A BOOK : Conversion by Kathrine Howe

18667792Conversion
Katherine Howe
Published July 1, 2014

It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.
 
First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.
 
Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .
 
Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?

Summary and Image from Goodreads.com

Do you ever read a book where you just kind of want to talk about it in ALL CAPS? For some reason, that is this one for me! I just find this novel so dang interesting and as a result I have been pretty much talking about it to everyone and anyone who will listen. Which is why I am now back to blogging. BECAUSE THIS BOOK IS INTERESTING.

-I like that it is based on a true story while taking large fictional leaps. In the last few pages Katherine Howe explains how she was inspired to write Conversion and as a result she mashed together these two separate stories that might seem different, but have more in common than we think.

-The mystery element is what kept me reading. I NEEDED to know what was going on with these girls, and yes– you do find out so you aren’t left hanging!!

-It’s all about girls and society– their role in society and how they are treated by society. This would make a great discussion book for that topic alone. I loved that Howe explored that and I loved how she did it in an artful way.

-A lot of the book centers around Colleen, and something about her– her obsession with getting into school, the comfort she finds with her friends, her voice in general– made me really enjoy reading about her. I think part of it is because she felt like a complete person with flaws that drove the story and endearing qualities that made me want to root for her.

So if you are looking for a book to really sink into (this one is longer clocking in at 432 pages) that will grab your attention, make sure to add Conversion to your to-read shelf on Goodreads.com!

A BOOK : Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt

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Bright Before Sunrise
by Tiffany Schmidt
Published February 2014

When Jonah is forced to move from Hamilton to Cross Pointe for the second half of his senior year, “miserable” doesn’t even begin to cover it. He feels like the doggy-bag from his mother’s first marriage and everything else about her new life—with a new husband, new home and a new baby—is an upgrade. The people at Cross Pointe High School are pretentious and privileged—and worst of all is Brighton Waterford, the embodiment of all things superficial and popular. Jonah’s girlfriend, Carly, is his last tie to what feels real… until she breaks up with him. 

For Brighton, every day is a gauntlet of demands and expectations. Since her father died, she’s relied on one coping method: smile big and pretend to be fine. It may have kept her family together, but she has no clue how to handle how she’s really feeling. Today is the anniversary of his death and cracks are beginning to show. The last thing she needs is the new kid telling her how much he dislikes her for no reason she can understand. She’s determined to change his mind, and when they’re stuck together for the night, she finally gets her chance. 

Jonah hates her at 3p.m., but how will he feel at 3 a.m.? 

One night can change how you see the world. One night can change how you see yourself

Summary and photo from Goodreads.com

SCHOOL IS ALMOST OUT FOR A LOT OF YOU HIGH SCHOOLERS! You know what is the perfect thing to do? Read Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt. Why this one specifically? It takes place one night 17 days (I think)  before the last day of school. It’s told from the perspective of Brighton, who is popular, pretty, a people pleaser, and volunteer-a-holic, and Jonah, a new kid in school, angry, frustrated at life, and outsider. I will be honest, at first I wasn’t so sure about the characters. They both were on the surface seemingly ordinary, but had secret layers no one knew about. I was worried that this would end up being a feel good, campy story where the Miss Perfect Character meets the Mr. Nobody Character and they live happily ever after, but this was wayyyyy more than that. I though Schmidt did a really good job of not just peg holing Jonah, Brighton, and the supporting characters, but instead developed real characters with all of their own positives and negatives. I especially enjoyed Brighton’s story line with her dad.

I also loved that it took place in one night, and it felt like both of the characters were on the cusp of a greater change not only in their understandings of each other, but also their place in life and themselves. I’ve had plenty of magical nights not quite like this one, but where it felt like my entire world shifted. Sometimes in the morning it had. Sometimes in the morning I’d find it hadn’t. This book however is just filled with possibility and beauty and I am getting kind of sappy right now, but I can’t help it.

I think one of the reasons why I liked this story is because I felt like it so easily echoed the thoughts and feelings of my own heart, while still maintaining the unique perspectives of the characters. I noticed this especially with Jonah’s relationship with his mother and step father. You definitely see these characters through HIS eyes, and not how they might actually appear to be on a third party onlooker. I loved that this was subtly done, yet also a little noticeable just because it was done well.

If you want more books that take place in one night check out…
I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan (I haven’t read this one but it has a lot of praise!)
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley (I have read this one and I say READ IT)
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (I haven’t read this, but it’s Cohn and Levithan writing so that’s reason enough)

Those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Do you have any suggestions?

