Library Loot #4

It’s been months. I have no excuses. Life is…well…it’s life.

I’ve been teaching, and working at the after-school program, and coaching softball. Dad’s back in treatment. Our landlord is practically waging war against us, so we’re looking for a new place to live.

Life.

I went into a bit of a reading slump while being stressed about all the above things, but over Thanksgiving break, I came back with a vengeance. Between Nov. 20 – 27, I read 6 books! I’ll do a multi-month wrap-up in the next few days (I hope.)

Anyway, I went to the library. Here’s the loot.

library loot

At the beginning of November, I went into my local library because they were having a used book sale. I’m all about cheap books.I went in on a mission to buy children’s books for my classroom. As a new teacher, my collection is only just beginning. My students have independent reading time each day and they are to read books at their reading levels (or slightly above). This means I need a lot of books of varying reading levels and content to interest my class of very different fourth graders.

I went in, got a huge stack of books, and talked to the librarian at check out. I used to work there as a teenager, so we were talking about what I was up to lately. I explained that I was teaching special education at our elementary school, and they gave me the books for free. I am so thankful for anyone and everyone who supports teachers directly. I love you. You’re awesome.

jasonsuds_giggle

After the sale, I went upstairs and picked out two books:

  1. An Ember in the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir
  2. Salt to the Sea – Ruta Sepetys

I didn’t get a chance to start them until the end of the month (I was geeking out over some Owlcrate reads!), but when I read them, I flew through them.

I went back to the library and picked up the following books:

A Torch Against the Night – Sabaa Tahir

atatnreally enjoyed the first book in this series and I cannot wait to start this read. I honestly have no idea why I’ve waited so long to start this series in general. I love the concept, the characters, and the general flow of the plot. It has a male perspective, which I don’t get to read as often as I’d like.

This book is sitting on my desk and I keep looking at it. I’m currently powering through the Grisha trilogy, but as soon as I’m finished, I’m diving into ATAtN.

Unless I’m reading the next book I picked up on my library trip:

The Selection – Keira Cass

selectionThis is so not a Kacie book. I don’t read a lot of romance.

Remember when I picked up Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins on a whim? I was really surprised by how much I liked it. It was quick, easy, and was sort of like a palette cleanser. I’ve been reading a lot of books with dark themes lately, so I might want something a little different.

I don’t know much about The Selection, but I know it’s a dystopian/fantasy/romance. I know from people who’ve read it, that it’s not a heavy read. I also know that my family will poke fun at me reading a book with a pretty dress on the cover. Oh well. Haters gonna hate.

I can’t believe I said that.

Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard

redqueenI’ve always been a little unsure of this book. It has a lot of mixed reviews, and it received a lot of hype when it came out, but I’m going to try to ignore all that. I’ll watch some videos about it after I finish reading.

I finally picked it up because a fourth grade teacher that I work with read this and its sequel and talks about it a lot. She’s been waiting for me to read it for months, so I really need to follow through on that!

I’ll let you know how I like it.

tomhaverford_glee

Like I said before, I hope to be posting a wrap up within the next few days or so. I really want to get back into book blogging, but I’m not making any promises.

If you’d like to follow my reading updates and/or compare books, add me as a friend on Goodreads!

That’s all for now. I hope to see you soon!

kacie

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Blog Tour – Review: Unbreak My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn

unbreakmyheartTitle: Unbreak My Heart
Author: Nicole Jacquelyn
Genre: Romance, New Adult

This review and blog tour stop was made possible for Corvisiero Literary Agency. Thanks for allowing me to participate!

Note: I received this book as an e-galley from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to NetGalley and Forever for allowing me to read this release.

Summary provided by Corvisiero Literary Agency for review purposes:

unbreakmyheartIf you’re Kate Evans, you keep your friend Rachel, bond with her kids, and bury your feelings for her husband. The fact that Shane’s in the military and away for long periods helps-but when tragedy strikes, everything changes.

After Rachel, pregnant with her fourth child, dies in a car accident and the baby miraculously survives, Kate upends her entire life to share parenting duties. Then on the first anniversary of Rachel’s death, Kate and Shane take comfort in each other in a night that they both soon regret.

Shane’s been angry for a year, and now he feels guilty too – for sleeping with his wife’s best friend and liking it . . . liking her. Kate’s ability to read him like a book may have once sent Shane running, but their lives are forever entwined and they are growing closer.

