Friday, April 25, 2014

Book Review: Second Helpings

After reading Sloppy Firsts, I could barely wait to get my hands on the next installment of the Jessica Darling series, and Second Helpings did not disappoint.  It picks up the summer following Jessica's junior year of high school, when she is enrolled in SPECIAL, a creative writing program for high school students housed on a college campus.  Jessica describes her fellow classmates with her usual sarcastic wit, but the summer does yield a couple of very important run-ins (both with gay men, both of whom she lusts after at various times) that set her on the path toward the unlikely college of her dreams.

Back at Pineville in the fall, the awkwardness with Marcus picks right back up where it left off in Sloppy Firsts, after her oh-so-charming yet oh-so-memorable parting words to him on New Years Eve.  However, it seems that Len Levy--Jessica's elementary school crush, and Marcus's current best friend--is now interested in Jess.  Marcus takes on the role of Game Master to orchestrate a relationship between the two of them.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Pineville crew tries to live it up for their senior year, while simultaneously trying to figure out who they really are and what they want to do with their lives.  Does Bridget want to move to LA and be an actress?  Or might there be a local romance for her?  Scotty and Manda have been named the "class couple," will their relationship last?  What do her slutty tendencies really say about her?  And might he really have feelings for someone else?  And then there's Sara, full of her loudmouthed,  quote OMIGOD unquote gossip-mongering.  And the indescribable Marcus, with his one-of-a-kind, homemade, iron-on t-shirts and unreadable intentions.

Really all I can say is that I enjoyed this book from beginning to end, laughing and groaning over its characters experiences as I would have over my own friends'.  I was extremely pleased with the ending and anxiously await Jessica's adventures in the next installment.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Bryn's Book Review: Ally the Dolphin Fairy

This post is part of a series of book reviews written by my 8-year-old daughter, Bryn.  Bryn is in second grade and loves to read just as much as her mom does!

In Ally the Dolphin Fairy mean Jack Frost's goblins broke the golden conch shell that made sure that the oceans throughout the globe were in pease and harmony! Queen Titania asks the 7 ocean fairies, Shannen, Rachel, and Kirsty to come into the royal fairyland acuarriam with her. She sends a dolphin, a seal, a penguin, a sea turtle, a starfish, a whale, and a clownfish after the 7 pieces of conch shell so the animals can protect the pieces of conch shell. Ally is so upset that the queen lets her go first at finding her ocean animal.
Ally the Dolphin Fairy wears these things:
* silver flip-flops
* light-purple dress
* necklace-chain with dolphin on end
* blue bracelets

Chapters(in order):
1. Off to Fairyland
2. Shattered!
3. Where's Echo?
4. Goblins Underwater
5. A Sparkling Shell
6. Catch that Goblin!

Like the detail? Read the book for more detail about the book and tell others about it!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Recommended Reading - from the Girl Who Loves All Books

Last week, I finished reading Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, which was SO wonderful that I immediately created a Facebook post which urged everyone I knew to read it.  In response, several of my friends said, "Great!  I'm definitely going to read this... what else do you recommend?"  This spiraled into at least four people asking, "Can you make a list of recommendations?"

On that very same day, my boss at the library and I had a conversation about how I could never work for, say, a review journal, because I am just not a very discerning reader.  I love to write reviews of books, but I detest the system of giving 1-5 stars.  My boss claimed that I have never met a book I didn't love.  This is technically untrue--I have actually taught many books that I couldn't stand (which is one of the many reasons that I am now a librarian instead of an English teacher, but that's another story).  But as a whole, yes, I love pretty much all books.

So that conversation, coupled with the challenge to create a "recommended reading" list, left me wondering if I could, in fact, narrow my "I love all books" mentality to make a list of just the best of the best.  I've already reviewed many of these books on my blog, so to save re-writing summaries, I'm going to link to those (in the cases where I haven't reviewed the myself, I'll link to Goodreads).  Here's what I came up with:

Books that EVERYONE Needs to Read
* anything by John Green.  I love him.  He is my hero.  I would read his grocery list, and I bet it would be amazing.  If you haven't read him yet, don't even bother with the rest of this list.  Just start here:
   - Paper Towns
   - Looking for Alaska
   - The Fault in Our Stars
   - An Abundance of Katherines
   - Let It Snow (collection of short stories with Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle)
   - Will Grayson / Will Grayson (with David Levithan)
* Every Day by David Levithan
* Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Chick Lit
If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman
The List by Siobhan Vivian
* My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
* Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
* Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan
* trilogy: Shiver, Linger, and Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
* Sloppy Firsts (and I'm assuming the rest of the Jessica Darling series, though I've only read the first one) by Megan McCafferty
* Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
* The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and its subsequent series by Ann Brashares
* Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
* trilogy:  The Summer I Turned Pretty, It's Not Summer Without You, and We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
* and anything by the queen of YA chick lit, Sarah Dessen.  Particularly recommended:
   - Lock & Key
   - What Happened to Goodbye
   - Along for the Ride
   - Just Listen
   - The Moon and More

* trilogy: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
* trilogy: Matched, Crossed, and Reached by Ally Condie
* trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem by Lauren Oliver
* trilogy: The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, and Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
* Scored by Lauren McLaughlin
* The Giver and Son by Lois Lowry
* Turnabout by Margaret Peterson Haddix
* Running out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
* trilogy: Uglies, Pretties, and Specials by Scott Westerfeld

For the Guys
* Twisted by Laurie Halse
* anything by Chris Crutcher
* I Hunt Killers and Game by Barry Lyga
* The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
* Split by Swati Avasthi
* trilogy: White Cat, Red Glove, and Black Heart by Holly Black
* trilogy: The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure (also the prequel, The Kill Order) by James Dashner
* Feed by M.T. Anderson
* trilogy: Wake, Fade, and Gone by Lisa McMann

* The Hate List by Jennifer Brown
* trilogy: Crank, Glass, and Fallout by Ellen Hopkins
* Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
* The List by Sioban Vivian
* Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
* The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

"What the Heck?
* Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang
* Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
* Period 8  by Chris Crutcher
* I Hunt Killers and Game by Barry Lyga
* Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
* Every Day by David Levithan
* When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
* Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

And a final shout-out to Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea, which doesn't fit anywhere else, but is a sweet story of how a teacher impacts his students' lives.

So there you have it!  Let the reading begin!  :)