And of course, as always: Add Bright Before Sunrise to your to reads shelf on Goodreads.com!

 

 

A BOOK : To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

So Jenny Han broke my blog. That is not really true, but do you ever read a book that you fall in love with and you want to write about it, but you have no words to express it? To All the Boy’s I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, published this past April (2014!) is that book for me. I read it towards the end of April, and you will notice, I have been silent here since- ha!

I don’t know what it is, but Han manages to pinpoint exactly the type of book I want to read, the characters I want to read about, and then completely debilitates you, because you kind of want to just lay in bed and pretend this entire book is real so you can never leave it. To All the Boy’s I’ve Loved Before filled me with butterflies, but not the anxiety-inducing kind, but the happy fluttery ones that just make you want to prance around on a warm summer night chasing after fireflies. If you liked Han’s summer series (The Summer I Turned Pretty, etc) then I definitely urge you to read this one, her newest novel out currently. I also have to say, I think Lara Jean is one of my favorite main characters ever. I love her unsurety, I love her love for fashion, I love how she keeps accidentally putting herself in messy situations, I love her relationships with her sisters, I love that she grows yet doesn’t, and I love how strong her voice was in this book. So yea.

Check it out:

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Summary:

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Add it your to-read list on Goodreads.com!

Just a heads up! My entries are probably going to be shorter this summer like this one! I have read a LOT of really good books lately (at least I like them) that I would love to share, so keep your eyes peeled. I also have been planning a few other entries about things (reading schedules, goodreads ratings, etc!) those will be coming soon as well. SO. I hope you are all having good days, and I look forward to the coming months!

New episodes of Ask! Authors! Anything!

The new episode of Ask! Authors! Anything! came up earlier this week. I finally got around to watching/listening this morning. Megan McCafferty is interviewing Laurie Halse Anderson :

Check out Laurie Halse Anderson and Megan McCafferty on Goodreads!

I was lucky enough to have Speak be apart of my curriculum when I was a freshman in high school. That was my first introduction to Laurie Halse Anderson. It ended up being one of those books that just sort of took the air out of me, and I ended up reading it over and over that year. If you haven’t read anything by Laurie Halse Anderson I definitely suggest you do so. Also, check out the interview!

A BOOK : Scarlet

11983940Scarlet
by A.C. Gaughen

Published February 2012

Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance. 

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

Summary and photo from Goodreads.com

I started Scarlet with high hopes and I instantly fell in love with it in the first few pages. Scarlet’s dialogue takes a minute to get used to, but I personally had no trouble falling into her style of speech. For some reason I love characters that end up dressing up and pretending to be someone they’re not, and while some people do know that she is a girl the majority of the people don’t, which leads to some funny encounters. I also love the tension of having a girl in an all boys “band of merry men” or whatever the Robin Hood clan is called. Not like the romantic tension- but the tension between the boys wanting to protect Scarlet and Scarlet having none of that. I think that was my favorite part of Scarlet. One of the guys would say something and then Scarlet would say the exact thing I was thinking of.

It did end up being more about romance than I had originally wanted it to be, but I thought overall Gaughen balanced it pretty well and it felt natural to the characters. I loved that Scarlet could prove that even though she is this headstrong tough woman, she still had feelings. I love that we were in her mind and we were able to see her struggle with getting used to the idea that she might have feelings for one of her friends no matter how much she tried to squash them.

Scarlet has her own past and her story of how she became known as Will Scarlet was scattered throughout the story. I was a fan of how slowly Scarlet’s story trickled out as she was forced to deal with her past and finally began opening up to her friends. Some last thoughts:

  • Much was basically my favorite character ever.
  • I loved the explanations behind the names
  • Scarlet is a thief and that is just pretty much awesome.
  • I just love how angry Scarlet got when it comes to men vs. women, noble folk vs. commoners, and judging people for what they do. There is a line where Scarlet makes a comment about how she tends to see things others don’t around her and it definitely is true. I love that she spoke strongly about these things even though people didn’t usually listen.
  • I also love how Scarlet was religious. I found it interesting to read about her faith especially since she is a thief.

So, if you can’t tell, I ended up really liking Scarlet. The next book is Lady Thief. I am personally excited to read this book especially after how the first one ended. I can’t wait to see how Scarlet has or has not grown.

