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A middle school librarian who reviews Mg and YA books.
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1. My Thoughts: Biggest Flirts & Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols

4 soft snickerdoodles (for both books)

Cover Love:
Yes, I love the flirty style of both of these covers.

Why I Wanted to Read These:
I love Jennifer Echols and contemporary romances.  How could these be wrong?  Here are the synopsis for each book

Tia and Will’s lives get flipped upside down when they’re voted Yearbook’s Biggest Flirts in this sassy novel from the author of Endless Summer and The One That I Want.

Tia just wants to have fun. She’s worked hard to earn her reputation as the life of the party, and she’s ready for a carefree senior year of hanging out with friends and hooking up with cute boys. And her first order of business? New guy Will. She can’t get enough of his Midwestern accent and laid back swagger.

As the sparks start to fly, Will wants to get serious. Tia’s seen how caring too much has left her sisters heartbroken, and she isn’t interested in commitment. But pushing Will away drives him into the arms of another girl. Tia tells herself it’s no big deal…until the yearbook elections are announced. Getting voted Biggest Flirts with Will is, well, awkward. They may just be friends, but their chemistry is beginning to jeopardize Will’s new relationship—and causing Tia to reconsider her true feelings. What started as a lighthearted fling is about to get very complicated.

As yearbook photographer, Harper is responsible for capturing those candid moments that make high school memorable. But her own life is anything but picture perfect. Her parents' bitter divorce has left her wondering what a loving relationship would look like. And ever since the senior class voted her and star quarterback Brody the “Perfect Couple That Never Was,” her friends have been on her case to ask Brody out.

Brody doesn’t lack in female admirers, but Harper can't see herself with him. He seems confused about why they were matched together, too. They’re total opposites—the last people in the world who would ever be compatible, let alone the “perfect couple.” Yet ever since the class paired the two of them, they've found themselves drawn together--first by curiosity, then by an undeniable bond.

The trouble is, though they're very attracted to each other and both of them admit this, they have a hard time getting along or even communicating clearly. If they’re the perfect couple, this shouldn’t be so difficult! Soon it becomes clear their class was wrong, and they throw in the towel. But after they walk away, both of them feel so changed from making the effort that they can’t forget each other. What if that means this match made in hell is the perfect couple after all?
Romance?: Of Course!

My Thoughts:
First off, I don't like either of these summaries because it gives so much away.  These have all the same earmarks of contemporary romances--misunderstandings, listening to rumors over your own instincts and heart, flirting and experimenting.   But they have one more thing that helps so much, Jennifer Echols is great at writing chemistry.  You can't help but root for both of these couples to get together!

I took a longer time getting into Biggest Flirts because I didn't like Tia in the beginning at all.  It was hard for me to root for her to get with Will because she shirked from everything. I understand her reasoning for not wanting to get close to boys, but for someone who so desperately didn't want to follow in her sisters' footsteps, she was really irresponsible.  I would've expected her to be way more straight edged, kind of like Harper.

I really liked Will and did root for Tia to calm herself down enough to see the good in front of her.  And I adored Harper and Brody, all the way through.

Kind of off topic: When I was in high school we didn't do superlatives, however, I am not sure I would've won anything.  They do them now and next year my son will be a senior and I gotta say, I kind of want him and his girlfriend (if they are still a thing next fall) to win cutest couple.  They are so darling together!

Anyway, these are two sweet books, romantic but typical.  Getting close, misunderstandings, not listening enough to your own heart and listening too much to other people, but with good endings.  Not anything too out of the ordinary, except the chemistry.  And that is enough to keep me going!

To Sum Up:  Just a bit mature for my middle school library, however, I could see many 8th grade girls getting into them.  Love these kind of romances!

