August Wrap-up/September TBR

This month I was really disappointed with the ARCs that I had. Some were fantastic, but others were real duds. I need to stop requesting books that I’m only mildly interested in from NetGalley…


Con Academy by Joe Schreiber
Lumiere by Jacqueline Garlick – DNF 20%
The Last of the Firedrakes by Farah Oomerbhoy
State of Grace by Hilary Badger
Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig – Read and reviewed
Everything, Everything by Nicole Yoon – Read and reviewed
A Whole New World by Liz Braswell – DNF 41%
Whippoorwill by Joseph Monninger – Currently Reading
Hunter by Mercedes Lackey – DNF 6%
The Secret Fire by CJ Daugherty

Kindle TBR Challenge (continued)
Ultimate fail. I’m quitting this challenge for now.

Cress by Marissa Meyer – Read, review coming
The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E Pearson – Read, review coming
Red Ruby by Kerstin Gier – Read, review coming
Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols – Read
The Comeback Season by Jennifer E Smith – Read, review coming
Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott – Read
The Trouble with Flirting by Claire LaZebnik – Read
The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik – Read
You Are Here by Jennifer E Smith – Currently Reading

For School
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate – Read, assignment post
Midwinterblood by Marcu Sedgwick – Read, working on assignment

Total, I read 11 books.


Chivalrous by Dina L Sleiman
The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer
I Crawl Through It by A.S. King
The Summer Marked by Rebekah L Purdy
A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

For School
Locomotive by Brian Floca (picture book)
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney (picture book)
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Novel)
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Graphic Novel)
The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black
The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon [ARC]

Maddy has SCID also known as “bubble-boy syndrome”. If she leaves the house, she’ll get sick–she’s allergic to pretty much everything. This is a fact that Maddy has come to accept. She spends time with her doctor mother and her nurse Carla. She had never really wanted to go outside until the day Olly moves in next door. Olly is so full of life and Maddy can’t help but to wonder what it would be like to live life like Olly.


I liked this book quite a bit because it’s so different from other YA books that I’ve read. Maddy is diverse in a lot of ways. She’s part black and part Asian, she has this awful disease, and she doesn’t have a typical family (her father and brother passed away in a car accident). I just loved how all of those elements came together to create a character who felt very real. I really liked the relationship between Maddy and her mom in the beginning of the book. Going into it, you might expect the teenage girl to be resentful of her parent and other caretakers, but Maddy is very respectful and mature. I was happy that there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of angst. Olly was an okay character to me. For some reason he didn’t feel very genuine.

I loved, loved, LOVED all of the variety with the chapters! It was so fun and made the book SUPER readable. In addition, there were some things (like the chats and emails) that helped to move the plot along without taking too much time. Then there were other things (like homework pages and Post-It notes) that showed characters’ personalities really well. It made the book seem more journal-ish and it made the characters more real to me.

The relationship between Maddy and Olly progressed a little too quickly for me and it had a maturity to it that I didn’t get from the characters individually. I know the author tried to use chat and emails to progress the relationship, but it just felt too quick to me. I wish they had spent more time as friends than in love. It almost seems like Maddy’s fallen in love with the first boy her age that she’s seen. At the same time, I’m not sure what Olly sees in Maddy. Don’t get me wrong, Maddy seems like an awesome girl, but the book mostly focuses on what Maddy’s getting out of the relationship. What does Olly get out of it? I’m not really sure.

Overall, I thought this book was great. This is Nicola Yoon’s first book and I’m excited to see what the future holds for her!

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Mild
Violence: Moderate. Some scenes with/talk of physical and verbal abuse.
Sexual Content: Moderate. One scene in particular, not explicit.
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate. Teenage character smokes, adult character drinks a lot.

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

HW ASSIGNMENT: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Hello everyone! I just wanted to give you a taste of the kind of thing that I’m doing in one of my MLS courses. This week we were assigned to read a Newbery Award winning book and I chose The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. I won’t get into all the requirements for our discussion posts, but this is my finished assignment. (Note: This post was intended to be read by others who had already read the book thus, there are spoilers).cover

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate details the life of Ivan, a silverback gorilla living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. At the beginning of the book, Ivan seems content with his life. He has a nice domain with a painted jungle scene on one wall. He has friends and a TV and a tire swing. But when Ruby—a new elephant—arrives, he starts to realize that he may not be as happy as he thought.

