Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I Will Be Reading This Winter

Oh, this week's The Broke & The Bookish Top10 should be easy-peasy! I already have a stack of books waiting for me on December 1st. :) I am very much in the holiday spirit this year, so I really want to read lots of Christmas/holiday/wintery books. And I am off work 2 glorious weeks Christmas thru New Year's, so I see lots and lots of reading time in my future!

1. My True Love Gave to Me (various awesome authors!) -I am sooooo excited about this one, I've barely been able to stop myself from reading it yet! I think I might read one story a night the twelve days leading up to Christmas. :)

2. The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson -this is my classic pick for December, the story that Frozen is based on. Since I am still addicted to all things Frozen, I thought this was perfect.

3. Snowed In by Rachel Hawthorne -a cute contemporary romance? Yes, please!

4. The Santa Society by Kristine McCord -"a clandestine world of the Santa Society, a centuries old secret organization that protects the truth behind Christmas." Bonus: it's free on Kindle right now!

5. Mistletoe Magic by Melissa McClone -another freebie I picked up solely because of the cute kitty on the cover lol. Oh and the cowboys!

6. Let it Snow by John Green & others -3 more great authors! I can't wait!!

7. Confessions of a Secret Santa by Lara Bergen -I don't know why I like this little book so much, but I do! I've read it at least 4 times!

8. The Thing About Jane Spring by Sharon Krum -another reread, of my absolute favorite winter book! It's not very well known, but I highly recommend it! "One snowy night while watching a Doris Day marathon on cable it hits Jane: Doris Day always got her man."

9. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery -I've been reading the later books (5-6) recently and they're not bad, but they don't have the magic of the first book, so it's really making me want to go back and read that one. And while it is not a Christmas or winter book, I read it the first time around then, so it's etched in my brain as one now.

10. The Ex-Games by Jennifer Echols -this is a slight cheat, because I just read this one last weekend! It was a cute, quick read and if you like the author, then you'll like this one!

11.Bonus: I took a bunch of Christmas romance anthologies from my mom last year when we were helping her move and I might get to some of those too. Lots of cowboys and heaving bosoms and such lol.

12.Another Bonus: I have several Christmas children's (picture) books that I would love to read and review for My Favorite Children's Books feature. I should definitely get started on that soon!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Review: "Snowbound: The Baby-Sitters Club Super Special #7"

Snowbound: The Baby-Sitters Club Super Special #7 by Ann M Martin
3.5 out of 5 stars

You guys, I read this book in August! Three months ago! Oh, the shame...the blogging shame. But hey, let's pretend I meant to hold it this long because we're having record low temps in the 30s this week! Yeah, that's it lol.

This one was on the verge of being boring but then it pulled out the fun and outrageous in the end. It starts out with Kristy being super annoying, writing the Stoneybrook newspaper about the blizzard they had and offering to sell them the Baby-Sitters Club's story as an article. She's all "your story was good but mine is better" and "by the way, do you need a baby-sitter?" And she basically spoils the whole story for us, by listing what happened to everyone during the blizzard. THEN we go back to the beginning of the story.

It's a normal weekend at home for Kristy...homework, daydreaming about her "boyfriend" Bart, helping Karen with her sweater-pants, searching for missing rats, etc...The weather people are calling for a huge snowstorm, but since that's the 4th time they've predicted snow with nothing, Kristy doesn't think much about it. Oh and there's another dance: the Winter Wonderland Dance. And it's pretty close to Christmas. For some reason, we get the intro chapter in this Super Special and they lay out what everyone is doing on Wednesday: Mary Anne and Mallory are doing a marathon baby-sitting job for the Pikes, Jessi has a rehearsal for The Nutcracker, Dawn is picking up Jeff at the airport, and Claudia is baby-sitting for the Perkins girls. So they decide to actually cancel the Wednesday meeting (I don't know how Kristy didn't have a heart attack) and then they gab about the dance and all the awesome guys they're going with. Claudia already has her dibbly outfit picked out too:

I was really looking forward to dressing up. I'd bought this black velvet knicker outfit and was going to wear it with a lot of silver jewelry, including snowflake earrings. 

Okay, let's start going down the list of where everyone is and what happens to them when it finally snows! The snowstorm finally starts up late Wednesday afternoon, conveniently when the BSC meeting was cancelled. Mary Anne and Mallory are doing their huge sitting job because Mr & Mrs Pike are having some weird touristy day in New York. I guess that's the only way they can afford vacations. Mary Anne is staying the night and Mrs Pike says there is enough food for them, but she'll have to go to the grocery as soon as she gets back. (Important point for later.) When it starts snowing, the triplets scare Claire with stories of the Abominable Snowman. As it gets later and the snow gets heavier, the Pike parents call and say they aren't coming back that night, then they realize they are almost out of food, then the phones and power go out, and suddenly everyone is starving. Like, 30 minutes after dinner. They make it thru the night but the next morning they're all still hungry and Mary Anne even calls Logan and whines that she's hungry. So what does any self-respecting 13 year old boy from Kentucky do? Gets on his cross-country skis and brings a backpack full of food over to his girlfriend. Yeah, seriously.