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2. Grantchester on PBS

Have you been watching this yet?  It is so good!  The first thing that caught my eye was Robson Green, I have adored him for years.  Then, I watched Happy Valley over Christmas break and James Norton was so good and scary as Tommy Lee Royce.  I wanted to see how he would do as a good guy because he was so perfect as a psycho.  (If you haven't watched that on Netflix, do so now!)  Plus, it is British and a mystery series set in the 50's.  My excitement level for the first episode was through the roof.  And it is good!  So good!  I really wish I had waited until all 6 episodes were out so I could binge watch, however, I like having something to look forward to every Sunday night.  But, here lies my problem.  These mysteries are based on a books series by James Runcie.  I guess the format is a little unusual because the whole first season--6 mini mysteries--is based on the first book.  And since I am loving the world of Grantchester so much I really want to read the first book.  But, I don't want to know all the answers.    I did put books 1 & 2 on hold at my library and there is no guarantee that I would get them before the show is done airing.  I might never read book 1 if I don't get it until after the show is over, but I will read book 2!

It's just hard to think of anything else right now...

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3. Tuck Everlasting 40th: What If You Could Live Forever

Tuck Everlasting was a book I missed out on reading until I was teaching fourth grade a few years after college.  I adored the book and had several amazing conversations with my students.  Almost without fail they would tell you they would drink from the spring.  I guess when you are 10 and 11 forever doesn't seem like anything at all.  Back then I knew I wouldn't want to drink from the spring, but I thought about it longer.

Then I became a parent.

I would never want to outlive my children.  Never.  And there is a part of me that thinks I wouldn't want them to drink from the spring either.  I have loved growing and maturing and getting older and I want that for my children.  I want them to experience the full circle of life, because I have loved most every stage of my life.

The things that the Tucks had to do to avoid suspicion, like separating for years at a time, makes me sad.  But then again, living together for eternity probably wouldn't be good either--can you imagine how on each others' nerves you'd be?

Now that I am older and have lived, I truly cannot see an upside to living forever.

What about you?  If you had the chance, would you want to live forever?  Would you drink from the spring?

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4. YA Romance

I adore young adult contemporary romance novels.  They are my candy--I can read through those so fast, I just love them.  And I normally completely buy into the romance.  It doesn't matter to me that they are in high school, and sometimes early high school, if the characters are written well and them chemistry is strong, I buy into it.  I rarely think to myself, "they are too young!" 

However, my son is almost 17.  That is around the age that a lot of the characters in these teen romances are when they fall in love.  I look at my son and think, "That's too young!"  But I don't think it when I am reading the books. 

It's a weird double standard I have going on.

(For the record, my son is a junior, very cute (at least according to me), kind-hearted and very much in love with his first girlfriend.  It's too young!!)

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5. Candlewick Press Giveaway--6 Books of the Best 100 for YA Readers!

Time magazine recently published a list titles "The Best 100 Young Adult Books of All Time" While this list contains many books that are more MG than YA it is still a pretty good list for readers who want to try out some YA.  Candlewick Press was excited to see that SIX of their books made the list!  To celebrate they are offering up a prize package of all SIX to a lucky reader of my blog! 

The books up for grabs are:

THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO by Patrick Ness (amazing book, wonderful series.  One of my most recent favorites!)

A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness (another great one, this man can write!)

TIGER RISING and THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE both by Kate DiCamillo (have only read Edward Tulane, but I have read others by Ms. DiCamillo and know that she is a great writer!)

FEED by MT Anderson (this has been on my to-read list forever.  I guess now I will have to read it, no excuse--it would fit under my library collection goal to!)

BOY PROOF by Cecil Castellucci (I haven't ever read this one either, but it looks awesome.)

If you would like to win a copy of all these books, please fill out the form below.  And take a few minutes to check out Candlewick Press:

Twitter - @Candlewick

This giveaway will end on January 30. Good Luck! (US Only Please)Loading... Read the rest of this post

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6. 2015 Blogging Goals

This year I will hit 1000 posts.  It should be sometime this summer if I keep posting about 10 times a month.  I am pretty excited about this, so I think I will probably do a giveaway for that.

I also want to do more on the features I have started:  Wonderful YA Boys, Tween Tuesdays, Series That Sizzle and Series That Fizzle.  I haven't posted in a few of these for quite sometime.

I will be participating in the Tuck Everlasting 40th Anniversary Blog Tour later this month and would like to participate in a few more.  I get asked a few times a year but this year I turned most of them down.  I would like to get back into that.

I also want to review more books, even if it's just a short blurb.  I read a few this year that I didn't review and I always feel badly about that.

I really like that I allowed myself to relax with my reading and blogging this past year and I feel re-energized now.  It feels good to have a plan.

