Saturday, May 24, 2014

My Favorite Mistake

My Favorite Mistake
by: Chelsea M. Cameron

Should you read it?: Maybe
...if you liked Beautiful Disaster.
Category: New Adult

Okay, so first of all, this genre is hard for me. I usually enjoy them & they're such quick reads, but I cannot get over the embarrassment I have over the covers! These are not erotica at all and the covers make them look like you're going to be reading about nothing but sex. This book in particular has one specific scene & the rest is just general sexual tension. I have to read these on my kindle because the covers just embarrass me so bad.

So this is about Taylor and Hunter. They are both students at UMaine and through a mixup in the housing department, they end up in a co-ed apartment with 2 other girls. The other 2 girls have been rooming together already so of course Taylor and Hunter end up sharing a room. Of course that makes for a fun storyline because Taylor is so against the idea of sharing a room with a boy she doesn't know and Hunter totally loves it. There is definitely sexual tension & I loved the banter between the two  of them. They both come from a sort-of dark past (which seems to be a theme in new adult books) and they have to learn how to maneuver a relationship with their baggage.

Things I liked
The whole attraction thing with a coed roommate makes for some fun.

I liked their banter, like I said above, they just bicker and I thought it was funny.

I really enjoyed the music that is discussed throughout it. It was my style.

Things I didn't
I hate hate hate the cover. I actually found a less embarrassing cover to put on this post because I was so embarrassed by the one on the cover of the book on my Kindle.

I didn't really identify with their issues in the past, which I guess is okay because I don't have to have gone through that to enjoy a book with characters who have. But at the same time, I just felt like it was a little melodramatic and overkill.

Overall: A fun and fast read.

Book 35 of 50

Prom & Prejudice

Prom and Prejudice
by: Elizabeth Eulberg

Should you read it?: Maybe
...if you like retellings and are okay with fluff & no real substance.
Category: Young adult

This is another modern retelling. After Falling for Hamlet, I guess I was in the mood! It's a retelling of Pride & Prejudice, but I'm really hoping you already got that. It was cute. It's set in an upper class private academy where Lizzie Bennet is now a scholarship student at Longbourn Academy and Will Darcy is a reserved, pompous rich-kid at the boy's Pemberley Academy. Rather than vying for husbands, the girls are vying for prom dates. It was definitely cute and fun. I enjoyed seeing how she wrote the different characters and how it all went together, but in comparison to Falling for Hamlet, it just wasn't up to par. I am going to continue with this retelling genre in the future, though! I really enjoy it!

Things I liked
Again, the retelling aspect is fun, even if it's not the best version.

I again liked Will Darcy, but I always have been a sucker for Mr. Darcy in the original.

Things I didn't
I just couldn't get on board with the prom aspect of it. I guess that just isn't where I'm at in life and while I do enjoy young adult books, some aspects of them can be way off my radar. I just don't care if these girls go to prom or not.

Overall: Cute & fun, but you could find something better.

Book 34 of 50

Monday, May 19, 2014

Falling for Hamlet

Falling for Hamlet
by: Michelle Ray

Should you read it?: Yes
Category: Young Adult

This is a modern retelling of Shakespeare's Hamlet and I absolutely loved it. I thought it was so interesting the way she kept so many things true to the original, but with the modern view. She definitely took liberties - like the fact that Ophelia is telling the story, while Ophelia wasn't as big of a character or present at many of the same scenes in the original play. That being said, I actually looked up the original Hamlet plotline because I hadn't read it since an undergrad Shakespeare in Film class I had taken in college. I was very engulfed in this book. I actually would read a lot of it and then look at the clock and be shocked by how much time had gone by. That doesn't happen to me as often as you would think. I can see so many ways a high school teacher could really take this and run with it. I know for sure that some scenes are just exactly what happened in the play, but with modern language. It would be really interesting to compare scene by scene for some of it. I just think it's a really fun genre to retell old stories and I find myself looking for more books like this to read.

Things I liked
I love the retelling aspect. I read Jane by April Lindner and it was one of my favorite young adult books. I just really enjoy the storylines of those old stories and seeing them in modern settings is fun!

I enjoyed the way she made Ophelia the narrator. While the story is definitely about Hamlet and you see how his experiences and suspicion led him to a sort of madness, you see it all through her perspective, which gives you more of the story. I just thought it was a clever way to tell it.

I also enjoyed the way that the story goes back and forth between different interviews of Ophelia after the main events have happened. I just really thought overall this was a fantastic retelling and the way she did it was fascinating.

Things I didn't
Again, this is one I really don't have anything that I didn't like. I will say that I didn't like that it wasn't available at my library, so I had to actually order it off Amazon, but now any of my friends around here who want to borrow it are welcome to it!!