Now with Shane deployed for seven months, Kate is on her own and struggling with being a single parent. Shane is loving and supportive from thousands of miles away, but his homecoming brings a betrayal Kate never saw coming. So Kate’s only choice is to fight for the future she deserves – with or without Shane…

Amazon  +  Barnes & Noble  +  Goodreads

Premise: 4/5

I went into this book loving the premise. Really, it’s what made me sign up to be a part of this blog tour. I could actually see myself in this situation – helping a friend with her children while her husband is away for months at a time. Then, add in the fact that she is in love with the friend’s husband? That could be interesting!

Plot Development: 3/5

In my mind, it fell through. After reading the book, I re-read the above summary and I realize that it’s all there. The summary matches the plot of the book, but not in the ways that I had imagined. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the book in general. It just didn’t amaze me.

The second paragraph in the above summary happened in the first couple of pages. While I do think it needed to happen early on in the book to allow the rest of the plot to unfold, I didn’t think it needed to be so quick. The accident, parenting duties, and 1-year anniversary were barely described with more than a passing glance.

Then there’s the “betrayal Kate never saw coming” – it happened very close to the end and I had a hard time of viewing it as a betrayal. I can’t delve too much into this because it would give away the majority of the book, but the betraying person didn’t have all the information and acted on instinct. It was impulsive and out of spite, but it was still instinct.

Characterization: 2/5

My issues described in the plot development stem from my dislike for the characters and their characterization in general.

Shane was unlikable. He was a hardened military guy who suddenly lost his wife; I get that. I thought he was unlikable before the wife died. He very quickly went from saying the perfect things, being the smiling, doting husband to an impulsive hothead who always seemed to have the most heinous insults waiting to be thrown at someone…and then right back again to the loving, cute guy. He did have some character growth throughout the book, but not enough to make him a suitable romance novel beau.

Kate was alright. I tried hard to empathize with her because she really was trying the best that she could in a terrible situation. However, she was also as capable of dangerously shifting personalities as Shane. The tension between them could go from sexual to murderous in an instant. It was actually kind of scary and I’m glad these are not real humans. Kate also had some of her background story revealed that helped clue the readers (and Shane) in on what’s going on, but it was done in two ways: an vague info-dump from Kate’s POV that read as “oh by the way you need to know this,” and a friend blindsiding Shane with the information to make him feel like an imbecile. I would have preferred a much vaguer foreshadowing early in the book and then the friend/Shane dialogue later so that the reader was feeling as much “OH CRAP” as Shane was at the time.

Rachel had a few lines of dialogue before dying. I really wish her character was fleshed out more, either in a longer beginning or through the use of flashbacks. I feel like it would have helped the readers understand why Shane was doing the crazy things he was doing, but we didn’t know her and he we didn’t truly know their relationship so Shane seemed like he was flying by the seat of his anger-fueled pants.

Writing Style: 3/5

The writing was okay. It got the job done. If the writing wasn’t okay, I don’t know if I’d have put up with the entire novel.

Readability: 3/5

I understand that in real life, in real tense and angry situations, people swear at each other. I get that. I do not, however, think it translated well in the book. It’s harder for me to read swearing than it is to hear it. A couple well placed curse words in a book drives the point home for me whereas this made me feel like I was watching reality television. It needed toned down.

I also understand that this romance subgenre is New Adult, and while it’s not going to be as steamy as an Erotica book, there are going to be some pretty graphic scenes. I guess I just expected them to be necessary to the plot rather than just…there. Some of the graphic scenes were a little creepy and not necessary at all. If I could trade those pages in for some more backstory at the beginning before killing off Rachel, I would in a heartbeat.

Total Score: 15/25, avg. 3/5

3 stars

Overall, it was alright. I didn’t hate it; I didn’t love it. I will most likely not read the next book in the series (unless I am asked to and provided a copy to read!).

About the Author

unbreakmyheartauthorNicole Jacquelyn is the mom of two little girls and a full time college student. She hasn’t watched television in well over a year, she still does things that drive her mother crazy, and she loves to read. At eight years old, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she told people she wanted to be a mom.

When she was twelve her answer changed- to author. By the time she was eighteen, when people asked her what she wanted to do with her life, she told them she really wanted to be a writer- but the odds of that happening were so slim that she’d get her business degree “just to be safe”. Her dreams stayed constant. First she became a mom, then she went to college, and during her senior year- with one daughter in first grade and the other in preschool, she sat down and wrote a story.