What are your blogging goals for this year?

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7. 2015 Goals

I am not good about joining challenges, but I wanted to set some targets for myself.  Here are some reading plans I have for 2015:

 *I want to read more than last year because I feel I am in a better reading space than last year.  I am not going to hold myself to this though, because slumps can creep up without warning.

*For the next few there can be overlap but I want to read more middle grade books this year than I did last year.  I seemed to really stick to YA books this past year and I don't want to just do that.  I remember loving some middle grade books and I want to get back to that. 

*I have a list of books by authors I either didn't read when I was younger or haven't read now.  I plan to get on that this year.

*For example, I would like to re-read some Harry Potter, but never feel like I have time.  This year I am going to give myself permission to re-read some of those books I remember loving.

*I have to read more from my shelves.  Every summer I bring home stacks of books from the library and don't even get most of them read because I get so wrapped up in ARCs.  This year, I am going to read more from my shelves.

So there it is, my reading goals for 2015.  Have you set any or joined any challenges?

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8. 2014 Reading Round Up

Going into last summer I was in a reading slump.  There was so much to read but nothing was really keeping my attention.  There were a few I read that I enjoyed a lot, but overall it was a slow reading summer and a slow reading year.  In the past I have set a summer goal of 30 to 35, this past summe rI read 12.  TWELVE books.  Sheesh!!

But this fall I kind of readjusted my thinking.  My priorities have shifted a bit and if I don;t get everything read and reviewed I am finding ways to be okay with that.  I only read 55 books this year, my lowest in the past 8 years by far, but that's ok too.  My main goal each year is a book a week.  My lofty goal is 100.  I completed my main goal and I am okay with that.

My favorite books of the year were: (links take you to my reviews)

My True Love Gave To Me
Side Effects May Vary
Dorothy Must Die
Half Bad
The Swap
The Fault in Our Stars
The Shadow Throne
Eleanor & Park

These are all five cookie books except for Half-Bad.  That is my only four cookie book on this list.  I added it because the world Sally Green created was so interesting and I am highly anticipating the sequel (which is on my Nook right now so I will be able to continue on soon!).  There were several other four cookie books I read, but these are the ones that really stand out for me.

I also discovered I didn't review Eleanor & Park even though it was one of my favorite reads.  Maybe I will have to do that sometime this year.

Coming up...my 2015 reading goals.

How did you do in 2014?

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9. My Thoughts: Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

5 soft and warm chocolate chips cookies.

Cover Love:
Yes!  Fits in perfectly with the other one and shows so much without showing anything.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I adored the first book.  So much action!  Such an interesting premise.   Couldn't wait for this one!  I begged any and all Random House people I knew for a copy, then waited to read it because now I know I have to wait even longer for book #3, which is called CALAMITY.  Perfect!  You can click here for the synopsis, but I don't want to post it in case you haven't read Steelheart.  (Click here for my review of that one).

Romance?:  So, or at least talk of feelings and stuff.  We do see Megan again and the reunion is happy, and sad, and mixed and wonderful.

My Thoughts:
I was so excited when I finally got a copy of this in the mail. I feel like this is a series being overlooked by many.  It is so action packed and the premise is so amazing and David is so noble.  I just loved Steelheart.  (In fact, it was in my Scholastic book fair this fall and we sold out of it the first day because I gushed so much when I booktalked it to my students).  But, for all that, I took my time getting into this book.  Steelheart had me from the first few pages and while this one did too, I felt moved slower when David and the Prof headed off to Balibar.  However, the last quarter went so fast I want to go back and re-read it to make sure there wasn't any little thing I missed!

David learned so much more about Epics, what caused them, how to kill them and maybe, just maybe, how to make them into heroes.  A lot of questions were answered and David is kind of, maybe, set up to be something way more than he thought he was--maybe the Savior of them all?  All Epics should fear him now!  The set up for the third book is amazing.  Sparks!  I wish I had waited to read this whole series after all of them were out.

This is one world where it would be interesting to see other cities and other people planning on fighting the Epics.  There have got to be more people out there learning all they can as well.

And Calamity.  We finally find out a little more about that.  And wow, mind blowing (ours and David's!).  The thing is, there is hope that all of this could be over and maybe there will be Epics that turn good and maybe, the population can get rid of the bad ones, however, the world is still a mess.  I would feel like giving up for sure if I was part of this world.

