Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers (audiobook) by Louise Rennison

“What in the name of Beelzebub’s stamp collection are you on about?”

Synopsis from GoodreadsHilariously funny author Louise Rennison’s fabby sixth book of the confessions of crazy but lovable teenager Georgia Nicolson. Guaranteed to have the nation laughing their knickers off! Laugh your socks off at Georgia’s tales from her trip to Hamburger-a-gogo land, and her attempts to entice Masimo, the Italian stallion. Can Georgia become the composed sex-kitten she aspires to be!? Surely not!

Feelings: Once again, I chose the audiobook. I’m just finding it to be more enjoyable! 

I have to say…I’m getting “over” wanting Georgia to mature. She’s experiencing some very real realities of growing up (as well as some really extreme and weird situations.) When I decided to stop analyzing these books like they’re classic literature, I found myself really…finally enjoying the story. It’s like I’m really starting to get it: the appeal and draw of Georgia. And I’m a fan. 

Issues: I think the only part of this story that I had an issue with was when Robbie showed back up again. It seemed like we were headed towards two other love interests, but then the Sex God poked his head back in and reminded Georgia he existed. So now she’s got 3 guys in her life and a lot of feelings to navigate through. I don’t know…I guess this is a stretch for “issue”…it’s more like a personal annoyance. 

Characters: In both this book and the one before it, I found myself enjoying Georgia much more. I thought it was really funny how while planning out her trip to America, she thinks it should be simple to get from Memphis to Manhattan so she can track down Massimo. There are multiple problems there, but her teenage girl mind doesn’t see them. I was also really happy to see her having a very real moment with her mom and actually enjoying herself! Hoping mom’s advice plays out in Georgia’s favor!

We started to see a different side to Jas when she and Tom decided to take a break, but she was almost unrecognizable in this book. She was so down in the dumps! But then she started to come out of it, but I’m glad she experienced this. It’s good for her. 

Narrator: If you missed my review of book five in this series, I talked about how the audio books are narrated by the author, Louise Rennison, and it makes ALL the difference. Obviously, nobody understands her characters the way she does so she hits everything on the head. In this book, she does some American accents and it’s pretty hilarious.

Final thoughts: Again, I’d recommend the audio versions of these books. They’re just really fun and enjoyable. However, the print copies of these books are still good reads. The style it’s written in makes it easy to read. As for Georgia herself, I’m enjoying her more and more and I’m ready to continue on with her adventures…which is good because we’re only halfway through!

 

Goodreads rating: 4.09/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.1/5

My rating: 4/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Top 5 Books from the Year this Blog Began

The year was 2015… Okay, I’m not going to actually start this post THAT dramatically. Lately, it’s been hard to meet my self-imposed blog schedule. Life has happened, reading slumps have been all the rage, and I just haven’t wanted any kind of schedule going on in my life. You know?

So, I started to reflect on how consistent my posts have been for the last two years and I have to say, I’m proud of myself! There have only been a few times in two years that I’ve missed scheduling a post. Only a few times! I decided that for this week’s Thursday list, I would go back to the year I started and struggled to establish a routine, looking back at the books I loved most that year. I started writing during June, so I’m going to look at that first full year, from June to June.

For each book, I’ve linked my written to review to the word “reviewed”, as well as the Goodreads page to the book’s title.

On June 14, 2015, I reviewed A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas.

I gave this book a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars and I stand by that even today. I’m a big fan of Maas. Granted, I haven’t read the third book in this series yet. Mostly because I’ve heard mixed reviews and I’m scared to throw off how much I love this series! This first book really set up the world they live in and established the magic system. The second book took both those foundations and blew them up (in a good way). One thing I remember about reading this book is how I read it: I was completely engrossed. Pulled in by Maas’ world building and characters and I didn’t want to leave. Those are my favorite kinds of stories, especially with fantasy.

On October 13, 2015, I reviewed Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery.

I gave this book a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. You guys, I’d never read this book until October 2015! My mother is probably ashamed because Anne Shirley is her favorite. I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate these kinds of stories. Since 2015, I’ve not only read this book but I’ve also listened to the audiobook…twice. One was narrated by Mary Sarah, the “classic” audiobook, and the second was the one narrated by Rachel McAdams. I love everything about this story, from Anne to Gilbert to Marilla to Matthew and everyone in between.

On February 16, 2016, I reviewed Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys.

