Top Ten Tuesday: All About Audio Freebie

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

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Top Ten Favorite Podcasts

I’m a really big fan of podcasts, and I’m really glad this week is an audio freebie, because I knew this would be the perfect time to talk about some of my favorites.  I listen to a lot of podcasts, and picking 10 was really hard!  I know I’ve mentioned most of them before, but I think they’re definitely worth checking out.  All links will take you to the podcast website- except Dear Hank And John, that one goes to a general website for the both of them.

  1. Lore.  It’s a different story every week, and it’s based on a real life story.  I’ve never heard of a lot of the stories that he tells, but they’re all really interesting to listen to.
  2. Welcome To Night Vale.  I am a huge fan of Night Vale, and it’s weird and delightful, and I look forward to every new episode.  They also have a couple of other podcasts now, and I really like Alice Isn’t Dead, but I’m not sure about Within The Wires yet.
  3. Greetings From Nowhere.  It’s random and funny and they have some really interesting conversations.
  4. The Nerdist Podcast.  I only listen to some of the episodes released, but the interviews are always interesting and funny.
  5. The Black Tapes/Tanis.  They’re both done by the same people, so I figured I’d talk about them together. They’re done in the style of Serial (which you can check out here, it’s completely awesome and fascinating), and I love listening to both.  But not at night, because both can be really creepy, and I ended up getting a little freaked out.
  6. Dear Hank And John.  It’s John Green and his brother Hank giving out dubious advice, and it’s hilarious.
  7. The History Chicks.  It’s the only history podcast I’ve been able to get into, but I did come across a few others on iTunes that I still need to listen to.  It’s two women talking about different women in history (and they occasionally do a fictional character, which is always fun), and I love that they include movies, websites and books about the different women they talk about.  They definitely put a lot of work into it.
  8. Gilmore Guys.  I haven’t listened to this one in ages, so I have 20+ episodes I still need/want to listen to but it’s entertaining and a really good recap of Gilmore Girls.
  9. The Grapes Of Rad.  It’s fun to listen to and it’s random and weird and I’m not completely sure I love it so much, but I do.
  10. Overthinking It.  If you like pop culture, this is a really good podcast to listen to.  They talk about movies and t.v. shows and a variety of other topics.  I have to admit that I don’t listen to every single episode- it sort of depends on whether I’m interesting in the topic of the week, but it’s always an interesting listen.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten ALL-TIME Favorite YA Contemporary Books

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

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Top Ten ALL-TIME Favorite YA Contemporary Books

I love YA Contemporary so much.  It’s one of all-time favorite genres, and it’s going to be hard narrowing it down, because there are so many books in this genre that I love.  Clicking on the titles will take you to Goodreads!

TTT 10 Fav YA Contemporary Books

  1. Hate List by Jennifer Brown.  I haven’t talked about this one in a long time, and it’s also been a while since I’ve read it.  I cried- a lot- but there were times where I could relate to Valerie a lot.
  2. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales.  I loved seeing Elise find something she loved, and even more, I loved seeing her start over.
  3. Lovely, Dark And Deep by Amy McNamara.  This book is beautiful and poetic and I was still crying for a good 5 minutes after finishing the book.
  4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  I related to Cath so much, and the book described my life as a Harry Potter fan disturbingly well.
  5. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han.  I love the entire series, but I have a soft spot for the first book. Partly because it’s why I love the series so much, but it made me feel so nostalgic for summer and growing up.
  6. The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.  It made me laugh and cry and it is such a great look at how people deal with loss and grief.  It’s hard not to love this book.
  7. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone.  This is one of my favorites, because not only do we see a girl who is dealing with OCD, but we see her in treatment for it, which seems really rare in YA.
  8. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick.  I am reminded of how long it’s been since I’ve read this book, so maybe I’ll end up re-reading it soon.  But it’s the perfect summer book, and I just love the Garrett family.
  9. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.  I cannot read this book without crying (and it seems to get worse every single time I do), but I love it anyway.  And if I know I need a good cry, this is one of my go-to books.
  10. Me Since You by Laura Weiss.  It’s amazing how much one decision can change everything, and this book is proof of that.  My heart broke for Rowan.
  11. Basically anything by Laurie Halse Anderson.  I can’t pick just one, because her books so amazing, but I love reading her books.  As far as I’m concerned, her books are YA classics (especially Speak).
  12. Stephanie Perkins.  Okay, so maybe she’s a person, but there is no way I’m picking between Isla and Anna.  I refuse to do it.  I absolutely refuse, and she is an author who can do no wrong.
  13. Jessi Kirby.  I’ve loved Jessi Kirby ever since I read In Honor, and I’ve been a huge fan since.  I really love her books.