Stacey and her mom are at Washington Mall, getting Stace's hair permed for the big dance. Her mom doesn't like to drive in snow and starts freaking out when they leave the mall to see big snowflakes coming down. They get on the highway and start inching their way slowly home. Until they fishtail and her mom decides to take the backroads home. Then she pulls over when it gets too hard to see. And they get stuck on the side of the road. Pretty scary, especially once Stacey gets hungry and the car dies. To keep their minds off things, Stacey asks her mom how & why she fell in love with her dad. Kind of like that part in The Parent Trap. And then they get rescued by a desperate criminal...just kidding, it's a kindly gentleman with a wife and a baby at home. He takes them to his country home, which is decked out for Christmas. It looked like a house from a fairy tale, lit inside and out, a green wreath with a plaid ribbon hanging on the door, the gold lights on a Christmas tree twinkling through a window. Have I mentioned how ready I am for Christmas this year? I am full of holiday spirit lol. Stacey mentions that this will be her first Christmas as a divorced kid. They fall in love with the Schiavone family and even trade Christmas cards afterwards. Once Stacey gets back home, Claudia rushes over, all worried, because everyone had noticed they were gone and says "Don't ever think we wouldn't miss you." Aw...

Claudia is busy baby-sitting the Perkins girls when it starts snowing and of course, the parents can't get back home and the power goes out. Instead of taking the girls across the street to her home, she decides to just stay at their house. And then Chewy, the big destructive dog, goes missing. Turns out he was in the basement the whole night. Not a lot happens for Claud, so we'll put in this gem from Myriah Perkins:

[We can make] "a whole snow family! A snow mommy and a snow daddy and three snow girls and a snow dog and two snow cats." 
"You are going to be very busy tomorrow," [Claudia] said.
"That's what happens when you're five," Myriah replied.

And on to Jessi...she has her big Nutcracker rehearsal, which of course contains plenty of small children. Quint, her New York boyfriend, is on his way to stay with Jessi for the week and go to the dance with her. The snow starts, parents can't get there (doesn't anybody leave early when they see there might be bad weather?), everyone is stuck there overnight. Quint shows up a few hours later after WALKING there from the train station. Seriously, that's just dumb. Jessi & Quint help corral the younger kids, because apparently all the adults there can't do it. The next morning, they have a romantic breakfast across the street.

Dawn's mom is the only adult in the whole book who actually leaves early, to pick up Jeff from the airport. Doesn't matter though, because his flight is diverted to Washington and Dawn & her mom get stuck at the airport for the night. Luckily, Dawn has a baby in a nearby family to keep her occupied. Jeff arrives the next morning, understandably upset over the whole ordeal, but by the time they get home, it was a grand adventure.

And finally...Kristy. The only person who was actually in her own home (besides Mallory I suppose). She invites Bart over to watch some movies and have dinner with her entire family (not too bright for Miz Prez) and he has to stay the night once it starts snowing. Kristy freaks because ZOMG A BOY!!! And sets her alarm for 5:30 the next morning so she can get up and make herself pretty. I'm not sure why, because he's never seen her pretty before. Ooh...zing! She even shaves her legs, for the first time, with an electric razor. Ouch. All her brothers make fun of her, of course, but Bart says she's beautiful. After the storm, everyone catches up on everyone else's story and back to the present...Kristy gets a call from the newspaper that they do want to publish her article. I hope it's not as long as this blog post! (Sorry!) And the girls all go to the Winter Dance together, with their various boy toys. The End.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Review: "Isla & The Happily Ever After"

Isla & The Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
4 out of 5 stars

I don't know why it has taken me so long to review this book, maybe because I can't say much other than "I loved it". I am in love with Stephanie Perkins' world she has created around these three girls...Anna, Lola, and Isla. It's not just the plot but the scene she sets in each city, each book. So I decided not to bother with a normal review and just give you my favorite lines. Obviously, this will have all kinds of spoilers but I figure you've either read this already or never heard of it. So if you've already read it, enjoy and share your favorite parts below! And if you haven't read it, stop here, go read my review of Anna & The French Kiss, and get thee to a bookstore! :)

...it opens with the delicious crack of a hard spine being tested for the first time.<--This is exactly *exactly* how I felt opening this book.