I gave this book a rating of 5 stars. Even today, it’s one of my favorites and the author is a “go to” writer for me. She writes something, I’m reading it. Sepetys does historical fiction brilliantly. You can tell on every page that she has researched the time period, the people, and the events she’s writing about. I even read her author’s notes at the ends of her books because they’re so fascinating. Salt to the Sea taught me about the Lithuanian experience during WWII, as well as the tragedy that was the ship Wilhelm Gustloff. This is a story that I recommend to my students every year, as well.

On March 1, 2016, I reviewed Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

I gave this book a rating of 4.75 out of 5 stars. What a thrilling ride this book took me on! The way the story was written is really fascinating and, I think, groundbreaking. As you flip through the pages, you see diary entries, IM chats, ship logs, security camera footage, and much more. The story comes to life and it’s totally gripping. It can be hard to figure out what’s going on at first because page 1 just jumps right into a lot of action, but I PROMISE it’s worth it. Even if you aren’t typically a science fiction fan, you’ll enjoy it.

On May 10, 2016, I reviewed Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan.

I gave this book 4.75 out of 5 stars. This is another book that has a bit of a different writing style. The very beginning gives us a new fairy tale, setting a stage that we’re not sure about. Then we get three shorter novels, essentially, with different settings, characters, and conflicts. (I say “shorter novels” because they’re longer than short stories, but shorter than novels. They’re fully developed stories…weird to categorize.) The stories are all connected by a magical harmonica. (Don’t let me lose you there. It’s not like a flying, talking, juggling musical instrument kind of situation.) I found this novel to be really beautiful and full of historical implications and human realities.

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Keep the Home Fires Burning, Part One by S. Block

Synopsis from Goodreads1940, Great Paxford, Cheshire. In Britain’s darkest hour, an extraordinary community of women strive to protect the Home Front. When a plane crashes in the village, every one of their lives will change forever . . . The women of Great Paxford are no strangers to hardship and the extraordinary power of what women can achieve when they work together. But the most testing moment of their lives so far is hurtling toward them. Can Frances, Sarah, Pat, Steph and the women of the WI survive their greatest challenge yet?

Feelings: I am SO EXCITED about this, friends. This is part one in a new four part series of ebooks that will be published one per month from July-October. In October, you’ll be able to purchase the four parts together as one novel. This series picks up after the TV series Home Fires ended. If you’re unfamiliar with this series, you need to stop reading this blog and go binge watch it. Go now! I’m obsessed with it. Unfortunately, the final season was left on a HUGE cliffhanger because they were anticipating another season…but then they got canceled. So our story gets to continue in written form – yes!

This particular book starts literally at where the show left off and relays to us the scene we remember. Then we backtrack, setting it up, which is good if you haven’t seen the episode in a while or if you’ve never seen it at all. In fact, I’d say that more than a third of this book is spent giving us back story. I didn’t mind it that much because it was helpful to remember who everyone was, but I also knew that this was just the beginning of this four part story. So there’s plenty of upcoming pages for new things to happen!

Issues: There’s one character, Annie, that I remember not really liking in the series and that feeling continues in this book. She’s fine on her own, I just don’t like how she’s starting to confuse Teresa and make her question her decision to marry Nick. Teresa has committed to him, so I need Annie to back off a little bit. T’s got her own issues and doubts without Annie adding more.

The way it was written makes sense to me, but nothing really actually happened since where the series ended. This book was just kind of setting the stage and leaning into the next book. I get it and I think it was necessary, but again…it made it where nothing new took place.

Characters: Because of the way Block backtracked in most of this book, we didn’t get any real character development just yet. However, there are some new changes that’ll impact the characters in the very near future. Most likely what I’ll do for each installment is focus on a few characters. This story has a large cast, so covering all of them would take a lot of space!

Joyce – Oh, Mrs. Cameron. I didn’t care for her when the TV series started, but she really grew on me. I loved how she went off with Miriam and the others when M started going into labor. She’s really taking on a new role in their community, really being part of their lives. I’m also really grateful that Pat and Bob are living with her for the time being. Pat needs someone to lean on other than her jerk husband. But Joyce’s fawning over Bob needs to stop. I’m hoping Pat will open up to her so that she sees Bob for who he really is.

Sarah – She was a character that I couldn’t quite figure out and the book has helped me. Being in her head and seeing what she’s thinking has shown me how afraid she is about where Adam could be and what her true feelings were during her time with Nick. I hope she gets closure about Adam’s whereabouts, whether he comes home or she gets reliable information.