Book Review: The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent

The Stars Never Rise CoverBook: The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent

Published June 2015 by Delacorte Press|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: The Stars Never Rise #1

Genre: YA Dystopia/Paranormal

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Sixteen-year-old Nina Kane should be worrying about her immortal soul, but she’s too busy trying to actually survive. Her town’s population has been decimated by soul-consuming demons, and souls are in short supply. Watching over her younger sister, Mellie, and scraping together food and money are all that matters. The two of them are a family. They gave up on their deadbeat mom a long time ago.

When Nina discovers that Mellie is keeping a secret that threatens their very existence, she’ll do anything to protect her. Because in New Temperance, sins are prosecuted as crimes by the brutal Church and its army of black-robed exorcists. And Mellie’s sin has put her in serious trouble.

To keep them both alive, Nina will need to trust Finn, a fugitive with deep green eyes who has already saved her life once and who might just be an exorcist. But what kind of exorcist wears a hoodie?

Wanted by the Church and hunted by dark forces, Nina knows she can’t survive on her own. She needs Finn and his group of rogue friends just as much as they need her.

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I really liked The Stars Never Rise!  I’ve only read her Soul Screamers series, which I really liked, and now I’m kicking myself for not picking up another one of her books.

This is a very interesting world- one where there was a war against demons, and now, the Church is in charge of everything, because they are the only ones who can do anything against the demons.  I assumed the Church to be the Catholic church, partially because some of it seemed either really similar or exactly the same, and partially because they’re the only ones with enough power to basically function as a government.

Some of the reveals aren’t surprising, but there were a couple that had me a little surprised.  The Stars Never Rise definitely made me want to keep reading.  It’s action-packed but there were some funny moments, and I really liked the relationship Nina and Mellie had.  I felt for Nina, who was the one looking out for Mellie and making sure Mellie was okay.  It’s a lot of responsibility, but it seemed liked Nina did the best she could.  She wasn’t perfect, of course, and I doubt she could have stopped Mellie, but it seemed liked she tried.

I’m not sure how I feel about the romance- it’s different, and I like Finn, but…I don’t know.  I haven’t completely warmed up to it.  Maybe in the next book?

Speaking of the next book…I like that things are pretty resolved in this book, and yet, you’re left with the sense that the story isn’t over, and there is more of this world that we need to see and explore.  I feel like the sequel is going to add to the world.  Or at least, I hope it does.

I am curious about how demons came to be in this world, and what led to the war and the Church coming into power.  I don’t recall it being explained, and I’m hoping it’s something we see in the sequel, mostly because I’m curious.  I’m fine with the fact that we know it happened, but I guess I want more specifics.

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4 stars.  The Stars Never Rise definitely kept me reading, but I do want to know more about the demons.

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall T.V. Freebie

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

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Top Ten Favorite Shows

I talk about books a lot- of course I do, but I also like watching t.v. (a lot), so in honor of fall t.v., I’m talking about my ten favorite t.v. shows.  Recommendations are also good, I’ll give anything a try, and it doesn’t even have to be similar to the shows on my list (although that would be helpful but not necessary).

