July 2017 Wrap Up

This is what I was able to read in July…I read 5 books, listened to 2 audiobooks, and read 1 graphic novel, for a grand total of: 8!

Dancing in My Nuddy-Pants by Louise Rennison

  • Georgia is still mean. Bridge between stories. More Dave the Laugh.
  • Around the World in 80 Books Challenge: Paris, France
  • My rating: 3 stars

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

  • Long awaited book 2. Painfully beautiful ending. Heart-wrenching characters.
  • My rating: 5 stars

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

  • Great narrations by the author. Story is taking a positive turn for me. New boy stalking.
  • My rating: 4.25 stars

Keep the Home Fires Burning, Part One: Spitfire Down! by S. Block

  • Picks up where the show left off. Favorite characters returned. Cliffhanger relief.
  • Around the World in 80 Books Challenge: Cheshire, England
  • My rating: 4 stars

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

  • More great narrations from the author. Poor Jas. Seriously, more Robbie?
  • Around the World in 80 Books Challenge: Memphis, Tennessee
  • My rating: 4 stars

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

  • Re-read. Favorite from middle school. Still magical.
  • Around the World in 80 Books Challenge: Euclid, Ohio
  • My rating: 4.5 stars

Started By His Furry Shorts by Louise Rennison

  • Favorite so far. Finally some action. 3 love options.
  • My rating: 4.25 stars

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Volume 1: Squirrel Power by Ryan North and Erica Henderson

  • Clever. Laugh out loud. Iron Man.
  • My rating: 4 stars

What did you read this month? Let me know in the comments below!

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

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

Reading Challenge Update #2

It’s time for another reading challenge update! I posted my first update in March and at that time, I’d only “traveled” to 8 places in my reading. At this halfway point of the year, I’ve read about 16 places. I included London, England twice because those two books showed me very different experiences. I’ve done most of my book traveling in North America, so I’d like to branch out a little more soon. If you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments!

Travels Completed: 16/80

My reading has taken me to:

Africa

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (South Africa)

Asia

– Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai (Vietnam)

The Secret of the India Orchid by Nancy Campbell Allen (Bombay, India; Modern Day Mumbai)

Europe

London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton (London, England)

– May I Have Your Attention, Please? by James Corden (London, England)

– Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison (Easbourne, England)

– The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho (Andalusia, Spain)

North America

– March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell (Washington, D.C.; Troy, Alabama)

– The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer (Brooklyn, New York)

It Started With Goodbye by Christina June (Alexandria, Virginia)

The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan (Boston, Massachusetts)

Summerlost by Ally Condie (Utah)

– Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (Los Angeles, California)

– Geekerella by Ashley Poston (Charleston, South Carolina)

Jack & Louisa: Act 1 by Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead (Shaker Heights, Ohio)

– Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (Prince Edward Island, Canada)

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

April 2017 Wrap Up

This is what I was able to read in April…I read 5 books, listened to 1 audiobook, and read 0 graphic novels, for a grand total of: 6! We still have a few days left in this month, so there’s time for that number to go up!

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

  • Nerd central. Like Ever After. Diverse cast.
  • Around the World in 80 Books Challenge: Charleston, South Carolina
  • My rating: 4.25 stars

Anne of Green Gables audiobook by L.M. Montgomery, narrated by Rachel McAdams

  • Classic. Sweet story. Favorite.
  • Around the World in 80 Books Challenge: Prince Edward Island, Canada
  • My rating: 4.5 stars

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

  • Quick read. Cute story. Strong writing.
  • Around the World in 80 Books Challenge: Virginia
  • My rating: 4.25 stars

P. S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

  • First love. Decision making. Strong sequel.
  • My rating: 4.5 stars

Jack & Louisa: Act 1 by Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead

  • Cute and easy read. Musical references. Middle grade.
  • Around the World in 80 Books Challenge: Shaker Heights, Ohio
  • My rating: 4 stars

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

  • So suspenseful. Lots of hype. Thought provoking.
  • My rating: 4.25 stars

What did you read this month? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

“Life is a gift. Don’t forget to live it.”

Synopsis from GoodreadsMadeline Whittier is allergic to the outside world. So allergic, in fact, that she has never left the house in all of her seventeen years. But when Olly moves in next door, and wants to talk to Maddie, tiny holes start to appear in the protective bubble her mother has built around her. Olly writes his IM address on a piece of paper, shows it at her window, and suddenly, a door opens. But does Maddie dare to step outside her comfort zone?

Everything, Everything is about the thrill and heartbreak that happens when we break out of our shell to do crazy, sometimes death-defying things for love.

Feelings: This book has been on my radar since it came out in 2015. I’d heard what it was about and I wanted to read it, but just never actually picked it up. I saw that the movie was coming out soon and KNEW that I’d want to read it first, so that motivated me to get my own copy of it. I start it at around 10 PM on a Saturday night, and was finishing it not even 24 hours later. That’s partly because I had time to read and partly because of how quickly it moves.

I really enjoyed the formatting of the writing and it’s something I’m starting to see more often. Some authors are moving away from traditional blocks of text (aka chapters) and towards more creative and engaging writing. We get drawings, emails and IMs, paragraph-long “chapters”, and longer chapters. Every few pages is different and it made me understand the main character a little bit better, like I was more part of her world.

Issues: About halfway through the book, I made a predication about how it would all unfold. And I was right…exactly right. I wish the author had anticipated how some of the details could lead the reader to a certain conclusion and added in a curveball or two. It wasn’t so obvious that it affected my overall enjoyment of the story, but it did effect the way I read the last 20 pages or so.

The ending left me somewhat unsatisfied, even outside of me knowing what to expect. Now that I’ve said that, I couldn’t tell you what would have been a satisfying ending. I wanted more closure for the main character and for those around her.

Characters: I found Madeline and Olly’s relationship to be really sweet. It made sense that they’d be drawn to one another and they complimented each other really well. There’s definitely a little bit of instalove between them and the way Maddy was so easily able to interact with Olly, even though she’d literally only been around like 5 people in her life, was a little bit unrealistic. But overall, I enjoyed reading their story and seeing them grow both together and individually.

I enjoyed having Carla there, like a voice of reason and understanding. She was a stable character that was holding the narrative up, at times. However, I was a little thrown off at how she bended to Maddy’s will (no spoilers) and disregarded her mother’s concerns. That seemed like something a younger character might do.

Maddy’s mom is a whole other story. She’s one of the reasons I was unsatisfied with the ending – I thought she deserved more. Her relationship with Maddy is really fun and sweet for the majority of the book, so we grow to sympathize with her. Then the book ends and she’s got some loose ends that could have been tied up a little better.

Final thoughts: While I did have a few small issues with predictability, the ending, and character motivations, I still overall really enjoyed this story. I especially liked the writing style and the narrator’s voice. It was really easy to read and is one I’ll be recommending to a lot of friends, including you!

Pick this up if you liked:

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

Goodreads rating: 4.1/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.6/5

My rating: 4/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn