Thursday, July 14, 2016
I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I just love this series of books! This might be the first one to not feature any of the original characters... I mean, they are off having their adult lives now... but we do see glimpses of former friends. Like Jack and Savannah from Racing Savannah and Jeremiah and Annie from Breathe, Annie, Breathe. Oh and we get a little update on Maya from Jesse's Girl too. So, if you've read all of these books, you'll know how fun it is to check in with these characters. If you haven't read the other books - don't worry about it. You probably won't even notice.
So in this book, we've got Taylor. She's super motivated, super studious, and has all the answers that her equally driven family expects of her. But she is far too wrapped up in what she thinks she's supposed to do and want than actually knowing what she wants to do. She has been pushing so hard for a goal that isn't even really hers. Ezra is on his own journey. He has taken a leave of absence from college, which has made him an outcast in his family, while he figures out what he wants to do as well. There's a twist for him though, and Taylor is there to help him work through that. I didn't expect his backstory to be what it was, and I thought it was really well done. The tag line on the cover reads "Is he playing for love or playing her?" and that is so false. Ezra is pretty awesome, generally speaking, and this tag like is completely misleading.
I loved this contemporary romance as I have all of the others. This is one series that stays fresh and interesting!
by Miranda Kenneally
Sourcebooks Fire, 2016
Source: Purchased New
Monday, July 11, 2016
To be honest, I've never really put much thought into the daily ins and outs of a trash collector. I've always respected the profession and know that it is not an easy job by a long shot. I didn't know how dangerous it is though.
The illustrations are Backderf's signature style which kind of reminds me of caricatures. The cover might demonstrate what I mean by that I guess. It is all pen and ink, with some blue coloring. They suit the subject perfectly.
This might be well received by those interested in environmental issues. The author's note at the end lists and describes the reports used to provide the data and statistics he quotes throughout the book, which I appreciated. Overall, this satisfied my curiosity but, yeah. That's about all I can say I guess.
by Derf Backderf
Abrams ComicArts, 2015
Thursday, July 7, 2016
I know I read this years and years ago, I think for school one year, but it had been so long that I didn't remember all of it or the order in which certain things occurred. Therefore, I'm glad I read it again - this time with the Serial Reader app. (It's so handy - I explain it at the beginning of this post).
I know that I didn't remember all the childhood myths and legends, like the charms or incantations, that Tom and crew believed so heavily in. Looking back on my childhood, I remember believing in such to a certain extent - but these boys take it to the next level. I still really love Huck Finn though. Sure, Tom might have been the "brains" but Huck has the heart. It has been 5 years since I last read Huck Finn, but I still think I might prefer his story to this one.
I did appreciate seeing how Tom grows through this book. He is really a brat at the beginning, but he matures enough so at the end, we can see what a great friend he is to Huck. He also seems to appreciate his family a bit more and hopefully stops scaring Aunt Polly half to death every other week.
I do love Twain though, on the whole, and look forward to reading more of his works!
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain
first published 1876
Source: Serial Reader
Monday, July 4, 2016
I was in the mood for a YA contemp romance, and I got it. I thought this might be fun... looking at the cover, it seemed like this could be set in the South or West. Actually, it is set in Upstate New York which kind of surprised me. I mean, I grew up in Upstate New York, I know there are farms there... but still. I ended up getting a kick out of it in the end.
This does end up being a cute romance, kind of exactly what you'd expect, and it was fairly enjoyable. The pace is a little slow, kind of like life on a farm I guess. There was definitely the cliche boy-next-door "problem" that was a little lacking in development, but we don't really care about him anyway. Actually, now that I think about it, all of the secondary characters were pretty flat and inconsequential. The big climactic scene was not exactly a surprise either. OK, so all of this is starting to sound pretty bad and I don't mean it to be. Or at least I didn't mind it as I was reading because I was reading for the love story... and that had its share of happy and cute moments.
OH, and I need to mention... I was initially put off by the character name "Bodhi" because, seriously? Ugh. But, the story behind how he got that name does actually make some sense. So I forgive it now.
A Walk in the Sun
by Michelle Zink
Thursday, June 30, 2016
This really is an adorable middle grade graphic novel all about just how awkward it is to be in middle school. Everything between Peppi and the boy (whose name is Jaime, by the way) is not romantic, or anything like that really. It is all awkward because life just is awkward right then.