  1. Basically anything by Shonda Rhimes.  Scandal is super-dramatic, you never know what’s going to happen on How To Get Away With Murder, and I love Grey’s Anatomy so much it isn’t even funny.
  2. Once Upon A Time.  I love this weird take on fairy tales/Disney characters- which is pretty much what happens when the guys behind Lost decide to do a show about fairy tales.
  3. The 100.  I have a really good friend who loves this show, and I basically started watching it so I would know what she was talking about, because she loves it so much.  And then I got hooked, and the new season needs to start now.
  4. Walking Dead.  I’ve never read the comics, but I love the show, and you never know what’s going on.
  5. Gilmore Girls.  I’m looking forward to the revival SO MUCH, and it’ll be nice to see what’s going on in the lives of the Gilmore Girls.  I’m sad that Edward Herrmann won’t get to be a part of the revival, because it won’t be the same without him.
  6. NCIS.  I can’t help it, I just love it.  I’m curious to see what the show is going to be like now that the character of DiNozzo is gone, speaking of which, I still haven’t seen the last couple of episodes of the last season, so I should probably catch up on them before the new season starts.
  7. Reign.  I know it’s not the most historical accurate show, but it’s dramatic and entertaining, and I’m enough of a history nerd, especially where Tudor history is concerned, that at some point, I’ll probably actually getting around to reading the shelf of books I have about the time period.
  8. Sleepy Hollow.  It’s Ichabod Crane meets the apocalypse!  And I can’t wait for season 4, especially with how things ended for a particular character.  That took me off guard, and had the show been cancelled, it would have been a good ending point for the show.  But since it’s coming back for a 4th season, I want to know how the show is going to go forward.
  9. Blacklist.  I tend to watch this show on Hulu, but I’m a season behind since it wasn’t airing on Hulu for some reason.  It’s still good, though, and I really recommend it, especially because James Spader is amazing on this show.
  10. iZombie.  I watched the 1st season on Netflix recently, and I’ll definitely be watching when it comes back on!

Book Review: Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit COverBook: Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

Published August 1997 (originally published 1985) by Grove Press|176 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Fiction

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Winner of the Whitbread Prize for best first fiction, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a coming-out novel from Winterson, the acclaimed author of The Passion and Sexing the Cherry. The narrator, Jeanette, cuts her teeth on the knowledge that she is one of God’s elect, but as this budding evangelical comes of age, and comes to terms with her preference for her own sex, the peculiar balance of her God-fearing household crumbles.

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Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit is definitely not the book for me.  It was a hard book to relate to, and I feel like there’s a lot that went over my head.

I definitely hard a hard time relating to Jeanette, and even though we see her over the span of several years, it was really easy to forget that it takes place over several years.  I really struggled with it, and the fairy tales and Bible stories didn’t work for me.  Those felt a little bit preachy to me, and some of the more Biblical stuff went over my head.  Maybe being more familiar with that would have helped.

Even though the book was short, it was really hard to keep going- it didn’t catch my interest at all, as much as I wanted it to.  The writing style was interesting, but not my cup of tea.  I did feel like the title went well with what the book is about, though.  Just like oranges aren’t the only fruit, there isn’t one way to live.

I can see why people really like it, even though I thought it was okay.  Something about Oranges seemed really old to me, but that might be due to the book originally being published in 1985, and it seems so far removed from anything I’ve ever known.  I think that might be part of why I had a hard time with it, because, for me, it did not age well, and seemed a little bit dated.

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2 stars.  I can sort of see why people like it, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.

Book Review Round-Up: Burn Out, The Shadow Queen And This Savage Song

I’ve read quite a few books recently, so I thought I’d do some shorter reviews about some of them!

Burn Out CoverBook #1: Burn Out by Kristi Helvig

Published April 2015 by EgmontUSA|288 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: Burn Out #1

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Post-Apocalyptic

What It’s About: New in paperback! A science fiction tale of survival full of action, adventure, and intrigue. Perfect for fans of Beth Revis’s Across the Universe and Lenore Appelhans’s The Memory of After.

Some people want to save the world. Seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds just wants to stay alive long enough to escape it. Now that the sun’s become a “red giant,” burning out far faster than scientists could ever have predicted, Earth is barely habitable and almost everyone is gone.

Holed up in an underground shelter, Tora’s only comforts are her dreams of a planet with a plentiful water supply and the bio-energetic weapons her father lost his life for. The ones that only she can fire.

When family friend Markus arrives with mercenaries to take her weapons by force, Tora must decide if trading the guns for safe passage to a new livable planet is worth the price of betraying her father’s wishes. But when she discovers the government’s true motives, her bargaining chip may be nothing more than smoke.

Burn Out combines high-stakes action, adventure, and a hint of romance in a thrilling science fiction debut.