To Sum Up:  Action packed, character driven story that fans of Steelheart will love!  Can't wait for book three!

Book requested and received from Random House.  Thanks so much!

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10. My Thoughts: I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson

3 soft snickerdoodles.

Cover Love:  No, but I saw there were several editions of this book and many other great covers.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
My library has a bunch of Jacqueline Woodson books and I keep meaning to read some of them.  I saw mention of this one in an article so I went to my shelves right then and checked it out. Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
Marie, the only black girl in the eighth grade willing to befriend her white classmate Lena, discovers that Lena's father is doing horrible things to her in private.

Romance?: No

My Thoughts:
You know, when I, as an adult, hear a story about a kid keeping a monumental secret  I can't help but wonder "why didn't they say anything?"  But I am older and have more experience with life so it would seem natural to me to tell or to get help.  It's not natural to kids and when they have a friend telling them something that they absolutely cannot tell anyone else, then they don't.

This book was written in the 90's but Marie's father remembers too well segregation and blacks struggling to be considered equal, so he is suspicious of all whites, including Lena.  Mostly he is worried that Marie will end up hurt by  Lena somehow.  But as the cover says "friendship is more than skin deep" and that's really true in this book.  Not only are they girls different colors, but different socio-economic classes as well.  That was also worrisome for Marie's father.  Really they have two hurdles to overcome.

The ending was interesting because sometimes people come in and out of your life quickly.  The sad part is that while you, as a reader, hope that Lena and Dion (her sister) make it to a better life, the reality is that they probably ended up somewhere worse.  If only a grown up had known what was going on...

To Sum Up:  This is one of the types of books that kids in my library enjoy because it gives them a glimpse of a life that most of them don't experience.  Now that I have read it I can book talk it effectively and I know that I will have several interested readers.  And that this can spark some great conversations!

Book from my school library.

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11. My Thoughts: My True Love Gave To Me

5 soft and spicy gingersnaps.

Cover Love:  I love this cover and one thing I realized is that each pair of skaters is modeled after a romantic pairing in the book!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I love little Christmas stories so I checked this out, but wasn't sure I would actually get it read.  Then I read the forward and when Stephanie Perkins talked about her love for cheesy Christmas movies and how that brought about the idea for this book I knew I had to read it!

Romance?:  In every story!

My Thoughts:
This book is wonderful and perfect for the Christmas season.  Magical things can happen during Christmas and that's what this book reminds us. 

There are a few YA authors with stories in this book that I haven't read before and this allowed me to sample their writing.  In particular, my favorite story was the one by Kiersten White.  I have always meant to read her books but just haven't gotten around to it.  I think I will give them a try now because I loved her story.  Same with Matt de la Pena's story.

All in all, there wasn't a story in this book that I didn't like.  I whipped through it and was sorry to see it end!

To Sum Up:  Wonderful Christmas romance story anthology.  One I can see myself re-reading each holiday season!

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12. My Thoughts: Wild by Alex Mallory

3 chocolate chocolate chip cookies.

Cover Love:  I do think this is an eye catching cover.  I love the simple title and how it bisects the cover.

Why I Want to Read This:
I always get fascinated by stories of people living off the grid or making their way in the wild.  In this day, when there is so much technology and so many people it just doesn't seem possible.  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:

The forest is full of secrets, and no one understands that better than Cade. Foraging, hunting, surviving— that’s all he knows. Alone for years, Cade believes he’s the sole survivor. At least, until he catches a glimpse of a beautiful stranger…

Dara expected to find natural wonders when she set off for a spring break camping trip. Instead, she discovers a primitive boy— he’s stealthy and handsome and he might be following her. Intrigued, Dara seeks him out and sets a catastrophe in motion.

Thrust back into society, Cade struggles with the realization that the life he knew was a lie. But he’s not the only one. Trying to explain life in a normal town leaves Dara questioning it.

As the media swarm and the police close in, Dara and Cade risk everything to get closer. But will the truth about Cade’s past tear them apart?

Romance?:  Yes.  One of the taglines I read has this as a YA Tarzan retelling and I think that's a good description.

