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.