What I Thought: I liked Burn Out!  I thought the idea of an asteroid hitting the sun, causing the sun to burn out at some point in the future to be really interesting, and different, as far as post-apocalyptic novels go.

I thought Tora to be an interesting, but semi-unreliable character.  She has her suspicions about what happened to her father, but as a reader, I was never completely sure about what happened to him, or to Tora’s mother or sister. We only get glimpses of them and the Consulate that’s now in charge, plus there are some untrustworthy characters we meet along the way.  It’s hard to know who to trust, and what’s really going on because you’re never sure who’s telling the truth or who’s lying.  And she seems to be the only female on earth, but as it turns out, there is another survivor, which makes me wonder if there are other people still on Earth, or if everyone else really has left.

I really liked the characters, though, and Tora’s pretty tough.  I also have so many questions about the other characters, and they are a big mystery to me.  What they really up to?

I can’t speak to the accuracy of the science we see in the book, and as someone who doesn’t know, well, much of anything about science…I was going to say it seemed plausible enough, but now I’m not sure.  I do get the comparison to Across The Universe, but having never read The Memory Of After, I’m not sure how it compares to that book.

My Rating: 3 stars.  I liked it enough to read the sequel, but I didn’t love it.  It did end a little abruptly, and I’m hoping the next one doesn’t end that way.

The Shadow Queen CoverBook #2: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

Published February 2016 by Balzer+ Bray|387 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Ravenspire #1

Genre: YA Fantasy/Fairy Tale Re-Telling

What It’s About: Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

What I Thought: The Shadow Queen seemed right up my alley- I do like fairy tale re-tellings, but this one was just okay.  I liked the idea of a dragon huntsman, and the use of magic to help out neighboring kingdoms.  And the magic that Irina used to make the kingdom hers, even though it clearly wasn’t.  I had a hard time getting into it, though, because I feel like I’ve read this story before.  It just wasn’t different enough to make it stand out against other books in the genre, and I’ve read my share of fantasy/fairy tale re-tellings.  I think people might like it, but it wasn’t for me.

I did like Kol, but not as a love interest for Lorelei.  I think they’re better off as allies, and they didn’t work as a couple for me.  I thought they had no chemistry, and I had a really hard time believing in their romance.  I didn’t care for Lorelei, and even though I felt for her, something about her character fell flat for me.

My Rating: 2 stars.  This one wasn’t for me, but I did like the idea of a dragon huntsman.

This Savage Song CoverBook #3: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Published July 2016 by Greenwillow Books|427 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Monsters Of Verity #1

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/Horror

What It’s About: There’s no such thing as safe.

Kate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father. After five years and six boarding schools, she’s finally going home to prove that she can be.

August Flynn wants to be human. But he isn’t. He’s a monster, one that can steal souls with a song. He’s one of the three most powerful monsters in a city overrun with them. His own father’s secret weapon.

Their city is divided.

Their city is crumbling.

Kate and August are the only two who see both sides, the only two who could do something.

But how do you decide to be a hero or a villain when it’s hard to tell which is which?

What I Thought: I’ve heard a lot of really good things about This Savage Song, and I know it’s received a lot of rave reviews, but unfortunately, this book wasn’t for me.

I thought the world-building was really confusing and not very clear.  I knew there were monsters and they were born from really horrible things, but for me, the book made that concept seem a lot more confusing than it really was.  And the differences between the different kinds of monsters was also really confusing.   I wasn’t sure what the differences between them were, and it seemed like they were different, but it wasn’t really explained how they came to be or how they were different.

And the city of Verity, and it being closed off also seemed really confusing.  Sometimes, it seemed like the things going on in Verity were happening elsewhere around the country.  Other times, it seemed like Verity was the only city affected.  I ended up feeling really confused about it, because the history and how Verity got to that point wasn’t explained very clearly.  Not that we get much, because we don’t.  It’s hard to tell how much backstory there is on Verity and the monsters, because I thought the things we do get were confusing and not explained well.

I didn’t like Kate at all, and she seemed to be intentionally horrible and destructive- she seems to act that way to get attention and prove she’s like her father.  She sets a school on fire because she didn’t want to be there, and I wouldn’t have minded it, except it seemed random and for no reason.  As much as I know that people do act that way for no apparent reason, I also wanted something more from her.

