Reading Retrospective: June

See, I told you I wouldn’t let another 6 months go by without a post.  I was still finishing up my first school year as a librarian in June, but my grad school classes and obligations were done, so reading began to pick up again around this time.  Here’s what I was reading in June:

51. Royally Lost by Angie Stanton-Impulse bought this for my Kindle when it was super cheap.  Not the best choice.  The main character was SO annoying-basically started off as the very definition of an ugly American.  So shallow, desperate for McDonald’s, not wanting to learn the history of anything, etc.  She got slightly better over time, but the best part of the book was the setting-I’ll read about vacations through Europe any day of the week.

52. Prodigy by Marie Lu-Second book in the Legend trilogy. More Day and June.  Despite it being a second book, I didn’t hate it, so I think that says a lot about the trilogy.

53. Champion by Marie Lu-Final book in the Legend trilogy.  I didn’t hate the ending.  I didn’t think it was too far-fetched or unrealistic, and it had a hopeful tone.  I’m having trouble remembering a ton of details now (though I did love the gamification of Antarctica), but definitely a solid trilogy.  I’d definitely recommend it over Divergent and the Maze Runner, maybe even The Hunger Games (only because I liked the third book a lot more).

54. The One by Kiera Cass-Final book in The Selection trilogy.  I know a lot of people don’t like this series, and it’s not without flaws, but I really liked America throughout the series.  Some of her thoughts and actions definitely irritated me, but I liked her less orthodox approach to many of the tasks with which she was faced.  And the romantic aspect ended relatively predictably, but I think that was to be expected.  I probably won’t reread the series, but I definitely liked it.

55. Free to Fall by Lauren Miller-I really liked the premise of the book, but then I thought the plot got more and more outrageous.  Nonetheless, it was enjoyable, if far-fetched.

56. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling-Back in the beginning of June, I had sort of a rough week, so I decided I needed some comfort reading.  Enter Harry Potter.  Still so good, despite repeated rereadings.  Made me long to be a wizard all over again.

57. Just One Night by Gayle Forman-I usually skip these little stories that happen before, after, or in between books in a series, because they’re not essential to the plot and I’d rather read a full-length story.  But I am SO GLAD Gayle Forman wrote this add-on to Just One Day/Just One Year.  It was so nice to have Allyson and Willem spend more time together, have a little more closure, and nice to have more time with Forman’s writing.

58. Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger-Interesting concept, slow read (for me).  Took a while for me to get through this, though I did eventually get to like the characters.  We’ll see how soon I pick up the second book.

59. Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter-This is the second book in the Heist Society Series.  Ally Carter just writes such fun books, full of action and unique characters.  I will read anything she writes (and actually can’t wait for her next series).

60. Pawn by Aimee Carter-At first I was worried that the premise of this dystopian series seemed a little derivative, and there are certainly aspects that are similar to other books.  However, I still found it to be an action-packed and enjoyable read, if you aren’t already suffering from dystopian fatigue.

61. If I Stay by Gayle Forman-Despite my deep and abiding love for Just One Day and Just One Year, the premise of If I Stay never appealed to me.  Even though I read rave review after rave review, I still wouldn’t pick the book up.  Then I happened upon it at a library book sale, one of those where you stuff a bag full for a small amount of money, and it found its way onto my shelves.  And on the heels of Just One Night, I decided I needed more Gayle Forman, and, what do you know, all those other reviews were right.  I continued to love Forman’s writing style and rich characters.  Definitely a favorite.

62. Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs-Another favorite for the year.  Anytime a book is set at summer camp or on a road trip, I’m pretty much guaranteed to pick it up.  This one was the former, and I loved it.  Then again, I love any time authors bring smart, complex teenagers to life, and that definitely happened in this book.

63. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson-Morgan Matson is another automatic read for me, but I was a little worried this one wouldn’t live up to her previous two novels, which I loved so much.  I still am not a huge fan of how the plot came about, because of the somewhat sinister implications that arise when someone ‘disappears;’ nonetheless, I liked the idea of the main character taking on challenges and pushing herself, and I always enjoy a little romance, so, while not my favorite Matson book, I did enjoy it.

64. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling-Well, after reading the first one, I couldn’t very well stop.  This books has always been, and continues to be, my least favorite in the series; that being said, the worst Harry Potter book is still better than a great many other books around.

 

And that’s all for June-July’s reads will be reviewed in another few days.

