Top Ten Tuesday- Summer TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by those awesome gals over at The Broke and The Bookish.  This week’s topic is Summer To Be Reads.  Yeah, I should just let you know now, this list will be eerily similar to my Spring TBR because I’ve only read four of those. Four! Out of TEN!  I’ve read tons of other things, but somehow I never get to the books I’m supposedly dying to read. How does this happen?

So here’s my new list, rolled over from my Spring list. Hopefully I actually make some progress here.

1. A Million Suns by Beth Revis- Do you remember how much I loved the pants off of Across the Universe?  Remember how I said I couldn’t wait for the sequel? Said sequel has been sitting on my shelf since February.  And it’s not because I don’t want to read it, because I’m really excited to.  Must. Read. Now.

2.  Timepiece by Myra McEntire- This is the sequel to Hourglass.  I didn’t love everything about the first book, but it was pretty good.  And it has time travel, which I’m always a big sucker for. Also, I think the couple has definite swoon potential. I have a Net Galley of this right now. Why am I not reading it?

3.  The Selection by Kiera Cass- Oh lordy, I want to read this so bad.  I have a good reason for not reading this one yet. You see, I make dumb rules for myself. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Always say please and thank you. No buying anymore books until you’ve finished the twelve on your nightstand.  But oh, this one will be such a sweet reward in the end.

4. Insurgent by Veronica Roth- Yeah, I’m thinking I should read this. I mean, I loved Divergent. You know it’s bad when friends that I’ve recommended Divergent to are coming up to me to tell me how much they loved Insurgent.  But again, I have The Rule.

5. City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare- The Rule is putting a serious damper on my adoration of Jace.  I need more of him. I need to see more of this connection to…spoiler alert…Sebastian.  And I want to finally read that dirty sexy club scene in full.

6. The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting- Need more Jay. Also, Rafe better stay far, far away from me (and by me I mean Violet, obvs).

7. Shine by Jeri Smith-Ready- Shh. I know the cover is horrifying, but I love this series.  I’ve heard that the end is so, so good. I’m not sure I’m ready to say goodbye yet, but I’m going to try.

8. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green- I have avoided this only because I don’t want it to give me a sad.  But the excerpts I’ve read and the recommendations from trusted friends have all led me to believe that my love for this story will supersede everything else. Also, hello, it’s John Green.

9. Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg- I really liked Prom & Prejudice (for obviously reasons: prom and a P&P retelling?  I think I’m in love!). Eulberg had such a cute writing style and I’ve heard such good things about Take a Bow. It just sounds like the perfect, beachy, girly girl read.

10. Thumped by Megan McCafferty- I liked Bumped. It was totally unique and provocative and super-snarky.  I want to know what happens next.

Summer is In Full Swing

Well, summer is ON in my house. The kiddos are on their second week of vacation, and the hubs (who is a teacher) will officially be off for the summer in a matter of days. You know what that means?  Yes, beach time, Disneyland, lots of ice cream and visits to the free summer film festivals at the local theaters…but it also means lots of reading.

The family and I usually sprawl all over the sofas or floor at some point each day and read and read and read.  I love moments like those.  And sometimes we talk about what we’re reading, which I also love unless it’s my husband who does the talking. This is because he usually reads books about terrorists or serial killers (WHERE IS THE SWOON???). Otherwise, I love hearing what the girls are reading and telling them about what I’m diving into.

Currently, I have a ginormous stack of books on my nightstand.  I’m in the middle of The List by Siobhan Vivian—so far I’m totally into it—and Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta—hello, do you even need to ask? Of course it’s excellent.  AND I’m getting ready to do a reread of The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson because I chose it for my book club (le sigh!).  I also think I need to do a reread of some Dessen and throw in The Summer books by Jenny Han too.  I’m having a Conrad/Belly craving right now!

So what are you reading this summer?


Oh yeah, I’m going all ’90’s on yo azz:

Top Ten Tuesday- Beachy Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by those awesome chicas over at The Broke and The Bookish.  This week’s topic is Beach Reads.

Now, I’m a true California Girl (although I kind of hate the sun, slather myself in sunscreen, big hats and ginormous sunglasses).  I love the beach.  There is no place like it: the sound of the waves, the feel of the sand, that beachy scent of the saltwater.  It all reminds me of summer and makes me so happy to live in a place like California (even though I complain about the heat, the traffic and the prices of everything).  And summery beach reads, to me, should be a) girly (have stories about love, friendship or both b) bet set in the summer c)be addictive.

Here are my picks:

1. The Summer books by Jenny Han– Belly, Conrad (both his douchy and swoony versions), and Jeremiah and their summers on Cousins Beach. Man, oh, man, those stories never get old to me.  Le sigh.

2. Past Perfect by Leila Sales– OMG, have you guys read this? It is so funny. Chelsea has a summer job doing historical reenactments at a colonial village.  The kids that work there have a war going on with the neighboring competition. Chelsea becomes one of the leaders of this war. Only problem: she develops a little romance with one of the enemies.  This book is so cute and Leila Sales is hilarious. Read it!

3. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler– This is a total summer book about Frankie and Anna and their vacation on Zanzibar Beach. They’re both trying to heal after tragically losing Frankie’s brother Matt. What Frankie doesn’t know is that Matt and Anna were in love.  Anna can’t let go, but she doesn’t know how to tell Frankie.  This book is so good. The friendship is totally authentic and the flashbacks with Matt are to die for.

4. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen– I talk about this book a lot, I know, but this is a perfect summer read.  Macy is on summer vacation. Her lame boyfriend has just dumped her.  She has a job at the library, which she totally hates. And worse, she’s grieving over the loss of her father.  Then she starts to work at Wish Catering. And the kids there—Wes (swoon city), Bert, Monica, Kristy—they make her laugh again.  This book has so much heart. It’s sweet and funny and totally romantic without getting too slobbery and heavy.

5. Anything by Meg Cabot– I can’t think of a Cabot book that isn’t a fun, addictive read.  Pick one. Any one.  The Princess Diaries, Avalon High, The Abandon books, the Mediator series. She always has the perfect amount of humor, suspense and romance. She writes funny, strong heroines and always, always crushworthy guys.

6. Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson– You guys, not only does this book take place in the summer, it’s about a road trip.  A road trip!  I love those!  Morgan Matson wrote a really cute story here, but also she laced it with song playlists (I think I love her), pictures and copies of receipts. In the end you’re going to feel like you really know Amy and Roger and like you’ve been to all of these fabulous places with them.

7. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen– Auden is spending the summer with her dad and stepmom at their home in a beach town. She’s grappling with academic pressure (and pressure from her super-annoying I-am-woman-hear-me-roar type of mom), she’s struggling in her relationship with her father and in dealing with the fact that he and his new wife are having a baby. She meets Eli, just a guy on a bike who seems to be dealing with his own issues and losses.  They develop and sweet relationship that, although it has its moments of romance, is less about the huggy kissy stuff and more about two people who have a real, genuine connection.  This is a good one.

8. P&P inspired books– I think a girly book that is in any way inspired by the awesomeness of Pride and Prejudice, is a full-blown perfect summer read. Try Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman, Epic Fail by Claire Lazebnik, Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg, or Austenland by Shannon Hale.  They’re all cute and addictive.

. The Shade series by Jeri Smith-Ready– Oh, my word, these books are so freaking unputdownable!  Aura, like most people her age,  can see ghosts. One of the ghosts she sees regularly is that of her recently deceased boyfriend, Logan.  Aura needs to get on with her life, but she can’t because Logan is always there. Always. And the love between these two is so heartbreaking, it actually made me tear up a bit.  There is so much more to the story though. There was an event that happened years earlier—a shift— that made it so that everyone born during a certain time period would go all Hayley Joel Osmet.  Aura is trying to figure out how this happened and it’s a huge mystery that spans  three books. And they’re all good. Trust me.

That’s all for now!

It’s Time for Summer…

                       The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer Without You, We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer — they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

Summer may very well be the official time time of the year for readers to bask in the glory of loosing themselves in a good book…unofficially speaking.  It’s a time to set down anchor, i.e. dig your toes in the sand, and escape to another world entirely.  As a top pick for YA Crush Top Ten Book Settings, Cousins Beach is not a bad place to escape to.  Just ask Belly.

 The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer Without You and We’ll Always Have Summer is the trilogy of books that takes us through important years in the life of a young girl, Belly. (Amy Han, how much do I love this nickname for Isabel?  Let me count the ways.)  Belly is a young girl who has always been “shadow” to the group of boys, her brother Steven, and their family friends Conrad and Jeremiah (a.k.a. the Fisher boys) during the summers they spend together at the Fisher summer home on Cousins Beach.  Susannah (Jeremiah and Conrad’s mother, a.k.a. Beck) is Laurel’s (Belly’s mom) life long best friend and each summer they take their children and spend the entire summer in a beach house which may be halfway somewhere between their two respective homes, i.e. their “real lives”.  I’m not clear on locations as anything but their “summer lives” is only spoken about in passing, as if life is a pattern of time spent at Cousins Beach and the rest of the year time spent waiting for Cousins Beach.  I would very likely feel this way too, if I had this rather idylic setting to go to…not to mention if Conrad and Jeremiah were waiting for me.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

From the time Belly can remember, these boys (Steven, Conrad and Jeremiah) have gone out of their way to treat her like a baby and to exclude her from their summer activities as much as possible (hence the whole “shadow” thing).  As you see the picture she paints of her interactions with them throughout the years – which we get glimpses of through flashbacks as well as in the present (present time being a 15-about-to-turn-16 year old Belly) – we are able to see what she can’t.  That through all their “girls have cooties” mentality, these boys are struggling the fact that they like Belly as a person, as a pal, and as they get older, maybe something more.  A phenomenal strength in these books is how Han has a way of allowing her character to be oblivious to things the reader can see without it being too far fetched: like a life-long brother type figure showing signs that he might just kinda, sorta like you.  Maybe.  But only if you like him first.

