ARC Review: Junior Lifeguards

junior lifeguards

Summer fun? Best friends? A cool summer job? The Test: Junior Lifeguard by Elizabeth Doyle Carey passes the fun summer read test.

Jenna Bowers is a competitive swimmer slowly losing her top spot on the team. This summer, Jenna wants to hop out of the pool and dive into the ocean as a junior lifeguard with her three best friends. Becoming a junior lifeguard, however, may be more difficult than winning the gold.

I’ve read a few other books by Elizabeth Doyle Carey in her middle grade series, The Cupcake Diaries, as Coco Simon. Even though I really liked the author’s writing style and characterization, I thought the books moved too slow and the stories were wrapped up too easily. Luckily, I didn’t find these problems with The Test: Junior Lifeguards and hope to continue the series.

After reading this book, I think it is perfect for reading starting to outgrow middle grade, but aren’t ready to venture into grittier young adult books. The Test: Junior Lifeguards does a great job of balancing friends, family, crushes, and more serious topics in an appropriate way for younger readers. One of the best aspects of this book is Jenna’s friend group. The dynamics of her friend group are very authentic for girls in middle school to early high school, so I think a lot of readers in the target audience could relate to Jenna and her story.

I also liked that this book had a clear ending, but left a lot of room for a sequel featuring any one of Jenna’s friends. Each of Jenna’s friends have the potential to have an interesting story line featuring one of the many mysteries set up in the first book. Out of all of Jenna’s friends, I think I would be the most excited to read about Selena. Out of the group, she was the most interesting character with the most promising story line. I think I would be least excited to read Ziggy’s story because she slightly annoyed me with her immaturity, tardiness, and careless attitude.

One of my complaints with this story was how much of the girls’ conversation centered around guys. Considering the characters’ ages, it makes sense that the girls are a little boy crazy. However, it seemed like any time a male character popped up in the book, they all gushed about his attractiveness. This happened with literally any male character, even if they only appeared a few seconds, like the “manny” to the famous girls in town for the summer.

My other complaint with this story would be some of the girl drama. Like with the boy craziness, it is expected at this age. However, sometimes it got a little too much. If one of Jenna’s friends just made a reference to the boy she liked, she quickly assumed they wanted to steal them away or thought they were cute too. This especially happened when Jenna interacted with Selena, who Jenna constantly remarked was beautiful enough to steal any guy away from her. It seemed like whenever another girl one-upped Jenna she got extremely jealous. While competitiveness is part of Jenna’s personality, it sometimes was a little too much for me.

The Test Junior Lifeguards is the perfect summer read for young girls in the stage between middle grade and young adult. This would be a great book to bring on a beach vacation! I give The Test: Junior Lifeguards four out of five stars.

I received The Test: Junior Lifeguards by Elizabeth Doyle Carey from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Queen of Babble Review

queen-of-babble

Unfortunately, the Meg Cabot’s Queen of Babble had some king-sized problems.

Queen of Babble follows Lizzie Nichols, a recent college graduate with a big mouth, who travels to London for the summer to spend time with her boyfriend. However, plans her plans do not go as expected. Soon, Lizzie finds herself at a chateau in France with her friends to help with a wedding. There she meets Luke, the chateau owner’s son, and finds herself falling for him.

Since high school, I always loved Meg Cabot books. Most of the books I checked out between freshman and senior year were either Meg Cabot or Sarah Dessen. I loved how Meg Cabot’s colorful and fun writing stood apart from other books. I’m disappointed to say, however, that I did not really enjoy Queen of Babble.

One of my main issues with this book was the main character, Lizzie. After recently graduating college, potentially moving to New York, and spending the summer in London, I expected Lizzie to act a little more mature. However, Lizzie’s voice actually reminded me of a character from a younger YA book. After a brief encounter with her boyfriend, she planned their entire lives together. She built him up to be this wonderful guy after meeting him one time, despite warnings from her friends. After awhile, her character really irritated to me.