Miriam – I was worried about Miriam when David went missing during his time at sea. She was so convinced that everything would be ok that she was almost delusional. Then when she got pregnant and David came home, all really was well, other than David’s war wounds. The plane crash and the traumatizing rescue are a new obstacle for Miriam, both mentally and emotionally, as well as physically. In this book, she started to seem again like the Miriam that worried me.

Final thoughts: I would definitely recommend watching the series before picking up the books, however it’s not completely necessary. Block does a good job of giving us background information and character histories, so you could pick up the story with these books and have a full understanding of what’s going on and who these people are.

Pick this up if you liked:

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth (books or TV series)

Goodreads rating: 4.57/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.7/5

My rating: 4/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Away Laughing on a Fast Camel (audiobook) by Louise Rennison

“Americans…they call knickers ‘panties’. That is not really speaking English, is it?”

Synopsis from GoodreadsThe Sex God has left the country, taking Georgia’s heart with him. So she decides to display glaciosity to all boys — a girl can only have her heart broken so many times. Until she meets Masimo, the new singer for the Stiff Dylans. The Sex God is gone, but here comes the Dreamboat, and Georgia’s away laughing on a fast camel (whatever that means).

Feelings: This is #5 in this series and I’m slowly, but surely, making my way through Georgia’s (mis)adventures. The last book or two was starting to feel repetitive and I was turning against Georgia a bit. So for book 5, I decided it was time to try out the audiobooks. Granted, not all 10 books have audio adaptations. I am SO glad I made the switch for this book. The narrator is Louise Rennison, the author, who adds so much life to her own written words. Actually, what’s funny is that after I started listening, I still didn’t realize somehow that the author was the narrator and I kept thinking, “Wow, this narrator really understands Georgia.” Well of COURSE she does.

This particular book had a large number of funny scenes. There’s one scene in particular where Georgina finds herself at a church. She sees a place with candles being lit and assumes it’s the Cosmic Request Shop and accidentally sets an old lady’s head scarf on fire. They get in a handbag fight and it’s greatness. To me, these are the quinticential Georgia kind of scenes and I love that we got more than a couple of these in this book.

Issues: I don’t think I actually had any issues with this one! (It could be because I’m not a auditory learner. I never get as much from audiobooks as I do from actually reading the words…so I always miss stuff. But it could also be that I’d have the same reaction if I’d read the physical book! Guess we’ll never know!)

Characters: In my last couple of reviews, I’ve talked about how Georgia is rude and becoming more and more so as the books go on. She didn’t come off nearly as mean in this book and I think that has a LOT to do with the way Rennison narrates her character. She took out a lot of the “bite” I was adding to Georgia’s words in my own head and I ended up liking her a good deal more. The way I was reading her had a different tone, so I’m glad to be getting the author’s perspective and intention. That doesn’t always happen!

We started out being obsessed (still) with Robbie the Sex God and wondering about Dave the Laugh…then we got a new boy! Finally we’re shaking things up! I’m also really glad to see Georgia and Dave having an actual friendship. Everything happened quickly between her and Robbie, so it’s nice to see her having conversations and really connecting with someone without too much snogging going on in between.

This book didn’t have as much about friendship as some of the others. Although I have to say, I’m ok with Tom and Jas not being cuddly duddly all the time now. It’s healthy for them to be separated and to figure things out, so I’m glad we’re getting to see them experience that. I think it’ll be good for Georgia and Jas’ friendship, too. Maybe. It’s Georgia, so…who knows?

Final thoughts: This may be my favorite book in this series so far. Maybe because Robbie wasn’t really in it – not a fan! I would highly recommend these audiobooks narrated by the author. They’re funny and quick – each are 4 or 5 hours only! (That’s pretty short for me, compared to the books I usually reach for.) Georgia is growing up a little bit more and I’m excited to continue this series to see what else she gets herself in to!

*See my review for book four, Dancing in my Nuddy-Pants, HERE!

Goodreads rating: 4.06/5

Audible.com rating: 4.4/5

My rating: 4.25/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Top 5 Books of 2017 (so far)

July rolled around and I realized I hadn’t chosen my top books of the year! The summer is moving so quickly, friends. It’s hard to keep up! I’ve chosen 5 print books, 1 audiobook, as well as 1 graphic novel/comic book to represent the best I’ve read this year (so far).

Born a Crime audiobook by Trevor Noah (who also narrates it)

I love Trevor Noah’s humor and enjoy watching his show on Comedy Central from time to time. I was expecting this book to be funny, but I wasn’t expecting to learn as much as I did. Trevor accounts his life growing up in South Africa in the aftermath of apartheid as a mixed race boy. His stories are so enlightening and powerful. I really enjoyed listening to him read his own stories because of the voices and accents he used, as well as the emotion. Read my full review HERE.