Overall: A fantastic modern Shakespeare retelling.

Book 33 of 50

Sunday, May 18, 2014

An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines
by: John Green

Should you read it?: Maybe
...if you are a John Green fan already.
Category: Young Adult

This book took me a little while to get through. It is about Colin, who I picture as a Seth Cohen from The OC kind of character - nerdy, but cute. Colin is basically a genius - child prodigy. He has just been dumped by the 19th Katherine that he has ever dated. He goes on a road trip with his friend Hassan and they end up in Gutshot, Tennessee. It's all about his focus on proving The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability which would predict the outcome of a relationship before it even begins. I know, it sounds weird, and honestly it ends up kinda being as weird as it sounds. I read it because I had read 2 other John Green books this year and loved them. This was not my favorite John Green book and I definitely wouldn't recommend starting with it, but at the end, it had the same elements that I have come to appreciate about John Green books.

Things I liked
Again, I love John Green's characters. He just writes these really quirky, lovable, real characters that I instantly fall in love with as people. I just want to hang out with all of them.

I love the overall lessons and themes that his books end up having. This one is exploring our need to "matter" and just learning to overcome a breakup.

I loved Hassan. I thought he was hilarious and the relationship between Colin and Hassan was really fun for me.

Things I didn't
I just didn't connect with the Theorem and the exploration of it. It actually took me more than 2/3 of the book before I was actually like "oh this just got really good." I'm not sure exactly what it was, but I just wasn't sucked in the way I was with my first 2 John Green books. That being said, I have Looking for Alaska on hold at my library, so this in no way turned me off to John Green. Actually, it made me love him even more because I read a book of his that I didn't enjoy immensely, but I still saw those things that are characteristic of John Green and I absolutely loved those aspects of it, even if I didn't love the book overall.

Overall: If you like John Green, you'll like this, but it won't be your favorite.

Book 32 of 50

The One

The One
by: Kiera Cass

Should you read it?: Yes
Category: Young Adult

I have to say that this is one of my favorite Young Adult series. I put it up there with The Hunger Games and Divergent. It doesn't have as much appeal for the male audience, so it's probably strictly a female series, but I just absolutely love it. I think it is adorable and so fun. The series is about "The Selection," which is basically like The Bachelor except with royalty. It takes place in a dystopian future where the United States is now called Illea and it is made up of castes from 1 (royalty) to 8 (like lowest of the low). America Singer is one of 35 girls who are chosen from various castes to come to the castle and basically compete in The Selection to eventually become the next queen when they marry Prince Maxon, the royal prince. America is reluctant to go and doesn't want to leave her boyfriend, Aspen, who is in a caste below hers. She ends up being the girl from the lowest caste in The Selection and faces many difficult challenges once she is there - one of which is her growing friendship and attraction to Prince Maxon. There are 3 books in the series: The Selection, The Elite and The One. I had previously read the first 2 as well as 2 novellas that are also available for the series. This one came out and I finished it in less than 24 hours. It was just as amazing as the first 2. Definitely a series where all 3 books are great.

Things I liked
I love love love the relationship between America and Maxon. While this is definitely a love triangle kind of story, as it always is, their friendship throughout the books is something fun to watch.

The dystopian element was great. I liked the society they had set up and the complications it brought into the books.

Things I didn't
Honestly I love everything about these books. They can get a little cheesy at parts, but for some reason when it comes to these, it just works for me.

Overall: Adorable. Read the whole series.

Book 31 of 50

Out of the Easy

Out of the Easy
by: Ruta Sepetys

Should you read it?: Maybe
...if you're looking for a great coming of age story in a great setting.
Category: Young Adult

This book made me want to visit New Orleans - which is strange to say because it is about the daughter of a prostitute and her struggle to try to get out of the city. 17 year old Josie Moraine is the daughter of a prostitute in the French Quarter in New Orleans. The owner of the brothel where her mother works has basically taken her in and taken care of her throughout her life because her mother is basically a deadbeat who doesn't care about her. Josie has been living in an apartment on her own and working at a bookstore. Her main focus has been to save money and get out of New Orleans to go to college. This book follows that journey.

Things I liked
Josie was another strong female character. She doesn't allow herself to be brought down by where she comes from. She works hard and tries to overcome it. I enjoyed that about her.

I enjoyed the way that the book explores the different sides we all have - the things we've done, the places we come from, what brought us to where we are now.

Things I didn't
The one thing I really didn't like would be a major spoiler if I posted it on here. Suffice it to say I just didn't enjoy everything about the ending. Some things felt rather abrupt.

Overall: Unique period piece about a girl coming into her own and finding her own way.