Add it to you to read shelf on Goodreads!

 

Waiting on Wednesday : #scandal

I went on a look to see what is coming out this summer rampage recently and as a result I have a whole list of books I am eagerly waiting to read. Thankfully, a bunch of them have already come out! (I can’t believe it’s already April!)

The following one doesn’t come out until June, but I am ready to read it right…. now!

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Summary:

Lucy’s learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart’s all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don’t feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole’s date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she’d rather stay home shredding online zombies. And the one where she hates playing dress-up. And especially the one where she’s been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time.

When Cole surprises her at the after party with a kiss under the stars, it’s everything Lucy has ever dreamed of… and the biggest BFF deal-breaker ever. Despite Cole’s lingering sweetness, Lucy knows they’ll have to ’fess up to Ellie. But before they get the chance, Lucy’s own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising pics of her and Cole, along with tons of other students’ party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And furiously viral.

By Monday morning, Lucy’s been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc, mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal just weeks before graduation. 

Lucy’s been battling undead masses online long enough to know there’s only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. Game plan? Uncover and expose the Facebook hacker, win back her best friend’s trust, and graduate with a clean slate.

There’s just one snag—Cole. Turns out Lucy’s not the only one who’s been harboring unrequited love…


This word screams DRAMA. Which is funny, because I have been in such an anti-drama mood in books, but I really really really want to see how Ockler integrates the social media in with the story. I also love the element of trying to figure out the Facebook hacker and I am excited to learn more about Lucy. Just from the summary she seems awesome and ready to stand up for herself.

#scandal comes out June 17th

Add it to your to-read shelf on Goodreads.com | Pre-order It

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted every week by Breaking the Spine to highlight books that are not quite out yet, that an individual (such as myself or you!) are anxiously waiting to be released. Check out what she is waiting on!

A BOOK : Dorothy Must Die

18053060Dorothy Must Die
Danielle Paige
Published April 2014

I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still the yellow brick road, though—but even that’s crumbling.

What happened?
Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas.
I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I’ve been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart.
Steal the Scarecrow’s brain.
Take the Lion’s courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!

Summary and photo from Goodreads.com

I have been looking forward to this one since it was first mentioned on the Epic Reads Tea Time! This novel takes place after Dorothy has left Oz, and has come back from. Amy is thrown into this world that she thoughts was imaginary, and quickly learns everything that she would expect out of the Land of Oz is completely different.

Everything you think is good is bad, and everything you think is bad is good. Or it might not be good. No one really knows anymore.

The things I ended up finding really intriguing while reading Dorothy Must Die include:

  • Mysterious characters. You know you aren’t getting the whole truth from certain characters, and I enjoyed trying to figure them out. Can Amy trust them?
  • The new Oz. The way Dorothy is described is creepy. As is the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow. Paige definitely plays with your expectations.
  • The visuality of the book. Maybe it’s because there is already a Wizard of Oz movie, but I found myself being able to see this book in my mind quite nicely. This series definitely would be a shoe in for a movie.
  • The twists and turns. There are a lot more surprises in Dorothy Must Die than I expected there would be! Some of them I completely didn’t see coming, some of them I felt like I had at least a little bit of a hint.
  • The stakes are high. The book starts off with a bang pretty early on and proves that no one is really safe. Paige doesn’t just say that terrible things happen in Oz now, but she makes you live through it.

If any of this sound remotely interesting to you, I suggest you pick this one up. I myself am not that big of a Wizard of Oz fan, but I ended up getting quickly swept up in this story. This is quite long (clocking in at 452 pages) and I will say, the middle for me dragged a bit but I do encourage you to push past it and shoot toward the end if you start to feel the same.

Add this to your to be read shelf on Goodreads.com

So after writing the above review, I ended up doing a little research and found myself in a conundrum. I read the book. I liked it. I stalked Danielle Paige on Twitter a little bit. She seems quite awesome. However, just a heads up, this book does come from the book packaging company James Frey owns Full Fathom Five, which is not the awesomest sounding company to put it simply. You can read a little more about it here at Snuggly Oranges and here at Bibliodaze. If you are curious about book packaging and literary development companies, check out Kelly’s explanation at Stacked. She does a great job explaining how they work.

As a result of this am I telling you not to read Dorothy Must Die? Obviously not. I liked the book. I am personally interested in this stuff, and as a reader I would want to know this, which is why I am sharing it with you.