January 17, 2018

The Selection by Kiera Cass Review

The Selection (The Selection, #1)The Selection by Kiera Cass
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I never read the synopsis or summaries of books, whether I listen to them, read them on my Kindle app, or read the actual book. I have no idea why- I guess I just never got into the habit of doing it. Maybe it's because I don't want to have any preconceived notions about a book before I can form my own opinion of it? Who knows!

That being said, I assumed this book was similar to the Hunger Games based on the title and cover photo. I listened to this on one of my library apps, and I have to say, it wasn't what I was expecting and THAT'S TOTALLY OKAY! The plot itself is kind of bland and it's pretty predictable (a common characteristic of Young Adult novels, obviously), and the characters don't really do much. They don't develop or change in any dramatic way like I was hoping they might. After thinking about this book for a few days, I've decided that it wasn't awful, but it's not something I normally gravitate towards. It reminds me of The Bachelor meets Mean Girls meets Big Brother (if BB was PG). Again, not my cup of tea, but not bad. If you like catty, dramatic teenage characters who don't know what they want in life, give this one a go. I'm listening to the second book now and so far it's not nearly as good as the first. I only gave this one three stars because I feel bad giving books two star reviews.

Honestly, it's not poorly written; it's just not my style.

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Review

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm such a huge fan of Leigh Bardugo's Grisha series that I had to check this out as soon as it was available at my library. The wait was definitely worth it! If you haven't read any of her books and you're into fantasy/ magic/ dystopian-feeling Young Adult novels, go check out or buy every single one of her books asap. This series is such a departure from her Grisha series, which I'm totally okay with- there are still aspects of that series in these books, but she does a great job balancing everything out. What I mean by that is the books are different enough that they don't bleed together but they are set in the same world (different years, though).

I never compare authors to one another (it's just not fair), but Bardugo is on the same level as Sarah J. Maas, in my mind. Not that they're similar besides the fact that they both write within the fantasy YA genre. I just truly think these women are both insanely talented and do a wonderful job of bringing their characters to life. Definitely one of the best books I've read in awhile!

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Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie Review

Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot, #10)Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

This was my first audiobook of the year, and my third audiobook to date. I'm still not entirely sure if I would ever switch over to audiobooks completely, but it is a nice change when I don't have a ton of time. I love the fact that I can listen to something in my car on the way to work or while I'm waiting in traffic on 95. That being said, I don't always devote 100% of my attention to the book, so I find myself not enjoying it as much as I think I would if I were reading it. Hopefully that last sentence made a little bit of sense... In other words, I still love reading a book with my own eyes much more than I enjoy listening to a book. But I totally see the benefits of audiobooks, so I'll keep experimenting with them!

Ok, on to the actual novel. I really enjoyed the first part of this story where the murder is set up and we meet all the characters. I should probably mention that this is my first Agatha Christie, so take my thoughts and opinions with a grain of salt. If you're looking for a classic murder-mystery, this is definitely something for you! I'm not complete sure if this is a genre I will fall in love with, but I will be checking out more mysteries in the near future (especially more Christie novels). Like I mentioned before, I didn't pay close attention the entire time, so the ending came as a complete shock to me. I'm not totally sure if anyone could guess the ending in its entirety, honestly. Creative, enjoyable, and easy to listen to/ read. I liked it, but it wasn't my favorite.

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The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo Review

The Tiger RisingThe Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I will be reading this book with my fourth graders this year, and I could not be more excited! My kids really enjoy Kate DiCamillo's writing (I can see why) and there are tons of literary elements to discuss. This is my second DiCamillo, and I have to say that I'm really looking forward to reading some more of her books- she has a minimalist style, making every word count without overwhelming the reader. Again, there is a lot to discuss- particularly the symbolism of the tiger to each of the different characters- but DiCamillo is able to present a beautiful, heart-breaking, and inspiring story that anyone could enjoy. I'll update this post with my kiddos' thoughts as soon as we finish it :)

Overall, this book is well-written, thought-provoking, and just an amazing piece of literary excellence. Do yourself a favor and pick up some children's literature once in a while- it'll surprise you!

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January 1, 2018

What I'm Reading 2018

Hello again (or hello for the first time!), and Happy New Year!!