Another issue I had with Queen of Babble was the pacing. If you want to read this book, do not read the summary from Goodreads because description is the entire book. When I was reading, I was surprised that I was already around 40% through the book and Luke still didn’t appear in the book. Furthermore, a lot of the book repeated what happened in earlier parts of the book just to different characters. Even though Lizzie is the “queen of babbling,” sometimes it became a little too much. I found myself skipping paragraphs where she repeated the same information over and over.

As a result, the romance part of the book suffered. Lizzie doesn’t meet Luke until far into the book, which means there is little time to see their relationship develop. Especially since Luke has a girlfriend when Lizzie arrives, readers are only given a few cute moments between the characters. Even though this book is very chicklit, I expected a little more out of their relationship.

Overall, Queen of Babble was okay, but not my favorite Meg Cabot book. Since it took awhile for me to become interested in the story and I wasn’t the biggest fan of the main character, I give this book two out of five stars.

Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls: Stage Fright Review

stage-fright

Lights, camera… action! Allie Finkle takes the stage in the fourth book of the Rules for Girls series.

In Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls: Stage Fright, Meg Cabot’s middle grade heroine auditions for a role in her class play about recycling. Every girl in the class covets the main role, Princess Penelope, who wanders through the recycling forest while hiding from the evil queen. Much to Allie’s dismay, Mrs. Hunter casts her as the evil queen.

Last read, I read the first Allie Finkle book. I expected a cute book with a nice message for young readers. I was surprised to find myself laughing out loud at Allie’s crazy antics. Even though I didn’t like the fourth book as much as the first book, Stage Fright offers a lot of laughs and good messages for younger readers.

I think the best aspect of this book is Allie Finkle’s attitude. Unlike many novels featuring characters of the same age, Allie does not disrespect her parents or incite petty drama between her friends. Allie acts extremely mature and supports her friends even when one of her friends gets the part she wanted in the school play and acts mean towards her. Many of her rules are extremely relatable and useful for readers. She also provides many witty observations about the other students in her class.

Another aspect I enjoyed about this book were Allie’s rules. A lot of books for this age range also utilize rules within their books. However, I think Allie’s rules stand out from the other similar books. All of Allie’s rules, which are listed at the end of the book, are extremely useful and relatable for readers. I especially liked the rules in this book because they encouraged readers to be nice to others, do the best with what you are given, and to support your friends.

Overall, Stage Fright is a nice addition to the Allie Finkle series. While the beginning was a little slow for me, it really picked up in the middle and end. I rate Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls: Stage Fright as four out of five stars.

The Winner’s Kiss Review

the-winners-kiss

All if fair in love, war, and the final book in a series.

The Winner’s Kiss concludes the Winner’s trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. The Winner’s Kiss is a complicated book with many twists and turns. Without giving too many spoilers, The Winner’s Kiss follows Arin who decides he is over Kestrel and focuses his attention to the war. Meanwhile, Kestrel pays for her traitorous crime in a Valorian work camp.

Last year, I read The Winner’s Curse in this series and absolutely loved it. Earlier this year, I picked up The Winner’s Crime and was equally impressed. Going into The Winner’s Kiss, I was afraid that I set my expectations too high for the final book. Even though I had a minor problem with The Winner’s Kiss, overall it delivered an exciting and satisfying ending to the series.

I’m not sure if I didn’t notice it in the first two books in the series, but I loved Marie Rutkoski’s writing style. Everything flowed so nicely. Furthermore, Kestrel and Arin’s section each reflected their personalities perfectly. Additionally, the author’s writing style allows for great world-building. The culture, attitudes, and histories of each land are highlighted so well that they actually seem real.

One of the best aspects of this book would be the battle scenes. The author must have really researched military strategy and weaponry because every battle was well thought-out and realistic. Although not a battle, my favorite strategy scene is a Bite and Sting game between the emperor and Kestrel. Not only did the scene capture both of their personalities, but it kept me on the edge of my seat!

Another aspect done well in The Winner’s Kiss are the relationships. Throughout the series, I appreciated that Rutkoski strayed away from the typical love triangle. In all three books, readers see how Kestrel and Arin’s relationships grows based on the changes they undergo in all three books. I also liked seeing Kestrel wrestle with feelings towards her father. Their ending may not be perfect, but it is extremely realistic and true to their characters. I also enjoyed seeing some of the more platonic relationships, such as Arin and Roshar. Each relationship was well developed and directly affected the plot.

