Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review: Simply Irresistible

Author: Jill Shalvis
Publish date: 2010
Source: purchased ebook
"Maddie Moore's whole life needs a makeover.

In one fell swoop, Maddie loses her boyfriend (her decision) and her job (so not her decision). But rather than drowning her sorrows in bags of potato chips, Maddie leaves L.A. to claim the inheritance left by her free-spirited mother--a ramshackle inn nestled in the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington.

Starting over won't be easy. Yet Maddie sees the potential for a new home and a new career--if only she can convince her two half-sisters to join her in the adventure. But convincing Tara and Chloe will be difficult because the inn needs a big makeover too.

The contractor Maddie hires is a tall, dark-haired hottie whose eyes--and mouth--are making it hard for her to remember that she's sworn off men. Even harder will be Maddie's struggles to overcome the past, though she's about to discover that there's no better place to call home than Lucky Harbor.
" (Goodreads)

I read Simply Irresistible because of Ginger from G Reads! love for the entire series. This ebook version of this one was pretty cheap and I read it in a few hours during the readathon. I didn't think it was fantastic, but it wasn't terrible either.

I knew from the start that Simply Irresistible was going to be one of those books with a happy ending no matter what, as most romances of this variety have. Of course I was pulled in by the hot contractor mentioned in the blurb too. Who wouldn't be? The book was pretty cheesy, but not cheesy enough to make me stop reading it.


One thing I didn't like about Simply Irresistible was how Jax seemed to be the answer to EVERYTHING. I mean, seriously, he had like seven jobs and everything explained at the end? Too much. Seemed to press the idea that you need a man for things to work out. Gah.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review: Safekeeping

Author: Karen Hesse
Publish date: 2012
Source: arc from conference
"Radley just wants to get home to her parents in Vermont. While she was volunteering abroad, the American People's Party took power; the new president was assassinated; and the government cracked down on citizens. Travel restrictions are worse than ever, and when her plane finally lands in New Hampshire, Radley’s parents aren’t there.

Exhausted; her phone dead; her credit cards worthless: Radley starts walking.
" (Goodreads)

I received this book in a box of arcs/books given to me from a conference last spring. I put it in my classroom and when I was deciding what to read for the Readathon, I remembered Safekeeping and how much I loved one of Hesse's other books, Out of the Dust. However...this one didn't exactly stack up to her previous work.

I really like the basic premise of Safekeeping, but unfortunately did not like the execution. Since Radley doesn't know where her parents are (and we know that from the blurb), it added an element of mystery, along with the fact that something bad is going on in the US. The problem for me was...where is the world building? I felt like I had no idea what was happening to the country, why Radley's parents were MIA, and why she could just walk to Canada. Consequences for actions, like getting thrown in jail, made no sense. When she got to Canada, though, everything was hunky dory. Seems a little sketchy that Radley could cross a border and just be fine.

Another thing I had some issues with while reading was the photographs interspersed throughout. I am not saying that pictures can't be in a YA book: they definitely can, but in Safekeeping, they were distracting and didn't add anything positive to the story. Honestly, the photos just weren't good. Period. Half of them didn't even relate to the text on the page or story in general.

One last thing before I end what is basically a rant: I didn't like the ending and how preachy the book felt by that point. I won't spoil it, but if you've read it, you probably know what I mean. I honestly will not be recommending this to anyone and am pretty disappointed overall.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Review: The Boyfriend List

Author: E. Lockhart
Publish date: 2006
Source: Library
"Fifteen-year-old Ruby has had a rough ten days. During that time she:

* lost her boyfriend (#13 on the list)
* lost her best friend (Kim)
* lost all her other friends (Nora, Cricket)
* did something suspicious with a boy (#10)
* did something advanced with a boy (#15)
* had an argument with a boy (#14)
* had a panic attack
* lost a lacrosse game (she's the goalie)
* failed a math test (she'll make it up)
* hurt Meghan's feelings (even though they aren't really friends)
* became a social outcast (no one to sit with at lunch)
* had graffiti written about her in the girls' bathroom (who knows what was in the boys'!?!)

But don't worry—Ruby lives to tell the tale. And make more lists.
" (Goodreads)

I read this book during the readathon, meaning I read it between 8am and 11am last Saturday...not my usual reading time! Even so, I devoured it and LOVED it! I love Ruby Oliver!

One of the things I loved about The Boyfriend List is how detailed it was, especially when describing what high school and teenagers are like. We all know that high school can SUCK sometimes (friends and boys) and I think Lockhart really captured that. Some of the details about Ruby's life really jumped out at me and made me crack up, much like Sloppy Firsts. I have to admit though...I like Ruby more than Jessica! Don't hate me!