Giving the animals human characteristics helps the reader to relate to them. Kids especially will relate because they probably understand as much as Ivan does about adult humans. His narration is always very simple and literal: “It’s almost morning when I hear steps. It’s Mack. He has a sharp smell. He weaves as he walks. He stands next to my domain. His eyes are red. He is staring out the window at the empty parking lot” (147). Ivan doesn’t understand that Mack is drunk, but he describes what he sees and smells. Mack smells different, he’s not walking straight, and his eyes are red. In the same way, a child could notice these same things about an adult and also not understand what they mean.

Ivan goes on to experience other things that children often experience: moving, losing old friends, and trying to make new ones. When Ivan first arrives at the zoo, he feels lonely, afraid, and questions his identity. “I have no visitors here, no sticky-fingered children or weary parents. . . . I wonder if I have stopped being famous” (265). He also finds it difficult to make friends with the other gorillas at first. Over time Ivan begins to get used to his new habitat. He still misses his old home, but he’s happy where he is. Children will be able to see that even though Ivan is in a new place, he is still able to be happy.

Many authors have used animal characters with human characteristics as the focus of their book. Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater is another Newbery Award winning book where animals are raised outside of their natural habitat. In the book, Mr. Popper trains his penguins to perform and put on shows. Another book about animals with human qualities is The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White. Louis, the main character, is a swan who learns how to read, write, and even play the trumpet.

While The One and Only Ivan is a fictional story, the author explains that this story is based off of a gorilla named Ivan who was raised alone in captivity for twenty-seven years. He was eventually moved to Zoo Atlanta where he lived until 2012 when he died at the age of fifty. His story can be found at the Zoo Atlanta website. Knowing that a real gorilla lived some of the same events as the fictional Ivan really helps to bring the story to life.

BOOK TAG: The Harry Potter Tag

I was tagged by Joey @Thoughts and Afterthoughts

Favorite book?

Easily Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Anyone who says differently is just trying to be a hipster. I mean…TriWizard Tournament. #amiright

Favorite film?

I’ll go with the first one. Granted, I’ve seen the first two like…five million times but the last six only once. However, I stand by my pick. Harry Potter had already cast a spell on the population of the world. Seeing Harry’s world finally realized on screen was really a transcendent experience.

Least favorite book?

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Even while I was reading it the first time, I had a hard time getting into it. The beginning just really dragged in my opinion. I’ve tried to reread it since but ended up not finishing.

Parts of the books/movies that make you cry?


Favorite character?

Hard to say…probably Hermione, but I also like Jenny.

What would your Patronus be?

A great blue heron

If you could have the Resurrection Stone, the Invisibility Cloak, or the Elder Wand, which one would you choose?

NONE OF THE ABOVE. I choose the ability to apparate. Seriously. That would be the best thing ever.

What House would you be in?

Ravenclaw. Without a doubt.

If you could meet any member of the cast, who would it be?

Emma Watson? She seems awesome.

If you were on the Quidditch team, what position would you play?

Sideline. I wouldn’t be on the Quidditch team. Unless my house wanted to lose.

Were you happy with the ending?

Yes? I don’t actually remember since it’s been so long since I’ve read the whole series…I remember feeling an emptiness after realizing that the series was actually over, but I think that I was satisfied.

How much does Harry Potter mean to you?

A lot. I have so many memories surrounding Harry Potter. It’s not what created my love for reading, but it definitely added fuel to the fire.

Alright, as per the usual, I won’t be tagging anyone. But if you feel like you want to do it, go for it!

Top Ten Tuesday: Materials for Youth 101


I’m back everyone! Our internet was out for a few days, but that has now been resolved. Let’s jump into this week’s Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is: Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If You Taught X 101 (examples: YA fantasy 101, feminist literature 101, magic in YA 101, classic YA lit 101, world-building 101)

I am actually taking a class this semester called “Materials for Youth”. So I thought I’d share with you guys my real life reading list for the semester!


1) Newbery Award – The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Alternate Options: Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo, The Crossover by Kwame Alexander


2) Printz Award – Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

Alternate Options: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, In Darkness by Nick Lake


3) Caldecott Award – The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

Alternate Options: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brain Selznick and A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka

MangaSoullessSoulless_by_Gail_Carriger_1st_edition_cover4) Traditional & Graphic Novel Smackdown (read both traditional and graphic novel versions) – Soulless by Gail Carriger

Alternate Options: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, TheGolden Compass by Philip Pullman, Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

51k9FTuIDnL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_5) Fantasy Literature for Children – The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare

Alternate Options: The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier, Baba Yag’s Assistant by Marika McCoola, Story Thieves by James Riley


6) Fantasy Literature for Young Adults – The Six by Mark Alpert

Alternate Options: The Novice by Taran Matahru, Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King, More Than This by Patrick Ness


7) Realistic Fiction Literature for Children – Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Alternate Options: Doll Bones by Holly Black, Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky


8) Realistic Fiction Literature for Young Adults – What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

Alternate Options: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen, Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz


9) Historical Fiction for Youth – Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

Alternate Options: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang, Stella by Starlight by Sharon M Draper

10) Magazines – One Children’s Magazine and One Young Adult Magazine

The Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig [ARC]

The year is 1951 and eleven-year-old Donal lives with his grandmother. This summer he’s on his way to stay with his Great-Aunt Kate and her husband Herman while his grandmother recovers from a surgery. Dragging his wicker suitcase, Indian moccasins, and autograph book along for the ride, Donal learns a lot about people and the Greyhound bus system.