Whenever he enters a room, an unmistakable mass of chaotic energy enters with him. It rattles the air between us. It buzzes and hums. And every time we surrender--every time our eyes meet in a flash of nerve--a shock wave jolts throughout my entire system. I feel frayed. Excited. Unraveled.

But when someone who knows him doesn't even want to try to understand him? No, I can't forgive that.

"You read a lot."
"Safer than going on a real adventure."

"I like that you're tiny. I like that I could carry you around in my pocket."

"Mon petit chou." My little cabbage.

"I feel like this...awkward giant around you. You're like this perfect porcelain doll. Delicate and sweet and pretty."

I'm covered in garden roses, spinning compasses, falling leaves, desert islands, Joshua trees, and intricate geometric patterns. It's beautiful. I'm beautiful.

"I love you. I have *always* loved you."
"There's no story. I saw you one day, and I just knew."

"I like the temple's reflecting pool. I kind of just wanted to sit beside it and make out with you."

Josh is a beautiful, messy, passionate work of art, and I'm...a blank canvas.

"...for once in your life, Isla, take a risk. Take a fucking risk. If you keep playing it safe, you'll never know who you are. I know who you are, and I love who you are."

How do people even make friends? How does that happen? (awesome poster by Kitkat Lastimosa)

Silver-white flakes catch in our tangle of red hair.

"Something better is about to happen."
Anna and St Clair are standing on top of Point Zero.
Anna's entire body lights with shock and joy and love.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Review: "The Morganville Vampires" Series Books 11-12

You know how in my last review, I said I refused to buy these in hardbound? Yeah, that didn't last lol. I did check out the 12th one from the library though...but that doesn't really help me much, because I'm going to want it eventually. I read these two books about a month ago and I really want to get the last 3 so I can finish the series. It has been really great so far and I would highly recommend it. Check out my review of the first 8 here! Also, there is a new web series for Morganville! Watch the first episode here. And of course, this post has spoilers up thru the first 10 books.

Last Breath: Morganville Vampires #11 by Rachel Caine
4 out of 5 stars

These books continue the multiple view points, which can be a little irritating at times, but good too. We don't just get Claire and Shane this time though, but also Amelie, Eve, & Michael. The story picks up with Eve & Michael planning their wedding, against the wishes of...everybody. Literally. They're doing the best they can, but of course things go bad. And then they go really bad.

Claire keeps seeing a strange new person around town that no one else sees and when she has a run-in with him, it gets ugly. There's a new Big Bad in town and even Amelie is scared. I can't really say much more about this book without spoiling it. Except that it rains, a lot, in the desert.

I can't believe she killed Claire. But I can't believe it even more that she just brought her back, with no trouble or vampirism or anything. I didn't even really take it in that she was dead, until that chapter with Shane. Oh man, my heart broke with him when he's sitting there on Claire's bedroom floor, ready to end it all. And Myrnin. Poor, sweet, crazy Myrnin loved her. And nearly sacrificed himself for her.

*end spoilers*

Black Dawn: Morganville Vampires #12 by Rachel Caine
4 out of 5 stars

The fight against the draug is going strong and hard in this one. This book almost felt like an ending. And in a lot of ways, it was. Most of the vampires are skipping town as fast as they can and leaving the humans to fend for themselves. The Founder is nearly dead from her injuries at the end of the last book and that means Oliver is in charge. Scary thought.

There is a lot of them running around in the rain and avoiding big puddles in this one. There are casualties and declarations of love and another heartbreaking moment with Shane. Why is it always that sarcastic, hard-headed Shane that has the most gut-wrenching moments? *spoiler: highlight* When he freaks out because he doesn't know their daughter's name? I cried. It was awful.*/end spoiler*

I want these kids to have some happiness, eventually. Can we just have a few chapters in the next book where everything is okay and kind of normal? Maybe Claire can go to class again? They can have chili dogs and play some video games. That would be nice, right? Or maybe even make it out of Morganville? I really need to get the next book.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I Want to Re-Read

I haven't done a The Broke & The Bookish Top Ten Tuesday in a while, so I thought it would be nice to get back into this week. We're discussing the top books we want to re-read. I do a lot of that already, so this wasn't too hard for me. What about you? Are you a re-reader? If not, what would be the exception? Tell me below!

1. Harry Potter. Always.

2. The Hunger Games series -I've only read them once, in 2010, when Mockingjay came out. I was a little iffy about the series at first and would love to see what I think now after all the hype. I've also only seen the first movie and really want to re-read them before I watch the second and third.

3. Eleanor & Park and Amy & Roger's Epic Detour -two of my favorite books by two of my favorite new authors! :)

4. Anne of Green Gables --I'm reading the 5th in the series right now and it is really making me want to go back to young Anne in the first book. When I first started this series, in 2012, I didn't realize that Anne would grow up as the series went on and I miss young Anne girl.