SPOILERS AHEAD.

There was only one problem that I had with The Winner’s Kiss. Out of every plot twist, memory loss is my least favorite. When I watched Cinderella III, which uses a similar plot twist, I almost turned off the movie. Personally, I dislike how a memory loss story line almost ruins the original story by taking away the experiences of one or more characters. While the author does make Kestrel face the past, I didn’t really think this part of the story was necessary. It only dragged out the beginning of the novel.

END SPOILERS. 

Overall, I really enjoyed The Winner’s Kiss. I will really miss reading about Kestrel and Arin! I rate The Winner’s Kiss as four out of five stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Lunar Chronicles Memes

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s theme is fandom freebie. There have been a lot of fandoms that have stemmed from books.  In high school, I LOVED The Hunger Games. I bought a shirt, I bought the nail polish, I bought the pin, and I wore it all to the midnight premiere. Besides The Hunger Games, I never became extremely invested in another book “fandom.” Then, I read The Lunar Chronicles.

I love fairytale retellings and I loved the unique takes Marissa Meyer took on some of my favorite classic fairytales. I loved every character and breezed through every book within the span of a few days. After scanning Pinterest, here are some of my favorite memes/pictures from The Lunar Chronicles fandom (all images from Pinterest):

I remember Marissa Meyer saying somewhere how she had watched Tangled and her first thought was,"Hey that's my cocky bandit!" And then you see this.:

Source: broadwayandballgowns THIS IS SOO BEAUTIFUL:

This is so true oh my word:

Source: broadwayandballgowns THIS IS SOO BEAUTIFUL:

Cresswell:

 

What is your favorite fandom?

Thrift Store Book Haul #9

one dollar bills 2

Recently, I went to a local thrift store and Goodwill. I found some great books at really low prices! Here’s what I found:

  • Biscuit’s Birthday by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
  • The Night Before First Grade by Natasha Wing

The Night Before picture books are so cute. I’m glad that I found another one!

  • The Grapes of Math by Greg Tang

I love finding picture books that make math fun! This will be a great book to add to my collection.

  • A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
  • Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle

I actually found these two Eric Carle books when I searched the books at Goodwill a second time. I’m glad that I looked again because these books are BEAUTIFUL and in perfect condition!

  • Philppa Fisher’s Fairy Godsister by Liz Kessler

I saw this book was by the author of the Emily Windsnap series. I haven’t read that yet, but the plot sounded cute, so I picked it up!

  • Judy Moody by Megan McDonald
  • Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
  • Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets by Dav Pilkey
  • Captain Underpants #3 by Dav Pilkey
  • Captain Underpants #6 by Dav Pilkey

I remember seeing tons of people reading this series when I was in elementary school. When I saw a few at the thrift store, I knew I couldn’t pass them up! I know the movie is coming out soon, so I’ll have to try to read one before it comes out.

  • The Magic Treehouse #5: Night of the Ninjas
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

I’ve checked this book out so many times from the library, but still haven’t read it yet. Now that I have my own copy, I can read it whenever I want!

  • Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

I’ve wanted to read this book since it came out a couple years ago. When I saw this book in perfect condition at Goodwill, I couldn’t pass it up!

 

What are some of your recent deals on books?

September Surprises Review

september-surprises

I’m not surprised that I enjoyed September Surprises by Ann M. Martin.

September Surprises in the sixth book in the Main Street series. Even though there may be minor spoilers if you read the books out of order, it is not absolutely necessary to read them in order. In September Surprises, Camden Falls experiences a lot of new changes as another school year begins. Flora, Nikki, and Olivia move up to the middle school where Olivia faces a bully. Meanwhile, Ruby helps her class raise money to support a school faced with a disaster and distresses over her grandmother’s possible love interest.

I remember that I picked up the Main Street series when the book came out (I was only eleven years old!). There were aspects of the first two books in the series, which I read when I was younger, that I liked and did not like. After reading the sixth book in the series, I think many of my pros and cons are the same.