Book 30 of 50

Eleanor and Park

Eleanor and Park
by: Rainbow Rowell

Should you read it?: Yes
Category: Young Adult

I read Attachments by Rainbow Rowell and loved it. I had heard a lot about this book in my Young Adult & Children's Literature grad school class, so I decided to give it a try. It actually took a while to get it in at the library because it is so popular right now. I was worried it wouldn't live up to the hype, but wow it really does. It's about a girl named Eleanor who starts at a new school and she is quiet and different and faces a tough time both at school and at home. She meets Park and they reluctantly strike up a friendship over common interests. It's just so well done. Even though some of the material is really sad, it still left me feeling positive. I cried at this one. It just really stuck with me in a good way.

Things I liked
I loved how they bond over comic books and music. And it takes place in 1986, so it's just got that fun kind of vibe to it.

I liked the fact that they again are both not your stereotypical leading characters. She has big red hair and a curvy body and he is part Korean and does martial arts. I thought they were adorable.

Things I didn't
Nobody enjoys reading about some of the stuff that she has going on at home, but at the same time, it was well done in a way that you get it, you feel it, but you're not dragged down by it. (That seems like such a weird thing to say when people really face those things in real life. I guess I just mean that as far as reading it for entertainment purposes, it's done appropriately.)

Overall: Sad, funny, adorable coming of age romance.

Book 29 of 50


Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?
by: Maria Semple

Should you read it?: Yes
Category: Adult

This book was hilarious. I laughed out loud several times. This was another really unique way to write a book. It is told almost entirely through emails, letters, newspaper articles, etc. I was a little nervous about that when I first started it, but I found that it flowed so well and it made perfect sense to me all the way through. It was brilliant. It's about a Seattle stay-at-home-mom who used to be an architect. Her husband works for Microsoft and her daughter goes to a private school. It centers around this whole world of fancy parents and families, but it's all about this mom, Bernadette, who just doesn't fit the bill. She is so funny. She ends up disappearing and it's all about what led up to that and what happens afterwards. It is definitely one that should be read.

Things I liked
The way it was told. I thought it would throw me off, but instead it kept me hooked. It's almost like seeing things from several different points of view.

The character of Bernadette. My favorites were her long emails to different people - really getting to see inside her head. I just loved her.

Things I didn't
I honestly can't think of something that I didn't like right now.

Overall: Absolutely hilarious and interesting!

Book 28 of 50

Why We Broke Up

Why We Broke Up
by: Daniel Handler

Should you read it?: Maybe
...if you want a really unique and different take on a young adult romance.
Category: Young Adult

This book follows the relationship of Min Green and Ed Slaterton, but it is told through the letters she writes him when she is dropping off a box of mementos from their relationship after it has finished. So every letter has this story included in the overall explanation of "why we broke up." It's definitely a unique view on relationships and I like that. I also liked the illustrations (by Maira Kalman) and the way that was all integrated into the story. But overall it just wasn't my favorite.

Things I liked
Again, I enjoyed the unique take on things. It was definitely a totally different route than I had ever read before.

I also enjoyed the illustrations and what that added to the story as a whole. Some things weren't even explained in the story because the illustration captured it and I thought that was cool.

Things I didn't
I just did not like Ed Slaterton. From the very beginning, I just hated him. Now, granted, they don't make him out to be all bad from the beginning, but I just didn't like him. I didn't connect with him. I didn't care about him, and while yes, that is "why they broke up," I just didn't enjoy reading their story knowing that the whole thing is about the 2 of them and I don't even get to see what happens in her next relationship that actually seems like it will work out okay. I don't know, maybe it was just me, but I just couldn't get into that.

Overall: Unique, interesting and could be more appealing to others than it was to me.

Book 27 of 50

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Quick Reading Run-Down

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Should you read it?: Yes
Category: Adult
This was my first book by Rainbow Rowell. I loved her writing style and I've spent every library trip since reading this trying to find another book by her that is available at my library! It just stuck with me. It's definitely worth reading!

Book 18 of 50


The Distance Between Us by Kasie West 
Should you read it?: Maybe
...if you want a quick young adult romance.
Category: Young Adult 
This was just a cute young adult book. It's nothing heavy, just fluff really, but enjoyable enough! I went through a little young adult fluff phase here for a few books.

Book 19 of 50


Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins 
Should you read it?: Maybe
...if you want another sweet young adult romance after reading Anna and the French Kiss.
Category: Young Adult 
I love the way Stephanie Perkins writes the setting into her story. The first book I read, Anna and the French Kiss, was set in Paris & left me really wanting to visit Paris ASAP. This one was set in San Francisco & again I felt myself wanting to find a flight immediately. She just makes the setting a part of her whole story. It's weaved into every aspect and I really enjoy that. There is another of her books coming out in May called Isla and the Happily Ever After. I'm definitely reserving a copy at my library!