When thinking about what I wanted to say about this book, I first thought I'd comment on how "effortlessly" diverse the cast of characters is but I don't know if that is truly correct to say. I have no idea how "effortless" it was on the part of the author and illustrator to write a diverse cast, but I do know that it felt effortless to read it. By that, I mean that it doesn't feel forced or cliche... just normal. And I think that is in itself, awesome. The art in this book is pretty cool too. There is some wonderful manga inspiration going on in these panels. In the endpages, the author also includes a few pages on how she illustrates - step by step - with a sketch gallery of the characters and a couple settings. This will be of great interest to the budding young middle grade artists who might read this. Also - there are twenty hidden "Mr. Raccoon"s hidden throughout the book. Have fun with that!
by Svetlana Chmakova
Yen Press/Hachette, 2015
Monday, June 27, 2016
This book has been on my radar for a while now. I don't even remember how long I've even had it in my possession! But this is a character that will stick with you. She's far from perfect, and does not magically fix all her flaws by the end of the book, but you can feel for her. She is tormented by all the people all around her - even her therapist doesn't seem like much help or support for her. So Angie needs to dig deep and figure out who she can rely on... who she can really trust. There aren't that many people on that list.
The book itself has some issues, especially at the beginning. It starts out a bit shaky and confusing, but the writing gets figured out after a couple short chapters. This kind of coincides with the introduction of KC Romance, the new girl at school. She is not without her own personal baggage, but I really get into the developing relationship between her and Angie. It is kind of like an emotional roller coaster, but you really feel the confusion Angie feels as she is contemplating her own sexuality for the first time. She has zero experience in the love department, so everything is new to her. I did find it a little irritating that she kept describing herself and KC as gay-girl gay though. Very annoying. However, discovering this truth about herself helps build her confidence that benefits her in other ways.
by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo
Candlewick Press, 2013
Source: Purchased New
Thursday, June 23, 2016
I chose A Modest Proposal to be my first subscription, to test out the app. This very short work came in 2 issues. I'll admit that I just swapped out a different Swift title on my Classics Club list to this one. I hadn't read Swift before, and didn't know about this at all!
I'm not even sure what to call this - a novella? A long essay? I don't know, but it certainly makes an impact. Not knowing anything at all about Jonathan Swift, I started to imagine how this piece came into being. I kind of imagine Swift and his buddies down at the pub, complaining or getting vocal about the poverty issue in Ireland over a few pints. And A Modest Proposal was Swift's tongue in cheek solution to the problem - sell the infants of the poor people as food for the rich. The whole tone of the piece is of utmost seriousness, in which he lays out the problem, introduces his solution, and provides several points of support for his solution. The whole thing is ludicrous, even though he makes his point clearly. Check it out if you're looking for something short and very well written but cannot be taken as seriously as it is written. It is a brilliant piece of satire.
A Modest Proposal
by Jonathan Swift
First published 1729
Source: Serial Reader
Monday, June 20, 2016
I just love Ove. He is so frustrating and inflexible but good. All he wants is to follow the rules; order is his jam. He doesn't understand new technologies or new attitudes, but he knows what is right. And this often leads to very amusing circumstances.
Ove reminds us that there are plenty of reasons to keep living, even if it is to make sure that the right thing is done. And no one drives in the residential area where cars are prohibited. Ove slowly opens himself back up to the people and world around him and as is often the case, enriches their lives as much as they enrich his.
Part of the fun of reading this book is that a co-worker was listening to it at the same time. Each morning when we'd get into the library, we'd compare notes on where we were in the story, and what wacky thing just happened. We agreed that it is just a wonderful story with so much heart. And now three more co-workers are waiting to read it! My co-worker is moving on to Backman's other books right away, but I think I'll wait a bit. It's nice to have something waiting on the wings that you know is good.
A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman
Washington Square Press, 2015. First published 2014.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
I adore Morgan Matson. She writes these awesome summer romance books that I practically inhale. Andie is a great character because right off the bat you can see what an organized planner type person she is who is subsequently rocked right off her rails. She is very independent too, and has a great bond with her best friends who are all great characters.
In many YA books, the parent is largely absent. However here, the absent parent is thrust back into the fold and it creates an interesting dynamic. Dad turns out to be more fun than I expected, and keeps a few tricks up his sleeve. Their relationship is a fun one to watch play out.
There is one kind of big cliche in this book, but I forgive Morgan Matson everything because the way it works out is not cliche at all. It's fairly realistic and open to possibility and I really liked that. Also, the ending was a clear send up to one of my favorite scenes in a rom-com which I loved and didn't at the same time. Still a little conflicted on that... but it is a secondary theme throughout the book, so I'm working on that myself.
Oh, and can I just say, that I completely forgot that this book is taking place in the same town that Matson's previous books did? I was reading a description of the hang-out place and kept thinking that it sounded really familiar.... until I smacked myself on the forehead and realized it was because it was familiar! Maybe I need to do a little rereading....
Great relationship book - relationship between friends, family, and a new romance.
The Unexpected Everything
by Morgan Matson
Simon & Schuster, 2016