I think the relationships and realistic situations in this book are extremely well done. I think many children and adults can relate to Olivia’s situation. The author accurately depicts on anyone would feel when faced with a similar situation. While I wish Olivia’s situation was resolved more in this book, I suspect it will also play a role in later book of the series. I also really appreciated seeing Ruby’s relationship grow with Min. The author depicts a very healthy relationship between the girls and their guardian.

My feelings towards the writing style are mixed. Martin’s writing is very descriptive and the scenes that pan in and out of the town give a good description of the time. However, the writing sometimes makes me bored and makes the plot move extremely slow. I actually started this book last year, stopped halfway, and it didn’t pick it up again until January. While this book is written beautifully, it may bore younger readers who want more action.

Overall, I really like the Main Street series and enjoyed September Surprises. Since I only had minor problems with this book, I rate September Surprises as four out of five stars.

Selfie Saturday: My Washington D.C. Trip

selfiesaturday

Recently, my college had spring break. A few of my friends and I decided to spend spring break in Washington D.C.! I had never been to Washington D.C. before, so I loved seeing all of the monuments and places that I saw on TV and textbooks in real life. Here are some of the highlights from my trip:

  • On my first day in D.C.,  I visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum! I didn’t have much time to spend here (only an hour), so it was my least favorite of the museums that I visited. My favorite part about this museum would have to be the different pilot and flight attendant uniforms from different decades!

plane

  • On my second day of D.C., I saw a lot of the monuments. First, I attended a church service at St. John’s Episcopal Church. Presidents attend a service at this church before they are inaugurated. Then, I stopped outside of the White House. After the White House, I walked to the Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial.

white housemonument

  •  After the walking on the National Mall, I went to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. This was one of the major highlights of my trip. The Holocaust Museum is definitely one of the best museums that I have ever visited. When you enter the museum, you receive an identification card. Every floor, you read more about the real person on your identification card. One of the most impacting moments for me in the museum was there was a hallway and on each side of the room were piles of shoes from victims of the Holocaust that were taken when they entered a concentration camp.
  • The next day was a little lighter after experiencing the Holocaust museum. First, I went to the Zoo. I was really excited to see one of my favorite animals, the panda! The day I went was a little chilly so many of the animals were not outside. Luckily, the National Zoo has many inside exhibits so I still got to see the pandas!

panda statue

  • After the National Zoo, I went to Georgetown. I was excited to get cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake, the store that was featured on TLC’s D.C. Cupcakes. The Mocha Chocolate Chip Cheesecake cupcake was the best cupcake that I’ve ever eaten and the Unicorn cupcake was so cute!
Image may contain: dessert and food

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cheesecake cupcake (first on the right), Unicorn cupcake (second from the right)

  • The next day, I did a lot of walking… about fifteen miles! I started by walking to the Jefferson Memorial. After the Jefferson Memorial, I went to the National Archives. It was so cool to see the Declaration of Independence and Constitution in person! I also saw Rosa Parks’s fingerprints and arrest report, which was very interesting to see.

jefferson

  • After the National Archives, I visited Ford’s Theatre, where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Even though the theatre was not open, the museum was very well put together. I also loved how Ford’s Theatre also included the house where Lincoln was carried after he was shot and included a lot of information on the plot to assassinate Lincoln.
  • After Ford’s Theatre, my friends and I practically sprinted to the Library of Congress. I really liked looking at the reading room in the Library of Congress, but wasn’t that interested in the other exhibits. It was interesting to see so many artifacts from early America, but it wasn’t my favorite place that I visited during my trip.
  • Since there was still some time left before the museums closed, I went to the Smithsonian Natural History museum. My favorite parts of this museum were seeing the dinosaur bones and the mummies!

natural history

  • I finished off the night by walking to the Capitol Building and monuments on the National Mall at night! Even though it was raining, all the monuments were so beautiful when lit up.
  • On my last day in D.C., I visited the Smithsonian American History Museum. My favorite part of this museum was seeing Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz!

 

What places have you visited recently? 

 

The Wrath and the Dawn Review

wrath-and-the-dawn

There may be a thousand and one nights, but I rate Renée Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn as three stars.