Book 20 of 50


The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesay 
Should you read it?: Maybe
...honestly it's a no for me, but I could see how someone else could enjoy it, thus a maybe.
Category: Adult 
This one I'm kind-of torn on. It's not a young adult book and it's a retelling of Jane Eyre, which I've always liked. I really enjoyed the book Jane by April Lindner, which is another retelling of Jane Eyre, but it's a young adult version and I liked it a lot better. I did like that this explored the idea of independence & not relying on those around you to make you complete, but I just didn't totally connect with Gemma Hardy and I got kind-of down about her whole situation.

Book 21 of 50


A Beautiful Wedding (Novella) by Jamie McGuire 
Should you read it?: Yes, but you have to read the first 2 before reading this one.
Category: New Adult 
I read Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster, which are the 2 actual books in this series. This is a novella that goes along with it and it's just as great as the other 2 books. It left me wanting to reread both books!! I just love this series. It was a quick read, but super fun.

Book 22 of 50

The Perfect Game by J. Sterling 
Should you read it?: Honestly, probably no
Category: New Adult 
This was kind-of an "eh" book for me. It was fine, I read it quickly, but I don't think I'm interested in reading the 2nd and 3rd books in the series. It just didn't really grip me.

Book 23 of 50


Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry 
Should you read it?: Maybe
...if you would enjoy a young adult romance about a bad guy and a good, but troubled girl.
Category: Young Adult 
I liked this one. It was a unique story and you're trying to figure out what's happening through the whole thing. I enjoyed the relationship between the 2 main characters and I liked seeing how the story develops & finding out what had really happened to Echo. It's a young adult book and not the best one I've read, but it's good enough!

Book 24 of 50


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green 
Should you read it?: Yes. Absolutely.
Category: Young Adult 
Okay this one...whew. This will go down as the year I discovered John Green. I had read Paper Towns before and I liked it fine, but it didn't knock my socks off or anything. I knew that I liked the way he wrote his characters and the uniqueness and quirkiness of them. I just relate to that, I guess. I was really nervous about reading this one because I just didn't know how well I'd handle a love story about 2 high school kids with cancer, but wow I LOVED it. I have talked about it with several people since reading it and I keep thinking about it. He has such great quotes that I have found myself wanting to find a copy of the book at Half Price Books so that I can own it and write in it and highlight all my favorite parts! And it's another one that left me trying to find any John Green books at my library.

Book 25 of 50


Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr 
Should you read it?: Maybe
...if you want to see a young girl overcome a crappy decision.
Category: Young Adult 
This was another interesting one. I really liked the exploration of a young girl who has made a tough decision and had to live with the social consequences. Man, it's a book I would love all high school girls to read when they are entering high school. It's another one where I'm trying to find more books by this author! Definitely worth picking up, but it's tough to get me to give a book a 4 lately, so it didn't quite make that cut, but it's worth reading!

Book 26 of 50

Three Times Lucky, Turtle in Paradise, Anna and the French Kiss

Three Times Lucky
by: Sheila Turnage

Should you read it?: Yes
Category: Middle Grade

This was another of the books I read for class. It's about a little 6th grade girl who is an orphan in Tupelo Landing, NC. She lives with the 2 people who found her floating up the river as a baby. The first is the Colonel, who named her Moses because of how they found her, and the second is Miss Lana. The book features really colorful and interesting characters, a small town with lots of gossip and relationships, and then a murder mystery! It's great for kids 10 and up. I've recommended it to students in my class. It does have the murder mystery aspect, but very kid-appropriate. It's really adorable and I loved the characters! The second book has come out called The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing and I've ordered it on my Scholastic Book Order to have in my classroom! I definitely recommend this one to anyone with kids about that age!

Things I liked
I love the murder mystery and the fact that it is totally appropriate and works for the younger aged students! I bought a couple copies of this for my 4th grade classroom library and several of my students have read it and loved it!!

Mo is just a great, strong female lead character. I love having strong female characters for my 4th graders to read about!

Things I didn't
This is another one where my only wish is for a sequel! And thankfully Ghosts of Tupelo Landing just came out!!

Overall: Great (and appropriate) murder mystery for middle grades!

Book 15 of 50


Turtle in Paradise
by: Jennifer L. Holm

Should you read it?: Maybe
...if you like fiction or strong female characters.
Category: Middle Grade

This is also a great book for kids about 9-12 years old. It's about a little girl named Turtle who has to move and live with her aunt in Key West, FL during the Great Depression. It's a historical fiction piece and it definitely captures the feel of the Great Depression at that time. It also features the hurricane in Key West about that time. Turtle is a feisty kind of girl who speaks her mind and I like that a lot. In both Three Times Lucky and Turtle in Paradise, you find strong female characters in the lead who struggle through things and figure things out on their own and they're great little models for other girls reading the books. I enjoyed this one a lot as well!