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 As always, thanks for reading. I hope to see you soon!

kacie

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FebMarApr Wrap-Up and Challenge Update | 2016

Hello, everyone! I can’t believe it’s already May! This has been the fastest spring season I’ve ever experienced. Between standardized testing at school, field trips, and coaching high school softball, it has flown by.

In fact, I haven’t posted a wrap up since the end of January. Oops. To rectify the situation, here is my wrap-up of the last three months.

wrapup

In the months of February, March, and April, I read a total of eleven books. They haven’t been my best reading months, but I feel like I read a whole lot more. Maybe that’s because I’m not including my read alouds that I did with students including Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

Here’s what I read outside of the classroom, including the star ratings and date of which I finished each book:

feb

February Book Stats:

  • 5-Star Books:  None
  • 4-Star BooksThe Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan; Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
  • 3-Star BooksThe Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Other Book Facts:

I did not enjoy The Raven Boys as much as I thought I would. It was very slow and hard to read for me. I’ve heard that the next two books are better, but I’m not sure if I’m going to continue. I certainly won’t be purchasing any of them.

Book of the Month:

Of these three books, I enjoyed Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. I liked the callbacks to Anna and the French Kiss and enjoyed the novel even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of Lola.

Book Reviews:

None.

mar

March Book Stats:

  • 5-Star Books:  The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
  • 4-Star BooksA Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
  • 1-Star BooksNever Mind My Thigh Gap by Sarah Newtwon

Other Book Facts:

I read A Study In Charlotte for a book group called “The Story Squad” on Goodreads/YouTube.

Never Mind My Thigh Gap was a review book, but I’m struggling writing the review for it because I disliked it a lot and don’t want to be too harsh. It’s coming.

Book of the Month:

I binge-read The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. I received it in an OwlCrate and read it in one sitting.

Book Reviews:

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

apr

April Book Stats:

  • 5-Star Books:  None
  • 4-Star BooksThe Good Girl by Mary Kubica; What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler; Flawed by Cecelia Ahern; Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
  • 3-Star BooksFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • 2Star Books: The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry

Other Book Facts:

I wanted to give The Love That Split the World a lower rating, but I liked the rating.

Book of the Month:

I had no 5-Star reads, but my favorite book I read this month was Flawed by Cecelia Ahern. I received it in an OwlCrate and read it in one day. Even though it wasn’t all that special and very similar to other dystopian novels, I enjoyed it from beginning to end.

I want Josh from Isla and the Happily Ever After, thankyouverymuch.

Book Reviews:

None….yet.

Six Squared Challenge Update

This year, I am working to complete the Six Squared Challenge created by bookstacksamber. To keep track of my progress, I have a word document that breaks down each category into tables.

debut


goodreads


start a series


complete


Challenge Stats:

  • New Releases (Debut Authors): 6/6 – 100%
  • New Releases (Loved Authors): 0/6 – 0%
  • Books to Start a Series: 4/6 – 66%
  • Books to Complete a Series: 1/6 – 17%
  • Book to Movie Adaptations: 1/6 – 17%
  • Goodreads Choice Winners/Nominees – 3/6 – 50%
  • Total: 15/36 – 42%

See you later!

kacie

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TAG: Burn, Rewrite, Reread

Hello, bookfriends!

It has been forever since I’ve been active here on the blog. Life has been pretty busy. I’m not making any promises that I’ll be back in full force at any time before the end of the school year (come on, June!), but I wanted to post a non-review for you.

I haven’t done a tag since January, so a tag is my obvious choice!

I was tagged in the “Burn, Rewrite, Reread” Tag by Nick @ The Paper Dragon and Michelle @ A Halfblood Fangirl. Thanks, guys!

The name of the game is Burn, Rewrite, Reread and it plays very similarly to Kiss, Marry, Kill (or other versions of the game that use an expletive instead of “kiss”).

THE RULES!:

  1. Randomly choose 3 books. (Use the ‘random’ option on your Goodreads read shelf. Thanks for that tip, it makes this so much easier)
  2. For each group, decide which book to burn, which one to rewrite, and which to reread. (A lot like Kiss, Marry, Kill.)
  3. Repeat until you completed three rounds

Round 1:

16096824  heir  cinder

This round is EASY-PEASY.

Burn:  A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Even though I rated this higher than Heir of Fire, I thought ACOTAR was wildly inappropriate for the intended audience. I could rewrite this, but I would want to burn it first and then start completely anew.