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Reading Retrospective: May

Well, it appears I took quite the hiatus from the land of blogging.  There is much to catch up on, including a move to a new city, work at a new job, challenges and successes at said job, and new discoveries in the world of books and reading.  Since I didn’t quite keep up with the monthly reading recaps, I thought that during December, in advance of an end of year wrap up, I’d retrospectively fill you in on what I’ve been reading.  Since quite a lot of months have passed since I’ve done one of these, each one will get its own post, so maybe people will actually read to the end.  Anyway, without further delay, here is what I read in May:

40. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor-Wow, this book was enormous.  This trilogy is one of my favorites ever, and third books in trilogies are often disappointing, but Laini Taylor’s writing is so beautiful that even though this wasn’t necessarily my favorite book in the series, I was definitely happy with it.  I have to say that I love Ziri even more now, and am I wrong in thinking that the ending sort of left an opening for a spin-off series?

41. The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik-YA based on Persuasion by Jane Austen.  Definitely an enjoyable, sweet, read, if not super memorable.

42. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han-Oh my goodness, I LOVED this book.  I’ve read all of Jenny Han’s books, and I think she’s a good writer, but I’ve always been underwhelmed by her YA books-I’ve thought her books aimed at younger audiences (Shug and Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream) were superior.  Until now.  Lara Jean is an amazing main character, the book is hilarious and smart and I fell in love with the characters, and I am so, so glad there’s going to be a sequel.

43. The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer-You know how so many realistic YA books these days are advertised as perfect for fans of John Green or Rainbow Rowell, but it so rarely turns out to be true?  That was actually one of the first things I thought of when reading this-the smart, witty dialogue reminded me of John Green’s characters.  That being said, I started off really loving this book, but then there was a twist-type occurrence and it really sort of put a damper on my enjoyment of the book.  I did like that the ending of the book wasn’t necessarily all happy and resolved, but more realistic.

44. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner-Second book in the Maze Runner series.  I liked the first book in the series, but things went downhill from there.  I know dystopian societies are no picnic, but I found some of the gratuitous bloodshed and death to be really disturbing, and I didn’t like the premise of the task in this book or some of the puppetmasters’ (so to speak) actions.  Not a favorite.

45. The Death Cure by James Dashner-Despite the second book not being a favorite, I wanted to finish the trilogy.  I was equally unimpressed with this third book, and I found the religious symbolism of the ending to be a bit heavy-handed.

46. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson- I love Laurie Halse Anderson, I think her writing is great and she is willing to tackle big issues in her books.  I don’t think this is necessarily my Reading Retrospective: Mayfavorite of her books, but it was still a good read.

47. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins-I enjoyed the Hex Hall series, so thought I’d give this one a try.  I liked the premise better than Hex Hall, but didn’t find the romantic aspect as compelling.  That said, I do like Rachel Hawkins’ writing style, and after that ending, I feel like I need to read the next book to find out what happens.

48. Don’t Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley-One of my biggest YA pet peeves is terrible parents-those who don’t understand their kids, or are absent, or just really don’t have a clue.  I feel like this happens more frequently in YA novels than in real life.  And this book definitely has that.  However, I also think it’s an interesting look at how prominent blogging is these days.  Not a favorite of the year, but I still enjoyed it.

49. Now and Forever by Susane Colasanti-When I read the synopsis for this one, I thought it could end up being my favorite Colasanti book.  Then I started reading, and I just didn’t LIKE the main character.  I don’t know if it was the personality or the writing style, but it just didn’t sound like an authentic voice to me.  I did like the direction the book took in regard to one famous and one non-famous person dating-it definitely wasn’t your standard fantasy scenario, which was refreshing.

50. Legend by Marie Lu-Another dystopian trilogy, another main character who starts off thinking her society is good and just, then realizes how flawed it is.  Same old, same old…and yet I still loved this book.  June and Day were great characters, and I liked the plot so much better than some others in the genre.  I’d definitely recommend this one.

Well, that’s it for May.  I’ll be back again soon (for real!) with June’s reads.

What I’ve Been Reading-February, March, April

So, remember when I mentioned in my January Reads post that the rate at which I’d been reading would probably be unsustainable?  Well, that happened in a big way.  So much so that I didn’t even feel like it was worth it to do a February update.  And then I just sort of forgot about March.  But I think I’ve gotten my reading groove back, though I still don’t have as much time as I’d like to read, between actual work and finishing up all of my library school requirements so I can graduate this month.  So, without any further rambling, here’s an update on what I’ve read these past 3 months:

20. Early Decision: Based on a True Frenzy by Lacy Crawford-I’m actually truly fascinated by the college admissions process-I debated for a long time whether I wanted to be a guidance counselor or librarian (obviously, you know which one won in the end).  So this book about a private college consultant and the neurotic families for which she worked was very interesting to me.

21. Divas Don’t Knit by Gil McNeil-Another thing I’m weirdly fascinated by is knitting.  Even though I’m still working on the same scarf I started like 5 years ago, I secretly want to be an awesome knitter, and I really like books about people who knit.  This book, the first in a series, not only featured a knitting shop in a cute English seaside town, but also was more hilarious than I expected.  I’ll definitely be reading the others in the series.