Another one for the “so-long-as-she-can-remember” list, Belly has had a monster-size crush to end all crushes for strong, silent, handsome, and somber Conrad.  Dreamy, mysterious and…very much not interested in her.  That’s Conrad in a nutshell.  This is the picture Belly paints of Conrad who seems to think of Belly as “just a kid”, a little sister type.  And, wouldn’t it make sense?  After all, they’ve spent their summers together since forever!

And so, our story begins to unfold this summer when Belly is about to turn 16 and, hello, she’s looking gooooooood by the pool in da summer house.  That bikini didn’t fit like that last summer!  What!!?!?!?  The boys are a little confused.  And alarmed.  And Conrad, allasudden is acting kinda like a cooooompleeeete jerkface (I seriously did NOT get Conrad for a while there, but just give him a chance friends…trust me, he’s gonna grow on you).  What’s his problem anyhow?  Could it be that, um, maybe that whole “little sister” thing was just a load of hooey?

And then there’s fun, sweet, total-opposite-of-Conrad, Jeremiah, Conrad’s younger brother.  Jeremiah is the light to Conrad’s dark.  For all Conrad’s moodiness, Jeremiah brings comic relief.  He can make everyone smile, and he has a certain sweetness that’s especially sweet towards Belly though he knows — because he’s not blind — that Belly’s heart is Conrad’s.  For now.  (What?!?!!?  I know.)  So instead, he is the best buddy-type a girl could ask for.  But is he really as perfectly lovely as he seems?  Hmmm.  Ya’ll know where this is going so can I get an “Amen”?  But before we can even think of that hot mess, we have one more boy in the life of this young Belly to meet…

As any girl with a major crush on a major hottie (read: Conrad) would do, Belly starts dating some other dude (no, not Jeremiah).  A perfectly nice, good looking, smart dude.  His name?  Cam…I think.  His name’s not Conrad, and that’s all I can think about at this point.  Alas, as nice as Cam is, and he is, all along she’s looking from the corner of her eye to see what up with Conrad…(inner Belly monologue: “Is he watching?”)  Han writes moments such as these so well.  Moments when a young girl’s own immaturity doesn’t allow her to see that as much as she says she “doesn’t care” about what her (alledgedly) former crush thinks, we know exactly what is happening.  We live through Belly’s first relationship, and it’s end, with a sense of ,”Ah, I was there once”, even if you didn’t start dating a guy you met at a 4th of July BBQ at which Conrad was a huge poo head when he realized some other guy was looking at you (even if he did at some point later that  night drukenly caress your hair and made you all jelly-kneed).

Navigating through to the books that follow Han takes us on a journey most authors might get tangled in but which she swims in fluidly.  There are struggles any teen girl (and former teen girls) can relate to, such as boy crushes, feeling awkward in your own skin, and a deliciously torturous love triangle.  Interwoven into these are harder life moments that not all of us have had to live through but which are so strongly written, the reader can’t help but feel the pain, such as divorce and father-son struggles.

One of the more beautiful branches in this story is Belly’s relationship with Conrad and Jeremiah’s mom, Susannah.  Dear friends since before they had children or husbands for that matter, Laurel and Susannah echo who many of us, ahem, more mature readers may be.  We’ve lived through these “Belly moments” of insecurity and feelings of awkwardness and we are arriving at a place where life is something else, perhaps something more complicated.  A place where we are either the mom who is able to open up and be vulnerable (Susannah) or the one who creates a shell of strength (Laurel).  And though at first glance one might think Susannah’s mothering style is the way to go, Han leaves some room for discussion.  Susannah is everything Belly wishes her mom was…fun and understanding, flexible and a little kooky.  In contrast Laurel is quieter, more reserved, but – though Belly can’t see it – loves her fiercely.   These women are an integral part of this story and the genuine way in which they are both written makes them a true shaping force for Belly as she starts making her way into adulthood.

As we move from book to book in the “Summer…” series, we see a Belly who is quite the riddle.  She personifies the contradiction we all were as adolescents: wishing things would stay the same and rebelling against them to stir up change.   During this time the families go through difficult trials that test their bonds to each other, and which ultimately bring them together even closer that they first were.  The journey, which includes a love triangle (I’m not going to say it out loud, but come on now, you’re way smart, I know you’ll figure out who it includes), is not an easy one but the results are certainly satisfying upon the last book’s conclusion.  I’ll just say this: the Jeremiah/Conrad debate is one right up there with Peeta vs. Gale and Edward vs. Jacob.  And I must add this for those friends out there who love them some love triangles: the Jeremiah vs. Conrad choice for me was not as clear cut as with these other book series (go Peeta!).

So, what could be better than a fabulous book for the summer?  These books may just answer that question: THREE summer books.  Especially if they are Han’s Summer books.

Crush level : 5/5 – Wonderful, wonderful and wonderful.  Thoughtfully written, with toe curling moments, tear jerking moments and moments that make you laugh.  These books touch on different types of love, they touch on friendship, family and life journeys.  These are books that you’ll treasure.  I loved them and I am looking forward to my friends’ daughters turning “just the right age” for me to gift these books to them (I’m hoping to channel a little Susannah for them).  Yes, I loved them that much.