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

Find me on:

 

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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.

Top 5 Wednesday #20: Biggest Badasses

Good afternoon!

Today is Wednesday. It’s already been quite the week for me at school, but I’m getting even more excited about reading because I’m competing in a reading challenge against my fourth graders! This was decided upon today, but I’m planning on doing a whole post about it in the future. I’m excited.

Because today is Wednesday, I’m about to countdown a list of five of my favorite books or literary characters.

t5wfamily


As always, Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey at gingerreadslainey. For a complete list of Wednesday-ers and topics, please visit the Goodreads group!


This week, we are focusing on the biggest literary badasses. This topic, as are they all, is subjective. Who’s to say which character excels in badassery more than the others?

Here are my favorite characters that can (more than) hold their own.

#5 – Arya Stark – A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

I love Arya. She could sense that she was going to be in danger so she cut off all her hair and became a boy…not because boys are better than girls (because they’re not), but because she could hide that way. She became a a completely new person to survive and through this, has experienced an unbelievable amount of growing up. Go Arya!

#4 – Hannibal Lecter – The Hannibal Lecter series by Thomas Harris

Okay, guys. I had to include at least one villain on my list, right? If you know me at all, then you know that I love me a good villain. Hannibal Lecter is one of my favorites. He’s always speaking in riddles, often of literary origin, and even when things go extremely sour, he’s cool and collected. Actually, he’s extraordinarily calm. It’s creepy.

I love it.

#3 – Art3mis – Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Again, if you know me, you shouldn’t be surprised. I loved this book and want to reread it again and again. Part of that reason is my love of all the characters, but specifically Art3mis. She is an amazing video gamer and egg hunter (gunter) that she is leaps and bounds ahead of everyone…and she is a GIRL. Heck yes!

#2 – Mark Watney – The Martian by Andy Weir

Mark Watney was stranded on Mars with no possibility of rescue for years. That could get a man down, but not Mark Watney. He was pretty much doomed, but he kept going and trying to find a way to survive. He even kept a sense of humor about him, like it was no big deal.

#1 – Neville Longbottom – Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

I am putting Neville on this list more than that AMAZINGLY AWESOME SCENE IN THE SEVENTH BOOK/MOVIE WHEN NEVILLE KICKED SO MUCH NAGINI BUTT. *ahem*

Neville had a ton of character growth throughout the series. He started out that character that’s seemingly there just for humorous purposes, but then he evolves into so much more. I love Neville so much that I own his wand!


 

There’s my list, how about yours?

Which literary characters do you consider to be total badasses?

I’ll see you tomorrow, bookfriends!

kacie

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Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

knifeofneverlettinggoTitle: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Fantasy

I received The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness as a Christmas gift this year and it had been on my wish list for several months. I’d only read one Patrick Ness novel, but I had heard so many great things about the Chaos Walking trilogy that I needed to pick this one up.

Premise: 5/5

A boy named Todd is almost a man. He’ll be a man in about a month, actually. When a boy becomes a man in Prentisstown, something changes within them. Todd is the last boy in Prentisstown, meaning he has been left out of a lot by the men. That’s not the only thing odd about Prentisstown. There are no women. Oh, and everyone can hear your thoughts. All the time. In fact, you can hear every thought in town, coming together to form the Noise that is the world’s background. Unfortunately for Todd, that means that his thoughts are going to cause him to be caught and possibly worse, because Todd is running. But how can you hide from a world that can hear your secret plans?

Yes. Sold. This sounds AWESOME.

Plot Development: 4/5

The plot did wonderful justice to this premise. It was paced well and was everything that I expected it would be. I only have a slight issue with the believability of a certain character that I won’t talk about due to spoilers.

Characterization: 4/5

I enjoyed Ness’s characterization in this novel, even though I thought it could be better. Ultimately, Beginning-Todd is much different than End-Todd, which is pretty great. I also loved Manchee, Todd’s dog. I thought the Noise was pretty well done throughout the novel.

Writing Style: 3/5

This book took me a month to read. It was hard for me to be in the mood for it because of the writing style. It reminded me of The Maze Runner by James Dashner, which I did not like, in that it was really dramatic and withheld a lot of information from the reader. Every chapter ended in too much suspense, making me think “dun dun DUN” way too often. Overall, I was able to look past this because of the intriguing storyline.

Readability: 4/5

The overdramatic aspects of this novel, however, made this a true Young Adult novel. It definitely caters to the intended YA audience. Its language and content was appropriate for the audience as well. Sometimes, the Noise made the dialogue between characters really confusing, but other than that, it was pretty easy to read…when I was in the mood to do so.

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

4 stars

This is an obvious 4 stars. It took me a month to read because of some issues I had with it, but I liked it overall. It was an interesting read and I’ll more than likely continue the series.

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

Have you read The Knife of Never Letting Go? What did you think?

kacie

Find me on:

Want to purchase a copy of The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness for yourself? Check it out on The Book Depository by clicking HERE.

Kacie’s Kindle Collection

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the books that I have on my shelves. Last week, I talked about my Most Owned Authors. This week, I want to talk about a shelf that I don’t see on a regular basis as I walk through my room.