March, Book Two by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

I’ve read the first two books in this graphic novel series and found book two to be full of information that I didn’t know. The first book is enlightening, but the events that took place were ones I knew about, so I just had the opportunity to see them from a different perspective. Book two, however, involved events I had heard about, but couldn’t explain to someone. It’s full of raw emotion, simple artwork, and poignant words. My full review is HERE.

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Hands down, my favorite book of the year. This is the second book in The Dark Artifices trilogy and it’s some of Clare’s best work, in my opinion. The characters are so rich and tangible, the writing is insightful and whimsical, and the events are twisted but well done. Emotions ran high while reading this. It answered questions, set up the next book, and brought back old Shadowhunter favorites. Read my full review HERE.

The Royal Treatment by MJ Summers

I really enjoyed the way this book was written. Not only did the perspective go back and forth between our two main characters, but our narrators also “spoke” to the reader, which was really fun. The ending came together in a way that made sense, in my opinion. Sometimes prince and pauper love stories don’t track with me, but this one was seamless. My full review is HERE.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy by Jenny Han

This series was EXACTLY what I needed at the end of a reading slump. I wanted romance, but not stupid fluff. I wanted some drama, but not enough to make me feel stressed. I wanted friendship and family, but more romance than anything. Check, check, check. I loved the main character, I loved her love interest, I loved her family. Can I rave any more? Just read my review HERE to understand. HA!

Summerlost by Ally Condie

I had a student who recommended this book to me and I’m so glad that they did. It was both simple and complex. The writing was easy to track with, the verbage was engaging, and the characters lept off the page right at me. It’s a quick and easy read, but it’ll leave you with all the feels! Read my full review HERE.

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

If you’ve been around with me for at least a year, you know that I’m a big Sarah Dessen fan. I’ve read all 13 of her books, which I documented HERE. I think this particular storyline was well put together. Time flipped back and forth between chapters, lettng us learn more about our main character in the past and then showing us how that affected her in the present. It was slow to start, but worth it in the end! Plus, if you’ve read Dessen’s previous books, you’ll be able to see some parallels and make some connections! Love that. Read my full review HERE.

What are your top reads of the year so far? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

*This review will contain spoilers, especially if you haven’t read the first book: Lady Midnight. However, I won’t give any spoilers away from THIS book.*

“Fiction is truth, even if it is not fact. If you believe only in facts and forget stories, your brain will live, but your heart will die.”

Synopsis from Goodreads – click the link to read it!

Feelings: Cassandra Clare does a lot of things well, but for me there are two stand out skills: character writing and plot twists. She writes beautifully complex characters that make me fall in love and go through a gambit of emotions. We go on these incredible journeys with them and these stories are so full of twists and turns, I literally have no idea where a story will end up. Ok…one more thing she does really well is dual stories. She can take us back and forth between two major events seamlessly. This happened a couple of times in this specific book and it kept me on the edge of my seat!

This book’s ending…I can’t. It was so beautifully, painfully well written and I had legit tears falling from my eyes as I read. So powerful in so many ways and it really set up the next book.

Issues: About halfway through the book I realized that almost every character had multiple possible love interests. Clare’s books always involve long, drawn out love triangles, but this one seemed to have a lot going on. I didn’t dislike it, necesarily, it was just a lot to process.

Characters:  I LOVE that we got to see some of our old Shadowhunter friends. There definitely had bigger roles in this story than they did in Lady Midnight and I am thrilled about it.

In my review of Lady Midnight, I said that Emma seems like the perfect combination of Clary and Jace and I stand by that. She’s sarcastic and confident like Jace, while also having the best qualities of Clary. I love that they were both around for her in this book, too. She had to make some tough decisions and will continue to, perhaps her hardest choice of all is coming soon! While I enjoy reading about her, I don’t know that I necessarily connect with her.

JULIAN. What a dynamic character. He is such a hero and he may be one of my favorite characters in the Shadowhunter universe. The way he defends those he loves and feels things so fiercely…love him.

In the first book, I wasn’t sure what to think about Kit. I especially didn’t know what to expect from his big reveal at the end. In THIS book, though, I think he comes to terms with his new life at a very realistic pace, which I appreciated. Sometimes in YA, characters embrace life changes very quickly and it can be hard to buy in to. I think Clare write Kit’s experience really well.