As for August, I didn’t really care for him either.  He’s very much a tortured soul that’s supposed to be poetic and romantic and swoon-worthy, but in his case, it was just unappealing and annoying.  They live in a bleak world, but I wanted something more from them.  Maybe some hope or something?  I’m not really sure, but something was missing from both of them.  Maybe it’s because of the world they live in, which is really dark and hopeless and not a world I’d want to live in.

My Rating: 2 stars.  It’s definitely not for me, but I can sort of see why people love the book.

Currently Obsessed With: August 2016

Currently Obsessed With is a once-a-month (but sometimes more) feature where I talk about my favorite things from the last month.

Currently Obsessed With

Let’s took a look at what happened last month!

Crochet/Crafts:

August was a little bit of a crafty month for me!

I made my own Harry Potter wand…and as much as I love Harry Potter, this is my first wand.  It’s not fancy at all, but it did the trick for a Harry Potter party I went to.  I followed this tutorial, and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be.  I used knitting needles, because I, for some bizarre reason, have knitting needles.  It makes no sense, considering I don’t knit, but at least I put them to good use.  I ending up making two, because I have no use for two, much less one.

August 2016- HP Wands

I did, however, learn that it’s important to read the directions on the bottles of paint.  When you need a wand for the next day, it’s probably a good idea to NOT BUY PAINT THAT NEEDS 7 DAYS TO AIR CURE.  Because that’s what I ended up doing…and as I didn’t have 7 days, I found myself making a trip to Wal-Mart.  Mostly because by that point, Michael’s was closed and Wal-Mart is open 24 hours.  I definitely made sure I got some fast-drying paint. They turned out pretty well, all things considered.  And now I want to do more crafts.  As much as I love crochet, I think I want to branch out a little.  I’m open to suggestions!

I didn’t do a lot of crocheting last month, mostly because I haven’t been in a crocheting mood.  The only thing I really want to work on is my blanket, and it’s still too hot for that.  Maybe in another month or two, I’ll be able to work on it again.

Books:

I didn’t buy a lot of books this month- just The Beauty Of Darkness, which I also got signed!  I particularly liked this post about the signing event, which goes into a lot more detail about some of the questions she was asked.

Book Signing- The Beauty Of Darkness

As for my Audible pick, I got Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel.  I feel like I’ve seen it mentioned before, and I tried reading it in print, but that didn’t work for me, so I figured I’d go for the audio.  I have a feeling it’s going to work better as a audio book for me.

T.V./Movies:

I did not see Suicide Squad, mostly because I somehow forgot, and then when I remembered, I got lazy.  So there was no movie-going in August but maybe I’ll get to see something this month!

I finished Royal Pains, which I really liked.  I also watched Stranger Things in one day, which wasn’t hard, since there’s only 1 season, and it has only 8 episodes.  I kind of want to re-watch it already because it is sooooo good! I also started watching The Ghost Whisperer, because it seemed to be the only thing I was in the mood for.

I also watched the Olympics.  Well, some of it.  Normally, I watch as much of it as I can, but for some reason, I didn’t really do that this year, which is weird for me.

Around The Internet:

I really like this post about periods in YA.

This post about romance as a genre was really nice to read.  Also: historical hangover cures.  It’s an interesting read, and it’s not something I thought about before.

Why YA Needs Quitters.  This blog post makes some really good points.

Why Romance Readers Love Reading Digitally.  I only read romance very sporadically, but I can relate to a lot of the points listed.

The Differences Between Sex & Violence In YA.  I’m not a parent, but I thought it was an interesting post, and there’s a lot that I don’t think about because I’m not a parent.

Speaking of parenting, these picture books would make some great gifts for parents.

Now I want to re-read The Baby-Sitters Club.  It makes me wish I had held onto my old BSC and Sweet Valley books.

I made banana bread!  King Arthur Flour never lets me down.

I wholeheartedly agree with this list of things you should not say to romance readers.

I think quiet/underestimated characters are important, but they get overlooked a lot.

I also have a lot of chicken in the freezer, so I made Maple Dijon Chicken Thighs and Baked Crispy Chicken Thighs. It’s a good thing I like chicken.

