Monday, March 31, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Nothing Special

Nothing Special
It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?Title: Nothing Special
Author: Geoff Herbach
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Realistic fiction
Pages: 290
Age Rating: Readers over 13
My Opinion: 9/10

Hi, Readers!

       Happy It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?  This blogging meme is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts, Book Journeys, and Unleashing Readers.  In my opinion, the best books are the ones that have personality.  Nothing Special, by Geoff Herbach, is absolutely filled with it - personality, spunk, and charm.  While I was reading, I felt like I actually became a character in the book, and I was constantly laughing at jokes and events that occurred.  Plus, Nothing Special has the all-important male reader appeal encompassed in its plot line, characters, and sports references.

       Felton is back and funnier than ever in this sequel to Stupid Fast.  His crazy family gets even crazier when his younger brother, Andrew, decides to run away to Florida.  Felton blames himself for Andrew's running away because he has been bullying Andrew, and he decides that it is up to himself to bring Andrew home.  However, getting to Florida is harder than he predicts - he has to call on his childhood friend-turned-enemy for a ride.  Plus, when he finally ends up arriving, Felton must convince stubborn Andrew to return home.  All the while, Felton is on the run from college football recruiters, and he must manage to put his own personal life aside to find his brother and bring life back to (somewhat) normal.

Stupid Fast
Nothing Special is the
sequel to Stupid Fast
       The most successful part about the entire novel is how Geoff Herbach writes in a way that makes the character of Felton come alive.  The story is told through a series of letters/emails/documents that Felton writes to his girlfriend, Aleah, while he is traveling on a bus.  Felton intertwines his current adventures with past ones in an entertaining and clear way.  Felton has a distinct personality where tends to he blame bad things that have happened in his life on himself but yet struggles to change his personality for the better.  For example, when Andrew ditches his childhood friend Gus to hang out with his new football friends, he realizes why Gus is mad at him but yet he continues to leave Gus out.  One likeable characteristic of Felton is that he actually realizes when he becomes too self-centered.  Sure, he may make stupid decisions a lot of the time for his own personal benefit, but he always knows!  

       In my opinion, the plot line of Nothing Special has just the right amount of crazy thrown in.  Felton's family is quite overwhelming at times, but they can get serious when necessary.  Felton's relationships with his family, friends, enemies, and brother are constantly changing throughout the novel.  He never has a mentor or friend that he can look to for help because he constantly pushes away people who get close to him, but he still loves his family and cares deeply for them.  Felton is such a deep character, and I could keep going on and on for ages about how wonderful it is to read about him.  Plus, Geoff Herbach writes about some difficult issues such as suicide with ease and makes them understandable and appropriate for a younger audience.
       I would recommend Nothing Special to middle and high school boys.  Although girls would definitely enjoy reading it, boys would relate a little more to Felton and his experiences with growing up.  Plus, anybody who enjoys comedic road trip movies (like RV and Are We There Yet?) would love Nothing Special.  One last positive about the novel is that you don't even need to read Stupid Fast to know what is going on - it is like an optional prequel.  The book is an overall fun read that always has surprises around the corner, and it has a heartwarming message.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List

Hi, Readers!

Top Ten Tuesday       I, for one, am a HUGE fan of bucket lists, even though I've never actually completed one.  Lists are great, and having a list of fun things to do in a certain amount of time is even better.  This week's Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is the Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List.  Enjoy!

1. Read an E-book
I'm not sure if I will ever be able to bring myself to do this, but I want to.  I really love feeling a book in my hands when I'm reading and I'm afraid that actual books will disappear in the near future, but maybe I'm missing out on some technological benefit of reading an E-book.

2. Get through the entire Lord of the Rings series
I read the first twenty pages and then fell asleep.  But, the good news is, I own the entire series, so I can take as long as I want to read it.

3. Read a really terrible book
This is a really weird thing to put on a bucket list, but I enjoy practically every book I read, and it would actually be refreshing to find a book that I could love to hate.

4. Have fifty blog followers
Twenty four to go!

5. Read an ARC
A lot of the bloggers that I follow always talk about how they receive books early from publishers and give honest reviews in order to publicize the new releases.  One of my goals is to be able to work my way up to this point.