Ty is a character that I’m loving more and more. I love his confidence; he knows he’s different BUT he knows WHO he is. He’s surrounded by such a loving family who embrace him as he is, which has given him a really strong foundation. I can’t wait to see the direction his story takes, but I’m nervous about how he’ll be affected after the way this book ended.

Finally, I think Diana’s big secret was handled really well. Others who have gone through similar experiences may think differently and I’d be interested to hear their opinion. However, from my point of view, we knew Diana had something people didn’t know about her and I believe the character she chose to reveal her secret to was well chosen.

Final thoughts: I read this book really quickly. You wouldn’t think it was 700 pages long, but I flew through it…which is the case with all of Clare’s books. If you haven’t joined the Shadowhunter universe yet, I would NOT recommend starting with this trilogy. Read Clare’s books in publication order and then strap in for a crazy ride!

 

Goodreads rating: 4.59/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.6/5

My rating: 5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Dancing in my Nuddy-Pants by Louise Rennison

Probably because I am such a kind and caring person, Jesus has decided to take me for His sunbeam by letting me off the hook.”

Synopsis from Goodreads: Since Georgia’s been dating the yummy scrumboes Sex God, Robbie, her glossy lips are always at the ready, and her “red-bottomosity” is kept under wraps. Along with Naomi the Sex Kitten’s new litter (thank you, Angus), Robbie’s announcement that his band will be traveling to Hamburger-a-gogo land (Georgia can only hope to go with), and a class trip to France, Georgia is one camper in a state of teenage splendiosity. The small trouble is, Georgia also wonders if Dave the Laugh might still be the guy for her, and when Robbie gives a surprise-ending twist to his travel plans, she gets a “weird feeling of reliefosity” that makes her wonder if she must venture out and bravely use her “red bottom wisely.”

Feelings: Georgia’s back at it again! In this fourth installment of this series, we travel with Georgia and the Ace Gang to Paris, we experience the throes of young love, and the woes of growing up. In the last three books, I’ve hoped to see Georgia mature a little bit more. By book four, we still don’t see much growth on that front. She’s still complaining about her parents, but there may have actually been a little less of that in this book. She’s still mean to Jas, her best friend, but Jas seems to dish it out a little bit more and defend herself here. So while Georgia isn’t changing too terribly much just yet (still hoping), there are SOME changes happening. Of the four books I’ve read, this one was harder for me to get going with. I read the first 20 pages or so and just felt like we’d been there before. It got better by the second half, but I just wasn’t feeling this one as much for a while.

Issues: Jools was mentioned a couple times in this book and I had legitimately forgotten about her. Georgia has the Ace Gamg friend squad and I can only tell you about 4 of the 5 girls. I think that’s a shame!

Has Georgia gotten even meaner? Her attitude towards Pamela Green makes me sad and also kind of angry. When P. Green played Nana the dog in their school production of Peter Pan, Georgia taught her dog tricks to be cruel. There’s a moment towards the end when I was thinking Georgia would grow up a little, but she ended up making fun of both Pamela and her mother.

Finally, I get that Georgia’s whole unique thing is all the -osity she adds to words and the funny phrases she uses. But it got really old, really quickly in this book. Seriosity, maturiosity…I’m over it.

Characters: Georgia’s “Sex God” boyfriend drops an unexpected bomb on her in the last few pages of this book and we see her feelings for Dave the Laugh grow as a result. I’m expecting book five to really develop that choice she’ll have to make. As always, my vote is with Dave. He’s a laugh, after all, and they’re able to be comfortable and just talk to each other. Robbie seems even more distant in this book, for multiple reasons.

I’m all about Jas’ budding confidence. She’s defending herself a little more and figuring out what she excels at. It may be a little nerdier than what Georgia wants for her, but I like that she’s sticking to it. You be you, Jas!

Georgia’s parents are unlike any YA family I think I’ve ever read about. Her parents fight and then make out and then mom flirts with the doctor and then dad does dad stuff. It’s all kind of exhausting. And kind of weird. Especially when Georgia’s mom is flirting with the doctor and taking her daughter to his office because her elbows look weird. Like what even is that?

Final thoughts: I’m glad I decided to read this whole series, but this book just felt like one of those in-betweeners. You know, the type that just serves to bridge us from point A to point B. It didn’t seem like much actually happened, up until the last 10 pages or so. If you’re reading these books in order, then you definitely should read it. Especially considering it’s only 200 pages. But it wasn’t my favorite. Come on, book 5!

Goodreads rating: 4.01/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.2/5

My rating: 3/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn