! You've gone through it in a way that is very useful for book bloggers. I've been thinking about ordering one for myself(will probably end up doing it just because I'm curious).

Julie P. said...

I'm sorry that you're disappointed with this journal! I just received my copy a few days ago, but I thought it was pretty useful as a resource. I love lists, though. I think my tween daughter will like writing in it and keeping track of her books.

Lenore said...

Hi Julie! I still think it's fun :) And yeah, teens that read a moderate amount should really enjoy it!

Heather said...

Hi Lenore,
Sorry to hear that you didn't like this journal. When my daughter saw my adult version she couldn't wait for me to purchase the teen version for her. Like you she went to the lists of books and started checking off what she had etc. She ignored Rachelle's suggestion on page 3 of how to use the boxes and made up her own method. You could do that as well. My daughter knows what it means and thats all that matters.

Some goes for the Recommendations section, I probably won't use that but will re-purpose it for my wish list when that section is full.

Don't worry about the resources in the back not including your favourite blogs, I had never heard of your blog nor the others you listed, yet I still managed to find my way here. I've never seen a printed list of blogs or websites that was up-to-date even the day it was printed. The internet is so fluid that the only constant is that it changes. I wonder if the blogs you mentioned as not being active are still available to browse their earlier postings? That would still make them valid resources. I'll have to check that out.

I'll hope you'll give the journal a second chance and work with it and see if my suggestion of re-purposing of pages and markings is helpful.

Lenore said...

Heather - I wouldn't say I don't like it. I just don't think it's that useful to me personally. I'm glad your daughter likes it, and I'm even thinking of buying one for my god-daughter.

The out of date blogs still are online, yes, so you could check out their archieves. And I do know how quickly things change around the book blogosphere. Even I am pretty overwhelmed by the amount of blogs at this point! Still, without knowing what the selection process was for blogs (an intro might have been nice - you know, saying she purposely put some out of date blogs in there or whatever), it just strikes me as an odd list. Of course that's just my opinion! Someone else may think it's perfectly fine.

bermudaonion said...

I haven't seen the teen version of this one yet, but I love the adult version. I love your idea of a three-ring binder type binding!

Insert Book Title said...

It's an intresting concept for a book, but I can see your point. If she did not really bother to do suffienct research into the YA community then it's a waste.

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

For an avid reader like me, it's not helpful. And I too would have liked more on who the author was and what made her an expert in YA and why she compiled the book. I really felt it was copied from a lot of places, nothing original. And not a lot of writing room either, which for me doesn't work. I'd give it to readers who want to start a book journal but don't read 200 books a year like I do.

Liviania said...

I definitely agree about needing an I've read but don't own (or whatever) box.

Angiegirl said...

Ah, I do love you Lenore. :)

Steph Su said...

Yep, I agree with Angie. At first I thought I was going to be the only one who was rather dissatisfied with this, but I'm glad to see it's not just me. It's definite great fun for that "in-between" reader, not a YA beginner but not an avid YA reader.

Little Willow said...

Thank you so much for thinking of me and Bildungsroman. That's quite flattering.

Doret said...

Lenore - Besides award winning fiction are there a lot of YA recommandations with teens of color?

Lenore said...

Doret - There is a list of recommendations for urban/street lit and there is a list called 30 Multicultural Books Every Teen Should Know.

Josette said...

I have the other version, not the teen one, of this reading journal. :) Your review was fun to read, hehe! Like you, I wouldn't be making much use of the other sections because of the lack of pages and also because I don't really lend my books out. The only section for me is the awards list and probably the resources with all the blogs listed.

It's a shame that outdated blogs were listed in the teen version. :/ But I'd like to get a copy of it to check out what books are listed in there!