6. Get my hands on Brandon Mull's newest release, 
Five Kingdoms: Sky Raiders
SOOOO excited for this new publication!  I've already got it reserved at the library.  I can't wait!  Brandon Mull's writing is so easy to escape into, from his mythological creatures to his fantastical settings.

7. Reread the Harry Potter books to follow along with Pottermore
Sure, it may take a while, but it will be worth it.  Now that the series and the movies are complete, it would be super cool to reread the books, follow along with Pottermore, and watch the movies all at one time to get the full HP experience.  Plus, it would give me a great reason to rewatch A Very Potter Musical!

8. Finish every book on my bookshelf... (almost there!)
I've got one row of books left to go, along with a few random books I've picked up over time.  It's just so tempting to pick up new releases from the library instead of reading what I already have.

9. Read Ender's Game
I saw the movie before reading the book.  This does not happen in my world.
Must. Read. The. Book. NOW.

10. Join a book club
Due to the fact that I read so much, a book club would be like icing on the cake!

I hope you have enjoyed reading about the Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List.  Please leave a comment and link up with your own TTT list from this week.

Happy reading!

Monday, March 17, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Ignite Me

Ignite Me
Title: Ignite Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Fantasy, dystopian
Pages: 416
Age Rating: Readers over 13
My Opinion: 8/10

Hi, Readers!

       I just finished the Shatter Me series, by Tahereh Mafi, and I've decided to share my thoughts about the final addition to the trilogy, Ignite Me, as well as the series overall for It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?  This blogging meme is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts, Book Journeys, and Unleashing Readers.

       Juliette has faced a lot of issues in the past two books (Special powers!  World war!  Boys!), but there is even more excitement coming in Ignite Me.  Juliette wakes up in a Reestablishment compound, which is an army base that houses soldiers of the world's evil dictator.  Then, she discovers that her enemy/lover, Warner, saved her from the mass destruction that just occurred at her previous rebel base and home, Omega Point.  Now, Juliette is not sure if any of her friends are even alive.  As soon as she finds the lone survivors of Omega Point, they join up with Warner to overthrow the Reestablishment.  However, Juliette has to put her thoughts ahead of her feelings to save the world, a task that is easier said than done.

       Ok, so I was absolutely in love with Shatter Me and couldn't read it fast enough.  Then, I got my hands on its sequel, Unravel Me, which was also phenomenal. Ignite Me definitely had some big shoes to fill, and it succeeded in a number of ways.  First of all, I love how the entire book is about girl power!  Juliette manages to get over herself - she was pretty obnoxious in the second book - and puts others before herself more often than not.  Also, she harnesses her inner strength and can now control her powers.

       I finished reading Ignite Me a few days ago, and I am still trying to decide whether or not I liked Tahereh Mafi's conclusion of Juliette and Adam's rocky relationship.  Through the first two books, I was totally Team Warner, but now I just feel bad for Adam.  He gets the short end of the stick because he really likes Juliette and she completely blows him off for Warner.  On the other hand, I am so pleased with how Juliette realizes that she wasn't actually in love with Adam to begin with.  I mean, the girl was locked up for an entire year and had never touched another human being - of course she got excited to see a boy for the first time.  Luckily, she discovers in Ignite Me that she does have options and she never lets any guy get in the way of saving the world.

Shatter Me series

       Overall, the Shatter Me series is one of the best YA series I've read in a while.  It is definitely up there on my list of favorite books, and it was published at the perfect time because teens are really getting into dystopian novels right now.  I wholeheartedly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys reading YA fantasy or dystopian novels such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Testing.  Now I can't wait to read Unite Me, composed of two novellas from Warner and Adam's points of view. 

Happy reading and have a fantastic Monday!

Monday, March 10, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? This Song Will Save Your Life

This Song Will Save Your Life
It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?Title: This Song Will Save Your Life
Author: Leila Sales
Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Genre: Realistic fiction
Pages: 279
Age Rating: Readers over 14
My Opinion: 9/10

Hi, Readers!

       As promised, this week's It's Monday!  What Are You Reading? is a POSITIVE book review!  Woohoo!  I know my last two book reviews were extremely critical, so I got lucky when I thouroughly enjoyed reading This Song Will Save Your Life because I was ready to hand out some literary praise.  It's Monday!  What Are You Reading? is a blogging meme hosted by Teach Mentor Texts, Book Journeys, and Unleashing Readers.