Things I liked
Another strong, female lead character for middle grade girls!

This book was really funny. I loved Turtle's cousins.

I also enjoyed the action of this. The hurricane in the end was fun to read about, especially for the younger students! My 4th graders have come running up to me asking if they get saved when they've had to stop reading when we needed to move on to a different subject.

Things I didn't
I would've loved a little more wrap up with the ending. I felt like everything wrapped up and ended really quickly.

Overall: Fun historical fiction for students.

Book 16 of 50


Anna and the French Kiss
by: Stephanie Perkins

Should you read it?: Maybe
...if you are looking for a cute young adult romance.
Category: Young Adult

This is the last book I've had to read for my Young Adult and Children's Literature class, although there are several more I will be reading anyway that I've put on my list for the rest of the year! But this is the last one I'll be writing about in class. This book is about a girl named Anna, whose dad is a sort of Nicholas Sparks type of writer who sends her to an American boarding school in Paris to help her and himself look more "cultured." This book is aimed toward high school students and is more grown up that the other 2 mentioned in this post. I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to high school girls because it's very different than the normal young adult books you find that are focused on relationships. I just thought it was a great, sweet story that adults as well as high school students would enjoy!

Things I liked
I love the friendship that develops between Anna and St. Clair. They stay friends for the majority of the book and their relationship grows and changes as they get to know each other - not that there isn't sexual tension, but it definitely wasn't one of those "we met and immediately we're in love" kind of things. I enjoyed that aspect of it.

I also like that both the girl and guy in the story aren't the typical dreamy types. The guy is pretty short and the girl has a gap between her 2 front teeth. It's just an adorable, really real view of a high school relationship. Nothing really unrealistic or silly or far-fetched.

I love the way Stephanie Perkins makes her setting almost like its own character in the book. I desperately want to visit Paris after reading this. Everywhere they visit, everything they do, I just want to recreate a trip to everywhere they talk about.

Things I didn't
The one thing I didn't like was the name. I hate when great books have silly names that make me feel stupid when I tell people what I'm reading...but oh well.

Overall:  Stupid name, but super cute book!

Book 17 of 50

Paper Towns

Paper Towns
by: John Green

Should you read it?: Maybe
...if you are looking for a great young adult book that goes deeper than you'd expect.
Category: Young Adult

Paper Towns is my first book I've ever read by John Green. It was on the NPR Best Young Adult Novels list, which is where I have to find several books for my annotated bibliography in my Young Adult and Children's Literature grad school class. So I have a couple more John Green novels on my list to read. I'm not sure what attracted me to this book as far as which one to start with of his, but I think it had something to do with the mystery aspect of it and the search to find someone who has disappeared. I did enjoy following all the clues and figuring out what had happened to Margo Roth Spiegelman, but more than anything, I enjoyed the idea that the book is about discovering who we really are and about discovering the truth about people who have maybe idealized in our minds. We all remember high school and having this perfect picture in our mind of our crush and what they are really like. This book just dove into what it looks like when that picture unravels and not because there is anything specifically wrong with them, but because there's something wrong with everybody. We're all flawed. Nobody is really perfect and learning to love and appreciate people is learning to see them for who they really are and accept them there. I loved that theme in this book. I enjoyed reading about the change in relationships between some of the characters and just about the discovery of who we all really are in general. It makes me excited to pick up another one of his books!

Things I liked
I absolutely love John Green's characters. He is truly a character novelist and I just want to be friends with all of them. Q, the main character, was really quirky and intelligent and amazing, in my opinion. I just loved him.

I also loved that the book had a clear theme that I could really relate to. I mentioned more about it above and it definitely made this something that I was thinking about for a long time after finishing the book.

Things I didn't
I didn't like the character of Margo at all and that was hard for me because she played such a major role in the book. It was all a part of the story and again went with the theme, but it's just never easy for me when I dislike a main character who isn't a villain in the story.

Overall: Great character novel about discovering who we really are.

Book 14 of 50

The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project
by: Graeme Simsion

Should you read it?: Yes
Category: Adult

The Rosie Project had a very different narrator than any other story I've read before! I'm reading a lot of those lately! See my post on The One and Only Ivan, where the narrator is a gorilla, and then I'm currently reading The Book Thief, where the narrator is Death. So this book is narrated by Don Tillman. The way he is described in the book's description is "a brilliant yet socially challenged professor of genetics who has decided it's time he found a wife." It sounds kinda weird, but if you watch Big Bang Theory, you will immediately identify with him as someone similar to Sheldon Cooper, except with a little more flexibility and understanding of appropriate social cues, even if he doesn't always follow them. Maybe I loved this because I love Sheldon on Big Bang so much, I'm not sure, but I just found the whole story so endearing! He decided to take a wife and then created a questionnaire to use to eliminate people who just aren't compatible. The process of finding a wife and in the middle of developing this friendship with Rosie, who doesn't fit anything he's looking for in a wife, is just so fun and adorable. I really enjoyed it. I can't say enough about it. I loved seeing the world through Don's eyes for a while and I found him just really funny! I laughed out loud when Rosie takes him on an impromptu drive to the coast in a convertible and he just starts telling you that he's going to enter that pattern of thinking that he only uses when he's at the dentist. I just found all of his little quirks to be so funny. I really loved this and I think you will, too - whoever you are!!