I’m talking about my Kindle bookshelf.

kindle

Key:

  • Read Books
  • Unread Books

 

  1. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
  2. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  3. Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
  4. It by Stephen King
  5. Outlander (7 book collection) by Diana Gabaldon
  6. Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids by Chris Biffle
  7. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
  8. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
  9. Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
  10. Vicious by V.E. Schwab
  11. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
  12. Progeny of Gods by Geoffrey Storm
  13. Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
  14. Placid Girl by Brenna Erlich
  15. From a Distant Star by Karen McQuestion
  16. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  17. How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
  18. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
  19. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  20. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  21. Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz (I also own a hard copy)
  22. Allegianby Veronica Roth
  23. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  24. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  25. Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  26. This is Just Exactly Like You by Drew Perry
  27. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  28. Bossy Pants by Tina Fey
  29. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  30. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (I also own hard copies)
  31. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Road Dahl (I also own a hard copy)
  32. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (I also own a hard copy)
  33. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
  34. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters
  35. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  36. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
  37. Dining With The Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook
  38. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
  39. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
  40. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  41. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
  42. Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James
  43. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James
  44. The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
  45. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  46. The Drawing of Three by Stephen King
  47. The Gunslinger by Stephen King

42/47 Read

As you can see, if I buy a book for my Kindle, I usually read it right away. The only reason I haven’t read the books that I haven’t read on this list are because I bought them when they were great deals. I do mean to finish them in the near future.

Have you read any of the selections I have on my Kindle bookshelf? 

I’ll see you soon!

kacie

Find me on:

 

January Wrap-Up and Challenge Update | 2016

Hello, everyone! It’s the last day of January, so you know what that means!

wrapup
Also, it’s in the title of this post.

In the month of January, I read a total of seven books! I branched out of my comfort zone and  read a few books that I normally wouldn’t have picked up. I even liked most of them!

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

Book of the Month

January Book Stats:

  • 5-Star Books:  Room by Emma Donoghue, Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
  • 4-Star BooksGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King, The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  • 3-Star BooksShatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Other Book Facts:

  • 5 of 7 were library books
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness was a Christmas gift
  • I bought Truthwitch by Susan Dennard for my Kindle, making it the only book purchase this month

Book of the Month:

  • Of the two 5-Star books I read this month, my favorite book read this month is Room by Emma Donoghue. It was appropriately creepy and transported me into the novel. I cannot wait to watch the movie for this very reason.

Book Reviews:

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.

Six of the seven books I read met one of the categories set forth by this challenge:

Start a Series


For this category, I am choosing 2016 releases by authors I haven’t yet read.

New Releases Debut


Goodreads


Book to Movie


 

Challenge Stats:

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

I think my reading month was pretty fantastic. How was yours?

See you later!

kacie

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Book Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

truthwitchTitle: Truthwitch
Author: Susan Dennard
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard is the first book in a new series called The Witchlands. In The Witchlands, there are many different types of witchery that one may be born with. There are Threadwitches, Airwitches, Waterwitches, Firewitches, and many more. Safiya is a Truthwitch; her witchery informs her when people are being dishonest. Her best friend Iseult is a Threadwitch who can see the emotions of others as well as the bonds they share with people. Safiya and Iseult are Threadsisters, sharing one of these special bonds. Safi’s witchery is something that is desired by the most powerful people in each of the three empires, making it a secret known to only a few. Her witchery would allow one to have more power over the others. She and Iseult must protect her secret while keeping the truce between the three empires intact.

I read Truthwitch for The Story Squad, a bi-monthly book club on Goodreads that consists of several YouTubers. This book was one of the most hyped books at the start of 2016. For me, it mostly lived up to the hype.

Premise: 5/5

I like the idea behind this novel and new book series. It’s a complicated and intriguing world. Two women that are sisters by bond, who are usually caught up in some heist or another, find themselves in the middle of an impending war. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but I like how they did this. It wasn’t the typical “female character must save the whole world just like she does in every other YA book ever” kind of way. The girls’ goals were much different than expected.

Plot Development: 4/5

The plot development was done fantastically. The pacing was appropriate; it was fast when it needed to be and slowed down when we needed to pay more attention to the goings on around the characters.  There is a very small, slow-burn romance plot which I think was done very well. No insta-love and no romance that overpowers the rest of the novel. Good on you, Dennard.

My only issue with the plot was that the reader is literally thrown into the action with no background knowledge. While Dennard didn’t info-dump on us, I felt that sometimes I didn’t have enough information to gain the most understanding of scenes early in the book. After a while, I was assimilated enough into the world and culture to comprehend what I was reading, but it was a struggle at first.

Characterization: 5/5

I loved each character in this novel and the growth each of them saw throughout the story. They had believable emotions and reactions when things went down. I find myself wanting to learn much more about their histories and relationships with others.

Writing Style: 4/5

The point of view changes every couple of chapters or so. This was done in a way that readers can identify the change in voice with each point of view. The point of view usually changed in the middle of some pretty intense action, but it always switched to another character that was somehow involved. Dennard flawlessly weaved so many separate stories into one.

Again, my only issue with the writing style was the lack of background information provided to the reader. It’s hard to become invested in a book confuses you for a large portion of the beginning.

Readability: 5/5

Other than the confusing beginning, this book was really easy to read. I found myself sucked in and wanted to read past my bedtime. I think it is absolutely appropriate for the YA audience. There is a slight romance plot, but it’s a slow-burn and not at all steamy. There are some conversations that are sexual in nature but not overtly graphic.

Total Score: 23/25, avg. 4.6/5

5 stars

I’m rounding up and giving this book 5 stars! I was hooked on this story and I didn’t want it to be over. Can I have book two now, please?

I read this book for the #sixsquaredchallenge hosted by bookstacksamber! – 2016 Releases (New to Me Authors)

Have you read Truthwitch yet? Let me know what you think!

kacie

Find me on:

Want to purchase a copy of Truthwitch by Susan Dennard for yourself? Check it out on The Book Depository by clicking HERE.