51S9z5jS6mL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I really loved this book. Donal is such a sweet narrator and I absolutely loved seeing his relationships with both his grandmother and Herman. Typically I read books with an older narrator, so reading a book from the prospective of an eleven-year-old boy (going on twelve) was different and refreshing. I loved the feeling of innocence that ran throughout the book. I don’t know if this will really make sense, but it made the book feel brighter in some ways. Because he’s so young, Donal has this inherent optimism about him. He’s always coming up with new ideas and ways to get himself and Herman out of sticky situations. Herman also had an air of innocence about him. Thinking about meeting real cowboys and Indians almost transforms him into a little boy as well. Together those two were just a really good combination and it was touching to see their relationship grow. You really did get the sense that they love each other. It was heartbreaking every time Donal thought about what the end of the summer might mean for him and Herman.

There were some quirky things throughout the book that I really enjoyed like the autograph book and the occasional phonetic spelling. It just added character to the story. I found myself really caring about Donal and I’d forget that this book is based in 1951 instead of today! It just feels so real and strangely current. The cast of characters that we meet are interesting. This book is definitely about people rather than a plot. Usually this is something that I’m wary of (I love a good plot) but I ended up not really caring! I was content to just go with the flow of the book and to lose myself in the characters and relationships.

There were a few times throughout the book that the plot felt a little contrived. Sometimes it was unbelievable what bad luck Donal and Herman were having or that they just coincidentally ran into this person again. The ending in particular seemed a little too good to be true. At the same time, that almost adds to the whimsical feeling that seems to run throughout the book and I felt like I could overlook it.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes reading about that time period of American history. The writing was beautiful throughout and I’m just realizing now what a true celebration of America it was.

Overall Rating: 5
Violence: Mild. One bar fight.
Language: Moderate
Sexual Content: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate. A lot of beer drinking in particular, but no underage drinking.

Note: I received this book free from Penguin First to Read in exchange for an honest review.

Top Ten Tuesday: Auto-Buy Authors


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is: Top Ten Of Your Auto-buy Authors (no matter the genre or what it’s about…you’ll buy it from these authors!).

1) Sarah Dessen – I LOVE HER SO MUCH. She’s written a couple of books that I didn’t particularly care for, but overall I love how she writes and what she writes about.

2) Jennifer E Smith – She just writes cute contemporary romances that I can’t get enough of! I will seriously read anything written by my girl Jen E Smith.

3) Gail Carriger – One word. Steampunk. She does it so well! I love her spunky characters and that she keeps writing books set in the same world. I love catching up with characters!

4) Huntley Fitzpatrick – I’ve read both of her books and they were WINNERS. I’m super pumped for her latest release to finally be out!

5) Morgan Matson – Oh Morgan Matson…so many feels. I’ve read two of her books with plans to read her third. She’s so good at showing relationships. Between best friends, between romantic interests, between parent and child…whatever, you’ll get the feels.

6) Kasie West – I’ve read Pivot Point/Split Second as well as The Distance Between Us and loved both. They’re so different, but I liked the way she portrayed the lead female characters. I’m really excited to finally get going on her latest two YA contemporary romances!

7) Marissa Meyer – The Lunar Chronicles are GENIUS. I’m not sure how she’d be writing another series or a standalone, but I believe!

8) Suzanne Collins – I know she’s only written The Hunger Games, but I believe in her ability to build worlds and make us feel for characters.

9) Cassandra Clare – I’ll admit, I’m not big on the novellas she’s written (I haven’t actually read any, but I feel like every time I turn around she’s released another one). I love her full-length books though. Big fan.

10) Rainbow Rowell – I love how she creates such real characters! Definitely an author that I’m keeping an eye on.

Okay, so it looks like a lot of my auto-buy authors specialize in YA Contemporary Romance. What can I say? I just love the feels that I get from them.

Who do you auto-buy?