       Elise is one of the least popular girls in her school, and she gets teased endlessly about it.  When she finally decides to strike out at those around her by committing suicide, her plan fails tremendously and she is ridiculed even more by her fellow classmates.  Elise's parents start keeping tabs on her at all times, so she discovers that the only time she gets to herself is during secret midnight walks around town.  On one of those nights, Elise comes across two girls standing outside of an underground night club, Pippa and Vicky.  As soon as they enter the club, Elise becomes enchanted by the thrill of midnight DJ-ing with the house DJ, Char.  However, her nighttime fun certainly does not carry on when the sun comes up, and Elise has to keep her DJ-ing hidden as she struggles with high school and family problems at the same time.

       Leila Sales manages to pack a truck-load of social issues into one book, from suicide to cutting to popularity to relationships to self-image, and she does it in a realistic way.  Elise is characterized extremely well, and while I was reading the story I really felt as though I could connect to her feelings of being alone and wanting to fit in.  All of Elise's awkward glory shines through as she learns how to navigate the world of night-clubbing and DJ-ing.  However, Elise completely maintains her composure and never partakes in the excessive substance abuse going on around her, which helps readers to respect her as a person.

       Another reason that I loved reading This Song Will Save Your Life is that Leila Sales strikes a perfect balance in her explanations and descriptions - there are just enough details to hook the reader, but not too much information to be boring.  For example, when Sales discusses Elise's DJ beatmatching practice with Char, I could clearly understand what was going on and picture it in my mind even though I have absolutely zero experience with DJ equipment.

       I would definitely recommend This Song Will Save Your Life to any high school girl because it addresses a number of touchy high school issues in such a readable way.  However, be warned, the book's plot starts extremely suddenly - there is a suicide attempt in the first few pages.  Be prepared for an amazing read that does not sugar coat anything.

Happy reading and have a fantastic Monday!

Monday, March 3, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Counting by 7s

Counting by 7s
Title: Counting by 7s
Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan
Publication Date: August 29, 2013
Publisher: Dial
Genre: Realistic fiction
Pages: 384
Age Rating: Readers over 10
My Opinion: 6/10

Hi, Readers!

       Happy It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?  This blogging meme is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts, Book Journeys, and Unleashing Readers.  Some books seem effortless, like the words flow straight from the author's mind to the pages.  However, although it is a heartwarming read, Counting by 7s seems a little forced.  It's plot line is too perfect - everything that can go wrong does, and then it is all resolved by the last page.  Counting By 7s would make a nice middle school read, but it has a very limited reader appeal and does not live up to its high Goodreads rating.
One of the best quotes from Counting by 7s

       Willow Chance was adopted when she was young, and she is a certified child genius who enjoys hobbies such as gardening and reading.  Her only friend is a high schooler named Mai, but she is happy on her own.  Willow's sheltered life comes to a screeching halt when her parents perish in a car accident.  She has no friends or family to take care of her except for Mai's family, so Willow ends up living with them in a garage.  Luckily, her school counselor sees her genius potential, and he is able to raise the unlikely family out of poverty and bring them all closer together.

       When I was reading, it was hard to connect to Willow as a character because her personality is so different.  She is an actual child genius, so her mind clearly works differently from my own.  However, Willow seemed indifferent, even detached, when her parents died, and she never experienced a relatable period of grieving like normal humans do.  Also, Willow does not realize how her actions impact others and she seems to be self-centered due to the fact that she forces herself upon Mai's family without any repayment. 

       Holly Goldberg Sloan's style of writing is definitely geared towards a younger audience, and it works for said audience.  The plot line of the book came together much too cleanly to be realistic.  For example, Willow rides in a taxi cab, and of course she ends up becoming best friends with the cab driver and helping him win the lottery.  Like that would actually happen.  Also, all of the characters are looking for some signs from above showing how Willow changes their lives in feasible ways.  She ends up making Mai's mother's nail salon a huge business, she somehow manages to create a beautiful garden in the center of an apartment building, and she unrealistically touches the lives of everyone she meets.

       I know that this is my second negative book review, so I promise that next week's It's Monday!  What Are You Reading? will be about a great read.  Just remember - I'm saving you time by reading all of the bad books.

Happy reading!