My Thoughts:
I felt it took to long to get to any answers about Cade.  I almost gave up because I really wanted to learn about what caused his mom and dad to take him into the woods. 

Dara's mom and dad were very bothersome.  For two people who were used to working with at-risk youth I understand that they were suspicious of Cade.  However, neither of them seemed to get over their biased at all to see that he wasn't acting, he wasn't lying, and that he was terrified.  Seriously, it made me really wonder for what kind of cop Dara's dad really was--not very good if he can't get a read on a person he is questioning!

I also wonder why nobody thought to take Cade back out to the woods, either to prove or disprove his story.  They were so intent on not believing him that they didn't even think he might be telling the truth.

When we got to the reason that Cade's parents took him into the forest I had a hard time buying it,  mostly because there were two people making the decision.   I can understand the knowledge of what goes on in this world, and what could possible go on, weighing a person down so much that they feel the need to escape.  However, I have a husband to balance me out and family to talk me out of anything rash.  It's interesting that Cade's father just went along with it.  We don't learn much about him though.

I didn't like the ending.  There will be a spoiler here so highlight if you want to read it:

I just don't think Cade could go back.  He knows too much now, let alone the fact that what his parents thought would happen, didn't.  He also has felt love and knows there are other people who care about him in the world now. I don't think he could last back out in the wild.  It would make for an interesting sequel if he decided to come be part of civilization.

To Sum Up:
Interesting read that I think will be a big hit with my middle schoolers--romance and adventure and taming a wild boy--it has a lot of attractive elements!

Book from my school library collection.

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13. New Pens

So this is off topic from books, but because most book lovers are also writers at heart (even if it's just journals or list making) and writers love pens I have to share my new pens with you!
There are the prettiest, best pens I have had in a long time.  I first saw them on instagram and quickly tracked down a place I could buy them (pengems.com).  And now look-- I have five of them! You get free ink refills with each one you order.  They come in black ink but if you ask when you order they will send you blue ink refills.  So I have some in blue and some in black!
Look how nicely they match my notebooks!

The other day I brought one out to use at school and a girl commented on it.  So then I pulled out all five and I had a whole row of middle school girls gasp at their loveliness!  I am going to have keep an eye on them so none of them disappear from my desk.  (Actually right now I tote them back and forth because I don't want to leave them at school).

You can buy your own pen gems here:  pengems.com

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14. My Thoughts: You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

 4 yummy snickerdoodles.

Cover Love:
Meh.  I don't love it, but I don't hate it.  I think it would be eye catching to readers.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
It came in a box of new books I had ordered for my library and it was just so shiny, and I liked the title.  I couldn't remember what it was about so I read this inside blurb and then the first few pages.  Hooked me right in!  Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:
For the rest of the world, the movies are entertainment. For Justine, they're real life.

The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There'd be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture. And no one could have predicted that Justine would be the star.

Now sixteen, Justine doesn't feel like a star anymore. In fact, when she hears the crew has gotten the green light to film Five at Sixteen, all she feels is dread. The kids who shared the same table in kindergarten have become teenagers who hardly know one another. And Justine, who was so funny and edgy in the first two movies, feels like a disappointment.

But these teens have a bond that goes deeper than what's on film. They've all shared the painful details of their lives with countless viewers. They all know how it feels to have fans as well as friends. So when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars are going to take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else's eyes.
Romance?: Yes, a little bit. But it is not the focus of the book.

My Thoughts:

Here is why I LOVE these kind of books.  I see girls all the time that assume that people don't like them so they never reach out.  So because they aren't nice, people aren't nice either, because if you are a teenager, you normally aren't the first one to be nice.  But then it validates the first girl's thoughts.  And they get such a big chip on their shoulder that they can't even think it might be coming from them.  That people would be friends or at least friendly, if you are friendly too.  I seriously had an 8th grade girl who felt all blonde girls were mean.   I am sure there was blonde in her past who was mean, or she just got that impression from all the movies and books who make blondes out to be mean girls.  So, when she moved into my school she wouldn't give any blonde, cute girls the time of day.  And because she wasn't friendly, they weren't and it validated her feelings.