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn follows sixteen-year-old Shahrzad who volunteers as the caliph’s next bride. Every night, he marries a new bride and she dies by dawn. Shahrzad, or Shahzi, is determined to live through the night and to avenge her best friend’s death by killing the caliph. Surprisingly, Shahzi falls for the caliph who is nothing like she expected.

I remember seeing The Wrath and the Dawn in bookstores when it came out, but I never picked it up. I’ve heard a lot about this series through the blogging community, so when I found it in my library’s e-books, I decided to give it a try. While I liked many aspects of The Wrath and the Dawn, I think it fell flat in several areas.

Many of novel’s strengths rely on how it stands out from out young adult novels. The setting and the author’s writing style were very different from many other young adult novels that I’ve recently read. While I thought the author’s writing style was beautiful and enchanting, I felt slightly distanced from the story. This caused me to not feel as close to the characters.

Another aspect I really appreciated was how the author integrated the characters’ native language. Personally, I don’t like when authors use a word foreign to the audience to just define it in the next sentence because it often disrupts the story’s flow. I appreciated that the author of this novel did not do that, but included a mini-dictionary in the back of the novel.

One problem that I had with this book was the inconsistency in some of the characters. Shahzi is frequently described as extremely clever, adventurous, and determined to avenge her best friend’s death. Her actions, however, say otherwise. She exposes her archery skills to both the caliph and the head of the military. After only a few days, she’s already in love with the man who killed her best friend. Since I felt so distanced by the writing style, I had a difficult time connecting with her.

Another issue that I had with The Wrath and the Dawn would be the pacing of the different story lines. The magic aspect popped up only a few times throughout the story. Even though it will most likely play a larger role in the second book, the author could have elaborated more on this story line. Also, Tariq’s story line started strong but barely appeared in the second half of the story. When he did appear at the end, his motives didn’t seem to hold up.

Overall, The Wrath and the Dawn stands out for it’s unique setting and writing. However, I felt too distanced from the characters to be completely invested in the story. I rate The Wrath and the Dawn as three out of five stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Spring TBR

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This book’s theme are ten books on your Spring TBR. Since I am student teaching this semester, I do not have much time to read. However, I still have a lot of books that I hope to read before Spring ends! Here are my choices:

1.) Just Fly Away by Andrew McCarthy

Just Fly Away

I received an ARC of this book, so I really want to read it before its release on May 28. Just Fly Away follows a fifteen-year-old girl who discovers that she has a brother after her father had an affair.

2.) Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Ginny Moon

This is another ARC I hope to read before its May 2 release. This book interested me because it centers on a foster child with autism trying to adjust to her new foster family.

3.) Love, Ish by Karen Rivers

Love, Ish

Once again, another ARC I hope to read. I actually received this book only a few days before its release date (which is today), but I hope to read and review it ASAP! Love, Ish follows Ish, a girl who dreams to be one of the first settlers on Mars. Her dreams are threatened, however, when she is diagnosed with cancer.

4.) Snowed In by Rachel Hawthorne

Snowed In

Snowed In should be a short, quick read. I really want to read this book while snow is still on the ground!

5.) Icing on the Lake by Catherine Clark

Icing on the Lake

Like Snowed In, Icing on the Lake is a cute winter read that I want to finish before flowers start blooming!

6.) The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

The Fill-In Boyfriend

Even though I’m no longer in high school, I think The Fill-In Boyfriend would be so much fun to read around prom time since the main character finds a fill-in date at the last minute.

7.) Shooter by Caroline Pignat

Shooter

Shooter is described as a Breakfast Club-type story that focuses on a group of students hiding in the bathroom during a school shooting. Anything with the Breakfast Club in the description pulls me in! 

8.) Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys 

Salt to the Sea

After visiting the Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C. over Spring Break, I really want to read more books set during World War II. I’m a huge fan of Ruta Sepetys and I’m sure this book will not disappoint!

9.) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity, #1)

I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile now and I finally started it during Spring Break! Hopefully I can finish it before the spring ends.

10.) Deuteronomy in The Bible

Holy Bible: New International Version

I’ve been working through Deuteronomy for awhile now, so I hope that I can finish reading it by the end of March!

 

What is on your Spring TBR pile?