I think this book would be great for high school students to read (adults too, let's be honest) because it really shows that you can work through your issues and things will be okay. Ruby is such a real and likable character, whom you love even though she makes mistakes. No one is perfect, but that's okay, and THAT'S why teen girls need to read this. I will definitely be book talking this one to my students and getting copies of the series for my classroom.

Also, I loved the footnotes. I feel like I talk with footnotes or random asides all the time, so I thought they were perfect. Basically, I loved this book much more than I thought I would and now I want everyone to read this series!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Readathon October 2012

1am: Well, I'm done here! My eyelids are very heavy, so it's time to call it quits. I had a fantastic readathon and already can't wait for April so I can do it again! Thanks to all the readers, cheerleaders, and organizers!!

Total pages read: 1186

Total books finished: 4 (The Boyfriend List, Forever..., Safekeeping, and Simply Irresistible)

Started: Masque of the Red Death (before I got too tired)

11pm: Things are slooooow going over here. I've been pretty much completely distracted by the Tigers game and am getting a bit sleepy. I started Masque of the Red Death but am only on page 56. I'll try to keep going, but I'm not sure how much longer I can last! 

Pages read: 1116

Books read: 4

8pm: Finished another book! Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis was cute, if a little cheesy, and I liked it enough to read the sequels when I'm in a cute romance mood again. I going to try Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin next.

I watched the Michigan game earlier and now I'll be watching the Tigers kick some Yankee ass, so the reading will probably be slower again. Go Tigers!

Pages read: 1060

Books read: 4

5pm: I finished Safekeeping. It was...interesting and again not what I expected (it was kind of preachy). I'll need to think about it for a while before I write my review. I started Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis on my kindle and am about 15% in. It's cheesy but cute, so I will probably keep going with it. 

I'm reading and watching the Michigan game, so I probably won't make as much progress for my next update, but that's okay with me. Go Blue!!

Pages read: 800

Books finished: 3

2pm: I finished Forever..., which was not was I was expecting, but I liked it nonetheless. I've started Safekeeping by Karen Hesse, which is okay so far. Nothing spectacular. I took a short break for lunch and to call my grandma, and now I plan on going strong until the Michigan game, which will probably distract me a bit :)

Pages read: 474

Books finished: 2

11am: I finished The Boyfriend List and LOVED it. So much. I wish I had the next one in the series, gotta be honest. I also drank three cups of coffee, so I am ready to keep going. Next book will be Forever... by Judy Blume. If I can't get into it, good thing I have lots of others to pick from!

Pages read: 229

Books finished: 1

8am: I've got coffee, my snuggie, and book number one, The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart. Let's do this!!

I am so excited to be participating in the readathon again this year! Last April was my first one and I absolutely loved it, finishing 2 books and starting 2 others. My goal this year is to finish at least 3 books, but we'll see how that goes. Picking books for this was like packing for a vacation: I always overpack. I never know what I'll be in the mood for, so I tried to get a variety of genres. I also will be using my kindle this time, which has many more books on it now than it did in April.

Starcrossed by Josephine Angellini (kindle)
Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis (kindle)
Forever by Judy Blume (from have I NOT read this?)
The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart (library)
Safekeeping by Karen Hesse (from classroom)
Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella (own from library sale)
Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin (library)
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan (library)

Obviously, this is WAY more than I can read in one day, but like I said, I need options! I've got some fantasy, some contemp, and even nonfiction, in case I need a big change of pace. There are more books on my kindle than I have listed (The Scorpio Races, The Eleventh Plague, The Body Finder and a few more), so I might delve into some of those, but my plan right now is to stick with my list.

Also, I need a new kindle case. Black is boring.

I plan to update this post every 3 hours on Saturday, starting at 8am, so be sure to check in!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Audiobook review: Unwind

Author: Neal Schusterman; Narrator: Luke Daniels
Publish date: 2007
Source: Library
"The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state, is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive." (Goodreads)

Even though Unwind came out in 2007, I had not heard of it until earlier this year when Elizabeth from Don't Take my Books Away had it in a couple of her Top Ten Tuesdays. I was totally intrigued by the premise and knew I had to read it. I listened to the audiobook version instead of print and was pretty happy with my choice.

This book was, in a word, disturbing. I could not believe that parents would choose to unwind their kids after having raised them for the previous thirteen years, at the least. Risa and Lev being unwound made sense, being a ward of the state and a tithe, but it was pretty harsh of Connor's parents to have made that choice. Disturbing as the book was, it was still really entertaining with lots of action. There was never a dull moment, which made for a great audiobook.