You'd think in this story Justine would know that the way people are perceived by others is rarely the way they are, after all, that is the story of her life!  But she is so withdrawn and almost angry that she looks at some of the others that were int he movies with her--namely Nate and Keira--and just assumes that they don't want to be her friends.  She judges them exactly as she hates others judge her.

Justine has such a huge chip on her shoulder.  It drives me crazy when characters in books say things like, "I don't know how popularity works."  It's so self-pitying.  And the way she mopes around in the first few chapters makes me really wonder why she would have ever been the one to shine on camera.

However,  it wouldn't be such a good book if Justine didn't make some major changes and  she does.  she learned a lot about herself and the others in the movie and she grows and changes.  This is why I loved the book.  Justine's path seemed natural and true to the story.  Everyone had something big to reveal or overcome and most of the obstacles acme about because of the second movie.  It was like they were all stuck back at eleven.  The author did a great job leading us on their journey and I enjoyed going along for the ride!

To Sum Up:  Great teen book that could teach a lot of readers something about judging others from afar and allowing yourself to open up to possibilities!

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15. My Thoughts: You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

Justine has such a huge chip on her shoulder.  It drives me crazy when characters in books say things like, "I don't know how popularity works."  It's so self-pitying.  And the way she mopes around in the first few chapters makes me really wonder why she would have ever been the one to shine on camera.

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16. Gasp Part 2

Last Wednesday I came home to a package from Random House.  I hoped against hope that it would contain a copy of FIREFIGHT by Brandon Sanderson, a book I desperately wanted.  And it did!  I was so excited and kind of shocked.  I don't really have a contact at Random House but had emailed a few people hoping against hope that it would get to someone who could help me (or not).
Finally, I connected with Rachel who forwarded the email to someone who was able to help me and Viola!  I got myself a shiny new copy.

I am still buying a few copies for my library but I can't even have this copy here at school because there are a few readers who would happily pry it out of my hands--and I am not done yet!

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17. My Thoughts: Second Star by Alyssa Sheinmel

3 frosted maple cookies. (click for the recipe, so good in the fall!)

Cover Love:  It's okay, but with the themes of this book I think they could've done a lot more.

Why I Wanted to Read this:
This was brought to my attention on Edelweiss earlier this spring.  I "flipped" through the egalley, and then bought it for my library.  My son is in a production of Peter Pan right now and it brought this book back to mind, so I picked it up!  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up--and the troubled beauty trapped between them.
Romance?: Yes

My Thoughts:
I have to admit, the way they talked about how surfers will give up everything to chase waves left me uncomfortable.  I am not sure why because I live by very popular ski hill so I have seen people who feel that way about skiing.  I raft with people who would rather be on the river than anywhere else in the world and my husband would fish everyday if he could.  I just have never felt that way about anything in my life--except reading.  It's truly a passion.  I guess I just get irritated with people who refuse to have any responsibilities because they are always chasing their passion--they refuse to grow up.  Ah, that's the theme of the book!

There was a lot left unanswered with this book is one reason I didn't give this more cookies.  And neither Peter and Jas were that  wonderful.  I understand why Wendy fell for both of them, but they just weren't great YA boys.  She fell for them because they were a connection to her brothers and each offered her something different that she was searching for, but neither of them were good for her.  And I imagine that they were both quite a bit older.  For all that Jas told her he did I would put his age at least at 23 or more.  I just don't get their attraction to Wendy either!

I did like this book, the writing caught me early and was the reason I kept going.  Plus I wanted resolution for Wendy. 

To Sum Up:  I will get this book for my library because I think many of my readers would like the romances and the updated version of Peter Pan, but overall this hasn't been my favorite read or YA romance.

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18. Truths About Book Blogging

I have been around book blogging for a long time.  I started this one in 2006, but didn't post really regularly until about 5 years ago.  It still ebbs and flows, but I have also seen a lot of blogs come and go during that time.  If you are starting one or thinking of starting one here are some things to think about.  (I have done a post like this before but not for awhile and I have more!)

I started mine as a way to keep track of what I read.  Seriously, when I started it was just a list of books.  Then I discovered the world of book blogging and decided to up my content a bit.  When you are first getting started try and post four to five times a week.  Seriously, if you have something new everyday on someone's feed they are more likely to check one or two of them out.