RewriteHeir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. I enjoyed the first two books in the series but I didn’t like this one. I wouldn’t have to completely start over to rewrite and make this one better. I’d take out some of the slower parts, add some details to the Manon sections so that I would be less confused, and tweak some other elements here and there. (Seriously, though. Every time I got back to a Manon section, I would confuse characters’ names with their witch clans. Which witch is which?)

RereadCinder by Marissa Meyer. I highly enjoyed Cinder the first time, so I’d definitely reread it.

Round 2:

112263  thegoldencompass  wgwg

Another easy one.

BurnWill Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. I gave this two stars. Even though I read it pretty much in one sitting, I did not enjoy it. I could easily throw it away forever.

Rewrite11/22/63 by Stephen King. The ending. I’d rewrite the ending. SIDE NOTE: If you’ve seen the Hulu show and want to read the book, you need to know that the book is extremely different from the show.

RereadThe Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. This is one of my favorite books from my childhood and I’d definitely read it again.

Round 3:

whatwesaw  rpo  say what you will

This one’s a little harder, I guess.

BurnSay What You Will by Cammie McGovern. I rated this a 4/5 stars, but it’s my least favorite of the three. I guess it has to go.

RewriteWhat We Saw by Aaron Hartzler. I just finished this book and I loved it. However, there were a few scenes in this novel that I would absolutely rewrite. The main relationship had its insta-love moments and there was this creepy seen where she meets up with another character that was out of line. I’d find another way for the two to run into each other.

RereadReady Player One by Ernest Cline. As you know, I loved this book! In fact, I might reread it as soon as I’m done posting. I’ve been wanting to reread this book ever since I finished it the first time. I loved it this much:

schwing

There you have it, folks. I hope you have an excellent day/night/weekend/week/month/whatever until you see me next. See ya later!

kacie

 

 

Book Review: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

the serpent kingTitle: The Serpent King
Author: Jeff Zentner
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary

I received this book from Owlcrate, a YA themed book subscription box. For more information, please visit their website.

The Serpent King follows the lives of three teenagers in a small, rural high school in Tennessee over the course of their senior year. Dill, Travis, and Lydia are close friends with differing ideas of what is in store for their futures, partly due to their very different home lives.

Dill is the son of the preacher who is known for having his congregation handle poisonous snakes to test their faith. Unfortunately for Dill, his father is even more well-known for what landed him in prison, causing Dill to be trapped at home with his mother and his father’s debts.

Famous on the internet for her fashion sense, Lydia has a ticket out of this town. She has a family that loves her and connections that will take her far in life and away from the town and people that don’t fit in her blog’s aesthetic.

Travis doesn’t care what anyone thinks. While Lydia prepares for college and Dill avoids thinking about her leaving, Travis prepares himself for the next book in his favorite fantasy series, “Bloodfall” by dressing like the book’s characters and rereading the series.

As the three friends cope with the ending of high school and the beginning of what lies ahead, they learn much more about themselves and each other in the process.

 Premise: 4/5

While at first I thought the snakes were a little weird, I quickly became interested in the backstory of Dill and his family. It’s weird enough to make it different than other things that I have read. I was also a little leery at first about the novel following a group of outcast friends, simply because it’s not that original. However, I liked the way that the three diverse friends came together.

Plot Development: 5/5

The Serpent King is quickly paced from start to finish, but not overly so. The plots jumps between the three main characters and what is currently happening in their private lives as well as what’s going on with the entire group. The plot was developed evenly with next to no filler material. I was unable to put the book down.

Characterization: 5/5

Each of the main characters keep parts of their lives private from their friends. They each have their own struggles on top of the struggles of the group as a whole. The way they cope with these struggles changed over time as they matured. The characters were developed appropriately throughout the course of the novel.

Writing Style: 5/5

I highly enjoyed the writing style of this novel. It was one of the reasons I read it in one sitting. Time passed quickly while I was reading. Each of the characters had their own distinct voices reflected in the writing style.

Readability: 5/5

Like I said before, I read this book entirely in one sitting. It read extremely easily, even though some of the content wasn’t exactly easy to read about (don’t worry, I won’t spoil you!).

Total Score: 24/25, avg. 4.8/5

5 stars

The Serpent King is one of my favorite reads of 2016 and may even have topped the list. This book made me love my Owlcrate subscription even more because I hadn’t heard of this book before receiving it. I am sure glad I read it. It’s an obvious five stars from me!