As scary and far off as the plot might seem, I think it raises some really great discussion points, especially for young people to have. Unwind would make a great read aloud book for my English classes, given its universal appeal, and would definitely lead to great writing and discussion opportunities. One scene in particular would be a great example of "show, don't tell" and if you've read Unwind, you probably know exactly which one I'm talking about.

I was pleased overall with the audiobook and Luke Daniels's narration. The book's point of view switches around between the three main characters and some others and Daniels did a great job differentiating between them all. The sequel to Unwind just came out, Unwholly, which I think I will also be listening to via audio. Anyone else read Unwind?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Settings

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is a rewind, so I'm going with:

Top Ten favorite settings

1. The prairie: I adore historical fiction that takes place on the prairie, particularly when the characters live in a shanty or sod house. LIW or Hattie Big Sky, anyone?

2. Islands: I find islands to be really cool settings, especially when very few people live on said island, like in Burn for Burn or The Gathering.

3. Boarding schools: Boarding school settings are AWESOME, especially if they are old and have cool features like forbidden wings. I'm thinking of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Looking for Alaska.

4. Mountains: Mountains make great settings, like in Princess Academy.

5. The South: I love southern settings, especially in historical fiction, like Ruta Sepetys's upcoming Out of the Easy.

6. 18th & 19th century east coast: I love when historical fiction takes place in old timey cities on the east coast, like Born Wicked and The Vespertine.

7. Really small towns: Books that take place in super small towns always suck me in, like Cryer's Cross (although I ended up not liking that one). Bonus points for one room schoolhouses in modern times.

8. Spaceships: Who doesn't love spaceship settings? I'm looking at you, Across the Universe! Any other spaceship books I need to read?

9. London: London is an awesome setting, historical and modern. I'm thinking Name of the Star.

10. Castles: Castles kind of fascinate me, so if a book were set in a London boarding school that used to be a castle? I would die. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review: Anne of Green Gables

Author: L.M. Montgomery
Publish date: 1908
Source: purchased ebook
"Everyone's favorite redhead, the spunky Anne Shirley, begins her adventures at Green Gables, a farm outside Avonlea, Prince Edward Island. When the freckled girl realizes that the elderly Cuthberts wanted to adopt a boy instead, she begins to try to win them and, consequently, the reader, over." (Goodreads)

So for whatever reason, I never read Anne of Green Gables as a kid. I loved historical fiction, especially the Little House books, but never read this series. When I saw that Elizabeth from Don't Take my Books Away was doing a read-along of the second book, Anne of Avonlea, I knew it would be the perfect motivation for me to start the series. I downloaded the whole series for my kindle and read Green Gables in a few days.

 First of all, I found Anne to be completely charming, if a little annoying, throughout the first 3/4 of the book. I kind of loved how much she talked and babbled because hello, she was eleven years old. Most girls that age are talkers, myself included. I loved how Matthew and Marilla came to love her and basically forget that they ever wanted a boy. Who wouldn't love Anne?

One of the things I particularly enjoyed about Anne of Green Gables was the friendship between Anne and Diana. Their closeness and love for each other really reminded me of my best friend and me. I think Anne and Diana is already one of my favorite friendships from literature and I am looking forward to reading more about them (hopefully).

The setting of Prince Edward Island was another aspect of the book I loved. Historical fiction is awesome in general, but the settings usually are one of my favorite parts. We all know I love anything with the word "island" in it!

So pretty much....I am sad I didn't read Anne of Green Gables as a kid, but so glad I am reading the series now! I am really looking forward to reading the next book in the read-along!

Monday, October 1, 2012

September in Review

Well, I just typed "October in Review" as the title of this post, which should show you how tired I am! I am always wiped out at the beginning of the school, trying to get back into the groove of things and making sure I'm prepared for all my classes. Reading fell to the side a bit, since school has to come first, but I did fall back in love with audiobooks. I listen to them on my sometimes too short commute, while doing chores around home, and often in the morning while getting ready. They are a great way to pass otherwise boring time!

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan (audiobook)
The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George
Burn for Burn by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
Origin by Jessica Khoury
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Top Ten Tuesday
Series I need to finish
Bookish people I want to meet
Fall TBR

My favorite book was probably Gone Girl, even though it COMPLETELY freaked me out and I had to keep reminding myself, this is not my life, my relationship is not like this, this is just a book, etc. That, my friends, is the mark of a good book. I think.

Right now, I am doing my best to actually read what's on my fall TBR list. I have a few on hold at the library from the list and already own one. Usually as soon as I put a book on a list, I don't read it, so I'm doing my best to reverse that habit!

Best book you read in September?