Page views and followers are important but NOT VITAL.  I know my blog itself doesn't get tons of views, but I have some loyal readers.  I do promote myself and my blog a bunch, but still not as much as I could.  I tweet my posts and send links to publishers.  I should start just a blog instagram but I haven't, I have a personal one that I use to post about books and a library one.  I truly feel like promotion is key.  If a publisher gets you a book do what you can to get the word out about that book. 

(Just so you know, I know that I get a lot more privileges because I am also a middle school librarian, so if I had ever felt like I wasn't getting the word out enough I would have done more.)

You will probably get ARCs, but it might take a long time.  I am at the point now were I get ARCs and finished books in the mail a lot.  Not everyday or every week but more than I need.  This is something I struggled with because I want to read and review everything I get but I still have books in my school collection and just others that catch my interest.  So my rule of thumb is if I request it and get a copy, I read and review it.  On both my Edelweiss and NetGalley profiles I am very upfront about letting publishers know I might not get them read, but I like to "flip" through every egalley I get approved for so I can see if it would be right for my library and the ages of kids I work with.

Sometimes I get surprise books and I don't feel as bad about not reviewing those.  But I normally do a post about getting them (some call it Staking the Shelves, some call it In My Mailbox, I call mine Added to the List) and a thank you tweet to the publisher or person who sent it my way.

It can be overwhelming and a lot of work.  I went through a time where I posted something every day.  I tried a lot of different things to see if they would catch on, and sometimes they would, sometimes they wouldn't.  I am just not the type to go and comment on other people's blogs for the sake of commenting or to get them to come and comment on mine.  I also don't follow blogs anymore unless I really like them.  I also take breaks.  This has become more important as my life has gotten busier.

There was a time when I wold see a new book blog pop up everyday.  I am a little out of touch with that part so I don't know if that is the case anymore but I know that if you have just started know that it takes time and patience.  Enjoy telling people about awesome books and have fun with blogging! 

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19. My Thoughts: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

4 soft and spicy frosted gingersnaps.

Cover Love:  It's pretty good but a pretty typical contemporary romance cover.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I had an egalley of this that expired last spring but I was in the mood for a contemporary romance.  So I checked it out from my public library before I went on a weekend vacation and whipped right through it.  Here's they synopsis from GoodReads:
After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.
Romance?: Yes.

My Thoughts:
This was not a deep romance, but not too light and fluffy either.  Reagan had a lot to figure out in her life.  She was a very likeable protagonist, until the typical misunderstanding late in the book.  Then she reverted too much into the whiny, "he did me wrong" type of YA romantic lead that drives me nuts.  Luckily the author didn't keep her that way for long.

I adored Matt and Dee (that is what Reagan calls Lilah).  Reagan has a lot of support in her life and the drama that she is trying to escape from is very much of her own making.  But, she does recognize that for what it is and knows she needs to fix that part of her life.  Dee is a great best friend and never pushes Reagan to the side for her fame.  She always there to help out or just be someone to lean on.  She is practically perfect.

And Matt is an amazing book boyfriend.  So sweet and earnest, but with a few of his own demons he is struggling with overcoming.  Reagan and Matt are very good for each other.

One of my favorite scenes, the kind that brought tears to my eyes, is one between Reagan and her step-mother at the end of the book.  I think it was just what Reagan needed to put her past finally behind and take steps towards her future.

To Sum Up:  I am going to buy this for my library.  There are a few mature things for middle school readers, but there is a lot that can be learned by a protagonist like Reagan.  Mostly that you can overcome your past.  It doesn't have to always define you!

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20. Added to the List #8: 2015 HIGHLY Anticipated Books

*Probably one of my most favorite 2013 reads. CANNOT wait for this sequel*
*Always love The Penderwicks*

*These are all sequels of continuations of series and they all make me SO excited!*
March is going to be a great reading month!

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21. My Thoughts: The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond

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22. September Means Action!

For some weird reason the last few years I have read mostly action books in the fall.  I think it started way back with Catching Fire, then Mockingjay the next year.  There was I Am Number Four and The Power of SixRot & Ruin came out in September and I read The Paladin Prophecy and Steelheart.  So, right now I want to read ACTION!  I just got The Infinite Sea for my library but I think I will be reading that first.  I also just read The Only Thing to Fear which was good and fulfilled some of my action craving.  I cannot wait for Firefight (and neither can some of the kids in my library).  What are some good action books you've read recently?