Things That Happened In August:

  • The Beauty Of Darkness book signing.  I already mentioned it, but it was fun to go to, and I love hearing authors talk about their book and their writing process.
  • The Harry Potter Party!  There was a lot of Harry Potter-related awesomeness for a while there, and this party was a good way to end it.  It was super-relaxed and super-crafty, and now I have some cool crafts in my room. And there’s nothing like watching Harry Potter with other HP fans.

Things I’m Looking Forward To In September:

  • The people behind Welcome To Night Vale are coming to San Diego to sign the two new Night Vale books!  The scripts from the first couple of years are being released in book form, along with illustrations and behind-the-scenes stuff, and I’m looking forward to going, because I am a huge Night Vale fan.
  • Getting ready for NaNoWriMo.  Which isn’t until November, but I have a few ideas in mind, and I’m not sure what I’m writing yet.  I definitely need to start outlining those projects, and I’m hoping I won’t be too lazy to actually do it.  I might have to go to the library, since I seem to get a lot of work done there.

Music:

  • River by Bishop Briggs.  I cannot stop listening to this song.



  • Castle by Halsey.  This is another one I’ve been listening to a lot.  There’s something haunting about the song.

That’s all for today!  I hope today is a good one for everyone!

Book Review Round-Up: Saints And Dream Chaser

I’ve read quite a few books lately, and thought I’d do several short reviews of some of them!

Saints CoverBook #1: Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Published September 2013 by First Second|170 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: Boxers & Saints #2

Genre: YA Graphic Novel/Historical Fiction

What It’s About: China, 1898. An unwanted and unwelcome fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn’t even given a proper name by her family when she’s born. She finds friendship–and a name, Vibiana–in the most unlikely of places: Christianity.

But China is a dangerous place for Christians. The Boxer Rebellion is in full swing, and bands of young men roam the countryside, murdering Westerners and Chinese Christians alike. Torn between her nation and her Christian friends, Vibiana will have to decide where her true loyalties lie…and whether she is willing to die for her faith.

What I Thought: This is another one I’m not sure about.  I like the idea of history being told in the form of a graphic novel, because it’s definitely different, and it’s an interesting way to see what actually happened.

However, I was sort of confused about what was going on.  The Boxer Rebellion sounds really familiar, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was.  It wasn’t until after I read the book that I realized it was the 2nd book in a series.  I think you can still understand what’s going on, and I don’t know that Boxers, the first one, will necessarily explain the events of the 2nd, but for now, I kind of wish that I had read it in order.

I did like Four-Girl, and I felt really bad for her, having no name.  I did like that she found friendship and a name in a very unlikely place, and that she realized she had a purpose in life.

My Rating: 3 stars.  I like the idea of history being told in a graphic novel, but I also wish I had read Boxers first, because I did feel a little confused about what was going on.

Dream Chaser CoverBook #2: Dream Chaser by Angie Stanton

Self-Published by Angie Stanton in December 2011|323 pages

Where I Got It: A copy of the paperback was given to me

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

What It’s About: Willow Thomas has a bad habit of running away from things that scare her. And most recently, she quit her high school cheerleading squad after a terrifying fall. With time on her hands, she auditions for a musical production directed by a Broadway choreographer. Just as things are looking up, Willow discovers she will be performing opposite Eli McAvoy, the best friend she abandoned three years before. To make matters worse, the kids in the musical hate her, her singing sucks, and her dog is sick. Eli has grown up during their years apart and now possesses confidence and good looks, as well as a giant chip on his shoulder. He is in no hurry to play nice with Willow, but their entwined roles in the musical lead to entwined bodies in the backseat of his car. Just when Willow finally has her life under control, another surprise is delivered in the form of her greatest challenge yet. Will she run or finally stand and face her fears? And will Eli be there to help or turn his back on her for good?

What I Thought: Dream Chaser was really cute!  I needed some cute and fluffy and light, and this book was definitely what I was looking for.  I really liked Willow, and I don’t blame her for being scared after the cheerleading accident- I would be too, if I were her.  I felt like her best friend was really shallow, and while I get that she wanted Willow to at least think about going back to cheerleading, I also thought she could have been more understanding of what happened to Willow.