I also read this book for the #sixsquaredchallenge hosted by bookstacksamber! – New Releases (Debut Authors)

Have you read The Serpent King? What did you think?

kacie

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Want to purchase a copy of The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner for yourself? Check it out on The Book Depository by clicking HERE.

Book Review: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

A Study in CharlotteTitle: A Study in Charlotte
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

I had been anxious to read A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro since I’d first heard about its upcoming release. When the online book club in which I take part selected this novel as a possible upcoming read, I jumped on it. I voted on Twitter and in the Goodreads group for A Study in Charlotte to be our group read. It was selected as the March/April book and I bought it right away. The hardcover was even cheaper than the Amazon Kindle edition!

For more about this online book club, visit The Story Squad on Goodreads.

Trigger Warning for Book (not review): This book does contain references to sexual assault, but not an actual depiction of the assault in question.

Premise: 4/5

Alright…it’s a little cliché. I get that. The British great-great-great-grandchildren of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson just happen to attend an extremely small preparatory high school in Connecticut, USA. They meet, fall into their famous relatives’ roles, and work to solve a murder together. It sounds like it’s right out of the fanfiction community.

I was a sucker for it.

As I read about this book and then started reading it myself, I found myself wondering how the more well-known pieces of Sherlockian lore were going to be incorporated. What will Holmes’ vices be? Will the Moriartys come into play?

Plot Development: 4/5

With a cliché premise comes cliché plot development. That was okay! It was exactly what was expected, so I could not be disappointed. It was, at times, rather predictable, but it was so in a way that made me smile, thinking, “I knew that was going to happen this way!” If I was looking for a more difficultly pieced together sort of mystery, I would not be giving this a 4/5, but my expectations for this novel were satisfied.

Characterization: 4/5

Again, cliché, but expected. Holmes and Watson went through the exact character developments that were expected. Some characterization elements were even a little elevated. The only reason I am not scoring this a five is because I didn’t like some of Watson’s behavior. Some his character didn’t fit with the rest of him, like the author wanted to round him out a little, but came off as trying too hard.

Writing Style: 4/5

As with the rest of this review, I don’t have a lot to say about the writing style. It was a quick, easy read. Something that I adored was the change in writing style with the change of characters. Watson and Holmes truly had their own voices. In Watson’s point of view, Holmes’ voice shone through. In Holmes’ point of view, the writing style of the inner monologue completely changed to fit the character. This is pretty hard to do, so I’m impressed. If the writing stays the same, I’ll be sure to pick up the next book in the series.

Readability: 4/5

It was quick, easy, and cliché, and I loved it. It was quite refreshing to read from a male’s point of view. These days, male perspective YA is hard to find. If you’re looking for an easy, modern twist on a classic “whodunit,” this book is for you. If you’re looking for a more complicated mystery to keep you more on your toes, maybe look into some mysteries out of the adult literature section of your library or bookstore.

Obligatory teacher comment:  This book is intended for young adult audiences. Parents and teachers should note that it does contain drug references, mild language, and sex, including sexual assault. If your teen or student is reading this novel, be prepared to talk about these themes in a positive and educational way.

Total Score: 20/25, avg. 4/5

4 stars

Overall, I’d read this again, but definitely not for a few years. It didn’t wow me, but I enjoyed it enough to keep on my bookshelf.

I also read this book for the #sixsquaredchallenge hosted by bookstacksamber! – Books to Start a Series

Have you read A Study in Charlotte? What did you think?

kacie

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Want to purchase a copy of A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro for yourself? Check it out on The Book Depository by clicking HERE.

Friday Reads! February 5th

It’s the first Friday in February! I cannot believe it’s already been a month since the new year began. Time sure flies, doesn’t it?

Friday Reads

Here’s what I’m reading today and this weekend:

  1. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – I’m about one hundred pages into this. It’s taking me awhile to really get into the story, but I’m getting there. I plan on finishing it this weekend.
  2. The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan – This is Book 2 in the Percy Jackson series and I’ve only read Book 1. Since I scored books 1-4 in the Heroes of Olympus series for FREE for my classroom, I decided to get the box set of Percy Jackson and the Olympians for my classroom as well. I want to marathon read these to get to the Heroes of Olympus books that my students think “will TAKE FOREVER TO READ, MISS ROBERTS, OH EM GEE.”

If I finish these, I might just keep going in the Percy Jackson series or I’ll pick something off my shelf I haven’t read yet. We’ll see.

What are you reading this weekend?

kacie

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