I'm calling the summer over for me, since my kids are officially all in school! I have hopefully a few week of this lovely, blissful freedom before my baby arrives and everything changes. I want it to both go super fast and not come too soon at the same time. I'm enjoying the extra free time, but I'm soooo sick of being pregnant!
Anyway, lots of books read so far. I went on a "I want to read brainless teenage summer romances" binge earlier this summer when I spent a lot of time reading by the pool while my kids took swimming lessons, so you'll see a lot of those on this list (books link back to their goodreads page). Sorry for this brief overview! One of these days I'll get back around to writing real reviews. I kind of miss it. :(
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. My rating: 4/5 stars. I'm listing my favorite of the teen summer books first. :D I loved the mixed-media feel of the book! It's full of doodles and receipts and notes and postcards. I love road trips and this one was fun with a sweet little romance (without being too heavy on the issues aspect that all YA contemporary books seem to have).
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard. My rating: 3/5 stars. Ok, besides the whole idea of a teenage girl backpacking by herself in Central America totally freaking me out, I loved the wild, bohemian feel of this book. I like pretending that backpacking isn't dirty and totally against my perfectionist-plan-it-all-out personality - that it's adventurous and romantic and totally worth the trouble. Besides the backpacking issue, I loved the story and how Bria rediscovers herself.
Thing I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally. My rating: 3/5. Straight up, I'll tell you that this one pushed it for me, content-wise. More swearing and sexual content than I would like for sure (plus plenty heavy on issues), which is strange because this one had a "Christian Fiction" label on it from my library. And this book is definitely about how Kate feels about her very strict Christian upbringing, but even more about how she discovers she's against certain aspects about it. Nevertheless, Miranda Kenneally writes with so much emotion that I was sucked right into the story. Plus, the summer camp setting is fun.
The Summer I Turned Pretty (trilogy) by Jenny Han. My rating: 3/5 stars. I burned through these three very quickly and it totally made me want a beach house. That's about the only thing I really liked about this series though. Oh, ugh Belly was soooo whiny! No wonder the boys couldn't make up their minds whether to like her or not! This is the worst sort of love triangle too - it goes back and forth and it seemed like the boys themselves changed from book to book, just to make me root for one or the other. Irritating. But still - it very much filled my need for brainless summer fun.
The Moon and More by Sarah Dressen. My rating: 3/5 stars. This was my first Sarah Dressen and I'll admit: I was hoping to like it a whole lot more than I did. The romance was awful - Luke was a jerk, Theo was completely unattractive (in every way) and the whole books seemed to revolve instead around Emmaline's issues. She was dealing with her father and college and all kinds of things that seemed awfully boring. I liked her mother and sister, though. Overall, I was disappointed. Any recommendations on a better Dressen for me to try next?
So, that's the "summer" books. Here's everything else I read:
Angelfall by Susan Ee. My rating: 4/5 stars. Angelfall was an intense and awesome post-apocalyptic book. I was blown away by the details and the world building. This book gets a bit gritty at times, but I enjoyed the ride and am looking forward to the sequel.
Goddess by Josephine Angelini. My rating: 3/5 stars. Finally! The last book in this series! And I think it's the best of the three (though at a three star rating you can tell that I've had my struggles with the whole lot). Fortunately, Goddess has a much bigger focus on the mythology and some seriously cool things happened to tie everything together at the end. The bad news is there's more cheesy romance and people falling instantly in love and a character tragically dies but I didn't really feel anything, so... yeah I'd say I had a hard time connecting to this series emotionally. BUT, worth reading for the greek mythology fanatic.
Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger. My rating: 3/5 stars. I wanted to love this book! Wind and air spirits and all sorts of cool new mythology not yet explored in YA! But it was so eyeball-rollingly predictable. I knew who the "bad guy" was from the start and when this person suddenly reveals their evilness at the end I was so irritated that everyone had taken so long to get the message. Potential, but I wasn't impressed with the story. Some of the mythology was very cool, though.
Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike. My rating: 3/5 stars. I was instantly attracted to this story because the premise is so cool and unique - a retelling of Scarlet Pimpernel about a kleptomaniac ghost? Totally intriguing. Kimberly is the ghost of a rich girl who stole things. A lot of things. Jeff is the new boy at school and Kimberly takes to haunting him, begging him to return all the stuff she stole, which he has to do incognito. It's fun and crazy and a little issue heavy, but I liked it. The book is a bit edgy for Aprilynne Pike, whose Wings series was very clean. I think I gave it a lower rating because it left me feeling kind of sad at the end and that was not what I was in the mood for when I read it.
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo. My rating: 4.5/5 stars. Sequel to Shadow and Bone and I loved it! I've been looking forward to this sequel for a while and it was just as awesome as the first with its cool Russian-ish setting and crazy Grisha magic system. Lots of complications for Alina and Mal and some great new elements to the story. I loved the ice dragon (so beautiful and tragic) and pretty much every word out of Sturmhond's mouth. Plus! Flying ships! I just wanted this to keep going. I now have plenty of proof that I need to purchase the whole series for my shelves and I can't wait for the final book. Check it out if you love fantasy and magic.
Taken by Erin Bowman. My rating: 4/5 stars. Taken was a bit of a surprise. At the beginning I was irritated by its gritty Hunger Games wannabe-ness. It really starts in almost the exact same way with the exact same feeling. But it doesn't take long before the whole thing is turned on its head when Gray discovers what's outside and where all the men are being taken. This whole crazy sci-fi, futuristic element comes in and was so interesting I flew through the entire rest of the book and really wanted the sequel when I was done. There was even an awful love triangle and it didn't bother me because I was so interested in the story and setting. Read it if you're looking for a new dystopian.
Unbreakable by Elizabeth Norris. My rating: 4/5 stars. This is the sequel to last year's Unraveling, which I loved more than I'd expected to. Unbreakable is just as fabulous! Love the parallel universes and the sci-fi elements and the FBI stuff and just the whole amazing complex mess! This book is action-packed and I'm a little sad that it's all over - and really over because this is a two book series. Recommended for sci-fi fans who love detective stories and espionage. :D
Vortex by S.J. Kincaid. My rating: 4/5 stars. Ok, last year's Insignia was so good. I had no idea if Vortex would be able to live up to it, but I was thoroughly impressed. These books are surprisingly funny. My husband actually thought I was rereading The Hero's Guide because I laughed out loud so much while reading it. The humor is kind of immature in places, but I'm kind of immature myself so it works for me. :D So, we've got the cool space academy thing going on, plus the antics of Tom and his friends, plus some very real danger from Tom's enemies in high places, plus don't forget Medusa - she's still awesome. There's a lot of win in this series! I think this is especially good if you're nerdy and like computer programming and hacking and such. With computers in everyone's brains there's a lot of potential for both humor and very scary danger with just that one element. Highly enjoyable!
And look! I even read non-fiction!
The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp. My rating: 3/5 stars. Read this in preparation for my baby girl. I've never had a colicky baby, but it could happen and I've been hearing great things about this book. I gave it a lower rating not because the advice and techniques on how to calm a baby aren't sound, but because it was really long and drawn out and seemed to repeat the same things over and over again. Plus, I just got the feeling that Dr. Karp is a bit arrogant. He thinks he's got the perfect method here and I've had three babies before, all of which did not fit into his perfect mold. Let's face it - there are things that work for some babies and not for others. IT'S OK. As a parent you just figure out what your baby likes and do your best.
Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. My rating: 4/5 stars. Read this highly recommended parenting book because it was kind of a rough summer with all my kids at home and me not wanting to go anywhere ever. We had a lot of fighting and screaming and yelling around here and I was hoping this would help me figure out how to deal with things a bit better. It's a great book and all the advice makes perfect sense. Nothing here was earth-shatteringly life changing, but it was a good reminder of some things I try to do anyway. This is a very sound parenting book and I highly recommend it.
And that's it! Stay tuned - I have a post scheduled soon (shocker, I know) with my fall reading wish-list. There are so many books I want to read before this baby gets here! We'll see if I manage to get at least a few in.