Willow does run away/quit things when she gets scared, and I think that made her really easy to relate to.  I like that she does face her fears in the end, and I think she grows a little bit throughout the book, because she finally realizes the consequences of not facing her fears.  I find her choice between dance and cheer interesting, and it seems like a lot of it had to do with fear and losing people, but I wonder if maybe there was something else too.  Eli and Willow are great together, and I wish there was a sequel, because I really want to know what lies ahead for both of them.

My Rating: 4 stars.  It’s cute and sweet, and I loved that it was about dance and theater…and why do I not read more books about the performing arts?  I always end up really liking them!  It was predictable, but I didn’t care, because I really liked Willow and seeing her change.

Top Ten Tuesday School Freebie: Ten Books I’d Have On My Shelf If I Were A History Teacher

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

Blog Graphic- Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Books I’d Have On My Shelf If I Were A History Teacher

This week is a back-to-school freebie, so we get to pick a school-related topic.  I’ve been wanting to read more history lately, and I’d like to think I’d be that teacher who uses historical fiction to teach history.  These are the books that I’d have on my shelf if I were a history teacher.

TTT 10 History Books I'd Have In My Classroom

  1. Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein.  She’s a good choice if you want to know more about female pilots during World War 2.
  2. Prisoner Of Night And Fog by Anne Blankman.  What I like about this duology is that it focuses on what it was like to be part of Hitler’s inner circle, and I think that could be interesting contrast to Elizabeth Wein’s books, especially because it’s about Hitler’s rise to power.
  3. Between Shades Of Grey and Out Of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys.  Between Shades Of Grey, for a unit on World War 2, but also Out Of The Easy…I don’t know how I’d fit that in to an actual lesson, but it might be good to have on the bookshelf.
  4. And I Darken by Kiersten White.  Because it’s about the Ottoman Empire, and that would be cool for a few different history classes.
  5. A Mad Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller.  It’s all about the suffragettes in London in 1909, and a good book to include in a lesson on the right to vote for women.
  6. A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier.  I don’t think the Spanish Flu pandemic really came up in school (but then again, I’m a little fuzzy on that), so this book would be an interesting look at that.
  7. A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury.  I didn’t even know that the Partition of India was an actual event until I read this book, and that is why it would be on my shelf if I were a history teacher.
  8. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley.  This book is perfect if you’re talking about civil rights.
  9. Crow by Barbara Wright.  I didn’t know that there were race riots in Wilmington in 1898, and this is something I’d want in my history classroom.
  10. Under A Painted Sky by Stacey Lee.  If you want to talk about The Oregon Trail, I think this book is a pretty good book to have around.

Book Review: Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

Yaqui Delgado CoverBook: Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

Published March 2013 by Candlewick|272 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Blog Graphic-What It's About

In Meg Medina’s compelling new novel, a Latina teen is targeted by a bully at her new school — and must discover resources she never knew she had.

One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I’m not sure how I feel about Yaqui Delgado.  I really liked Piddy, and she’s such a great character. She has to deal with bullying- from a girl she doesn’t even know, and it’s hard for her to deal with it, to the point that she starts skipping school, and eventually has to change schools, because she has no other option.  Well, she does, but for Piddy, it’s her best option.  I did like that her mom and her mom’s best friend (Lila) were around a lot in the book, which is pretty rare in YA.  Still, we don’t see Piddy really hang out with anyone her own age- she spends a lot of time with Lila, and there is a guy for part of the book, but it seemed a little strange to me.

I couldn’t quite connect with her fear of Yaqui, even after one really big moment with her.  I think part of it is that Piddy and Yaqui didn’t even know each other, and it’s hard for me to understand how Yaqui could decide that Piddy was her target, no matter how hard I tried to understand it.  I did get her anger with her mother, but I also understand why her mother kept things about her dad from her.  Unfortunately, it’s something I could relate to. I think I felt like I was told how Piddy felt, but I never completely FELT it, particularly where Yaqui was concerned.

The book definitely needed more where Yaqui was concerned, and I wish we had more of her story, because her wanting to kick Piddy’s ass was random and out of nowhere.  Even though the book is very much about the effect it has on Piddy, I think it focused a little too much on bullying, to the point that other things weren’t as developed as they could have been.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

3 stars.  I did like the community that Piddy has, and I felt for her, because she had some things going on, but it wasn’t completely there for me.