BOOK TAG: The TBR Book Tag

Alright, lately I’ve been in a bit of a slump…I’ve been reading, but not books that are super easy to finish. One of the books, I just wasn’t into. I really liked the other one, but it was the type of book that could only be read like 30 pages at a time. I’ve also been in a bit of a slump as far as reviews go. I just haven’t felt that motivated to write any. But now I’ve got a pretty good list going, so I think this week I’ll finally find the motivation to get some written.

Anyway, here’s something to tie you over. I was tagged for this by Joey @Thoughts and Afterthoughts.

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

I have a couple of Amazon Wishlists with all of the books that I want to read. One list has all of the books that my libraries have available through Overdrive, and then the other has books that aren’t.

Is your TBR mostly print or eBook?

Of books that I own, eBook. This is mostly due to the fact that I stopped buying physical books until recently (it was a necessary decision due to moving into a dorm room).

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

Usually it’s just whatever I’m feeling like, but lately I’ve been trying to use my TBR jar.

A book that’s been on your TBR list the longest?

The Ward by Jordana Frankel. I honestly can’t even remember what it’s about anymore, but it’s on my list so I’m sure it sounded interesting…

A book you recently added to your TBR?

A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce #fairytaleretellings

A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover?

Nothing. Sorry, I never pick a book just because of it’s cover. I always have to be interested in the summary as well.

A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading?

Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much by Sendhil Mullainathan & Eldar Shafir. One of my Econ professors mentioned it and it sounded interesting, so I stuck it on my list, but I’m not sure if I’ll actually ever get to it.

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for?

The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick. I really enjoyed her other two books, so I’m looking forward to her latest release.

A book on your TBR that everyone has read but you?

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas. It seems like everyone’s already read this book, I just haven’t gotten to it yet.

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh. I have only heard good things about this book!

A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read?

Oh gosh, too many. I don’t think I can pick.

How many books are on your Goodreads TBR shelf?

116. But I don’t think that’s truly representative of how many books are ACTUALLY on my TBR list.

Alright, as usual, I tag anyone who wants to do this! I actually really enjoyed it because it gave me the opportunity to peruse my TBR when I haven’t really given it a good look in little a while.

August TBR Update

Con Academy by Joe Schreiber
Lumiere by Jacqueline Garlick – Currently Reading
The Last of the Firedrakes by Farah Oomerbhoy
State of Grace by Hilary Badger
Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig – Currently Reading
Everything, Everything by Nicole Yoon
A Whole New World by Liz Braswell
Whippoorwill by Joseph Monninger
Hunter by Mercedes Lackey
The Secret Fire by CJ Daugherty

Kindle TBR Challenge (continued)
This month I hope to get in at least five from my Kindle.

Cress by Marissa Meyer – Read, review coming
The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E Pearson – Read, review coming

Not the best showing so far…but I hope that my reading will start to pick up in the second half of the month.

Top Five Wednesday: Favorite Required Reading


Okay, so I don’t generally do Top Five Wednesdays, but I really liked this week’s topic so I’ve just decided to do it (also, I know I’m late, but I was sick yesterday so just give me a break).

Top Five Wednesday was created by Lainey over on Youtube as (Gingerreadslainey). If you want to participate, just head over to the Goodreads page and check out the rules and topics!

1) Lord of the Flies by William Golding – I read this one my freshman year of high school. It’s kind of a gruesome story, as I’m sure most of you know, but for some reason I found myself really liking it. It’s not that I liked all of the violence and suffering, but I liked imagining what I would do in that situation and kind of getting a glimpse into the human mind a bit.

2) The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway – I read this my second year in college. My husband and I (then just engaged) decided to take an American Lit class together and this was one of the assigned readings that we had. It was just a beautifully written story and my first exposure to Ernest Hemingway.

3) The Prince by Machiavelli – I read this in a Poli Sci class my senior year (I took classes at the local community college junior and senior year). I’d heard a lot about it, but had never read it for myself when it was assigned. I don’t know what it is about it, but I really enjoyed reading it! Maybe because it just all…kind of made sense to me. It seemed logical in some ways.

4) The Odyssey by Homer – I read this in my sophomore English class. We read a ton of books that I absolutely hated in that class, but this wasn’t one of them! I have always been interested in Greek mythology so reading The Odyssey was fun and interesting to me.

5) Naked Economics by Charles Wheelan – I (mostly) read this for my Econ 110 class my first year of college. I say mostly because I haven’t actually managed to finish it yet, but I definitely plan to! It’s a fun way to look at Economics as a subject just from a casual point of view. The author does a good job relating Econ terms to every day life. Just a fun read even  (maybe especially) if you don’t know anything about Economics!