Things I liked
Don Tillman was definitely one of my favorite characters in any of the books I've read! He was quirky, funny, intelligent, and getting into his head as I read this story was so enjoyable for me!

I loved the relationship between Don and Rosie. It was a great demonstration of how opposites attract.

Things I didn't
Honestly I just wish there were sequels. I'd love to read more of Don & Rosie's story!

Overall: Amazing story with an amazing narrator.

Book 13 of 50

The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan
by: Katherine Applegate

Should you read it?: Yes
Category: Middle Grade

I read this for a Young Adult and Children's Literature class for my Masters program. The One and Only Ivan was the 2013 Newberry Medal Winner. The Medal is given each year to the American Library Association's choice for the most distinguished American children's book published that year. I loved this book! It's told from the perspective of Ivan, who is a silver-backed gorilla living in a big top mall. According to Amazon, it's recommended for ages 8-12, grades 3-7, but I believe it was enjoyable for anybody older than that as well!

Things I liked
I loved that the story was told from Ivan's perspective. It was just a really fun take on all of it.

I loved that it raises some great issues and questions about the treatment of animals in captivity. It would raise some great conversations with students if read in a classroom or with your children at home. I definitely recommend it!

Things I didn't
This isn't a wish as much as a warning. I wouldn't read it to younger children just because some of the treatment of the animals could be upsetting. There is an elephant who deals with some pretty sad stuff.

Overall: This is such a wonderful story that would be enjoyed by any age!

Book 12 of 50

Love & Logic and Common Core

I read a couple of books that weren't my normal fiction or even non-fiction choices. Rather than doing my stars & a wish, I'm going to copy  my original posts from my other blog.

Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood
by: Jim Fay & Charles Fay

Should you read it?: Yes (if you have or want to have kids)
Category: Non-fiction

I have some pretty independent, sensitive and strong-willed children. I appreciate all these things about my kids, but I also know that without proper boundaries and discipline, these things can lead to some rather out of control kids. Enter Love and Logic. I had read the general Love and Logic book last year, but then I found out they had this one that is specifically aimed toward birth through age 6. I completely agree with and embrace everything they talk about in this book. I found myself at a difficult point with Isis were I wanted to encourage her independence, but I also wanted to help her make good choices and recognize the consequences of bad choices. I love his this book talks about helping children learn that their decisions have consequences, but doing it naturally and with love. Everything they do is focused around a calm, controlled and very loving parent. It encourages lots of choices for kids so that they feel ownership of their behavior. It increases their confidence because they feel that they are making decisions and learning how to work through bad choices. I have started implementing these things with Isis and I can already tell a huge difference!!! She has started going into our dining room by her own choice to sit down and calm herself down so that she doesn't yell or scream at us. She's learned that otherwise, she will have to go spend some time in her room for yelling at mom or dad. This is tip of the iceberg as far as how this has changed things for us and I just cannot recommend enough that parents look into the Love and Logic series. They have books all the way up through teenagers and they have them for teachers and for couples. We are currently reading their book on entitlement, which is another conversation for another day. I'll probably add that to my 50 in 2014 later.

Book 10 of 50


Pathways to the Common Core
by: Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth & Christopher Lehman

Should you read it?: Yes (if you are an educator)
Category: Non-fiction

This is a book I had to read for my grad school class called Writing in the Content Areas. This book is written by several individuals who were close to the writers of the Common Core State Standards. As a teacher, I found the information in the book invaluable. I know that it's probably strange that I'm posting a book like this on my 50 in 2014, but I read the entire thing cover to cover. I loved it. It gave me a lot of insight into the purpose behind CCSS and the change it encourages as far as teaching and understanding for student benefit. I know there are a lot of debates about the implementation of the CCSS in the US and I encourage parents or those who are interested to also read this book. While I understand the argument against big government and standardizing curriculum, I do believe in what the CCSS emphasizes and the standards it holds our children to. After reading this book, I felt like I was more confident going into understanding how best to help my students rise to the levels required by the CCSS.