I always look forward to this time of year for a few different reasons.  First and foremost, January 1st means I can stop stressing about the holidays and focus on moving forward and starting the new year off right.  Secondly, I get to start my 2018 reading challenge!

If you've even glanced at the posts on this blog, you probably already know that I'm a huge bookworm and reading is such an important aspect of my life.  Because I teach English and Language Arts at a Title 1 school, it's crucial for me to not only genuinely have a passion for reading, but to show my kiddos that reading can change your life (super cliche, I know...).

All that to say, I take my reading challenges seriously, and I always document my progress throughout the year.  Whenever I finish and review a book, I post that review on here and my Goodreads; I also update this page as a sort of checklist to keep myself on track.

I'm trying to keep this short, but there's always so much to say!  Ok, here's a few things you need to know if you haven't kept up with my challenges in the past:

  • I link each review in this post, so just click on the title if you'd like to know my thoughts about the book.
  • I don't usually re-read anything, but if I do, I'll mark it with an asterisks (*).
  • Audiobooks are noted. 
  • Sometimes I cheat a little bit, sorry not sorry.
All jokes aside, I really do enjoy setting these reading goals for myself each year.  I want to broaden my horizons this year and read more books outside of my typical go-to genres.  Recently, I've been reaching for a lot of young adult fantasies (Sarah J. Maas was huge for me in 2017) and historical fiction (the Outlander series, in particular), so I'm looking to read more widely this time around.  

One last thing: I've never actually completed a themed challenge, but I have completed my reading goal each year for the past 5 years!  We can't break the streak now!!  I just wanted to push myself a little bit further so I can become a more well-read person.

I've done enough talking (typing??), so let's just move straight on into the reading challenge!  Oh, and if you want to check out my reading challenges from previous years, I have everything linked for you below :)

2018 Reading Challenge
Goal: 30 books (edit- 40 as of 10/5/18)
I found this challenge on Modern Mrs. Darcy's site, and it looked like something I could accomplish without overwhelming myself.  She also has some wonderful tips on how to get more out of your reading life, if you're interested!
* = re-read
1. A classic you've been meaning to read
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (audiobook)

2. A book recommended by someone with great taste
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas* (One of my best friends, Rose, recommended this book to me years ago!)

3. A book in translation
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Vol. 1 by Naoko Takeuchi 

4. A book nominated for an award in 2018
Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas (Goodreads Choice 2018 nominee)

5. A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection

6. A book you can read in a day
The Selection by Kiera Cass (audiobook)- it took me several days to actually listen to this book because I have a career, but it was only 7 1/2 hours in total

7. A book with more than 500 pages
The Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

8. A book by a favorite author
A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas*

9. A book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller 
Circe by Madeline Miller (recommended by Jean, aka Bookishthoughts on YouTube and Goodreads)

10. A banned book
The One and Only Ivan by Kathrine Applegate (I’m sure this book is banned in several school districts for a variety of reasons, but it’s an incredible children’s book!) 

11. A memoir, biography, or book of creative nonfiction

12. A book by an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion than your own
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Other Books

If you're interested, here are my other "What I'm Reading" posts:

As always, thank you for taking some time out of your day to check out my blog!  Happy reading!!
Keri <3

Animal Farm by George Orwell Review

Animal FarmAnimal Farm by George Orwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To be honest, this particular novel is one that should be read as part of the curriculum for a high school or even college-level lit class. I’m bummed that I didn’t get to read this in high school or college, and I think the main reason I didn’t enjoy it (as much as I should have) is because I didn’t have the opportunity to discuss it with a classmate/ colleague. There really isn’t much to say about Orwell other than this man was a genius author and a master of satire. Seriously, everyone should read this, but there is definitely a time and a place for it.

I know you really shouldn’t compare an author’s works to one another, but 1984 is still my favorite from Orwell. There’s just something so unsettling about it, unlike this book. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still thought-provoking, especially when you do some research- which I highly suggest you do- on the state of the world when this was written. If you’re unfamiliar with 20th century Russian politics and history, do yourself a favor and refresh your memory before attempting to tackle this beast. Seriously, look it up and you’ll get so much more out of this book!

I have to say, I love that this is considered a short novel based on the page count, but this one will leave you with lots of questions and possibly the urge to dig deeper into the Russian Revolution and the country’s shift into Stalinism (which, I suppose, it the entire purpose of this book).

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