22. Going Rogue by Robin Benway-I loved the first book in this series so much.  This one was good, but not quite as great.  I still loved zany best friend Roux, and there was still a lot of action, and I’m still very drawn to teenage spies, especially when they are as awesome as Maggie.  I hope the series will continue.

23. Needles and Pearls by Gil McNeil-A sequel to Divas Don’t Knit.  I actually have very little memory of what happened in this book, so I guess that’s not a super strong recommendation, though it seemed perfectly enjoyable at the time.

24. Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close-I remember when this book came out, the number of holds placed on it at the library was ridiculously high.  I liked it, and found it relatable, but I guess I wasn’t as impressed by it as I thought I’d be.  I also found the ending to be really anticlimactic.

25. The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt-I really, really loved Sean Griswold’s Head AND Going Vintage, so I had really high hopes for this one.  Again, I found it to be good, but not great (apparently the theme for these past few books is mediocrity, at least for me).  I don’t know if it was the setting of Las Vegas, a city in which I’ve really never been interested, or the way things develop between the main character and her love interest, but I just didn’t love it.

26. Blackberry Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke-I originally picked up one of these mystery novels because I liked the idea that recipes were incorporated.  That’s pretty much why I keep reading them.  The characters annoy me, particularly the main character and her struggle, through 17 books, to choose between two men (somewhat reminiscent of another popular mystery series…), but they’re easy reads, and I still like the recipes.  This one was no different.

27. Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor-Finally, a book I can recommend. I know that a lot of people really didn’t like the main character and some of the medical things in this book, but they weren’t really problems for me.  I enjoyed the friendship between the two characters a lot, and definitely did my fair share of crying.

28. Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich-Stephanie Plum continues to be hilarious.  I will read as many of these books as Janet Evanovich writes.  They’re just easy, fun reads.

29. #16thingsithoughtweretrue by Janet Gurtler-I love road trip books.  I thought the main character was a little shallow and social media obsessed, and I didn’t like how abruptly things happened toward the end of the book.  But it was still an enjoyable read.

30. Hung Up by Kristen Tracy-Not a super memorable book, but it was cute and fun.  I always like when books are told through letters, text messages, etc., and this one was no different.  I probably won’t feel the need to reread it, but it was a quick, lighthearted read.

31. Panic by Lauren Oliver-I have really mixed feelings about Lauren Oliver.  I think she is a brilliant writer, but I didn’t love how the plot panned out in the Delirium series.  I was excited to read something of hers in a different genre, and I liked the premise of this book.  It wasn’t a standout for me, but I definitely continue to appreciate Oliver’s writing.

32. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski-Love, love, LOVED this book.  Hate, hate, HATE that I didn’t realize it was the first in a trilogy and I’m going to have to wait forever to find out what happens next.

33. The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan-I enjoyed Riordan’s other series much more than I thought I would, so I decided to give this one a chance while I wait for the final Heroes of Olympus book.  I’m choosing to reserve judgment at this point.  It was good, but no Percy Jackson.  We’ll see what happens as the series goes on.

34. Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano-This book bothered me SO much.  I should have known, when I couldn’t ever get in to Wither, that maybe DeStefano isn’t the best author for me.  But SO many things weren’t explained, and so many OTHER things were so derivative.  Once it got to the end, the plot picked up and I feel like I’ll read the next book because I want to know what happens…but still.  Not my favorite.

35. Frozen by Erin Bowman-A very enjoyable second book in a series.  There was plenty of action, a few things I didn’t expect, and nothing I remember that really bothered me.  Looking forward to the next installment.

36. Balancing Acts by Zoe Fishman-I don’t read a ton of adult fiction, but there have been some titles that have really appealed to me lately, and this is one of them.  I love New York, so books set there are often some of my favorites, and one character seriously annoyed me with her lack of growth for most of the story, but overall, very enjoyable.

37. Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy-Yeah, yeah, another cancer book.  But this one has a twist-the character with cancer actually LIVES, and has to deal with the consequences of what she did when she thought she would die.  It was certainly a new take on things, and the character was well written and complex, if not always likeable.

38. The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith-I really like Smith’s books.  I’m not sure any have measured up, for me at least, to The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, but I enjoy them nonetheless.  This one seemed slightly less realistic to me, but I really enjoyed the settings (now I’m daydreaming about a trip to Scotland myself).

39. The Maze Runner by James Dashner-The first time I tried to read this, I really couldn’t get into it, but I decided to give in another chance, and I couldn’t put it down.  At first the language and the inability to picture the setting in my head were really disorienting to me, but the action picked up and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.

 

Well, that’s all, folks.  I hope to be more on top of keeping track of reading and updating the blog now that graduation is thisclose.