Book 11 of 50

What Happened to Goodbye

What Happened to Goodbye
by: Sarah Dessen

Should you read it?: Maybe
...if you like Young Adult and are looking for a fun, quick summer read.
Category: Young Adult

What Happened to Goodbye is about a girl, McLean, who moves around frequently with her dad. His job basically has him go into restaurants that aren't doing well and he helps them get back on their feet - or sometimes says that can't be done and has to close them down altogether. Her parents got a divorce & there's some complication with her & her mom. But she's shown up in a town in the beginning where she finally finds herself wanting to stick around. Again, it was good, not great. Quick, easy read. I actually realized that the ebook was going to expire from my library in like 3 days, so I read it really quickly before it expired.

Things I liked
Hard to pinpoint my exact details I liked here. I enjoyed Sarah Dessen's writing overall. It's fun and cute.

Things I didn't
I just didn't get sucked in like I want to with a great love story.

Overall: Fun, cute young adult read.

Book 9 of 50

Avalon High

Avalon High
by: Meg Cabot

Should you read it?: Maybe
...if you like modern re-tellings or Meg Cabot.
Category: Young Adult

Avalon High is sort-of a retelling of the King Arthur, Lancelot & Guinevere story. It centers around this girl named Elaine who starts at a new school only to realize that something seems weird & that there are a lot of similarities to the old King Arthur story. It wasn't my absolute favorite book, but I do like retellings, so it was interesting on that front. It was also a really quick read, which is why I call books like these "breathers." They just don't take me any time really to read & there's not much complicated thoughts going on while I read them.

Things I liked
I love a retelling of old stories. I actually looked up stuff about the King Arthur story while I was reading this.

Things I didn't
There just wasn't much depth to the storyline here, so it was fun but not quality.

Overall: Another fun young adult read, but not quality literature by any means.

Book 8 of 50

The Art Forger

The Art Forger
by: B.A. Shapiro

Should you read it?: Maybe
...if you like mysteries and/or art and/or history. Really any one of the 3 would get you into it enough to enjoy it!
Category: Adult

This book was actually really good! I enjoyed the mystery aspect of it. It's about a woman who is a painter and her job is to do reproductions of famous paintings for a website called reproductions.com. She is asked to do a reproduction of a famous painting and when she is investigating the famous painting, she actually starts to believe that it is a forgery itself! So it was really interesting! I don't know much about art or paintings, but I still was able to get into it! I definitely recommend this one. Again, not my absolute favorite, but it's great writing & great characters & definitely one of the better books I've read.

Things I liked
Loved the mystery aspect! It made me want to visit the Louvre or something and just get really into traditional paintings. Following the clues and backtracking through the history of famous artists was really fun for me!

The writing is very good. It isn't cheesy or rushed. It was clearly well thought out and well researched.

Things I didn't
I could've used a little more love story, but that's just a personal preference and shouldn't have any bearing on the quality of the writing.

Overall: Great writing, great book, great story.

Book 7 of 50

Nadia Knows Best

Nadia Knows Best
by: Jill Mansell

Should you read it?: Maybe
...if you're a fan of most chick-lit.
Category: Adult

Nadia Knows Best is the 2nd book I've read by Jill Mansell. The first was Rumour Has It. I actually felt about the same about Nadia Knows Best as I did about Rumour Has It. It was pretty enjoyable. I read it fairly quickly. But again, I wasn't super invested in the characters. I'm not sure what it is, but I just don't get into her characters like I do in some other books. The weird thing for me, though, is that I'm still willing to pick up another one of hers if I'm in a book slump & just need something to read. I have a couple more on my Kindle that I got for like $1.00 one day. So maybe I'll try out another sometime in the future.

Things I liked
I did enjoy the family dynamic among Nadia's family. Her sister, dad and grandmother were really fun to read about.

Things I didn't
I just never get invested in the characters in Mansell's books. It's not that she doesn't develop them, I just never care about them in that gut-wrenching way that you want to with a great book.

I also didn't feel the chemistry between the main love interests, Nadia & Jay. It was okay, but again just not great. I can't put my finger on what exactly it is that I don't get attached to.

Overall: Give it a shot if you like chicklit & are looking for a beach read, but if you have any reservations at all, I wouldn't even try it. 

Book 6 of 50

Hopeless

Hopeless
by: Colleen Hoover
Should you read it?:Maybe
...if you are a fan of New Adult books in general and just want a quick read.
Category: New Adult

This falls in that category where it's between high school and adulthood. I think some elements are too risque to be considered Young Adult. It's a new and upcoming category known as New Adult, which is aimed at the 18-25 year old age bracket.