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23. Added to the List #9

I have been getting a few books in the mail lately and a few have caught my eye...
I am going to tell you about the two Nancy Drew books I got in a post tomorrow so stay tuned!

I bought The Inifinite Sea for my library, but checked it out first because I am the librarian, that's why!
Mister Death's Blue Eyed Girls just always catches my eye when I check it in or am shelving so I grabbed that one too.

I got The Terrible Two and Nuts to You as surprises in the mail.  The Terrible Two came in the coolest package!  And the cover for Nuts to You is just a pretty fall scene that makes me want to read it.

Dearest was one I requested because I read and really enjoyed the first two in this series.

Lots to read, but lots to enjoy as well!

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24. Sometimes When I Open a Surprise Package I Gasp

It happened to me last week.  I got a package that was obviously books so I was very excited to open it.  The return address was from Penguin, and since I hadn't requested anything from Penguin this was truly a surprise book.  When I opened it I GASPED. Inside were two Nancy Drew books:

  (this picture does not do them justice--go here and here to check them out)

You may recall that in August I had raved about the new Nancy Drew covers that I had spied at Target.  I was also depressed because my Target only had the first two and I knew there were four.  I wrote that post and them emailed a contact I had used at Penguin before.  I just wanted them to know that these new covers did exactly what they were meant to do--catch someone's eye enough to have them buy them and want to read them again (I think the last time I read Nancy Drew was fourth grade).  

In the package with the two new Nancy Drew books was a lovely letter from the book designer Mallory Grigg.  I think being a book designer would be one of the best jobs around.  And from what I can tell, Mallory has got it down!  The illustration was done by Sabrina Gabrielli whose work you can check out here.

It was so sweet of Mallory to take the time to write me and so amazing of her to send me the two books I was missing from this new set of Nancy Drew books.  And she let me know they are also doing books 5-8 and they will be published next fall!  (Can you imagine getting an assignment like redesigning such icon books?  I bet she was so excited and so very nervous.)

So, thank you so much Mallory, for the books, the nice letter and for your beautiful, inspiring work!

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25. My Thoughts: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

5 sweet and tart lemon bars.

Cover Love:  It's ok.  I like contrast between the black cover and the colored font.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
The synopsis of this book made me want to read it.  Here it is from GoodReads:
When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, who she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that's as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her archnemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger). But just when Alice's scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she's said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she caused irreparable damage to the people around her—and to the one person who matters most?
Romance?:  Yes.

My Thoughts:
The synopsis for this makes it sound like a comedy, but it is so not.  This is a deep, emotional book, so well written that you can get inside and feel everything from both Alice and Harvey.  The chapters go back and forth between Harvey and Alice and the past and the present.

Harvey will break your heart the whole book.  He is so in love with Alice and even though he acknowledges that she is using him and he knows it, he doesn't have the strength to step away.  But this book is as much a Harvey coming of age story as it as an Alice coming of age story.  He grows, he gets a backbone, but he always remains sweethearted Harvey.  I just adored him.  The tough part is that even though you know Alice is using him and will probably break his heart you can't help rooting for them to be together.  Mostly because you know how very good and healing Harvey will be for Alice.

When I first started this book I read some Good Reads reviews and a few of them didn't love the book because Alice is so awful.  And she is, she is a straight up bitch.  But, she admits it, she knows it and she owns it, until she decides she wants to change.  But it takes a lot before she decides she wants to change.  I didn't love Alice, but I rooted for her to heal--not just her cancer, but her heart and her soul.  The biggest problem is that she won't talk to anyone.  If Alice was my daughter and I saw how she reacted when she was told she was in remission I would put her in counseling ASAP.  That is probably the one thing that I disagreed with because when you are told you are going to die at 16 and then all of the sudden the sudden you aren't you probably need some help getting through that.

This book made me cry and made me read late into the night.  It's was just the kind of book I wanted to read right now.

To Sum Up:  This was a great emotional boo.  Probably a little too deep for my middle school library but I think many young adult readers could get a lot out of this story.

Book checked out from public library after egalley expired.

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