5. The Gone series --it'd be great to go back and read these from the beginning and catch all the clues and misdirections he gave throughout the story.

6. Pride & Prejudice --this was the first classic book I read for my blog, 2 years ago, and I'd really like to go back and revisit it. I think I will like it even more the 2nd time.

7. Echo --I zoomed thru this graphic novel series so quickly, I'm sure I missed some stuff. And I will always re-read Terry Moore.

8. Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday --I will probably re-read these next summer, because Steinbeck just means summer to me now. These were my absolute favorite books by him and I can't wait to go back to them!

9. The Night Circus --I would love to be able to go back to this magical world for the first time again! But a re-read will do.

10.The Lunar Chronicles series --I can't wait til the 4th book comes out next year, but I know I will want to re-read this whole series before it does.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Triple Review: "The List", "Through To You", & "Don't Even Think About It"

I'm so far behind on reviews it's not even funny. You've probably noticed that though, right? I've been in a serious blogging slump for months now and am slowly trying to dig my way out of it. I figured a good way to start is some mini reviews, especially since two of these books need to be returned to the library this week. Oops.

The List by Siobhan Vivian
3 out of 5 stars

I bought this book on a spontaneous trip to Target (those are always the most expensive) because I'd heard a lot about Vivian but never read any of her books. Overall, this is a decent read, maybe better suited for an actual young adult. I considered loaning it to my 14 year old sister but she has too many of my books still lol.

It's the week of homecoming and an anonymous list has just been posted all over the school. Eight girls' names are on it: the ugliest and prettiest girls in each class. These eight girls are instantly famous around school and have to deal with the aftermath. "The ones who aren't [on the list] will wonder what the experience, good or bad, might have been like. The eight girls who are won't have a choice."

Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of one of the eight girls and as you can imagine, that is a little confusing at first. I was constantly flipping back to the main list of girls in the beginning of the book. Once I got into the story though, it wasn't too bad. The story is obviously centered on societal definitions of "ugly" and "pretty" but there was also a strong theme of "sisterhood" and "friendship". Two pairs of sisters have made the list (past & present), former best friends have to confront each other when one makes the list for the 4th year in a row. Throughout the story, we learn that outward appearances can be deceiving (one girl suffers from an eating disorder), and sometimes looks really don't matter.

*Slight spoilers*

My main issue with this book, and the reason it was marked down a star, was the ending felt way too rushed. I really wanted to know what happened to all the girls and you don't get that. I felt cheated almost.

Through To You by Lauren Barnholdt
2 out of 5 stars

I just realized that all 3 of these books are told in alternating viewpoints and are all centered around high school life, so I picked a good set to do mini reviews for! :)

Harper is an average girl, not super popular but not a loser either. Penn used to be the hot-shot baseball player before an injury killed his career. One day, Penn drops a note on Harper's desk, "I like your sparkle", and an odd relationship starts up between the two. The story had promise in the beginning...Harper is smart and sassy and doesn't care that Penn is one of the popular kids. Penn comes from a troubled family and is a typical bad boy. But that's about as far as the story gets.

The characters are very flat and I found it hard to get invested in their story. The secondary characters are pretty much nonexistent after the first two chapters. And the "romance" was seriously lacking. They date for maybe a week before they break up and then it kind of repeats through the rest of the book. There is no reason given why these two would like each other or what they can bring to the relationship. Penn refuses to open up to Harper about anything: his injury, his family, his former friendship with a fellow baseball player. Even in the end, he just barely brushes the surface of his troubles. And yet, Harper gives him another chance. And another and another.

Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski
3 out of 5 stars

I have the hardest time spelling this author's last name, she should change it lol. I've read one other book by her, Gimme a Call, and enjoyed it. I didn't realize it before, but she seems to like writing slightly sci-fi, magical realism stories. A homeroom class in a New York City school get flu shots with an odd side-effect...they develop the power to read minds. It seems to only have effected one class, roughly 20 kids, and the story is told by all of them. It's a little odd, as we don't know who specifically is talking, but it kind of works too.

The kids develop ESP over the next few days and of course, have major freak-outs. As they come to terms with having to hear what their parents are saying (or worse, doing), knowing what their best friend actually thinks about them, and finding out if their secret crush actually likes them back, the kids come together as a group. They learn how their ESP works and discuss what they should do. Keep it a secret or tell the authorities? What would you do? Secret, right? I knew it. ;)

After the kids have some time to acclimate, they begin using their powers for good. The good of them, that is. Pop quizzes are aced, new boyfriends are gotten, parents are handled with ease. But eventually, things start unraveling and secrets come out. This book is apparently going to have a sequel (or a series?), so unfortunately the ending is left pretty open. If I remember it, I'd like to read the next one, but not sure if I will.