I finished Hopeless in less than 24 hours. It was ok. I mean, on the one hand I must've liked it because I finished it so quickly. Literally couldn't put it down! But on the other hand, now that I've finished it, I just don't think it was the best. For one thing, it was a little more risque than I usually like to read. Nothing too bad, but just more than I usually go for. I also wasn't crazy about reading what happened to the characters - and by that I mean it's very sad. It's about abuse and stuff and I didn't totally realize that before I started it. I got it for free on Amazon and I figured I'd give it a shot. Again, if you're looking for a quick read, this is great for that, but don't expect to be blown away by great literature or anything.

Things I Liked
It's definitely got the heat between the characters that keeps you reading.

Another bad guy gone good: Dean Holder. Expect this a lot. I liked him.

Things I didn't
I just found it really sad and I wasn't expecting that. I didn't know that was what it was going to be about when I started it.

Overall: Quick read, but sad.

Book 5 of 50

The Luxe & Rumors

I'm backtracking a little bit here. I have been working on my 50 in 2014 challenge that I set for myself. It ended up inspiring me to start this blog and as a result I have to backtrack in order to include reviews for all these books! So here are the first 2, which were actually read in 2013, but I didn't mean to finish them in 2013. I started The Luxe at the end of December and I thought I'd finish it in 2014, but instead I finished the first 2 books in the series in 3 days.

The Luxe Series
Should you read it?:Yes
Category: Young Adult

The Luxe is basically Gossip Girl, but set in 1899. So if you are at all interested in Gossip Girl, or the lifestyles of the rich & fabulous back when girls wore beautiful dresses like those on the cover, then this book is for you. It has drama, romance, forbidden love, family struggles, money, social climbing, etc. I was really impressed by how quickly I was drawn into it.

The rest of the series includes Rumors, Envy and Splendor. I didn't enjoy any of them as much as The Luxe, but I did enjoy them. The sequels just rarely measure up to the original. I will say, without any spoilers, that I enjoyed the end of this series. It has strong female characters and I enjoyed the way Diana's story ends. I felt like it was a strong example for girls. It'd be a great summer series to read. Light, enjoyable and fun!

Things I liked
Loved the time period. This book takes place in 1899, set back with beautiful dresses and charm. If only people still followed some of those guides of etiquette.

Loved the characters, especially Henry Schoonmaker. I will admit I am a sucker for the bad guy gone good story line in most books and this doesn't disappoint on that front. I enjoyed the different aspects of life at this time. You have the old-money Holland sisters, the new money Penelope Hayes, and the working class like Lina and Will. I enjoyed seeing how this all unfolded.

Things I didn't
There were definitely parts of the series as a whole that I could have done without. I didn't like the character of Lina Broud and I really could've done without most of her storyline, although that may have significantly shortened the series.

Overall: Definitely worth picking up.

Books 1-4 of 50

Monday, May 5, 2014

And so it begins...

I've been a long-time blogger and a long-time reader and it's time those 2 things combined. I can be found on my mom blog, Ingenue Mom. I've been posting book reviews on there for as long as I've had the blog, but I've recently found that I have more of an interest in blogging specifically about books sometimes. This is my outlet for that.

Who I Am

I live in Kentucky with my husband and 2 daughters. I have my Bachelors in Elementary K-5 Education and my Masters as a Literacy Specialist and I currently teach 4th grade. I am not a librarian or a library science specialist. I'm just an avid reader and blogger. My favorite thing is to match people with a book they love, whether that's a student in my class or a friend outside of school. Seeing someone light up talking about a book they read is one of those simple joys for me in life! 

In January 2014, I made a commitment to read 50 books in a year. I started this blog in May 2014 and had almost completed my goal. I have always loved to read, but blogging about those 50 books and setting the goal for myself lit that fire to organize my reading and encourage my reading and made me realize how much I love to blog about reading.

What To Expect

Reviews
This blog is mainly for myself and my friends. I wanted a place to keep track of what I read, what I thought of it and whether or not I'd recommend it. I like to keep it simple. I don't go into a lot of detail as far as what it's about. I feel like you can find that on Amazon and people are already doing it much better than me. What I offer is just my opinion, short & sweet.

Should you read it?
With each book, look for my "Should you read it?" Again, simple.
Yes - I loved it and I am confident that at least 95% of people who read it will, too.
No - I don't recommend it. You honestly won't see a lot of "no's" on here because if I realize it's a no, I usually put it down. I will post the books I put down, though.
Maybe - I liked it for whatever reason, but I feel like only a certain group of readers would like it as well. I will always try to include a disclaimer of who might like it and who might not.

Categories
I am an organized person. I enjoy placing things into categories. While I will include several descriptors when I write about books, I will focus on 4 categories based on the intended audience of the book: Adult, New Adult, Young Adult or Middle Grade. I may throw in something Children's if I read something really fabulous to my girls at home, but for the most part I'm talking about chapter books for grades 3 and above.



If you have suggestions for books I should read, comment or email me!