January Reads

So I figured since I’m going to be blogging for one of my classes this semester, I might as well try to get back to blogging about other personal/library things as well.  This is my last semester in library school, so I’m sure you can expect some posts about that, as well as my favorite free time activity: reading!  I’m going to try to post about certain books I love, but at the very least I’m going to aim to get monthly reading roundups posted.  So, without further ado, here are the books I read in January:

1. The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #2) by Rick Riordan-So I started reading this series because my boyfriend and I watched both of the movies, and then he became interested in reading the books.  I decided to give them a try as well, even though I’m not a huge fan of mythology, but I ended up really liking them.  They’ve got a lot of action and were pretty quick reads.

2. The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau-Got this and the second in the series at BEA last year, and after I started reading, I hated that I’d put them off for so long.  A lot of people draw parallels between this and The Hunger Games series, but I enjoyed it despite the similarities, maybe even liked it a little more.

3. The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #3) by Rick Riordan-I’m not sure I liked this one as much as the first two, but I did enjoy some of the new characters that showed up in this installment.

4. The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #4) by Rick Riordan-I think this might be my favorite book in the series.

5. The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5) by Rick Riordan-Everything leading up to a big battle sort of reminded me a little too much of Harry Potter, but Goodreads tells me I gave it 4 stars, so I must have found some redeeming qualities.

6. Six Months Later by Natalie Richards-After all that Percy Jackson, I needed something a little more real.  At first I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this book about a girl who wakes up not remembering the last 6 months of her life, but it ended up being a solid read for me.

7. The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus, #1) by Rick Riordan-At first I was hesitant to read this series-I loved the original characters so much, I didn’t want new ones.  But it turns out I didn’t hate them.

8. Just One Year by Gayle Forman-I liked this book more than I thought I would.  I would have preferred some more Willem and Allyson time, but I enjoyed Willem’s journey.

9. The Son of Neptune (The Heroes of Olympus, #2) by Rick Riordan-I had a feeling about this one after reading The Lost Hero, and I wasn’t really a fan of what happened…that being said, I’m already invested.  So let the series continue.

10. The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus, #3) by Rick Riordan-I definitely loved having more Annabeth time in this book.  I do like that this series has multiple narrators-I think it makes it more interesting.  But-HOLY CLIFFHANGER.  Thank goodness I had the next book ready and waiting.

11. Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau-2nd book in The Testing series.  I thought that some elements of the story were fairly predictable, in terms of how dystopian trilogies evolve, but I also think this series has something new to offer as well.  I really like the main character, I found it to be an enjoyable read, and I’m definitely looking forward to the conclusion.

12. The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus, #4) by Rick Riordan-There’s a lot going on in this installment of the story.  I liked all the action, but there were also some moments that made you think.  And Small Bob may be my favorite character ever.  A little impatient for October and the last book in the series.

13. Taken by Erin Bowman-Another BEA book that I put off for a while, and then devoured all in one sitting once I finally opened it.  Dystopian, but still interesting-I’m looking forward to the next book in April.

14. Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg-Eulberg is an automatic read for me, and it’s no surprise that I enjoyed this one.  Not my all-time favorite, but cute and funny.  I really love how she crafts her characters.

15. The Giver by Lois Lowry-I read this for a class I then decided to drop, but it was my first time reading it, and it was ok.  There are horrors in every dystopian novel, but there were some things in this one that really put me off, and I didn’t like the ending at all.

16. Finding It by Cora Carmack-I was drawn to the backpacking through Europe aspect of this book, so I decided to try it even though “new adult” isn’t really my thing.  This was a pretty quick read, but it wasn’t my favorite, and reminded me a lot of that Mandy Moore movie Chasing Liberty.

17. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes-Oh boy.  I don’t know what to say about this.  I sobbed through about the last 50 pages of the book.  Like serious, ugly cry, wailing.  I have very mixed feelings about the storyline, but I can’t deny that Moyes writes beautifully, and I loved the interactions between Louisa and Will.

18. Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt-It takes a lot to make a 24 hour romance work most of the time, and in this case, the characters just went from hatred/indifference to infatuation/passion way too quickly for me, especially in the case of the male main character.  There were definitely redeeming moments, but I didn’t love it.

19. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart-I wanted to love this book so much.  Frankie Landau-Banks is one of my all-time favorite characters, and I had really high hopes.  But this one just wasn’t my favorite-the writing seemed overly formal, and the “big reveal” just made things really weird to me.

This is an uncharacteristic amount of reading for me-I had the first 5 days of the month off, plus a long weekend in there, and two days off from work due to the extreme cold.  I don’t anticipate to keep up this pace, since I will have school work and work work and paperwork and some other obligations that will take time away from reading, but still, it was a nice way to start off the new year.